Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most --
After three I'm under the table,
After four, I'm under my host."
-- Dorothy Parker.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

A positive attitude might not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
-- Anonymous


As some of you know, I am a walking contradiction when it comes to my political stances and beliefs. Taking a firm stance on anything is a hard thing for me to do when it comes to the big picture of running our country, mainly because my values are in contradiction of one another. I describe myself as being in the middle...

I believe in fiscal responsibility while having a large amount of social compassion. I hate to watch others suffer and I believe children should not be neglected as a result of their parent's choices. Yet, I don't believe in picking up the tab for the rest of the world or continuing to reward people for being lazy or irresponsible with their lives.

I work for my family's business - for almost 30 years I have watched my parents work long hours and give up family days, holidays, and change their plans for the benefit of the business. It is the life they (and now, I) have chosen. Working for yourself has many advantages and I recognize those as well. It has always been a good business with solid financial rewards, yet it's hard to watch and hear them work hard to have a huge percentage of their earnings be taken by the government in the form of taxes on an annual basis.

It's hard to sit in our planning and business development "meetings" (a.k.a. the dinner table) and hear my father say time and time again, "If we can't make money while doing the right thing and treat our people well, then we shouldn't be doing this" - Only to wake the next day to another story about Wal-Mart's profits beside a different article about it's explotation of the public welfare/healthcare system. We provide all of our full-time employees with insurance and retirement. When we give bonuses, all employees (including part time) get a piece of the pie, based off of the hours they have worked for the past year. If we're able to do this and continue to operate, then shouldn't larger corporations with more resources and better operations also be able to make this happen?

So when I am asked the question, "Isn't it Wal-Mart's(insert any other public corporation as you will - I personally hate Wally-World) sole responsibility to answer solely to their shareholders and make the biggest profit possible?" My answer is a resounding NO.

We all share this world and we all have the responsibility to be good citizens. There are countless exampes of companies that operate in the black and make a strong profit without basing every decision on the bottom line. Off the top of my head Chick-fil-A, Google, Patagonia, Columbia, Cliff Bars come to mind... and I know there are more out there!

The Wal-Mart's of this world have the power and the influence to help make a positive change in our country... they can help enable the benefit of healthcare reaching the masses. Think of what would happen if they took on the insurance industry like they do their other vendors, insisting that they decrease their prices by 5% on an annual basis. Affordable healthcare wouldn't just be a dream.

Reading over proposals made by either of the candidates, I'm uncertain of what is actually doable. I don't agree 100% with either one on everything and I have issues which directly affect me and my career (Nationalized Health Care!?!? Oh, dear. PLEASE NO!) so it's hard to know which way to go for all of my concerns.

Inspiration and charisma are a huge part of the election process... and as I watched the Democratic National Convention fill the stadium in Denver last night. I saw a wide range of people... a mix of races, ages and experiences. I was caught up in the historical impact of the moment and I was moved by the voice of reason that spoke of compromise and understanding. The rational expectation for all of us to meet in a place of agreement so positive changes can happen in our country:

"We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort." (Barack Obama's acceptance speech, 2008).

That was the moment in the speech (near the end) that sold me on him, the rational and logical step away from party idealism to a middle ground where most Americans feel comfortable.

So when I consider the last eight years of my life, the first eight years of my adult life... I have to admit that no decision of mine has ever been made solely on the bottom line. Life decisions are never just about one factor - they include emotions, logic, experience, cost, benefit, and alternatives. Following my own precident, I can't make the decision to vote solely with my pocketbook.

Therefore as the presidential election approaches and it comes time to vote, even though I favor lower taxes and a smaller federal government, I am going to place my ballot for Barack Obama and take a chance on hope and change.

New Zealand #5

Here is the next installment of my New Zealand trip, to read from the beginning, go here.

Hello all!

Greetings from Rotorua! (or Roto-Vegas as the locals call it)

The one tourist trap in New Zealand, this town is all hotels and resturants and gift shops. And it smells - like rotten eggs.

It's the country's thermal park and it's actually really cool to see the steam and rocks and all that. I was told it was a must see and I'm gald I came.

After a very rainy and dodgy bus trip up from Napier, I was feeling a little queasy (gotta love motion sickness) but as soon as I got some fresh air and food I was ok. I checked into my hostel and did laundry (woohoo!) so that I'd have something clean to wear. I went down to the information center and ran into two girls who had been on my wine tasting tour, so we went to have lunch. They are very nice (one's a Kiwi and one's an Aussie - they worked together in Europe for Contiki Tours) and invited me to travel on with them to Taraunga (which is actually my next stop) but I had already settled in at the hotel and made plans for last night so I'm catching up with them tomorrow for the beach part of my trip.

After walking about and checking out the lake, I went back and showered for the "dinner and show" that Kevin & Abbey had told me about. I was very wary of this DisneyWorld-esque set up but The Tamaki Tour "A Living Maori Village Experience" was actually very entertaining and the food wasn't half bad (Mom, you'd be proud of me: I ate the Kumara which is NZ's version of a sweet potato and it wasn't half bad). We had a very entertaining bus driver - he had the bus singing different songs from the different countries... I learned Chile's national athem - I'm sure that will come in handy sooner or later. The show was also fun and seemed to very authentic. They explained the different games and dances and songs of their culture which I found interesting. The "chief" was extremely well spoken and very elegant. Then at dinner I sat with a guy from Spain and an older lady from England (very grand dame type - when asked where she lived, she said "on the river" meaning the Thames as if there was no other river in the world - she was a hoot, especially after her third glass of wine). The guy from Spain was also funny b/c he's still working on his english (although he did really well) and would use funny words or tenses to describe things. We had a good time. One thing I've noticed is that no one introduces themselves by their name, unless you ask. Otherwise you're the "american" or the "spainard" - it kind of weird.

