30 December 2011

12 in 2012

So I'm well aware that I totally owe you a ton of updates on my first month living in WA, starting my new job and the new digs but I am a slacker and I'm thinking about 2012 already. I'll rewind this weekend but I have seen on a few other blogs (this post inspired mostly by The Young Retiree) people making "resolutions" of sorts or really goals to complete 12 tasks in 2012 and I want to articulate those before I forget and stop being ambitious. When I think back to my resolutions for last years which I stated them as being "In general I would like 2011 to be the year of doing and of starting my real life and career" with specific goals to:

1. Graduate with latin honors (ie magna, summa, cum laude etc) Completed...in theory because turns out graduate programs don't do this, but by ungraduate standards I would have graduated summa
2. Secure Employment in Military Behavioral Health or Hospital Social Work I secured employment in community mental health but I still consider this a win.
3. Start and Finish Couch to 5k- Not a win, I started but I didn't finish
4. Grow and cut hair to donate- Again not a win, I grew my hair but then realize I got kind of attached to it and I don't want to cut it right now! Selfish I know!

For my 12 in 2012 I'd like to accomplish:

1. Learn to ski. One of the mountains around here offers a $120 3 weekend learn to ski package including rentals. I think this is totally in my budget and something I'd like to at least try! I'd like to be able to go skiing with The Happy Wanderer once they PCS closer to the correct coast.

2. Start and Finish Couch to 5k- Finishing being the emphasis here. This leads into goal 3

3. Run weekend training runs with Run to Remember  they currently do 3 mile training runs so once I get my couch to 5k skills I will feel confident to start going to the weekend runs and possible do some fundraising runs with them.

4. Begin my chemical dependency certification. I found a program that I can complete in 3 quarters and it would open up a lot of doors for me professionally and to get back into the military community doing work. I could do it all in 2012 but I think that I will probably not start until summer quarter at the earliest.

5. Read more. The past few years I've managed to read 29 books despite grad school. I'd like to get closer to 40 or 50 books

6. Be more crafty. This is alternatively titled spend more time on Pinterest. I have made this and these. My next project will be these once I figure out how to do the tiles without the fancy program.

7. Move into my own apartment and make it not look like a college apartment. Have a cohesive decorating theme, spend time and money making it mine.

8. Eat more veggies. I cut veggies out of my diet basically entirely when I first got sick due to their fiber content. I've pretty much only added back in olives, pickles/cucumbers, tomatoes, and potatoes (these only kinda count as a veggie). I need to work on getting in more fruits and veggies as my health tolerates.

9. Explore the Puget Sound. I'd like do kayaking, squid jigging, fishes etc. on the Puget sound. This area has so much to offer in terms of outdoor activities and I'd like to spend more time on the water where I know I feel very zen.

10. Explore the Pacific Northwest. Other than Seattle/Tacoma, Portland and Vancouver I haven't seen much of this area. I would love to go to Astoria (where Goonies was filmed), Eugene (home of the Oregon Ducks!), I'd even like to go Idaho or Montana and explore.

11. Travel some outside of visiting my family. I'd like to save enough vacation time (and cash) to take a good trip at least once this year. Possible the trip to the Slothpital if with The Happy Wanderer if her husband is deployed for Christmas 2012.

12. Be satisfied with what I have. Strive for more but don't long for things I can't control. This one is much more metaphysical but I think that I really have a lot going for me and I have to continue to remember that and not think about everything I long for rather then enjoy what I have.

29 November 2011

New Job!

