Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm what?

Part of my job is meeting with clients. Most of the time, I thoroughly enjoy doing this because I get to meet some very interesting folks and hear awesome stories. On the other hand, I also get to meet people that can make me stop in my tracks with the things that come out of their mouths.

Recently, I met with a elderly lady who just wanted to chat. Time schedule be damned. She told me about her grown kids and their families. She told me about her past times. She told me about some of her ailments.

Then she told me that I wasn't "from here."

What? Here's how the conversation went from there.

Me: "Ummm. Noooo. I was raised about three and a half hours away in eastern North Carolina."

Client: "Well, with your dark hair and skin I'd say you were fur-in."

Big pause as I translated what in the hell 'fur-in' meant. Oh, foreign. Ok, my tiny brain caught up.

Me: "Oh dear..... [another big pause]..... Ummm. Yes. I am actually half Asian. But I was born in America.

Client: "Huh."

Me: "I've enjoyed chatting with you! But, ummm, I guess I'd better get back to work. Have a good day."

I quickly scurried out of the conference room and through the door that separates the lobby/conference rooms area from the back, where all the offices are located. I was too frightened that my Asian roots might give her flashbacks to 'Nam and she'd try to take me down.

Good. Grief.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dinner with a side of trepidation

Jason and I like trying new restaurants - whether those eateries are new to our area or are just new-to-us. Groupon and Living Social help with this "hobby" of ours. A few months ago, a voucher popped up on Groupon for Deacon Tower Grille. We'd heard of this restaurant and wanted to try it, but we figured it would be top dollar and just never made the time to go (or sold the kidney for the funds). When Jason saw the deal on Groupon, he thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try this place.

For those of you who don't know, DTG is a restaurant located in a building called Bridger Field House, which is at the football field where the Wake Forest Demon Deacons play. To explain more - Wake Forest University is one of the reasons Winston-Salem is on the map. The school itself is very posh. There's a lot of Deacon Pride around this town.... I personally couldn't care less. 

Tonight was the night Jason and I decided to cash in on our Groupon. We got home from work and freshened up a bit before heading to our dinner date. 

Upon arriving at the building where the restaurant is held, we were a little bit intimidated. Obviously, since no game was being played the stadium itself was dark and everything was so quiet. We had gotten there about 25 minutes before our reservation time, so we were just wandering the area outside Bridger Field House, reading some of the plaques and what not. We then realized that we had no clue how to actually get into the building and to the restaurant. There were no obvious signs pointing us in the right direction. Even worse - another couple had arrived at the same time that we had gotten there. They went straight into the building as we were meandering. We were now kicking ourselves for not paying attention to whatever Sieg Heil motion they did to get the secret passage way to open. 

With about 20 minutes to go until our reservation time, we decided we needed to stop being tourists and actually start pushing different bricks to find the hidden lever. We eventually found 2 doors on either side of an atrium area. One door led to "The Gold Lobby" and the other door led to "The Black Lobby." I'll let you figure out Wake Forest's colors. Although, on a side note, when we were looking for the way in I originally saw the door to "The Black Lobby" and thought Holy shit. Wake Forest University still segregates people??? But then I saw the gold lobby (versus the white lobby) and realized my mistake. 

We took our chances with the door leading to the gold lobby... Mainly because there were actually lights on in that area and not so much on the black side. I was just saying out loud to Jason, "Ya think they'd have a blatant sign pointing the way to this damn restaurant," when BAM, there was a 6 foot tall poster thingy informing us that The Deacon Tower Grille is on the 4th Floor. And this sign was right at the elevators. Well, that's helpful. But sheesh, couldn't you have had signs OUTSIDE the building too? 

Anyhoo - we jump in the swanky elevator (complete with a soothing female voice informing us that we were going up and that we had reached the 4th floor). The doors opened onto the lobby of the Deacon Tower Grille. It's a small intimate restaurant. Quite a few of the tables were filled, but most still stood empty. The hostess graciously led us to our table, where we sat feeling like we were poor white trash among elite society. Jason and I are sooo not caviar  people (thank goodness nothing like that was actually on the menu). 

As we were sipping our water and chowing down on our appetizer (crab dip, if you wanted to know), I start to check out our surroundings. Wait a minute. What do I see here... Or better yet, what DON'T I see? Holy mother of cheese-its! I was the only ethnic person in the restaurant. I was surrounded by uppity white folk and their white bread ways. I looked at Jason in a panic and asked if he thought I was safe. He asked if I had my knife on me just in case (I did, thanks for asking). 

