I need a vacation. Period.

The last time I went on a real vacation – like a vacation that wasn’t for work, wasn’t for the holidays to visit family, wasn’t to go see my long distance beau, wasn’t squeezed into a weekend, wasn’t so jam-packed with activities that I couldn’t even relax, wasn’t planned with the sole purpose of overcoming sadness – just a vacation that was completely intended for happiness, relaxation and a complete lack of responsibility waaaaaas… Summer 2007?  My family and I ventured out to the great world of Ocean City, Maryland where we stayed in an ocean front townhouse for a week.  It was a great time – lots of lazin’ about, card games, the boardwalk, fried oreos, drinking at all hours, and just not worrying about a darn thing!  I need that.  I need that so badly it’s not even funny.  I mean, that was 2.5 years ago… TWO AND A HALF YEARS.  Toooo long ago.

I did make my fair share of trips in 2009 – venturing to Albuquerque, NM for the first time ever and going back thereafter multiple times (all to see M), making it down to Jacksonville, FL (for work), going to Hilton Head Island, SC (for work), an impromptu trip to Murfreesboro, TN on Memorial Day weekend, I even made my way to California twice, once to San Diego (jam-packed tourist non-stop shenanigans) and then once to Sacramento (for work).  But like I said – all of those trips had ulterior motives – none of which were for me to lie on the beach and… well… just lie on the beach.  Or take pictures.  I want to lie on a beach half the time, and wander around taking pictures the other half of the time.  I have this new amazing camera – and with the exception of J&KK’s wedding, a trip to the Botanic Gardens and a rather popular mini photo shoot with my roommate’s cat, I feel like I’ve been wasting away the abilities of my camera.  It’s like money burning a hole in my pocket, my camera is burning a hole in my pocket.  It’s aching to be used.  My camera is aching to be used and my body is just hankering for the beach.

A few months ago a good friend of mine told me about www.cheapcaribbean.com which is this wonderful website with these all-inclusive packages (we’re talking airfare, lodging, food AND drinks) to tropical places some of which were 5 nights for $500/person.  How can you beat that???  Pretty much since then I’ve had my eye on the prize – unfortunately, my wallet has had it’s eye on the rent, and the student loan, and the car payment, and the car insurance, and the graduate school, and the credit card, and the list goes on…  I feel like I’m letting what I want to do be put on hold because of money and I hate that.  That’s not me, and that’s never really been me – at least the young, go-getter, money-doesn’t-matter me that I used to be.  I’m no longer that me, I suppose.  I’m now the “I have a real job and I have real responsibilities” me that doesn’t just go.

But you know what, as my father has told me many times, “It is what you make it” and he is so right – and what I want is a vacation!  I want to escape from work, take my camera and just go.  I want to do and see the things I want to do and see and not let money stop me.  Now, I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and go crazy in-debt, I’m more just saying it’s time to get my eye back on the prize and make my wallet work for me!  It’s time to get those dollars snapped into shape and go somewhere!  Anywhere!

It doesn’t even have to be the Caribbean.  I’d be happy with the whales in New England, or Seattle, or ya-know Alaska.  Oh man, I would be SO happy with whale watching.  For years now one of my dream trips has been to go whale watching.  I did get to see the Shamu Show in San Diego at SeaWorld – which was amaaaazing.  But I feel like nothing really compares to a whale out in the wild.  There’s just something so grand and majestic about it that just sends chills right through me.  I will see a live whale out in the wild one day, mark my word, I will do it.

But I’m seriously getting so desperate for a vacation these days, I’d even consider going alone.  Okay, that’s not true.  I mean, I totally could go alone, and have done plenty of traveling alone, it’s just, I’m not the type of person who wants to spend lots of money and go somewhere with no one else to enjoy it with.  I just want to go somewhere – whether it’s a big group trip, or just me and M, or an all-girls trip, or my family, or whatever, I JUST WANT TO GO SOMEWHERE.  I want to escape from reality into the realms of vacation!  I need it.  I want it.  I’ve gotta have it.

Okay, I think I’ve made my point.

Vacation?  Yes, please.

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Wednesday already???

I really do love 4 day work weeks because it is already WEDNESDAY!  Hooraaaaaaaaaaay!  And since it’s Wednesday, that means tonight I get to finally meet N’s fiancé!  Super hooraaaaaay!  I mean, they’ve only been ENGAGED for over two months, lol, but better late than never to meet him is what I say.  And since they are getting married – it’s not like I won’t have plenty of time to get to know him now.  And tomorrow is already Thursday – my favorite day of the week aaaand when I get to hang out with MF – who I feel like I haven’t seen in foooor-eeeeev-eeeeer (Sandlot style).  And before you know it – BAM – it’s Friday.  Hooray!

