Tag Archives: Travel

Dreams *do* come true

Well.  What can I say.  I blog today as a completely different person than I was a year ago.  This blog has followed my dating life, and my regular life, through ups and downs and random thoughts.  It’s been my savior at times, times when I  needed to get demons out of me.  I’ve met some great blog friends on here, and, looking back through some of the worst blog posts, I don’t regret much of what I’ve written here.  But I’ve entered a new part of my life, and with these changes, I’m blogging less here and more elsewhere.

A year ago, I was single, finally getting over a horrible relationship and breach of trust, wondering if I would ever meet someone special, if I would ever be able to trust again.  A year ago I was unemployed, wondering if I would find a job, if I would ever get to do all the things I wanted to do but didn’t have the money to.  2010 was a very rough year for me, and I was glad that it was over, and hoping for a better year in 2011.

Then I met someone.  Someone special.  And I found that I was still capable of trust.  And I loved, and I was loved, and I was respected and cherished.  Nine months after meeting this man, I married him, and I still sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am to have him in my life.  He’s amazing, funny, caring, strong, loving, supportive, trustworthy, smart, chivalrous.  Everything you could possibly want in a man.  They do still exist.

Two months after getting married, my husband and I made a huge move, to Finland.  We’ve been here two weeks now, and it’s great.  A little cold, but not as cold as you might expect.  I am here on his work permit, which means I don’t have my own, so I can’t work.  My job, my husband tells me, is to write.

Imagine that.  My lifelong dream to not have to work and being able to write full time has come true.

Another lifelong dream – to travel.  And living in Europe, we intend to do exactly that.  France, Italy, Estonia, Sweden, St Petersburg, Prague, Krakow, London, Germany – they’re all on the agenda in the next two years.

To sum up:  I met my Prince Charming and am living my Happily Ever After.  It does happen.

I don’t know how often I’ll post on this blog now, but you never know when I might pop up.

Oh, and I met my Prince online, at OKCupid.  So, sometimes, online dating does work.

Advertisements

2011 Goals – An Update

Picture I made for my goals article

Image via Wikipedia

Oy.

That’s the update.

Half the year done, and I haven’t done JACK.

Let’s go over the list, shall we?

Work on being a better photographer.  I’ve barely taken any pictures, those I have taken have been on my cell phone, and I haven’t charged my digital camera in months.

Strive to write every day.  I wasn’t doing well with this one previously, but in the last three or four weeks I’ve been doing better.  I have been writing every day.  And I feel much better.

Delightfully Happy blog – now defunct.  I really wanted to succeed with this one, but I just couldn’t keep it up.  Not because I couldn’t find something to be happy about every day, but because I had so much going on I didn’t have time to post.  I kept a list in MS Word for a while, hoping to post as I had time, but I got so far behind I finally gave up.

Do not keep Netflix movies longer than 2 weeks.  Miserable fail.  I’ve had one for at least two months, I swear.  But now, with Netflix’s new pricing, I soon won’t have any DVDs from Netflix to keep, so…Win?

Use new veggies.  Um, yeah.  I did Baby Eggplant.  And I think I did another veggie.  But yet another massive fail.

Watch more hockey.  Fail.

Visit 5 places in the 1000 Places to See Before You Die list.  Nada.  Yet.  I plan on going to Charleston in a couple of months.  I looked into the Spoleto Festival, and it wasn’t quite what I expected (or was interested in, to be honest).

Watch movies from the AFI list.  Count:  0

Read 12 books from the BBC 100 List.  Now, I did try, I swear.  I read Wuthering Heights, and hated every second of it.  Then I tried reading Love in the time of Cholera, and I wanted to dig my eyeballs out so I couldn’t read it anymore.  I didn’t finish.  And that’s when I gave up.  (Although, I have started reading Pride and Prejudice, and am so far enjoying it.)

Overall, as you can tell, massive fail.  But I did so well last year – do I get credit for that?

How are you doing on your 2001 resolutions and goals?

