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Welcome to My Mid-Life Crisis

2 Jun

Mid-Life Crisis

I’ve decided to paint my bedroom pink.

“I’m sorry, are you a seven year-old, wanna be princess?” you ask.

Point taken. But let me give you some background. In the last three months I have lost a friend to cancer (Goodbye, Farewell and Amen), had a cancer scare of my own and quit my job after two doctors told me the 80-hour weeks and stress was doing my health no good. I think this might be part of a mid-life crisis. And what’s more, I’m kind of enjoying it.

As I said, I’ve spent the last two years working 80 hours a week while managing 23 year-olds. I worked in a very competitive atmosphere (it could be considered cut-throat as there were times I wanted to cut mine) while trying to please Guests (never called a passenger and always with a capital ‘G’), onboard bosses and shore-side bosses. Before that, I spent a couple of years attempting a delicate balance of struggling to keep my house and my sanity while working 5 jobs (relive the fun at My Schizophrenic Life).

Then there was the whole experience of many people massaging by breast, and not in a good way as they stuck needles, titanium and a scalpel in it. That, combined with my friend’s battle with, and ultimate death from cancer has apparently made me re-examine the balance in my life.

So now I’m on the job hunt. Not the desperate job hunts of my past, but a job hunt that fulfills me both financially and personally. It’s a time/money balance, a life-purpose/money balance and a where the hell do I want to live/money balance. While I search for a future that means something to both me and the world at large, I might as well be at peace with my surroundings.

Life BalanceI bought my house nearly eleven years ago. I painted the living room and master bedroom soon after. I’m a do-it-yourselfer. A week after I moved in my garbage disposal broke. Twenty years ago my mom installed a garbage disposal in our kitchen (yeh, mom was impressive). I figured it has to be much easier these days so I decided that, instead of calling a plumber, I would install my own. It cost me $60 to buy an Insinkerator (it made me feel like I had a boy-band in my kitchen). While it was more difficult than I thought it would be and involved a few yoga positions while attempting to lift the thing above my head while lying under the sink, with one hand twisting the appliance into the exact right position to avoid leaks, and with the other hand clutching my pipe-wrench to screw in nuts, bolts and other bits of metal and rubber. Upon finishing I declared myself, ‘Queen of Garbage Disposals.’ When I proudly told my realtor of my accomplishment his response was, “You know your home warranty would most likely cover that?” Talk about bursting my bubble.

I moved on to painting. I first tackled the living room. After multiple, daily trips to my friends at Home Depot, attending their, ‘How to paint your house class’ (I was the only student) and browsing home decorating books I was ready to begin. I began taping and caulking. “Caulking, you ask?” Is there a leak? Aah, this is why you should go to the house painting class. I now have perfectly straight lines. A little how to for all of you do-it-yourselfers out there – take a dab of paintable, clear caulk and spread it lightly across the edge of the tape. When you pull the tape your lines will be as straight as Tom Cruise pretends to be. Bathed in maroon and gold, my living room now has the comfortable feel of a Moroccan hookah lounge.

Painting

On to the bedroom. I found some beautiful satiny-brown curtains and decide my bedroom should feel a bit spa-like. At the time, browns and light greens implying a bamboo forest were very in. I went to Home Depot and told the designer (they used to offer this free service) that I was looking for a ‘happy olive.’ The best thing about this designer was that she not only didn’t burst out with laughter and get on the public address system announcing to all, “Hey, has anybody seen a happy olive? How about a sad one?” but she actually pretended to know what I was talking about. Fairway Mist purchased and I moved on to painting.

As the master bedroom also has an en suite bath (I’ve been watching House Hunters) I painted this too. During the taping process I began wondering how I ever thought eleven foot cathedral ceilings were a good thing. Even with my 10 foot ladder I had to lean it against the wall over the counter-top, stand at the top and do yoga moves in order to reach the top of the wall. After many days, my mission was accomplished. My room was ‘Happy Olive.’ I hated it.

I’ve thought about changing the color many times over the years but the memory of the first painting experience had yet to fade (similar to why it takes you a decade to be able to smell tequila following ‘that night’ that so many of us have had in our younger years). Now that I’m enjoying my mid-life crisis I’ve decided it’s now or never. What’s more, I’ve always wanted a pink bedroom. Not princess pink. No frilly, white curtains. No lacy lampshades. Just a nice feminine pink offset by my still lovely chocolate-brown curtains.

