Thursday, December 9, 2010

Adventures with Marta & Alanna: A Fabulous Birthday, A Thanksgiving Feast and the Dangers of Black Friday

Well, friends. Marta finally came to visit and we lived it up for 5 fabulous days. The anticipation was pretty great, as we hadn't seen each other in over a year and even then - we only hung for a couple hours. She flew into Greenville on her birthday, November 23. Just minutes after she landed, she came out of the authorization-only area and into the waiting area, where we did a screaming hug-dance for 2 minutes straight, not caring about the dozens of bystanders watching and giving us the stink eye.

We made it out of the airport and into the nasty rain. We actually spent a good chunk of time inching our way through rush-hour traffic, but it didn't matter because it was so exciting to have her here again! We finally made it back to my apartment to clean up before heading downtown to The Lazy Goat for her birthday dinner. First, birthday present time!

Opening presents and reminiscing about the good ol' days
The Lazy Goat is one of my favorite restaurants in Greenville and I knew Marta would love it. I took my friends Mulder & Jade there when they visited me in May, and I had told her all about how awful the waiter was when they had visited. So to avoid another bad experience, I requested the "good section" where Justin and I usually sit, hoping to get the waiter we love (of course I couldn't remember his name).

As soon as we're seated, I see him. The bad waiter. As I wished and hoped he wouldn't walk toward our table, I wanted to die as he began shuffling his way toward us. Listen. I have learned to manage my patience more since I have been in the mental health field, but this guy really pushes my buttons. I'm not sure if it's:
a) because he couldn't possibly be older than 16 (bless his lil heart)
b) because his mouth is over capacity with braces and about 104 rubber bands or
c) because he whisper-mumbles the entire time, resulting in me repeating myself, squinting to understand his response and struggling to translate his slurring.

Before he reached our table, I had a pinch of hope that maybe (just maybe) Mr. Mumble-Shuffles had gotten his act together since I brought my friends there in May. Maybe (just maybe) his knowledge may have improved on understanding the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Riesling and basically all food in general. Hmm, no. Poor guy was still clueless as ever. He gave us a good laugh and a big "are you kidding me right now?" though, as we asked him questions about the menu and he consistently replied, "Oh.. ehhhmm.. I'm not sure..?"

Our birthday-dinner-celebration ended with Mumble-Shuffles messing up our bill which created a real confusing mess (big wow). I really think the guy would have a much more enjoyable and beneficial time working at Toys R' Us or something. Despite our half-wit waiter, we spent the night laughing and talking about crazing things going on in our lives. We had quite an exciting and memorable night!

The next morning, we relaxed and enjoyed some Starbs. We ran errands, did our Thanksgiving grocery shopping and even scored some free tanning before Levi (Justin's bro) arrived later that afternoon. We carefully planned out our appetizers, Turkey & Ham Dinner and desserts. It was pretty exciting, since the most Marta and I ever really cooked/baked together was frozen pizza and spaghett in our dorms. Later that evening, we all went out to Chicora Alley (another one of my faves) for apps. We braved the cold and walked down to Reedy Falls for a few minutes. We finally gave up to go back home for some games and more Thanksgiving prep.

Chicora Alley
Liberty Bridge / Falls Park (Marta's 'jester feet' crack me up!!)
Best Friends since 2003

Apparently we were up way too late, because I overslept. Bigtime. Thanksgiving morning, Marta's in town, I had a 19-pound turkey, a ham and 6 side dishes to cook, (and a Thanksgiving Day Parade to watch) and I overslept. I'm sure you can imagine the chaos as we began our cooking/baking extravaganza.. I'm lucky I found enough time to shower! Of course, everything came together as it almost always does.

Marta & Micah rolling peanut butter balls (an a few other creative shapes)
Our little 7-person Thanksgiving table
I found these an amazing set of mustard napkins at a thrift store for a dollar! For the napkin rings, I bought a bag of 8 rings at Hobby Lobby, painted them and attached some cute, aqua sequence-ribbon. I found the pine cones in our backyard and printed off some cute name cards [font:].
These adorable felted acorns wouldn't have been possible without my friend Jody. She taught me how to make them (and it's NOT easy). She spent a ton of time working on them! The lace is actually just a piece of specialty "paper" I found in the scrapbooking section at AC Moore. It's actually just a piece of transparency paper with a lace print on it. I think it added a lot to the table!
Just a dozen mini pumpkins, I spray-painted with gold.. Love them!
I found and cut out some cute prints and colors to go with my nontraditional color scheme and Marta and I had a few laughs trying to string and hang them as fast as we could
Waiting for the turkey to finish baking, serving apps and frosting my pumpkin spice cupcakes
I love you so much, I could punch you!
Still waiting.. Romeo sure loved Marta!

