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burgers, beer, blue chalk

I was all set with a great photo from my new restaurant discovery, but somehow the picture got corrupted, so instead, here is a piece of chalk from Thanksgiving. Yes, that's right. I spent my Thanksgiving playing pool at Todd's grandmother's cabin near Bass Lake. And all was well until the septic system backed up. But that's another story.

And I'd rather talk about my exciting restaurant find than share the details about the lengths I went through to avoid going to the bathroom in an outhouse.

So: Mondo in Sonoma. Big, fat, juicy burgers. Lengthy beer list (Scrimshaw Pilsner! Racer 5! Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout! All on tap!). Killer onion rings. And exactly halfway between Laura and me, making it the perfect place to catch up on a Sunday night.

cat envy

While I ran around doing laundry, packing for tomorrow and trying to make sure my brother's birthday card got mailed out in time (he's weird about that sort of thing), someone else was buried in the sheets.


It's been one week. I've only gotten lost walking to my desk a few times. (The building is huge. All the cubicles are grey. My landmark is an heirloom tomato poster, which several other people also have posted at their desks, so this becomes very confusing.) I've already set up one radio interview. And I'm working on a TV segment. And there's also the launch of a new Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. And some ambitious holiday promotions.

And a lot of PR speak, which is somewhat new to me. (Probably because it was just me doing all of the PR at my old job, so there was no one else to PR-speak to.) Now, there is "reaching out" to contacts and "wrapping your arms around" ideas and finishing projects "by COB" (which means close of business -- I actually had to Google it). I'm sort of worried all of this is going to rub off on me, and I'll end up talking like a PR robot instead of a human being.

But things are good. Brainstorming with other people is good. Liking those people a whole lot is good. Tasting through my new portfolio is good. Massive amounts of Halloween candy in baskets all over the office is good. Having an awesome gym right across the street with classes that kick my ass and make me feel less guilty about said candy is really, really good.

What's missing: A decent burrito. (I'm sorry -- this place just does not cut it! Guacamole shouldn't be that shade of green!) Cellar guys to shoot the shit with. An in-house shipping guru who knows how to navigate direct shipping laws and also enjoys talking about beer festivals in Mendocino. Peanut brittle and poodles in the tasting room. A winemaker who likes to discuss obscure Japanese literature and vegetarian Indian recipes. People who understand that wine and Kettle Chips do belong together forever.

Basically, all of my old friends.

I hate to admit it, but apparently, I don't adjust as well to change as I would like to think I do. I spent the last week trying really hard not to mope around. I absolutely don't regret my decision -- I honestly believe it was the right career move -- but man, I miss my old co-workers like crazy.

It's so bad that I actually started crying in spin class at the new gym last Thursday because all I could think about was how I used to take spin class with Laura on my lunch break, and now she's not there, and now no one is there, and there's not even a good burrito nearby, and then I felt so lonely and really far away from everyone and everything, and the tears just wouldn't stop.

I am telling myself that maybe this happened because sometimes exercise can release certain emotions, and not because I am just one big, gigantic baby.

(Um, still trying to convince myself of this.)


Friday was my last day. There was a nice lunch with awesome Mexican food (one of the vineyard guys has a catering business on the side, and his food is so damn good -- I could eat bowl after bowl of his guacamole), cupcakes, doughnut holes and a buffet of Kettle chips. Obviously, my coworkers have figured out what makes me tick!

Then I tied up a few things, finished packing up my desk, said good-bye and left.

And I've been feeling weird ever since -- it's like I don't belong anywhere anymore, like I'm floating around without a purpose. I feel like I have to rethink my entire identity! Which makes me realize just how much I defined myself by my job. And that can't possibly be healthy, right?

Adding to the feelings of weirdness: On my last day, I had to return my Crackberry, so no more constant e-mails to Laura all day. And the hard drive on my personal laptop died, so no computer at home (I have to borrow Todd's, which is what I'm doing right now) and no work laptop to temporarily replace the personal laptop. And on top of that, I've been in the introductory sommelier course all weekend (eight hours a day, no joke), with no phone or Internet access. I spent the past two days feeling overwhelmed by life changes but not being able to talk about it!

But at least I passed my introductory sommelier exam. (And let me tell you -- I was totally freaking out about that.) And I think my tasting technique is now better, as a result. And I can tell you that in South Africa, grape varietals are called "cultivars." And the popular white wine in Veneto is Soave, which is made from Garganegra. And the first U.S. AVA was -- believe it or not -- Augusta, Mo. And the Puttonyos you see on the label of Tokaji? Puttonyos are the buckets of aszu, or paste from botrytized grapes, that are added to the wine. So 4 Puttonyos means four buckets, and so on. And the more Puttonyos, the sweeter the wine.

Nothing like a little random trivia to cheer yourself up.

Oh, and I start my new job tomorrow, too.