Archive for February, 2012

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First Day

February 28, 2012

Less technology, warmer people.  Less art on the walls, more pictures of kids and families. Less flexibility in wardrobe, more going home by 6 p.m.

So, I’ll take it!

It was mostly a day full of paperwork and introductions.  I did get a case to work on, fortunately with no pressing deadlines. Went to lunch with some associates to get the scoop, and it was nice but no huge skeletons in the closet. 

I was exhausted by the end of the day, and swearing I’d be in bed by 9.  Instead, I watched t.v. with the girls until 11.  

I’m working on getting into a routine, but there is a huge part of me that misses the very lax schedule that I had in the final months of BigFirm.  When I could crawl back into bed after going running with my friend in the a.m.  Today was my first time running with her before the new job, and instead of going on and on here and then thinking about the bed, I have to hop in the shower and get ready for work.  

 

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Tied Up With a Bow on it

February 26, 2012

Done and done.

Friday was my last day at BigFirm.  I keep thinking about whether there is any sadness in me.  And I think of my two closest friends there. But they are people I will see outside of work on a regular basis, so I’m not so sad.  Then I think of those who are less close, but whose company I enjoy.  But in light of today’s networking, I’m friends with most of them on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, or Words With Friends.

I will miss our “departures” page — where you can always look and see who’s leaving.  That person from my summer class.  That guy down the hall with whom I’ve never spoken.  But my two closest friends will keep me up on that gossip.

So, I’m really not sad.  It was time.  I was done.

Of course, it helps to be done when you sit around for 4 months after being shown the door . . .

And tomorrow, I start the new job.

I didn’t think I wanted time off between jobs.  I thought that leaving BigFirm would be simple – just a little bit of clean up, a few farewells, and that would be that.  But it took a bit more work than I anticipated.  It was a little more stressful.  I had 4 and a half years’ of emails to sort and file and pare down.  I had drawers upon drawers of crap.  I had pro bono clients to transition. And I ended up with more fun social outings than I anticipated.  Instead of working 2 half days last week, I worked three full days.  Which would be fine, except it was February vacation week, and Mouse was home.  I had wanted to spend more time with her.  And I wanted to breathe.  She was fine (of course) – she had friends in town.  She had sleepovers and lunches out and plenty to do. But I didn’t get to breathe as much as I thought.

I took yesterday (Saturday) as a down day.  I watched more Parenthood (I’m almost caught up), and I lounged around the house all day.  Today, however, I need to get in gear so I’m ready for tomorrow.

I need to go buy new suits.  Two suits should be fine (in addition to what I already own), plus a few fresh tops for underneath.

I don’t love shopping.

I’m excited about tomorrow.

 

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How to be in an Audience

February 11, 2012

Us parents of teens have a lot to keep track of.  We are done with potty training and lessons on sharing, and hopefully the kids know how to pick up after themselves and to brush their own teeth.  But now we need to be ever aware, looking for openings to talk about sex and drugs, making sure our kids aren’t showing signs of depression or bullying or other increasingly common teen maladies. We need to balance how we ride them about studies v. how much we want them to grow up to be balanced people.

And, I am sorry, but in light of technological advances, we also need to teach our teens how to put their fucking cell phone down.

Jesus H. Christ.

I went to a play last night at the high school. Lemon went, too, but she went with a friend and was sitting several rows in front of us.  We didn’t have a kid in the play, although several kids we’ve known since they were wee and others we know more recently were in the show, and we were excited to see them.  We were also excited to just sit back and enjoy the production, because the school is known for putting on a good show.

We aren’t too picky about our seats, but we do know that when going to a high school show, it’s best not to sit in the back because that’s where groups of teens sit together and pretty much do NOT watch the show.  So we found a seat in the middle of the auditorium, and were mostly surrounded by adults.  Including the director of the show, who was directly in front of us.

Just before the show started, two little chippy girls climbed over the back of the seats next to us and plopped themselves down.  Of course, we would have let them in, had they asked, but I guess climbing was fun. They chittered and chattered, and the one right next to me kicked me a couple of times.  She also yelled ‘STEEEEEEEVVVVVEEEEEEE!!!” to a boy (I’m guessing he was named Steve) across the aisle from us.  This happened very close to my ear.  I gave her a dirty look, but she was too busy grinning at Steve to notice.