Let the feasting begin! The brothers lined up for our 16-course meal

I made these cute little owl cupcake toppers by cutting them out of a piece of scrapbook paper I found at AC Moore
Dinner was fabulous. Marta and Melissa were a huge help too with all of their cooking and baking! We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and playing games. Perfect Thanksgiving.

Now, just to find a place for all the leftovers!
Marta and I kept psyching ourselves up for Black Friday and our plan to hit Target as early as we could wake up. By midnight, we were still stuffed from dinner.. we feared that we would oversleep, so we stayed up until 3:30am and grumbled as we forced ourselves out the door in time for the big sale. It had been sprinkling on and off, plus it was pretty cold.. Not exactly the best weather to be waiting outside in line, eh? As we attempted to pull into the parking lot, we was dumbfounded. I know I have never done the whole shopping-on-Black-Friday-at-4am-experience, but holy cow, people were everywhere! Cars parked and jammed up in every direction, people parked in the grass and in non-parking spots, and the line to get in began at the doors and went to the far end of the parking lot and then all the way to Woodruff Road. I don't know what was going through my mind when I predicted there might be "a hundred people or so". Idiot.

We made it there around 3:45am and magically found a parking spot. We asked a few people what their plan was for standing right across the front doors rather than getting in line. A few people told us that once the store opens, they just go up to the doors and make their way in -- A lady even told us that she does it that way every single year. Within minutes of our arrival, we realized we made it just in time. A small, round, elderly policeman/security dude was on a motivational-speech-kick, as he was glaring at everyone on "our side" as if we had leprosy.

We stood there for a few minutes to see if anything would happen.. We saw the policeman kick some "budgers" out of line and do his best to pump up the crowd/line for reinforcements. It was pretty obvious the guy really took his job seriously when he began charging "our side" of the line, yelling and threatening us! He yelled, "You better back off, or you WILL be assaulted!" I was thinking, is this guy for real??? I couldn't believe he was getting so worked up towards people who were just standing there. Of course, he was getting more and more motivated - picture Chris Farley as the SNL motivational speaker - he just kept on feeding off the line of people who would cheer and clap for him as he pressed on with his motivational speech and pacing in front of the Target doors like a caged tiger. Marta and I kept calling him "The Hero" because he was acting like he was there to save the world. Little did he know, we (and I'm sure many other people) were not standing there with intention to storm the doors at 4am, but we were standing there watching him make a total fool out of himself.

We started to walk toward the end of the line, promising ourselves that if it took more than 10 minutes to get in, we were outtie. The doors opened, and the line moved nice and quick. The inside of the store was mayhem. We saw puffy vests being thrown around in the women's department, tall stacks of electronics in the middle of the aisles and people plowing their way through with their clunky shopping carts. Marta and I wove our way towards electronics to see what the chances were of scoring Justin's Christmas present - an Xbox360 for more than 50% off. I knew Justin had been wanting one for years and had been using my brother's while he was away at BCT for 3 months. Before making it to electronics, we collided into the sparkling section of $2-$6 DVDs which overtook almost the entire children's department. I don't even know how many times Marta and I gasped and exclaimed, "This one's only 2 BUCKS?!" In our excitement, I literally ran into our friend Tim, who also had his arms full of treasures. I realized the lines had to be starting to back up, so I told Marta to text me, and booked it to electronics. Hooohholy canotes. The line to checkout in electronics went to the back of the store and turned, extending to the complete opposite corner of the store. Are you kidding me right now?? I wasn't even sure if it was worth it, until I found out that the "general checkout line" was actually the line running along side of us, and was wrapped around the store twice.