This morning I woke up to another foggy day and I went the Polynesian Spa which is where they have captured the hot springs in one area and turned into a bathing area and spa. I enjoyed a thermal mud treatment and some time in the pools. If they could do something about the smell it would be better but it was way better than any other hot springs I've been to! (Not to mention there's no hike before hand - Hot Springs at Edison anyone?)

So, this afternoon, I'm going to the local museums ( I know you all think I'm the biggest nerd but the museums are well done and they are generally free!)

And tonight there are concerts on the lake starting at around 4pm because tomorrow is New Zealand day... I've been told it's no big deal but they're doing things here so we'll see.
Anyways, tomorrow I'm off to the beaches (white sand ones this time) and I'll let you all know when I arrive.

Lots of Love! Kia Ora!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I love this girl... she cracks me up.

This post about men and their lack of perception hits the nail on the head. Click on it for a good laugh.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Zealand #4

Next installment on the New Zealand trip, to read from the beginning, go here.

Hello All! Be prepared... this one is a long one!

It's a little after 10pm here and I still have to pack up as I'm heading out to Rotorua tomorrow morning. It's been a nice stay at the prison but I'm getting out on parole!
I have really enjoyed Napier and seeing this part of the country. It's been foggy and misty throughout the early mornings and evenings - there's about 1 hour of sunshine in the afternoons... but the temperature is nice and the scenery is dramatic. I love the fact at night that I as I'm going to sleep, I can here the waves crashing on the beach down below. The prison is up on a hill above the town and it's got a great view - unfortunately at the end of the day or night you have to hike it up the hill.

Yesterday, I got up and was given a lovely tour of my 'home' - the prison, the hostel owners gave it and have actually done a lot of research about the people who were held here and why they were imprisoned. Kind of interesting... kind of scary too. There were two other American girls here the first night but they left yesterday b/c they kept getting freaked out. I've been tired enough to keep the imagination in check.

Then I walked into town and ate at a cafe... I've enjoyed trying the different pies and pasteries they have here. I did the first half of the Art Deco tour and enjoyed reading about the buildings and how the town rebuilt itself after the earthquake (Lauren, I needed you to actually point out the things in the buildings that I was reading about). Then I took a break and went to the Marineland where they have a penguin rescue program... Not as elaborate as SeaWorld or whatever but I got to feed and hold the penguins and pet a New Zealand fur seal. (I knew I'd get my seals in on this trip!)

They had an Ice Cream shop here called "Lick This" (only in NZ do they get away with these graphic company names - the other one that's be great has been the phone company : Phone S.E.X. 0-800-FOREPLAY) and they sold the new Zealand Ice Cream flavor "hokey pokey" - I had heard much about this ice cream and I just had to try it. This was also within the hour or so that the sun was teasing to come out so I got a cone. It was a lovely vanilla ice cream with golden syrup frozen and mixed in it... I can't really describe it but it was good. You folks will have to come and try it yourself... it's only found in New Zealand. That's one thing that's very cool about this country... Kiwis are very proud people and they want to share what's theirs with you and they want you to like it as much as they do. The Ice Cream shop girl was very excited that I liked the ice cream and the bartenders have been very pleased when I've tried and liked their beer suggestions (although I have to admit that Kevin's Macs Gold is the best so far).

So after Marineland, I set off the complete the second half of the Art Deco tour and I enjoyed that.... walking around the city and getting a feel for it was cool. So I ended up at the Art Deco museum but everything closes up around 5PM which is something I haven't gotten used to at all! And when I say everything, I mean only resturants and pubs are open (and they all shut down between 2PM and 5PM). It's different from home and can be kind of frustrating but it's not a bad thing... I think it would be nice to be off at 5PM consistently sometimes and they also charge a surtax if they are open on the public holidays... sounds like a plan huh?

Ok, so I grabbed a bottle of water and headed back up towards my hostel with plans to climb the Bluff Hill when I hear some one whistling and catcalling in my direction. Lucky for me and them that I actually looked up to see my friends Kevin and Abbey across the road. They had spent the earlier part of the week (after leaving me in Wellington) in Auckland sorting out Kevin's Visas and whatnot (He is now a proud legal Alien of the U.S. - God help us all) then decided to head to Napier b/c Abbey had never seen this part of the country. Then they got my email and saw that I was here too!

I have to admit, as much as I'm loving being by myself and doing exactly what I want, it was nice to see two friendly smiling faces.

So, I ran (very carefully) across the road and we made plans to met up the next morning.
Then I continued on my hike up the bluff hill... and let me tell you. When a Kiwi says somehting is an 'easy trek' - Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT listen to them... these are the people who think nothing of playing football without pads and calling it rugby (I know that's not totally true but go with the story here). The hike up the hill was straight up and although the flora and the fauna was quite lovely, when you have sweat rolling down your head, blinding you, you really just don't enjoy it. Seriously, it was a nice and challenging hike and the reward was worth it, the evening fog was rolling it and it was cool to sit and watch the change. Afterwards, I made it back to my hostel, ate something, showered and rolled into bed.

