Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Have Two Choices...

I’m nearing thirty. I’m single and without children.
On both sides of my family, this is entirely unheard of. At the age of thirty, EVERY woman in my families are either married (or has been at one point), or had a child, or been in some sort of significant long term relationship.
I’ve realized that because of this difference, I can become known as one of two things:

A - The spinster daughter/grand-daughter/niece/sister/cousin


B - The ecclectic daughter/grand-daughter/niece/sister/cousin who travels independently.

I’d rather be the latter.
This trip to Ireland was amazing, it was truly the realization of a life long dream.
The only drawback is that it has made me realize exactly how much I want to travel the world. How I want to experience the various cultures and lifestyles.
I’ve always said that I want to travel, now that I’ve had a taste of it I want it exponentially more. A list of places I want to go is beginning to grow:
Czech Republic

Those are just the places I can think of off the top of my head, and it doesn’t even begin to include the places I want to see here in North America. I have a strong desire to visit both Chicago and Seattle. I’ve never been to either.

So, in order to achive the reputation of being the ecclectic relative who takes off to various parts of the world I’m going to have to visit at least one of these international locations each year. I’d also like to take off for 3 day weekends to domestic locations as well.
Now, I just have to figure out how to finance all of these trips.
Or, see if Rick Steves is looking for an apprentice of sorts.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I'm Home

I made it home Saturday evening and have spent the remainder of the weekend in San Francisco with Erin & Jeremy.
I'll be taking the train home to Sacramento a little later this morning.

The trip was wonderful. Dublin was great, the whole country was amazing.

I'll be posting photos sometime this week.

This trip has really bitten me with the travel bug. I'm thinking next years destination will most likely be Florence Italy. Anyone want to join me for some Italian classes at the Learning Exchange this fall?
Although, Paris is second on my list of places to go.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I made it in to Dublin last night.
So far Ive had a great time on my trip.
Today, I think I'll head over to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and I'm not sure what else.
Also, I'm on the hunt for a Starbucks. So far the coffee here has been rather crappy. I'm hoping I'll be able to get a good cup at a Starbucks.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Im here and its beautiful.
In about an hour and a half Ill take a train out to Limerick where Ill be until Tuesday evening

Friday, May 19, 2006

All My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready To Go

My journey has just begun.

This is a VERY long entry, I apologize for the rambling and the typos but I’m on Amtrak on my way to San Francisco.

I can’t even describe what I’m feeling right now.

This morning it hit me:


Is this real?
Despite this realization, it does not seem real.
I can not believe that I’m actually going.

All this realization did was send me into a panic that lasted from about 9:30 this morning until about 7:00 this evening.
All day I felt like I was about to throw myself into an anxiety attack. The only way I could describe it was that it felt as though my heart was in my throat and my stomach was in my foot.
I partly blame this on my highly honed skills of procrastination. I’d put off cleaning out the suitcase until late last night. It involved the vacuum, and when that didnt work completely, I had to resort to the high pressure hose and leaving the suitcase out all day to dry. This left me with having to pack when I got home from work this evening. I also had to find a power converter. I’d thought that I’d taken care of that the other night,, but upon reading the fine print on the packaging last night, I realized that I’d gotten a plug converter and not a power converter. had I used this little device, I would have been able to plug in my ipod charger, or the battery charger for my camera, but the 220 volts coursing through the european outlets would have fried out my electronics that are only able to handle 110 volts. Why do plug adaptors even exist? Why even label them plug adaptors? Why not label them “Device to Enable You To Destroy Your Expensive Electronics & Potentially Short Circuit The Entire Hotel”? With my luck, thats what would have happened. I would have short circuited the entire hotel, and theres no way I would own up to it. I’d be standing in the candle lit lobby along with everyone else saying “What jack-hole did this?!?!? God! Some people!” Oh yes, I would deny deny deny that responsibility.

Anyways, my day was filled with high levels of panic and anxiety, calculating “okay, so I leave work at 5, get home at about 6, then mom is picking me up by 7:30 to get downtown to catch the 8:40 train to Richmond where I’ll transfer to BART and take that in to the city where Erin & Jeremy will meet me at the Civic Center at 11. So, this leaves me only an hour and a half to find a power converter, get cigarettes, and pack. Crap, and I have to call THAT client before I leave, and change the outgoing message on my voicemail so that my clients know I won’t be returning their calls.” All day, my coworkers were telling me to stop and breathe.

