Wednesday, April 30, 2008

All's Fair in Love and War

This lovely little number was a special gift to me from a friend. He calls it our love-fern. I call it grounds for termination.

It all started back in December of 2006.

There was a white elephant gift exchange and someone ended up receiving an ugly, yellow, ceramic cornucopia.
Somehow the cornucopia ended up in my gift bag and went home with me.

I could have just thrown it away. But instead I decided to exact revenge on the man who forced his cornucopia on me.

I waited a few months and then with the help of an accomplice, we struck. We hid the yellow object of offense deep within the cavity of the under-stairs closet in his house.

Fast forward about three or four months. I'm at his house. It's late at night and time for me to go home. One of the house residents offers to go pull my car up into the driveway for me. I'm touched by this gesture and hand over my keys.

The next day I go grocery shopping. I open the trunk of my car . . . and see the bleeping cornucopia hiding demurely behind a box! I shake my fist at the sky and realize this means full-out WAR.

Clearly I have to come up with something that will be very difficult to top. This is no longer a game for amateurs.

Then it hits me. The PLAN.

Step 1: Obtain a cardboard box

Step 2: Wrap cornucopia in tissue and newspaper and pack it into the box

Step 3: Obtain proper mailing address

Step 4: Go to UPS store

Step 5: Have box shipped directly to my nemesis' office

Step 6: Imagine the look on his face when he opens the package

Step 7: Revel in glory

Of course, I figured there would be retribution. But I heard nothing. He said not a word. So I said not a word. It was a battle of the wills. Eventually, someone revealed to me that the cornucopia was broken in transit. The Cornucopia Wars had come to an end. I was victorious.

Fast forward several more months. It's my birthday. A few of my closest friends are gathered for dinner. One of them appears to be giddy with excitement to see me open my gifts. He hands me a huge gift bag and I can see the bright-red blooms of a kalanchoe sticking out of the top. He knows how much I like plants. What a sweet and thoughtful gift. I pull out all the tissue paper and look into the bag . . . and my jaw drops. I look up and tell him I hate him while pulling the freakin' cornucopia (complete with broken, taped-on handle) out of the bag. He planted the kalanchoe in it.

Then he informs me that this kalanchoe is a cutting from a plant that his mother received when he was born. It's very special. He considers it our love-fern and will be deeply hurt if the plant doesn't thrive and grow.

So it's now sitting on my porch with the other plants. I give it plenty of attention and take special care of it because, after all, I have plans for its future.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow

Project Patio is growing.
More plants are added nearly every week. But there's still a long way to go. I'm having trouble determining exactly which plants thrive best in the environment.
The patio is made entirely of brick and wood, so it gets very hot in the day. But there's also a latticed roof, so it only gets filtered sunlight. The challenge is that sun-loving plants aren't getting enough light and shade-loving plants are getting too hot. And all of my kalanchoes refuse to bloom.
But for the most part, everything looks nice and happy.
Tomorrow...the story of one man, one woman and their love-fern.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Watch the Whole Thing

You'll be glad you did.

Dream Come True

Sleep is an elusive thing for me sometimes, especially when I know I have to be awake at 3:30 in the morning. Last night I tried to go to sleep extra early. I was snuggled into bed by about 9:15. I didn't actually fall asleep until closer to 10pm. But I made the effort.

The problem is I slept restlessly and woke up numerous times because I was worried I might over-sleep. Then I started dreaming. I had this dream that I couldn't sleep. In my dream, I fell asleep for about two hours and then woke up and wasn't able to go back to sleep. The whole time in my dream I knew that I had to be at work by 4:45am and I knew that I was only going to get about 2-3 hours of sleep.

Of course, this dream actually woke me up and made me worried about sleeping.

It's a bad day when your alarm is set for 3:30am and you're awake well before it goes off.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The old has gone, the new has come

Remember my old, sad, unhelpful computer? I broke up with it several weeks ago and since then have been in a rebound relationship with a used computer.
But as of yesterday I dumped my rebound in favor of my sexy new laptop with docking station.
I can get him turned on really quickly and his stamina is unbelieveable. He's also very responsive to my signals. It's mostly a physical relationship, but I'm pretty sure I'm in love.