Not my bedroom

Not my bedroom

So, if I’ve always wanted a pink bedroom why didn’t I paint it pink in the first place? Well, I thought about the possibility of a man in my life. Nobody specific. I just wondered if it might be a turn-off for a man as he might not feel comfortable in a pink bedroom. Perhaps a little part of me also felt that I was a grown woman and pink was not a grown-up color. It turns out it’s like craving a pizza or Chinese food. You can eat every hamburger in sight but the craving won’t go away until you get an egg roll and some orange chicken in you. And as for any man well, I have waited long enough for him to come and tell me pink makes him uncomfortable. And, from my experience with men, I’ve learned that they couldn’t care less if the walls are pink. They wouldn’t notice if there were a pink alligator in the room.

With a mid-life crisis in the works to help fade the bad memory of the previous bedroom painting experience, I buy a couple of gallons of Romantic Morn. I’ve spent the last week taping, caulking (don’t forget the caulk) and painting. I listen to music to pass the time. Besides giving in to my inner-princess, I also spend one painting day embracing my inner-nerd. Instead of music, I listen to podcasts of NPR’s ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me’ and ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class.’ Geek, party of one.

I finish the first and (I think) only coat as I have bought the Behr paint with paint and primer in one. It turns out that this stuff works as well as shampoo and conditioner in one. Your hair feels not quite clean and definitely not quite soft and untangled. I head back to Home Depot with a bit of an attitude yet with the understanding that it’s not the fault of the lady in the paint department (although she irritates me when she acts surprised that I would think I would only need one coat).

Second coat applied and . . . I love it. I feel ‘in the pink!’ I am a princess!

This next week will be committed to taping and painting the frighteningly, high-ceilinged bathroom, and maybe a little more NPR geekdom. Oh, and a job interview via Skype with England. Yes, this princess still needs a job.

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Sabbatical

23 Mar

Sabbatical

Sabbatical –

  •  Webster’s Dictionary: any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.
  •  Urban Dictionary: The time a businessman spends passed out on the hotel lobby floor after consuming too much alcohol at a business event.

Whatever your definition, that’s where I am. I quit. Resigned. Retired. Left the Company. Removed myself from the situation. I’m on sabbatical!

Wait, you left your job without having another? Uh oh, did you feel that? That shaking of the earth was my father rolling over in his grave. Okay, let me explain.

For the past two years I’ve worked between 75 and 82 hours per week. No days (or nights) off for 3-4 months at a time.  Still, I believed I could make a difference. Make magic. So why leave, you say? Well, even codeine has an expiration date. After a while, its magic gets to be more like a parlor trick and it gives you less of a high.

I’ve become very good at compartmentalizing my life. I’ve never really explained here what it was I’ve been doing for the past two years. Yes, I believe I quite generally stated that I worked on a cruise ship. But I never specifically said which one or what I did. So here goes – my name is Carole and I worked for Disney Cruise Line. I was Manager of Youth Activities. Yes folks, I was in charge of the children. That statement will either make you very scared or it will make you laugh uncontrollably while saying, “yup, that makes sense.”

Disney

Me and some Friends

What did I love about my job? Oh lots. I loved seeing new places (well, as much as I could see in the 2-3 hours off I had. And new places? Not so many new ones unless you consider that sparkly slot machine at Atlantis a new place), meeting new people, learning more about leadership, dreaming with Imagineers (I used to have Imaginary friends, now I have Imagineer friends), having Captain Hook wave to me as he walked past my office, knowing princesses (Cinderella’s my favorite and I always wanted to go shoe shopping with her) and generally, making magic for children. Oh, and sparkles! I loved taking a break from reports and E-mails to do arts and crafts where I would invariably end up covered in sparkles.

Why did I leave, you ask? Oh, those reasons are more complicated. You see, this was never meant to be long term. If you recall, in the year preceding these last two, things were, shall we say, a bit tough financially. Oh, who am I kidding, I was so broke I couldn’t even pay attention (any further questions on this please refer to, ‘I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help’ or, ‘Yes Virginia, There is a Mortgage Modification.’).

This wasn’t just about the money (okay, at the time it was mostly about the money). I never had any intention of going back to my previous life working on board cruise ships (add over five years to these past two). I was truly ready to leave the past in the past. It’s a bit like going to live in the college dorm, only I was in my 40’s. But the job presented itself and, as my house was due to go on the auction block in a month, I wouldn’t have anywhere to live anyway.

So now, here I am. The situation is much different now. I was able to pay off some bills, save some money and even have a lovely vacation in England (yes, you can read about the unplanned adventures beginning with “On a Wing and a Prayer”). And another benefit, I have The Walt Disney Company on my resume (or my c/v if you’re from Europe).