I feel I need to say – I’m not a curmudgeon.  I’m not too old to understand the pull of technology.  While we waited for the lights to go down, I was playing Temple Run on my iPhone and texting with Mouse. But when the lights went down and they (one of my favorite 10th graders, actually) told us to turn our cell phones off – and explained that cell phone use and texting is distracting for others in the audience – I turned my cell phone off and put it away.  Imagine?

The 16yo next to me did not turn her phone off.  She dimmed the screen.  And proceeded to text throughout the entire show.  I think she was texting STEEEEEEVEEEEEEEEE because she would often crane her neck to look across the aisle and laugh in reaction to her latest text.

She took some breaks from texting.  In order to talk to the friend she was sitting next to.  Not whisper, but TALK.  And laugh.  The director of the show turned around 3 times to shush them. They didn’t notice, though – because they were laughing and talking too loud.

I kept thinking about saying something. Alongside my fantasies of “dude, you have been talking and texting through the entire show, why don’t you just leave?” was the fantasy of my daughters’ faces contorting in horror. But there came a point somewhere around the midpoint of the show when the chick switched from text to Facebook on her phone that my tongue was no longer controlled by my thoughts of devastated daughters:

“When they said that using your cell phone during the show was distracting to the people around you – they weren’t kidding.  It’s not a matter of ‘getting caught,’ it’s a matter of being respectful to the people around you.”

And the look of devastation ended up a reality. The girl looked at me in complete surprise and simultaneous horror, and shrunk in her seat.

But after that, she didn’t text once. She fondled her phone a good bit, but didn’t activate it.  She did still talk to her friend, but only in whispers (certainly about me).

I wish I said something sooner, because it was only after I did say something that I could enjoy the show.

I spoke to my girls afterward.  Lemon assured me she would NEVER use her phone in a show, and I believe her.

A few weeks ago, Lemon and I went to NYC to see How to Succeed in Business on Broadway.  It was her birthday gift (back in September).  We had to go in January, though, because that’s when Darren Criss was performing. She was horrified at the behavior of some of her contemporaries. She was upset with people for talking, for yelling out during the show, for breaking the rules and taking photos, for texting, and for leaving early so they could rush the stage door.

And Mouse is perfectly capable of leaving her cell phone behind when she’s going to a movie or a show (sometimes it infuriates me, because I can’t reach her if I’m not with her).

But I certainly took this opportunity to reinforce to them that it is RUDE. That when they are at a show, they are not the only people in the audience.  If they don’t want to focus on the show, then they shouldn’t be there.

I guess, really, this has nothing to do with technology or cell phones, but just simple respect and appropriate behavior. The girl proved with her laughing and talking as if she were in the cafeteria at lunch time that it didn’t require a cell phone for her to be disrespectful and rude.

Hopefully my comment to her will save future audience members from having to endure this almost-woman’s wretched behavior.

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The Last of the Birthday Trip

February 7, 2012

First, the trip almost didn’t happen, then we had a meal that we will always remember, now – I think I can resort mostly to photos, and lay off all the blah blah.  We’ll see 🙂

On our one full day, we got up early and had breakfast at the B&B.  Then we grabbed coats (that we didn’t need, because it was 55 or so, despite being December) and hopped in the car for our day exploring the entire island, rather than just the towns.

We started out in Menemsha, which is where Mouse spent her time when she vacationed with friends, and where at least some of Jaws was filmed:

There was a fish market there that was known for its clam chowder, and I really wanted some, but we were there too early.  So we had to move on and go around the island to the Aquinnah area.  We enjoyed some overlook views and then went for a very long and very rocky walk on the beach.  I was not wearing the right shoes:

 

One of the things about the beach there is the natural clay, to wit:

Here is the cliff’s worth:

And here’s a shot of a funky little crevice in the clay:

It was tough, but we avoided applying the clay to our bodies.  (heh)

Then, because he loves me and it was my birthday, David drove me back to Menemsha for my clam chowder.

