Curiouser and curiouser…

Mini-me’s birthday is in exactly one month, so while I was at Walmart today I browsed the toy aisles to see if anything caught my eye.  Several things did, but for all the wrong reasons.  What happened to good ol’ wholesome Polly Pocket and Tamagotchi pets?

The button eyes on the La-La-Loopsie dolls make me think of the undead...

A potty training babydoll is weird enough, but the uber-concentrated and not-so-cute look on his/her face makes it even more awkward...

Barbies are so 1990s. Gothic, creepy, scantily-clad yet totally fashion conscious monsters are where it's at.

Don't forget the matching outfit for your little ghoulish princess

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the Bratz. This one had the least clothes of all and she was still way more covered up than I thought she would be given the reputation...

Safe to say I don't have "Bieber Fever," and I'm not looking to encourage that raging illness in my sister....ever. Let's stick with Ken.

 

 

Perk

Yesterday was our one year anniversary at work, and it was certainly one of the more fun (and fattening) days I’ve had.

First, Cynthia (one of the managers) brought in hash browns from McDonalds and a fruit tray for breakfast.  Then we went to O’Charlies for a free lunch.  And when we got back in the office there was cake.  But THE highlight of the day had to be when Brian and I drove the SmartCar to and from lunch.  AAA has two SmartCars.  A perk of employment is that they are at your disposal any time you want 🙂

The first question you will ask after you turn the ignition is: “Wait…is it on? Are you sure?”  The complete, absolute silence is eerie.  But yes, it is on, and assuming your seatbelt is fastened, it will begin to move after you apply significant pressure to the gas.  It feels a little like driving a golf cart, though all the buttons and switches and weird eyeball looking things on the dash accompanied with a high pitched squeal as you accelerate make it seem more like a spaceship.

When you try to brake, you will learn that it doesn’t quite stop on a dime.  Upon entering the highway, you will notice that, while it can accelerate at almost the same pace as a regular car, it tops out at 65 downhill – 55 up.  The pedal will literally be to the metal and you’ll still have people zooming by in vehicles that probably weigh at least 3 times as much as yours.  You will also make another discovery when changing lanes – there is no blind spot, because there is no second half of the car.  Seriously.  If you have to make a sharp turn, you will automatically wonder how fast you can take a corner before the whole thing just rolls over.  And then you wonder how you’d survive if you were in any kind of accident- then you realize that you probably wouldn’t, so you should be extra careful.  SmartCar vs Pickup does not look good for the SmartCar…..

Every car you pass (well, I should say every car that passes you) will turn their head and stare.  What, haven’t they ever seen a bright blue and neon green Smart Car decked out in AAA gear before?  If you put the windows down and blare Michael Jackson, you may even get an enthusiastic AAA member rolling down their window specifically to wave at you with a giant grin on their face.  Some people might be embarrassed by all the attention, but those who have had the privilege of driving this space-age piece of equipment know that everyone else is just jealous that they are not even half as cool as you are 🙂

 

PS: In keeping with the car theme, I saw this car the other day – hard to tell in the pics, but this is the first time I’ve seen a legit European import car, complete with the steering wheel on the right side!

Happy Anniversaries

April 7 was the one year anniversary of when I got my very first car with the title in my name.  Yay car payments and insurance…..

April 11th was the one year anniversary of the last real conversation I had with Marc according to gmail (September trip not included because that was a forced (by him) conversation which consisted mostly of me telling him to stay out of my life)

April 14th was the 3rd anniversary of EK’s blog and the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  Coincidence that she chose that date to start her blog? 😉

April 25th will be my one year anniversary with AAA.  With any luck, if I make it to two, it’ll be just barely 🙂  Nothing against the company, because it’s a great place to work in terms of benefits and health care, but I have other plans.

And, of course, April 6th was the 23rd anniversary of the birth of one of my bffs, Kim, and April 29th will be the 23rd anniversary of Emily 🙂

Wow…I never knew April had so many anniversaries 😀

Random Musings

Another one of those “I don’t have enough to say about any one thing to justify multiple posts” post 🙂

1. In an effort to bolster my grad school application, I’ve been trying to find a place to volunteer.  Not just any place, though.  I want to volunteer at a place that looks good and can help me develop some good skills and/or connections.  So instead of the Humane Society, I decided to try the USO.  Turns out they only need people to work the midnight-6am shift.  Sigh.  Back to the drawing board….. Looks like it might be the Humane Society after all.