The decision to leave certainly wasn’t like buying that Snickers bar at the grocery checkout. It was definitely not an impulse buy. Last year I spoke with my manager about transitioning off ships and into a land based position with the company. One big challenge, I won’t live in Florida. Nothing against Florida       but. . . okay, sorry but I do have something against Florida. Tried it, hated it. In order not to outrage any of my Florida followers I will leave it at that (so unlike me).

So, you want to work for Disney and not live in Florida? Believe it or not, it can be done. California, England, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai, the list goes on. Still, I was told that it may need to be a lateral move (fine by me) or even a downgrade (not so fine). I’m not twenty-two years old anymore (I know from my photo you find that hard to believe). I have made certain advances in my career by gaining knowledge and working really hard. Going backwards is not in the plan. I did a lot of networking (much with the PR and Marketing departments) but I was also open to outside opportunities. After all, I keep getting told how great it is to have Disney on a resume. Well, let’s just see if Uncle Walt has some influence outside his own company.

Sure enough, this summer I was approached by a company who found me on LinkedIn (yes, it is a valuable tool if used correctly). You can read about the exploits of my interview process at, “Kuwait Just a Minute.” And while I was hoping they had continued interest in me for their Russia location, Kuwait seems to be far behind schedule so Russia? As they say in Russian, “Не звоните нам, мы тебе позвоню.” Still, I continue to stalk this company as they have franchises worldwide and I believe they cannot live without me (confident, aren’t I?)

Bre and me in Alaska

Bre and me in Alaska

I should also mention something else that happened this past summer. My friend BreAnn took a break in her chemo. and cruised with me in Alaska. At the end of the trip she commented, “They don’t pay you enough. I don’t know what they pay you but it’s not  enough.” When I arrived home after this latest contract and received the call that Bre wasn’t doing well, I went over to her house. I climbed into bed with her, held her hand and told her I was quitting. At this point she wasn’t responding to much. She opened her eyes and looked at me and said, “Good, you need to.” Well, there you go. Promise your dying friend something and changing your mind is not an option.

In the meantime, I’m on sabbatical. Surgery and other issues done,

Weeds

My Weed Garden

it’s time to enjoy it for a bit. Okay, still setting up my life again. Getting my taxes done, securing health insurance, getting internet for my house and attempting to kill my newly acquired weed garden (it turns out that, as much as they may look like herbs, you cannot cook any sort of edible chicken with them). Also, a little time to enjoy riding my new bike, doing yoga, reestablishing friendships that I have (unwillingly) had to ignore for the past two years, a bit of traveling (beautiful, exotic Chicago) and hot bubble baths with scotch and candles (wait, not bathing in scotch – water in the tub, scotch in a glass).

Windows-WineOh, and another thing I get to do on a regular basis now – write. And while I enjoy being a bit cliché and sitting at the coffee bar drinking a latte or espresso while writing, it turns out I am just as inspired sitting in the park drinking a bottle of wine.

Stand by while I find some new adventures or perhaps, just make fun of the world in general. And, if you’re looking to hire me, well, I’m not cheap but I can be had.

Aaahhhh. . . Sabbatical

Fly by Night. . . and Day

27 Nov

At about 9:00pm I head on over to the airport. As is the norm, the hotel has arranged a complimentary car for me. The airport is very well-organized and I have no trouble finding my way around. I check-in for my flight without anyone even suggesting that I should check my completely allowable carry-on (oh, I’m not bitter). I have quite a bit of time before my flight so I wander through the shops.

I look for a Duty Free store to price some alcohol before realizing, well duh. I might as well be searching for a pork chop. I’ve already picked up some Turkish Delight and Apple Tea while at the mall. These are Turkish Delightthings I used to enjoy when I worked in Turkey. Actually, I only enjoyed the Apple Tea. I never acquired a tasted for Turkish Delight. To me, it tastes similar to the only other candy in this world that I dislike, Candy Corn. Dislike is too mild of a word. I truly hate the stuff (and can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s called corn). Anyway, the Turkish Delight is for friends, as I’m hoping they enjoy it more than me. It turns out they don’t and, when we look at the ingredients, we like it even less (what the hell is soapwood and why, of why, would it be in candy?).

For lack of anything else to do I wander over to my gate. Going through security I note the subtle differences between U.S. airport security and Kuwaiti security (and German as a matter of fact). In the U.S. you take off your shoes and leave your iPad and Kindle in your bag. In Kuwait and Germany your shoes stay on but the iPad and Kindle come out. Strange.