Ultimately when I got home I threw way too much stuff in my bag, I have most definitely overpacked. When I get to SF, I’ll ask Erin to go through my bag with me to pare things down . With my aunt having been a high school french teacher who took the summer tours to Europe every summer and Erin going with the group, she is a very experienced European traveler and will be able to help me pare down my suitcase to just the essentials and leave room to bring back all the stuff I’m certain to pick up along the way.

And in the middle of all of that panic and anxiety today, I had an interview at work today. My manager has asked me to apply for another position, and one of my coworkers who happens to be the “lead” for that group asked me to apply as well. i was interviewed by my manager, my coworker who is the “lead”, and another seniored rep. Coming out of the interview I thought “Dear God, I choked on that. I hope I didnt come across as flustered as I felt. A little later, the “lead” sends me an IM saying:


Great, so I was as much of a spaz as I thought. Perfect.
My manager and the lead know my qualifications and have both said that they think I’m the only candidate qualified for the position. While they’ve never said it directly, but have insinuated it, I think the interview was just a formality. I just hope that my lack of composure doesn’t make them rethink that.

Anyways, more importantly, I’M LEAVING FOR IRELAND IN THE MORNING!!!
I will try to find at least one internet cafe during my journey, but honest, I’m not going to spend a lot of time posting entries. However, I will be keeping a journal during my vacation and will most definitely share excerpts, if not all of it, when I return. And pictures. There will be LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of pictures.

I’m excited, anxious, nervous, scared, and in disbelief all at the same time. I doubt if I’ll be able to get any sleep tonight.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


So, I went shopping tonight and got the airborne, earplugs, eyemask, antibacterial wipes, bandaids, power adaptor, basically everything on my "To Get" list. So that is all taken care of. How can you spend so much $$$ on such small stuff?

On my "To Do" list, I've transferred money to my checking account and alerted my bank so they have a "travel alert" on my account and won't freeze it up while I'm in Ireland.
I still have to do...
pick up allergy prescription
clean out suitcase

and, I still have to pack. This will most likely be done very late Wednesday evening since on Thursday I'll be leaving work to come straight home, grab my bags and go directly to the Amtrak station to spend the night in San Francisco with my dear cousin Erin (on a completely different sidenote, I always feel like I'm selling our relationship short when I refer to her as my cousin, we're really closer than that - much more like sisters. I'm closer with her than I am with my own siblings after all) and her husband, Jeremy, before leaving out of SFO Friday morning. My flight leaves SFO at 1230 and according to Aer Lingus' site, they say I should arrive at the airport 3-1/2 hours early. REALLY? THAT early? I need to be there by 9 am? Ugh. I really don't like sitting around waiting in airports. Is that too early to start drinking? You have to pass the time somehow, right?

I've gotten some book recommendations:
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Rachels Holiday by Marian Keyes
Without Reservation by Alice Steinbach

All of them sound great, now the hard part is deciding which one to take with me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Only 4 days.....

Only 4 days until I leave for Ireland,
In preparation for this trip, I have A LOT to get done.
Check out my lists below and let me know if I'm forgetting anything, please?

pick up allergy prescription
tell my bank I'll be there so that they don't think any transactions are fraudulent and freeze up my account
transfer $$ to my checking account

power adaptor tingy
travel alarm clock
new socks
pocket calculator (for figuring out the crappy exchange rate)
bandaids (I'm prone to blisters)

TO PACK (other than the basic clothing)
iPod charger
cameras (& the needed flash cards)
a book or two (any light reading suggestions?)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I'd give Martha Stewart a heart attack....

So, ummmmm....
I've never claimed to be the tidiest person.
Even at my best, I am definitely what you would call "unorganized".
Lets just say that my family, ever so lovingly, refers to me as "Messy Nessie" and theres a reason I've never posted any photos of the interior of my home.

