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11/27/09
While I did not get up at 4am to go shopping (honestly, that's what the internet is for), I did manage to get out of the house around noon to shop. Since Mom and I both had the day off, we went to the city to the Union Square Holiday Bazaar, one of my favorite places to gawk and buy little things. Got a few things for people on my list. And best of all - I ran into Jay, who's working in the area. And he looked good - being back up north agrees with him.

Early dinner at Chat 'n' Chew (fittingly enough, the "Thanksgiving on a Roll" sandwich, which is one of my favorites any time of year), and then some more shopping at Anthropologie and LUSH (they opened a store on 14th and 5th, right in the area).

On the way home, we went to Menlo Park Mall for a few more things (found some more Yankees ornaments for my Yankees-themed tree) and went to the movies. Saw 2012 again, and it was just as thrilling watching California fall into the ocean this time around.

And when I got home, I found the invoice for my 2010 Yankees season tix in the mailbox. They're early this year!

11/26/09
Hey, the tour of In the Heights will also be in Orlando the week that I'm planning to go in March!

I had to work today, which means I missed out on all of the family food time for Thanksgiving. Luckily, there are leftovers awaiting me in the microwave. It's almost the same.

I am thankful that it is not raining at this very moment in time.

And for the six-pound bag of Gummy Bears that I found at BJ's.

11/24/09
Boy, am I not excited to be back at work. I've had a headache for the past two days.

So if I eventually do move to Phoenix, I suppose I shouldn't blow all of my savings on a new Mazda Miata.

And hey, the Yankees will be in AZ in June, and the Red Sox will be in Denver in the same week. That could be do-able... The Yankees will also be in LA at the end of that week, and as much as I would love to see Derek and Torre together again, I cannot stand LA, and logistically it would be tough to try and squeeze that all in to one trip. But Phoenix and Denver? I could do that. Plus the tour of In The Heights will be in Tempe that week!

Honestly, am I the only person who's planning trips so far ahead? Gotta get to Paris first, and to Tampa for my fifth annual spring training trip.

11/22/09
I think I need to move to Phoenix. I love it there.

I should probably go in the summer before I start saying things like that.

One thing I especially liked was watching the weather reports on the local news in Phoenix. The weatherman would stand there, pointing out how warm it was, and then he would gesture to the west, saying things like, "Lookie here, a storm is coming in from the west. Is it headed this way? No sirree, it's going to turn north and head up away from us." Every. Single. Time. A girl could get used to weather forecasts like that.

But I really did have a terrific time. Flew out on Wednesday on a very bumpy flight. We actually landed early, which was nice. My rental car was a cute gray Ford Focus, which got something like 36 miles per gallon. Seriously, it had a little readout that told you the average MPG. When I got to the hotel, they welcomed me back, gave me free bottled water for being an HHonors returning guest, and put me in a suite at the top of the mountain (the building was called the Mountainside Suites). It was quiet, and overlooked the mountain on one side and the tops of the other buildings on the other. The little balcony overlooked the Phoenix skyline in the distance, which is a great deal better than overlooking the parking lot.

I did what I said I was going to do - found a frosty banana daquiri and went in the pool - and then headed to Scottsdale Stadium for the Arizona Fall League game that was on Wed night. It was like being at a single-A game, there were maybe 100 people in the stands, everyone hit a triple, and there were more errors than hits. I was reading the daily recap from the day before, and there was a game with a score of something like 24-15. I love the minor leagues. I made friends with the three guys behind me - Brits in town for an IronMan competition (I had no idea what that was, so they filled me in - swimming, biking and running, it takes like 12 hours to do). They had never seen a baseball game and had no idea what the rules were, so I taught them the basics and they bought me beer. One of the guys asked how to get a foul ball, so I said you can either go over to the other side of the park, where they're all being hit to, or you can go down to the dugout and ask for one. So I went down to the dugout to ask for one, and one of the players - from the Red Sox!! - tossed one my way. The Irish guy said he would send the player a hurling ball from Ireland in exchange, so I gave the player my email address so we can figure that one out. Yes, a Red Sox player (and yes, he wrote). What I need to send is a "WORLD CHAMPION YANKEES" hat so he learns the error of his ways.

