Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fun with Government Offices and GPS

Who knew changing my name would be this much fun? First off, can someone please explain to me why I need to go IN PERSON to the Social Security office to change my last name when everything else at Social Security can be done online? Seriously. Go to their website. There is an entire page dedicated to "Things You Can Do Online" which includes signing up for every benefit program under the sun, but getting married and changing to your husband's last name is not one of them. For that, you must physically go to a field office. This makes no sense. Want SSI checks? No problem, just click here! Want to report wages under a new name? Oh no no no! We're going to need to see you in person. Why?? Why can't I just fill out a form and submit a copy of my marriage license online? I don't get it.

So, clearly, I was annoyed about having to take time off work to take care of this but already it's been a month since I got married. I figured I had better stop stalling and get it done. Fortunately, there is a field office about 15 minutes from where I live, so I was hopeful that I could get this over with pretty quickly and get to work before 10. And I probably could have gotten it over with pretty quickly had I not relied on my GPS to get me there. TomTom strikes again! I had a vague idea of where the Social Security office was but since I wasn't exactly sure, I plugged the address into the GPS. And sure enough, GPS sent me the wrong way. Seriously, TomTom has to be the worst GPS on the market right now. T-squared has screwed me more times that I can count and has yet to buy me dinner. And I know it's not just me. Friends have told me that they too have been in the middle of a bridge and been told by Tom "You have reached your destination!" And that's kind of what happened on Wednesday morning.

I turned off the highway and, as per Tom's directions, made a left at the light. In 400 yards I was supposed to arrive at my destination: 297 Knollwood Road. Except that in 400 yards I wasn't at 297 Knollwood. I had 399 Knollwood on my right, and... 41 Knollwood on my left. Awesome. So I think, Okaaaay, maybe the 3 fell off? Maybe that is really 341. So I continue straight and the next building on the left is... 45 Knollwood. F me. At this point Tom thinks I he already got me to my destination so he isn't even trying to help me out anymore. Not "turn around when possible” or anything. And I'm totally confused: do I continue going straight since the odd numbers are on the left and I haven't come into the 200s yet? Or do I turn around because the numbers on the right side are already into the 400s? I decide to go straight. MISTAKE. Not long after I passed 45 Knollwood, there ceased to be any buildings at all on the left side and there was also no place to turn around. I ended up driving a good five minutes out of my way before I finally was able to make a U-turn. Okay, so now I'm turned around and driving back from whence I came, and as I pass 45 Knollwood again Tom announces "You have reached your destination!" Apparently, my destination is Staples. It was the only other building around! I ignored it before because, logically, I didn't think Social Security was renting space inside Staples, but who knows? Now I’m doubting myself. So I drive into the Staples shopping center trying to keep an open mind, but the only numbered building I see is 327. And for a second I honestly consider going inside Staples to ask them if they are 297 Knollwood. Can you image? Um, hi! Which aisle is Social Security in? Oy.

Thankfully, common sense prevailed. I pulled over, turned Tom off, and was about to call the office itself for directions when I saw an office building on the opposite side of the road from where Tom had originally told me to turn left. No... could it be? Could Tom have told me to turn left when I should have turned RIGHT? Sure enough, there, RIGHT off the highway, not left, onto Knollood was 297. F-ing A, Tom. F-ing A.

Once I actually made it into the office it was pretty much smooth sailing. What an interesting cross-section of life in there though. Wow. While waiting in line to hear my number called, I saw a blind man with a seeing-eye dog trying to figure out from the clerk why he got an overpayment letter demanding he repay Zero dollars and Zero cents. And then there was the lady who threw a fit because they wouldn't see her because she missed her appointment. Apparently she was late because she couldn't find the office and was yelling at the other clerk "Nobody knows where this place is!!" To which the clerk responded "Nobody? I know where it is." And then the lady really went ballistic. Can't say I don't relate.

Hopefully all is well that ends well. They took my form and looked at my marriage certificate and said that I should be receiving my new card in a week. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Who's with me?

Wow-- my Facebook post clearly struck a nerve. I have been hearing it for days now on both sides-- lots of "Right on, Sista!" and equal amounts of "You're wrong! FB rocks!" Not that anybody comments PUBLICLY on the blog, but that's a discussion for another day... In the meantime, I'm very curious to know where the rest of you stand:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pictures! And a rant about Facebook...

Anthony, our freakin phenomenal photographer, just posted a sneak peak of our pics on Mike's Facebook page......... And they're freakin HOT!

I stole a couple for the blog, emphasis on the word stole, for those of you who may not be on Facebook. I, like so precious few other people, am NOT on Facebook. For a while Mike was standing strong with me in The Resistance, but he caved last week. It was pretty ironic actually-- he's only worked in the Internet biz for, oh, a decade and finally last week for no particular reason at all he's like "Oh hey wow, this Facebook thing is pretty cool!" So now he's on Facebook and all of our pictures from the honeymoon are on Facebook and now our professional photos from the wedding are on Facebook, but I'm NOT on Facebook.

Seriously, the pressure to get on FB grows stronger every day. All you Facebook pushers should be ashamed of yourselves. You'll seriously stop at nothing! My cousin won't even send me photos of her kids because she says "Well.... if you were on Facebook you could see them." My own flesh and blood. Nice.
But I will not be coerced. I gave my word to Maura and Fareeda that I wouldn't do it, and while I am beginning to feel like we may end up as the last three standing, I am not getting on Facebook.

......I may however continue to ogle our photos on Mike's FB page.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Skyway Jack's: Home of the All-Day Breakfast!

It has been roughly 4 months since Mike and I last went to Toronto, but time has not faded my husband's memory of the amazing breakfast we had on our last trip. We headed back to Canada this past Saturday to meet up with our favorite Canadians, Still Motion-- I'll get to that story in a second. But first, I have to share the hilarity of what transpired en route to their studios.