Some sites along the road:

The chowder was delicious. It was worth the zigzag. After the chowder, we drove to South Beach, not far from Edgartown.  This was my favorite beach, and if I one day win that lottery, I will buy me a house near THIS beach.  Even though I’m told it looks nothing like this during the summer, but is instead wall-to-wall people.  I don’t care:

And then, finally, we started to get chilly.  After the entire day of walking on beaches and hanging out outside, we didn’t need a sweater or a coat until 4 p.m.  First time ever for my birthday to be that warm, I’m sure.

And then our funny story of the day:

We to Edgartown for a little bit, because we’d missed a couple of shops before they closed the day before, due to early off-season closing times. We were alone in one of the shops, looking at some wallets, one of which I knew that Mouse wanted, when the door went ding-ding-ding.  An older couple walked in – a polo-clad 60-something man and his fur-drenched wife.  I did a double take and said, “Judge ______?!??!!”  It was the judge I’d worked with during my first summer of law school and his wife.  Very surreal and odd (especially when you think that my true FIRST visit to the Vineyard was the time that I flew there in this judge’s prop plane — I even got to fly for most of the trip.  It was a lot of fun).

He of course was asking me about work and practice and the Big/Old Firm, and I was just about a week out from the lay off news.  I pretended that it hadn’t happened. We just caught up in general. Still, who would have thought?

That night, David went to a more casual restaurant.  I had some oysters, and we had – other food.  I think burgers.  I know it was good, but it wasn’t like the night before.

For our last morning, we got up and did some shell-combing on the beach across the street from our hotel . . .

. . . and headed back to the ferry, relaxed and ready to delve back into our school play.  (Which I plan to be the topic of my next post, but we’ll see.  This series has been exhausting!)

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The Birthday Trip, Day 1 (The Dinner)

February 7, 2012

Like I said in the preview, David and I had a great quick getaway for our birthday weekend, but primarily for his 50th birthday.  The girls were going to friends’ houses, and it was a little strange because they slept at home on Friday night, and slept in on Saturday, but didn’t leave our house to go to their friends’ houses until after we left to catch our ferry.  So we just – walked out.  With two girls asleep in their beds. Of course, we knew they’d be fine (and they were).

We were on a 10 a.m. ferry, and it took about an hour and a half to drive down to Woods Hole, where the ferry leaves from.  It was the first time we’d put our car on a ferry, and so that was not boring.  It was a nice quick ride across the water. When we got to the island, we were a little early to check in at the hotel – a sweet bed and breakfast right across the street from the ocean in Oak Bluffs. So we left the car at the inn and walked into town.  There wasn’t a ton open, but the weather was nice, and we enjoyed the walk.  We ended up having lunch at the same restaurant that we had breakfast/brunch at the last time we were on the island – Slice of Life.

The one other time that we’d been was a bit of a last-minute decision.  Mouse was going with a friend for a long weekend (a portion of her friend’s 2 week vacation), and we had to drive her to the ferry.  We had thought about going onto the island at the same time, but she complained.  This was her trip.  We rolled our eyes, but said fine.  Yet, once we’d driven the 1.5 hours to Woods Hole, we told her we were leaving, waved goodbye as her ferry left, and then bought tickets to the next ferry.  It was a warm June day, and we had nothing with us.  We wandered the town of Oak  Bluffs (where our ferry landed), and then took a bus to Vineyard Haven, and then another bus to Edgartown (those are the three large towns on the island).  All three towns were fine.  But I was jealous of the cars full of towels and beach chairs. I wanted to go see the lighthouse.  I wanted to rent a bike. I wanted to look at a house’s window at the water.

Other than my discontent at not having a house to stay in and beach gear to utilize, we had a good day. Including our breakfast at Slice of Life.  So we were happy to see it was open again.

By the time we ate lunch and got checked into our hotel, it was going on 3, and because it was December, that meant we knew it would be dark soon.  So for the rest of that day, we ended up replicating our first day.  We revisited the spots and shops we remembered from the first trip in all three towns.  We also did some investigation into restaurants.

