Sunday, February 27, 2011

half the fun is getting there... right?

who doesnt love vacations, right? after coming back from a vacation earlier this week, i have become a firm believer in taking a (SUN-FILLED!!) vacation around this time of year, every year. you know what i mean, right? it's about that time of year where the snow is no longer winter wonderland-esque and the cold is no longer "oh i so love and appreciate the four seasons!-esque". rather, the snow is just ridiculous at this point and the cold is... well, just plain cold. no ifs, ands or buts about it.

while my vacation to mexico and elsewhere (minor details, really) was simply delightful and adventurous and sunshiney happiness, half the fun (or misery) of any trip is getting there, right? therefore, this blog post is solely devoted to SPIRIT AIRLINES.

and how you should SO NEVER FLY THEM.

yes, i know. pessimism and animosity is so foreign to the maliyacular. but i consider it my duty as a citizen to formally alert my audiences (at home and ABROADLKJSdfklajds! i love my international blog audience!!!) of this airline.

alright. so, let's begin with my flight to cancun. please note that my route to and from mexico was as follows:

chicago --> ft. lauderdale --> cancun... and vice versa (obvi) on the way back.

chicago --> ft. lauderdale - i have never been on a JUNKIER plane. there were some seats that had the covers slightly worn and/or RIPPED. i mean, wtf. im not even particular about all that kind of stuff but are you serious? common courtesy, people. oh, and no leg room. NONE. im not even a tall person and i was all squinched up in my seat. while i typically like to curl up into a ball on flights (didn't bode so well for my darn sprained knee but whatever), i still appreciated the fact that there was absolutely zero leg room. see? you tall people are always in my thoughts. you're welcome. whatever, it was early- i could have just been grumpy (even though im a morning person... but whatever. just trying to show that i CAN give spirit the benefit of the doubt, as necessary).

ft. lauderdale --> cancun - while all the stuff applies (ie: no food or beverages unless you pay... even for water... but whatever, that's kind of typical for all airlines except my beloved southwest, thank you very much), i think the kicker of this flight was as follows... so we're flying into mexico, right? so obvi, we have to fill out the immigration and customs forms. so there they are, handing out the forms, when one of the stewardesses gets on her little microphone and is like "here at spirit, while you must fill out your immigration and customs forms prior to deplaning, we do not offer pens or pencils"...

UM I KNOW RIGHT. to be honest, this little stewardess actually sounded PROUD of this little fact of airline cheapness. W. T. F. i was appalled. and i didnt even have a pen! i had to actually borrow one from my neighbor. it was all very sad and ridiculous.

alright, whatever. i wasn't ready to totally blast spirit airlines after the above. i mean, whatever, it IS a cheap flight so i guess they have to cut costs somewhere (even if it IS in PENS... omg. i still cant get OVER that).

however... get ready for my trip back...

cancun --> ft. lauderdale - okay, so i get to the airport my requisite two hours early for my international flight (ever-vigilant citizen that i am). i get up to the ticket counter and the little stewardess lady is like "are you checking any bags?" and i was like "hell no! do you know how much you have to pay to check your stuff on this thing?!" (okay. i didnt exactly say that. but that's what i was thinking.) anyway, she takes a look at my little triage tote bag (i pack light... what?! bathing suits, tanks and flips dont take ALL that much space!) and is like... "okay.. that'll be $33". i just blankly looked at her. i mean, what part of "im not checking my luggage" didn't she understand? apparently, she thought my triage tote was too big to fit under the seat so, if i was going to place it in an overhead compartment, i'd STILL have to pay. at this point, i got frustrated (well, for me. in a foreign country. i didn't want to get TOO hoity toity... i wasnt going to be 100% at ease until i was safely back on american soil) and politely (with a slight edge in my voice... but a huge smile to soften the blow... and likely confuse the lady, but whatever) indicated that i hadnt had to pay a fee when i flew on over here from the US. anyway, long story short, she made me go shove my bag into one of the "test baskets" to verify the size of it. she was rather surprised to see that it fit in the smaller bin, indicating i wouldnt have to pay, so at least i didnt get ripped off for THAT.