Our flight was at 8:45am, which meant we had to leave our apartment by 6:30. It also meant we didn't have time to eat before our flight. No Garden State Diner this time around. After our volcano experience I knew to pack a snack, especially considering that it would probably be close to 11am by the time we made it out of the airport and into a restaurant in Canada. But Mike wasn't interested in the protein bar I offered to share on the plane-- he was saving his appetite for Skyway Jack's.

Honestly, I had forgotten all about Skyway Jack's. When we were standing in line at Customs in Toronto and Mike suggested we try to find "that place we ate at last time" I didn't think much of it. Much beyond, Good Lord, Please Don't Let Us Drive Around Until Dinner Time Trying to Find the Random Hole in the Wall We Ate Breakfast at 5 Months Ago Whose Name We Can't Remember .

But I should know better by now than to doubt my husband's ability to find food. No joke: his stomach gives better turn-by-turn directions than TomTom. Watching him behind the wheel of our rental car retracing his steps out of the airport last August was like something out of Rain Man. Okay, we headed out of Terminal 3 onto 409. Then we merged onto 401 and we took that for a while. Then we got off at that exit that didn't have a lot of stuff around it. Was it this one? No, no, too many buildings. Betcha it's the next one. Yes! This is it! Okay, then we were on this for a while... just past the bridge... we made a right at the McDonald's and then it was right next to the--ah! There it is!

And there it was: Skyway Jacks! Home of the All Day Breakfast. I really couldn't tell you what was so amazing about this place other than that they just make really good, simple food. And that with a slogan like "Home of the Healthy Portions" you know you won't leave there hungry.

As usual my order disappointed Mike. I did not take advantage of the "whole lotta food for not a lotta money" offer. In fact, I think my two eggs sunny side up/sliced tomato/no potato/dry toast special order cost more than Mike's selection off the menu: THE RANCHER. For $5.95 Canadian THE RANCHER gets you 3 Eggs, Grilled Sausage, Onions and Peppers, and Toast. And this was a modest breakfast by Skyway Jack's standards. Last time, Mike got THE RANGLER: 3 Eggs, Ground Beef, Peppers, Tomatoes, Onions & Cheddar Cheese. Wowsa. That is what Mike calls on his Facebook page "so much awesomeness on such a small plate."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Check Out Our Video!!

The Same Day Edit is up!! If you missed it the first time or have been dying to see it again, go watch Michael + Chrystalle - A Wedding is More Than One Day. And check out the comments-- as expected, somebody immediately posted "Dude-- she bought him a Lambo!!" Maybe one day, darling :)

By the way, while we're on the topic of the SDE, I have to tell you a few things about Still Motion. (Yeah yeah yeah, I'm about to get all mushy again. Deal with it!)

So, One, we've never seen anyone work harder. When they say that they worked around the clock, they really mean around the clock. Powered by pizza and passion, they shot all day, edited all night and did it all again the next day.

Two, we've never seen anyone have more fun. I mean for real, I love my coworkers to death but I can't imagine looking as happy as the Still Motion crew did after spending 144 straight hours with my office-mates. Yet every day the SM gang seemed like they were having the time of their lives following US around while we got ready for the time of OUR lives. How awesome is that?

Three, we miss them!! Guys, you rocked our world and we can't wait to see you again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thursday the 19th was our last day in Hawaii. Sadness! But the day was not a complete bummer because we saved something really cool to do for our last hurrah: the coffee farm tour. Woohoo! Being coffee freaks this was definitely a highlight for us.

Our resort was right in Kona, and Kona is to coffee what Napa Valley is to wine. There was something like 600 coffee farms on this main drag right near our hotel, and most of them welcome you right in to taste their goods. It's awesome-- you just walk in and the coffee is right there waiting for you. Just grab a cup and help yourself. And they often ply you with treats like freshed baked Oatmeal Cherry Coffee Cookies and Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans-- bonus! We really only had time to go to three farms, but we easily could have kept going (file that under Reason Number 8392355632115 why we'll be returning to Hawaii!).

The first stop was Hula Daddy (gotta love that name) where we spent the highest sum we've ever paid for a single pound of coffee (60 bones!!). But that particular award-winning coffee was a gift for a highly deserving couple who happen to be even bigger coffee freaks than we are, so it was money well spent.

Next stop was Kona Blue Sky Coffee. This place was phenomenal and now that we are back home in New York I know that we will be placing mail orders for more coffee frequently. Amazing coffee aside, this was our favorite stop on the tour for purely educational reasons. We learned a lot from our sweet Nebraskan tour guide--I can't remember her name, but she was the cutest thing ever. She met her boyfriend at school in her home state and followed him home to his home state. Very sweet. But I digress.

So here's a little pop quiz for you based on the cool things we learned on our tour of Kona BLue Sky:

Which tastes stronger: medium roast or dark roast?
The dark roast.
Duh! That was a gimme. Try this one:

Which has more caffeine: medium roast or dark roast?
The medium roast!
Shocker, right?

We also learned that peaberry is not a type of coffee unto itself. Apparently, peaberries are mutants (and I mean that in a good way!)that occur in about 5% of the cherries on a coffee tree. The cherries contain the coffee beans, which 95% look like what you think of when you envision a coffee bean-- you know, the thing that looks like it's sort of split down the middle in two neat halves? Well sometimes the cherry produces a bean that looks like it's missing its other half. The peaberry is that small, flat half-size bean. Why is this important? Well, it's not important really. But it does taste good! Coffee made from just the peaberries has a distinctive, robust flavor that is very nice. Try it! You like. I promise.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Volcanoes can teach you a lot about marriage: Part 2

Okay, now for Chrystalle's side of the story! I'll agree with Mike on one thing: the day did get off to a good start. On Tuesdays at the resort they have a 6:30a.m. spin class, so I got up nice and early and had an awesome, kick-ass workout. I'm not sure how many of you are into exercising in the morning, but there's just something about it that makes you feel so good about yourself and really makes you want to continue doing healthy things all day, starting with, say, eating a healthy breakfast. Which is why when Mike and I sat down at the restaurant I knew exactly what I wanted: oatmeal and fruit. Mike was not impressed with my order.