After nearly 7 months of unemployment, more than 30 interviews and, to be fair, 11 job offers (I fully admit I was totally picky). I have accepted a position as a case manager/therapist at a community mental health agency about 10 miles from my new place in Washington. The county I live in privitized their social service agencies a few years ago so I'll be dealing with the client base that would normally visit a community mental health agency but instead working for a non profit funded by a private for profit company (follow that). Which means I'll have a stable job with good benefits but I'll be working with chronic and persistently mentally ill adults as well as hopefully running PTSD, Military and Trauma groups for the organization. The salary is fair for the area, it has great benefits and will provide me with all the hours towards supervision that I need to get my full license.  Thank you for all your support, well wishes and good woo woo over the last few months. I'm very excited to start my social work career! By, January 2015 I will be hopefully a fully licensed social worker and on my way to commissioning with the US Army. 

This is all simultaneously very exciting and VERY expensive. I have to get my car ready to ship (to the tune of more than 1k) and stuff the trunk with 100 pounds of my crap, I'm flying southwest back on Saturday so I get 2 suitcases for free plus my carry-ons but I still need to pack those, I just shipped 30 dollars worth of text books and cookbooks ($30 more dollars).  I also have to figure out my estimated taxes because I worked as a contractor and I only have until Jan 15 to pay that, I cashed in some saving's bonds and I have to figure out the taxes on them as well. I have made really detailed to do lists for the rest of the week which will have mostly kept me from FREAKING OUT. I'm going to transpose them here because it makes me feel better. There are still a few things pending (a couple of lunches etc) but this is the jist of the rest of my week. 

-pack my car
-figuring out my taxes
-call about getting insurance switched over
-remove my ez-pass from car and clean it
-pack trunk
-deal with my eyebrow situation

-Change Address with
    -post office
    -Credit Card companies
-Pack Suitcases
-Work on Budget with Dad

-check in for flight (don't want to be in last boarding group on Southwest)
-Teach my parents how to skype (hold me)
-Gastro Appointment
-Get greek food for dinner
-Watch Oregon and find out if I'm going home for christmas or to LA for new years. 

Wish me luck getting through this week!

25 November 2011

30 Days of Thankful: Part 4

November 19
For the internet. This day I both found an excellent place for breakfast thanks to yelp and also was able to watch a live football game despite my hosts not having cable  or even a TV at all. Oh an for helping me find the amazing lactose and soy free ice cream place near my house. SO GOOD.

November 20
For the TV show the West Wing. I don't think that there is anything on currently or in the past that is as good as it or really anything that will ever be. Its smart, witty, thought provoking and epically relevant. I am now finding things happening and being like THIS IS JUST LIKE AN EPISODE OF WEST WING. 

November 21
For airplanes. After 6 weeks away I traveled home. 2 Airplanes, 30 children under 3, one dude in handcuffs, one middle aged man who couldn't stop kicking my seat, and about 8 hours of travel I made it home. Showered (in a clean bathroom) ate some home cooking and went to bed in my own bed. Glorious

November 22
For Acupuncture. I can honestly say that acupuncture saved my life when I was so sick. I went in for a tune up today and I forgot how good it makes me feel. I need to make an effort to find a good practitioner out in Washington.
November 23
For Job offers. I got an offer from my top choice out in Washington today. Pending the official offer and information about benefits I won't be unemployed forever it seems! This came at a perfect time as I found out that the Army job I have interviewed for a million years ago (back in July) has started notifying applicants of acceptance and I didn't get a call. I am still hopeful that I'll get a call before I accept the WA job. But I'm going to have income again! Just in time to start paying rent. 

November 24
Last year on Thanskgiving morning I went to visit a recently wounded Marine (a triple amputee) for work. He had arrived a day or two before from Afghanistan and was pretty out of it when I visited. I visited a handful of times over the next few weeks (we purchased a new wedding band for the couple as his left arm along with his ring had been left behind in Afghanistan). This year I am most thankful that that Marine is walking and fishing and thriving and succeeding beyond wildest expectations. 

November 25
For family. I love Thanksgiving with my Aunt and my Great Uncle. We don't tend to do the Black Friday thing but my Aunt and Mom and I go to a craft fair every year up in Frederick. It gets smaller and smaller and more and more expensive every year but its tradition. This year my Uncle and my Dad went and bought him an iPad. I know that I don't have tons and tons more years with my great uncle (hes 85 and the only surviving of his 4 siblings) so I'm very grateful to have this time with him. 

