a collective sigh of relief.

Well,  after being MIA for the past few weeks, I’m hoping life will allow me to enjoy a little down time and normalcy. At least for a week.

Although our vacation was a lot of fun, it was really difficult not to feel the pressure of the mounting commitments at points during the trip and especially the week after. My body/mind does not handle heaps of stress very well and unfortunately the week that kind of forced me to hit the ground running: aside from work, there were nighttime commitments almost every single night.

The week before last was hell and even the beginning of last week (up until Wednesday?) was hell. Lots of stress, lots of insomnia. Lots of gmail checking to see if people were buying tickets, desperate marketing to get our Hoppy Hour numbers up, and some jitters due to my first client visit for the new job.

I seriously was fearing a potential breakdown.

But on Thursday, things kind of clicked and I settled down. By then, our numbers were up significantly (from 50 about a week and a half ago, to 70 by Tuesday to 90 by Thursday), so I was feeling more confident about how the event would turn out. Everything was falling into place, all our basket items came in, and at that point, most of the details we had to worry about we wrapped up.

Also on Thursday Kate and Scott came to down from Scotland. Coming for a weekend wedding, they flew into Philly and stayed with us for the night before making their way South. They’ll be back again later this week so we’ll have the chance to spend a little more time with them, but for the one night, the two of them, along with me, D, and Liam enjoyed the evening together. To give them a proper welcome back to the states, I decided to make a good ol’ southern meal: beer-battered catfish, garlic mashed potatoes, spinach, and cornbread. The opportunity to cook and spend time with friends helped me to unwind and the weather cooperated so we could eat on the roof. Just being able to take the time to slow down a little and enjoy things, have some laughs and drink a couple beers really made a difference.

I left work early on Friday (ala “flex Friday”) to run a bunch of errands–Hoppy hour related and personal. The “wrapping” up of Hoppy Hour stuff felt good, as did buying 4 pairs of shoes I desperately needed (work appropriate summer shoes and brown pumps), so I don’t have to keep resorting to the same outfits over and over again simply because I have no brown shoes in my wardrobe. I began a quest for brown work pants, but that was not happening… I guess Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? I’m sure their emperors took their time in choosing their best togas and sandals, too.

I was trying to take the afternoon at a leisurely pace while also staying on time to complete everything I needed to. I managed to hit all the places I needed to go and a few extra (Target, Old Navy), but by that point I had worked pretty far down 73 pretty close to the time I needed to be in Hammonton anyway. Instead of heading home first, I went straight down to pick up an auction prize from my aunt’s, stop in to see my parents briefly, and then head to the bowling alley for Nancy’s birthday party.

I find it pretty amusing that I’ve spent more time hanging out with friends at the local bowling alley in my 20s than I ever did in my single digit or teen years. But, it’s a pretty convenient, central location and they serve beer. It also works well for friends who want to hang out but can’t get a babysitter, so everyone wins. We had a good time hanging out with old friends, newer ones, and meeting a few people for the first time. We had to bounce early though because D and I were exhausted (he came straight from a 12-hour work day) and I needed to be up early to prepare for Hoppy Hour.

Fortunately, I had a good night’s sleep, although I was still not thrilled to obey the alarm clock when it went off at 8:30 a.m., but I knew if I didn’t I would get severely behind. The first few hours were dedicated to finishing up the event bags, putting the final touches on the program, and making sure that we were all set for the evening. Not to totally pat myself on the back, but I was admittedly impressed with how well I was able to stay organized and on top of things for this event, esp. because that is not always my strong suit. With the help of a few other dedicated volunteers (and D), we really had a handle on everything leading up to the event.

I got to Shady Katie’s (the bar we hosted Hoppy Hour at) around 3:30 to begin setting up. At that point, only one other volunteer was there and so the two of us started setting up by ourselves while a handful of kind of scary regulars looked on. Admittedly, I got a little nervous when I got there: the place looked small and they only gave us 3 tiny tables to set up our 50+ baskets. My contact for the event was not there and was not planning on showing up until closer to the event starting and the one waitress/bartender on duty not only had no information to help us, but did not seem interested in trying to provide any answers beyond “I don’t know.”

I didn’t have a lot of time to worry about any of this, however, since there was a lot of setting up and “making it work” to be done. Eventually the other volunteers showed up and we worked on numbering the baskets and bags to hold their tickets, figuring out where to stash our event bags, and getting everything ready for the at-the-door ticket sales and raffle.

Our goal was to be set up by 5:30, which was good because a lot of people showed up early and we immediately had to be “on.”

All in all, I think the event went really well. There were a few things to note for next year–mainly, I don’t think we’ll be returning to Shady Katie’s again. Although it worked for us this year, the place is just a little too small–if the outside deck wasn’t open and the weather wasn’t beautiful, we could have been pretty cramped (ironic, considering the contact kept telling me that we should really shoot for 100+ people). Also, the “buffet” and “snacks beforehand” were not up expectations. There was only one vegetarian option and they were pretty stingy about portions. We’ve already started talking about alternate places for next year…

Beyond that though, I think people had fun. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on how well organized we were and how much people enjoyed our auction prizes. And now that we have one under our belt, it can only get easier (and better!) from here!

Altogether, we raised about $3K for our cause. So, if you’re reading this and came, THANK YOU! (And if you didn’t–come next year!!)

I also have to say, my friends really came out for me in a big way. Admittedly, I was really nervous that no one would come out, but boy, was I proven wrong!! Friends from NJ, PA, and even MD and NY showed up to support the cause. Y’all know how to make a girl feel good.

Now that Hoppy Hour is over, the next “big thing” will be heading to MD for Reunion weekend and then my 5 day trip to DC for work. I’ve decided to cut my reunion trip down to only one night over so I can come home, sleep in my own bed for a night, and not have to haul my stuff from WAC to DC. I have to look into the train options to DC for that Sunday, but I think it’ll be easier and a little cheaper than staying over 2 nights in the dorm (esp. since work pays for the train). Sadly, we’ve just had a few too many unforeseen expenses come up and I can’t really justify spending the extra $150 bucks on reunion events and another night’s stay. I think it’ll be alright though: I’ll be in C-town for Friday and most of Saturday’s day events, so I can enjoy a good portion of the fun.

So, that, in a 1400+ word count nutshell, is that.

…’til next time…