Thursday, I drove up to Sedona, about 2 hours north of Phoenix, and did some shopping at Tlaquepaque (I know I spelled that wrong) - a part of the town designed to look like Mexican courtyards, full of galleries, shops, cafes and fountains. Sedona is also home to some all-powerful earth new-age vortices or something, but I just thought the rocks and mountains were stunning. Just beautiful. From there, I drove up rt 89A to Flagstaff, which is this winding road through the mountains (seriously, it topped out over 8000 feet above sea level) and through the red rocks. It was about 20 degrees cooler in Flagstaff than in Phoenix (which was a balmy 77 all week with NO RAIN). And once I was there, I saw the sign that said, "Grand Canyon - 76 miles" and figured, "why not?"

So I drove up, it took about 90 min to get to the Grand Canyon National Park entrance, and it was only 3.30pm. The guy at the gate said that while the park was open 24/7, the sun tended to set around 5.30pm this time of year. I drove in to the first visitor's center, and man - as soon as you get out of the car and walk to the fence, there's the canyon! Right there! I drove a bit further down the South Rim road (there weren't many visitors there, on a November Thursday) and hiked down the Rim Road for a bit. So peaceful. Then I drove along the road to another one of the viewpoints, where I managed to fall on my ass while walking from the car to the edge of the canyon, and twisted my ankle. That finished my quick visit. I drove around a bit more, and turned back towards Flagstaff. I drove around town for a bit, and then headed back to Phoenix - it took about four hours to get back (no traffic) and I was back by 9pm. Found a terrific Mexican restaurant right downtown for a humongous burrito dinner.

Friday, I slept in - til 11.30am, which is actually early for me. I didn't have any plans for during the day, so I took my time driving over to Scottsdale Fashion Square, which is a giant mall. They have all the stores I love - including a LUSH store, so I took my friend Jen's advice - which is, "you're staying in a hotel, you don't have to clean the tub, get the messiest bath bombe they have and soak in the tub." So after picking out a yummy-smelling bath bombe, I walked around the rest of the mall, and went to the movies. Saw 2012, which - despite the cheesy CGI effects - I loved. It reminded me of Independence Day, with less aliens. I particularly liked the way California fell into the ocean.

And after the movie, I drove south to Tempe to see Phantom of the Opera at ASU. I'd like to spend more time wandering around Tempe, I've been there twice now and only to the theatre. The production was fantastic. Two thumbs up.

Yesterday was the AFL Championship game (which was won by the Peoria Javelinos over the Phoenix Desert Dogs). There was actually a crowd for this one, probably because it was the last game of the season (and was on the MLB Network). The sun was blazing, the beer was cold, and it was a perfect baseball day. On the way in, I bought a handful of raffle tickets for the gift basket they were raffling off. And - this is funny because I never win these things - I won it! And let me tell you, for my $10 worth of tickets, it was a hell of a gift basket. There were three t-shirts, two caps (and the lady said, "come on in the store and exchange them for the right sizes and if you want to change colors, that's cool, too"), three mini-bats, a ball and case for it, and the best part - a family season-ticket pass for next year's AFL season. That's like a $1000 gift right there. Of course, not living in Arizona, it did me no good, so I gave it to the guy in front of me who was there with his girls. They were having a great time (and had just moved there from Chicago, they're White Sox fans). So they were happy, I was happy, and holy cow, I won a raffle.

Still haven't figured out why Scottsdale smells so good. The woman next to me at the game suggested that it's the smell of money (Scottsdale being a wealthier part of Phoenix). I asked everyone - no one knew.