that was just the start. now, i realize that the security in the mexico airport is AIR. TIGHT. which i fully appreciate, trust me, i do. however, we'd gone through the standard security and whatnot when i finally make it to my gate- an hour prior to my departure. it was at the gate that i learned that they do a full onslaught pat-down and luggage check right before you head onto your plane as WELL! considering the flight before mine was still going through this process when i entered the area, i was privy to just how... LONG of a process this thing was. i mean, i appreciate thoroughness and all that, but these people were moving at. a. snail's. pace. whatever, security and all that. howEVER, this is clearly an ongoing process- not something that was just recently sparked... so spirit airlines HAS to know how LONG this whole mess takes. so here's a hint, spirit. how about you START this two hour long security check process sometime... well, BEFORE a half hour before our plane is scheduled to depart?

dude, it. was. a. mess. we were an hour and a half late leaving cancun...

anyway, whatever, thankfully id met some very lovely people in the cancun airport, while we were waiting that 1.5 hours to get patted down and whatnot (a bonding experience, really). it was actually quite adorable and so maliyacular sunshiney goodness. id been sitting next to this couple from michigan in the airport and Karrie (the wife of the couple) and i totally bonded over our relaxed state in the midst of all the stress in that airport (i mean, really? what CAN you do at that point?!). anyway, i also met this adorable little colombian family (a mom, dad, and daughter) who totally reminded me of the movie spanglish (ie: the way the mom and the daughter interacted... adorable)... only augmenting the situation was the fact that the colombian family mom was totally hungover (and openly admitted it to us)... NOT a good situation for this kind of mess of a flight, but humorous nonetheless. you'll understand why i brought them up a little later on down... ah, always a purpose, my friends, always a purpose to the storytelling o' the maliyacular.

oh well, back to our delayed flight... considering there were 28 people from my flight who had a connection in ft. lauderdale to ANOTHER spirit airlines flight within 45 minutes of landing (if we were landing on time), i figured- okay, it was the same flight and (i think) the same aircraft, so it was likely that they would just hold the aircraft for us. i mean, you cant take off with like half your plane missing if it's your own airline's darn fault that these passengers are late to begin with.

one would think.


so we land in ft. lauderdale, and everyone's all stressed and rushed and whatnot. i dont get all that stressed out when travelling because, honestly, in this type of situation, what can you really do? it's not really in your control. ah, the voice of reason, that is so what i am. hahahaha. i just laughed aloud at that. anyway, so we have to not only deplane, but we also have to go through customs... and immigration... and security... and recheck baggage (if you checked baggage) before being able to get on our next flight.

yeah. laughable, really. i mean they're an hour and a half late and they expect people to make their connections with all THIS stuff to get through as well? of course, they don't make accommodations for people who have to make their connections to get off the plane first or anything. i mean, WHO are we kidding here? and to top it all off, the line at customs was simply NOT MOVING. i mean, this is the U.S.! don't we pride ourselves on efficiency?? well, we certainly shouldn't pride ourselves on thoroughness, that's for sure. i get to my customs agent (a young gentleman i would peg to be in his early 30s), all ready to be business at the customs desk (i always get so nervous with customs agents, for some reason... they're intimidating!). anyway, so he asks me where im coming from and i dutifully respond with "cancun, mexico" (totally made eye contact to validate my response and everything) to which he nods firmly and looks at my passport again. and then he's like "so, you cause any trouble while you were in cancun?" and i laughed kind of awkwardly because well, if he knew me he would right off the bat SO KNOW that cancun is SO not my scene and causing trouble there (the "cancun kind of trouble", at least) is just laughable to me. so i just am like "no..." when im really thinking "hurry up and gimme my passport! i have another flight to catch!"... and he just kind of laughs and stamps my passport and is like "sure you didnt", *smile*, *wink*, *hands me the passport*.

um. this dude is CUSTOMS. is that all it really takes? just be friendly to a customs agent and you are SO IN the u.s.? well, whatever. there was no time to question the workings of the us customs system. haha. i quickly scurried along...

