Thursday, January 29, 2009

Small Ode to the N

Lets discuss why Nordstrom is superior above many absolutely wont beat the customer service.

I took a lovely pair of Stuart Weitzman heels in when one inadvertently snapped off. (While I was holding martini and going down a stair case mind you). I bought the shoes years ago but they look in new and fabulous condition. The women that assisted me in shoes told me they would have it shipped out, fixed, and I would not even have to venture into the store as they would MAIL my shoes back to me. I love that I dont even have to make the 15 minute drive. This is why I adore you Gleaming Shoppers Paradise.

One time I went into Nordstrom with a broken watch, purchased from the very counter I stood before. This particular gal, not schooled in all the rules and regulations of Nordstrom Policy O' Customer Satisfaction, did not have her happy face on . Who can say I would be on top of the Nordstrom game on day one either. I was, of course, assuming it was her first day if not first minute of work. I am confident the customer service manual involves hefty binding and 100+ power point slides. However, this woman told me she could not fix the watch or replace it but I was welcome to send it to Kenneth Cole directly. Mind you, I have the receipt and box in hand. I believe I stood there baffled and perplexed for at least three solid minutes. She wrapped it up with "I apologize ma'am." Now, lets be clear, sometimes "ma'am" is a pleasantry, but in above average retail stores, I dont believe it is.

Well, I was "sorry ma'am" too and lovingly asked to speak to her manager who came out and resolved my problem in less than three minutes which included a shiny new watch on my wrist. I love their commitment to excellence! No "ma'am" about it. I do know their service is above and beyond. One little bad apple cant possibly spoil the glamourous bunch.

I tried to return a brand new unworn pair of heels from Nine West to another store FOUR MILES from store of purchase and was told no. I had actually called store of purchase and asked if it was ok, which I was assured, it was. When I arrived at store of return, and relayed my conversation, the woman helping me replied "Oh, I am sure they did." Take shoes back please, take shoes back please I thought to myself because I felt a touch of impatience coming on. No need for me to remind anyone of the heirarchy of the situation: I am the paying customer. You, Miss Sassy, in your red velour Juicy Couture running suit, are not actually the paying customer.

Finally, problem resolved and while I adore Nine West and its many fabulous shoes (and stores, especially in San Fran), I havent stepped a toe back in their Atlanta stores since then and its been two years. Long live the Nordstrom credo to customers, and since our two year old needs shoes...what better place to start.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eye of the Tiger

While our family were certainly not contenders for Mommy Dearest II, I will say my parents did not fear corporal punishment when needed. I got much less than I ever earned or deserved. What, me with my skills of inquisition (questioning) and rhetoric (talking back.)

The idea of spanking takes on an entirely new vantage point when you become a parent. As the mom of a freshly two year old, we are blessed because he is relatively easy going. That being said, our repertoire of learning about each other has recently included that I am NOT to use the blue spoon when the orange spoon or the cowboy spoon is top choice. But looking at this little wunderkind, the idea of spanking as a deterrent causes me two issues.

One, he has a little sparkplug of a boy in his class who has apparently learned from older siblings that the resolution to all struggle and strife is hitting or pushing. Said lessons have now been shared with our son’s entire class and some of them have picked right up on it which is natural. Our son has practiced his kung fu like moves on us more than once. We teach him that hitting is not nice, and it hurts people’s feelings. How am I to explain to him that hitting is not ok, except Mommy and Daddy get a special pass? And how could I get him to understand that spanking is not the same as hitting so spanking is allowed? Or God forbid, the Archie Bunker methodology that “this actually hurts me more than it hurts you.” Because by the way, it doesn’t.

In my house, “no hitting” was never a mantra. In fact, when a boy in 3rd grade hit me and took my color crayons, my Dad said “you get hit, you hit back.” Not the message we teach now, and god bless the age of pre-litigious society. The second reason I am not ready to sign up for spanking as form of punishment is because in retrospect, spanking never worked on me. And I highly doubt it worked on my husband either. If anything, it only made us more clever (and probably quicker to dart out of the way of swinging paw headed towards the buttkus). We are so very lucky that our son seems destined to be the opposite of us in terms of sass and stubbornness. Oh, the irony is not lost on any of our parents.

