Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Brand Spankin' New

Just posting to let you know I've moved to a different blog:

This Resident Tourist

This new blog is about anthropology, tourism, and loosely-related life events.

Thanks for reading A Valley Girl Abroad. I hope you like the new one.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Roommates, Humidity, and a Great, Big Mouse

It’s been about ten months since I last wrote for this blog! If you’ve been following me on Twitter (or Facebook), you already know that I’m in Florida now, working for the Mouse. I’ve been in Orlando since Monday and I’ve only just begun training for my role at Disney Quest, in quick-service food & beverages. The costume is a bright swirl of aquamarine, blue, purple, magenta and green. Still, I’ve worn worse. Check out this beauty:
I had to wear this for five months in 2006, when I originally did the College Program at the All-Star Sports resort. Thank goodness for extra hours – I can work in other places and pick up new costumes for different roles on occasion; last time, I picked up shifts in the Magic Kingdom quite often. My best experience was the first time I worked in the Main Street ice cream shop, when I was dressed like Alice and came across the Dapper Dans backstage. I made my way there through the underground tunnel system and was a little disoriented; I had to ask them which way to go, and their response was classic: “It’s that-a-way!” (as they simultaneously pointed in different directions). I felt like I WAS Alice and they were Tweedledee and Tweedledum, plus two.

Anyway, I have yet to see the inside of Disney Quest. I’ve heard varying opinions on it, but I’ve kept an open mind.

Also: I’ve got awesome roommates! The six of us have so much in common, it’s like Disney went onto our Facebook pages (or something like that) and matched us up. Three of us have already gone to the Magic Kingdom together (grinning and laughing about 90% of the time… we had a blast), and just last night one of them made dinner for all of us! I plan on returning the gesture, possibly tonight – I may make a roast chicken. We’ve had a few maintenance and inventory problems in our apartment (we live in the newest complex, Patterson Court, by the way); e.g., slow drains, weird spots on the wall, doors that don’t properly close, things stuck in the disposal, a significant lack of kitchen supplies, and most annoyingly, and EXTREMELY slow internet connection. Someone came to all but three of those things earlier today, fortunately.

That’s all for now. I have today off (in fact, I don’t continue training until Tuesday), and I’ll be going to MK to pick up a costume for some extra hours I’ll be doing in Fantasyland on Monday before going to Wal-Mart to pick up ingredients for tonight’s dinner (I wish I didn’t have to shop at Wal-Mart… I don’t like the company in general, and besides it’s not Trader Joe’s in any aspect – but it’s where the free bus takes me, and besides, Orlando is pretty limited).

I’m very likely to continue blogging on a different page, to separate the two experiences of London and Orlando. If so, this will be my last post on this blog, and I’ll re-post this particular entry onto the new one before continuing.

So, as the great Doctor once said: Allons-y, Alonso!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Homecoming (A Belated Post)

Where am I? It’s dark, a little muggy, and very late. Certainly not in the last location I blogged from. Must be my bedroom back home in California (at least the fan is on full-blast, and my bed is very comfy – I’ve got a new memory foam mattress cover).

Allow me to give you a little summary of the time spent since my last entry…

Back home, the old routines have returned, for better and for worse. It’s nice to be with family and old friends again; we’ve had quite a few mini-adventures since, for which I’m grateful. I missed being able to hug my dogs and play with them every day. Even just being able to enjoy all the goodies from Trader Joe’s is a well-appreciated indulgence. I’ve kept myself occupied in a productive way – I took up an internship as a production manager for a documentary (now in hiatus) – but at present, there are too few things to keep me on regular hours, which is a bit of a downer. I’ve picked up a couple good habits, though – I’ve joined the YMCA (I’m going every other day) and I’ve just about completed my first knitted scarf (I’m making another for my grandma next).

Occupation-wise, I’m not happy. I’ve been applying to every worthwhile position on the ‘net I can think of, in bursts of can-do-spirit and bouts of laziness. I’ve done a few small things, however. A sweet older couple (friends of the family) paid me to tutor them on their computer; I’ve got a well-paid house/pet-sitting gig this weekend; plus, I’ve finally got a good number of photos submitted to a stock photography website (no sales yet, however). It’s not terrible, but I’ve still got a way to go.

My dad has been pushing the idea of me continuing CSUN into grad school, studying Anthropology. Because of a few less-than-wonderful grades on my transcript, I must take the GRE test, so I’ve got some studying to do now (mainly math). Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what I’d like to do for my thesis; I simply enjoy the field, and I’ve been pretty good at it thus far. I’ll likely do something within cultural anthropology (though I’ll be tempted to take a few more classes in archaeology). And then after grad studies… Well, time will tell.  Times are difficult enough that I’m becoming more flexible by the minute.