Coffee? Tea?

PBair female flight attendant at work on board...

Image via Wikipedia

Years ago, while I was living in Dallas, I briefly considered becoming a Flight Attendant for Southwest Airlines.  A brief look into it revealed very low hourly pay – about $8/an hour. 

Fast forward ten years, and I’m unemployed.  Several friends, separately, have suggested I look into becoming a flight attendant – evidently, they think I would love it and/or be perfect for it.  I admit, I think I would enjoy the lifestyle, but I still had that $8/hr figure in my head, and I also know that a Flight Attendant’s “hours” include only door close to door open of the airplane – in other words, they don’t actually get paid for the time people are boarding and deboarding, only for the time spent separated from the terminal.

Both Delta and US Airways have announced openings for flight staff in the past couple of months.  And the position pays about $20/hr.  I admit, I seriously thought about it.  But then I got onto some of the message boards and found out more information.  Like, the fact that most FA’s have second jobs, just so they can support themselves.  Many FA’s only log 80 hours a month – 80 hrs x $20/hr = $1600/mo.  Pre-tax.

And then there are those pesky passengers, you know the ones.  The ones who don’t quite grasp the concept of their chairs and traytables being in their full upright position.  The ones that can’t seem to understand that when the pilot turns on the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign, it’s probably a good idea to Sit Your Ass Down.  The ones who think that they are the only person on the airplane, and because they want to do XYZ, they should have the right to, since they “paid for the damn seat.”  This is one case that I would probably better to be able to handle the privileged set in First Class, because at least they have less to complain about.

So, yeah, no, I’m good.  Until I have no need for more than $1000/mo net, I’m going to pass.  But maybe one day…

On a lighter note- TSA Humor

Stay Sweet TSA

Image by Blacknell via Flickr

Press Release:

WASHINGTON, DC-  Recent data has shown that women often neglect to do a monthly self breast exam, as recommended by their doctors.  In an effort to facilitate breast health, the TSA has begun training security personnel to check for lumps during their pre-flight pat down inspections of female passengers.  This will ensure more women are checked on a regular basis, as early detection is key.  Because breast cancer can strike males as well, men who are concerned about their breast health can also request the breast exam, as well as a testicular cancer screening, for a nominal fee.  Simply tell the TSA Agent during your pat down that you want to “opt in.”

It’s a joke, people.

For more press release fun: 

WASHINGTON, DC—Seeking to address “the number-one threat to airline security,” the Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that it will consider banning passengers on all domestic and international commercial flights…  (Grr – linking not working right at the moment – here’s the article:  http://www.theonion.com/articles/faa-considering-passenger-ban,44/

Now I know where to go to get some action!

2 7 10 Bearman Cartoon Airport Body Scanner

Image by Bearman2007 via Flickr

 

I got into a debate on Facebook last night about the new security measures in place at airports in the US.  It started when one guy, Cowboy, posted to his wall that he had one thing to say to all the people posting articles and complaining about the new security measures:  “don’t fly.”  He said this is being done to protect us from terrorism, and as long as he gets a pat down from “a hot female with TSA,” he’s okay with it.

Both sides weighed in on this, and it was, for the most part, a cordial discussion.  I was actually quite surprised that no one started hurling insults.  Both sides stated their opinion and made points, and argued against the other side’s points.  There was only one issue, I think. 

I don’t think most people who were arguing for scanners and enhanced pat downs had any idea what they were talking about.  I will admit, when this was first instituted, there was an email discussion amongst several friends.  Two were very unthrilled with the new security measures, and one who went through the scanner said she “felt dirty.”  (I hope I’m quoting her correctly!)  My opinion, at the time, was, “Eh.  Whatever.”  I wasn’t happy with it, but I didn’t really see the big deal.  However, since then, I’ve read more about them, done some research, and read firsthand accounts of the “enhanced” pat downs.  And now I can say, with full sincerity, that I am not okay with this, and I am not looking forward to the next time I have to fly (Christmas).  In fact, I’m starting to get a little sick about it – not quite to the extent that Nicole  is, but talk to me again as the date gets closer.