So for now, the spanking is not on the table. However, a new twist has appeared on the radar. When previously mentioned Sparkplug hit my son, in front of me. I could only patiently wait while my tongue was severly clamped down in my own teeth while one of the teachers addressed it. I had sympathy for Sparkplug because, well, he is only two, and surely he should be taught frequently about right and wrong. But we began to notice a pattern. Sparkplug likes to hit, and push, and does it fairly often.

One day after my son cascaded down a small slide on the playground, thanks to Sparkplugs deft and catlike moves, part of me thought “this is a component of children learning to co-exist” but, I have to admit I heard that Rocky theme song popping. I clearly can not pass along the cave man lecture about hitting back to a TWO year old but it is a sight to sit back and watch. I hope I always employ the grace and dignity to teach our son to handle his business like a gentleman but we will see what happens the day he comes home with a black eye and I go all hells bells at the bus stop. We'll see who is in time out then.

Monday, January 26, 2009

10 minus K and counting

I ran my first 10K years ago and it was incredible. The Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10K in the world and it is right here in Atlanta, GA on the 4th of July.

In the first five years I had been in Atlanta, I scampered out of town for the long weekend. I had also never run that far before and enjoy running only when the run ends and is fueled by music piped loudly in my ears during the entire time. Literally, I went to the gym once and realized I forgot my iPod and spent the first minutes of my workout working out my ability to curse.

One year, I found myself in town on the holiday weekend. A friend had an extra number so I thought, why not.

I didn't really train for the Peachtree but I was running multiple times a week about 3 miles a shot at best. I decided to run 5 miles a few days before the race. Oh, I felt the vim and vigor.Day of the race, I was astounded by the sheer volume of people. Oh, its the world's biggest 10K for a reason, because 60,000 run this race. I saw people on side streets doing high kicks and high steps and thought UH OH. As I was corralled into my "pen" with the thousands of other people in my race group, a man about, oh, I'd say 80 years old, smiled at me and said, "don't worry miss, just do the best you can."

Awwww, I thought, how sweet. What a nice man being so encouraging like that to me. I noticed he was wearing the tshirt from the first Peachtree Road Race decades ago. Bless it, I thought and smiled (smugly) to myself. Let me put it this way, I gave it my all and was carried through on sheer adrenaline. People by the hundreds line the streets the entire course to cheer you on.

Bands play, cowbells ring (and who couldn't use more cowbell) and restaurants and bars pass out water, watermelon, and ice along the way. It was incredible.

I was doing a pretty good pace when I caught sight of Mr. 80 Years of Age up ahead. I pressed on my long pedal to try to have a go at him. Well, he wasnt giving me advice for no reason. I couldn't catch him. I was given the running shoe smackdown by a man triple my age and he DIDNT EVEN KNOW! At the next water spot, I rinsed that smirky smuggy look right off my face. I ran it at a great pace and felt like the Queen of the World, even if I was behind Christopher Columbus.

The tshirt from the race is highly coveted and will be seen in droves in the weeks following the race. I cut the sleeves off of mine and made in into a tank top and one of my friends asked "how could you?!?!?!" As I just defaced a national monument.

The second year, I thought, why train at all. Why not just show up in my stars and stripes jog bra and with no more than a few high kicks myself, met up with a gaggle of girlfriends to run. Apparently, the previous year was a lucky break. Oh lawwwwwwwwwwwd, it was hot! (its July, in ATLANTA) so I felt like I was running in a humidity casserole.

My goal is to NEVER walk one step, I came to run and run I will. Three miles in, oh boy, I remembered that wine is NOT a recommended training beverage. Then I remembered that a good night sleep is highly recommended. Drinking beer all summer long at the pool NOT recommended.

Actually running this distance prior to day of IS recommended. Then, just when I was beginning to shrug off my woes, I took a gander around at all the people passing me. My my my, I wanted it to be motivating. Oh look, there's a twelve year old, good job little buddy. Oh look, there is a woman who was at the Last Supper. Awwww, isnt that something. Oh look, there goes some people dressed in college Mascot costumes. HOLY @(&)*^!(^!. I wogged (not a walk and barely respectable enough to call a jog) all the way to the finish line and believe me, I vowed to take it more seriously in years to come.