The only bad part of the trip was that after the game, when I walked to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, they had a sign up that John Cleese had to postpone his performances due to illness. I was able to get a refund for my ticket. I walked around Old Town Scottsdale and up to the 5th Avenue shops, where I did some more shopping, and then I headed back to Phoenix. Had dinner at the same Mexican place (chimichangas this time, even better than the huge burrito), and attempted to pack my carry-on. Since I had the three mini baseball bats, I couldn't carry on my bag, which was good, because with all the shopping I did, it wouldn't all fit anyway. I went to bed relatively early, got up at 6.30am this morning, and here I am.

Oh, and the entire Arizona State Sun Devils basketball team was on my flight home - they're apparently playing Duke in some tournament at MSG on Wednesday. I'll also be at MSG on Wed, but to see Cirque du Soleil, not basketball.

I think it's going to rain tomorrow.

11/18/09
So, of course, having to get up early for the trip to the airport means I couldn't sleep. I fell asleep around 11pm, thanks to Ambien, but then I woke up at 5am and haven't been able to get back to sleep.

Hopefully I can sleep on the plane - back Sunday. Relaxing Southwestern warmth, here I come.

11/17/09
Finally - the long, stressful week at work is over. I'm officially on vacation. I have to run to the bookstore to get the new Clive Cussler book, go get my nails done at 6, pack, and watch last night's House. Then I can sleep and head to the airport in the morning.

In the "that is so cool" vein, John Cleese of Monty Python is going to be in Scottsdale on Fri and Sat doing a one-man stand up show, so I got a ticket (third row!) for Saturday night.

I wish I could go to the screening of the World Series film at the Ziegfeld, but I would get in trouble for calling out from work. I'll wait for the DVD box set.

later on 11/13/09
Still raining.

So NYY Steak was awesomely good. We were hoping that the restaurant overlooked the playing field, but it overlooked the Great Hall and River Ave, that was the only downside. Instead of bread, they give you mini soft pretzels, with an olive tapanade and a creamy mustard. So we had that, and iceberg lettuce salads (which come with a shot of vodka, which contains a blue cheese-stuffed olive - the shot of vodka didn't go with the wine we ordered, so it was left untouched). And the 8oz filet mignon (the 16oz would have been too much) and the side of onion rings (which was a tower of eight donut-sized onion rings). The waitress said she had never seen a party of two finish the onion rings, and we did nothing to change her mind - I think we finished half of them. And for dessert (which was free, when the waitress heard me wish Dad a happy birthday), we had fresh berries with some kind of hazelnut whipped cream.

I highly recommend it. The only thing that could make it better would be if Bernie Williams presented the check. Everything is served in pseudo-home plate-shaped dishes, and the dinner plates have retired numbers printed on them. There was Sinatra on the stereo, and photos of Yankees Past on the walls. Very classy overall.

11/13/09
Last week I dreamed that I was in Toronto with a coworker. We were on the ferry to the Toronto Islands (which I did not know existed until I was there in August), and after we got off the ferry, we got on the subway, and wound up in Brooklyn, where I was completely lost.

Last night I dreamed that I was in some big casino with my girlfriends, and we were shopping in every single store there was, lugging bags back to our rooms. It was pretty detailed, I could see everything we were browsing. And suddenly, I was in Philadelphia - but not the Philadelphia I know, I only know it was Philly because of all of the historic buildings. I was driving around on a motorcycle, getting really lost, and trying to figure out how I was going to live in this really old warehouse-type building.

Travel dreams. Time for a vacation. Oh wait, I'm going to Phoenix next week.

Where it is NOT RAINING.

11/12/09
Scary moment of the week - while looking for something to read, I found my middle school yearbook from 1986. With the advent of facebook (and with so many of my classmates on it), I just had to scan in the pictures. Man - I think everyone looks the same. No one thinks they themselves look the same.

Tomorrow night I'm taking Dad to NYY Steak for a late birthday dinner. It's at the Stadium - and since it's Friday, and I'll be there, it's going to rain.

Seriously. It's raining now, and supposed to rain til Saturday. Even in the off-season, I can't catch a break!