Here are the main points brought up in the FB debate:

I agree with the original Facebook post – If you don’t like it, don’t fly.  Some people don’t have that option.  This can affect people’s livelihoods – do I want to continue working to support my family (by traveling, as my job requires) and give up on these civil liberties, or do I want to stand up against it and not fly (and lose my job in the process)?  Here’s the point:  DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.  Know what you’re facing the next time you go to the airport.  Have all the facts.  This is your body, your health, and damnit, the government has no right to tell you what to do with those two things.  Once you know the facts, then make an INFORMED decision based on your personal belief system.  If you want to debate the merits and/or faults of the new system with me, please have something more to say than, “TERRORISTS!  9/11!  The sky is falling!”

Wednesday, November 24th (yes, the day before Thanksgiving, yes, the busiest travel day of the year), is National Opt Out Day.  The organizers are urging everyone flying on Wednesday to “Opt Out” of the scanner and instead have the “enhanced” pat down.  They want people to understand what the pat down entails, and to determine for yourself if you are okay with receiving it…and if you’re okay with your spouse, mother, father, and children (the 15 year old girl, the 4 year old boy) receiving it.  

I was listening to the radio today, to some radio personality on AM radio (sorry, I couldn’t figure out who it was).  The guy was telling people, don’t opt out.  It’ll only slow everything down, and it won’t make a statement of any kind.  He was recommending, instead, that people go through the scanner and salute the TSA – with one finger (guess which one).  “Free speech!” he said.  “Make a statement!”

All due respect, but what exactly is that going to do?  I have nothing against the TSA agents themselves – they’re just doing their job (although, if it were me, I’d be looking for another job right quick).  Flipping off the TSA agent is not going to make any statement, other than, “I’m an immature asshole.”  Let me explain the idea behind Opting Out:

IT’S A FREAKING BOYCOTT!  Why do people boycott a business?  To make a statement.  To make the business sit up and take notice.  To make them realize that people don’t like what they are doing, people are doing something about it, and it’s going to affect the business’ bottom line.  This is what the Opt Out Day is for.  Although the organizers state that the intention is not to slow down air travel, it will obviously slow down the security lines if even half the people going through decide to opt out of the scanners.  It will show TSA (and the government) that we don’t agree with the scanners.  It will show other people that there are people willing to make a stand against them, which will in turn make others more likely to do so.  It will affect the airlines, possibly causing delays, certainly upsetting passengers when they miss their flight due to the long wait, who will demand some sort of compensation.  It is the American people, en masse, saying, “We are not going to put up with this.”  And just like with a boycott, if enough people do it, maybe someone will take notice.

I don’t think we’re getting the full truth.  I was going to do a summary of what TSA says about the scanners and what I’ve heard and found, but I’ve spent way too long on this post, and besides, this post does that pretty well.

Some additional interesting links:

  • Ron Paul has introduced H.R. 6416, The American Traveler Dignity Act, to the House.  You can read about it here.
  • FedUpFlyers was started by a pilot, and has several first-hand accounts from crew personnel and passengers about the security measures.  I suggest you read them.  Yes, they are touching your genitals.  If you’re a woman and you wear a skirt, they WILL slide their hands ALL the way up to your panties.  If you wear skimpy underwear, your labia may be touched.  Are you okay with that?  Are you okay with your wife, your daughter being subjected to that?
  • WeWontFly – Act Now.  Travel with Dignity.

As a final note, let’s look to the people who do this for a living – the pilots and flight attendants who go through this daily.  Pilots unions are urging pilots not to go through the scannersFlight attendants have contacted the ACLU and may file suit.  These are professionals, and they’re not okay with it.  I’m not either.