Secret Crush

I have a secret crush.

Before you get all excited: you don't know the guy and there is absolutely no chance of me getting involved with him. There's no long-term potential with this crush. The reason I have a secret crush on him is because he is the kind of guy I would like to date, even though I don't want to actually date him. And no, he's not Zach Braff.

It's actually a man who works at my office. He's quite a bit older than I -- probably in his mid-40s. He's a very tall black man with just a touch of gray in his hair. He's also a widower. And before you go there, no I am not looking to get in a relationship with a 40-something widower. I'm just telling you a bit about him.

What I'm really drawn to is his quiet dignity. He's very gentle and mild-mannered, but also very confident and decisive. He doesn't speak often, but when he does people listen to him. He works hard and does everything with excellence. He has a good sense of humor, but doesn't need to be the center of attention. He cares about people and talks to you as though you really matter. And he loves and fears the Lord.

I don't want to marry him, but I do want to marry someone like him.
And I sure hope he doesn't read my blog.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Whole New World

A new fantastic point of view...

Ok, enough of that. On to the point of this entry. My job is changing. No, I'm not changing jobs. But there are just a lot of differences. My current boss really wants me to hone my craft and a big part of that involves traveling. I never used to do much traveling in the first 4 1/2 years here. There was the occasional trip to Dallas or Austin, but that was about it. Well this year that's all changing. I have a trip to Chapel Hill, NC next month, a trip to DC in June and a trip to Ann Arbor, MI in July with a follow-up trip in November. This may not sound like much to those of you who travel as a regular part of your job, but in my world this is unheard of.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Birthdays and other momentous occasions

Yesterday was my birthday. I counted more than 30 Facebook greetings, half a dozen emails, seven text messages, a handful of phone calls, two heart-shaped balloons, 12 friends at dinner and a partridge in a pear tree.

This was my first Facebook birthday and I must say I really enjoyed it. It's hard not to get excited when you log into your account and see 23 new notifications from people who wrote on your wall.

I experienced another first on my birthday. I got my first-ever-in-my-life speeding ticket. That's right, I made it to the grand old age of 29 before getting the honor of chatting with an officer about my speed. I wish I could say that I enjoyed it as much as the rest of the day, but I didn't. In fact, it was pretty much awful and I was very upset. And when I told him it was my birthday he just looked at my ID and said "huh, sure is, sorry" right before handing me the citation.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

There and back again

I won't bore you with all the details of my vacation. But there are a few stories (and pictures) worth sharing. Now for those of you who have never traveled with me you may not know that something is always sure to go wrong when I travel by air. There was the Cuban crisis of 2006 and let's not forget about what happens in Vegas.

This time around it appeared everything was going according to plan. Our whole group of five arrived at the airport on time. We checked in without incident, had zero problems going through security and had time to eat dinner while waiting for our flight. Granted, our flight was delayed for about 45 minutes but one expects those things in this day and age.

What I did not expect was that our group would be separated on the plane. This shouldn't have been a huge problem. The window seat was empty, I was in the middle, my teeny-tiny roomie was in the aisle. The boys were right across from us and Liz was several rows closer to the front.

Not a problem. Until I noticed a woman who appeared to be eyeing that window seat.

The woman was enormous.

I'm not talking just overweight. I'm a big girl myself, so I have plenty of sympathy and compassion for plus-size girls. But this woman was way beyond overweight. She was huge!

I tried to stay calm and convince myself she was looking at the seat in front of me. She inched closer and closer down the aisle and within moments was standing right there, pointing at the seat next to me, asking to slide in. Oh, mommy.

I was crushed, both literally and figuratively. Praise God for teeny-tiny roomies because I had to lift up the arm rest and half sit in her seat. My whole body ached from sitting in a half-bent position on the edge of the seat for the entire three-hour flight.
And so begins vacation.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Leavin' on a jet plane

Don't know when I'll be back again...

