Wednesday, August 31, 2011

World War II Memorial in Washington, DC

It is hard to believe that in just one week I will be waking up in Cambodia. I've already started packing (and unpacking, and repacking, and unpacking). And to prepare for the inevitable jet lag that lies ahead, I've begun waking up earlier and earlier each morning (today was 4 am), and going to bed considerably earlier each night, in hopes that when I arrive in Cambodia, my jet lag will be minimal. (On the day I will leave for CAM I will have "naturally" woken up at midnight my time, which is noon their time.)
Yesterday I had to drive to Washington, DC (4.5 hours away) to expedite the renewal of my passport in person. It was a VERY long day. I had a few hours to kill and decided to go practice my photography at the WWII memorial. I am not naturally a very good photographer, and figured it couldn't hurt for me to practice a little bit before my big trip. Here are a few hits and misses from my one hour photo session.

World War II Memorial

Virginia at World War II memorial

The next three pictures are perfect examples of why sometimes a little practice can go along way.

Attempt #1- bad tourist shot. And I swear the Monument really does look like it is leaning to the left.


Attempt #2- standing in the same place as attempt #1, but trying to zoom and get artsy. My cheap little automatic just isn't allowing the focus to do what my imagination wanted it to do. Really lame picture.


Attempt #3- taken just a few feet away from the other two shots. IMHO, a much better photo. This is an untouched shot. You don't see clear blue skies like that in DC very often.

Washington Monument WWII view
Washington Monument

World War II Memorial and US Flag
World War II Memorial and US Flag
I had to crop this photo to make it closer to what I wanted it to be. I had envisioned it more focused on the flag, with the pillars leading up to it. Again, sadly my camera just isn't as fancy as my vision

World War II Memorial Fountain
World War II Memorial Fountain
I love taking pictures of fountains. I know I have some friends out there with real photography talent. Anyone have any advice for me on how I could have made these photos better?

Seriously, I need advice. Otherwise, there's going to be a whole lot of pictures like this one coming back from Cambodia. And really, I think we can all agree we don't want that, now do we?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

21 hours to kill



It is just now hitting me that I have a 21 hr flight next week! Anyone have any suggestions for ways to endure such a long time in a confined space? 
Also, after 21 hrs of flying I arrive in an 11 hr different time zone. How does one completely flip days and nights? I have tried several ineffective methods in the past. The worst one is thinking that staying up the night before your trip will help you adjust time zones. Really it just makes you extra tired! 
I heard about The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta today on NPR. I can't remember the last time a book sounded so fascinating to me. I plan to download it to my Nook and read it on the flight- if I can wait that long. (The story picks up a few months after the "Sudden Departure" - a very Rapture like event. It follows the lives of those left behind who are struggling to understand what happened, why it happened, and why some people were taken and not others. And many "christians" are mad that Jews and Mormons were taken, and not them.) 
But I need more entertainment! And tips for the time change! I know some of you have flown to Asia before. What did you do?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cutting Back and Going Green

After a huge break (due to my summer being overwhelmingly busy) I have finally updated my Cutting Back and Going Green blog. I have posts ready to go every day for the next week! There are coupons, deals, and some really interesting tips, videos, and stories. Well, I think they are interesting anyway!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Silver Pagoda, Anti-Malarials, and Sprained Ankles