***ETA – OMG!!!   I just found this online, and laughed hysterically. 

Myrtle Beach

I went to Myrtle Beach this week, a vacation I had planned well before I got laid off.  I was looking forward to it, to the relaxation of the ocean.  Of course, it was overcast both full days I was there, and sunny the day I got in and the day I left, but I love the beach anytime, cold, warm, dry or wet.  Actually, it’s better cold and wet, because there are fewer people out there.  You can stand at the waters edge, look out at the waves rolling in, and imagine it’s just you and the ocean.

Of course, when it rains while you’re walking on the beach, and you’re still half a mile from your hotel, it really is just you and the water.

And I am very much a water person, so I was a happy camper.

The drive is always…interesting.  I always get lost, and this time was no exception.  Question:  if you see a road sign that says “Darlington- that way,” and you drive that way and come to a T in the road, shouldn’t there be another sign saying, “Darlington- that way”?  Grrrrrr.

Random Update

  • Well, a friend of mine did some work on my main computer, so I’m able to use it again.  Time to get caught up on my blog reading!  🙂  We’ll see how long it lasts.  He recommended I get more RAM, so it’s on order, and once it comes in…well, we’ll see if my 6 year old laptop can hold on a couple more years.  Meanwhile he loaded Firefox for web purposes, and…I’m not sold.  Anyone hate/love firefox?
  • I want to see Vampires Suck.  It looks entirely too funny to miss.  Of course, that will wait for redbox one boring night.
  • As much as I dislike Eminem (the guy has ISSUES), I’m loving his two new releases.  He’s catchy as hell.
  • Recent movies watched:  According to Greta (Ellen Burstyn helps elevate the movie, which stars Hilary Duff), Leap Year (eh), The Time Traveler’s Wife (eh – also, Rachel McAdams needs to eat a hamburger.  In the scene when they first have sex, and she gets out of bed and you can see her naked back, you can see each and every one of her ribs and vertebrae – to the point I thought it was part of the story line, it was so emphasized.)
  • Trying to decide if I want to go to the beach in November.  I figured it would be good to get away and write (doing NaNoWriMo again this year!).  But then, my friends said they might go to the Bahamas.  So, do I want to go to the Warm Bahamas and have fun with friends or the Cool Carolina Beach to “check out”?  Decisions, decisions…
  • Trying to decide what to do today. Have the day off, considering going to the zoo down the road, or becoming a tourist in my own city.  Hmm…
  • LoveLoveLove the song “Sometime Around Midnight” by Airborne Toxic Event.  I liked it when it originally came out, kind of forgot about it, and heard it again the other day at work and fell in love again.  (Geauxgirl, can you get that on Rock Band?)

I want my own adventure

I saw this postcard on postsecret last Sunday, and of course it stood out.  Anything air travel related stands out to me.  But it didn’t really speak to me at the time, so I kept on scrolling through.

But the more I thought about it, the more it does speak to me, but not in the way it’s meant, I’m sure.

You see, over the last two or three weeks, I’ve been thinking.  It all started with my solo trip to the beach in April, and how wonderful it was, just me and the waves.  And I decided that I was going to go to the beach every year for my birthday, not necessarily alone, but I would definitely try to go alone.  My friend mentioned Belize, and when I looked it up, I couldn’t believe how cheap it was (as long as I didn’t mind not having a suite). 

So I decided on Belize, next April, sometime around my birthday.

I’ve always been against traveling alone, for several reasons.  It really has nothing to do with me not wanting to be alone.  I don’t mind being alone.  Part of it was a safety issue – a single, not-unattractive woman, traveling alone in a foreign country, possibly (probably) unable to speak the language, doesn’t seem especially safe.  I know other women have done it, but, I’ll admit, I was a little scared.  The other part of it is that I never seem to enjoy certain things as much as when there’s someone to share it with.  A beautiful view is wonderful, but when you can remember it with someone months, years later, that makes it even better, I think.  Part of travel is the funny and memorable stories that come out of it, and if you don’t have someone to share it with, it’s not quite as special.