Only to be awoken the next morning by the sound of Abbey's voice in the hallway... now, we had made plans for them to pick me up and go to breakfast, I was actually in that half asleep mode where you're tormenting yourself, telling yourself to get out of the bed... when I here Abbey's distinct American voice in the hall. So I laughed and shouted at them that they were early, rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes and a baseball cap and went to breakfast. No one except vacationing Americans wear baseball caps, so be prepared if you come here, that is a dead give away.

We ate at a great cafe - I had a cheese scone and tea... I'm fitting in quite nicely and I had a lovely time:)We were planning to go to Cape Kidnappers but we hadn't done our research and didn't know you had to plan the trip around the tides... just like we're on Blackbeards huh Dad?

Anyways, we came back to town and I went to the history museum while Kevin and Abbey headed to the National Park up the road a bit. Again, me being a nerd but the museum was fantastic... another thing about New Zealanders... they are proud of their country and their histroy. Napier is the hometown of gold medalist in Athens, two sisters who row together and I have been told that so many times, it just makes you want to scream!

And after a quick bite at a cafe, I was off on my wine tour...

And I would tell you about it if I could remember it...

as one fo the ladies at the cellars said, New Zealand is a thirsty country so they believe in big "sips" - thank goodness I did a tour and had a driver. No no no, I'm kidding... but they do have some fantastic wines and they don't export the best ones so it was cool to try them here. And they all have a story and history which I just eat up.

After I again treked it up the hill to my hostel and had a shower, Kevin and Abbey once again found me for dinner... we went to a great resturant on the port and I got to face the window and the sea while they had a lovely view of the docks! Whatever, do not feel sorry for them... they sat down first! And after a lovely meal, we got to dessert!

I order a brandy basket... which I was thinking was like a tart cup made of syrup with the ice cream inside of it.. not so much and soooooo much better... it was ice cream with granny somethings rolled up with cream inside of it, topped with russian fudge. (PS. I don't know why I've never had Russian fudge before but I have been neglected as a child and a sweet tooth and I'm complaining now!) I got them to trade the berry sauce for a chocolate sauce and I was in heaven... It was really rich but I enjoyed every bite of it. Abbey had some banana thing and Kevin just sat there while we stuffed our faces... he was very good at resisiting temptation.

I could make fun of them for finding me and I told them I was going to but it was good to get to spend some more time with them ( I mean, I did fly all the way around the world for their wedding! teasing teasing, you know I'm glad I came.) plus they've given me a lot of great suggestions of places to go and things to do - nothing they've suggested has been bad yet! So good on ya!

That would be my favorite Kiwi Expression... "Good on Ya' it basically means "good for you" and I had heard it a million times at camp but I had forgotten it and an American voice just can't do it as well as a Kiwi accent so it's good to hear it here again.

Alright folks, I'm wiped and I'm heading to bed so I can make my bus in the morning. Sorry, I know this one was long but I've been doing a lot and my feet hurt just writing about all the walking I've done:)

When you next here from me, I shall be in Rotorua (pronounced "ro-toe" "ru-ah" - it took me a while to get that)

Love you all!

Quote of the Day

I believe that everything happens for a reason,People change so that you can learn to let go,things go wrong so you can appreciate themwhen they're right, you believe lies so youeventually learn to trust noone but yourself,and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
-Marilyn Monroe

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Zealand #3

Here's email #3 from New Zealand - I'm still looking for pictures but I'll get them up here, I promise. To start with the first email, click here.

February 1, 2005:
Hello everyone.
I know you all were wondering when you would get to hear from me again and here I am!

I have made my way up the Pacific/East Coast of New Zealand to Napier and I'm settled into my hostel which is an old prison... I kid you not. It's very unique. I think I'll have as many pictures of the hostel as I will of the town. My "room" is actually a cell and it's called the conjugal unit b/c it has a double bed... I thought I was going to die as the girl was taking me to my room. I have a padlock for the door. It's crazy. The room across from mine is the "pysche unit" - they really take this whole thing to an extreme... there are bars on the windows... it's great.

It has started to rain which was a lot of fun walking from the bus station to my hostel... thank god my backpack is waterproof. But I made it ok.

Napier is a gorgeous seaside town which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1931 so the town was completely rebuilt 1931-1933 so there is a strong Art Deco influence, Frank Lloyd Wright's style of architecture and the whole great Gatsby feel (lauren, you'd love it here!). I'm spending three nights here (mom - that's a change in the plan) because I wanted to see the town and the wineries so I'll leave here early Friday morning for Rotorua - I've been told it's a real tourist trap so I cut out a day there and added one here. I think I'm going to be glad I did that.

So anyways, finishing up Wellington... yesterday morning I got up and went on the Red Rocks Walk - there were no seals but I had a blast. I did that early in the morning to avoid the sun (burn time here is 12 minutes). I hope I got some good pictures. Again I could see the South Island which I just find really cool. After catching the bus back to town, I went to Te Papa which is the large museum... there was SO much there but I had a good time. It was alot about the history and settlement and the Maori people and their history - I'm such a nerd but I spent a lot of time in the history section b/c I enjoyed learning about the history down here. I've never studied it or read anything about (well, other than what's in the Lonely Planet). So I spent about 5 1/2 hours there before I reached overload and took off.

I walked down to the Queen's Wharf and took some pictures of the bay... It had gotten really windy and there were sailboats out. The GlobalChallenge2004-2005 was in the harbor and I haven't looked up what it was but there were tons of sailboats sponsored by companies like Sony and BP. I'm interested to find out what it's about.

