[#AtoZChallenge] C is for Cookie!

I have a sweet tooth.   I like cakes and chocolate and pastries of all kinds.  There’s one type of sweet that will always be my favorite, though.   As anyone who knows me really well could tell you, I really love cookies.  I have a passion for cookies that is only slightly less frenetic than Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.

A few months ago, Amelie and I were near the University of Central Florida for a concert, and we stopped for dinner at a little sushi place, but  I got slightly turned around and we parked on the wrong side of the little complex of shops and restaurants.  Because of this slight unplanned detour, we walked past this little shop:  Insomnia Cookies.

I probably looked for all the world like a starving puppy with my nose pressed to the glass on that first night.   The sign on the door, if you can’t read it, says “warm cookies delivered until 3 am.”   This is true.  They even have an app to place your order.

Yes, you read that correctly.  You can get an app on your phone.  With that app, you can have warm cookies delivered to you, all the way until 3 am.  This is pure bliss for me.Here’s some of the varieties available.  I haven’t tasted all of them yet.  Yet.

There’s about a hundred locations now, in different states.  There are two in Orlando, and another one in Miami Beach.   If you buy a six-pack, it comes in a small box that looks for all the world like a tiny awesome pizza box.

For this particular visit, we got two chocolate chunk, two snickerdoodle, one oatmean raisin, and one white chocolate macadamia.   Their snickerdoodles are balls-out amazing.

The real danger of Insomnia Cookies, as I see it, is that while I always wind up with a box of six cookies, they sell a 12, an 18, a 24, and even 50, 100, 200, and 300 cookie packs.  When I have cookies in the house, I usually can’t stop myself from eating them.  Yesterday, I put the box on top of the fridge so that I wouldn’t keep eating them.   Fast forward to two hours later, while Amelie and I were cooking dinner-  she turned around to find me on my tip-toes, peering into the open box of cookies with an absolutely delighted expression, and pretending not to be eating one when she asked.

Yup, a box of six cookies is just too dangerous.  Better make it a twelve-pack, just to be safe.

What’s your favorite type of cookie?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

[#AtoZChallenge] B is for Bungalow

I’ve been looking for a new place to live.

To recap, my last lease ended on the 9th of December.  I knew that my employment with Previous Mr. Company was ending on the 15th of December, but sixty days before the lease ended, I didn’t know what was coming next for me.   Since I had no certainty, I took the safer path, and put my stuff into storage, once more occupying the spare bedroom at my brother’s house.   Regular readers of this blog will remember that I stayed there twice before- the first time was just before I moved to Germany, and the second time was right after I came back, until I could populate a new apartment locally.

A few days before the employment ended, but well after the lease was past the point of no return, I learned two very important things:  First, I learned that I would be getting a contract to provide support to my Current Mr. Company, and second, I learned that this would be entirely remote work with very reasonable hours, so I could live absolutely anywhere.

Amelie and I immediately started making plans about where our next home would be.   We’re also both pretty tired of South Florida –  the traffic is horrendous, the people can be downright obnoxious, and we’re both pretty much done with having 11.5 months per year of hot-and-muggy weather as the norm.   We talked about Atlanta, Virginia, Portland, and one or two international locations.  We also talked a lot about Orlando.

So: Orlando.

Both of us have lived in Orlando at different times in our lives, and we both love the city.  Before any of my friends argue that the traffic is no better than in South Florida, I will say definitively that I would take I-4 over I-95 any day of the week.  Once you get away from the attractions and east of the Orlando sign over I-4, the traffic is downright pleasant.

As for the weather, it may have been 90F on Sunday, but by bedtime that night, the temperature had dropped to 74F.  And Orlando’s humidity was barely half of the humidity in Miami.   As I write this at 10:30pm on Sunday night, Ft. Lauderdale weather is 78 but “feels like 83,” while Orlando weather is 74 and feels like 74.   The low next Saturday drops down to 52.  I cannot wait.

I have already partially moved to Orlando-  whereas I’m in my brother’s spare bedroom in South Florida, my Orlando residence for the moment is… my brother’s spare bedroom in the other house he owns.    It’s a tiny bedroom in a very pleasant house on a lovely tree-lined street, and it’s coincidentally (and amusingly) just a short walk from where Late to the Theater‘s Jen lives.   Most of my stuff is either in the Orlando house or in a 5x5x5 storage unit nearby which costs me about forty bucks a month.  A very small part of my stuff is still in South Florida, but that’s probably not more than one carload on a future trip.

