Dog Days of Summer

In addition to trying to find a place to live in DC (as Joey mentioned, we finally accomplished this late last week - it's not the same place I talked about in an earlier post - the place we decided on is a little less walkable but seems to be a lot more liveable - can anyone say 2 bathrooms?), trying to figure out travel plans to DC (which involved the purchase of a car (I won't even delve into the conundrum of what car to buy - given each country has different restrictions on every facet down to age and color) on Ebay last night, yes Ebay, so now we have additional travel plans to Tampa to pick up the car), training for a marathon (thank you everyone for your donations!), and dealing with the dogs (I'll get into them later), we've tried to carve out some dedicated time to spend with family (which I know I have been failing miserably at but just add it to the list).  So, in an attempt to get some quality time with Joey's little brother, David, we took him to Chicago for a couple of days.  Here's a few pictures of the trip.
Joey and David on our architectural cruise of the Chicago River (it was hot!)

The movie, Transformers 3, is currently being filmed downtown.
We took David to the Signature Room Lounge at the 96th floor of the Hancock Building - the doorman had to "make an exception" to let him in on a Monday night.
Joey and David outside Hot Doug's hot dog shop - we waited in line for at least half an hour for a hot dog (as shown on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations")


Fire at the Temple

Firemen in full regalia tromped around Centro's patio as I walked to work at 7:25 this morning.  My manager and coworker sat at a patio table in their green aprons outside of Starbucks while the fire alarm blared inside.  While the three of us sat in front of the door, an innumerable amount of people stopped by (unsuccessfully) for coffee (or in the case of one fat regular customer, her morning lemon loaf) and each person responded the same way: increduously.  No one seemed to know what they were going to do - where were they to get their coffee and what would they do without their Starbucks?! (Gasp!).  I know: go to a differrent coffee shop.  Stop wasting $3 or $4 a day on lattes that make you fat.  This desperation became even more annoying when the interrogation started:  "Why aren't you open?"  "It doesn't look like there was a fire."  "How did the fire start?"  "When are you going to reopen?"  I realize most people were just curious but when you are asked the same set of questions for an hour it gets under your skin. Eventually about 8:30 we reopened, although the fire short-circuited some of the electrical systems and we couldn't brew coffee. For a solid hour the line was through the door - all of these people waited half an hour for their mochas!  Can't you deal with cafeteria coffee for one day?  Why are you really willing to waste that much time to stand in line: 20 minutes to order and then another ten to get your drink?  At 9:30 we closed the store again because the building management wanted to shut down the power and you wouldn't believe how many people read the sign on the door and then proceeded to try and open it anyway like it was some joke or something.  It's just coffee people - get over it!

It turned out Centro does their own laundry (tablecloths, napkins, etc.).  The electrical system in the basement is very old (you should see the old freight elevator - very cool) and combined with the dryer, caught fire.  No one was hurt and I'm not really sure of the extent of the damage, but there were some pretty smelly burnt rags outside after the fire.  I wonder if Centro will start outsourcing their laundry now...

On an entirely different note, after all of the doctor visits, X-ray, ultrasound, blood draws, urinalysis, gathering of medical records from three different institutions and personal interview with the State Dept doctor - I have received Class 1 medical clearance.  They cleared me to accompany Joey anywhere in the world - phew!  I would hate for him to have to experience living in the African jungles alone!


It's Official!

Well it's official - Joey's first day of work is September 13th.  He got his invitation to join the September training class tonight around 8 (after literally checking his email every 3 minutes).  After jumping up and down, he promptly replied with his acceptance.  We should receive a packet containing more detailed information regarding the move in the mail soon.  Now that we know he is in the September class, we also know we will find out in October to what country we will be moving and when we will be making that really big move.

It still really hasn't sunk in yet for me.  We made all the phone calls - Mom and Dad, Mal, Lizz, Grammy and Papa and of course the Cordaros but after all this time of everything being hypothetical and nothing concrete it still feels that way.  It's crazy to actually have a date - now we can finally make living arrangments and get everything regarding the move nailed down! 