As I continue my people watching I note that there seem to be very few women traveling on their own. I am not judging at all, just noticing. In Kuwait (as well as many European airports) you wait outside in the main hallway until about 45 minutes before your flight when you are allowed to enter the boarding area. I strike up a nice conversation with the flight crew who think my 49 hours in Kuwait is ridiculous. Yeh, that’s right, I’m a professional. Don’t try this at home (uh, I guess that would be impossible).

Before long we board our flight to Frankfurt. I have a window seat with the two seats next to me vacant. Yes, my plan has worked. I reserved this seat online noting that, at least at that moment, those seats were not assigned. Yes, seat strategy is my specialty. I catch a little nap and awake 45 minutes before landing in Frankfurt.

I grab an incredible breakfast of fruit and yogurt (why does breakfast in Europe always Breakfasttaste so good?) and take a look around the duty-free store. I really want to by that bottle of fine Scotch but I’ve come carry-on and the U.S. airports will not appreciate my excess liquid (I consider whether I might be able to drink it before arriving in the U.S. but that would be a terrible waste of perfectly good scotch).

I head on over to my gate and board my flight. As I walk back to my seat I look ahead and see what appears to be a family taking up all of the seats in my assigned row. When I approach to claim my seat the man stands and says that the airline has seated him separate from his family and he would like my seat. Okay, here’s the deal – I try really hard to be a nice person. I really do. I tell him I would be happy to switch seats with him if one of his assigned seats includes a window (I’m a leaner and sleeper and, with 15 more hours of flying ahead of me, I have my Ambien at the ready). He looks at me and, quite rudely says, “Of course I do!” Then he turns his back on me. Hhhmmmmm, not sure what to make of this. With great attitude I sneer at him and respond, “Hey, I’m trying to help you.” Sorry sir, you have been voted out of my seat. I give him my best flared nostril, evil eye look, take my seat and start to nest. His wife and son remain seated in the middle and aisle seats. He remains standing for a while seemingly undecided about what to do next. He eventually takes his seat in a middle seat in the middle section (seriously, this is the seat he wanted to trade me for? I’m nice, just not that nice).

Kids on AirplanesThe rest of the flight is – how shall I put it – HELL! It’s like his 3-year-old son works as a hit man for his father and decided that I will pay for the injustice I delivered upon his father. Each time I get near a peaceful sleep the kid throws pretzels and matchbox cars at me. He then proceeds to kick me or simply puts his hand on my shoulder, enough to imply, “Hey lady, wake up.” At one point he is laying with his head across his mother’s lap and his feet across my lap. Fully stretched out. Please understand that I work with children and understand the difficulty of traveling with them. I am very understanding as long as I see or hear the parent making an effort to teach them good behavior. There was no effort. And oh, mom doesn’t speak English. There was no apparent effort in any language.

At some point I notice a smell that I often smell in the nursery at work. Ah, the unmistakable smell of poop. I wait for the smell to waft on over to mom. She must have an idea this would be coming as we’ve been on the plane for 5 hours and she has not checked him once. I wiggle my nose and sniff, hoping she’ll take the hint. Nothing. Are you kidding me? After a good half hour I speak up and, through sign language, I tell her she might want to check his diaper. She checks and, what do you know, Poop Central! At this point I wait for her to ask me to take him and change him as she has seemingly done nothing to take care of him the entire flight.

Eventually (and it’s a long eventually) we land in Houston. I go to take a sip of my bottled water which, due to the change in air pressure, promptly explodes in my face (again, don’t try this at home. I am a professional traveler). I never thought I’d be happy to be in Houston (sorry Texas, I’m not a Houston fan). Dad thanks me for my understanding during the flight. Uh, sorry? I believe I was trapped on an airplane and had no choice. I deplane and grab some good old American barbecue. One more flight and it’s home to my presumably dead battery and potentially flooded kitchen.

I board the plane and take my aisle seat (couldn’t snag a window for this one but, after 26 hours of travel I’ll survive 2 hours in an aisle seat). I stow my bags and before long the lady sitting at the window seat is approached by the man whose seat it really is (yup, she tried the whole seat stealing thing like the guy on the last flight). She moves over to the middle seat next to me and places one bag under the seat in front of her and puts her other (very large) bag next to that in front of her feet. This is not a purse, but a full size carry-on. I take note hoping she’ll be moving this. That’s when I notice something strange. This woman is drunk, on drugs, crazy or all three. She is talking loudly to everybody about completely random stuff. She takes out a rubber band and begins to play, what looks like a game with it. She is not simply playing with the rubber band, but seems to be putting a lot of thought into it.