I had made plans with some of the girls in the hostel for drinks and dinner so I went back to the hostel to change and met up with them. We went to a cafe down the street called Coyote (another Kevin & Abbey suggestion) and it was great. I order the soup of the day... I thought the waittress said potato... and I got a tomato soup instead - good thing I like both of them. That whole pesky accent thing. So we ate dinner and then hung out for a while... I had put on my baseball cap b/c the wind had been so bad and my hair was a mess. I did not know that was a completely "American" thing to do... but people came up to me in the bar b/c I had it on and identified me as American. We ran into some guys from Colorado... they were nice. Most people are over here b/c they're studying somewhere but their school term doesn't start until mid-Feb.

The bus ride up here wasn't too bad... today was kind of a waste b/c of the timing of it all. My bus left at 11AM and got here at 6PM (later than supposed to b/c of the rain) but I've learned my lesson and I'll take the early bus from now on. That way I won't waste any more full days traveling. The rest of the trip is better spaced for bus travel anyway, nothing more than 3hours. So it shouldn't happen again.

Anyways, I've got to go find some food and I think that means a walk to town so I need to head out - not that I have to worry about daylight... the sun won't set for at least another 2 hours since it's only 7:30PM.

Love you all! And I'll keep you posted on sleeping in the prison:)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Welcome to the World Baby Girl!!!

Or in my parents' case, the 21st Century...

It was a pleasant surprise last Friday to come home to find that my parents had redone their home phone contract to include Caller ID AND Call Waiting!!!

People, this is HUGE!!!

My Mother HATES call waiting - if you put her on hold, she will hang up on you. Or at least, she hangs up on her children. Sometimes she's a little more patient with others so she might let you get away with it once or twice before she starts hanging up on you.

But I think the real kicker is going to be watching her operate the phone when she has someone break in on the call - I kind of freaked out when it happened to me the other night. I couldn't remember which button to push ("Flash") so I hit a bunch of different ones until it came to me (please, people, my parents just got this service, it's not like it was avaliable to me growing up and I've only had a cell phone for about 8 years at this point!!!).

As for Caller ID, the whole point is to be able to see who is calling in order to decide whether or not you want to answer the phone - well, I can see there is going to be a learning curve on this one. I still hadn't convince my mom to use her voice mail in this way so I doubt she'll adjust quickly to waiting until the 2nd or 3rd ring to see who is calling.

Really, I guess the real question is how long has it been since they redid their phone contract for it now to be a part of the basic package AND why do they even still have a home phone?!?! (Those are questions for another day and another time).

New Zealand #2

2005 Trip to New Zealand, to read the first entry, go here.

January 30, 2005
First things First... let me apologize to me mum... I thought my parents still used the email that I had in my address book. So now I have added her and all will be well when I return home (I LOVE YOU MOM!)

For those of you who are over 25 I do not reccommend hostel traveling... I feel ancient here. But I don't plan on spending too much time here so no biggie... it was really cheap. And the Aveda products are quite nice (no Taddy, I still won't share) in the girls' dorm (appropriately entitled "The Sanctuary")

I've added the bride and the groom to the email so I have to say nice things but I'll give ya'll the real dirt when I get home. I'm teasing of course, the wedding was wonderful!
We met up with the bridal party at the nail salon on Friday and I'm happy to say that they do nails here the same way as home - I have bright red toes now:) Which is a good thing because I'm planning on wearing my flipflops as much as possible since it's SO HOT here.
After the nail party we headed to Tatum Park which is a scout camp where the wedding was being hosted... beautiful farm like setting with an old farm house and everything. I thought it was great. The wedding was held under a canopy of trees at 3:30 on Saturday and there was the perfect amount of sun and shade. It was warm but not HOT. Afterwards, hor d'eavors (SP?) were held on the lawn and then we moved inside for a dinner and reception.
(Side note: I spent a very typcial NZ day on Saturday... at least as far as my meals were concerned. I woke up, ate an egg and bacon pie, had fish & chips for lunch as a picnic and then dinner of a roast lamb. )
The food at the reception was wonderful! I'm glad I tried the lamb because it was delicious. We drank local wine - I tried the red and the white but enjoyed the refreshing white more. Plus I feared a red wine headache in the morning.
The reception became quite lively with a huka (traditional New Zealand Maori War Dance - you have to see it to believe it) and a round of alouetta - if a Kiwi ever offers to do that at any of your wedding receptions and you are uncertain.. just say no. Or depending on how much you've had to drink, say yes and brace yourself!
It was a lot of fun and I had a blast. And I've got some great pictures to show the bride and groom.
Friday was the rehersal and dinner - they threw some meat on the barbie... Dad, you'll have to teach these guys how to grill for real whenever they make their way to GA.

Today we had a brunch of poached eggs and baked tomatoes, toast with vegemite and wedding cake! Yummie!
Then, I hitched a ride with the bride and groom (they insisted!) and came on to Wellington. We drove down the West Coast into Wellington and after viewing the turquoise waters of the Tasman Sea, I was able to spot the South Island across the straight. That's was cool. We thought about pictures but I am beginning to accept my limitations as a photographer.
After I checked into my hostel and explored my room, Abbey and Kevin treated me to lunch at a local outdoor cafe... all the resturants here have outdoor seating (probably b/c the sun shines until about 10PM and I mean SHINES!) We ate a traditional Americans visiting NZ meal: PIZZA!
But I tried another NZ Beer at lunch, Mac Gold which I quite enjoyed (and for the note about Tui, I was informed by some of my more uppity NZ friends that it was "shit" beer - so much for that - they compared it to Coors Light, etc. - I've drank Coors Light... Tui is much better but is obviously not well thought of.) Mac Gold is a quiet secret that Kiwi's prefer to keep to themselves and much better.
After lunch, the bride and groom headed home to clean... sounds like a fun honeymoon, huh?