"Why don't you get the buffet?"

"Because all I want is oatmeal and fruit."

"They have that at the buffet!"

"But why would I order the whole buffet if all I want is oatmeal and fruit?"

"Because you might see something else you like."

Right. Okay, so putting aside for the moment the fact that I HATE buffets-- they make me feel like an animal at the trough filling up my feed bag-- "seeing something else I like" is precisely the problem with buffets. My husband is not a calorie counter. He does not understand that if I look at a menu and order a single healthy item, I have successfully avoided the temptation of whatever diet disasters could have befallen me at that meal, like buttermilk pancakes or Belgian waffles or whatever other belly-busters they have to offer. If I go to the buffet, then I have to avoid the diet disasters again and again and again as I walk up and down in search of the healthy fare. It's just too tempting and not worth the hassle.

"I don't want anything else. I just want oatmeal and fruit."

I think Mike got the point, but he always has to have the last word. "Fine. Just saying though, there's a whole vat of oatmeal at the buffet."

Aaarrrrrgh. But putting that minor irritation aside, we had a very nice breakfast down by the beach and when it was over, I was very psyched about going to the volcano. Seriously! Plus we were going to go the long, scenic way so that we could see the entire island. I was genuinely looking forward to it.

Which is why I was so disappointed when it turned into a bust.

So why exactly was it a bust? Was it because as a girl I am genetically incapable of enjoying volcanoes? Is the female of the species too prone to bouts of hunger or chills or maybe just general misandry to understand the awesomeness of such an adventure?

Or is it possible that perhaps the day was not quite as enjoyable for me because IT WAS 60 DEGREES OUT AND RAINING AND MY HUSBAND TOLD ME NOT TO DRESS WARM?!?! And could it also have something to do with the fact that WE WENT WITHOUT FOOD FROM 8am UNTIL 4pm?!?!?! Hmmm, I'm thinking that maybe the fact that I was starving and freezing had something to do with my displeasure.

Yet interestingly, when Mike shares his version of the story he neglects to mention that I asked him not once, but TWICE whether or not I should wear long pants and he said NO. He also neglects to mention that we finished breakfast at 8, that I had gone to spin that morning and only had a bowl of oatmeal and some fruit for breakfast, that I finally asked around 2 if we could stop for lunch, and that we didn't actually GET any food until 4pm. Jeez!

I'm all for being fair, so I would like to share Mike's responses to my contentions.

To my point that I was freezing, Mike responds that he "didn't know it would be that cold." And here we have Marriage Lesson Number One: do not assume that information provided by your husband is factual. Because apparently, he does not need to familiarize himself with the facts prior to doling out information. In other words, Mike, if you didn't know it would be cold, why did you tell me how to dress? Why not say, "Hmm, I'm not sure if you should wear pants. You should check the web to see what the Volcano State Park suggests."

And to my point that I was starving, Mike says "Well, I told you to get the buffet!" Thus bringing us to Marriage Lesson Number Two: men have larger storage vessels than women do. Whereas I get full quickly and prefer to eat five small meals a day, my husband is on the Eat Till You Barf plan. If I tried to eat the way he does, I would be sick for hours. If not days. So no wonder he didn't want lunch --I wouldn't want lunch either if I could shove down the equivalent of three breakfasts!

So like I said, volcanoes can teach you a lot about marriage. Next sight-seeing trip, no matter what Mike says, I'm packing sweats. And snacks.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Volcanoes can teach you a lot about marriage: Part 1

I hate volcanoes.

Actually, I don't hate volcanoes at all. I happen to think they are pretty freakin' cool. But Mike says I hate volcanoes, so there must be something to that, right? If you ask my husband, his takeaways from our visit to the Volcano State Park on Hawaii's Big Island are that (1) volcanoes are for boys, and (2) he made a massive mistake in "dragging" me there. I have my own takeways from the experience, including (1) boys are more likely to give you faulty information than admit they don't know something and (2) once a boy has made up his mind about something, trying to convince him otherwise is a lot like trying to talk your way out of a speeding ticket: you can try, but ultimately it's less painful for everyone if you just accept it and move on.

In the interest of fairness, I'm going to do my best to give Mike's full side of the volcano story first. Then, I'll do a second blog post with my side. I can already feel all you married people shaking your heads at us. Ah, the joys of marriage are just beginning!

Mike's Version of the Events Transpiring on Tuesday, November 16
The day got off to a great start. Months ago when I made the reservation for this hotel, I selected the Bed and Breakfast plan which meant that our breakfast was already paid for up to $75. The Four Seasons has an awesome spread called the Ultimate Buffet for $44 that includes anything and everything you could possibly want: made to order omelets and waffles, an Asian station with shrimp fried rice, classic Continental items cereals, fruit and pastries, and all sorts of other good stuff. Talk about getting your money's worth! I mean, how can you go wrong with that? Logically, I went with the buffet. But what does my wife order? A $9 bowl of oatmeal and an $8 plate of pineapple. Are you freakin kidding me? Ehhhh, what on earth is the point of that? Why not just get the buffet? They have all the oatmeal and fruit up there you could possibly want! I tell Chrystalle this, and she says "But all I want is oatmeal and pineapple."

"Right, but you can get that with the buffet!"

"But why would I get the buffet if all I want is oatmeal and pineapple, which I can get a la carte?"