Silver Pagoda

I leave for Cambodia in 10 days. This almost seems impossible. I am so excited to go. I've been reading everything I can find in my local library (which isn't much at all) on the country. Have you ever heard of the Silver Pagoda? I hadn't either until last night. And now my entire mission in life is to see this place!
I picked up my anti-malarials today and got my ankle checked out. Oh but I didn't tell you about that part yet, did I? Let's see... On Wednesday we unexpectedly got the go ahead to move into our new house. So we (Mom and I) quickly packed up our clothes and started to move out! While taking the very first load out to my car, I stepped into a well concealed hole, tripped, both ankles buckling under me, and landed face first, right on the big soft bags I was carrying. Had I not landed on the bags, and had landed face first onto the pavement, this little accident probably would have required an ambulance. But thankfully the bags broke the fall, and instead I found myself sprawled out in the street, crying in pain, trying not to black out. (What? Black out? Yes. Ever heard of the vasovagal response? Well, its real, and I am very well acquainted with it.) I finally managed to limp, hop, and crawl back into the house. As soon as my mother heard me crying and screaming, she ran down, helped me get into a recliner, propped up my feet, and got me lots of ice. I spent nearly 24 hours with my feet up like that. (And my mom continued doing all of the moving herself.) 
Thankfully the fast treatment meant little bruising and swelling. I had a doctor check my ankles out today, and sure enough, both ankles are sprained, with a possible hairline fracture in one! This would be my first ever sprain and/or break in my life. I'm not so happy about that. Limping around Cambodia does not sound pleasant. But I am walking just fine, and I do think I'll be good in 10 days. I'm more concerned about my anti-malarial drugs giving me night terrors. 
Don't worry too much about my mother doing all the moving. On Saturday we have the professional movers bringing in the furniture. And I did help once I could carry more than my own body weight. 



It is official, my friends! We have moved into our new house. We have even slept here. We've met neighbors. We've cleaned things. We live here. We like it. 

Some CityDeals For You

Anyone in the mood for some -

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Jazzercise Classes? $120 worth of classes for just $20 (Most SLC locations)

and for the deal that is almost too good to be true (again in Utah, sorry everyone else) - Dish Network gift certificate worth $500 for just $50. 


And for all my friends not in Utah, here's a few deals for you -
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Enjoy $3.99 Same Day Shipping* for all Orders at the AllergySuperstore.com

5% Off Sitewide With Coupon Code BONBONS at Chocolate.com

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book and TV suggestions?


I love a good, addicting, enthralling, book series or TV series. And right now, I am completely out of them. I've reread some old favorites recently (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Anne of Green Gables, most of Jane Austen's works, and a few others), and I need some more ideas! Same with TV series! I love serial TV that can be watched on iTunes or Netflix. Does anyone have any good recommendations for an old series that is just too good to forget? (For instance, Lost, Eureka, Battlestar Galactica, Alias, Northern Exposure, the Good Wife, etc. The kind that make you want to keep watching a whole season in one sitting!) I'm open to suggestions!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy, happy, joy, joy!


I'm having such a happy day that I could just about explode with giddiness! My flight to Cambodia and my accommodations there are all settled! Excellent developments on the Peace Corps front! We're moving on Friday! My mail is forwarded! Cable, internet, and phone all set up! I can't wait! Ooh, and I bought cute new sandals at 70% off today!
I am so excited and overly ready for my trip to Cambodia. I can't wait to learn more about international laws regarding orphanages, and how the whole system works. I know somewhere out there are people who would be excited to go work with the orphans. But really, that is the part that pretty much breaks my heart. Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to playing with the kiddos. In fact I am really looking forward to that. But I am really getting into this for all the things I can learn about international adoption, the Hague Treaty, etc.
Oh hey, and if you got a few seconds, okay maybe minutes- I got a little wordy, check out my singles column for Meridian Magazine this week. I share a few (dozen) thoughts on feminism vs chivalry vs feminity vs chauvinsim. And you know how I love your feedback and comments there!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Random Monday Musings


I have to admit, it is pretty funny (to me) to see these two things next to each other on the Post homepage today. Two very different sides of my life right on the front page of a major paper. Very odd indeed.

Today is the last day to vote for me to "win" a blind date via the Date Lab. Not that I encourage cheating or anything, but there is a chance that if you voted last week, you can clear your cache and vote again today. And you may or may not be able to do it from more than one browser (IE, Firefox, Chrome, aol, etc). Not that you heard it from me!