My friend who goes every summer (who Mouse went with that time 2 years ago) had given me a list of restaurants to check out, sure that at least one of them would be open in the off-season.  None of them were.  So we did our own research into the available options – there were plenty.  There was one menu that jumped out at me, because it had a really solid range of food.   I wanted a nice dinner because this was our big birthday dinner.  We had brought nice clothes, so were equipped to go as fancy as we could. The menu I liked included a range from the fancy to the quick lunch, but what I really liked about it was that it had a “Chef’s Tasting Menu” option.  David was a little less sure, and he also was drawn to a super-fancy French restaurant.

After we had our short list of restaurant choices, we checked them out in person as we went through the towns.  His first choice ended up looking a bit bland, and full of grey and blue-haired folk.  We ended up crossing it off the list, and ultimately deciding to go with the one I liked:  Zephrus, which was in the Mansion House Inn in Vineyard Haven.

The menu had a lot that looked good, but I really wanted to try the tasting menu.  David was a little hesitant, because he was afraid we’d end up with something gross.  (The on-line menu has changed since, so I can’t really share. Sorry.)  We looked at the menu to see if there was anything we’d be unhappy to eat.  The only thing was the fois gras.  Everything else looked great.  But I shut my mouth and let David decide, reminding myself this was his 50th trip.

But he decided to go for it.

Oh My God.

The Tasting Menu was 5 courses, one of which would be dessert.  The chef doesn’t let you partake in the exercise unless everyone at the table is on board.  We were told that our dishes may or may not come from the existing menu – he may make something up on the fly.

Now, I’m sorry to say we didn’t get with the program and start taking photos of the courses from the start, so I do not have a photo of the first course, which was a sweet potato gnocchi with spinach, garlic and some yummy cheese.  I was in heaven.  We both had been a little nervous, not knowing what the heck was coming, and we were both giddy with this first dish.  Sweet potato and spinach are both favorites of mine, and so I was over the moon.

Our second course:

Balsamic braised bay scallops and asparagus over mashed potatoes. This was more David’s dish. Scallops are a huge favorite of his, although asparagus is another favorite of mine, and so were the mashed potatoes.  Again – this was cooked to absolute perfection.

Third course was a salad – but not just any salad – it was a roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and parsley:

(Beets are yet another of my very favorite foods . . . )

We remained giddy, and the chef and the waiter were getting a kick out of our enthusiasm.  After the beet salad, David said, “well, the only way this can get any better is if we get steak for our main course.”  But when the waiter re-set our places after the salad, he didn’t bring steak knives, so we figured we were in for a fish, or something else.

Our 4th Course:

Oh, what’s that?  Filet Mignon over a truffle risotto?  Oh, wait – what’s that?  Risotto, rare steak and truffle are all some of Suzie’s to-die-for foods?  Really??

The waiter chuckled and said, “I didn’t want you to guess, so I didn’t bring your steak knives ahead of time!” as he handed us our steak knives.

For the first few years that David and I spent our birthdays together, we hadn’t yet figured out how to do this “two birthdays in a row” thing, and so we made cakes back-to-back, one for each birthday.  Mine was spice cake, his was German Chocolate.

So what was the 5th course?

That, right there, is the last bite of spice cake.  (That’s a coffee ice cream, and I really wasn’t a fan — not to mention stuffed!)  And so that we had a bit more fun, they brought us different desserts – here’s the second:

A yummy cobbler.

The desserts, frankly, weren’t my favorites.  But I don’t think of myself as a dessert person, as a rule.  Of course there are things I love, but I’m not always ready for a piece of cake.  Also, I’m never a “dessert in a restaurant” person.  I will refuse dessert until after a walk every time.  I’d prefer a solid walk and then a chocolate bar (preferably high quality) or some ice cream. Sometimes, I’d prefer an after-dinner drink to a dessert.  So, the fact that I wasn’t head over heels over the desserts didn’t mean a thing.

David and I both were on cloud 9 after that meal.  We felt like it was really our best meal EVER.  We agreed that there was something to be said for the surprise element – we had no idea what was coming, so we couldn’t have preconceived notions about how it should taste or look or be cooked.  Even putting that psychology aside, though, this food was amazing.

We had gone out to a nice dinner for Thanksgiving, a couple of weeks before this, where we had much less food for the same price.  Hands down, this tasting menu was better than the Thanksgiving meal.  Maybe one of our New Orleans meals 2 years ago (specifically, the one at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA) came close to this meal.  But, it’s a little doubtful.  It’s probably obvious how awesome this was, since I can still write about it 2 months later with some pretty impressive enthusiasm!

