Thursday, March 19, 2009

William Heller, 1928-2009

Last May, my family and I surprised my grandpa for his 80th birthday. He told us his birthday wish was to make it to 81.

My grandpa passed away today. Even though his health has been in decline for many years and we all viewed this is as "a long time coming," I am profoundly sad.

I want to share a poem I wrote about my grandpa during the fall of my junior year in college, two years ago.

William Heller, 1928-

When I was little,
My nickname for you was Turtle.
Face it: you have a Jewish schnoz.
Today, you are a turtle.

Shuffling slowly, dragging,
hiding in your Delray Beach
condo shell with a view,
puzzling crosswords in the living room.

Grandpa, please wear long-sleeve shirts.
Shocking purple bruises cover your arms.
Your blood is too thin.
Let's pretend you don't feel pain.

Tell me how many more years you have.
I'll meet a nice boy--we'll marry.
Dress you in a tux--we'll dance.
The distinguished hip osteoporosis jig.

Found this when, out of curiosity, we were googling ourselves at work. [5/3/09]

William Hirsh Heller

HELLER, William Hirsh Age 80. Formerly of Richmond, VA. Passed away March 19, 2009. Mr. Heller, born in Boston, graduated from Carneige-Mellon University in 1949 with a degree in Theater Arts. He moved to Richmond with his wife Miriam in 1958 where he lived until 1995. He worked in the life insurance industry most of his career before retiring as an insurance agent with Julius Strauss and Sons. He was also very active in Richmond's Jewish Community. After Miriam's death, Mr. Heller married Ann Serwitz and relocated to Delray Beach, FL where he lived until he moved to the Waterford Senior Living Community in Nashville in 2007. Son of Reita Hirsh and Edmond A. Heller of Boston, MA, Mr. Heller was preceded in death by his wife, Miriam Chipman. He is survived by his daughter, Carolyn Heller Baird and son-in-law, David Baird of Atlanta, GA; son, David Heller and daughter-in-law, Geralyn of Nashville, TN; brothers, Edmond Heller and sister-in-law, Madeline of Palm Beach Gardens, FL and Robert Heller of Atlanta; granddaughters, Rachael Baird of Minneapolis, MN, Abigail Baird of Atlanta, Sarah Heller, Catherine Heller and Grace Heller all of Nashville; former spouse, Ann Heller of Delray Beach, FL. A memorial service will be held in Nashville at Congregation Micah, 2001 Old Hickory Blvd., Brentwood, TN 37027 on Sunday, March 29, 2009 at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Jewish Family Services of Middle Tennessee, 801 Percy Warner Blvd., Nashville, TN 37205, (615) 356-4234.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring is in the air!

Even before the official first day of spring, March 20, Minnesota got a taste of warmer temperatures! I'm just as delighted as the next person, but I still don't think 60 degrees constitutes shorts and tank tops weather... (What are people thinking?!) Maybe I'm just feeling grumpy because I'm celebrating with a sinus infection.

Besides, I'm not fooled. Minneapolis gets an average of 22 inches of snow in March, and we haven't gotten more than 9 so far. We're big time due for a blizzard. But, I have today as proof that heat does happen, and that will continue to get me through!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Twist My Arm Enough and I Will Go

On Tuesday evening, Adam convinced me to go to a concert to see Jake Shimabukuro, a world renowned ukulele player, who undeniably got his big break as a YouTube sensation for a clip of his "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." (Keep in mind, this was 2 years before YouTube was used to win Barack Obama the election.) Jake has toured with the likes of Jimmy Buffett and has been performing as a solo artist for the last year.

It's hard to explain how a ukulele player could be so captivating, but Jake is unbelievably talented and has a funny, self-assured/self-deprecating shtick between songs. For example, he composed a song called "Me & Shirley T." about drinking Shirley Temples as a kid and getting a sugar high. He told us he didn't find out until a year after he'd been performing the song that Shirley Temple is a real person!

Then, last night, we went to the Wild stadium in downtown St. Paul to watch two MN high school hockey championship games. To say I was skeptical is an understatement... why should I pay $20 to see high school hockey?? To experience a MN obsession, that's why! In the sold-out 18,000+ stadium, we witnessed the dominant Eden Prairie take down Blaine. As my two native Minnesota friends explained to me, they'd have loved to watch Eden Prairie lose, but so it goes with the perennial team-to-beat. We also watched the Moorehead SPUDS beat the St. Paul private school Cretin Hall, which caused me a little grief. First of all, the SPUDS?? Like, as in, potatoes?? Plus, with all the anti-private school cheers, I had to feel a little solidarity with Cretin.

But did I have fun? Oh, yes!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Eating my way through Minneapolis

The key to a girl's heart is... not just through eating, but eating at cool restaurants. Getting to know the city by dining at all kinds of different establishments has been a fun way to explore our new home. I've salivated over a few local lists of the Twin Cities' Best of the Best as well as comprehensive neighborhood-by-neighborhood guides. From Minneapolis institutions to nearby Uptown restaurants, I have compiled my own take on things.

Rachael's Best:
Happy Hour: Chino Latino. The ambiance is sexy/swanky, and the house red for $3/glass served in a juice glass stands out as the best cheap wine I've ever had. It was incredibly smooth and delicious, and between Adam and I, we easily drank at least a bottle's worth. They also had great appetizers from a mixture of ethnic backgrounds: such as $5 sushi and $3 empanadas.

Date: Heidi's. As a going-away/holidays present, my mom gave Adam and I a gift card to Heidi's after reading a review of the restaurant online. It's an intimate neighborhood eatery, which is owned and operated by local celebrity chefs who created Heidi's to be a low-key expression of sophisticated yet edited gourmet cooking. We went for Ad's birthday and loved every bite. Also, best service.