I took a deep breath and set out on my own... I navigated through Wellington to find the historic cable car which I rode to the top of the city for a spectacular view of the habor and the city. Then I took the "downhill" walk back to the city through the Wellington Botanical Gardens. This is the perfect time of year for that excursion because everything is in full bloom. Agian, I wish I was a better photographer but I'm doing the best I can... hopefully it will capture the feeling. I ended up in the city's original cemetary and enjoyed seeing the stones. Then I stumbled out onto a street and what did I see? Oh, just the TEXAS flag flying proudly in front of home in a posh residential area... them Texans, they just don't ever give up. I took a picture, it was just too much.
It was about 6PM when I finished my walk (although you would never know it according to the sun) and I decided since I had no clue where I was, I might want to find my hostel. So, having the great sense of direction I have, I started walking in the WRONG direction.... fortunately there are signs everywhere and I quickly turned myself around. I did take a picture of their honeycomb buidling for you Lauren, it's right beside the Parliament and is one of the gov't buidlings - they were both closed since it's Sunday.
I walked back towards the main part of the city, decided I might want to get something to eat so I went into a Sushi resturant... I must say, it was a good choice. The sushi was being freshly prepared at the end of the bar and placed on plates which were then placed on a kind of belt which went around the counter so the food was literally being put in front of your face. And it moved fast too! If you didn't grab it quick, you had to wait for it to come back around to get it and by that point, something else had caught your eye. I had a great dinner of shrimp, salmon and tempura oysters. They don't lack for great seafood here, that's for certain.

After dinner, I came back to the hostel to do laundry and met the girls that are staying in the same room as I am. One is an architecture student from Auckland here for school - she's taking a 6 week course, I'll have to ask her again but I think she said it had to do with carvings... maybe not architecture related. The other is a English girl who just graduated from Uni... I love that expression - she's been down here for about 5 months... just bumming around. I invited her to go out with me the Red Rocks Beach but I'm planning on getting up around 7AM (which is when the buses start running) and when I said that, she kind of squirmed and said she normally didn't get about of bed until about 9. I know you all are thinking that there is no way I've been getting up... but the time change (Georgia is about 6 hours ahead) plus the light difference has been waking me up early so I'm generally going about 7am. Which is great when you have 2 weeks to do as much as you can in a country that can take months. So I'll see if she comes along... it's a little bit of a trek. I decided against the whale watching excursion (thanks Leah) as I started to get really nervous about having to depend on perfect strangers if I did get sick. Plus I was told I can see the same thing if I go on this walk. So I want to get on up and out before it gets too hot and then spend the afternoon in the Te Papa museum which is supposed to be amazing!

I just finished seeing Finding Neverland at the Empress Theatre... one of the great old theatres here in Wellington... gorgeous marble and old style seating. The atmosphere was great and I highly reccommend the movie as well. Enjoyed it completely!

Kevin & Abbey - thanks for all the suggestions, I am really enjoying my stay.

Ok, this is long and I've run out of time.
I love you all and will write more later!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quote of the Day

More and more I have come to admire resilience. Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side, it turns to another. A blind intelligence, true. But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondia, figs - all this resinous, unretractalbe earth.

- Jane Hirchfield, "Optimism"

New Zealand

In January 2005, I went to New Zealand for vacation/destination wedding. It was the first time I had traveled outside of the country by myself and I found it to be such an amazing experience. I promised myself that I would plan a trip like that every year from then on out. I haven't followed through on my promise to myself but I did move to a new city and live there for a while (that counts, right!?!?).

So I'm telling you all of this because I found my copies of the emails and I want to share those memories with you - plus I want to make sure I don't lose them. I have pictures to go along with them and I'll have to work on getting them posted - they're digital but I have NO idea where the cd is so we'll see. But here is the first email:

January 27, 2005
I'm here and I'm alive and this place is AMAZING!!!

I feel very much like I have stepped back in time to the California life of the 50s. The country is green and sunny - it's summer time here! Nice and warm... 26C (you all do the conversion)I arrived in Auckland which has a very similar feel to San Francisco - strong Asian influence and winding roads, right on a bay with beautiful bridges.I'm with my friends Alison and Alex from Camp and we've stopped to see some other camp people who are from New Zealand.

The Kiwis are a friendly and hospitable people. Everyone says hello and our friends are excited to share their country and culture with us.We ate dinner at the top of the Sky Tower in the observatory resturant. 192 meters tall (again, you do the math) but think Hancock in Chicago. Very cool and great views of the city. We got there at 8:30PM and it was still light as day... the sun doesn't fully go down until about 10PM - another thing that seems to throw me off. And it rises later too. But the sunsets are amazing.

Yesterday we drove from Auckland to Paraparamumu which is a small beach town (think Seaside, Florida) but without the commercialism. There are no billboards here but they have lots of signs for veges. ("veggies") We're on the West side of the country, south part of the North Island which is on the Tasman Sea. The Pacific Coast is on the east... another weird change to get your mind around.