since there were no spirit airlines agents helping us navigate where to go to catch our connections, we all kind of had to self-direct ourselves. i accidentally made a right turn and ended up in baggage recheck even though i had no bags to check. well, THANKFULLY i made that wrong turn. there was no line, so i just went up to the desk to verify where i had to go to catch my connection. the lady asked for my boarding pass and i gave her my ticket stub (because the airlines had indicated that would suffice to get on the next flight since it was the SAME FLIGHT)... and the lady was like... um, what the f is this? anyway, she thankfully quickly pulled up another copy of my boarding pass on her little computer and printed it out for me... so i JETTED on over to security after THAT fiasco. again... wtf. but whatever.

it's as im standing in security, waiting to put my stuff on the belt, that i hear them calling my flight as the "doors were closing". i nearly flipped OUT... i was so CLOSE and if i were going to miss this flight, i'd have to wait another three hours in the darn ft. lauderdale airport. it was at this point that i politely, yet slightly firmly (for me), asked the three people in front of me if i could just sneak in front of them to get through. you really have to applaud the integrity of people- they were so accommodating and did not remotely hesitate to let me go in front of them (either that, or they were quite frightened by my frenzied state... but you know what? oh WELL.). i truly believe it's thanks to these people that i made it home... ON TIME.

that's right, people! after jetting through security and trying to run (which was a joke, since my bag was kind of heavy and i cant really run with my sprained knee still) to my gate, i made it on just in time... and so did my new friends from michigan (we'd stayed pretty close together through the whole security check mess). not only that, i board the plane (which had a lot of disgruntled passengers who'd been waiting for the past hour and a half to LEAVE) and... sigh. my little colombian family spots me and applauds when they saw me and the michigan couple. SIGH WARM AND FUZZY HAPPINESS ALL AROUND, RIGHT?!?!? talk about TOTAL BONDING TIME in times of distress!

anyway, it turns out that not all were as lucky as we were. it was just lucky that we'd had seats near the front on our flight from cancun to ft lauderdale (we had been in row 8), so we were always near the front of the lines for the security checkpoints, per our deplaning method. i can safely say that there were certainly some people from our cancun flight who did NOT make their connection and i am over-the-top grateful that i did. but seriously, what kind of ridiculous nonsense is this airline? they dont hold flights for their own airlines even though a significant chunk of their passengers are from another SPIRIT AIRLINES FLIGHT which was delayed BECAUSE of spirit??

omg, dont even get me STARTED (again). i get so fired up, it's not even funny. i mean, it's just common COURTESY for a service-related company to be... well, accommodating! and i understand cost-cutting and cheapness, believe you me, i do. but PENS? really? PENS.

ft. lauderdale --> chicago - nothing significant to note. this post has been long enough already.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

let the General Hugfest Series begin...

you know what? i think im going to start trying to blog on a more consistent basis- ive received very positive feedback with my "increased blogging frequency" as of late, and i love doing it, so why NOT update this thing regularly?

unfortunately, my life is not all too exciting, let's be honest here. therefore, if im going to blog at LEAST twice a week, i think one post will be about whatever random shenanigans ive gotten myself into (you know, the usual) and the second post will be devoted to a new favorite person ever. okay, i know that if the "favorite spotlight" is done on a weekly basis, that kind of defeats the whole "favorite" nature of the spotlight, but whatever. im a walking hugfest, what can i say? so much love to share, so little time.

with all that being said, i would like to formally start my General Hugfest Series with the one and only... SUSAN T!!! (obvi, i will not be using last names, since internet discretion is my middle name. hahahaha. how many middle names do i HAVE at this point, given my other blog posts? but i digress.)

sorry to divert. let's get right back on topic. okay, so susan t is only like one of the greatest coworkers ive ever had. and you know what the funny thing is? ive only met her, face-to-face, once! isnt that CRAZY?!?!?! it's really amazing how such a great working relationship (aka friendship aka general team hugfest aka general... well, crazy SISTERHOOD, really) can formulate after one introduction. let's be honest, it wasnt always so... well, lkafdjslkf! (sorry, but that's really the only way i can describe the two of us. hahahah.)