A little ways into our main course, I was scanning the room making sure that no one was coming at me screaming something about Charlie in the bush, when I realized another weird thing. Every couple in this joint, with the exception of Jason and me, was sitting catty-cornered to each other. Not one other couple was sitting across from each other. Like we were doing. The smallest tables inside the restaurant were 4-seater, square tables. So, obviously, parties of 2 would be sitting at those. Now Jason and I have a great relationship. We love to snuggle together and all that jazz, but when we're eating, we like our space. We think it's weird to go to a restaurant that has booths and see a couple sitting side-by-side. The exception to this is, of course, when we go out with other people. Then we'll sit on the same side (or catty corner at a square table). But if it's just the 2 of us, we like to sit across from each other. It's easier to talk that way, versus both of us having to keep our heads turned to one side for the entire meal. 

Thankfully, those were the only scary parts of the meal. Despite being the only person of (some) color and realizing how different Jason and I were with our not sitting on each other's laps, we still had a good time. The food was awesome. Especially dessert. I had a scoop of Screaming Deacon ice cream - which is just plain ol' cookies and cream (my favorite flavor), but the ice cream is dyed yellow to represent the WFU's colors.

So worth cheating on my diet. 
Now tomorrow, it's back to eating lots of green leafy vegetables and healthy stuff. In other words, get back on the diet wagon. That is until the next meal deal on Groupon/Living Social.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

East Bound and Down II: Mall Decorations

If you read yesterday's post, then you know that Jason and were in a crappy lil' town called Kinston last weekend. If you need to catch up, go here. As I mentioned at the end of that post, I wanted to show y'all the wonderful decorations at Vernon Park Mall (Kinston's poor excuse of a shopping center).

Many years ago, some brainiac decided it would be awesome-to-the-max to put up these HUGE banners advertising shows for the TV channel, WB. A channel that Kinston didn't even have on their cable network. Yes. That makes sense. Let's tease you people with shows that you can't watch. Remember - this was years ago. As in before Hulu. I'm not even sure if you could've gone to the WB's  website to watch the shows back then.

Anyhoo - fast forward to present day. Those banners are still there. Now, in Kinston's defense, I'm not sure if they now have the WB channel. But, to knock Kinston's credibility back down, all of the shows portrayed on these banners are cancelled. Some have been off the air for years. 

Look at us. We're soooo deliciously white. 
Ok, One Tree Hill actually did end earlier this year, so not so bad that this banner is up, right? But, I'll admit, I did watch this show for a few seasons (call it boredom), so I know that quite a few seasons ago the chick on the left and the guy left the show. So, this banner is still that outdated. Maybe the mall personnel left this banner up because the show was actually taped in North Carolina (and was set in this state too). Also, for a period a Winston-Salem native was a regular on the show.

Obviously this banner is trying to appeal to young, hip guys.
Should we tell them it's not working?
Look, a banner advertising 2 shows! Obviously neither show was big enough to warrant having their own poster. Well, Smallville did actually have a pretty good following from the nerdy crowd since this show was about Superman as a teenager. It made it to 2011. So, again this advertisement isn't too outdated. Everwood, however, ended in 2006. I'm assuming people saw the 2 guys portrayed on the banner, read the name Everwood, and figured this was a bad porno.

Just act natural and pretend that the creepy guy isn't
hanging out with us.  
Ah, Gilmore Girls. I actually watched this show while it was on... and liked it (hey, don't judge me). Notice I said "while it was on." This show went to the wayside in 2007.

This banner (tries to) show that the WB believed in
diversity by having a token black guy.
Three shows are portrayed here. I guess the makers of these large posters were just getting lazy. Whatever. Starting on the right. This actor was from King of Queens, which was cancelled in 2007. I have no clue what show the middle guy is from. I pretty sure his show is long gone. My favorite is the Bernie Mac, the guy on the left. Not only did his show end in 2006, but Bernie passed away in 2008.

If you ever happen to pass through Kinston, you should take the time to stop at Vernon Park Mall. You won't get to do much shopping or get a bite to eat, but you'll get to pay homage to some former WB shows. And that makes the visit worth a pound of shit.

Friday, July 13, 2012

East Bound and Down

This past weekend, Jason and I loaded up the Wookiee Mobile and headed to eastern North Carolina to a little pock-mark of a town called Kinston. This is the town where I grew up and it's about 3.5 hours from  the city where I live now (Winston-Salem). Although my mom, brother, and some other family still live there, we don't make the trek to Kinston much - for one thing I hate long car rides (seriously 30-45 minutes and I'm whining "are we there yet?"). Also, the town is dying and it's just damn depressing to be there.

Kinston wasn't always so crappy. We used to have a minor league baseball team - the Kinston Indians. But, after the 2011 season wrapped up, the Indians said buh-bye and headed to a city called Zebulon. When I went west into the state for college, I learned quite a few North Carolinians knew about Kinston because "my family stops there on our way to the beach" (Kinston's about an hour from the coast). But, now a by-pass is being built around the the town, so that tourism will be stopping eventually.