But the thought of going to Belize by myself made me…happy.  Excited.  Calm and content.  And then I thought, where else do I want to go?  France.  Italy.  Greece.  Iceland.  Peru.  Turkey.  India.  Indonesia.  Egypt.  Germany.  And many, many more places. 

And, with only a few exceptions (India, Egypt, Turkey), I feel perfectly comfortable with the idea of traveling alone.

I’m done waiting for someone to travel with.  I’m done with my life on hold.

My plan right now is Belize in April, Cabo for whale watching in Q1 2012, Peru at the end of summer 2012, and France in Spring 2013.  Plus, I need to make it to Chicago and DC sometime in the next year or two. 

Anyway, to get back to the postcard.  I’m obviously no longer in a relationship with a pilot.  Being with The Pilot didn’t spark my desire for adventure any more than it was already sparked.

But what he put me through, the issues I’ve dealt with, the personal hell I’ve been through in the last seven months? 

Well, if this were my postcard, it might say, “Being with a pilot wasn’t a romantic adventure, but the rest of my life will be.”

Maybe that’s the life changer that came from that relationship.

Did you miss me?

I was completely offline from the 11th through the 18th, and I’ve just been lazy since then.

Yes, offline. No cell phone, no internet, no email, nothing. It was quite lovely. What was I doing?

I was on a cruise – my first – and I enjoyed every freaking minute of it.

I flew into Miami on Saturday and met my mom. Our cruise didn’t leave until Sunday, so we stayed at the Hilton downtown on Saturday night. I had found a restaurant online that looked good – Bin No 18 – but wasn’t sure that we were dressed well enough, so we asked the concierge to recommend a nearby restaurant. Lo and behold, he recommended Bin No 18, and assured us that it was very casual, and we were dressed fine. We walked the two blocks to the restaurant, found that it was, indeed, very casual, but the food was amazing, as was the wine and beer list. (I only recognized 4 beers out about 40 on the beer list, if that tells you anything.) Mom and I split the Scottish Salmon Tartar, Seared Sea Scallops, and Bruschetta di Eggplant, and each one was delicious. Mom’s favorite was the salmon, I think my favorite was the scallops.

For breakfast Sunday, we went to this cool little diner called S&S Diner, pretty much around the corner from Bin No 18. It was about 20 barstools around a kitchen, and it was darn good. Also recommended by the concierge. Then on to the Port of Miami about noon to get on the ship. It was a surprisingly smooth process. Our room was at the front of the ship, right above the first break on the water, so with the balcony door open (which it pretty much was full time) it sounded like waves crashing at the beach. Both mom and I slept incredibly well the whole time we were on board.

We departed the port about 4:30 Sunday evening, and spent Monday at sea. We laid out by the pool for a bit, then went to a martini tasting. We got seven different martini’s – only 3 oz each, but 7×3 equals enough to get my mother tipsy, which was quite comical.

Tuesday morning we arrived in Grand Cayman, and took tender boats to the mainland. Mom and I had decided on the “Island Tour and Underwater Observatory” excursion…I wish we had gone snorkeling instead. The tour itself was fine – we stopped at the Turtle Farm, which was really cool, and the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory, and went to Hell (and back), and our tour bus driver was very nice. But the “underwater observatory” ended up being a glass-bottom boat, rather than the underwater tunnel mother thought it was, and it was really crappy. Then we went into a couple of shops along the docks, which were all tourist traps, and it just all felt so…touristy. And I hate touristy.

The turtle farm was quite neat, though, and I’m glad we got to go there.   We got to hold a little baby sea turtle – isn’t he cute? Supposedly, if they flap, you should run under their chin to make them stop, to calm them. I personally believe the rub feels good, so they flap on purpose.