2. The Rangers are on the edge of elimination. If they don’t win the next two games, they’re out of the playoffs.  It’s only the first round, and this is the team that finished second overall in the NHL!  They’ve lived on the edge all season with their lack of offense and now it’s catching up to them.  Not saying they can’t win the next two games, but the stars need to come to work – something they haven’t really done since game one.   This is a Stanley Cup Playoff series, guys, not some throw-away game in October…. (what makes this even worse is that the STL Blues just advanced to round 2, so all around me I have to listen to chatter about how great the Blues are…)

3. I miss the no-lease renting situation I had in NYC.  True, I disliked having roommates, but it was nice that I could literally bail with a day’s notice.  It’s time for my lease renewal here, and not only did my rent increase (along with them deciding not to include water, sewer, and trash anymore), but I have to sign for a 12 month term, which would run through the end of next June.  If I get into grad school this year (which I should know by November or December), then I would start looking for jobs in February or March and be looking to move as soon as I landed one.  The cost for breaking my lease is approximately 2.5 month’s rent.  Ouch.  But if I wait until it runs its course I would have to time my relocation perfectly, and I’m not sure I have that kind of power in this kind of economy.  I would try to relocate now, but I don’t think a new employer would look too kindly on my 2 week Japan trip in November…. Oh well, what’s a little money in the long run?  Sigh.

4.  Speaking of what I miss in NYC, the # 2 thing (#1 is EK, of course :D) is Central Park.  Forest Park’s grown on me, but only because there is no real alternative.  But trust me, every time I’m physically walking there, I’m mentally walking through Central Park.

5.  I still don’t get Emily and Zach.  I talked to her last Sunday and she said that she thinks she’s getting closer to convincing him to leave his job and move in with her.  At the same time, she’s been taking free tango lessons and hanging out with the single guys in the class on her down time.  And apparently Zach’s totally okay with this. Smh.  They have an odd dynamic going on.  I know better than to give her advice (and, to be fair, if I were in her position I would want other people to butt out too) but I’m not sure if she’s really thought through the financials of supporting someone else with her part-time gig.

6.  I’m officially giving up on the online dating thing, at least for the foreseeable future.  For one thing, I’d rather meet someone in person.  For another, most people online have issues. I don’t mean issues like mine – where I’m on there because I’m just not into the bar/club scene and there’s really nowhere else to meet people around here – but real issues.  Sorry, but I don’t do drama and I don’t do 100 pounds of baggage…..

7.  1/2 cup oatmeal made with milk + 1 egg white + 1tsp olive oil = amazing facial that leaves your skin feeling silky soft and smooth the next morning 🙂

Another Day in Paradise…

Thursday and Friday were sooo mentally draining this week.  I try really hard not to bash work too often on this blog, so today I’m going to try to keep it more of a “factual observation” post.

As a relief adjuster, my job is basically to put out fires on the days when everyone else (except for one other relief adjuster) is off.  Since I’m on a six month shift and the other adjuster rotates monthly, I usually take responsibility for the adjusters whose work I know is going to be a mess, since the other relief adjuster still has some of their own claims to work (with the hail storm in Texas, so do I, but I’m faster than most others).  Some weeks it’s easy.  Some, like this past week, every third voicemail takes you into a claim that hasn’t been touched in over a month and has MAJOR work that needs to be done.  I bring the really bad ones to the attention of my manager as kind of an “FYI, heads up, you might want to look at this” thing, but try to avoid bad-mouthing the other adjusters.  We all know who they are because the problems are hardly new, and talking bad isn’t going to solve anything. At least, that’s my position.  My manager seems to have a slightly different one….

