Back in the USA!

We just got home late last night, and today is me recoup. day before going back to work. The trip was amazing, but I'm so glad to be home to my furbabies! A short recap, for anyone interested:

Rome: ruins and ancient buildings were fantastic! Extra fantastic were all of the cats that have taken up residence in the ruins. There is even a cat rescue organization that cares for the cats in a certain set of ruins in the city. Best adventure was biking along the river's bike path! It was way too hot in Rome, though, and I was uncomfortable most of the time. Scored a cheetah-print calf-hair bag for 4 euro, plus a squirrel pendant for two euro at a flea market.

Florence: Florence got much better breezes, so I was much more appropriately dressed. Very picturesque, but it was a real trial to hit up our list of places to visit. Many shops/restaurants seemed to only open from 11:30-2:30, so we really didn't get to go anywhere that was suggested to us. We fell in love with a line of enamel-over-silver figurines by a maker called Saturno, and I scoured the city until I found a little tiger pendant for myself - we were told they have only made the pendants for two years, so I feel lucky to have found a feline.

Venice: I joked that it was simply impossible to find a good angle for pictures here - so so so gorgeous! And a hotbed of cat art! We bought some prints, a statue, and figurine. Converting Hubs into a fellow cat lover was one of my best moves ever, since this meant he was happy to pay for half of everything. :) We spoke with some lovely, friendly shop keepers here, who told us that the Venetian culture is almost completely gone, and that the city is almost completely a tourist attraction now. It was kind of sad to hear, but at least it still runs in a capacity that allowed us to take endless boat rides through the canals.

Other thoughts:
- The next time she travels, Ms. Sensitive Skin *really* must bring her own bed linens... -_-
- Can you believe I didn't buy a stitch of clothing on the trip? My Italian-made clothes are some of my favorites, but I just didn't fall in love with anything I happened to see. I guess I'm lucky, because everything was super expensive.
- I owe a HUGE thank you to those who pushed me to bring a couple of dresses with me. They were just about the only thing I could wear in Rome without being completely sweaty all the time.
- The Scottvest trench was too hot in Rome, but I wore it every day there anyway, because of the inner pockets. I even carried Hubs' passport and wallet in the coat, since the crowds were thick and the pickpockets notorious.
- There was plenty of awesome, cheap food everywhere! And I've gained five pounds, even with all the walking. Oy, but it was worth it.
- The Report booties and Doc Marcies were great shoes for the trip, but next time I need to buy a pair of insoles for *every day* of the trip. We walked from around 7:30 am to 9:00pm every night, and the poor insoles were completely flat by the end of it. My feet hurt plenty, but it was only from the weight of my body - none of the arch or ankle strain that plagued me in Japan. Also, of the two of us, I was the one to make it home without any blisters. :)

I've only gone through a fraction of our photographs so far, but here are a few good ones. Thanks again to everyone who helped with packing and itinerary ideas - I have not done much traveling, so I could not have been nearly as prepared and comfortable with out you guys!


Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →


Do you ever dress poorly... on purpose?

Today I am still feeling a bit "meh," so I dressed in all my new favorites: white BB shirt, ink blue F21 blazer (making its maiden voyage), striped Hudsons, dalmatian boots, and new J. Crew trench. It perked me up a bit and gave me a reason to get up...

But on the way to work, I wondered if I should have worn beige and pastels instead, so that I'd look more how I feel. I'm not talking about faking illness or anything nefarious - I mean an outfit that says, "Please, don't ask me to save the world today." Out of order. Wet paint. Protected by man-eating guard dog. Do not touch.

On the one hand, this wouldn't make me feel better. But some gentle handling would be appreciated. Not to say that anyone is playing rough... just a wandering thought about what kinds of reactions our clothes might command from others.


Update with possible time-saving info: US Postal Service FAIL

My J. Crew trench was supposed to get here today. It DID get here today, but then it left again.

Tracking says "notice left." I don't have a notice, and I had it sent to my business. I was here. Many people were here - why would they leave a notice?

I called 800-ASK USPS, and they said it was at my local post office - but of course had no idea what went wrong. OK. I called the local office to see if they had it. No answer. For several calls.

At lunch, I DROVE to the local post office. They didn't have it. "If you really want it, come back at 9am," they said. Or I could come back at 5pm today. I have to work. Could I come back at noon? Nope, they would try to redeliver it by then. But if they redeliver it, wouldn't they just leave a notice? Again? To a building FULL of people who could easily sign for it? Yes, so if I want it I should come at 9am. No, they had no idea why the driver couldn't just deliver it where it was addressed.


I ended up writing a letter authorizing them to hold the package there until lunchtime tomorrow (my idea). I wrote down the teller's name. So that means another fun trip to and from USPS during the height of BH traffic - and another day's wait for my item.

No offense to any postal workers out there - I know for a fact that they do not all function like this. I'm just very unhappy at the moment. >:^(


To cut to the chase, everything I was told and instructed to do initially was completely wrong.