i mean, initially, susan and i only communicated over work email! and man, if i look back to some of our initial email exchanges, i simply cant help but crack UP at how FORMAL they sounded! i mean, who are we KIDDING HERE?

i think the true love formulated around the time we exchanged AOL instant messenger screen names. for those of you who are reading this who are not my coworkers, our work uses AOL instant messenger as a primary mode of communication in order to get things done in a more timely and efficient fashion and... oh, heck, who are we kidding here? for general merriment and entertainment purposes as well. hahahaha. GOD, I LOVE INSTANT MESSENGER AT WORK!!!! it was TOTALLY like a dream come true when i came to this company and realized that it was pretty much mandatory to have instant messenger access. i mean, you do NOT have to tell me TWICE, people! how many of you remember college? who WASN'T obsessed with IM back in the day?! ugh, the neverending barrage of away messages, the constant communication with people about like absolutely NOTHING, the furiously frantic typing speeds which people developed... sigh. those were the days.

anyway, so susan and i initially started communicating on instant messenger about work-related things. i mean, duh. why else would we have exchanged screen names in the first place? but. well. i mean, it was SO apparent right OFF the BAT that we were totally like soul sisters. hahaha. it's really amazing the stories that we've shared over the lovely world that we call AIM. intermixed with our work talk, of course. ugh, it's been glorious, really.

while i know i crack UP at a LOT of things in life (oh, sorry. if you think everytime i type "hahahah" in an online conversation of some sort, you're special and privileged because you are funny... well, you're kind of wrong. i laugh at many a thing in life), susan t is one of those people that oh-so-consistently not only makes me laugh, but actually makes me crack UP so HARD at my computer screen, sometimes to the point that my stomach aches. seriously! i mean, this lady is FUNNY. hahaha.

here is a sample of what a susan t IM conversation could involve (and yes, that IS how her screen name appears on my AOL... per my "instant messenger alias" abilities... can you imagine if that was her ACTUAL screen name?!?!? hahaha):

(3:19:39 PM) SUSANalksdfjlaksjf!!!!: hhahahahahaha just kidding man - are you not wearing your happy panties today???

HAHAHAHAH. i LAUGHED ALOUD just READING that sentence AGAIN. how can you NOT?!?!

but it's CRAZY, right?? to think that we've only met each other ONCE, and yet we're like slightly obsessed with each other. in a good, healthy sense, of course. hahahaha. yeah- i guess that cackly type of "hahahaha" didn't really help in the validity of that statement but whatever.

anyway, i LOVE the friendships that can formulate amongst coworkers. i feel like susan and i come from such different worlds (i live in chicago and am focused on making it through my 20s somewhat intact while she she lives in an cozy, adorable town in missouri and has the most cozy, adorable children and lovely husband... whom i also have never met... but i feel like i SO know simply through susan's wacky stories and... well... who are we kidding here? facebook pictures. haha. OBVI. because you KNOW we became facebook friends like the SECOND we nixed the whole "professional email tone" for, well, the wonderful world of instant messenger, if you will). and yet we have TOTES bonded forEVER. sisterhood and all that. haha.

or just a general hugfest. who are we kidding here. because you KNOW anytime someone from the chicago office goes down to the missouri office for business, i CERTAINLY send along a hug for my dearest susan t. and you better beLIEVE i follow up with said hug messenger to ensure the message (in the form of a ginormous bear hug) has been properly delivered. i mean, hello. i will NOT be tolerating any of this formal, limp noodly huggy-ness. if i know you well enough to trust you with the oh-so-privileged Susan T Hug-o-Gram, i trust you enough to deliver it with the proper christie happiness/merriment/sunshine/well, you get the idea.

so, here's to you, susan t! thanks for making the workplace that much more... well, entertaining, to say the oh so very least. hahaha.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

my snow day experience aka MY NATIONAL TV DEBUT!!!!