My 2009 World Series Champions t-shirt arrived. I will be wearing it proudly everywhere.

11/8/09
While watching the Rick Steves' Christmas Special (I bought the DVD of his TV shows), I learned about Schmutzli, the Swiss sidekick to Father Christmas, who goes around dressed in a hooded cape, beating bad children with his cane. Sounds like Dr. House. Also sounds like a holiday tradition I can get behind!

11/6/09
I feel worldly today. I set up the international bank transfer to pay the rent deposit on our apartment in Paris. It wasn't super-difficult, but there are a dozen steps and boxes to fill in, so I wonder how evil meglomaniacal movie villains manage to transfer funds to easily on screen. They must all be bankers in their spare time.

11/5/09
Aw, much better to watch the parade from the warmth of my couch. It was great to see Cervelli up front on the float with A-Rod, looking fantastic in a tan suit over the champions-logo sweatshirt (which I may have to go buy). And the Canyon of Heroes (aka Lower Broadway) looks... well, like a ticker-tape parade just rolled on through.

On to the important stuff - 104 days til pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training ;-)

Now that I have my Friday nights back, I rejoined the world of pop culture and went to the movies. Saw me some George Clooney and Ewan MacGregor in The Men Who Stare At Goats, which was highly entertaining. It also had Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges - can't go wrong with a cast like that. Oh, and besides the regular trailers, they showed a preview for the World Series DVD, which will be out before Thanksgiving - they're going to show it on the big screen for "one night only," with behind-the-scenes stuff etc. I'll just buy the DVD and watch it at home.

It's definitely November - it's 35 degrees out. I bundled up in my hat and scarf and gloves to go to the movies. Phoenix, sun, I can't wait.

later on 11/4/09
Yaaaaaay! World Champions! For the 27th time! And we were there! OK, I think I've used up my quota of exclaimation points. But really, the entire game was fantastic. I don't think our section sat down at all during the game. And after the game, watching the trophy presentation and the players circle the field, high-fiving the fans, that was truly exciting.

Our section was rowdy and loud, and the guys behind us berated anyone who bought a cheesesteak, so I wasn't about to risk their wrath by getting one. I had a few hot dogs and a few beers instead. It truly was an exciting time, and I'm so glad we got to go.

OK, I'm ready for spring training now.

11/4/09
Two months smoke-free. I feel great.

I'm ready to boo Pedro, cheer Andy Pettitte (who will stride in from the bullpen like a superhero, cape billowing behind him, Superman theme playing over the loudspeakers, cutter reaching 100mph), and generally go hoarse from screaming. And the cheesesteak. I am in love with the cheesesteak at the Stadium. It's fitting that my tix for tonight are in section 407. I sat in 406 for the very first exhibition game at the new Stadium, and this could well be the last game this season there.

It's 92 degrees in Phoenix today, and will be in the upper 80's all week. I can't wait. I need warm sun.

11/3/09
I'm confused to what day it is, because I worked a double on Saturday, 3-11 on Sunday, a double yesterday, and now I have to go back 11-7 tonight. I think it's Tuesday.

Pitching AJ Burnett on three days rest against Cliff Lee was a horrible idea, I don't think anyone thought that we would win last night. But - and this is the good part - now the Yankees can win the WS at home. And Missy and I will be there tomorrow night to hopefully see it happen! Fingers crossed. I'm excited, I've never been to a World Series game. It's supposed to be about 40 degrees, so I'm layering up again and bringing a blanket. Happily, tho, it is not supposed to rain.

11/1/09
Just my luck - to have to work a double shift on Daylight Savings Time night. An extra hour of work, and it was the last night of the month, too, so we had all the end-of-month paperwork to do, too. Well, at least we had the extra hour to do it in.

Now I am officially torn. The Yankees are kicking the Phillies' butt (up 3-1 in the WS). But I have tickets for a potential game 6 on Wednesday night. So, on the one hand I want them to wrap it up tomorrow and win, but on the other hand I want to go to game 6 and have them win then.

-catherine

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