1) 800 ASK USPS had informed me that my package was at my local branch location. I've already said this was untrue, but what I learned was that ASK USPS operators are not even postal employees - they are a contracted answering service, and they basically have no access to real information and have no way of knowing how the postal service works. Don't count on them for anything related to your deliveries.

2) The associate I initially spoke with told me that I could come back and pick up my package with my driver's license. This was also untrue. The post office will not release anything unless the name *and* address match -- so unless you have your work address on your ID, you'll be completely up the creek without a paddle if you receive a delivery attempt notice at work.

3) This associate also told me that the driver would be bringing my package back to the branch location, and that I could pick it up either at 5pm that day, or 9am the next day. Well, even if they would have released the package to me with my ID, my package would not have come back to the branch. Apparently, "notice left" is some secret USPS code that really means "will be delivered tomorrow" in the event that your company is set up with something called a "call service," which creates different rules for how the mail is distributed from the branch.


"notice left" tracking status
no notice received
business delivery address
the business is probably using call service, and it will probably show up tomorrow.

4) However, no one at the post office will make this deductive leap. I asked repeatedly if there was any possible reason that the delivery was held up on my end (is there a signature needed? was it addressed incorrectly? did I need to wait outside for the truck?), but call service wasn't brought up until my 3rd interaction with USPS - even though they know your tracking info, address, the fact that the destination is a business, and everything, tellers have no way to see if a delivery is affected by call service. Which leads me to the next revelation:

5) I was told that it is the customer's responsibility to tell the postal worker if a workplace uses a call service. The people who actually live and breathe delivery issues every day cannot be expected to know anything about how deliveries function. You, as someone who does not work around mail, are expected to know everything about how your mail is handled, so don't blame the tellers for your own ignorance.

6) Everything is the customer's fault. USPS has no way of knowing anything and cannot be held responsible for any information they give you. No one ever apologized for the wrong information I was given, and I was told that "It wasn't her fault, because you didn't tell her it was a call service."

Seriously, with traffic, parking, and waiting lines, I wasted hours trying to get my package - not even counting the complaint letter I wrote for the manager of the branch - and no one had an ounce of sympathy. They all continued to defend the misinformation that was given and pass the buck to ASK USPS and me.

I've used USPS to ship al of my Ebay items for over 8 years, and I've never received this kind of treatment, but this is definitely enough to make me look into other options.


OT: New Bemular Album - with Rae songwriting debut & wedding video!

After about nine months of work, Bemular has just finished our new album, and it's available for download! I've been informed that the best price is at CD Baby, but we are also on Itunes and Amazon, in case you have gift cards or promo codes or whatever.

This album is extra special, featuring "Fumigation," written, recorded, and sung by yours truly. Even if you don't download, you can hear a clip of me groovin.' DH also wrote the title track for me for our wedding. <3

video here:

Please check it out if you have a spare moment - I'm really proud of my song, which is something I never thought I'd say years ago.


Anyone moving their blog to YLF?

I only started blogging recently, so maybe this doesn't apply to the rest of you... I have recently wondered if maybe I should start doing my onedollarwonders posts here instead of at blogger. Most of my readership is you guys, anyway, and if I'm *already* here posting WIWs, it would save time to just write up the full one-dollar details at the same post.

Would there be any drawbacks to this? I suppose if my blog became blindingly popular or something I would not be able to "monetize" the blog as I could on blogger. But I don't know how much sway that has with me. Anything else? Thoughts?


Change is in the air!

1) I have an appointment at an actual HAIR SALON today at 6pm! I tried to clean up my ends and bangs last night and felt like Ms. Frump Central 2012. I am not going for a huge change, but this is my first time in a salon in 10 years. :0

2) Unless all goes wrong with DH at home, we will be going to Italy at the end of March - Squeeeee! Rome, Florence, and Venice. Turns out to be the perfect week to go, since my boss will be gone, too. This is part of the inspiration for the haircut - I don't want to be the most unkempt person in Italy.

Now all I need to do is think up a couple of possible souvenirs to put on my radar. There is a leather market in Florence, as well as a few secondhand shops. I need to choose shopping destinations wisely, since I do need to pay Hubs *most* of my attention. ;)

SUPER EXCITED for all of it. Fingers crossed that I don't leave the salon with a mullet or something awful...


OT: Sigh. Ebay buyers driving me to drink...

Dude. Seriously.

Pay attention to your delivery time estimates. I am not Zappos, and I don't pretend to be. You may think your package is weeks overdue, but in reality it is not scheduled to get there that fast. Don't unleash the beast within at me when the package isn't even late yet.

Remember that Ebay sellers are regular people! Great, you asked where your package was. I explained about the shipping times and said I'd contact the post office. Why on earth would you email me less than 24 hours later asking for an update? And then file a complaint the day after that without giving any time to respond?

What. The. Heck. I swear, people can be so horrible sometimes...