Sunday, December 16, 2012

ballet and booster seats

for years my mother and i have wanted to go see the nutcracker ballet together.
it has remained a subject of daydreams. every year there has been a different excuse. it was on the same day as nana's christmas party, i was out of the country, my flight got in after the show stopped for the season, too expensive, snow storm, sold out, clara broke her leg.  we could never seem to catch a break.
but this year it all changed. my aunt was given tickets to a matinee showing of the nutcracker by one of the ballet's sponsors, and she gave them to me and my mom. i was thrilled.
clara and the nutcracker
when we entered the theatre lobby i was in shock. we were giants. surrounded by hundreds of little girls and their mothers and grandmothers. a generational tradition. little girls holding cabbage patch dolls in matching gowns. GOWNS. the miniature humans were dressed in lavish dresses with crinolines poofing out above their dora the explorer winter boots. i was wearing a jean jacket and red keds. the ugly 24 year old duckling of the matinee.
five minutes until curtain and we entered. on our right sat a little girl named taylor and her mother. taylor is about five years old. she refuses to sit still. her only redeeming quality is that she is tall for her age and does not require one of the brightly coloured booster seats. which the ushers seem to be handing out like candy to ever child that walks by. not taking into consideration the lap sitters, hallway tantrumer's and aisle walkers among them. we spent the entire show hearing
"taylor sit down" 
"taylor one more time and we are leaving!"
"don't lick that!"
"QUIET people are trying to watch the show"
i adapted to taylor and her wild ways. but the four eyed blonde pigtail stick figure in front of my seat was another story. she could have cared less about the ballerinas prancing about on stage. she didn't even bat an eyelid during the set changes. in fact her eyes seemed determined to stare at everything but the stage. she sat on her knees facing me for the majority of the show. her knuckles griping the chair back, her nose squished into the seat cushion so tightly that it pushed her glasses up a couple inches higher than they should be.
the families in the aisles surrounding us had lunch boxes filled with snacks for intermission, they talked about christmas concerts, led kids down to the front of auditorium to get a peak at the symphony pit, and the said countless rounds of "excuse me, excuse me, excuse me"as they squished in and out of aisles like we were at a wiggles concert instead of the ballet.
needless to say, i can understand why my mom waited until i was 24 to take me. until i was old enough to stash snacks in my own pockets, sit quietly, and hold in my pee until it was socially acceptable to relieve myself. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

saving 101

found this gem on this week. an article about a guy named michael who wanted to travel and got thrifty with his saving techniques in order to do so. it got me thinking about what techniques i'll have to start once i get settled in vancouver.
the following article snipit is courtesy of travel blogger matt kepnes from

How Michael Saved $14k in 6 Months Making $9 Per Hour

By Nomadic Matt | Published December 5th, 2012
michael traveling success story
A lot of people say you need to have a well-paying job in order to afford your trip. But Michael (age 27) never had one of those, yet he still managed to save $15k in 6 months on his trip while on making $9 USD per hour! When he told me his story, I knew he was perfect for this week’s success story. He epitomized the idea that anyone can find the money for travel. Without further ado, let’s meet Michael and find out how you save so much money while making so little!
Nomadic Matt: Tell everyone about yourself.
Michael: I was living in Austin, Texas before I became a citizen of the world. I had always wanted to take a year off and travel the world. I had taken small trips overseas in the past and would meet so many travelers who were taking months or years off to travel. Those people put the idea in my head that maybe I could travel for extended periods of time too. When I graduated from college I spent a year and a half looking for a teaching position but couldn’t find one. I started entertaining the idea of selling everything I own and taking a year off to travel, but still it didn’t really seem feasible. Since I couldn’t find a teaching position I got a job as a cook at a pizza place in Austin. I was only making $9 per hour plus tips.
How long were you planning on traveling? 
I was just planning to be gone for a year. Once I started researching how to travel the world, I came across several blogs of people offering words of encouragement and advice. I had looked up RTW tickets and thought that would be the best way to go. I had started organizing and planning the entire year; what cities I would go to, the cost of living in each country, etc. But then I thought “how the hell can someone plan for an entire year?” I was new to planning a trip but still knew there was just no way to plan anything for an entire year. Now, I’m just going to go with the flow and be gone as long as possible.
michael travelingOk, so tell us, how the heck did you save $15k in 6 months? 
I decided I wanted to save $15,000 for my trip, figuring that could last me for a year. I only had 6 months to save for my trip so I had to work my hardest to be able to get to $15,000. I say I only had six months because to keep myself from putting off the trip and keeping myself disciplined I booked my flight out of the U.S. the day I decided I was going to travel around the world.
At first I thought I would get a second part-time job, upping my total work hours to 60 a week. I was only making $9 USD per hour so it’s not like I was living the rich life. My boss ended up giving me the hours I wanted so there was no need for a second job. On top of the 60 hours he gave me, I would eat up others people’s hours if they called out of work. On average for 5 months I was working about 65 hours a week. Life was tough, but I kept my goal in sight and fought through it. In those 6 months, I put myself on a budget; I would limit myself to drinking once a week, eat food from work as much as I could, not use my air conditioner as much (that was the worst for I was living in Texas), and try to lower my electricity bill by not using as much light. Basically, I put my expenses into two columns, wants and needs (a friend of mine came up with this money saving technique). Every time I was to spend money I would ask myself if it was a want or a need. If it was a want I would usually come to the conclusion that it was a waste of money.
Aside from working I sold stuff to make money. I sold almost every electronic item I had, like my T.V., guitar amps and such. I figured I could always get those things again later in life if I wanted them. I also sold my car.

if he can do it, i can do it...again. although i have no car to sell, no air conditioning not to use, and actually no job to speak of at the moment, but i am confident that i will get creative just like michael did. it is hard sacrificing things in the present in order to save for something in the far off future. but reading stories like these helps to keep me on the right mindset. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

low expectations

i've been home for a little over a month now. and i've already made my next move.
i bought a one way ticket to vancouver!
i leave at the end of january. no job, no place to live.

i need to save up some more money before i can head off on another adventure. so instead of staying home and working here i decided to make the process of saving money into an adventure too.
and an adventure it will be! i will arrive in vancouver with no plans other than crashing at a friends place for a week while i look for a job and a place to live.

i'm going in with low expectations. that way i can't be disapointed. well i mean if i end up getting strep throat, stung by a bee, develop an infectious rash on the back of my ankles so i can't wear shoes and i'm forced to wear flip flops all the time, then yes, i will get disapointed. but in general i think this is a good way to go into any new situation. trying a new restaurant, traveling to a new country, buying a pair of shoes that are a little to tight, but that you hope will stretch out in the first lil bit. low expectations.

through my travels i have learned one thing for certain, it is the journey not the destination. sure if your journey happens to take you through the outback of australia that sounds drastically more exciting than spending the same amount of time in your hometown while working at a restaurant and spending your nights watching coronation street with your parents. however it is up to you to make yourself open to experiences, and create opportunities for them to happen. so with that in mind i am entering this next chunk of my life with low expectations, an empty bank account and an open mind.

stewart sandwich 
me and dad

setting up nana and papa's christmas tree

i wear fake glasses and braid my hair like a five year old blonde dutch girl