We finally found a spot at the end of the line. Not even after 10 minutes of waiting, we began to get really tired and thirsty. We took turns a couple times to use the bathroom, get water and Marta checked out the Barbie's (for Georgia). I can't remember how many times we kept asking each other, "Is this really worth it?!" The girl behind us was pretty cool.. She even told us about a huge brawl when the store opened - she witnessed two women fighting and screaming over a flat-screen TV and literally were playing tug-o-war with it. She said pieces of the box were ripping off and security had to get involved!

It started to get really bad, when we started smelling all the nasty morning breathe and obviously upset stomachs (thank you, Thanksgiving). The line barely inched along, since apparently 1 of the 2 computers crashed (as opposed to the 16 registers in the regular checkout line). I kept telling Marta that it would take us just as long to wait in the other line, so we might as well stick it out (who knows if that was even true). During our 2.5 hours of waiting in that blasted line, we went through waves of crabbiness, exhaustion, silliness and anticipation. We were a little more than halfway, when the people around us really started to get on our nerves. One woman passing by, looked at Marta and me and said mockingly, "You're gonna be waiting here forever! Ha ha." Oh really, lady? I guess we thought we didn't realize we had been standing in a line of 600 people at 4:30 in the morning. I had to hold Marta back from causing a serious knockdown. I wonder how long Snooty Lady had to wait in line for? Ha HA! Finally with electronics in sight, and only 3 more Xbox's left, we began to witness some real crazies.

We noticed one woman (with an interesting hairstyle) who kept waddling up and down the cereal aisle. She'd walk toward us and peek over our shoulders at the line, and waddle back. She huffed and puffed a few times before we finally asked her if she was looking for the end of the line or if we could help her with something. She just looked at Marta and said, "I'm sooo tiiired..." I kind of saw the whole thing in slow motion as she plopped to the floor and just sat there staring at us. Marta and I got the giggles, wondering why was Waddles even at Target on Black Friday, just to sit on the floor in the cereal aisle?! Why not call it a day and go home to bed? Poor thing. Maybe she just likes all the people?

Nothin' better to do, than waste time at 4am, sitting on the floor in the Target cereal aisle
An older, crusty-faced woman with severely chapped lips approached the electronics counter and began to get exasperated that no one would immediately ring her up. She turned to us and said, "Can I check out here..or..uh..?" We carefully explained to her that the line we were in was for electronic purchases only, including 10 items or less. We pointed toward the direction of where the end of the line might be, and she just looked at us confused. She said, "Well, I just want to check out." Trying to be patient with her, we explained that we were all checking out and again told her that we were line and we had been in line for 2.5 hours. She continued to give us a confused look, as if we were the crazy ones and we reminded her for the 3rd time.. We were in line. The end of the line is 'back there'. Something sort of clicked in her little brain, and Marta reassured her saying, "Yeah.. I know it's really confusing.." When really it wasn't confusing at all. Either a) Chappy Lips McGee is not a morning person or b) 4am Black Friday shopping is not a good option for her. Hopefully she found her way to the end of the line with no more troubles or confusing experiences.

What a memorable experience!
Once we reached the counter, I was told I got the second-to-the-last Xbox. Plus with it, I got a $50 and 2 $10 gift cards to Targ. After all that time and waiting, I would have been pretty bummed if they had run out them, so I felt pretty lucky. Marta and I kept joking about how funny it would be to call Levi (who was asleep at home) and tell him that one of us got in a combative altercation with another shopper and needed him to come help us sort things out. As funny as it would have been, we decided to just go home and crash. Oh, sweet sleep!

We spent the afternoon relaxing some more, ate some leftovers, ran some errands and and got ready to go downtown to Barley's for dinner. We spent Marta (and Levi's) last night in town just bumming around and watching movies.

What an amazing time I had with my best friend. So many new inside jokes and memories. In most cases, I would probably end this post bumming about how much I miss her and I have no idea when I'll see her again. In this case, I do miss her.. and believe it or not, but she's coming back for New Years! When she told me she was thinking about it, I couldn't even believe I'd get to see her again so soon. I. Can't. Wait.



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  2. OMG what craziness! I'm so glad I didn't go out on Black Friday. Well, we went to Lowe's...but that's nothing like Target or Walmart. It was just a normal-sized crowd. And we bought our presents online! I'm glad you went though, so I could read your stories! :)


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