10 Things About Living Close To Work

My place of work recently moved from about 25 minutes to 2 minutes away from where I live.  After a few months of acclimation, here are some helpful observations on living close to work:

1. You have/gain a lot of extra time.

I gained about an hour on each end of my day – even though my commute was only supposed to take 25 minutes, it usually took close to an hour depending on traffic, weather, if I rode the bus, etc.  I use one extra hour to sleep and the other to exercise.  It’s a beautiful thing.

2. You can go home for lunch / have lunch parties at your house.

‘Nuff said.  Anyone up for a lunch party?

3. You save a lot of money on gas and eating out.

Also not much more to say on that one…I don’t know how I was sustaining myself before.

4. You become the office “emergency plan.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Yes, but you live so close, so you’ll be here, right?”  Snow day? No problem.  Elisabeth lives nearby, she can walk in.  Natural disaster? No worries.  Again, she can walk.  Zombie Apocalypse?  She’s probably safe.  We’re all good.

I’ve started to regret telling them where I live.

5. People assume you walk or bike to work.

My response: “You know, you would think that…[trailing off into awkward silence]” (I did bike in once; worst experience EVER.)

6. Your car doesn’t have time to warm up in the winter.

I spend more time letting my car warm up than I do driving in.  I feel like that might not be great for my car.

7. It is really hard to be on time/early when you live so close.

There’s this misconception that because you live so close, you can get there immediately.  However, I’ve been late more now than I ever was before.  (Oops.)  I have to build back some time into my morning routine so I get out of the house on time.

8. If you have a wardrobe malfunction, you can go home and change immediately.

I haven’t had to use this one yet, but it just seems like that would be super helpful…you know, in case of emergency.

9. You know all the good restaurants in the area.

This is surprisingly useful knowledge.

10. You get to spend under 5 minutes commuting!!

Priceless.

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10 Reasons Why Easter is My Second Favorite Church Holiday

…and why my titles are so long.  Just kidding.

I love celebrations and parties.  The more things to celebrate, the better!  I have four favorite holidays.  Two of them are the Fourth of July and My Birthday.  I think these holidays both have a magical quality.  They are full of cheer, family and friends, fireworks, and great food.  What more could you ask for?

My other two favorites are “church” holidays, meaning they relate to historical biblical events and celebrate incredible truths about the God I believe in.  These are Christmas and Easter.  It is amazing that we are able to celebrate our story of redemption through Jesus Christ by marveling in God’s story of salvation.  So here are 10 reasons why Easter is on my “top 4” list of Holidays.

Sidebar: I am also a fan of every holiday that gets me out of work for a day.

10.  Easter speaks of Spring.

Easter is usually around the end of March/beginning of April, which is just when Vermont is starting to think about bringing Spring around (hopefully).  It’s an exciting time of year when things start to bloom.  Spring is a symbolic season for Easter…it represents Jesus Christ’s resurrection and the hope that comes with new life.

9.  It makes me think.

I don’t normally reflect on every holiday, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about Easter every year.  Read John 13-20 and you’ll see what I mean.

8.  Malted milk balls, Starburst Jelly Beans, and Peeps are in stores.

Need I say more?!

7.   It’s a reminder that Jesus has conquered death!

What?  How is that possible?!?  Acts 2:24 says “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”  Cool.  So the most scary, most sure thing in the entire world is conquered.  That’s awesome!

6.  It provides great excuse to get a new dress.

Ok, well it use to.  Every Easter my mom would take us dress shopping.  I loved getting a new dress!  Now that I am poor and clothes cost a lot of money, I have given this tradition up.  Maybe someday it will resume…

5.  It’s a reminder that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice.

In the Old Testament (OT), we read about the Jews having to offer up sacrifices for their sins.  This didn’t happen once a month or when they felt like … it happened all the time.  The OT sacrificial system was a bloody, exhausting ritual that never fully satisfied God’s wrath against sin.  When Jesus came to earth as a man, lived a perfect life, died a terrible death, and rose again, he accomplished what no amount of animal sacrifice could: a once-for-all payment for our sin.  “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” I Peter 1:18-19  “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. ” I Peter 3:18.

4.  There are a lot of special music ensembles.

And I mean a lot.  It’s always fun to listen to or participate in special ensembles at church.