In other news… My grandma was hospitalized, underwent chemotherapy, and now lives in a nursing home in Santa Monica. She’s going through physical therapy in order to get herself walking independently once more (she walked into the hospital and came out atrophied – I can’t tell you how furious my mom was at her doctors). It’s a very long story.

Well now I think I’ve said enough. If I keep at this much longer, the sun will be rising and once I get to sleep, I’ll be doomed to wake at some depressingly afternoon-y hour. I’m set up for a late wake-up as it is.

I’m not sure about the future of this blog… Its purpose has already been met, as the description should have made clear. I wish I were back in London now, only with a full-time job this time.

Sorry I haven’t filled in more details about the Paris and Barcelona trips… perhaps I’ll do a little of that from time to time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pick pocketed!

11 AM exactly… Jesus. I’d hoped to wake at 9 and get an earlier start. I don’t exactly have a reliable alarm anymore, now that my cell phone is gone. Yesterday, I think I was pick pocketed. I was trying to refrain from taking ever more pictures on my regular camera, so I snapped a couple pics of an interesting statue and some fountains in the Port Olimpic area using my phone. But then I decided to switch to my camera anyway, so I pocketed the phone and thought nothing of it till about 10-15 minutes later, when I wanted to make a short video on the beach. At that point, it was no longer in my pocket. Determined not to panic (as I’ve learned from the many times I’ve lost my lens cap), I sat down and emptied my purse and my jeans and coat pockets. Nada. I retraced my steps. Still nada. I asked around, approaching front desks and uniformed types. And you know what? It was still missing. I even tried calling myself from a payphone once, but it just kept ringing.

Did you know that it’s awfully hard to find a police officer in Barcelona? It’s a wonder crime isn’t even worse. After some searching the area, I only located a security guard, and he couldn’t help me at all. Finally, a receptionist at a local hospital gave me directions to a police station somewhere in the area of La Rambla. When I *finally* got there (the first two busses in that direction failed to stop… then I ended up going down a creepy road where I was leered and begged at… finally, some people pointed the way and after a few vague interpretations, I made it), I called home to make sure my phone was disconnected, and then set to answering lots of questions about my basic identity details, filling out loads of paperwork. I had to sit in a waiting room, awaiting a copy of the form so I could use it for insurance purposes if I need to. They told me I’m highly unlikely to ever get my phone back. I noticed a little black market activity going on behind the fruit and meat market on La Rambla the other day (I even snapped a picture, to their great annoyance)… I wonder if I’d find it there.

Well, that’s just the most distressing part of yesterday. I did have a marvelous time at the Sagrada Famila. It’s the strangest/most amazing building in Barcelona… it’s like a giant pointy sand castle. I took loads of pictures, many of which I think came out rather nicely.

So. It’s just about 11:30 AM. Gotta dress and go. I’d like to see Park G├╝ell today.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Can't Believe I'm in Paris!

Currently: In bed, light switched on, curtains drawn. In St. Christopher’s Inn hostel, Paris. Oui, the City of Light!

Unlike the previous night, I got back before 3 AM this time! (Sort of a long story.)

My day in brief: Today I accidentally slept in a little long, so I didn't get to do as much as I'd hoped, but I still had a nice time. I mostly explored the "Latin" area. Notre Dame was beautiful – I took plenty of pictures. It was evening when I saw it, so unfortunately I couldn't go inside then. But I'll certainly be back. I had dinner right across the street from it – onion soup and hot chocolate.

Reasons I do not like the Metro (and I miss the Tube!):
  1. It's too complicated to navigate!
  2. I bought a week-long pass, but it only starts working next Monday. And I can't buy day-long passes; only tickets for each trip (and they cost the same whether you take a bus or the Metro).
  3. Once, I got on a train going the wrong direction and got off at the next stop to change sides, only to find that at that station I had to exit and pay again to get on!
  4. There are lots and lots of RATS!
  5. The stations are very dirty and not very interesting to look at.
  6. I haven't seen a single musician performing... but I DID see a couple homeless men that did a funny version of hip-hop dancing.

Plans: Louvre tomorrow? Also, I’ll try to call Chloe again (I got her voice mail last time). Maybe we can meet for dinner.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On the Verge of Traveling and Fighting This @#$?% Flu

I’ve come down with the flu, and though I felt completely disgusting yesterday, I went to Greenwich with Kate. It probably didn’t do me any good health-wise, but it was worth seeing, especially as I’d put off going for so long. When I got home, it became much worse (and I’ll spare you the icky details).