We highly recommend not only Zephrus, if you find yourself on Martha’s Vineyard, but specifically the Chef’s tasting menu.  We went with the 5 course option (I think it was $65/person, but we know it wasn’t more than $85/person — we do know that with drinks and tip the total check came to $227.  Thanks to Mint.com), but there was also a less expensive 3 course option, which did not include dessert.

I think the next time we come across the option of  Chef’s tasting menu, we will take it.  It was really so amazing.

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A Tuesday at Home

February 7, 2012

I didn’t go into the office today, but ended up with a couple/few solid hours of work.  I’m undertaking efforts to transition all of my pro bono projects, which are plentiful.  I’m finding people to take over, and trying to tie up loose ends before I pass the baton.  Some of this, I will be sad to leave behind.  Other aspects – see ya!

I received confirmation from the firm today that my vacation pay will be significant (almost $10K), and since it was vacation untaken, I will use it for some corresponding fun:

  1. A new computer.  I bought my laptop (the standard MacBook, which is now obsolete) while I was in law school (I seriously just typed high school . . . that would have been funny).  I wasn’t so easy on it during those years, and since then it’s been through a lot.  David was laughing that when I bring it in to have the Genius Bar Folks transfer the data onto my new MacBook Pro, they will marvel at the dinosaur.  I told Mouse today that I bought a new computer and she said, “good – it’s making so much noise, I’m afraid to sit near it.  And it keeps FLASHING!!”
  2. A vacation.  Like I said – I’m replacing that Outer Banks trip if it kills me (watch, it really will).  We’ll go in June.  It will be awesome.

I’m also working on closing out my benefits at Old Firm.  We have dental appointments, eye appointments, etc.  Today Lemon went to the dentist, and she was none too happy about it.  She has a small filling and has to go back in a month to take care of that.  In the meantime, I was wrestling with the dentist’s assistant to get receipts in the proper form so I can get the services paid for by my health care savings account.  Next up is the orthodontist.  Ugh.  I’m trying so hard not to leave any money in that account, but I’m going to be up against the wire on getting verifications submitted.

David and I recently starting using Mint.com, and we’re loving it.  It’s very fun to see what we spend money on.  It’s part of what led to my One-Month-Goals, because I saw where we were hemorrhaging – which was almost all because of ME and MY spending habits.  Today, David filled up the car and was a little excited that we’d get to see the gas budget increase (because it will justify his whining about it, even though the numbers don’t match up with his complaints about how much money he pours into the car), and then he chastised me:  I bought the girls some chocolate at CVS, and he was picking on me for disguising clearly  unnecessary spending under the umbrella of “personal hygiene” (which we have all CVS/Walgreens purchases categorized as). Heh.

And that was our day.  I did avoid feeding my Parenthood addiction so far, but I’m sure I won’t end the day with that success rate.

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Birthday Trip Angst (2 months later)

February 7, 2012

I find that while essentially between jobs, my life is dull.  My brain is dull.  I don’t have tons going on.  The girls are doing fine. David is having a more-frustrating job search, but still, that’s fine. Everything is just fine. So I’m a boring blogger.

But there are at least a few things that happened in the past few months that I never had a chance to blog about. I had every intention, but didn’t find the time, and then it felt too far away.  But I’m going to go back anyway.

Back in December, in the aftermath of the lay off news, I was seriously wrestling with whether or not to cancel a planned surprise birthday trip for David.

I’m sure he won’t mind me saying (ha!), but on December 5th, David turned 50.  (Right after I turned 39 on December 4th.)   Of course, we knew this milestone year was coming for quite some time.  I have been saying at least since I was 37 that I want a party for my 40th.  I want us to rent a space and have a BIG party.  Not hundreds big, but 50-big (and that won’t fit in our apartment).  David it’s a “have a party to celebrate ME!” kind of person, but he is a “I want to travel the world!” kind of person, so we always said, a trip for his 50th, a party for my 40th.