3.  My mom can make a killer ham dinner.

It’s true.  And it’s delicious.  I don’t like Thanksgiving because I’m not a huge fan of the “thanksgiving food,” but I love Easter because of the “Easter food.”  That’s weird, I know.

2.  It’s a reminder that the Temple veil is torn in two.

Again in the Old Testament, the Temple was built as a place of worship.  The Most Holy Place, or the Holy of Holies, was the most sacred part of the temple because God dwelled there.  The Mercy Seat and the Ark of the Covenant were housed in this place.  No one could enter the Most Holy Place – if they did, they would die.  It was separated from the Holy Place by a thick veil.  The High Priest was the only one who could enter, and he could only enter once a year after taking numerous steps of purification and cleansing (Leviticus 16).  When Jesus died on the cross, “at that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split.” Matthew 27:32-54  Jesus’ death opened the way to God!  He is now our mediator and we are no longer separated from our God.  The relationship that was broken in the Garden of Eden has been restored.  We can now commune with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s definitely something to celebrate.

1.  It’s a reminder that Jesus Christ is enough.  He has fully satisfied God’s justice and wrath for my sin.

Romans 5:9-11 “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

And there you have it – my top 10 for Easter.  I am so thankful that God sent His only son to die on the cross for me, a sinner.  I think that’s worth dwelling on over this next week.

10 Things I learned on the Megabus

I took the Megabus to Boston this weekend.  It was only a four hour drive, so I slept most of the way there.  But for the moments that I was awake, I learned several important life-lessons that I thought I should share:

1.  Old ladies don’t settle well.

There were three old ladies who got on the bus with us (and by old I mean much older than me…but not olde).  These women did not know each other, but they quickly got to know one another as they traded seats 3-4 times before finally picking the ones they liked best.  After all appeared well, one lady got up, moved to a different seat across the bus, and exclaimed loudly, “She coughs a lot!”  This was, of course, in reference to and in ear shot of one of the other old ladies.

2.  People are nosy (or maybe just over-the-top curious?).

One of the ladies was having trouble pulling up her bus ticket on her phone.  Between myself and another guy on the bus, we were able to help her get her ticket so that she could prove to the driver that she was serious about going to Boston.  Another guy, totally unrelated to everything that was going on, piped up, “What’s going on?  What’s happening?”  After getting an odd look from me, he followed up with, “I mean, I’m just wondering.”

3.  When it sounds like you’re in a perpetual wind tunnel, it might be time to re-think the window structure of your vehicle.

I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy the sound of a wind tunnel minus the wind, but I’m not saying I do.

4.  Don’t put your seat in a reclining position.

…For fear of bashing the knees of the person behind you.  I had just drifted off and was enjoying a little nap when all of a sudden, WHAM!  Down comes the chair of the person sitting in front of me, bashing my knees and forcing me both awake and in an extreme upright position all at once.  For those of you who know me, you know that my just awakened state is not nice.  My startled, just awakened state is even worse.  Fortunately, though, I was dazed enough that I just started laughing.  As I was trying to squirm out from under the chair (because now it was claustrophobic), my friend leaned over and kindly asked the woman to put her seat up on my behalf.  And back to sleep I went.  (That’s probably the only semi-civil “I-just-woke-up” story you’ll ever hear about me.)

5.  Don’t try to have a private conversation unless you’re willing to share it with the entire first floor of the bus.

Oddly enough, even with the wind tunnel, sound carries remarkably well on a Megabus.

6.  People-watching can actually get boring when it’s the same people doing the same things for four hours.

Granted, I was only awake for a fraction of that time, but every time I woke up, everyone was doing the same things, basically talking, reading, eating, or listening to music.  The only changes came when people went to the bathroom.

7.  Megabus drivers are beasts of the road.  Seriously.

I take the bus around my hometown quite often and I’m always a little scared about how smoothly the ride will go.  But not so with the Megabus!  These drivers are awesome!  They navigate the cities and the highways with incredible ease.  Well, I guess I should qualify this – I don’t know about all Megabus drivers.  I just know that ours was awesome.

8.  It is really nice to not have to pay an arm and a leg for gas.

Taking the bus was not totally my first choice.  I like driving, so I would have preferred that method of travel.  However, the gas benefit far outweighed my preference, and I definitely do not regret it.

9.  I’m about to (or have already?) join the ranks of the “old” ladies above (#1).

My hands and feet have started to swell whenever I travel.  I’m talking like I-have-shoes-that-feel-a-size-too-small and I-can’t-take-my-rings-off swollen.  I feel like that’s a bad thing.