In other news, have you seen the clip of Anderson Cooper laughing like a little girl on the Ridiculist? And even better- Anderson Cooper putting himself on the Ridiculist for laughing "like a 13 yr old girl at a Justin Bieber concert." You can't not laugh while watching. Trust me.

Hey, remember that one time I met Anderson Cooper in Haiti? True story. I did. (Okay, so maybe I'm not in the picture, but I am the one holding the camera. And I can vouch that he is just as good looking in person as he is on TV. And those blue eyes are even more piercing in person!)


Thursday, August 18, 2011

When your dad is at war and your ex-boyfriend hunts with bow and arrows...


I'm curious, does anyone else dream about the books they are reading?
I don't do it too often for movies or TV shows, but it almost always happens with books. I have vivid, crazy, and involved dreams about the books I am reading. The characters are usually played by my friends. It always makes waking up the next day and seeing your friends and family a slightly strange experience. And a very traumatic experience when I'm (re-)reading the Hunger Games.

PS- Team Peeta all the way!

PPS- Yes, I really did dream my dad was President Snow. And he looked a lot like Jack Nicholson. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Do you like me? Do you really, really like me? Then VOTE!



Once upon a time there was a single Mormon girl named Erin. And somehow she found herself a finalist in the Washington Post Date Lab "Pick Me!" contest. The contest was fairly simple. Her friends (that would be you) just had to click one button to crown her the future Date Lab-ber. If she wins, she goes on a blind date set up by the Washington Post. And even crazier, the WaPo will write a story about her blind date. And if you knew Erin, you would know that could only make for a very fun story.
So go vote for her. Vote for her often! Share it on your blogs! Share it on Facebook and Twitter! Cause if she's going to expose herself like this, she's in it to win it! 

Happy Dance! and Happy Peace Corps Update!




I very seriously considered posting a video of "It's Friday Night and I just got paid" instead of my traditional happy dance video posting. But yeah!!! I finally got paid! (only 90 days past due!)
Things are definitely looking up and I am feeling much better about a great many things. The window for my 3 month internship in Cambodia unfortunately has closed on me. But there is still a good chance I can go for 1 or 2 months soon. We shall see.
And... drum roll please... I hear very good things from the Peace Corps! Quite literally any day now I could get the phone call I have been waiting for all year!!
What do y'all think? Should I post my very own happy dance (of me dancing) when that day finally comes?!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sharing is caring, so I share with you fun coupon codes


What's the point in being a blogger if you don't have nice things to share with your friends?
And now, because I love you, I give you coupons and things -

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Save up to 90% on used textbooks at BarnesandNoble.com! and/or Save up to 70% on Textbook Rentals, plus Free Return Shipping at BarnesandNoble.com! Don't be like me my freshman year and think that used textbooks are low class and yucky! Save yourself some money and rent or get used!!

And last but not least buy any NOOK and get over $100 in FREE Classics and Study Guides! Or more importantly, get a NOOK and be my friend on LendMe, so we can share books with each other!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Musings

"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people." -- Eleanor Roosevelt (most commonly attributed)


Exactly what does this quote say about most bloggers? 


Frightening really. 


Occasionally, I do talk about things other than myself. Sometimes I talk about integrity in dating over at Meridian Magazine. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Let the sunshine in