The strangest thing is the driving... we constantly feel like we're on the wrong side of the road. It's made for some funny moments. And walking to wrong side of the car to get in.

Halfway down the country was a lake called Lake Taupo (gotta love the names here) which is HUGE. I took pictures but I don't think my camera could capture the magnificence of it. And right beside it was a huge mountain with snow on it... tall enough that the tips and peaks were surrounded by clouds... made it look like the snow was coming from the clouds. Very dramatic country side and breathtaking views the whole way. It was mainly farmland with lots of cows and sheep ( yes, Leah I took pictures of the sheep for you) but then we'd come around a curve and have dramatic scenery. Great drive.

I've only been drinking New Zealand Wine and Beer. I haven't found any wines beside the Villa Maria Savignon Blanc that I already liked. But there's a great IPA beer called Tui that I like! Highly reccomended.

Today we've walked on the beach and eaten at a great little seaside cafe. We're about to go meet the bride and get involved in all the wedding festivities... should be interesting. We're staying in a National Park called Tatum Park.

We'll run into some other camp people here and then everyone seems to be going their own way. Alex and Alison are going to Australia and I'm going on to Wellington for a couple of days before heading up the Pacific Coast to the wine country.

I'll write more later. Internet cafes will be along the way!
Love you all!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


will get you everywhere with me...

Yesterday was Sunday and I was basically been hanging out around the house. I made some brownies, done some laundry, answered emails, etc. Nothing really.

I am about to move so I started going through my room to start packing the small things - things I can have packed for a couple of weeks and not miss. Pictures are a part of this category for me. I love having pictures of my family, friends and animals around me - reminding me of good times and special events. I've gotten in the habit of taking special pictures and getting them enlarged to an 8x10 prints. As I was going through a stack of pictures, I found 2 old pictures of my sisters and I on different family trips. I had wanted to blow them up and I needed to get it done before my mom noticed the pictures missing. Plus I had a picture of my nephew from his baptism last week that I wanted to print as well.

So I head to Wally World - not my favorite place - to get my prints made. (In a few months, our store will have the machines which produce prints and I am so excited!) I stand and wait forever... (WARNING: rant to follow: People, come on! If there are three people waiting for the machines, and you have over 350 pictures from your trip to Italy, offer to wait!!! You're going to be there forever anyway and I am not a patient lady.) So, once it was my turn, I made prints from our pictures and then pulled out my camera for my memory card to print the picture of William. I do my thing and then go to the counter to pay.

I hand over my prints for the Wallygirl to ring up and put in a folder. She stops at the picture I took of William - she studies it for a few moments. Here's the picture in question.

It's a good picture (if I may say so myself), and I had zoomed in on William, enlarged it, and changed it to print in sepia. It had turned out really well. The people waiting to use the machine after me had also seen it and ooed and awed over it. I was super excited.

So I'm waiting on the Wallygirl to finish packaging up my pictures and after studying my picture of William, she looks up at me and says, "Is this a professional shot?"

I shake my head and say "no". She looks back at me meeting my eye and says, "You took this?"

"Yeah, it's my nephew" I answer her, thinking she's just going gaga over a cute baby picture.

"You sure? 'Cause it looks like a professional pic," Now I'm beginning to hear the edge in her voice and I look back at her.

"Yes." I say firmly, opening my purse. "I have one on my camera if you need to verify it."

"Oh, no. I just have to ask." She turns away, packages my prints and rings me up. I pay and leave the store, smarting from her implication that I was 'stealing' my picture.

I get home, frame the pictures and place them around my room. I was still a little prickly in mind to what the Wallygirl had said until I really look at the picture - it looks great and could be mistaken for a professional picture. So, I'm going to take it as a compliment. It's the first time any of my pictures have been mistaken for "professional" shots. Which makes me one step closer to the job of my dreams.

So, if any of you need a photographer - I am available!

Freedom Fund

Most people refer to this as a "F&#! You" Fund and I agree that having a certain amount of money in the bank gives you the arrogant confidence that is needed to give the working world the finger.

I am steadily rebuilding my Freedom Fund after using it to do just that. I was in a position which wasn't giving me anyting: confidence, money or career progression. I was angry and unhappy. I was wound up tight and I was on the verge of breaking. Little things pissed me off and I reacted violently to everything.

It was awful.

People who had known me for a long time were shocked and people who were just meeting me didn't want to be anywhere near me. I didn't like myself either.

So I quit. Gave a month's notice, signed a lease in another city and took off. It was scary. It was GREAT!!! And I had $$$ to take some time and redirect my life.

It took me about three months to calm down, to not go from normal to SEEING RED in 60 seconds. But I finally did. And I made some other healthy choices in my life. I started running and working out religiously. I started to write again and I decided to explore my options as far as where my career could go. I took almost a year and spent time doing things I wanted to - I didn't appreciate the time as much as I should have. But I am a happier person because I did.

Now, I'm back to work. And I'm rebuilding my Freedom Fund. Current Balance? $50.05.

Will that get me very far? Not so much but since I'm not certain where I want to go, that's okay right now. I'll keep working, thinking about my options, and putting money away AND (this is the important part) when I do have a plan, I'll have the means.

Personally, I use ING and their fabulous savings system. I like the ease of their system and there counter at the bottom of the screen - I haven't earned all that interest myself (wouldn't that be nice?) but it motivates me to continue to transfer money over.