Recent Travels Part 4: Portland

This series of post is about 5 weeks over due. I really had hoped to live blog my travels out to the west coast but hanging out with friends and family and the time differences made that untenable. And then life started up again but no more excuses. You'll get one of these a day this week and if you click on the headings to each city it will take you to my Picasa albums for the rest of the photos from that local.

My trip to Portland was the last stop in my voyage westward. I spent 3 nights and 2 days staying with a former coworker from DC out of our Portland field office. I also had a great dinner with a friend from college I hadn't seen in years. I loved Portland and the vibe of the city although the cold and damp weather certainly was an adjustment. I found the public transportation while it took me everywhere I needed to go a bit unwieldy since I had trouble orientating myself with all the rivers. 

I could have spent DAYS in Powell's books. As it was I spent more than 4 hours there. 

I found the Food Cart pods. Including one that sold  Vegan Grilled Cheese. It was AMAZING. 

Visited the Oregon Historical society. Not sure it was worth my admission but it was interesting all the same. 

Found occupy portland.

Visited the Duck Store and spent WAY too much money on gear for myself and my Dad (an alum)

Visited the International Rose Test Garden and took a lot of flower pictures

Visited the Japanese Garden and spent a long as I could before I froze to death taking pictures of the gorgeous grounds. 

24 November 2011

Recent Travels Part 3: San Francisco

This series of post is about 5 weeks over due. I really had hoped to live blog my travels out to the west coast but hanging out with friends and family and the time differences made that untenable. And then life started up again but no more excuses. You'll get one of these a day this week and if you click on the headings to each city it will take you to my Picasa albums for the rest of the photos from that local. 

This section of the trip was entirely dedicated to family. I stayed with my Dad's younger sister and husband, my Aunt Laura and Uncle Jay. However, my visit coincidentally coincided with my Dad's older Sister and husband (who travel the country in their RV) visiting for a few weeks and staying in an RV park about 500 feet from my Aunt and Uncle's home. This combined with the fact that my grandparents (Dad's Dad and stepmom) live about 30 minutes away led to A LOT of family togetherness over 4 days. But thankfully I only have to do that much of my Dad's side about once every 10 years so it was do able and we did a lot of fun things!

Enjoyed this view every morning while enjoying a hot chocolate from the shop just behind this view and steps from my Aunt and Uncles home

Enjoyed this view every night from my Aunt and Uncles home 

Visited Half Moon Bay and wandered around enjoying the small shops and quaint town. 

Found a stingray in the water. Unfortunately it was dead or as we told the young boy near by "resting"

Wandered out to the point where they host the Mavrick surfing competition each year and is the winter destination for many big wave surfers. There are underwater rock formations that cause the waves to break unpredictably and has killed 2 surfers in past years. 
Wandered the Labyrinth. That's my Aunt Laura taking a meditative stroll. 

Visited a street fair in Kerouac's Alley in downtown San Fran.  

Went to Club Fugazi for a showing of Beach Blanket Babylon, America's longest running musical review. Performers wear disproportionately large hats/wigs and gaudy costumes while performing satirical renditions of popular songs. It was pretty silly/stupid but I enjoyed it. 

My uncles relieved their aging hippy ways and serenaded us ladies in song. 

I snuggled with my Aunt's adorable 6 month old kitten Simba. 

we visited the California academy of science where I took too many pictures of animals including this adorable octopus. 

23 November 2011

Recent Travels Part 2: Austin

This series of post is about 5 weeks over due. I really had hoped to live blog my travels out to the west coast but hanging out with friends and family and the time differences made that untenable. And then life started up again but no more excuses. You'll get one of these a day this week and if you click on the headings to each city it will take you to my Picasa albums for the rest of the photos from that local. 