Wednesday morning we anchored off Cozumel. Mom and I took a ferry over to Playa del Carmen and took a tour bus to Tulum, which I was really excited about. I had wanted to go to Tulum when I was in Mexico several years ago, but didn’t get the chance. As I didn’t ever really want to go back to the Yucatan again, I figured I had lost my chance. Because it was one of the shore excursions offered by the cruise line, I jumped at my chance this time, even though it was a 45 minute ferry ride followed by an hour bus ride, one way. That meant we only had a couple of hours there, but I don’t care. It was really neat.

The minute we pulled anchor Wednesday night, and all day Thursday, we could really feel the boat move. The water was rough, and it was pretty windy out. But it was still sunny, so I took advantage of that and laid out for a while. Most of Thursday was spent lazing around, wishing I could live on a cruise ship. I absolutely loved my first cruise, and I want to go again as soon as I can.

It wasn’t all great. The food was kind of hit or miss – I had some fabulous tilapia, and their Indian fare was great (as was breakfast), but a lot of the food was kind of…meh…and the lobster ravioli was really not good. Norwegian is all about “freestyle,” where you can eat wherever and whenever you want. However, often, at regular eating times (6pm, 11am), they’re “all hours” café was all but shut down. If you wanted a hot dog, you were golden, otherwise…not so much. The other bad? While I slept great every night there, I woke up Friday morning with a sore back and hip, which progressed through the next 48 hours into shooting pain down my leg. I think I managed to pinch my sciatic nerve, or something. I’m finally starting to feel better, but Saturday I was in absolute pain. So the bed must not have been that great.

Our room was always super clean, with clean towels every time we turned around. There was a ton of stuff to do, the staff was all super nice. You could almost always get drink specials – $4.25 margaritas or Bloody Mary’s or something else, so they’re not ripping you on the alcohol. We didn’t even venture down to the casino, didn’t even know where it was until the last day. The sushi restaurant was okay – not outstanding, but it was fine. And, of course, we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

We arrived in Miami on Friday to rain. (We later found out that parts of Miami were completely flooded, and some people were using kayaks to get around.) Both mom and I caught our flights without any problems, and there were no delays, which was great, considering most of the east coast got hit hard with snow and ice. Of course, arriving back in Charlotte to 30 degrees and rain/sleet was quite a downer, after the gorgeous weather on the trip. But I’m going to try not to complain too much….

I’ve just been playing catch up since then, doing laundry, wrapping Christmas gifts, watching tivo’d shows.

Back to reality.

The Amazing Race, Episode 11

We’re still in Prague.  We get a brief recap of the season (and I’m totally calling BS at this point, for the first time in Race History – more on that later), and we are off to Vegas, Baby!

Briefly…if you’ll remember from the last episode, there was a 2 hour time difference between the 1st team to leave the pit stop (Megan & Cheyne) and the last team (Brian & Ericka).  They are still in first and last place, respectively, but there is now a 4 hour time difference.  Granted, Brian & Ericka had that speedbump, but that couldn’t have taken but an extra half hour.  I think it shows what great racers Megan & Cheyne really are.  Of course, the time doesn’t mean crap, because I’m sure all three teams will be on the same flight to Vegas, but…I’m just saying.

It looks like the teams were all super smart this time.  They’ve lightened their load and are carrying the smallest amount of things that they can.  The big backs are gone, and it is ON.

Roadblock – who’s ready to climb down the mountain?  I’ll do it.  One team member must do a face-first rappel 62 stories.  Easy-peasy.

Gnarly.

Heh.  Cheyne did the entire rappel with his eyes closed. 

Most of the tasks were kind of meh – nothing incredibly exciting, nothing that anyone could really do different.  All three teams stuck pretty close together.  More Sam and Dan bickering – GOD I can’t wait until they are off my tv.

All three teams are waiting to find out if they correctly counted out $1M in casino chips.  Megan & Cheyne got it correct.  The other two teams did not.  Sam & Dan get it next.  Brian & Ericka are wrong again.

And it’s Cheyne & Megan!  Big surprise there – they’ve rocked it the entire time. 

Sam & Dan are second.  Pricks.

Brian & Ericka are third. 

Until next season…