Of all the rundown, crappy parts of Kinston, the biggest disappointment is the mall... If you can call it that. Once upon a time, Vernon Park Mall was a pretty hip-happening place. In middle school and high school, my friends and I were the embodiment of the characters from Kevin Smith's Mallrats. We would spend alllll day, just hanging at the mall. We'd travel in packs and join up with other groups. A movie theater was in the parking lot, so if we needed to get out of the mall, we'd head there to catch a flick.

Sometime while I was in college, stores starting dropping out of the mall like flies. A store would close, something new would reopen in its place, and before you could say "grand opening," that store would close.  

One of my "favorite" visits was in 2005. Jason and I came to town for Christmas. Our Christmas present from my mom was that she took us to the mall to go shopping. On Christmas Eve. Now, in Winston-Salem, we avoid the mall from the beginning of November through the end of January because traffic around and at the mall is horrendous with shoppers (before Christmas) and then people returning gifts (after Christmas). But, in Kinston we could have run through the mall and not worry about bumping into other shoppers. Because there weren't any other shoppers. We went into Belk (ya know, one of the staple department stores that all malls have) and at one register there were 3 employees, hanging around, staring into space, bored. A manager came up to them and told them to draw straws because he'd be sending one of them home in the next few minutes. Whaaa?

When we were in Kinston this go-round, Jason and stopped at the mall to see just how much more desolate the place had gotten. It was a ghost town. We were there on a Saturday night around 7:30pm. Most of the spaces where stores should be were just blackened holes, begging to be filled. Oh, what's that? You're hungry and want to stop at the food court? Sorry, there is not one eatery in this place. The best you can do is stop at a random vending machine to get a pack of Nabs. I'm serious - all restaurants have moved out of this joint.

Just for fun, we stopped to look at a mall directory, only to discover that thing hadn't been updated in YEARS.

This is only a shot of part of the directory. But, let's take a quick look, shall we? Notice there are 4 things listed under the heading "Restaurants & Food." As I've already told you, those places are no longer in existence. Moving up the list - Sound Shop has been gone since around 2007 or so. Did you notice that there's a listing for a Cingular Kiosk??? Ummm, Cingular merged with AT&T in 2004. KB Toys hasn't been in the mall in many, many years. In fact, the toy store left, something else moved into that slot... and that "new" store has been closed for awhile.

What about the mall decorations? Well, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow for that...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Technology Overload

If you've been following my blog, you know that at the end of May Jason and I had a little fridge trouble. In case you missed it, you can read all about it here.

When we went shopping for a fridge, we were reminded how expensive they are. I don't remember what we paid for our original appliance, but we bought it about 11 years ago. Obviously, prices have gone up. Due to the scary costs (and that fact that we were going to have to wait for about 2 weeks to actually get a fridge delivered), we came up with a cheap and temporary solution. Our "band-aid" was to spend $450 to get a small, unimpressive fridge.We'd been saying for years that we wanted to buy something that we could put in our garage for extra storage. So, we decided to go ahead and get that fridge. For now it's in our kitchen, being a temporary place holder for our "real fridge." 
I am taller than this fridge.
And I am only 5'4".
We are thankful to have a fridge and to have gotten one quickly (we got it the day after ours croaked) and for fairly cheap. Even better, we have 18 months of no interest (but, since it was only $450, it shouldn't take us that long to pay it off). 

This weekend, we headed to Lowe's Home Improvement to get a couple of things we needed for our house. While we were there, we decided to go look at refrigerators again (since this time we weren't in panic mode). We're not ready to get our "real fridge" yet, but figured it wouldn't hurt to just browse and start taking notes. We came across one unit that had me so flabbergasted. I just stood there, staring at the thing, asking "what in the hell is going on here?" 

 This fridge had apps. As in, things you download on your smartphone. Or on a tablet. Trust me, I can't make this stuff up. 
This is the screen on the fridge.
I don't know if you can download other apps, but here are the ones that the display model was showing. I can understand Pandora - often when I'm washing dishes or cooking, I like to bring my Ipod and the speaker dock into the kitchen so I can listen to music. But, what the hell is the purpose of Twitter on your fridge? What, am I going to tweet to the world that "I'm getting a can of biscuits outta my fridge"? And Weatherbug? Seriously? When I want to know the forecast, I turn to my phone or TV... or even look out the window. I don't look to my fridge. 

The fridge itself was purty.
But the price tag wasn't.
Good grief. Will it cook dinner for me too?
I wanted to play with the screen more than I got to, but Jason saw the look on my face and figured he'd better pull me away before I became enamored with this thing (too late, babe). In my defense, I'm (slightly) better than that. For one, I don't get the purpose for having apps on my fridge. And, another thing, I am well aware of our poorness. In other words, I ain't spending that kind of money on an appliance...that is, unless said appliance did something really special. But, if I want to tweet something frivolous about my life, I'm not going to do that standing at my fridge. Seriously, I don't need to be connected to the world by every item in my house. I promise.