Uggghhhh. I could see this was going no where. But given that I had already paid for this all-inclusive breakfast, I was damn well going to get my money's worth. Round One at the buffet I got a ham and cheese omelet, shrimp fried rice, potatoes and tomatoes. Then for Round Two I got a full Belgian waffle and some fresh berries. The guy at the buffet even asked me if I wanted a half waffle or a full, but I told him, Go Ahead! Give me the Full! What the hell, right? I nearly exploded, but hey, at least I got what I paid for.

Okay, so breakfast down, we set out for the volcanoes. I warned Chrystalle that it was going to be a looooonnnnnnng day. We were going to drive around the entire island AND do the hiking trails at the volcano park. She said that she was excited about it, and against my better judgement, I took her at her word. The whole time I could hear the voice in my head saying, "Michael, she's going to hate this. She's going to get there and hate it and then she's going to ruin the volcano for you! She's going to rush you out of there because she's cold or hungry or her feet hurt or she's bored or who knows what else! Abort, Michael. ABORT!" But I ignored the voice and got in the car. I am not a smart man.

Two hours into the drive she has to go to the bathroom. Of course. I pull over into a gas station (we're on the wet side of the island now so it's raining pretty steadily) and she gets out and steps right into a puddle. Great. Now I've got to hear about how her sneakers are wet. I can tell already this is going to be awesome.

Another two hours later, she wants coffee. So we pull over again, this time into a 7-Eleven, for coffee and a pack of macadamia nuts. And we're on our way again. One hour later, we arrive at the Volcano Park. Again, she has to go to the bathroom. (Why oh why do women have to tinkle so much??) So she disappeared for a while and i got to scope out the visitors center and map out our course. And man, this place is even cooler than I thought it would be. There's active volcanoes you can actually hike down into, and there's even more craters that you can walk all over. Plus, at the end of the Crater Drive, you can get right up to where the last volcanic eruption covered over the street. You have to leave your car a half mile back from the edge of the lava, but you can walk it and then continue walking on down to the beach to see where the lava ran into the ocean. And then you can actually see the steam where lava is STILL flowing into the ocean! That's unbelievable!

At least, that's what I thought. As predicted (I am so good. I totally called this one) Chrystalle was not impressed. She was cold. Granted it was a little chilly but really it was just the rain that was making it uncomfortable. But who cares? What's a little rain? We're in a volcano! All I could think was please let the rain stop. She won't be miserable if the rain stops.

But the rain didn't stop. And soon, she wouldn't even get out of the car. So we're driving through the most awesome park on earth and my wife is sitting in the car while I get out to look at stuff. She wasn't complaining, but I felt like a jerk just leaving her in the car. So I end up jumping out, taking a 2-second peek at everything, snapping a picture, and then running back to the car, all along the map of the park. And the whole time I've got this internal monologue going, on one side, "I've got to get her out of her before this gets ugly" and on the other hand "I'm never coming back here! I have to see everything!" Ugh, what a mess.

And then, right as we are about to get to the coolest part of the whole tour-- the lava that ran over onto the main road-- it happens: "Mike, do you think we could stop for lunch soon?"

Oh Great Merciful God, NOOOO!! Not that! There is nothing scarier in life than my wife when she's hungry. Good Lord. As soon as she said Lunch the clock began to tick. And the voice in my head boomed "Michael, you have less than one hour before TOTAL MELTDOWN." But we were so close! It was only another 20 minute drive down to the end of the road, and then a half-mile hike to get to where the lava ended. I had to see this. It was worth the consequences. Besides, maybe being hungry for a while would teach her not to eat like a freakin bird. I told her to get the buffet!

It was 2:20 when the Lunch clock began to tick and it was 3:12 when got back in the car after hiking over the lava. I would have liked to have hiked all the way down to the ocean, but I'll take what I can get. Chrystalle was not looking good so I knew we were approaching Hunger-CON 5. "Don't worry dear! We're gonna get you some food!" Weak smile from my wife in reply. Oh boy, this is looking ugly. Please Lord, just let me find a restaurant!

But there are no restaurants. We are on the dead, undeveloped side of the island and there is NOTHING. So I'm driving. And I'm driving. And there's still NOTHING. And before long I can see out of the corner of my eye that she is curled up against the door in a fetal position with her eyes closed. Jesus. Lord, don't do this to me! I'm going to have to hear about this for the rest of my life! But finally, after almost an hour of driving, we found the saddest gas station you have ever seen in your life. Chrystalle flys out of the car like a bat out of hell and buys a bag of pretzels and a Diet Coke. And she is happy again. And all is right with the world. Except that she thinks I am an insensitive jerk who thought for days about how to torture her and came up with the volcano frostbite starvation treatment.

Maybe she's right. But hey, I'm new at this married stuff. Now I know. No matter what my wife says, ahe is still a girl and would still rather be at the spa than at the volcano. And while I love her very much, I will never take her to do boy things again.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You can take the boy out of The Bronx...

...but you can't take The Bronx out of the boy. Did you all know that Mike is originally from The Bronx? Well, it's true. He may have only lived there a year before his family moved to Beacon, but clearly those formative months in the Boogie Down left their mark. So with his origins in mind, let me tell you a little story about my husband. (P.S. Please keep in mind that this is NOT a knock against The Bronx! Being from Queens myself, I got nuttin' but love for the boroughs!)