in case you've been living under a rock the past couple of days and haven't heard about the blizzard that IS chicago, please do your research prior to reading this blog entry... because this entry is devoted, in its entirety, to the SNOW DAY WE GOT ON WEDNESDAY. okay, granted, it wasnt a "snow day" in the traditional sense, as we were still working, but most people were working from home since it was a MESS out there on wednesday. i just went to the office because i live pretty close to the office and try to minimize the amount of time i work at home because, quite frankly, i dont like working at home.

anyway, wednesday looked like it was going to be a pretty mundane day, as there were essentially two people in the office (that i knew at least, and that was including me). of course, i should have KNOWN that wouldnt be the case since the other person in the office was only like one of my favorite people EVER.

if you remotely know me, you know i like to... dream big, if you will. my goals in life are to be the next oprah and copyright my smile. sigh. anyway, if you know me, you also know that i absolutely LOVE the camera... i totally eat it up. from my debut on romper room as a two-year-old, to my appearance in the audience on TRL, to getting my picture up on the Times Square digital screen, to getting interviewed for the Lakers fan cam in LA... well, let's just say, it takes a fair amount of shamelessness to have gotten some of these gigs.

anyway, our office is strategically located in one of the BEST areas of chicago (if i do say so, myself). among other things, we're right next to the NBC building. and thank GOD for that. i dont know if weather channel people would otherwise typically be taping right in front our BUILDING if we weren't right by the NBC building. who knows...and quite frankly, who cares?! i was DETERMINED to get on that camera, if it KILLED me. i mean, think about it. there were so FEW people traipsing about (i mean, when the city of chicago basically tells you to stay inside unless you absolutely HAVE to go outside, most people listen... clearly not me, but whatever) and there were QUITE a few news cameras... the odds were TOTALLY in my favorlkdsjflksdj!

i had my strategy all mapped out. and by strategy, i mean... well, just going up to the newscaster to get me an interview, thank you very much. scientific method and all that. thank goodness, my friend missy is such a good sport. haha. she totally waited out in the blizzardy winds while i stalked this weather channel man. i literally just walked up to him (well, what? he had a microphone!) and was like "so... are you guys interviewing people for tv?". he looked slightly blindsided (i guess people accosting him to get on tv doesnt happen very often...? whoops) but recuperated quite nicely and was like "why? you want to be on the show?" well, you dont have to ask me TWICE. duh. hahaha.

anyway, to make a long story short (believe me, this actually isnt the point of this whole story, ironically), it took a couple of tries to FINALLY get on camera (the mic stopped working, etc) but FINALLY, that third time was certainly a charm! in the midst of all these tries, i noticed a few people stopping on the street to ask him for a picture. which made me start to wonder just WHO i had actually accosted. anyway, do you guys know Jim Cantore? i hadnt heard of him, but i guess he's a pretty popular personality (hence, all the people stopping him on the street and all that). and there i was, trying to make small talk (to primarily distract myself from the cold) with questions like "so... how long have you been doing this... what show are you on... etc, etc". ugh. i really need to work on doing my research before deciding to accost reporters. duly noted... for next time.

ANYWAY, so finally, there i was, being interviewed for the weather channel by the one and only Jim Cantore. it was the BEST FIVE MINUTES EVER!!!! i knew the interview was going to be pretty quick, so i made sure to dump all my charm into every sentence i spoke. and you better believe i was flashing those pearly whites every two seconds. i even commended the city of chicago multiple times on how well they were doing cleaning up the streets and stuff (well, hey, it never hurts to get the city of chicago on your side and i was SERIOUS! i think this city is phenomenally efficient at cleaning up the city! i was shocked, personally). big ups, chicago, big UPS.