It almost seems too optimistic to say things are getting better. I've had a lot of verbal promises that I'm going to get paid, and that I can still pull off going to Cambodia. But nothing is written in stone yet. Hopefully I will have results in as little as a few hours, but maybe not yet for a few more days.
It is tiring not knowing where your life is going!
So let's think happy little thoughts, and focus on the positive, shall we?
Any minute now the phone could ring and the Peace Corps will finally be ready to place me! Really and truly- any minute now it could finally happen after a year of this process!!
In just a few hours the mailman, actually mail lady in our case, or should I say postal carrier to be politically correct? Either way, in a few hours the mailbox may finally reveal the check I have waited over 2 months for!
If you are a Facebook friend, you may have seen this in a status update. Sometime in the next week or two, a major publication will be using me in a dating contest. I have a feeling I will have to do some serious self-promotion if I want to "win" a blind date of the publication's picking. I'm sure you can't wait for details on how over 1 million people can vote on my social life. (note to self: you may be crazy)
My family is moving into a new house in just a few days. I won't be living there very long, but I am still very excited about it. As you may recall, my folks live overseas. So really, they just bought a house that I will live in alone for a while. It will be a big and empty house mostly, but what furniture in it will be surroundings I am familiar and comfortable with. After a year of living in other people's stuff, I am very happy to be in a place I can call home again! AND! My mail and I will be using the same address after being apart for over a year. This is exciting stuff I tell you.
I'm trying to get my happy and positive side back after letting doom and gloom take over for the past week. I think I'm getting there. Just a few more hours till I really know what I am up against!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Life Interrupted


My life has been severely interrupted. Everything is on hold. I did a lot of work for a client a few months ago. That client is now over 70 days past due, and not returning calls or emails now (in spite of promises that I would be paid a week ago).
It's tacky to talk money, but let's just say the amount of money owed to me is what I had planned to live on for the next 6 months. Not kidding. All the money I needed for the next 6 months.
So my life is on hold. Cambodia? Not happening. Medical procedure I needed? Not happening. Nothing is happening.
I'm so mad I could could kick, cry, scream, and spit nails all at once. Why are people so dishonest?
Let's not forget this is the second time this has happened to me. My old boss, Tricia McGarry, still owes me about $10,000 for bounced paychecks. The illegal things she has done to avoid paying me and my former co-workers is ridiculous.
What I hate the most about this situation isn't just what it is doing to me. But it also hurts other people around me. I have to ask other people to have patience with my situation. I can't tell anyone if I will be here in a few weeks. The whole situation just sucks.
I'm putting a lot of energy into not being filled with hate. I don't have time for that. I'm trying to focus on a solution to my new problems. I'm hurt and angry. I worked so hard to climb up out of the unemployment hole and get back to stability. To work so hard and then be knocked down like this is not easy to handle emotionally, let alone temporally.
If I seem a little distracted or forgetful, please forgive me. There's just a lot of things on my mind right now. I'm trying to make up a new life plan, and try to find a way to be happy. 

Monday, August 08, 2011

"Little" and Big Fat Doggy get taken for a walk

Free Word Association

Fun
Quirky
Did she really just say that?
Horribly disappointing
Exhausting

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Peace Corps, Houses, and Paychecks


Just when you think things couldn't get crazier...
Anyone who has ever thought that has clearly not lived a day of my life. Around here, we always expect the unexpected.
For instance- this morning my parents put an offer in on a house. 50% below the original asking price. We had every reason to expect that the bank would wait several days and then turn it down. Instead? The bank accepted on the same day.
After months and months and months of waiting for my Peace Corps medical approval- I got it today! I am "provisionally" qualified, which came as no surprise at all. I am medically qualified, but due to my food allergy, I am only qualified to go to certain countries. So "Little" and I had fun going over PeaceCorpsWiki.org (both the timeline and calculator, then looking certain countries to see if corn is listed as a dietary staple) (i'm horribly allergic to corn and can't go somewhere I can't avoid it), and picked out the countries we think I might get sent to. After narrowing the list down to the top 15 likely places, we made our choices on where we think it will be. "Little" picked Senegal, I picked South Africa, and my mother (who admitted she picked it because it looked safest) picked Thailand. The truth is, South Africa and Thailand are strong possibilities. Senegal? Not so much. But it could happen. Never say never, especially around here.
So the next step can go 2 ways. One is that a placement officer will call me and basically give me a job interview, then s/he will decide where to send me, and I'll find out 2-3 weeks later. Another possibility is that the PO will do the whole thing without calling me, and I won't know until I get the letter in the mail. The time frame for all of this is very up in the air. Getting that interview could happen within days, but may not happen for weeks. And as has happened with every step of this process, I will be calling them in 2-3 weeks to follow up if I haven't heard anything before then. Chances are still very good that I won't leave before October. And still then even stronger that I won't leave until January-March. There's just no guessing at this point.
So what happens next?
Well, assuming my client (now 65 days past due) really did mail me my payment last week, and everything works out financially, I have a few contingency plans.
1. If I never get paid (hey, its a possibility)- I stay here in my parents' nice new house, and then go straight into the PC whenever that may be.
2. If I do get paid, and the PC doesn't take me until 2012, I will go to Cambodia.
3. If I get paid, and the PC takes me before 2012, I will most likely not go to Cambodia. But there are a few scenarios where I might.
All in all, I'd say this was a good day (even if I didn't get paid still). "Little" and I had fun out at the lake with some friends. We had a great dinner, and a nice time with some family members.
And I do love it when big questions finally get answers!
I FINALLY PASSED THE MEDICAL EXAM!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