My Freedom Fund is seperate from my other savings - I also have a long term savings account, a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA - all with ING. That way I can see my savings progress with just one log in. I have a savings account that's with my brick&mortar bank connected to my checking account.

A Freedom Fund is a great way to save money for whatever. I've heard them referred to as an Opportunity Fund - I thought about renaming mine. But stuck with Freedom Fund. Something about the word FREEDOM motivates me. Reminds me that I'm only restrained by the restrictions and limitations I give myself. An opportunity fund was described to me as a way to save money for the next great opportunity that comes along. For that moment when you say to yourself, "if I only had the money, I'd ..." With an opportunity fund, you have it.

Quote of the Day

Our deepest fear is not that we're inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond all measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brillant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
- Marianne Williamson

Friday, August 15, 2008

Quote of the Day

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
~Dr. Seuss

Thursday, August 14, 2008


The Olympics have exhausted me... I'm not saying anything new with this statement. All anyone hears around the watercooler these weeks is how tired they are, how late they stayed up, and can you believe how fast Michael Phelps can swim.* But seriously, basketball at 2AM? Can we just not have to watch it LIVE? I wouldn't know, I could just come home at night, sit down and start watching... not having to wait until 10PM for everything to start and 2 AM for everything to end. As long as we were all in agreement not to report results... then we wouldn't have to watch it LIVE!

All hands up for those in favor of the next Olympics being in our time zone.

(Other than sleep deprivation, an inability to type and a desire to start training for the 2010 games, I'M LOVING IT!!!)

The Olympics are my thing. Ever since the 1996 games in Atlanta when I was 16 - I attended anything and everything I could. Such impressive displays of heart and athleticism. It gets me everytime. (Yes, Normally, I am a softie but Olympic athletes definitely touch a special place.)

The one thing that sticks out in my mind from 1996 is the Equestrian Event Finals: I never will forget finding out I had gold medal round tickets for Show Jumping - one of my dad's customers had the tickets and didn't want them (WHAT!?!?!) so she asked around and was told that I liked horses and called my dad with the tickets. GAVE THEM TO ME!!! I had never met this woman, and she GAVE me the tickets, didn't want money, didn't want anything in exchange. She was feeling generous, liked my dad and wanted me to have the experience. I was a horsegirl, I spent hours at the barn, I smelled like a horse constantly, I had a farmer's tan and I wanted to live at the horse park for those two weeks. I'll never forget the generosity she showed me and I hope I have the opportunity someday to pass it along to some one else.

*This is for the commentators who don't think Michael Phelps is as amazing as his 9 (and counting!) gold medals make him out to be: I'd like to see you get in the pool and go head to head with him. I'd even let him give you a 50 head start (that's one full length of the pool). Becuase he'd still kick your ass today and twice on Sunday. Swimmers are true athletes and it IS talent, hardwork, and a lot of dedication making him what he is. Kiss it, you ball obsessed morons!

Quote of the Day

Don't Let Yesterday Use Up Too Much of Today
- Will Rogers


(but funny!)

Being a HUGE SATC fan, I shouldn't support this but I laughed so hard! I love Bea Arthur.

Check it out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work."
- Robert Orben

Monday, August 11, 2008


I have had a perpetual sinus infection ALL summer long... it gets a little better and then it gets a little worse. I'm constantly sniffing and blowing my nose - real attractive, let me tell you...

I really think my living quarters have something to do with it. I live in the basement, given it's a nice basement, but it still has some basement like qualities.

Like water dripping from the sink above on random occasions - one time, it dripped on a red sweater and whatever was in the water ruined my sweater. Something to be concerned about? I think so.

It has a dropped ceiling with some tiles missing - not enough to concern me. In fact, I totally bypass being concerned about the missing tiles and focus on the brown stuffing like material which floats down from the ceiling on a routine basis.

It's creepy crawly situation - my parents are clean yet messy people. The bug man sprays on a rountine basis (I should know, I usually am the one who has to let him in). Norma (LOVE NORMA!) comes on a weekly basis to keep us shiny and happy people. Yet the creepy crawlies of the earth still manage to appear in my living area. Granted, it's usually their corpses I see most often (obviously, the bug juice works).

Lack of sunlight - I call my bedroom the batcave because it has no windows or doors. Great for afternoon naps, it's cold and dark. But not so great in terms of fresh air.

You win some, you lose some.

Again, it is a nice (and FREE) basement but I am counting down the days (15!!!) until I MOVE back into the sunlight and into my own space...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Quote of the Day

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."
- Mae West (1892-1980)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Growing Up

I know I'm one of those people who will never fully grow up. I will always be crashing on a friend's couch. Making the immature choice. Continuously refusing to permanently committed to anything. I'm beginning to accept this part of my personalty and apprecitating for what it is. Kind of hard to ignore a large part of your personality. I recognize my limitations and realize that I may have to pay for the time it takes me to make a decision about 'permanent' choices. I analyze and agonize over these decisions when I should just go with my gut. Nothing is truly permanent and all can be changed.

I've always known I have wanderlust... that's been evident for a long time. I hate the feeling of being trapped and lost options, hence my lack of success with relationships. I never wanted to be in the same place twice and I've learned the hard way that you can't replicate the experience you've had before.

So it doesn't surprise me that I've made the choice that I have. Instead of staying in my parent's basement for free (slacker) or buying my own place (mature), I'm renting a house.