Well technically I know when I'll be back in Houston. But I don't know when I'll be blogging again. Definitely not until some time next week. The staff of the QQ is taking a little R&R in D.C. By the time I get back, I'll have aged a year.

I know you'll be sad that I'm gone and miss me terribly. In an attempt to assuage your sorrows, I leave you with several fun activities to enjoy.

First, in case you don't read The Traveler's blog, here's a truly priceless bit of internet humor. Go to your google bar. Type in "Find Chuck Norris" and then instead of hitting the search button, hit the 'I'm feeling lucky' button.

Second, if you're white or if you want to know what it's like to be white then this is the website for you. Funny, offensive and incredibly accurate.

And lastly, the next time you're killing time and surfing the web you really should visit Spend five minutes on this website and make a tangible difference for hungry families, all while improving your vocabulary!

Have a great week! Catch ya on the flip side.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I spend TWO nights a week on this!

If you came to me ten years ago, nay -- five years ago, and told me that the world's most popular television show in any genre would be a live production of ballroom dancing featuring slightly obscure celebrities, I would have filed your name under the 'gullible' entry in my mind's dictionary. I also would have asked you if you'd be interested in buying a piece of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Catching Some Rays

I have not yet grown tired of tooling around town in my adorable and oh-so-sexy Mini Convertible. The weather this weekend was quite perfect for running errands with the top down. Sunshine and cool breezes make for one Happy Laurie. But I have discovered a drawback to these wonderful Spring days. I now have a seatbelt-shaped sunburn across my chest. Two rosy-red patches divided by a three-inch-wide diagonal swath of palest white that cuts right across my clavicle. I would post pictures, but this is a (mostly) family-friendly blog.

Friday, April 11, 2008

You Decide

What do YOU think is going on in this picture?

Email Excerpts

The following missive came from an email one of my friends sent me earlier this week. Sometimes the inbox contains priceless jewels of bloggability.

From: Guy Friend
To: LJ

Hey Chica...

So, I didn't get a chance to tell you the other night about my Chili Cook Off. It was exciting. Ok, now onto the thing that made me think of you. Our individual project teams had special names that were associated with whatever Chili we were cooking and/or the theme we were trying to portray. Our Admin staff, not on a specific project team, cooked hot dogs for the kids rather than the chili. Their team name was "LJ and The Pups". It cracked me up just a bit. I imagined that you were in a poodle skirt and all your girls were wearing cutesy, pink dog collars doing a little doo-wop behind you...if you could only see the mental picture I had...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Who's gonna catch it?

Quite possibly the only time I'll do a bouquet toss...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Picture Perfect

Last week I was chatting with a co-worker in the studio and someone walked by and snapped our picture. We were both caught a little off-guard, but laughed about it. I mentioned how I think candid shots are always terrible. You usually end up making some strange face or looking drunk or something.

My co-worker agreed and then said "but you take great candid shots. You're very photogenic."

Me: "Hmm, I don't usually feel that way, but thanks for saying that."

Him: "No really. In fact I have a great picture of you that I snapped a while back. It's up on the wall in my apartment."

Me, nervously: "You have a picture of me? In your apartment?"

Him: "Yeah. You look really cute in it."

Me, mildly disturbed: "Well...thanks."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More Irony

I don't have time to blog today.
The only way to inform you of that is by blogging.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Just for fun

From our Moscow Bureau

Spring has arrived! I can hardly believe it. We've had 5 solid days of sunshine. I actually went out for a walk a day or two ago with nothing but a t-shirt on (get your mind out of the gutter). My point is that winter is on its way out (and not a moment too soon). With the warmer weather come longer days and shorter nights. I'm told that it will be daylight until almost midnight during the summer. Looks like I'll have to invest in aluminum foil for my bedroom windows.