anyway, i was FREEZING after my interview so i jetsetted back into the office, while Jim (we're totes on a first name basis now) continued his reporting, so i didnt even say thank you for putting up with me and all that. im the most selfish person ever, i know. hahaha. but whatever. i get back to the office, share my little moment of glory with missy, and get back to work. well, a few minutes later, i was just taking a little break and doing a standard facebook perusal (you know, the usual) when i was SHOCKED to see that i had FIVE new friend requests (that isnt normal for me, considering i had JUST checked facebook like two hours ago... how much could change in two hours, really?). but wtf!! at first, i was like, "oh god, do i have a virus on my facebook account?" but then i proceeded to take the liberty of sending each of my five new friends a message asking how they found me on facebook. and omg, a few minutes later, the responses started filtering in and... you guessed it! they had ALL seen me on TV!!! nearly fainting doesnt even beGIN to describe my reaction. i mean, i guess i could have been more weirded out about the fact that i was on tv for like two seconds and that was all it took for them to find me on facebook but whatever. i like to look at the positive side of things... and MAN, these people were SO COMPLIMENTARY about my TV debut (um. can i just share... one guy said that i should be on the NEWSLkjflaksjd! (a DREAM OF MINE!)... another one called me OPRAH JUNIOR!Lkjfalksdj!... one guy was an old acquaintance from ohio state who randomly saw me while eating at a restaurant in texas!!)... well, it took literally NO time at ALL for me to get right on confirming them as my friends like right then and there.

sigh. so much for internet security. haha. and so much for humility. as i was sending messages back to them, you KNOW i was including a link to my blog for all the world to read! hahahah.

man, the day couldnt get any better. seriously! i was FLOATING on cloud nine by that point. anyway, so missy and i leave the office around 5 PM and she goes one way while i go to my bus stop. and who do i see, but good ol' Jim, my favorite weather channel news reporter that i simply couldnt get away from stalking earlier. hahaha. so while i was waiting for my bus to come, he was still taping. but then, he finished taping, so i FINALLY went up to him to give him a (very delayed, but better late than never!) thank you for letting me be interviewed. anyway, he was like the nicest person ever to me and told me i had such great energy or whatever in front of the camera today (well, that's all you really have to tell me for me to go off to cloud nine again. hahaha). anyway, long story short, we ended up grabbing a couple of drinks after his broadcast because it was his last day in chicago and, well, i should really just become a chicago ambassador or something. i love advertising this city and welcoming people to it.. Ambassador Christie. has such a nice ring to it, really. anyway...

it was all so very delightful and merry and Jim gave me some really great tips for getting on TV (well. okay, maybe it was more professionally phrased in terms of getting into broadcasting, but whatever. haha) and, well, it was all just such a grand self-confidence boost in terms of my future as the next Oprah. hahaha. anyway, ironically, that's STILL not the end of this tale. so we're walking towards michigan avenue, and the roads are like DESERTED and i needed my cab! anyway, so he sees one like across the street and he like hops, leaps, jumps over all these ginormous snow mounds (that's what happens when cleaning the roads/sidewalks involves shovelling the snow aside..) to grab me my cab. which was all very nice and all, except.. well, i CANT scale snowbanks like that! wtf. but he made it look so easy. so i was like, well, if he can do it, so can i, gosh darn it.

yeah, falser words were never spoken. i already have sensitive knees to begin with (they have been known to pop in and out of their sockets at free will) and last night was no exception. so yeah, in my grand attempt to scale one of those snowbanks, i totally felt that knee pop out of the socket and man, it was like a blinding sorta pain. but i barely knew this guy, so of course i just pasted my smile on as i got in my cab (politeness is my middle name, and all that. haha). it was only when i got home that i realized how much worse was the pain in my knee than has been the case before. maybe im just not as resilient as i had been in the past. or something like that. all i know is that i certainly had to take a darn day off work today to go scurrying about from urgent care clinic to urgent care clinic (MAN! the number of people that get sick/hurt in the course of one DAY is ridiculous!) to get my darn knee looked into.

anyway, thank GOD i was able to pretty quickly see a doctor at my second clinic and THANK GOD FOR MY PAIN MEDS! i am NOT a fan of taking medicine, but i have never been so grateful for medication in my life.

so. in conclusion. what a snow day. what a snow day indeed. i mean, what else is there left to say, really?