Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Good Mexican Food

Something happened in New Albany while I was living in Michigan. The community has been greatly enriched by an increase in the number of Hispanics living in the area. This has led to many small businesses that cater the thriving community. So far the only one I have ventured into is La Rosita Mexican Grill on Market St. in New Albany. Tonight was my third trip there. I am definitely going back for a 4th visit.

The ingredients are fresh and prepared in an open kitchen so that the wonderful sounds and smells of the food being cooked heighten your palate while you wait. The service is attentive and I have always found the servers pleasant and able to explain any of the dishes on the menu.

Plates come to the table without the gummy pureed refried beans and bland rice. The veggies are al dente, with wonderful caramelized onions. The green sauce that I am so fond of has the perfect amount of salt and acid to highlight the tastes of the food beneath it. I am also fond of the dishes with egg in them and am working my way through them - much to my Mother's chagrin. (She feels eggs belong at breakfast.)

There is also a wide variety of vegetarian dishes that have proved to be tasty and not just the meat dishes minus the meat.

Someday I may be brave enough to try out one of the Hispanic grocery stores and attempt to cook something at home - until then I am happy to make the drive to downtown New Albany and enjoy a meal at La Rosita.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Week 1: Survived

It was tough, but I managed to survive week 1 of being once again gainfully employed. Not only did I get up for 4 days in a row at or prior to 6am and spending 8.5 hours at my place of employment..... I even managed to sort through the chaos that is benefits..... health, pharmacy, dental, vision, retirement (401k-esque), life insurance, union membership...... I am relatively sure that after getting all that taken care of I will receive some money when I eventually get paid.... If I get paid! The only thing it seems that I haven't taken care of is getting myself a new checking account - one that isn't located at a bank over 400 miles away. Hopefully the USPS will be kind to me today so that I can get that set up on Monday and then ensure that I will get whatever money is due after all the above mentioned items are paid for since Federal employees have to use direct deposit.

I have to admit that it was nice to go back and see so many people that I haven't seen in so long. I think the only question that surprised me was how many asked if my last name was still the same. What the heck is with that? These people spent 40+ hours a week with me for over 6 years; what about me ever made them think that even if I got married I would change my last name? Did I manage to hide my ultra-feminist streak from them for all those years? I will be the first to admit that I can be difficult to get to know and that I often vigorously protect my privacy. However I didn't think, but I must admit that I don't remember, even I could have kept my opinion on the subject quiet for all that time.

For me the worst thing about being back at work, even though I turned off my alarm clock, is waking up at 6 am on Saturday and not being able to fall back asleep. Though it's still dark out and I haven't yet had coffee, I've managed to clean the house and give the cat a lot of attention - hopefully making up for my being gone so much this week. So far it seems that I have - my former cat induced injuries are healing and have not been joined by any others. She did just wake up though and is giving me the evil eye - perhaps the keyboard is making too much noise as I type this.....

I may have to be ambitious today and actually put the Christmas tree away - if not I may have to be really ambitious and decorate it for either Presidents Day or Valentines Day.

Since it is Saturday - I'm going to have to mention what I am not going to be doing tonight. I am not going to be getting together with my Mount Pleasant family. So far Saturday night has proved to be the hardest evening not to be in Mount Pleasant. I miss the game, we had a real interesting cast of characters developing and we had a world to explore that was well created. What I really miss though are the people. It was often the only time during the week that I saw some of them. Even though I could easily get frustrated when it felt like our game was disintegrating into an evening of chaos and out of character side conversations; I now find myself missing some of that. It makes me look forward to being there in a few weeks; to see and listen to everyone.

Have a great weekend everyone. I am off to spend some QT with my spectacular niece. Last night I got to pick her up after work and she is spending the weekend with my parents. She was working on a story last night. I believe she had written 20 pages by the time I left. She wouldn't let me read any of it while she was working on it - hopefully today she will let me take a peek at it. Being around her tonight will more than make up for not being at my favorite house on Elm St.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Going back down already travelled roads......

How do you revisit places you never thought you would have the opportunity to go back too?

I examined this question today while I was at work; because I am not getting any employees until Feb 6th and I do not yet have a computer log-in that will allow me to figure out what the heck I am supposed to be doing at work. I also worked two New York Times Crossword puzzles from my 1 crossword a week 2008 calendar.

I was trying to figure out what mattered more – my desire to reconnect with old work friends or my desire to not have to not see other people with whom I worked with in the past. I am happy to say that the desire to see old friends won out and in the end I was a winner. Instead of chomping down on another delicious Kashi granola bar at lunch, I took a walk to my old work area. I was delighted to see so many people that I used to enjoy working with. I even gave out a lot of hugs, which some folks know is often hard for me to do.... Not hard like the 'odd' characters on Boston Legal that like to keep their palms on their thighs but nonetheless not always my favorite thing to do.