Austin seems to be where a lot of my friends from undergrad ended up. My friend Josh for his phD and other friends for just the vibe of the city. I stayed 1 night with Josh and 2 nights with a former coworker from my time in DC with an agency that had a field office in Austin. I had also supported her boyfriend while he was deployed as a doctor last year by sending him DVDs of his 49ers playing so it was good to meet him in person. I wanted to like Austin but I just don't think that I'm the kind of person attracted to Austin. It was nice to visit but 3 days was plenty! Here's what I saw:

The Atrium was really impressive. All those red boxes hold presidential papers

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center where I took a lot of pictures of butterflies because Texas doesn't have much in the way of wild flowers in October

The 307-foot tall UT Austin Tower is best known for the 1966 sniping rampage by Charles Whitman which killed 16 and wounded 31. Prior to 2007's Virginia Tech shooting it was the deadliest school shooting. 

I really wanted to buy cowboy boots when I was in Austin. Do you know how freaking expensive those things are?!

22 November 2011

Recent Travels Part 1: San Antonio

This series of post is about 5 weeks over due. I really had hoped to live blog my travels out to the west coast but hanging out with friends and family and the time differences made that untenable. And then life started up again but no more excuses. You'll get one of these a day this week and if you click on the headings to each city it will take you to my Picasa albums for the rest of the photos from that local.

I flew into Austin and rented a car for the day to drive down to San Antonio. The purpose of this trip was 2 fold--one because I've always wanted to see the Alamo and two, my former boss and her husband retired to San Antonio about a year ago and I was looking forward to seeing her, touring Brooke Army Medical Center (like her husband said only I would visit a hospital on vacation) and seeing the new home they're having built from the ground up. I really enjoyed San Antonio but I also lucked out at getting AMAZING weather. I think that I would love it a lot less when it was 167 degrees out. 

Visited the Alamo, its a lot smaller then Texans would lead you to believe based on the battle
Learned that I missed a very basic lesson on taking self portraits I either look confused or constipated (or both!)

Visited the Riverwalk. Which if we're being honest is just a very pretty gutter. But it was a gorgeous day and because it was 3 pm on a Tuesday was pretty much deserted

Visited the Mission de San Jose. It was GORGEOUS and I took an excessive amount of pictures as evidenced from the rest in this post

19 November 2011

30 Days of Thankful: Part 3

This is a day late because due to persistent unemployment I have no idea what day it is at any given time and totally forgot yesterday was Friday. :) 

November 12
For friends who are judgy in the good way. KatjaMichelle and I went out for a night on the town. I'm glad that I have friends who won't let me out of the house like some of the ladies at the bar. LBD with vans? White Body condom? Jersey cover up as an outfit...in Nov...in the pacific northwest...
November 13
For modern technology, one of my good friends here is training out in the Eastern part of the state (its still strange to me that the inside of a state on the west coast is the east haha) so we'd been texting a lot (hes bored and I like his company) we managed to go through 500 texts in a little over 2 weeks. Thankfully verizon was running a deal and we could switch to unlimited texts on all the phones on our plan for 8 bucks more. But now my mother can text, this might be dangerous!
November 14
For leaps of faith. I bought a 1 way plane ticket back here after thanksgiving banking on the biggest risks sometimes create the biggest rewards. 
November 15
For emails from an online dating prospect that do not include things like "nice tits" or "wanna hook up" or tYpInG lIkE ThIs. This guy seems like the real deal and I look forward to meeting him when we both return from thanskgiving travels (me back to DC him to Denmark...he totally wins cool points)
November 16
For the power of modern medicine. A bloggy love was just diagnosed with Endometrial cancer at a very young age after a very scary emergency surgery. I am grateful that shes in good medical hands and on the mend with a plan. Hopefully this will be a very scary blip on the radar of an otherwise amazing life. I'm grateful she has good doctors and is in a good place to get good care (and has good insurance!)
November 17
For the gift of service. I met with the VA to get the process started with volunteering. Volunteering in general is something that fulfills me greatly and I'm thankful for the opportunity to give back when I've been given so much.
November 18
For job interviews. I had 3 job interviews this day all for jobs I could really see myself doing. They also pay more than enough to allow me to live out here comfortably. One of them should pan out! Though I did also learn 3 interviews in one day is my limit! 