This was all supposed to be temporary though-  I just needed to figure out what was next.  I didn’t want to be a roommate for more than a few months.    My current employment situation wasn’t a known detail when I arranged this situation, and I believed that I would be able to pivot to something new very quickly when I moved in with my brother.  Four months later,  I’ve come to the conclusion that my situation is not so perilous that I can’t find an apartment of my own up here in Orlando.    I’m not being rushed to move out by my brother, but I also know he’s been very generous to me so far and I don’t want to abuse that hospitality for a long time.  Besides, I much prefer having my own space, my own kitchen, my own closets.

I wrote exensively just before I moved out of the last place about what I want in a new apartment.  I’ve extended that list out quite a bit, but I can be pretty flexible because the cost of living is lower here.  A two bedroom apartment in suburbia here costs less than what my final rent was on my one bedroom/one bath place in South Florida.

There’s one more thing that I’m considering here-  there are numerous places in and around downtown Orlando that are well within my price range.  There are one bedroom apartments in towers overlooking the city, and there are tiny little single-level apartments in the streets near Lake Eola, just a few blocks from downtown Orlando.  The appeal of both if these is tremendous-  I would love to live in a highrise apartment, where restaurants and fun things are all just outside my door.  To be able to walk to a movie theater or a concert in ten or fifteen minutes from my apartment would be amazing.  Plus you all know that I love tall places- it should be no surprise that I want to live in one.

Alternately, I could look for a place a little bit outside of downtown, and have considerably more space for a lot less money.  I’ve seen luxury apartments with seven or eight hundred square feet for less than a thousand dollars.  I saw one older (but still somewhat charming and beautifully located) one bedroom for less than $700 a month.

I have minor analysis paralysis, because I can literally live anywhere right now.  The problem is that by the end of the summer this contract will most likely end and I’ll be job hunting.  If the next employer is too far from wherever I choose to move now, I’ll have to move again.  For the ninth time in six years.

I’m kind of over it, so I hope I guess correctly.

Where do you prefer to live?  In a city?  In a suburb?  What would you choose if you were me?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

[#AtoZChallenge] A is for Afterward.

On Thursday night, people who had worked at my previous Mr. Company all gathered together in a bar for a happy hour.  The last happy hour.

I say the last one because we were let go in waves.  The first group of people was out the door in the middle of August.  There was a farewell happy hour.   The next group, the largest group, was mine, in the middle of December.  We had another happy hour.  There was a tiny group let go in the middle of January, so another gathering.

Last night was the day before the Boca Raton office closed its doors-  the last dozen or so people in the office had been busily clearing away the remains of twenty years of business.   Over the last few days, I’ve seen pictures posted on Facebook of an empty data center, rows of empty cubicles, and the lead developer wearing shorts.  These are all equally traumatic and heart-breaking.

I’ve talked about my own departure from the company in previous posts, and I mused back in December that the grieving process would probably hit me later on.  It has.  Up until now, I was still interacting with many of these people on a professional level, but those meetings have ceased.

I wanted very much to go back to the office one last time, to see the empty spaces for myself, and to walk the old familiar hallways.  I realized halfway through the happy hour that this was pointless, though.  Right now, it’s just an empty building.   The thing that made it home to me for so many years was the people, and they were all around me.

When we got together for this last farewell happy hour, it was really a wake.  A very Irish wake, because quite a few people had quite a few drinks.  I highly recommend the Red Sangria; it was delicious.  There was reminiscing, and hugging, and more than a few splashes of emotion.  People who had left us in years past turned up, because this was more than a company to many of us.   For a lot of us, it was a family.

I started with Mr. Company when I was 29 years old.  My entire life for the last fifteen years has been shaped by working with this amazing bunch of people.  Thanks to the Internet, I won’t lose touch with many of them, but I’m sure gonna miss working with them.

What’s your favorite mixed drink?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

Sleep. Now. *

At about 1:30 in the morning, I was still awake.   At around 1:30 in the morning, I’m almost  always awake.   I track my sleep with the Fitbit on  my wrist-  it’s not a perfect tracker, but it does a pretty good job of noting when I stop tossing and turning.   My regular sleep patterns look a great deal like this one, except Monday was extra horrific because of Daylight Saving Time.  The blue lines indicate restlessness (tossing and turning) and the red line indicates I was completely awake.  If it’s a work day, odds are pretty good that my sleep didn’t break much more than six hours.