However, this takes the cake.
Two years ago I took my younger cousin Holly to a national karate tournament in New Orleans. She won 1st place in sparring (and got a HUGE trophy) and 3rd place in forms (with a second, smaller trophy).
While there, I also may have purchased two or ten packets of Pat O'Briens Hurricane Mix (just add rum!).
When packing for the return trip home, what to do with Hollys gigantic trophy posed a bit of a dilema. I figured that the best thing to do was to take it apart and put it in my largest suitcase - the top tier came off easily and allowed it to fit in the suitcase. In that same suitcase I also put some clothing to protect the tophies, a few miscellaneous souvenirs, some boxes of beignet mix from Cafe du Monde, and the many packets of hurricane mix.
After checking in for our flight home, my largest suitcase was randomly selected for security screening. My bags are ALWAYS randomly selected for security screenings. I'm not kidding. Every time I have flown in the past 5 years, I arrive at my destination to find that little note from the NTSA in my bag letting me know that theyve opened it up and gone through it.
We get home and open up that large suitcase so that we could show off Hollys trophy and when thhe NTSA repacked it, they had not placed the clothing around the sharp edges of the trophy as I originally had. As a result, the sharp corners of the trophy had punctured a couple of the packets of hurricane mix. My suitcase was filled with sticky sugary powdery gunk.
I took the clothing out, and washed it. Washed the trophy and other souvenirs, but its possible that I didn't clean out the suitcase. Its very likely that I may have said "Ugh, I don't want to clean that sticky mess now. I'll clean that out later when I've rested from my trip" and then zipped it up and put it into the back of a closet and forgotten about it. Until now.
Normally, when I travel up to Oregon to visit Granny I use my medium sized suitcase. This gives me more than enough room for my clothing & what not for the 4-5 days that I'm there and plenty of room for anything that I may pick up while I'm there.
In preparing for my trip to Ireland (in only FIVE days!!!!!) I got to thinking of how to pack lightly so that I'm not taking a TON of clothing and shoes, and have plenty of room for all of the things I'll be bringing back. Then I thought "Don't I have a larger suitcase?" then I remembered the Pat O'Briens Hurricane Mix.
So, tomorrow I'll be opening up the suitcase to clean it out. Hopefully, it comes out easily. I really don't want to have to go buy a new suitcase right now.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sucking me dry....

gas prices are killing me.
The low end of the average cost for regular unleaded here in Sacramento is about $3.15 per gallon.
A little over three years ago I made a horrible decision when I got a new car and I went with an SUV.
My behemoth of a car gets about 14-15 mpg in the city and 17-18 mpg on the highway, and the great majority of my driving is city driving with a lot of stop and go.
Average cost to fill my gas tank? $65.
How long does that tank of gas last? Only 5 to 6 days, and thats just for my daily commute to work and back and possibly a run or two to the grocery store or Target in the evening. If I do any running around on the weekends that can easily cost me a half a tank in gas.
Once I get back from Ireland I'm going to start saving for a new method of transportation, I'm just not certain of what I want.
My initial reaction is to go with a Toyota Prius or a Honda Civic Hybrid. What makes me think twice about that is the sticker price. I've never purchased a new car before. My first car was a 1972 VW Beetle which only cost $1,000. My second car was a used Oldsmobile something or another that was less than $4,000. Next was a Geo Prizm. Again, only $4,000. Most recently was my Ford Explorer which was $8,000.
Obviously, I am very frugal when it comes to purchasing vehicles. The thought of spending $25,000 on a car sends pains shooting down my left arm.
My next thought is a Vespa Scooter. There happens to be a Vespa dealership down the street from my house. Its possible that I may have stopped by this past weekend to look at their models. The LX 150 is a beauty, only $4,500 and gets close to 70 mpg!
The drawback to the Vespa? Sacramento driving. Scorchingly hot in the summer, think 110 degrees, cold and rainy in the winter. Plus people drive like maniacs on a lot of the major surface streets, and I would have to take a lot of those surface streets on my daily commute. I ran this idea past my chiropractor that I've been seeing since my accident in February and he pointed out that in the past 4-1/2 years there have been three times in which I've been at a complete stop at a red light, just sitting there (not a sudden stop, not having cut anyone off) and have been rearended and how badly I would have been injured in any of those accidents had I been on a scooter.
So, ix-nay on the ooter-scay. However, that doesnt mean that if I were to come into a sudden surplus of cash ((such as the lottery... or an inheritance from a distant unknown relative that died in a horrific car accident while on safari in Nigeria) that doesnt mean I wouldn't get one to have as a weekend toy. Scooting downtown to knit at the pub on Sunday afternoons, or something like that.
So, I'm looking at cars again. I want something fuel economic, but not too expensive.
For new cars I've looked at the Toyota Yaris, but I'd be hesitant to buy the first year of a new model just in case all the kinks haven't been worked out. The price tag is a lot more appealing than that of the Prius or of the Honda Civicv Hybrid though, but the gas mileage isn't as good as either of the hybrids.
I don't live close enough to work to ride my bike, and again with the crazy drivers, and public transportation sucks in the part of town I live in.
Any suggestions on a more fuel economic vehicle that has been on the market long enough to be known to be reliable and fairly reasonable in price?
I'd like to get a new car within a year or so. For this, I know that I'll need a large down payment in order ro keep the monthly payments low. To save up that down payment I'll need to pay off my debts first so as soon as I return from Ireland I am going on a debt-diet. I am determined to have my debts paid off by the end of the year. Before I started saving up for the trip to Ireland I had intended to be debt free by my 30th birthday at the end of August, but I reprioritized for the trip.