On Monday, when we arrived on the Big Island from Maui, we were about 6 days into our 10 day vacation and were both running pretty low on clean clothes. I was down to my last pair of socks and Mike was totally out of boxers and golf shirts. We had thought about getting some of our essential items cleaned while we were on Maui, but the rates at our last hotel were absurd: $3 per pair of socks, $12 per shirt, and so on. Thus, you can imagine our delight when Mike found a single-use packet of Woolite in the amenities basket here at the Four Seasons! We had been planning on doing some hand wash once we got here anyway, so discovering laundry detergent in our room was just a huge plus. Not one to waste time, Mike went to work immediately on filling the tub and cleaning his clothes. This struck me as mildly amusing as I had never seen anyone do hand wash in a tub before. But hey, I guess the tub makes sense if you have a lot to clean. Or if your clothes take up a lot of space. Typically my hand wash consists of unmentionables that fit neatly in the sink, so it never occurred to me to fill up the bath. But I'm digressing. To continue painting the picture: Mike is cleaning his shirts and shorts in the tub and I am digging through my suitcase to find my dirty socks and other workout paraphernalia (might as well make full use of the tub now, right?). Before I can even pull the last dirty item from my bag, Mike is all done and carrying his wet stuff past me into the room. I assume that he needs to get into the closet so he can hang up his stuff, so I move out of the way and head right into the bathroom. Mike was kind enough to drain the tub once he was done, so I turn the water on and start to refill it. Then I grab the Woolite from the counter only to discover that he used the whole thing!

-- We now interrupt this story to give you some critical background information that will really help put the climax of the drama in perspective. A friend of mine happens to know the CEO of the Four Seasons on the Big Island, where this story takes place. My friend put a call in to his friend, who then made sure that we were given not just the usual 4S treatment, but some extra special 4S treatment. When we checked into our room, we not only found the champagne and massage gift certificate that I mentioned in my last post, but also a personal note from the CEO inviting us to dinner on the house as well as a day of complimentary ocean activities like snorkeling or canoeing or whatever else appealed to us. I also think, although this was never stated, that this friend had a hand in seeing that our cabana was on the 18th hole of the golf course. Pretty nice, right? Especially since the CEO doesn't know us personally. Okay, so as I return you to your regularly scheduled blog post please keep in mind that we were being treated as special guests at the hotel and would eventually like to meet the CEO and make a good impression. --

Slightly irritated now that my husband used all the soap, I turn around to ask Mike if by any chance he had found two packages of Woolite. And what do I see when I turn around? There, outside the double doors to the patio, looking out on the golf course where a few fine linksmen are concluding their game, is my Michael, hanging up his laundry over the side of our balcony. Ahhhhhhh! I mean, we might as well have packed some engine parts to strew all over the front lawn. If ever there were any unspoken rules of how one should comport oneself at a fine hotel, NOT stringing clothes up out the window has to be one of them! Add to that the fact that the clothes in question were in one of the most conspicuous spots on the entire property -- directly in view of the golfers as they drove up to the 18th hole -- and that fact that we were given special treatment by the CEO, the laundry faux pas could not have been more mortifying. Can you imagine if the golfers had actually complained or mentioned to the pro back at the shop that there was some riffraff hanging clothes up on the course?? Ohmigod. These are all the thoughts racing through my head. I didn't say anything, but I guess Mike could tell by the look on my face that something was wrong.

"Pretty Bronx, huh?" he laughs.

"Ha!" Nervous laughter from me. "Yeah, um, actually, maybe we could just hang those up in the bathroom? Or the closet?"

"They'll dry better out here though."

"True... but they look a lot less embarrassing in here!"

We came to a mutual agreement that maybe there was a better place for the clothes. A compromise, if you will. I hung some of his shorts off the back of the chairs on the balcony, out of sight of passersby. And the rest we hung up in the closet.

But the story doesn't end there! In the most perfect, ironic, comical ending ever, we left our room shortly after the hand wash incident to go tour the resort property. Remember, we had only just checked in the hour before. And what do we find not 100 yards from our cabana? A laundry room, complete with washer AND dryer (and soap!), for guests-use only.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quick Poll

While reading the last blog update, my husband looked at me quizzically and asked "Redonkulous?" This struck me as pretty funny at first, but now I'm curious who else was confused. So tell us: do you speak Mike or Chrystalle?? ;)

  • I am, and use it myself frequently along with "Bananas."
  • I sorta am -- but didn't think it was a word people actually used in conversation.
  • I'm not, but I figured it out from context. I always aced those "reading comprehension" tests!
  • What the F is redonkulous??!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yeah, so, about us coming home...

We're so not leaving here. Our cabana is on the 18th hole (Mike is presently out playing his second round of golf today), we're eating breakfast each day right on the ocean, and the fitness club here is unreal. In the middle of my spin class yesterday, a man came in with chilled towels for us all to refresh ourselves with. That's awesome! And the cardio equipment is set up so that some machines are outside so you can enjoy the fresh air, while the rest are inside in case you want air conditioning. In fact, it's beautiful and breezy here right now, so I think I'm going to go see if one of those outside elliptical machines is free...

OMG We Heart the Four Seasons

Warning: you may really, really hate us after you read this. So proceed at your own risk. I am about to tell you just how insanely, redonkulously well we are being treated here in Hawaii. Those prone to fits of jealous rage may wish to stop reading now.

Separate warning for ADD types: if you really don't have the attention span to read this whole long post, I'd recommend just reading point 3. It's a highlight.

Still here? Alright. But you can't be mad now at us now at the end of this post because you were fairly warned.

In a nutshell, we are being spoiled rotten. Prior to Lanai, we had never stayed at a 4S so we didn't really know what to expect. But now that we are here in at the Four Seasons Hualalai Resort in Kona, there is a clear pattern in their service model and so I have no qualms about telling you what you can expect if you should ever lodge with them:

1) Expect to be greeted at the airport. These people do not slack off and wait for you to come to them to start the pamperage. Nope. Whether you need a ride, as we did in Lanai, or not, there will be a representative from the resort there to extend an "Aloha" (or the local equivalent if you're not in Hawaii). Here in Kona we booked a rental car, so the 4S greeter just gave us a friendly smile, tagged our bags for the bellman (to make things smoother once we arrived at the hotel), asked if we needed anything, and then continued on her merry way.