Well you know you’ve reached celebrity when you start pissing people off. Apparently my blog is that good, as Joey and I have begun receiving complaints regarding its title. As indicated in the “About Me” section located to the right of my postings, I may not have taken his last name but I am going to follow him to whatever corner of the earth the State Dept decides to send him. I have always considered myself a strong, independent woman. I felt when I got married that I would be losing a big part of myself by changing my last name, and so with the support of Joey, I decided to stay Melissa Soda. The fact that my last name is not Cordaro has nothing to do with any preferences for or against that name, and feelings for or against that family, or any other negative connotations. I proudly say that my last name is not Cordaro because its Soda. My dad didn’t have any boys, and even though he has encouraged, even pressured me to take my husband’s last name, I like that I’m carrying on Soda. As Bill can attest from our debate this weekend (after he mistakenly asked what our childrens’ last names will be), my last name is not Cordaro because I am a Soda girl through and through. After 23 years of Soda I’m just supposed to write it off because I got married? Transferred from one man to another? Take his last name because I’m his property now? Why couldn’t he take my last name? If it’s about family unity then why does it matter what the last name is as long as it’s the same? Joey didn’t change his name for the same reason I didn’t change mine – he’s proud of it. Just like I’m proud of mine. And so when people assume that just because I got married I changed my last name, it frustrates me. Probably in the same way Joey is frustrated when I make room reservations and he is then addressed throughout our stay as “Mr. Soda.” So I believe my blog, which I write to address the daily trials, tribulations and triumphs of moving and marriage and life, be it in Des Moines or DC or Djibouti, is appropriately titled, as from the very beginning you can tell its written from my perspective. And if my perspective is something you find offensive, you don’t have to read it. Joey’s blog is http://travelingpack.blogspot.com and his is far less opinionated (and entertaining, but that’s just my opinion…)



As mentioned earlier, we left Sunday for a few days in Orlando to celebrate the completion of move #1 as well as the completion of Joey's Master's degree (congrats baby!).  Joey's friend, Craig (Tex), met us there.  Here's a few more pictures from the trip:

The three of us Monday night at Margaritaville.

Tuesday, at Epcot, for our unofficial Disney World Beer Tour.  The three of us split a beer in each of the ten countries: Moosehead (Canada), Boddington's (UK), Kronenbourg (France), Spaten (Germany), Tsing Tsao (China), Carlsberg (Norway, which come to find out is actually Danish beer), Dos Equis (Mexico), Birra Moretti (Italy), Kirin (Japan), and finally, Casa (Morocco).  

A vacation with Joey would not be complete without a tale of his plain dumb luck (SF Joey, as his mom likes to say).  We booked this trip a while ago through Hilton Grand Vacations.  We got a great deal on the hotel in exchange for a two hour presentation on their timeshares.  (Note to Hilton: next time you want someone to buy into your property, don't put them in a room with mold on the ceiling, a crappy old A/C unit and rusty tiles in the bathroom).  Anyway, Tuesday morning we were scheduled at 9 for our tour.  We got there, waited, waited and waited - finally, at 9:30 someone came over and said they were running behind and would it be alright if we didn't go on our tour?  So she gave us our $200 certificate good toward a future night at Hilton and then sent us on our merry way - no high pressure sales pitch or anything!  Only my husband is lucky enough to get a timeshare promotional rate and then not have to attend the promotion!

This afternoon we're off to Minneapolis for the Red, White and Boom Half Marathon on the Fourth of July and a long weekend with another one of Joey's college friends, Bill.

Some Lessons Learned

We officially closed on our house Friday - so even though we had 10 days to move, we were up until 3am Friday to finish packing.  We still had a few loads to make Friday morning - one to the dumpster, one to goodwill and a final one to the loft - so we woke up at 6:30 to finish.  We took the dogs on a quick walk around the block and upon our return, someone (Joey) realized he grabbed the wrong keys.  Instead of the apartment keys, he took the car keys.  Now this was an improvement from Tuesday morning, when he didn't grab any keys and we were stranded in our hallway with all three dogs to wait for the landlord (whom Joey called from the Hotel Fort Des Moines because we didn't have our phones either).  At least now we had a car, albeit full.  So Joey emptied the SUVload from 3 am into the basement storage unit (thankfully accessible through padlock) while I struggled to keep the dogs from attacking everyone that walked by on their way to work.  We then all loaded into the car and drove first to Joey's office (West Des Moines) to get the number for the landlord, then to his house to pick up the key (Johnston), then to Home Depot (Urbandale) to make a copy, which as luck would have it, Home Depot doesn't do, so then on to Strauss Lock, back to the landlord's house and then finally home.  So after 2 1/2 hours in the car with the dogs it was 10am and I had to work at 11, so Joey had to go back to the house alone and scramble to clean everything, patch the walls, touch up the woodwork and make the dumpster run, goodwill run and pack the rest...by closing time at 3. Very long day for both of us.  Here's what I'm taking away from this experience:

1. Ten days to move may seem like a great idea but it's not.  Everything you need is always at the other place and it just makes a painful process long and drawn out.  Move like you would take off a band-aid.  Fast.

2. Added to the list of adjustments I hadn't even thought about: keys.  We never used them in our house because we'd just drive into the garage and we had the garage keypad for when we weren't driving. 

3. We still have a ton of crap.  I really thought that we had done such a good job of paring down but after the last ten days, I now disagree.  After packing all the hiding places in the house, like under the sink in the powder room, I found a ton of stupid random things that take up space and are used infrequently, but I can't really get rid of, like vases and votives.

4. The chrome shelves Mom and Dad bought Joey a few years ago for Christmas have become invaluable.

5. A post-move vacation is a really, really good idea.  All marital strife is quickly forgotten when in the presence of Tigger and Pooh - and Tex.