As I've mentioned previously, I finally found an apartment. This weekend my agent (who is the best real estate agent I've ever used) took me to Ikea to buy furniture for my apartment. When I moved to Moscow, all I brought was nine bags so you can imagine all the stuff that we had to buy to furnish the apartment. The only reason I think she had me come to Ikea with her was to a) push the baskets and b) pay the bill. Would you believe that before we were finished I had baskets full of everything from spatulas to sofas? When we got to the counter to pay I had about 25 yards worth of baskets to push and several poor saps standing in line behind me watching as I counted out 150,000 rubles ($6,000) in $20 dollar increments (everyone uses cash in Russia). I'm not sure I could have done any of the shopping that day without my agent. She was able to negotiate the store (it's freakin' huge), negotiate with the sales people, and get the shipping and assembly lined up as well (all of which had to be done in Russian). Then she took me to an electronics store to buy a microwave and tv. Eight hours later I had all the makings of a furnished apartment…on paper…

The next day the problems began. The delivery guys showed up 10 hours late and then refused to deliver. Once we did convince them to deliver they didn't deliver all of the items. Half of the items they did deliver they damaged either in transit, or the way up the stairs. The assembly guys showed up the day after the delivery guys and managed to damage the other half of the items…(it was like a tag team event). The best part is that they do not remove the boxes from your apartment (they say for warranty reasons). So now, while I may not have a bed, I can always construct one out of the boxes and duct tape (literally 50+) that they've left behind...if I could only find duct tape.

Friday night I ventured out with some friends of mine to go check out a movie at a large cinema. The cinema only has one English speaking screen that is located about 1-1/2 blocks from the concession stand inside the theater. So after you've bought your ticket and purchased your popcorn and soda, you have to walk outside and down the street to your movie. No big deal right… That is until you walk outside and are swarmed by children wanting you to give them your soda, your popcorn and in some cases your wallet. The kids ages range from 5 years to 12 years I'm guessing. The two little devils that attacked me were around 6yrs (girl) and 10 yrs (boy). Had they been homeless or destitute one might feel as though sharing your drink, popcorn or even money would be the right thing to do. But these little animals were dressed nice. And they had a system of attack. They actually cornered the girl I was with and because both her hands had drinks in them, she couldn't do anything. They had her purse unzipped before I could get over to her to save the sodas! Crazy! After the show we stood near the entrance and watched the little monsters as they attacked wave after wave of unsuspecting movie goers. To be young and gypsy…

~The Moscow Correspondent

Friday, April 04, 2008

Reality? Or just every girl's dream?

I got home pretty late last night, around 9:30pm. I felt exhausted, slightly cranky and not even close to looking pretty. My hair was a curly mess. I had glasses on instead of my contacts. My clothes were wrinkled. In other words, it wasn't exactly my most shining moment.

Even so, there was a man waiting for me. He folded me into his arms and said "Laurie Johnson, why do you have to be so good-looking?"

I said something to the effect of "Oh puh-lease. Don't make fun of me."
That's when he pulled back and looked in my eyes. "I'm serious," he said. "With your messy hair and your glasses, coming in tired at the end of the day...this is the real Laurie. You look beautiful."

And for that one moment I actually felt beautiful.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I just met an attractive single guy for lunch.
He paid.
I gave him my house key.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


  • I discovered something this morning that was quite surprising and unexpected. I even exclaimed "whoa!" out loud when I made the discovery. But it's really not worth telling you about.
  • I got my first sunburn of the season. I was at an outdoor assignment yesterday afternoon. I didn't realize I was burned until this morning when I was getting ready. The funny thing is the burn is square-shaped.
  • I did fall for one April Fool's Joke yesterday. It almost made me cry.
  • It's been a good shoe week. Every day for the past five or six days I've received compliments on the shoes I wear. I've been meaning to take a picture of my newest pair. They made quite the splash among the ladies at the office.
  • I covered an event yesterday about the dangers of drinking and driving. About five minutes after I left the event, I noticed a man driving a battered old pick-up truck. He was drinking a beer.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I got a text message early this morning.
It said "Call me, Baby."

I don't know who it was from.
I didn't call.