10.  I like not having to navigate the streets of Boston.

I barely made it out the last time I drove…those streets are confusing!

10 Things I Learned In Quebec City

I recently just spent a weekend in Quebec City for their annual Winter Carnival.  We went not totally knowing what to expect, but we left with every intent to come back again.  It was so cold, but so worth it.  Here are my top 10 takeaways from our trip (not all necessarily related to Winter Carnival):

10. No matter who I’m traveling with, I will always, always fall asleep in a moving vehicle (unless, of course, I’m driving).

When traveling, I cannot stay awake for the life of me – by bus, train, car, or plane.  It doesn’t matter how fun or awesome my travel buddies are.  My eyes just shut and I’m out.  The only time I didn’t fall asleep was while I was on a camel.   I even fell asleep while traveling with my boss on a business trip.  I still haven’t heard the end of that.  Badly done, Elisabeth.  Badly done.

9.  No matter how cold you are, you can always feel colder.

Until, of course, you go completely numb, feel warm, and then die.  But until then, just know that you can always feel colder.  The worst is the “I-can’t-control-my-shivering-and-teeth-chattering” stage.  That’s only “fun” if everyone else around you is also in that same stage.  Otherwise you just look dumb.  At this point it’s probably best to reevaluate your life choice to be outside.

8.  Not all Canadians sound like they’re from Canada.

Most Canadian Provinces are English-speaking.  I was talking with a couple of girls who were staying in the same hostel we were at.  Until I asked them where they were from, I assumed they were from someplace in the U.S.  When they said “Calgary,” it still took me a few minutes to register that Oh, they must be from Canada.  I had no idea where Calgary was, nor did I know that it was a real place.  Turns out it’s in Alberta.  When I told them I was from Vermont, they gave me the same blank stare I had just given them.  Yay for ignorance!

7.  Free food tents are genius.

At Winter Carnival, there was a Kraft Foods tent that gave away free samples. One representative even told us “If you go around enough times, you won’t have to eat dinner!”  We did not need to be told twice.  We spent way too much time in that tent.  We are of the strong opinion that this business marketing model should be employed at any and all possible venues.  We’ll buy your food…eventually.  Until then, just give it to us for free.  Please?

6.  Quebec does not particularly care to keep their roads clear.

I just kept thinking, “if we were in Vermont, these sidewalks would be spotless.”  I don’t think Quebec even knows what salt or sand is.  The roads (especially the sidewalks) were treacherous and in some cases unplowed.  We were pretty much either slipping on a thick icy layer or sloshing through a slushy, muddy mess.  I definitely hit the ground at least once, and had several other close calls.  And I wasn’t the only one…one girl had actually gathered a small crowd because she didn’t move after she went down.  She got up eventually…

5.  Timeliness, efficiency, and accuracy are very American values.

The program for the Carnival ended up not being very helpful – the prices were often wrong, the event times were negotiable, and the signs were misleading.  Also, the organization/execution of the whole deal was sketchy.  The horse races were supposed to start at noon; instead, they started grooming the track at noon.  We watched them groom the track for a full 40 minutes before anything started happening.  The parade was supposed to start at 7:00 pm.  We thought it would reach us at around 7:30 at the latest.  It didn’t get to our location until about 8:45 pm.  And it moved veeeerrrrryyyy slowly.  I’m sure I would be fine with this if I was used to it, but I’m not.  This is how I learned #9.

4.  Quebec City is beautiful.

Especially the old part.  End of story.  It was like walking the streets of Paris.  Also, the waterfront reminded me of Burlington.  Beautiful.

3.  Irish Pubs are awesome – until the live music starts to suck.

I don’t know if this is universal or not, but please try to keep the music classy.  It doesn’t matter how drunk everyone is or how late it has become.  No one wants to listen to someone shouting the f-word every other syllable.  Until that point, the music was phenomenal.

2.  Ice-toboggin slides are amazing.

If you ever have an opportunity to go down one, do not hesitate to take that opportunity and run with it.  That is all I am going to say.

1.  I love traveling with friends!!

I’ve traveled by myself a lot.  It’s ok for the most part, but it is just so much more fun to be with other people!  Plus, you get to build random funny memories that you can talk about for a long time.

Well, that’s my list.  I highly recommend going to Quebec City…it’s awesome.