Only 9 days until I leave for Ireland.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lesson Learned? Always Check Your Pockets...

Last night I put a load of clothes in the washer before going to bed.
I have always been bad at checking my pockets before dumping everything in the washer. Often times I will take a load of wet clothing out of the wash to put it in the dryer, and in the process I will find lighters, cash, scraps of paper, a couple of times I even found my drivers license or ATM card.
However, this mornings find was a whole new jackpot. One I'd never imagined I would find in the washing machine.
My cell phone.
At first, I couldnt even get the thing to turn on, but after plugging it in to the charger, it would turn on (with visible watermarks all over the screen), but would not respond to any of the buttons. I couldnt dial, couldnt check my voicemail, couldnt even turn it back off. Off I went to the Sprint store. Chris, the representive who helped me, wasn't able to fix my phone but hooked me up with this model:

I got the pretty pink one. It's rather Hello-Kitty-ish, don't you think?
Chris was able to pull the majority of the phone numbers out of my old phone, but it's so "jacked up" (thats the technical term), that some were lost and they weren't able to be transfered over to my new phone.
Lesson learned? Always check my pockets before doing laundry!
I gotta go.... I have about 100 numbers to program into my new phone.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thank Heavens!

I found my passport.
One of those things where I "put it someplace safe" then I couldn't find it...
I had checked my safe (that would be the "safe" place, wouldn't it?), jewelery box, desk drawers, various organizers and storage bins, etc...
and come to find out I must have only INTENDED to put it someplace safe.
Where did I find it?
Midway through a bin of clothes intended to go to the goodwill. WTF was it doing in there?
I was really starting to sweat since I leave for Ireland in only 16 days and how would I be able to go if I couldnt find my passport? Call in sick to work tomorrow and drive down to the passport center in San Francisco to see about getting a rush replacement? That actually didn't sound like to bad of an idea to be honest considering half my coworkers are out of the office this week so its been CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY.
But, crisis averted. The passport has been found. I can now prove my country of origin... and go to work tomorrow. yay.

In addition to being excited about how close my trip is, I'm also starting to get a little... scared.
Not "maybe I shouldn't be doing this" scared, but "oh my god I'm going to be in a completely different country, on a completely different continent" scared. There is NOTHING that could stop me from going. I've been dreaming of this trip for years and I think that may factor in to my nervousness. Something I've been dreaming of for so long is finally coming into fruition and its a bit surreal... almost like I don't believe its actually going to happen. I just can't believe that I'm actually going to be seeing the world!
One thing that I'm not looking forward to... the 10-1/2 hour flight. I don't mind flying, what I do mind is landing. I hate it. I can trace back the origin of this slight anxiety to the first flight I ever took by myself. I was 16 and was going to visit my father in Boston for the summer, and flying into Boston the plane approached the runway from the harbor side. Well, this one runway starts at the shore of the harbor. Correction... theres the harbor, an area of big jagged scary looking rocks, then the runway. When the plane was coming in for the landing, I was sitting in a window seat and was absolutely positive that we were going to crash into those rocks. I know that it was due to the perspective, the close proximity and the downward angle of the plane but I was a 16 year old drama queen. I WAS GOING TO DIE A VIRGIN.
Anyways... 10-1/2 hours in a plane. That means 10-1/2 hours without a cigarette. HOLY CRAP what am I going to do?
Any smokers with tips on how to tolerate that long of a flight without a cigarette? I'm thinking of going in to my Drs this next week to see about getting a prescription for Ambien or something like that to knock my butt out on the flights there and back and to possibly help with the jetlag once I get home.
Another general question...
prescription sleep aid, or just Tylenol PM?