Excess Baggage

Sure this will fit under the seat

As the flight attendant announces that we are ready for take-off, crazy lady makes no effort to move her bag. Being someone who travels for a living, this kind of thing bugs me. For God’s sake people, stop acting like rebellious teenagers and turn off your electronics, put your seat-backs in an upright position, store your tray table and your luggage! I politely ask her to put her bag in the overhead compartment. Her response, “Don’t mess with me!” Crap! Crazy lady, party of one! She continues, “What’s it to you?” “Nothing,” I respond, “but it may be to the man sitting in the window seat should there be an emergency and he can’t get out.” Luckily, the flight attendant passes by, overhears the conversation and insists the lady put her bag in the  overhead. Yeh, Fly Girl has my back. After 26 hours traveling I am in no mood and I turn to the lady and say simply, “Don’t mess with me.”

Two hours later I arrive in Phoenix happy to be there. Even better, I get to my car and, lo and behold, I did shut off that stupid light and my car starts up fine. Yay!!!

After sending out thank you E-mails to all who spent time with me this trip I receive word from the Operations Manager that I was apparently too impressive. The company feels that the job in question may be below my current level. He mentions that the VP of Leisure and Entertainment would like to know if I might be interested in their Moscow location which is due to open next year. My response is a resounding, “Da!” So, I will head on back to my ship soon and wait to discuss Russia. They have vodka there!!! Just saying. . .

Interviews, Presentations and Tours – Oh My!

11 Nov

Today I wake up ready for a day of more interviews, a presentation and a city tour. Due to various changes in schedules of the people I’m supposed to meet with, the timing for today has changed and my driver is due to pick me up a half-hour later than originally scheduled (I hope it’s Abu!). I get dressed (more daring today in a red top), grab my iPad and head down to the amazing, international breakfast buffet. Eggs, fish, pastries and a bunch of stuff that, although they have cards identifying them, I still have no idea what they are. Being the adrenaline junkie that I am, I go for the mystery foods. I ignore my iPad and pick-up a copy of the Kuwait Times. After a few minutes I look up from the newspaper at the twenty-three other people in the dining room and take note that I am the only woman in  there. It’s clearly a business hotel and, working on cruise ships, I’m accustomed to being the only woman in a meeting. Still, it’s funny how I still notice this. I wonder if men notice these things.

I’m enjoying a relaxing breakfast when the Dining Room Manager approaches me and tells me my car is waiting downstairs for me. What? Uh, perhaps he didn’t get the memo about the time change. And then

Chauffeur

Not Abu

paranoia sets in and I think, perhaps I got the time wrong. Crap. I ask the Manager to let my driver know that I will be downstairs in ten minutes. Acting very calm with a Madonna like ‘they will have to wait for me’ attitude, I high-tail it to my room to collect my bag and thumb drive with my presentation on it. On the way up to my room I am secretly excited (and a little troubled) that the powers that be seem to know where I am even when I’m not in my hotel room. I grab my stuff, touch-up my lipstick and am off

In the lobby I see a familiar face – it’s Abu! He seems to know he’s early. We make pleasant conversation on the twenty-minute ride to the office. He asks me about my mall experience (seriously, the mall is where it all happens) and we say goodbye as I won’t be seeing him again. As I’ve arrived early and my contact isn’t available yet, I walk over to Starbucks – yes, the one on the grounds of the office complex. Ten minutes later I’m back in the waiting room drinking my latte and watching the eclectic mix of people applying for jobs, waiting for meetings or, perhaps waiting for passengers to drive around (Abu would never cheat on me). Before long Cheryl, my contact, steps out the magic door to call me in.

We head over to Sam’s office and run into him on the way. Cheryl hands me off to him and he and I change directions to join Laurent in another meeting room. Laurent is a good-looking Frenchman (I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever met an ugly Frenchman. What is it with that accent?) who is part of the creative team I would be working with. So here in this meeting room in Kuwait sits an Englishman, a Frenchman and an American woman. Suddenly my life seems nearly as glamorous as everybody thinks it is.