And on a side note, as promised before, here are some pictures from my Botanic Garden outing this past Monday…

I hope everyone is having a lovely Wednesday!

Oh Picnik, how you brighten my life!

Nine days, three hours and 15 minutes ago I was introduced to my new best friend (if a free online software program can be a best friend).  What software program has brought such joy to my life?  It’s the one and only picnik!  It’s like PhotoShop but freeee and I absolutely love it!  My sister was the one that introduced me to this gem, and since that day I have done my best to spread the word!  Spread the word of the joy known as picnik!!!  

Now what does picnik really do, you’re thinking… right?  Well feast your eyes on this:  

Picture I took of M flying on Christmas Eve. Before picnik and after picnik.

Moustache March - so close I can taste it.

   

It seriously does everything – cropping, playing with color (b&w, sepia, bold), 1960s, cinema-look, soft focus, select coloration (or lack of coloration), select focus, puzzle-ing, pixel-ing, posterizing, frames, stickers, collages, and the list goes on and on and on.Take this little diddy to the left for example.  I didn’t do much, just put it in the “Polaroid” frame, threw on a moustache and a little text and voilá!  And as a side note, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Moustache March – it’s basically the month of the year that all the Air Force guys decide to show their solidarity by growing moustaches and therefore rebeling against military hair regulations!  Ooooo what rebels they are!  I’ve never seen M with a moustache before since he’s never really participated in Moustache March – but this year he swears he’s coming out in full force.  So if picnik has given me any real prediction of what’s to come, I actually just might like this whole Moustache March thing.  Now, see!  Picnik can even give you a peak into the future – how amazing is that???  

Four Day Weekend? Yes Please!

Thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr. and my compressed work schedule (which results in a day off every other week), I was blessed with a four day weekend this week. <insert giddiness here>

For those of you who somehow don’t know, four day weekends are about the best thing EVER because not only does a four day weekend start with a four day work week, they are also followed by a four day work week.  Ahh, shortened work weeks, how I adore thee.  Now, what did I do to appreciate this four day weekend, you might ask?  Well, let me tell you…

Friday.  My morning starts at 6:30am when I’m awoken by M’s alarm which went off bright and early because – well – we weren’t ALL blessed with four day weekends this week.  So I dragged my butt out of his bed, rolled it into my car, drove to my own bed and went back to sleep… until 1pm.  Yes, folks, that’s right 1pm.  The last time I slept until 1pm?  College.  Easily.  Well rested was an understatement.  From there I decided I needed to run errands, starting with returning J&KK’s house key from catsitting for them the week prior.  So I drive to their place, hang out with KK for a bit, get in my car to run my errands just to find out M and J have planned a gathering at J&KK’s place that night.  So I went back home and hung out for a bit before M picked me up and I went back to J&KK’s for dinner and a movie.

Saturday.  I am woken up, once again, by M’s alarm because Saturday morning meant picking up his new couch (which I was actually thrilled about because that meant we were no longer going to have to sit on the floor to saaay – eat dinner, or watch tv, but we would now be elevated to the ranks of a couch!  hooray!  now just keeping my fingers crossed for a dining table with chairs!).  Anyway, so he went off to his couch, and I was off to Target and Best Buy where I purchased 1) The new O.A.R. album (finally); 2) An antenna so I can watch more than just dvds in my room; 3) Curtains (hooray for window treatments!); and 4) $90 worth of too much other crap from Target which will be proven evident in Sundays overview where I return $90+ worth of my Target purchase.  And Saturday night we were off to M&C’s for a welcome home celebration which consisted of hanging out with fun peeps, playing with one adorable cat and two ginormous dogs, and watching my juggler juggle with other jugglers.

Sunday.  Woke up.  Wandered around Alexandria in the rain for a bagel – just to end up at Starbucks, sadness.  Returned a bunch of crap to Target (I hate when the guilt sets in).  Hung my curtains (yay!).  Listed a ton of stuff on craigslist.  Had dinner with my hunny bunny.  Watched the first 2 hours of the 24 4-hour season premiere extravaganza!

Monday.  Ooooh, Monday, how I loved you.  Monday meant meeting up with my meetup group at the Botanic Gardens to take macro pictures of flowers!  Ahhhh, be still my beating heart.  By the end I’d taken 650+ pictures, but after last nights review of the pictures, I’m down to a more reasonable 300 pictures, lol.  Picture posting to follow shortly.  After that I walked home from the National Mall to M’s condo in SE (I figure all in all I walked about 2 miles that day).  Then I headed home, sold my old computer monitor via craigslist (wohoo for feng shui-ing stuff I no longer need), packed a bag and headed back to M’s place for night two of the 24 4-hour season premiere extravaganza!!!

