Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thank you

I'm the type of person who looks for signs. Signs that what I'm about to do is the right thing; signs that I did the right thing; signs that I missed an opportunity. Sometimes they appear; more often than not, they don't. But when they do appear, I feel a confidence that no person or words can otherwise give me. Whether these signs come from God, fate, the universe, or are just mere idiotic coincidence, I don't know, but they are nonetheless comforting.

Yesterday, I turned down a promotion and quit my job. Honestly, I had sort of expected to panic the second I left my boss' office, much like I had when I plunked down the hefty deposit for my own apartment in New York. I'd be lying if I said I didn't experience a little anxiety over the move--especially after the guttural "What?!" my usually laid-back father uttered when I told him--but in general, I felt calm. Still, on the subway ride home, I asked for a sign. A sign that I had done the right thing in quitting my job--and not just in quitting my job, but in uprooting everything I know and truly testing the strength of mine and Jay's relationship by moving to Spain.

This morning, in yoga class (of all the places this may be completely apropos or incredibly cheesy), my instructor read the following quote from Anais Nin at the end of a particularly challenging hour and a half:

"It takes courage to push yourself to places you've never been before, to test your limits, to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain inside the bud was more painful then the risk it took to blossom."

I got my answer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The suite life

Jay said it best upon our arrival at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland: People don't even honeymoon this good. Below, a video of our suite (forgive our giddiness, we had just arrived) and here, photos.

Now the run down:

Day 1
Despite its royal reputation, Gleneagles is anything but stuffy. (In 2005, the G8 Summit was held there, and in 2014, the hotel will host the Ryders Cup on its famed golf courses.) In fact, the only thing I found stiff about this hotel was my starchy napkin during breakfast. We arrived at Gleneagles just in time for breakfast, a stroke of luck, as we’ve heard wonderful things about its buffet from dear Corrie, who visited earlier this year. It certainly does not disappoint, offering up tailor-made omelets, classic Scottish haggis and an array of delicious pastries, which we had no problem devouring every morning.

After breakfast, we were escorted to Gleneagles’ hunting school, where Ian schools us in the craft of clay pigeon shooting. Given that the only hunting Jay and I have ever taken part in was through Nintendo’s “Duck Hunt,” we need some work. We each hit a few, but I'm told I have a quick trigger finger. Guns are heavy things, so afterwards we head for massages, natch. Every day should be so difficult.

Day 2
The day we venture to Edinburgh happens to be the coldest day of the year so far for Scotland, as my occasionally forced smile in the photos will show you.

Day 3
When I told people I was going to Scotland, those who know I haven’t eaten meat in six years scoffed, “Good luck!” Surely there’s more rabbit, lamb, and haggis on every menu here than I’ve likely seen in my entire life, but that doesn’t mean the country has turned a cold shoulder on its herbivore residents and visitors. In fact, they’ve even managed to come up with a vegetarian version of haggis (a Scottish dish similar to sausage), made of lentils and other beans.

But it's no doubt that Scotland tested my animal-loving limits. First was falconry lessons at Gleneagles Hotel; followed by gun dog training. When William first introduced us to his collection of hawks and eagles, I thought I’d feed the birds some seeds and watch them do some tricks; I had no idea we’d actually take them into the surrounding fields of farmland to hunt rabbits.

On the three-hour trek, our birds of prey, Saunders and Victor, were 50/50, netting two kills out of four attempts. Watching the kills weren't as heart wrenching as I thought they would be—after all, I wasn’t the one killing the rabbit, merely following the bird that did. (Although one rabbit did manage to let out a heartbreaking scream during one kill, which slowed my enthusiasm a little.) William was careful to make sure the animal didn’t suffer; discreetly ensuring the rabbit was dead (i.e. breaking its neck) and not just in shock before he disposed of it. (The deceased are later taken to a nearby rehabilitation center to serve as food for wounded wild animals, so at least it's not all for sport.) In truth, it’s the chase that’s thrilling; but you’d be mistaken if you thought I looked hard to spot rabbits for these hawks to swoop down and kill.

Next, gun dog training. Having grown up with dogs and now being residents of New York with small apartments and no yards, Jay and I were in terrible dog withdrawal, and may have been more excited to be out playing with dogs more so than they were to be out of the kennel and playing with us. Here too, the animals are well cared after and the trainer was delicate yet stern with the more rambunctious animals. The trainer also tells me that once the 11 dogs, which are between three and four years old, become too old or are injured, and therefore no longer are as spry, they will be found good homes, rather than dispensed to a shelter. I’ve already signed up to have Debbie, a three-year-old black lab who nuzzles your leg for attention, to be shipped to me when the time comes.

Day 4
Back to reality in coach on Continental. Oh well. Being nouveau rich was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Doppelganger Strikes Again

I've already gotten my second congratulations-but-sad-to-see-you-go e-mail about this news from BizWeek:

"The Wall Street Journal hires Jennifer Merritt ( as 'CareerJournal' editor."

Sadly, it's a success of JM 1.0, not my own. Truth be told, it's slightly annoying having to deflect these e-mails, as it only reminds me of how stunted I am in my current position. For sure, when I vacate my current post, no one will give a hoot--and not just the folks at BizWeek; even more likely, my own boss.

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