Cell Phone ReceptionThis is the meeting in which I am supposed to give the presentation which I had prepared for my Skype  call with Sam a couple of months earlier. As I was still on the ship at the time, and the very expensive internet had typically, gone down, I ended up holding my iPhone up to my porthole in order to use that to tether enough for an internet connection. In the end we had no video but, as I had e-mailed my Power Point presentation, we talked it through. It felt very similar to the 1970’s when you put one hand on the rabbit-ear antennae while standing on one foot and holding up the other hand with a finger pointed to the sky in order to watch a Saturday morning cartoon.

First Sam and Laurent do a presentation for me, which I find incredibly interesting and gets me very excited about the job as it is the perfect combination of business and creativity. Kind of quirky, not unlike myself. Next, I begin my presentation. Within five minutes, I see Cheryl lurking about outside. It turns out that the person who is supposed to do my city tour wasn’t contacted about today’s change in schedule and is, not so patiently, waiting in the lobby. Sam and Laurent let me know that, as they’ve already seen the presentation I had sent, we can conclude this part of the day and I head off to meet my tour guide.

In the lobby of the office complex I meet Karen. I apologize for my tardiness (truly not my fault) and we head off to discover Kuwait City. Karen is from Scotland and is married to the head of one of the divisions of franchises within the company I am interviewing with. Our first stop is an apartment building. If I’m going to live here it’s nice to know what my home life might be like. The newly built apartment is lovely. Very similar to a higher-end apartment in America yet almost all apartments here include housekeeping. Unlike an apartment in Phoenix, this one will run 525 Dinar per month which comes out to about $1800 per month (yup, I’m definitely going to need more money). Karen and I get back into the car and she offers to take me to the grocery store (women understand). The grocery store is impressive. The fresh fish look amazing, the fruits are colorful (although some are unidentifiable) and they seem to have everything Wine that you could possibly need. Everything, that is, unless you need a drink. Yup, alcohol is illegal here (uh, I need a drink). Oh, and pork. There’s also no pork in this country (I’m guessing cooking a meal of pork with wine sauce or beer and bratwurst could get me thrown in jail). Another different part of grocery shopping is that you don’t carry your own bags out. You pull your car up to the entrance and there is someone to load it into your trunk. A girl could get spoiled here.

Next we head to Salmiya, the area of Kuwait where Karen lives and, if I move here, I would want to also. It’s a nice residential area with shopping areas and the ocean close by. I ask if the beaches are public and Karen tells me that they are but, if I were to use a public beach, I must wear clothing that covers my knees and shoulders (hhhmmm, I guess that might save on the sunscreen). We stop at the Beach Club. As the majority of Kuwaiti residents are expats, these are the places where you can find most of them. Here you’ll find a gym (yay, yoga classes!), a spa, tennis, squash, five outdoor pools, one indoor pool, water sports and a beach. Here you can wear a bathing suit that won’t cause you to be sucked down by the weight of ten pounds of clothing. This is a must have if you’re a westerner living in Kuwait and all for the budget price of 650 Dinar, about US $2300 (really, I’m going to need more money). They offer family rates and, if you’re a family or a married couple, you get free access to the club for one nanny! And you can get you second nanny in for only 125 Dinar (seriously, who has two nannies?).

After a lovely lunch where Karen keeps running into people she knows (this feels a lot like New York) we head back to the hotel. I thank Karen for a great afternoon and head up to my room to pack the few belongings I have with me (yet I still manage to forget my toiletry bag) and lay down for a nap. I enjoy a quiet dinner in the hotel dining room ($50 without any wine. Really?), go down to meet my car for my midnight flight.

Next, join me as I Fly By Night . . . and Day on the long journey home and hear the decision. . .

Hello, I Must Be Going

15 Oct

Hello friends. As you know, I work on board a cruise ship and, although I am in the Entertainment Department, I don’t find it a very creative place. That, combined with the 70+ hours per week that I work and the slow and expensive internet (don’t get me started) and, well, you can usually tell when I’m on vacation because that’s when I look at the world in a more snarky way and decide to share it with you. So welcome to my vacation (hoping you’re buying the drinks).

For the past three months I pretty much lived every Phoenician’s dream. I fled the burning furnace that is Phoenix in the summer to spend time in Alaska. Most people who work on ships like to go to the Caribbean so they can use their Facebook status as a tool to make their friends at home jealous by sharing photos of themselves on a beautiful beach and bragging about the 85 degree temperature in the middle of February. I enjoy taking photos of snow-capped mountains on rainy days and bragging about the 55 degree weather. To each his own.