And that about sums it up – and by “about” I mean it definitely does.  And in the future, I’ll try to post less crap, more frequently, lol.  We’ll see how it goes.

Farewell and Following Seas!

Since August 2006, the summer after I graduated from college, I’ve been working for a private consulting firm as a DoD contractor supporting the Navy.  Now, 3.5 years later, my time has come to move on from my Navy contract and switch to supporting the United States Coast Guard.  It was a hard decision to make when I requested to change contracts, but in hindsight, it is a decision I am very proud of and very excited about.  You see, I was in a bubble – a very comfortable bubble – and I could’ve stayed in that bubble for quite some time without having to exert myself or leave my comfort zone.  But something in me just told me it was time.  It was time for a change, for a challenge, for a new adventure in my life, for something fresh and unknown.  So starting next week I will be leaving the Navy and moving on to the Coast Guard.

So today was my farewell luncheon with the Navy (my first “farewell” of any sort ever, actually) and I think it went well.  It was a little smaller turnout then I might’ve hoped, but it was in the middle of a work day and the notice for the luncheon was sent out two days prior to about 25% of the people I work with with the expectation it would get spread around (not how I might’ve organized such an event, but I guess it’s not proper etiquette to plan your own farewell luncheon?).  Oh well.  It was nice, my boss gave a little speech and then I got to give a little speech (a very little speech), then we all ate food and off we went back to our cubicles.

Now none of that is really the fun part – the fun part is actually my gift!  The usual farewell gift is a random picture of something in D.C. which your coworkers sign the mat of and then they frame it (which without fail ends up cutting off half the messages your coworkers personalized for you) and there you have it.  My gift, however, is not a signed picture, it is actually something that I think is super cool!  It’s a Navy Ship Deck Prism (see picture) that’s engraved with my name and my start/end dates of my time supporting the Navy.  I wasn’t really familiar with Ship Deck Prisms, so I did a little research and learned the following:

“In the seafaring days before electricity, light below a vessel’s deck was provided by lighted tallow candles, whale oil and kerosene lamps – all of which were dangerous hazards aboard the wooden ships of yore.  One solution to illuminating a ship’s passageways was the glass deck prism.  Set flush into the upper deck, small diamond shaped prisms gathered light and drew it down below without structurally weakening the planks topside.”

It’s definitely not something I expected, but something that will make me think of the Navy and I will cherish for years to come.  I mean, when all is said and done, my time with the Navy definitely had it’s ups and downs, but moving forward I really believe I’ll only take with me my fond memories, the professional experience I gained and the great friendships I formed.  I know that sounds totally cheesy – but it’s totally true.  This was my first job fresh out of college, so yeah, it might’ve sucked at times, but I’m nostalgic toward it!  I’m almost sad to leave (almost), but I know no matter what, I’m very ready to start tackling the next challenge and begin the next chapter in my book.  So here’s to new adventures, here’s to new lessons learned, here’s to new friendships formed and here’s to expanding my horizons!  So farewell and following seas to you, Navy!  And look out, Coast Guard, because here I come!

25 of a Century

Well it’s 2010 and I’m 25 – wohoo quarter of a century!  So what does that mean?  That means time to start a new blog!  And the intent of this blog?  Well the intent is to be RAW!  Okay, I only jest – a little.  I mean, the real point is to have a place where I can talk about whatever is on my mind – whether it be the trials and tribulations of going back to school, or starting my new job, or living on my own in a new city (which also means living with a cat – a very dominate male ALPHA cat, mind you), or wanting to be a new positive fresh me and having absolutely no clue how to start, or learning how to use a camera that is so out of my league it’s not even funny, or being in a short distance relationship, or, you know, just getting through the day to day stuff that makes up my life.

So in an effort to begin and share a little story… I got flowers today!  Wohoo!  I played photographer at my friends’ wedding (which was sweet all by itself and required no gift at all) and they totally sent me flowers as a thank you!  So what did I do?  I took a picture of the “thank you for being a photographer” flowers!  So (mind my picture insertion skills for now, not really sure what I’m doing with formatting), here are some flower pictures!

Okay, so now it’s time for me to wander off into the city in search of the new O.A.R. album that just came out.  Yay for new live music from O.A.R. and yay for random guilt-free shopping trips at night.  So here’s to independence and here’s to new blogs.