Summer Fantasy: Stella's. A mere two blocks from our apartment, this seafood restaurant boasts the most amazing rooftop deck and accompanying views. Dreaming of drinking Blue Moons and eating fish 'n chips outside on a warm summer night is getting me through the endless winter.

Greasy Spoon: Uptown Diner. Adam and I discovered this place on our first trip out when we were apartment-searching. As novices, we each ordered our own plate of hashbrowns. The plates are as big as a Thanksgiving turkey platter. The woman sitting at an adjacent table literally gasped in disdain when she saw my portions. We don't love it just because it's two meals worth of eggs, cheese, potatoes, seasoning and ketchup. It's also dangerously tasty.

Downtown Drinks Destination: Tie? The Local and Brit's Pub. These two could easily be owned by the same restaurant group because they are only a block apart and serve the same purpose. Large pub settings for beautiful-yuppie-watching and meeting Adam's Target co-workers.

Local Joint: Matt's Bar. Honestly haven't really done enough research on this one, but Matt's is home to the famous Jucy Lucy (not a typo). It's a burger with cheese in the center. I didn't love it more than a regular cheeseburger, but eating one made me feel like I was being inducted into Minneapolis. ** Adam thought Matt's should be "Best Date."

Steelers Bar: Pat McGovern's in Saint Paul made it possible for Adam to not freak out that he'd left Pittsburgh a month before their sixth Superbowl championship. Surrounded by 300 other transplanted fans, he felt right at home. They even included Primanti's sandwiches on the Sunday menu.

Pizza: This is a hotly contested issue among people who are either in the Lucé camp or the Punch camp. We've already tried Lucé since it's so close to our apartment, and we really liked it. But now we have to try Punch. So, the verdict is still out.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Good and Bad of Minnesota

While this could be a long itemized list, I have two offerings for a simple juxtaposition.

The Good:
New to my sidebar on the right side of the page is The Current widget. Thanks to Justin Koester, Adam and I were turned on to The Current soon after we'd arrived in Mpls. It's a member-supported, commercial-free national public radio station... but for young hipsters! I thought NPR was only for my dad with Car Talk, Prairie Home Companion, and classical music, but I also get contemporary, alternative music for bohemian types! Who would have thunk? This radio station is the best thing to happen to me in Minnesota. The first money I spent when I was hired for my new job was my contributing member donation, so that I could get the cool tote bag gift. I STRONGLY recommend you check out The Current by streaming it on your computer.

The Bad:

Body encased in ice found on Ham Lake golf course

Only a face was visible in the ice. Authorities are investigating.

Is that some headline or what? In case this link to the article in the Star Tribune isn't permanent, I'll summarize by saying they think the severed head and its body (still encased in ice) have been there since NOVEMBER. Sends chills up my spine. (Pun intended!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Read If: you want to know more about my job and/or wish to be bored

I agree that I'm short on material now that I've joined the workforce. Justin Koester was kind enough to redesign my blog title to have a humorous touch, and I think it looks great. But it's true: I'm employed... zzZZZ!

Having a full-time job will put a damper on the blogging, which was a huge help in keeping me creatively stimulated throughout the job search process. And I must say the blog was also a great forum for support from all of you. You deserve an update; I hope you'll be happy for me. So far, I really like my job. Training is going well, my co-workers honestly couldn't be friendlier, I show up at 10, and I wear jeans to work! I mean, I can't say enough about how lucky I feel!

However, now that I'm working, I feel inclined to protect the integrity of the company I work for, since, you never really know who's reading. What I can tell you is I work for a software development company in Saint Paul that is a forerunner in EMS training and test preparation. Following a recent move to set national standards for EMS, many schools are looking to my company to help them make sure their students will pass the certification exam. My role is to provide support to customers over the phone and through email. While that might sound dull to some of you, I think it's cool to interact with and help people. Plus, since it's a super small company, I've already gotten an idea of where else I can take on more responsibility and further develop my skills.

Snooze, snooze, I know! I know! I'll brainstorm about how to rejuvenate the blog!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

On the Job: First Impressions

The beauty of starting a job on a Friday is that you are there for one day and then voilà the weekend! All in all, everything went smoothly. I have my own desk space, and I had time to organize my computer the way I like it (though it's not a Mac, so I don't like it... those anti-Vista commercials are making more sense to me now). Everyone who works there, only 9 people including me, is very friendly. To welcome me, they ordered pizza and even let me choose the toppings for one! They regularly eat lunch together, which is nice to know because I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone better.

I also learned more details about the job, the expectations for me, and what my role will be within the growing, expanding, ever-changing company. I wouldn't say it was overwhelming: I'm sort of accustomed to being thrown into the deep end with "on the job training." The relaxed pace of my training will be a nice departure from that, and my supervisor is great, so I know I can tell her when I'm antsy and ready for more responsibility.

For now, I'm enjoying the weekend and basking in the novelty of having a job and a forthcoming paycheck before that wears off and there's just the grind.

Ok, so there was one bad thing: the commute. It's a breeze on the way there for my 10-6 shift, but the trip home was in heavy traffic. I'll just have to get used to MN traffic patterns and the drivers' habits. In Atlanta, everyone is constantly changing lanes to the point where you're often better off staying put because as soon as you move, your lane stops and the one you left starts moving. In Minneapolis, the opposite is true. Being an aggressive driver will serve me well here. Or maybe Adam will agree to move to St. Paul! Ha... doubtful.