Life Lessons

In other words, Latin for “I came, I whined, I conquered.”

Listen, I don’t want to brag, but I’m kind of awesome. Like, there are skittish peasants somewhere who want to build bronze statues in honor of my bravery.

WHY, you ask? I’ll tell ya why.

I’m not an especially confrontational person (understatement). The only fights I genuinely enjoy are strangers’ public breakups and battles of pretension between freshman philosophy minors and junior women’s studies majors.

When it comes to my own grievances, I’m much more likely to sit and stew than to do something about it.

And then yesterday happened.

You may have read my post negatively (understatement) reviewing Grand Lux Cafe yesterday. (You didn’t? Ok, go ahead. I’ll wait…. Ready? Ok.) Well, what you might NOT know is that I sent an edited version of that post (same points, fewer jokes) to the company’s corporate office.

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really expect too much to happen. I mean, some free stuff out of the deal would have been nice, especially after the ridiculously bad treatment, but I wasn’t holding my breath.

Then my phone rang at 2:53.

“Hi, I’m looking for Justine? This is Travis, the manager at Grand Lux Cafe in Roosevelt Field. Do you have a second to talk?”

I didn’t (am I the only human who works full time? People always call me in the middle of the afternoon and sound shocked I can’t talk. But I digress…), so I asked Travis to call back at 6:30.

On the DOT of our prearranged time, my phone rings. It’s our buddy.

Long story short, corporate had sent him my email and Travis felt pretty bad about the whole thing. He apologized about eight times, assured me that that was not how business was normally done at Grand Lux, and then he said those magical words:

“So, Justine. What can we do to make it up to you?”

Me: Well, what did you have in mind, Travis?

Turns out Travis had a lot of things in mind. Because unlike our friend Damien, Travis understood that as the manager of a restaurant, there is a LOT he can do.

Starting with a $100 gift card so I can bring the girls back for a redo, and Travis’s personal number so I can call him when we’re coming in and he can make sure they “take very good care of us.”

So, essentially, Travis is going to do everything Damien and Bernadette SHOULD have done. And I would venture to guess that’s why he’s a good manager.

So the point is, I’m giving GLC another chance (although Travis did say that if they fail me again, we NEVER have to come back…he’s such a kidder! …but seriously.). And I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson here.

I don’t mess around.

***Disclaimer: I’m writing this post on my phone on the train — turns out I have less time to blog at actual computers than I used to — so there may be a few more errors than normal. My apologies. /Disclaimer***

Wow. So guess who left you for days with a post about a sandwich? That would be this girl. I suck. Sorry.

You know what else sucks? Impulse buys that don’t work out. Especially when it’s something you’re going to feel obligated to use anyway.

Case in point, two days ago I bought a lotion that promised “luminous” skin. (Total disclosure: It also has self tanner in it. I’m tired of being glow-in-the-dark, folks. And I’m averse to getting cancer. Thus, here we are, with me perusing self tanner in Duane Reade trying to figure out which one is the least likely to turn me a shade of Snooki.)

So anyway, I had used this particular brand before, so I was pretty sure the color would agree with me. And luminous? Sounds great, right?


Apparently what they meant by “luminous” was “your skin will sparkle like a Cullen.” (Get it, lazy pop culture references.)

At least the glittery bits are pretty fine…if my skin had resembled a Spice Girl circa 1996 this may have been a two-shower morning.

I think I’ll be ok if I avoid direct sunlight…like a Cullen.

So remember that time I went camping with The Fiance’s family last year? Well, since no one was eaten by a bear, we decided to go again!

And believe it or not, but this venture was actually more successful (from my viewpoint). Not only did we go to an even better campground, but I have found a way to conquer mosquitoes.


Thanks to this:

(I know, I look good…not.)

I swear the Off company is not paying be (although I’ll take a check any time now), but if you have to spend any time outdoors and you typically get eaten alive, buy this. Stat. I mean it, go!

I got ONE bite the whole weekend. It’s a miracle. A camping miracle!

It’s inventions like this that make me wonder, why one earth did it take so long to think of this? You clip it on and go. Take that, West Nile Virus.

“So I’ve figured out that my job is dealing with felons all day. OMG, never break the law.”


You know what’s really challenging? Finding someone to work out with.

Like I mentioned yesterday, athletic activities (and really any activity) is much more enjoyable when you don’t feel like you’re holding anyone else back. Or, I would add, like you’re holding yourself back so as not to make anyone feel left out.

Which is where today’s probably-not-that-startling revolution comes from.

My whole life, I’ve only really had one workout partner that I felt like I was on at-least-almost equal footing with. Her name is Michelle (and she writes an ironically baking-themed blog you should read…but not when you’re hungry).

Actually, Michelle was/is a little bit more fit (or at least more disciplined) than I am, which really worked out better for me in the long run. (Nothing makes you willing to go another mile more than a partner who thinks it’s no sweat.) But we ran at about the same speed, and we could work out for about the same length of time.

More importantly, we both had the same opinion of working out (and the same love-hate relationship with it), as well as of food (chocolate is necessary). So though we could push each other, I never felt like we looked down on each other if I had to walk a bit more than her on the treadmill or if she had a chocolate chip binge whilst baking one night.

Plus, she taught my pilates class, and you know how I feel about people who do pilates.

Now, I’m sure at this point someone I’ve worked out with who isn’t Michelle is thinking, “Did you HATE working out with me?” but I swear, I didn’t. Having any partner is better than none at all. (Seriously. The gym/running by yourself is laaaame.)

I’m just saying that I’m still waiting for someone to take Michelle’s place in my life (or for her to live closer!!).

Wowza, I feel like I haven’t done this in forever. Sorry, guys.

Anyway, quick recap. The trip to LA was a rousing success! (Thank you again to my lovely hosts!) Saw sights. Ate fabulous Chinese and Mexican food (because really, it’s so much better over there). Frolicked in 70-degree weather. Saw two of my adorable nieces. Flew on a plane that had black lights, video games, and personal TVs. All in all, win.

But, like all good things, my vacation had to end eventually. Putting me back in the real world of work, lack of greenery, and rent checks.

Speaking of rent, Emma and I have begun searching for our new digs come May. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from apartment hunting, it’s that it really makes you start to think about what you need.

Now, I mean it when I say “need.” We’re talking, “Can I truly live in a 7×7 room without a closet?” kind of need.

What I’ve learned? Generally, I don’t really need that much. The direction of my search is motivated largely by cost and desire for safety. That’s about it. No closet? Fine, I’ll buy a clothes rack. Not a lot of space? Well, I don’t really have that much stuff besides clothing anyway.

What I’m saying is, if I can afford it, don’t feel like I will get mugged outside, and can literally fit my belongings inside, I can make do.

At least I’m not high-maintenance?