Tracy Arm

The adventures were also fabulous. Hiking up a mountain and running into a bear is much more exciting than walking on the beach and running into a lady who wants to braid my hair (Really? I have no desire to have a bead chip my tooth every time I turn my head too quickly). Whales? Yep, hung out with them.

What’s the difference between and Orca and a Bear? about 200 feet.

Glaciers? With all that ice falling you’d think they’d be fine with me collecting just a bit for my margarita (not so much). 

Then more bears, this time three of them crossing the road (assuming they did it for the same reason the chicken did). 

After a summer of adventure and trying to make people happy (vacationers as well as my staff and bosses), I need a bit of a rest. So, after four days of rest, I’m sitting on an airplane headed to Kuwait . . . wait what????!!! Let me explain.

After my last vacation I decided that I wanted to move to England (by the way, if you haven’t read about that adventure you can start at “On a Wing and a Prayer”). So, I began following some UK job websites on Twitter and nosing around the internet. I applied for a few jobs explaining that, while I don’t currently hold a visa to work there, I would have no trouble obtaining one due to my lack of any criminal record (I’m pretty sure that fell off by now). Still, it seems that most companies want me to get that pesky visa before they’ll hire me. I also saw an ad for a House Manager for the Queen. As I had just recently walked up her front walk and spent some time on her lawn I was sure she’d remember me. I completed the application (formality, of course she’ll want me!) and waited for her invitation to tea. Not only did I not receive an invitation to tea, but I received a rejection E-mail. Is it possible she doesn’t remember me? Or perhaps she does.

So, while I was busy working at my job cruising Alaska while looking for a job in England, others seemed have different ideas. I received an E-mail from a company based in Kuwait letting me know of their interest in me and requesting my C/V (that’s a resume for all of you Americans). I forwarded it as, you never know, they may be friends with the Queen. Next thing I know they want to talk to me on the phone. I offer up a choice of times to them as, logistically, this seems like a real challenge. Nine hours’ time difference if we do it while I’m in Seattle, 10 hours if we do it from Alaska, we’re not in port very long and it’s way too expensive calling from the ship. Logistical nightmare. With the call time agreed upon I wait for my phone to ring. Nothing. It turns out I wasn’t the only one confused. They got their time conversion wrong. Try number two resulted in a 90 minute phone call between Ketchikan, Alaska and Kuwait City.

Next thing I know I’m shortlisted and they want me to fly out. As I was in the middle of a contract and the only person on board who does my job, my current employers were not so keen on me taking a few days off to fly to Kuwait to go interview with another company. Go figure. Some people are so inflexible.

This brings me to where I sit now. Seat 23B, fighting over the armrest with the kid next to me who doesn’t understand the unwritten rule that, whoever is in the middle seat gets the armrest. The flights add up to 22 hours going there and 28 hours returning. I will be in Kuwait for exactly 49 hours. During that time I will have 4 interviews (one a cultural interview), do 1 presentation and have a tour of Kuwait City. I have come with a carry-on suitcase (which United Airlines threatened to check. Uh, I don’t think so), a Kindle, an iPad (redundant?) and some Ambien. Coming up next, the flights in I’ve Got Baggage.

Starting A Rebellion

12 Aug

Back in January, as I was about to embark on a new adventure, I wrote a piece called Everything Old is New Again. In it, I made a promise to use my writing for good instead of snarkiness (although I’m still of the belief that snarky is good) and to give a voice to those who have none.  It’s time to keep that promise because, as much as I’d like to believe it’s all about me, it’s really not.

You might have noticed that an extra link has appeared on this page. This links you to my latest, non-snarky (or perhaps snarky-lite) adventure called Rebel-With-A-Cause.org.

The project involves me driving across the southern U.S. – at least from Arizona to Florida (sorry California, but you’re just a bit too far west), meeting people, writing their stories and, well, giving away money. I know what you’re thinking, ‘She finally starts makin’ some cash and now she’s giving it away. No wonder she was losing her house.’ Well, you may be right. But really, I’m known to be a bit of a tight-wad (does anyone actually use that term anymore?). What can I say, I just needed inspiration to separate me from the Ben Franklins (or perhaps I can give away one Grover Cleveland).

This project evolved from a decision to drive back to the ship I work on. During my time as an adventure tour guide, I drove across the country many times. In fact, I did it five times in my first six months. Yes, it was nice driving someone else’s vehicle, a 15 person maxi-van on which I rotated the tires and changed the oil in between trips (I rocked those auto shop coveralls). It was wonderful having someone else cover the costs, and it was great to get paid while doing it (ok, the pay was terrible). I came to know what a beautiful country the U.S. is, and exactly how big Texas is.