The other relief adjuster this month is Katie.  She’s the 23 year old ultimate sorority chick who still lives at home and has her parents pay for everything and probably couldn’t fend for herself if her life depended on it.  One of her main skills is throwing other people under the bus (even for her own mistakes).  She’s constantly in Shelley’s office slamming other people for messing up or not doing things exactly the way she would do them – and she even slams them to the CUSTOMER while on the phone with them.  Nothing boosts customer satisfaction like telling them their main adjuster is incompetent and pointing out how much better you think you are….

We all know Katie does this and pretty much universally detest her for it, but Shelley doesn’t see it because Katie is her BFF and can do no wrong.  Look Shelley, I know you moved her from California and have almost no friends here, but you’re a grown woman and our manager – gossiping with your subordinates all the time does not exactly strike me as appropriate.  But whatever, we’ve all accepted the blatant favoritism towards Katie and Jill (Katie’s BFF and another stay-at-home sorority girl who can’t manage her workload but who never gets yelled at, unlike some of the guys on the team).  But now Shelley’s trying to draw me into it.  She’ll call me over to go over claims where she clearly already knows what wasn’t done or what was messed up and tries to bait me into slamming the main adjusters.  Sorry, that’s going to be Katie’s job alone.

My job is to fix the fires immediately and let you know they’re there if I think they’re going to blow up further or if something was really screwed up.  Your job is to talk with/mentor the adjusters making the mistakes and fix it permanently. Gossiping about how badly Ryan and Jason and Jim handle their claims and workload (but mysteriously not Jill….) isn’t fixing anything, so please, grow up, stop the favoritism, and actually try managing in a helpful manner. It’s not easy, but that’s why you get paid the big bucks. As opposed to me, who gets paid less than Ryan and Jim and yet is constantly expected to fix their messes while you do absolutely nothing productive about it….

 

But hey, I can’t be too negative.  I have a job that pays the rent and allows me to travel when and where I want, with managers who recognize that I’m very good at what I do (both my direct manager and the people above her), so I have good prospects for the next year or so until I (hopefully) move on for grad school.

Hug a Coke

I don’t drink coke (or any other soda for that matter) but this intriques me enough to make me want to go to Singapore to see it with my own eyes 🙂

 

Spring Cleaning

I’ve always been a bit of a minimalist by nature, and it’s certainly gotten worse over the past couple of years (though I was doing twice yearly complete clean-outs of my room dating all the way back to high school).  I think it has to do with the fact that I’ve moved so often since I graduated back in 2007.  First from STL to Stony Brook and then back again (not to mention Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break when I had to move all of my stuff out of my dorm for no good reason at all); then from STL to NYC; then between three apartments in NYC; then back to STL; and finally to my current location in Creve Coeur.  In about a year I’ll be moving several hours away again.  When you move around so much, you necessarily learn what things are essential and what things aren’t. Before buying anything, you consider the cost/hassle of moving it, and you buy big ticket items that you know you can’t move on the cheap. This is especially true if, like me, you’re used to moving completely on your own.  My parents drove me and my stuff to Stony Brook, but since that time, my helpers have been me, myself, and I.

I was bitten by the spring cleaning bug this morning.  I even hauled up the bins from my storage locker so that I could get through everything in one fell swoop. The process actually took me less than an hour due to my utter lack of stuff. And yet I still managed to get rid of a kitchen-sized garbage bag full of things I’d forgotten I even had, along with a large bag of books to donate to the library.  Once I was finished, I hauled my extra stuff back downstairs.  Note the contrast in the picture above.  In my locker you will find exactly: 3 partially filled tupperware bins; 1 empty box from JC Penney to be used in Christmas gift giving; 1 Walmart bag with 2 decorations that were given to (re: forced on) me by my godmother, which I need to return; and an extra litter box.  Compare that to my neighbor’s unit.  Seriously, how do people even accumulate that much stuff?  And who could possibly need it all?

I did, however, add one thing to my decor:

I’ve always wanted a world map, it just took me a while to get settled enough to get one.  The white pins are where I’ve been.  The black pins are where I most want to go (I ran out of black pins before I could mark ALL of my future travel destinations).  I have a feeling one of the best parts of every trip I take is going to be replacing black with white when I get back home 🙂