Do I realize it's a waste of money? Yes.
Do I think it's the smartest financial decision I ever made? No.
Do I think it's the right thing to buy myself some time while I work and allow myself some personal space and freedom. YES!!!

It's time to establish myself as an adult in this town and living on my own will help with that. Plus I need to determine if I like living here as an adult. By crashing in my parent's basement, I don't take myself seriously and I know there are some other people who don't either. Plus I need my own space - it's a territory issue. It's the same reason why I'm over the roommate thing as well.

Plus, I LOVE the house. It's a cute 1910 bungalow on one of the oldest streets in town and I love the neighborhood. I can walk downtown and Sandy has a yard to play in. Fireplaces in every room, a huge front porch, a sleeping porch on the side, ceiling fans, a butler's panty, a clawfoot bathtub and the list goes on. I'm so excited and I can't wait for September 1st. I hate to move but I think this will be great...

I'll put up pictures of my new place when I can... the prior renters are currently in residence so I'm going to try not to bug them but I've driven by the past two days to check it out again. Just to make sure it's still there and to remind myself that it's mine. Well, at least for the next 12 months.

I love it...

Do you smell it? It's called FREEDOM...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Babies, Baptisms, and Birthdays

We got back last night after a whirl-wind trip to southern Mississippi to see my sister and nephew baptised. It was a small, intimate ceremony with just our family, my grandparents and Will's mom in the chapel at their new church. But it was a fun excuse to see Leah, Will and William. Plus they had moved into their new house last Friday so we were able to check that out as well. Here are some pictures of the family and festivities.

These last two are him somewhat walking... he can do it, he's just at that stage where he's figured out that he's faster on his knees, crawling. So he always has this moment of hesitation, where he's deciding which to do... it's kind of funny, especially when he drops down and takes off. The look of satisfaction on his face is priceless.

It was also Joel's birthday... He turned 26 so we had cake (yes!) and sang "Happy Birthday" to him. He and Lauren have known each other for 6 years so he's an unofficial member of our family.

And yes, I do have the cutest nephew ever... Don't believe me? Check out this last picture - Lauren and Joel are tag teaming him, trying to button his britches... He's laughing and wiggling, it was funny to watch. So I grabbed my camera to get a picture of them and he sees me and starts hamming it up. Laughing and posing for the camera. He's a mess.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quote of the Day

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. ~Judy Garland

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Quote of the Day

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin--real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
-- Alfred D. Souza

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Confession Time

I have a secret... that's not really a secret. I'd tell anyone. In fact, I've kind of hinted at this before. I'm not ashamed and I will NOT apologize.

Because I LOVE Rod Stewart!!!

Love, love, love him, his music, his style and all the cheese.
I'm listening to "Tonight's the Night" as I write this post and I know EVERY SINGLE WORD.

Yes, I have awesomely bad taste in music. I like pop and catchy tunes with little substance. I'd rather be-bop along to something light and fun than listen to something deep and depressing. Music is meant to bring feeling and inspire us - most the time I need to lighten up and get a happier spring in my step. So I love cheesy music. Not cheesy love songs.

But Rod takes the cake... any man that will pose in a pink suit is someone I can love. And I do. There isn't a song of his that I don't know. All of them are in my playlist, I have no shame about singing along - LOUDLY.

We all have our secret things that we do alone, when we know no one is watching, when we know we can be ourselves with no shame. I dance and sing to Rod Stewart. And I do it with pride.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Stuff I Read

I spend a lot of time on the computer. I work a lot and I have to give myself mini-breaks to stay sane. So here are links to sites I enjoy. Tell 'em I sent you!

Dooce - the mother of all blogs, the original blogger fired from her job who has turned her personal thoughts into an income producing website, a book deal, national TV appearances and speaking opportunities. She's a very talented writer and photographer.

This Fish... - another one of the first bloggers to be paid for their ramblings. I can easily relate to her singleness and wonderings about life. Generally, her posts have me laughing out loud.

Jen Lancaster - Her sarcasm and running commentary about life in CHICAGO! will have you in stitches. She's the little devil sitting on your shoulder, saying everything you want to say. Her books are great too.

BankerGirl - A financial blogger, she's telling the story of her debt reduction, planning a debt free wedding and other observations of blending a household. I enjoy her insightful observations about managing it all as a young adult.

Sweet Juniper - an "anonymous" husband/wife blogger team living in Detriot who named their blog after their first child. Great Photography and a great outlook on life.

Single Ma - a single mom of a teenager, living in DC and telling a great story. It is a personal finance blog with an inspiring story. My life couldn't be more different from hers but I feel I've learned the most from her. She's kicking ass, taking names and giving no apologies for it. I love it.

Pages Stuck Together - one of my sorority sisters from Vanderbilt, married and living in NYC. She's just completed Law School and just blogs about life. She usually puts up a recipe of the week as well which I love. She's a funny lady and a talented writer as well. I get the feeling that her blog is very theraputic for her.

The Pink Chick - another person I actually know. I worked with her at a summer job eons ago. She's a funny lady with the most positive outlook on life. Her posts usually make me smile and feel all warm & fuzzy inside.

1902 Victorian - the most recent addition to my favorites menu. I'm interested in restoring an old home. They're going through the process and sharing their story as they go along. I find her to be refreshing. Plus the house looks so cool.

So that's it, folks. The websites I frequently visit. There's other ones I might click or look up if I'm bored but these are the favorites. Any other ones I should check out?