I have good intentions, I really do-  I generally brush my teeth and get into bed before midnight.    There’s always a lot of tossing and turning, though.  Sometimes I just can’t get comfortable.  Sometimes I can’t get my brain to shut off.  Once in a while, I use an over the counter sleepytime pill (diphenhydramine, usually) to help out- that’s why there’s a big swath on Monday with no indications of restlessness.  The image to the right is a pretty normal night.   I don’t know if it’s the bed, or the extra electronic light in the room where I sleep, or the temperature, or all the things that are chasing my attention, or some combination of the above, but the lack of good sleep is starting to grind me to a pulp.

I started this post at about 1:30 AM last night, intending to say a whole lot of other stuff about how much it sucks to not be able to sleep.   Since I started thinking about the blog post, I continued to be wide awake until about 3 AM.  Then I conked out until work called me at 5:45am with an emergency.  I made the mistake of caffeinating myself in order to solve a technical problem, and was able to go back to sleep for another hour after.  My total sleep for last night: 3 hours and 39 minutes.

Being on call for work is a temporary condition, and they very rarely need to wake me up from a sound sleep.  The rest of the scenario from last night is all too common, though.  I’m partway through my relocation to Orlando, and my to-do lists have their own to-do lists.  I need to find a better way to shut my  mind off so that my body will actually go to sleep.

* – “Sleep. Now.” is a line from Dark City, and also the title of one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack. It’s a pretty groovy little tune. You should check it out.

What do you do when you can’t fall asleep?

Whasaaaaaaaap?

I apologize for using a seventeen year old commercial as my subject line, but it’s kind of appropriate.  It feels like it’s been at least that long since I really posted anything, not counting that one post with the yummy cinnamon rolls.

I’ve tried to come back to the blog numerous times, but each time I do, that blank post box just stares accusingly at me, asking why I haven’t fed it.  The further you go between posts, the more difficult it is to wrench yourself back to regular blogging.

So getting back to where I’ve been and what’s been going on since my last truly informative post, let’s start with the stuff that’s not changed:  My relationship with Amelie is still great, and we have loads of fun together.  My family is all pretty much the same as they were before.  My dad is doing a little bit better, actually-  he was diagnosed with some form of Parkinsons and the medication they gave him specific to that has helped his mobility quite a bit.

For the changing things, though-  my apartment lease ended on December 9th, and I moved into my brother’s spare room as a transitional thing.  I’m still there.  My job ended on December 15th, and the following Monday I took a six month contract doing pretty much exactly the same thing I had been doing previously.  The difference is that now I’m working from home instead of an office, except for that one time that Dave and I tried a Regus co-working space.  That was kind of neat, actually, and maybe I should have used that experience as a blog post.

Although my departure from Mr. Company was in December, it’s not until the first of April that the company that hired me in 2002 is really and truly dead.  The last few people left at the office have their last day at the end of this month, and there’s going to be a final happy hour near the old office-  I plan on going, but I suspect it will be a fairly somber outing for a happy hour.    The death of my fourteen year career with my former Mr. Company might be an entire separate blog post in the future, because there’s a lot to unpack there.   I’m still waiting for the actual realization that it’s truly over.   I suspect I’m in some form of denial because I’m still doing more or less the same work, at least until the end of the contract.

The biggest thing happening in my life at the moment is that I’m relocating.  You may have noticed that most of the concert dates in the sidebar of this blog have started to be located in Central Florida.  That’s because Orlando is where I’m heading.   I’ve already moved everything that was in my storage unit here up to Orlando, during a surprisingly fun day with Amelie, a fifteen-foot U-haul truck, and the assistance of several friends and family members.   Most amusingly, my Orlando digs turned out to be on the same street as my friend and fellow blogger Jenn.  The universe is full of very silly coincidences.

I’ll be spending time flipping between Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale throughout April and into May.  My Orlando residential address is a temporary situation- once I’m up there full time, I’ll be looking for a new place of my own.  There’s all kinds of great little apartments for rent near Lake Eola and downtown, and the rental rates are way lower than they are in South Florida.

As for the jobbyness,  Amelie and I are both hunting for new gigs in Orange County as my contract starts to wrap up.  Looking for something new before the month of April is sort of pointless for me, because the contract doesn’t end until May 30th.  Amelie could start something new much faster than me, but it would be pretty convenient if we’re starting new things at roughly the same time. In the interim, I’m trying to learn some new things and perhaps get a certification or two to make myself more appealing to employers.

So that’s what I’ve been up to…  how about you?  Whasaaaaaaaap?