Several inquired if I wanted to come back and work with them and I was able to give them a very honest and frank answer that left all of my options open. It was really nice to see someone who was from the first group of employees that I took through orientation, training, and was their supervisor. I even managed to schedule some dinner plans. I also found out that one of my favorite people in the world is going to be visiting my old work site in a week or two and I am looking forward to reconnecting with her.

Though it was only my 2nd day at work - I quickly remembered the best thing about working... getting to come home. Now that Cairo is back with me - nothing is more fun than chilling out in the evening with her sitting on my lap purring loud enough that I have to turn the TV up to hear it. Hopefully tomorrow I will venture around the installation on lunch and reconnect with more old friends and I won't even hesitate at the idea.

As a side note....
To answer the polite inquiries about acceptable hair color choices.... Never once in orientation or my subsequent reading of the Labor Management Agreement and Employee Handbook were acceptable hair color choices mentioned. This has led to not one single urge on my part to go out and get my hair dyed day-glo orange or green. Also not mentioned were acceptable locations or amounts of piercings and tattoos.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Job....

After 9 weeks of being unemployed (by choice) I started my new job today. During the night I woke up on 3 separate occasions worried that I either didn't set my alarm properly or had slept through it. Needless to say I was a tad paranoid about being on time. When I finally woke 20 minutes before the alarm it was from a nightmare involving improperly making risotto. Instead of trying to scramble for 20 minutes more of sleep - I wrestled with the cat for more of the blanket for about 15 minutes before giving up and making coffee. ( I am unsure how a 12lb cat can be such a blanket hog. My wrist is bearing the teeth and rear claw scrapes that this blanket battle produced.)

Why on earth was I so worried? Have I ever been late to work? No - I am more likely to be 30-20 minutes early to work than I am to be on time, let alone late. After getting ready and drinking 2 large mugs of coffee I discover that it snowed..... Having just spent the last seven winters in Michigan, I knew that my driving in the snow would be more than adequate. Since I spent the previous ~27 years in Indiana - I remembered that most people who would be out driving at 7am would have less than adequate winter driving skills.

The trip into work was uneventful other than people who sped past me on the Expressway, when all the lanes were drenched in close to an inch of slush. Parking at the federal installation, where I was to be sworn in as an employee and traversing across the pitch black and slush covered parking lot was fun. After passing all the items I carried in through the x-ray machine (including a bottle of water w/ a slice of Meyer lemon), walking through a metal detector, and producing 3 forms of identification I was allowed to proceed to a small room for orientation.

5.5 hours later I was finally sworn in as a federal employee, had an identification badge, and collected a parking permit. Of the 30 people in the training - I happened to pick a seat right across from the only other person who was starting in the same branch and same position as I was. Luckily she was nice to chit chat with and she seemed to appreciate my dry sense of humor. We were sent off to our actual work location (the federal institution in question is over 1 square mile in size) and then promptly told to go to lunch. After wolfing down my Kashi - Honey Toasted 7 Grain granola bar it was time to report back to my job.

I was lucky and met one of the people who will be reporting to me. I remembered her from over ten years ago, having previously worked at this federal installation. She is a federal lifer, completely knowledgeable about who is who, friendly, and interested in doing good work (not to mention prefers to be busy at work). The main activity for the rest of the day was locating garbage baskets - I needed one at my desk, as did the rest of the desks in my unit. Thankfully the two of us managed to rustle up enough garbage baskets and place them under desks, so that when everyone else shows up on Feb. 6th they will have a place to put their trash.

Tomorrow I am going to sort through all the health insurance choices and figure out which one is best for me..... Apparently it will take several days (maybe a week) to get all the computer account information set up so that I can actually log onto the system, let alone learn how to do my job.

So what was the most exciting part of my day? The most exciting thing did not happen at work! I went to my parents house after work to give a report on my day and mooch dinner. (My first pay check won't come until 2/14.) I was spooning some soup into a bowl when Mom dropped a heavy soup/cereal bowl on my head. That damn bowl was heavy and it landed with a thud before falling into the soup and splattering it over the counter. While it was funny it also hurt. In fact it still hurts and there is a bump on the top of my head.

So I am now home and resting from such a strenuous and stressful first day of work. More importantly I am looking forward to heading back into work tomorrow. I sure do hope it is not snowy out in the morning. Oh did I mention that my casual outfit that I spent hours deliberating on last night - was actually a little too dressy for work? Tomorrow I am breaking out the tennis shoes and jeans.

Until the next time.... be well!