14 November 2011


Well we're coming up on my last week in Tacoma. I head back on Monday morning for Thanksgiving. But the big news is that I will be coming back to Tacoma for more job hunting on Dec 3rd! I found a fully furnished room in a great house (in a okay neighborhood) with 3 male roommates (a doctor, a nurse and a CPA) to rent.  The room is massive and has its own bathroom so I wont have to worry about sharing a bathroom with a boy (for a few more years :) I still haven't nailed down a car for that time. One of my good friends out here is deploying in mid Jan and will need to do something with his car so we've talked about me using it while hes gone so I would just need a car for 6 weeks or so. I am pretty sure I'm just going to rent at the very least until I figure out what I'm doing job wise. If I get a real job then I'll sell my car at home and buy something out here. But I'm not comfortable making a car payment without a salary.

Not too much to report on the job front a couple of promising nibbles that will hopefully turn into interviews here shortly. I've also put in about 15 retail applications so hopefully something will click sooner rather than later!

I realize that its pretty delayed but I hopefully will get a short cross country travel recap up in the next day or so.

Thanks for bearing with me when my life is not so exciting!

12 November 2011

30 Days of Thankful Part 2

Nov 5
I'm thankful for the friend from college and her husband who are putting me up for these 3 weeks. Its incredibly generous of them to open their home to me. 
Nov 6
To meetings with old friends. I had brunch with a grad school friend also stationed out here. The meeting didn't go as well as I'd hope (to be honest he was kind of a dick to me) but because he challenged my dreams I found myself more dedicated to making them come true. 
Nov 7
For living by the water. After a couple of frustrating days looking for jobs I a few moments at the park in my town by the Puget sound. I felt immediately relaxed and able to better face the days ahead.

Nov 8
For the Democratic process.  A friend from high school was elected to the school board in my town back home, Mississippi managed to not make a one night stand a person and Ohio beat back an anti union law. I'm grateful to live in a country with the democratic process. 

Nov 9
For living in a military community. I watched a fighter jet fly across the face of Mt. Rainier while I was thrifting. That was 15 seconds of pure beauty of both the natural and mechanical kind. 

Nov 10
For fresh food. I made dinner for my hosts this night and was able to buy salmon from a fish market that had been swimming days earlier in the waters not that far away. It wasnt cheap but it was amazing!

Nov 11
For the veterans in my life, both for their service and sacrifice and also for the privilege I have been afforded in working with, for and on behalf of them. I am so grateful to have been called for this work. And hope to be back doing it soon!

05 November 2011

30 Days of Thankful

I've been seeing things going around the twittersphere and blogosphere about doing 1 thing you're thankful for each day. Since I'm not organized enough to blog about it every day (I still need to get through my weeks worth of posts about my trip out here). I figured every Friday I'd post the things I'm thankful for in the week prior.

Nov 1
I am thankful that my parents taught me to think on my feet. I had a very challenging interview on Tuesday and I was able to answer the questions well and ended up getting an offer from the job (turns out that they organization could not offer even basic benefits). 

Nov 2
I am thankful for the gift of relaxation. Before I left my temp job my boss gave me a gift card which I used in part to pay for a massage. After 2 weeks of sleeping on futons, couches and uncomfortable beds. I sorely (buh dum hum) needed it. 

Nov 3
I am thankful for incredible parents who support me turning down jobs that aren't right for me and help support me financially (through my cell phone and health insurance) during this transition. 