The weather has been particularly wild these past few days. I’d gotten the impression that spring was on its way judging on the sunshine that persisted for a while previously, but I think winter just had one last statement to make before it becomes spring properly. About an hour ago, the sky was bright blue; and now, judging by the storm howling and beating against my window, you’d never guess it to have been true.

I stayed up nearly until dawn again, watching some insane post-midnight television programs with Agneta while I took care of some my travel bookings. Usually, we’d be watching some movies or old TV shows through the connection to my laptop, but as I needed my laptop, we just let the TV run its course. I’ve discovered some new films that way in the past; more often than not, they’ve been quite different from the films I’m used to seeing on TV back home. Anyway, this time it seemed to get stranger as time went on. Examples: I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Okay (a Korean film about a mental hospital patient who believes she’s a cyborg and fantasizes about killing everyone, but is cared for by another patient who believes he can shrink); Hello Friend (about a killer computer part); and some stop-motion children’s show with magic poo that transforms into a triangle that teleports people and animals into another dimension. Sometimes we just watched sports (OMG, sports!) to escape from the madness for just a little while. I think Adult Swim will seem quite tame after this.

Anyway, during all this weird TV-watching, I finished booking my flight back to LA (round trip was HALF the price of a single ticket!) and my flight and accommodations in Paris. I still have to book for Barcelona. I don’t think I could have possibly done any more comparing. I’m trying to stick to a very strict budget, as well as I can.

For now, I’ve got plenty to do, but my first priority is to get rid of this flu. I have a bath waiting for me now, and it’s been getting cold. I’ve already had some meds, but I need some tea, too. And possibly soup.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Loath to Make Plans

I keep clicking on the calendar in the bottom-right corner of the screen… considering my tentative travel plans. One week in Paris, and another in Barcelona. Or maybe splitting the second week into Barcelona and some other place. Exciting, isn’t it? It is, but the one thing holding me back from making all my reservations is a lack of communication… Wouldn’t it be so much better if I could share the experience with friends? I have three friends in Paris who I would like to see. I’ve sent them notes through email and Facebook – days ago – but I haven’t received a reply. Janice and I have been talking for ages about going to Barcelona together. I’ve been trying to meet up with her to discuss it, and that’s been a problem; finally, I asked her if she’s even still interested – via email – and she told me that she’s got some plans coming up that conflict with the dates I need to travel on. I’d put it off to accommodate her plans… really, I would… but I’m spending a lot of money and wasting a lot of time as it is. My parents gave me a very nice sum of money at the start of this adventure, and most of it’s gone. London’s an expensive city, and the economy is pretty unforgiving, especially to someone who intends to stay only temporarily. But let’s not go into that. It’s too depressing a thought, and I’ve already been there, many times.

I’m still holding on to the notion of sharing my travels… So clicking the “Send/Receive” button on Outlook and refreshing Facebook is becoming a semi-obsessive habit. I’m anxious, and I’m beginning to get a little paranoid. Am I being ignored? Is there something wrong with me? Is something wrong with the website/my email/their computers/etc.? I’ve thought about a few people that I’ve lost contact with over time, and have begun to ask the same questions all over again. It’s unsettling. And if in fact there is something technical at fault, or my messages have simply gone unnoticed, what if it all comes together after it’s too late? I *hate* making decisions like these…

I’ve also got to book my return flight to LA. And even in that case I’m having doubts. Just one little click decides how much time I’ve got before I close another chapter in my life. As much as I love my family and friends back home, I am truly reluctant to return. I felt so stuck there. Especially after graduation. Sitting in my bedroom, I was in the one place where my world felt unchangeable, in a very negative way. It’s a place for clinging to childhood and feeling guilty for not suddenly transforming into a productive adult. And god, in that place, I really hate that phrase.

And so, my browser remains on a dozen or so travel websites, reservations just a click away… and it’s been that way for two or three days, exactly the same. I’m considering clicking a fairly distant date – a week or two after my supposed return from the continent. Agneta assures me that she’ll have a flat by then, and I can stay with her. I just don’t know how many days will be an excess, especially on my finances. And by the way, just why have round-trip flights come up on these websites at incredibly low prices than the single trip ones? I mean, really… it’s ridiculous! I may have to buy a round-trip ticket and then feel a bit guilty for burning the second trip.

Oh, and also: I haven’t done ANY packing, nor any shipping yet! I’m sure I’ll be rushing it all at the very last minute.

TOMORROW’S PLAN: Greenwich Observatory, with Kate (11:30 AM). One of a few places I’ve long intended to visit.