I decided that it might be nice to drive to Florida so that, when I’m in port, I can have my car instead of waiting for the bus to arrive to take me to Walmart to pick up supplies (aah, and you thought it was a glamorous life). Big dreams before I realized that I rarely have time to get off the ship while in the U.S. By then, the decision had been made, it was too late to request an air ticket from my company. I took it as a sign that I was meant to drive (or maybe that I can’t make a decision to save my life). Combine that with my promise to give a voice to others and Rebel-With-A-Cause was born.

Rebel will tell the stories of people I meet who have been hit hard by the economy, health issues, family challenges or simply bad luck. It will be covered by various media outlets and, in the end, readers will vote on who I give $1,000 to (yes, my own cash). Hopefully it won’t end there. I’m hoping that those who don’t receive the cash may find someone stepping up to help in another way. And maybe we can start a movement. You don’t have to give a lot to make a difference, and it doesn’t have to be money. I will use my writing talent (yeh, some people say I have some, but I think those people drink a lot) but we all have something to give.

Does this mean that I’m deserting you, with whom I share a love of snarkiness? Not a chance. During the trip I’m sure to find plenty of people and locations to provide me with inner giggles which I can share with you.  And, if you’re along my route, speak up and buy me dinner, or offer up a place to stay (ok, if I don’t know you maybe just a bite as you could be creepy).

So, if you want snarky keep on reading My Own Adventure. If you want a bit of seriousness and, hopefully, touching stories visit Rebel-With-A-Cause.  Or an even better idea, read both!  And share the love on Twitter @DropMeAnywhere and Facebook (sorry, my account is private because again, you could be creepy).  Play nice with others and share.

The Ten Commandments of Camping

22 Jul


I am a Traveler, as are many of my friends. One thing we all agree on is that when people ask us what we do on vacation our answer is usually the same – sleep. There are few things better than sleeping in your own bed after months away. Well, I’ve done that for about a month now. And while I’ve enjoyed every minute, it’s time to get back to nature.

You see, although I work on a ship, I spend the majority of my day inside. Much of it in an office with no windows. In fact, I have spent a week on board without ever going outdoors. A big difference from my former career as an Adventure Tour Guide where I camped for six months at a time. This weekend I will escape the Phoenix heat and head up to the cooler temperatures to camp at the Grand Canyon.

Before I leave I have decided to be environmentally friendly and recycle an old piece from a tourism column I used to write. So, with permission from, well, me – here it is:

Many people would like to try camping yet, if they have never gone before, the idea can be intimidating. After all, if you are lucky enough to have a home, why rough it? Aaaahhh. . . for the experience.

As a Camping and Adventure Tour Guide I tried to impart my love of camping onto many a “newbie.” After all, anybody who has camped was a “newbie” at one time. In fact, before becoming a guide, I had camped for a total of two nights, not consecutively. Thanks to wonderful training by my company it was love at first night. From then on, I wanted to impart my love for camping to others. Dirt? Good. Smokey smell? Good. Bugs? Hey, it’s their house.

I have had campers say to me, “I don’t like the outdoors. I just took this trip for the price.” I considered this a challenge. I knew their camping experience had to be great for them to realize that maybe there are other reasons to camp besides the price. After three weeks of tent living, one of these campers came to me looking to plan her next camping trip. Mission accomplished.

Camping need not be intimidating and, in fact, can be quite a wonderful experience. Just follow the Ten Commandments of Camping and you may find yourself scheduling weekend escapes or week long trips throughout the year.

Ten Commandments of Camping 

1} Thou shalt not sleep well on the first night; this is why God created Ambien.

2} If thou must watch television, thou art not a camper.

3} Thou shalt not feedest the wildlife. Although we are all God’s children, they are called wildlife for a reason.

4} Mother Nature cannot be controlled, for few women can be.

5} And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. . . and noise. Thou shan’t complain if thou has neglected to bring thy sleep mask and earplugs.

6} Looketh thee up, turneth thine eyes towards the skies.

7} Wherever thou art sitting, there shall goest the campfire smoke.

8} The sounds that you hear are elk bugling, coyotes howling and birds chirping. Sit thee back and enjoy their music, for God loves all creatures great and small.

9} Once thou hast tasted the wine and beer, do not believest that thou can walketh on water, fire or glass. For although sleeping outdoors might maketh thee feel closer to God, thou art still a mere mortal.

10} Taketh thee only photos, leaveth thee only footprints.

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