2) Expect check-in to be a really enjoyable experience. How bizarre does that sound? After the way we were welcomed in Lanai, with hot towels for our hands and fresh juice, I was actually looking forward to checking in at Kona. And I was not disappointed. There was the same hot towel treatment, and this time we got delicious tropical cocktails in these really cool miso-soup type bowls. Plus the whole check-in deal goes down while you are sitting on a comfy couch-- the receptionist comes to you to go over everything. Clearly a vast improvement over the usual waiting in line at a counter jazz.

3) Expect them to acknowledge special occasions. We were so surprised by the complimentary treats and champagne at the last 4S, but this time around the bar was set, so our expectations were higher. And man oh man did the Kona 4S come through. Veuve, baby! We're talkin' primo bubbly wrapped up all nice and pretty for us in our room. And that's not all! Kona talked to Lanai and found out what they did for us there, so this time instead of a dessert tray to go with our champagne, we got a gift certificate for a couples' massage! What?? Redonkulous. That's what.

4) Expect them to greet you by name. This may not be as impressive to everyone else as it is to me, but they make it a point here to find out your name and greet you by it, everytime. Given that I absolutely cannot get enough of hearing "Mrs. Anstett," you know I'm loving that :)


Check out this madness at the Kona International Airport: this is "baggage claim." In the airport's defense though, there were some fliers posted that asked us to please pardon the inconvenience while their conveyor belt is busted.

BTW, in case you're confused as to what we were doing at Kona Int'l, we just arrived at our final Hawaii destination, the Big Island!

Separate Honeymoons

Relax, don't get all nervous. Everything is fine with your favorite newlyweds. We still love each other very much. In fact, we love each other enough to go our separate ways for a little while so that we can each do exactly what we feel like doing. So on Sunday morning, before football, when Mike wanted to go explore some valley or something, I said "Go for it!" I went for a run on the beach. And then after football when he wanted to go for a 2-hour drive to Haleakala, a dormant volcano, I said "Go for it!" I went for another run (different course this time) and then plopped myself down in the resort to watch the Pats-Colts game, which turned out to be an excellent decision on my part. And we both had an awesome day! He just has cooler pictures.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Football for Breakfast

Hawaii is five hours behind Eastern Standard Time, so the 1:00 games on Sunday were on at 8am here. Which meant, football for breakfast! How cool is that? Sadly the G-men were on a bye this week, so I couldn't really cheer for my team here, but I did wear my jersey. Gotta represent Big Blue. Mike left his jersey home so he did not represent for Dallas (not that I could fault him for that after the Cowgirls' abysmal showing on Sunday).

Quick assessment of football fans in Hawaii: Mike says Fake, I say Weird. There was a large contingent of Seahawk fans (which makes sense given the proximity to Seattle), another contingent of Steelers fans (not sure how that happened but we're seeing a lot of them out here) and then this bizarre amalgam of NFC East fans who seemed to cheer for the Eagles, the Skins and the Cowboys (with the exception of one member of that group who cheered against the 'Boys and received the ridicule of her posse). So basically after every play of each game, somebody was cheering and somebody was jeering. I guess Loud would be a good description of football in Hawaii too.

Mama's Fish House

This isn't so much a blog post as a huge shout out to Mike K. for the best tip ever: Mama's Fish House. Mike told us no fewer than 10 times before and during the wedding that we simply must go to MFH while on Maui. I think he could tell after a while that we were starting to groan at the mention of his favorite restaurant, but he was unfazed, explaining that a guest at his wedding told him at least 10 times that he had to go there. And he was right.

With all the build up, we weren't sure Mama's could live up to the hype. But in fact, it exceeded our expectations. Blew them out of the water, to be precise. Holy Moly. Mike actually said it was one of the best meals he's ever had, and if you know my husband at all, you know that's a strong statement. From the fresh baked whole wheat mini loafs on the table to the wild ginger and sweet potato amuse bouche the chef sent out for us, to the inventive entrees (my ahi tuna entree was served pot roast style, where the tuna steaks were actually put on some type of skewer so that they looked like pork on the bone) to the delectable banana crumble dessert that I had to steal a couple bites of from Mike, Mama's was simply amazing. So kudos to you, Mike K., you know of what you speak and our tummies thank you very much!

Ooooh look what BaBa did!

How awesome is this? Check out this musical montage that BaBa, my father-in-law, put together of our rehearsal dinner. He calls this the teaser, so I can't wait to see the main feature!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Road to Hana

Hey, guess what I did on Saturday? Buy Dramamine! Actually, it's a homeopathic kind of Dramamine that isn't supposed to have any side effects like Dramamine can, and thankfully, it did not. I haven't actually taken Dramamine since I was a little kid, but I remember it always knocked me out, and as an added bonus, made me incredibly cranky. Weird, right? But it did keep me from barfing so when I saw it at the cafe, I mentioned to the girl behind the counter that I could have used it on the ferry yesterday. And being the good sales girl that she was, she quickly explained to me how I should buy this other rememdy they sell, Hyland's homeopathic motion sickness relief, for just a couple dollars more. She takes it herself (of course!) and I'll really need it on the road to Hana, which has "600 turns in less than 34 miles and 54 one-lane bridges."

--In case you have never heard of the road to Hana, it's basically the most scenic drive you could ever imagine along the coast of Maui. There's nothing actually in Hana per se, it's really just all the waterfalls and amazing views you see along the way to Hana Town that make the journey worthwhile. There are no real restaurants or anything because Hana has been kept undeveloped on purpose, so when you do the drive (which will take you a good 3 hours or more each way, depending on how many times you stop) it's recommended that you bring lunch with you.--

So back to the sales girl, this chick was awesome. Before we left there, she had upsold us from two sandwiches to motion sickness pills, a cooler bag, bug spray, and an audio CD providing a guided tour of the drive. Awesome. We were laughing the whole way out of town that she didn't talk us into flashlights, flares and tents in case we break down.