If you're not with me you're... possibly smarter than me. Or not.

Am I alone in thinking things like, "This week has been so difficult so that I will be able to enjoy the XYZ better next week?" Or "The Lord apparently thinks I haven't learned my lesson already, and is going to beat this one into my head until I get it right, although, I could have sworn I got it right last time." "The reason I can't find my wallet and am running 20 mins late is because I am being saved from a horrific accident."
Because this week so many crazy problems, trials, and tests have come my way that I have to believe in a higher power. This stuff just does not happen in normal life. 

Monday, August 01, 2011

Thoughts of a Very Distracted Woman

It is almost noon and I'm tip-toeing around the house trying not to wake up the sleeping... teenager? I now finally understand how raising teenagers is a lot like raising toddlers.

I can't help but remember how my parents never would have let me sleep in till noon on a weekday (or any day for that matter). By now they would have brought in an infant or toddler sibling and let them loose in my bedroom. I learned quickly to never leave my toddler brother alone unsupervised in my room for long. RIP Kirk Cameron poster.

But I'm happy to let Little keep on sleeping. It gives me a few more minutes to get my "boring work stuff" done. Once she's awake I start to feel guilty that I'm glued to the computer while she's sitting there with nothing interesting to do.

I've been painfully distracted over the last few days, and it is really starting to show. I have to ask her to repeat herself every other line because I just didn't hear her the first time. It doesn't help that she thinks she's picked up a "southern twang," and enjoys speaking with it. What she doesn't know is she sounds more like Oliver Twist, than a Southerner. For instance, I haven't heard a "y'all" out of her yet. But she did try and use "yes'm" on me yesterday. I can promise you, no real Southerner alive today still says "yes'm."

While she works on elongating her r's and a's, my brain is rolling around too many other things. What will I do if the client who is 60 days past due doesn't pay up? Should I pack jeans to go to Cambodia? Why am I even thinking about Cambodia when the client hasn't paid? I can't go if it doesn't! What is the point in taking shirts I have to layer to Cambodia? Wait no, stop thinking that way, you are NOT buying new clothes to go work in a third world country orphanage! I need to call the doctor and see if they have had any cancellations yet. Dang it, the laundry is done. Do I have to wait till 90 days past due before hiring a lawyer to collect? I wonder if Little is ready to make an entree yet? She doesn't have the confidence yet, but her skills are pretty good. Maybe she just needs to stick to the small stuff still. Got to remember to mail the stuff. Where did I put that stuff? Is it just me or is it painfully hot in here? The dog stinks. Why does the dog always stink? Oh right, she played in the river. Note to self, keep dog out of river.

I'm so distracted that I lost 4 board games to the kid last night. I don't think she minded though. It was her first time to ever beat me that many times at a game. She probably likes it when I'm this distracted. Maybe tonight I'll challenge her to a rematch. Maybe. 

A "Little" Summer Fun




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Planking fail! (ouch!)



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