Nov 4
I am thankful for new friends forged through social media. I met up with KatjaMichelle today and had a wonderful conversation with her about social work, life etc. I'm grateful for a new friend in a new town! Thanks Racheal for the intro!

02 November 2011

The difference of a year

One year ago today my stomach broke and within a month I was diagnosed with gastroparesis. When I think about all I've accomplished this year despite being so ill I know I can do anything. While I would never have asked for this to happen to me and I wish that things were different. I really have done a lot in a year. So if you'll indulge me (it is my blog after all) a short list of things I've accomplished since diagnosis. Some things are clearly bigger then others but really when I think of who and where I was a year ago. I never ever would have imagined myself here.

  • Graduated with my masters
  • Worked a full time job, a part time internship and grad school at the same time
  • watched 5 of my friends get married (including 2 out of state)
  • Traveled back to my favorite place on earth for reunion
  • Had my Gallbladder removed
  • Moved cross country on a whim, a wing and a prayer
  • Turned 26
  • Lost 30 pounds
  • was selected for an interview for my dream job (regardless of the fact they've not made a decision yet more than 3 months later)
  • gotten a fish pedicure
  • completely revamped my diet to cut added fat, dairy, red meat, soda, caffeine, alcohol etc
  • Passed my Masters exam
  • Became a licensed LGSW in the state of Maryland
  • Visited 2 places I've never been before
Hopefully I be able to add employed and apartmented here soon. But really looking over the last year I am so grateful for a year of life even if its a different life then I imagined. 

15 October 2011

Throwing off the Bowlines

Source: google.com via erika on Pinterest

Well the suitcase, save for a handful of things that I still need to use until Tuesday and my electronics and medications, is completely packed and has been since Wednesday (hello Type-A). This packing is courtesy of 2 space bags and my mother. Also I was smoking absolute CRACK (the good stuff) to think that I was going to get 6 weeks worth of clothing for 4 different states (and 2 VERY distinct climates) into a carry on. I barely got it into a large suitcase and to be honest I'm going to be cutting it pretty close to the weight limit so I hope that I don't have to play rearrange at 5 in the morning at the airport. I packed enough clothing so that I don't have to do laundry until I get to Katie's because I don't want to waste precious touristy time and time with friends and family on laundry. My mom is out of town for 4 days but I think Monday night when she gets back we're going to go through it one last time and see if I can cull anything out. Since at the moment I cannot buy a single souvenir along the way and I REALLY want to buy a pair of cowboy boots in Austin.

The getting ready to move process is complicated by my broken stomach as I've had to run around hunting prescriptions and transferring the one I can only get a 30 day supply at a time for to a Walgreens since there are no CVS on the west coast. I also remember I was going to be gone for election day so I had to send away for my absentee ballot. I also parent proofed my room (hiding all um...adult things) and cleaned it for while I'm gone. There isn't a whole lot left to do except for finally go through all the tour books and start planning my tourist activities.

I've been keeping a notebook of all the things I will need for the trip, lists, packing, meds, tourist sites etc. Hopefully I will also use this notebook to track some of my feelings etc surrounding this journey so that I can come back and share them with you. Like the amazing Mark Twain in the quote above I know that I would have been more disappointed if I didn't do this and at least try to make a life somewhere else then I would be if I try this and it doesn't work but throwing off the bowlines is always a nerve wrecking process. So as everything gets closer I'm feeling a bout of anticipatory nervousness. Once everything gets going I hope to enjoy the ride as much as possible knowing that it won't always be sunshine but it certainly will be better then it is now!

I've had a couple of interviews and a couple more planned so hopefully getting employed will come in short order. The only downside being a lot of the job openings I'm attracted to are contract positions without benefits so I may have get a second job at a coffee shop or something in order to have insurance. But I will make it work.

I'm not sure if I'll have time to post until I get going on the trip but I will talk to you from the road!