The drive to Hana itself was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime sort of experience. It was definitely long (it took us 8 hours in all) so I wouldn't sign up to do it again, but it was a lot of fun and the views were unreal. And Mike is an excellent driver, so even with the grand total 1200 curves, I did not feel sick at all. The motion sickness pills helped too.

Happy Anniversary!

On Friday night Mike and I celebrated our one-week anniversary (yay!!) by going to a luau. Actually, it was "more than a luau" according to the Playbill (yes, they gave us a Playbill). It was a full-on theatrical production intended to "take us back to a time when the mighty seafaring Polynesians discovered this land of Hawaii, thereafter calling themselves Hawaiian." A play in nine acts, Honua'ula is supposed to be a celebration of Polynesian heritage and culture. Instead, it was a hokey hot mess.

The good news is that it was over pretty quick and was full of comic relief, so we definitely felt entertained. But seriously, what on earth is a cell phone doing as a prop in a luau? I kid you not. During the love story scene in which Na'ulu, goddess of the clouds, greets her lover Kanaloa the god of the sea, home girl is on a cell phone. What the?? And then there was other bizarre nonsense like the rain goddess doing splits in the air while dangling herself trapeze-artist style from a tree. All very amusing to see, but I'm not sure I learned much about Hawaii's history.

Best part of the night, hands-down, was the fire dancer guy. Or I think technically he's called a fire sword dancer. He was awesome: eating fire, twirling fire, hula-hooping with fire. Really crazy stuff. Sorry we have no pictures of that for you, but they warned us he might kill himself if he got flash-bulb eyes. And wouldn't you have felt guilty if poor fire-dancer man hurt himself just for your blog-reading enjoyment? I thought so.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hello, Maui!

Wow, it is absolutely incredible how DIFFERENT Lanai and Maui are. On Lanai there are no fast food restaurants, no traffic lights, no towering hotels, not many tourists and not much noise. It's very rustic and very woodsy: the are more pine trees than palm trees. Maui on the other hand is a much more intense Hawaiian experience. Nothing here is understated. It's incredibly beautiful, don't get me wrong, it's just beautiful in a more in-your-face sort of way. And it's a lot more gentrified. As soon as you land on the dock, you see a Baskin-Robbins, a Subway and a Burger King . However, to be fair, I have to acknowledge that they are the prettiest versions of each establishment I have ever seen! The zoning laws are clearly very strict here, because each edifice is roughly the same low height, with the same blue and white moldings and the same mostly-glass exterior.

There are lot of hotels in the downtown area by the dock, but we are actually staying somewhat off the beaten path in Wailea, about a 40 minute drive away. Wailea has a handful of hotels, and I get the impression this is not where the majority of visitors stay at in Maui. But really I'm noly basing that on the surpised reaction from the rental car lady who asked us where we were staying.

One of the plusses I could see right off the bat of staying a little out of the way is that we got to see more of the island en route to our hotel. As a bonus, we scored a Ford Mustang for the car rental on this part of the trip, so the drive was even more enjoyable.

We got to the Marriott at Wailea Beach at around 1:30pm and after checking in and devouring some lunch, we plopped ourselves down at the infinity pool. Check out some of the views from our part of the hotel. I say "our part of the hotel" because the resort is ginornmous-- I don't think we've seen half of it yet.

P.S. How 'bout my husband's picture-taking skills, eh?? Pretty impressive!

Bye Bye, Lanai

Okay, this is seriously getting embarrassing. I honestly had no idea I was this prone to motion sickness, but apparently I am. On Friday we took the ferry from Lanai to Maui, our third island destination, and I was sick as a dog, again. But I tried so hard to fight it! The whole point of taking the ferry to to appreciate the amazing views of both islands as you depart and arrive, yet sadly, the best way to overcome sea sickness is to keep your eyes shut. What a cruel world we live in. So I tried "mind over matter" for the first half of the trip, determined to take in as much as I could. But then the girl in front of me got nauseous too, and it became impossible for me to both appreciate the vistas and avoid watching her fight to keep her breakfast down. Nothing will make you sicker quicker than seeing someone else puke. So the battle was over. In case you're keeping score, that's now motion sickness 3, Chrystalle 0. I caught the rest of the trip by checking out Mike's pics once we were aground in Maui.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chrystalle does not care for offroading, either.

I have to apologize upfront for this post. I really, really did not want to have to write this one (because I don't think it's right to be complaining about anything while in Hawaii) but Mike refused, so there we are.

Today's adventure was offroading in Lanai. We got up nice and early, hopped in the Four Seasons van and got dropped off at Dollar Rent a Car where we picked up the Jeep that Mike rented. We got the kind with the soft top, which they kindly took off for us so we could enjoy the sun while it was still out (the forecast said 40% chance of rain). And off we went. First stop, Lanai Coffee Company. We grabbed two coffees to go and were on to our next destination, Garden of the Gods. So far so good.

Garden of the Gods, as describes it, consists of "beautiful and unique rock formations which were formed by thousands of years of erosion in a remote canyon area. Colors of red, purple, and ochra earth and crusted lava create a striking lunar landscape. The area is mostly dry and often windy, making the unearthly rock formations even more eerie. The best time for viewing is early morning or late evening when the sun's rays strike the minerals in the rock and bring out their most dynamic colors. Axis deer and mouflon may be seen grazing on the few bits of vegetation that grows here."

That's one way to put it. I would say, imagine driving on Mars. That's how it looked to me, and driving through those craters is how I imagine it feels to drive on Mars. I'm tip-toeing around it here, but basically, if you don't care for amusement park rides, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES RENT A JEEP AND DRIVE TO THE GARDEN OF THE GODS. Yet again, Chrystalle nearly lost her breakfast. I kept my food down, but still had to make Mike stop the Jeep because my bladder was not as strong as my stomach. At least the area was completely desolate (also like Mars), so nobody saw me pee behind a rock. Oy vey. Definitely not a good look for me. Camping is not my forte. However, as you can see, the vistas were unreal. I can't honestly say that seeing those views was worth it for me, but they were incredible indeed.