I have successfully run four more including when I was three months pregnant. Now, a friend wants to run a half marathon.The half marathon seems like a great idea when I am crossing the finish line of the Peachtree. It seems less of a good idea 364 other days of the year. While I have given a half-hearted committment to think it over, I thought, hmmmm, I think I can, I think I can. Just a reminder: wine is NOT a recommended training beverage, so I guess saying yes tonight is out of the question.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Guitar Heeeero

I refrained from giving Guitar Hero a second look when I learned there were no Prince, Tom Petty, Van Halen, Prince, or Prince songs included. But oh, my mistake.

Guitar new crush. Who knew it was not merely adored by teen agers? Who knew how addictive it would be? My first GH romp took place this summer thanks to my older brother who is 1. a musician and 2. a Guitar Hero pro. Under his generous purchase, we brought GH home as my bday gift. Unschooled and unwise, I promptly hopped on and prepared to rip riffs strong enough to take on Slash, Eddie Vedder, and Tommy Lee.

After receiving the explanation about all the beginning levels and layers, I whole-heartedly attacked Hearts "Barracuda" complete with side-to-side dancing AND full on sing a long. I begin to hear a sharp noise early on in my rock ascent to which my sibling mentor said, "Stop jumping around". I tried to be the calm and cool guitar star but the rhythm is going to get you.

Well, well, well, I didnt realize the wicked game would actually BOO you OFF STAGE for being a catastrophe. This happened about 20 times in the first day much to the delight of my audience. Oh, but once I learned...I was fully on my way, increasing point value and improving my image when I was struck and bewildered by a Guitar Face Off which only produced more BOOS and more scorching loud noises on my instrument.

While telling the story to one of my neighbors, he let me know his twelve year old brother could give me some pointers. I would prevail though and happily pass through the beginner stage complete with numerous songs I have never even heard before ( and I think I am musically versatile and savvy) to only discover that EVERY level contains the same songs. Thankfully my husband surprised me with the Aerosmith version so I could take a much needed break from another necessary repeat of an archaic Social Distortion song. I still have much to learn, and shamelessly solicit big brother's help when he is in town to plow through some of those pesky songs. Just what I needed, something else to fill 5 minutes of free time per day!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day One

Today I had the grand idea to start a blog. Not so cutting edge, I know, with people blogging for years now on topics ranging from how to make french toast (not kidding) to friends who just found out they are having triplets. I may be a touch behind the times, but I thought what a wonderful way to share all my thoughts and opinions. Since I have so, so many opinions, the laptop has a high tolerance and it saves my husbands ears from bleeding. I will try to make it interesting and since I hope my Aunt and Uncle read it, it shall not be overly sassy.

Legal infraction, Southern Style:

On the infrequent occasions I am in the car sans toddler, I take advantage of the volume control on the stereo and take it as loud as possible. My husband and I, while driving back from an adult only weekend recently, employed this loud volume treat while listening to several old favorites including Van Halen. Something about open windows, and loud music, reverts me back to days when this combination made it inevitable not to go a touch above the speed limit. These were also the days when there was no such thing as "MOVING RADAR" which is apparently quite common these days in highway patrol vehicles.I believed I was paying acute attention to my surroundings and using all the caution necessary even as we passed a large police SUV passing us going the opposite direction. I saw nothing for several minutes and then received a nice surprise.

Little did I know, those large four wheel drive suburbans can plow through all the tall foilage in between the lanes and catch right up to me in zero time flat. He was nice enough to ask if I had a reason to be going a touch over the posted 70 mph speed limit and beyond saying "I have to hurry home to watch Brothers & Sisters", I let him know I did not. There used to be technicalities about radar and calibration. Not so fast there missy, they offer to provide the last date and time of calibration for you now. He gave me my ticket and invited me back to Twiggs County, Georgia for a court appearance should I choose to come. Well, this was sweet but still being hours from home, I shall think I would just pay the ticket.

He gave the number to call and only in certain parts of the south do you get this response when you call to inquire about your fine. "Well sugar, we haven't quite got to those citation numbers yet, but you give us a call back in a lil' bit, and we'll get you taken care of sure thing."How anyone could almost make you feel like they were pratically bringing you a basket of fresh baked cookies or giving you a hug over the phone while you were trying to pay your punishment is astonishing, but this is what is often meant by southern hospitality. Thankfully she did n0t add "Bless your heart."