As the year/fall came together, I knew I couldn’t pull off the ideal trip (Europe) for his actual birthday.  Not only is it in the middle of an intense time of the school year, but it’s also the weekend before the 7th/8th grade musical at Mouse’s school.  The musical that I produce and for which he runs the lights. We couldn’t go away for much more than a weekend.

I considered doing a Europe trip around Christmas-time, but wasn’t sure I could swing it, financially.  Then the Ex swapped Christmas for Thanksgiving, so we had the girls for Christmas, and we definitely couldn’t afford 4 to Europe. Then the job got shaky, so any of hope of swinging it was dashed.

But I wanted to do something.

He’d been talking for some time about how it would be really cool to be on Martha’s Vineyard during a storm.  We are more wintry weather people than summer weather people, and I thought this could be something that would be a good get-away without breaking the bank.  I checked in with my co-producer back in September, got the okay to disappear for the final weekend of the show, and started making quiet plans.

I checked out the ferry (I wanted to take our car over – the last and only time we’d been to the Vineyard, we went for the day, without the car, and I didn’t think it worked to be there without a car), I checked out off-season hotels.  Prices were great ($100/night, instead of $400/night during peak).  I did enough research to know that we wouldn’t be without any amenities in the winter.  Getting the kids taken care of was tougher – I had talked to my mom, and while she wanted to come and help, she was a little stuck because she was taking time off to come see Mouse’s play the very next weekend.  And my plans REQUIRED us to be gone into Monday, because his birthday was Monday.  If we came home on Sunday – my birthday – then it would feel like I got the trip for his 50th birthday.  Probably weird, but the truth.  It was fine, though, because I instantly had 3 friends raising hands and offering to take the girls.  (As it turns out, my co-producer not only shouldered the play for the weekend, but she also took Mouse in!)

I had fun thinking about how I would surprise him.  Would I tell him the night before “I have plans for us tomorrow, we’re getting up early – no questions asked.”  If anyone did that to me, I’d be pissed, and would never sleep the night before.  I HATE surprises.  But he’s not me.  He loves surprises.  And how would I get him to have his stuff?  I could pack him a bag, but again, if anyone did that for me, I’d be pissed (and my laundry wouldn’t be done, so they wouldn’t be able to get my favorite clothes, and it would suck).  I could tell him we’re going away for the weekend, and not tell him where, but that would be less fun.

In the end, I got laid off, instead.  We were facing a huge unknown about whether we’d end up with no income at the end of February, or if I’d end up taking a 75% pay cut, or what was going to happen.  The trip felt . . . wrong.  But I also couldn’t let go of it.  I couldn’t think of a single thing that I could do for his 50th that wouldn’t (a) suck, or (b) rival the cost of the weekend.  And I got kind of upset about it.

Because of our situation, I felt that I couldn’t just up & go with the plan without involving David in the financial decision-making.  And at some point in the lay off aftermath, I came clean with my plans.  He liked the idea, but didn’t think we could afford it, and that it wouldn’t be wise.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we started some Christmas shopping for the girlios.  We had a fun day out on Small Business Saturday, and ended up at one of our favorite restaurants in town.  The gift-buying had me thinking about and stressing about his birthday.  I’d ask him what he wanted, and he’d say something like, “Oh, I’d really like a striped hat.”  Or, “I do need a new winter coat.” And I was so frustrated.  It was his 50th.  It was a big deal.  He wasn’t getting a fucking hat.

By the time we were at the restaurant, I was all worked up.  I brought up the weekend again.  He again pushed back.  And then, really not in Suzie-style, I started to cry.  In the restaurant.  I just cried and cried.  His eyes bugged out of his head, and we started to talk about a one-night trip, instead.  The ferry and the hotel together would cost about the same as a nice dinner out in Boston – we can swing that.  No problem.  My mom had even offered to give us a night at the Inn as David’s birthday present, so we could do it.  And we’ll both get jobs, and we do have savings, and okay okay okay.

So we pulled the trigger on a Sunday – Monday trip.  It didn’t take long after that for us to say “oh what the hell” and put Saturday night back into the equation.

[Then, after making the decision, I got an unexpected $500 profit sharing sort of payment thing from my firm, and it definitely helped make this more reasonable.]

And I guess I’ll have to blog about the actual trip in a separate post, since this is already a novel.  Preview:  It Was Awesome.