Mike, being the good husband he is, saw how miserable I was and dropped me off at the resort before continuing his offroading adventure. The other pics are from his trip to see The Shipwreck, a boat which was intentionally run aground at that spot.

I spent the afternoon at the gym, which I'm sure my father-in-law is happy to hear. He thinks we're eating too much on our honeymoon and suggested NutriSystem may be worth consideration. Ouch! Then I went for a hike and Mike played his best round of golf ever (yay, Mike!).

Now we're off to catch a shuttle to Four Season's other resort on Lanai, Manele Bay, for dinner on the beach. Fortunately, the road to the sister hotel is actually paved.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank you, Four Seasons!

Look what was waiting for us when we got back from our hike! We haven't popped the champagne yet but I can tell you that the macadamia nuts are delish. The peanut brittle is pretty yummy too. We could get used to this sort of treatment!

Lanai is the most gorgeous place we've ever seen!

Holy Guacamole this place is unreal! Mike says that my blog posts are too long so I'll keep this one short and let the pictures speak for themselves. After we checked in at the Four Seasons here in Lanai we got a trail map and set out on a 5 mile hike. We hiked through a rain forest and then through incredibly dry, dusty patches, and when we got to the point lookout we could see Molokai to our left and Maui to our right, which is what you are seeing in these photos. There really are no words to describe what we saw, so I'll stop talking now :)

Chrystalle does not care for prop planes.

Day Two- Lanai! But first, the Island Air flight to get to Lanai. Our flight was delayed an hour, which is probably the only thing that has gone wrong for us yet on our trip. Not too shabby, right? I wasn't complaining though because it gave me a much-needed free second to catch up with the blog. How crazy is that? We just started this thing yesterday and already I'm behind. But hey, we've been busy, man. Cut me some slack! So anyway, back at the airport. I plop down at the gate to start blogging away, and happen to see out of the corner of my eye another example of tourists behaving badly. Well, that's not really fair. Behaving strangely is more like it. This woman sitting across from me was eating Cheetos with chopsticks!! So I quick elbow Mike to tell him that I just saw the greatest thing ever, but he can't hear me at all when I whisper, so he just looks at me completely confused, and asks something like "Wha? You want chicken?" Yes, dear. That's it. It's 9:45am and I am asking you for chicken. "NO!" I say louder, sort of shouting now under my breath. Then, through my teeth, "Look. Over. There." And then he finally saw what I was talking about: "That's genius!" I'm like, Duh, I know! But then the Cheeto lady's plane was boarding so she left before we could snap a photo. Sorry, guys! Then not long after that some other chick walked by with a ukulele. Also high on the amusement factor for us, but we didn't get a picture of that either.

At about 10:30am my date with destiny began as it was time to board our bird to Lanai. Seriously this thing was nothing more than an overgrown buzzard. I was terrified. And Mike is sputtering some nonsense about how prop planes are just as safe as jets, if not safer. Right. I'll believe that when I see the stats. In the meantime, all that's safe is the statement that they are definitely not as comfortable as jets. I really thought I was going to hurl. Thankfully, I was able to keep down my breakfast and we were back on terra firma in just under 30 minutes. I imagine the views were spectacular during the quick flight, but you'll have to ask Mike. My eyes were squeezed shut the entire time.

The Sun Sets on Tuesday

Put 'er in the books--thus concludes our first day in Hawaii. While I was blogging, Mike snapped these great shots of the sunset.

Fish Tacos!

After the climb we were STARVED. I mean, hungry to the point where we weren't going to make it back to the hotel without eating. Fortunately in Oahu (and I'm guessing on the other islands as well) there are strategically positioned fish taco stands just where you need them. So I made Mike pull over at this truck on the side of the road. Now, mind you, back home in New York I am not one to frequent the food carts and generally find something mildly revolting about meat served from the back of a truck, but as they say, When in Rome... And as you adventurous eaters out there probably expected, the food was amazing! As in finger-licking good. Wow. I had the freshest ahi tuna I can remember ever eating, Mike had the steak and we both shared an order of shrimp. Like everything else here, lunch was served with sticky rice, which we quickly made disappear as well. In fact we ate so much that we had to cancel our dinner reservation later that Celia from Tori Richards made for us because we were still stuffed. Who needs fancy-schmancy Waikiki Beach restaurants when you've got the Little Yellow Truck?

Anyone up for hiking a volcano?

Diamond Head rocks!! After we (or I should said I ) completed my retail therapy session, we headed around the corner from Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head, an actual volcano and one of Hawaii's most recognizable sights. The volcano is dormant and is hike-able for the daring and fit. (Rich, you would be so proud of Mike-- he hiked it like a champ!) You definitely get the impression though as you approach the base of the volcano that the parks Commission is trying to talk you out of the idea of hiking to the top. First there are signs that say "Warning: the climb is strenuous and challenging." No problem there-- I love strenuous and challenging! Then there are still more warnings that say "Caution: Falling Rocks May Cause Death." Okay, that one was pretty creepy, but we were undeterred. Besides, there were all these Harajuku chicks who clearly just got off the tour bus and were heading on up in their flip flops and Gucci heels. Seriously. I spotted more than one pair of Gucci kitten heels. Gotta give these women credit for living the credo Style before Comfort. So onward and upward!

The hike was challenging, as promised, but very very cool. And the views were out of this world, as evidenced by Mike's amazing photos. The header of this blog is us at the summit.

The last photo is my favorite though. Previously unbeknowst to me, I have a fear of heights. Once we started our descent, I got a wee bit freaked out and started proceeding verrrrry gingerly. Or Tulip-like as Mike likes to say. He snapped this last one about mid-way down the volcano. Priceless.