April 27, 2010

Reviving Zoo Quest

Once upon a time, in 2005 no less, I started a side project called Zoo Quest.  Until a few months ago, it sat there, forelorn, with only the introductory post for company.  Poor Zoo Quest....  But now it boasts five whole zoo entries, including this past weekend's trip to the San Diego Zoo.  Hopefully very soon it will have all fifteen of the zoos I've visited, so keep checking!

April 23, 2010


Perhaps you've noticed that DS and I are in the midst of deciding our future.  On Thursday we'll be visiting Philadelphia to see how well we like it.  Having gotten all of our offers on the table, I think it would take a very bad experience there for us to turn down Philadelphia at this point.  This is both disappointing and exciting at the same time.

One of the things I've always imagined having one day is a very large yard.  I'm talking acres and acres.  I'm not really joking when I say things like "I want baby goats", or "I want fresh eggs".  I take a lot of pleasure and comfort out of growing things, and having a garden full of vegetables just sounds like heaven to me.  Caring for plants and animals makes me feel calm and complete.  Not to mention the food is just so much better when it can ripen in the earth and be eaten right away.  This was a real possibility for me in Chapel Hill, but isn't looking promising for Philadelphia.  I mean, I might be able to have a small garden, but definitely no goats.

So there's that, and the fact that many of my friends here in Santa Barbara have plans to end up in North Carolina when their school paths are finished.  I have to admit that I had this whole future of fun times planned out in my head with this knowledge in mind.  Which, to be honest, was always very tentative.  One thing I've learned from tagging along behind DS is that no matter what you think your plans for the future are, the world makes its own path for you.  That's not to say that if your main goal is to end up in a specific location that you couldn't do that.  Just that making that your first priority limits all your other goals, and I've found that these things change over time.

Philadelphia is exciting in it's own right though.  It's a real city for starters, something that intrigues me having only briefly visited such places before.  Of course, this is both good and bad.  It has all those things about cities I love, like art museums, ballet, orchestras, theater, good places to eat.  But it comes along with things I've never had to worry too much about before, like crime and real traffic.  I have to be honest, the crime thing makes me nervous.  And also the lack of personal space...  But the rest of it sounds exciting and fun, and so I'm willing to give it a try as long as our visit doesn't go horribly awry.

This has me questioning my life goals again.  I believe a place like Philadelphia opens up the historic preservation option again, and I'm seriously unsure if I even want it.  I've been thinking a lot about what my dream job would be since the last time I posted about jobs, and I just don't know.  And if "farmer" is off the table, I'm having trouble coming up with my second choice.  Honestly, I just never thought that at nearly 30 I'd still be wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I can tell you one thing for sure though.  I'm never taking another crappy job just to pay the bills.  That is one thing all of these job offers for DS can promise me, and it is the best gift I could ask for.

April 14, 2010

North Carolina: Check

I am HOME!  The flights were long, and stressful, and due to the time differences, my body felt as it were well past 2 am before I even walked through my front door.  But we made it.  And the cats survived.  And all was well.  Here is a quick and dirty run down of my impressions of the trip.  Pictures should follow when I'm recovered and not busy doing something else.

SBA - Do NOT go through security until you have used the bathroom and eaten or anything else you need.  Because their two gates have nothing but a few seats.
LAX - Man LAX, you really disappointed me.  I mean, you were definitely not the worst airport I've ever been to, but since you're in LA, I just expected you to at least look cool.  That's sort of LA's thing, right?  Though, if I'm being honest, I would have to say that it has been my experience that is LA's lie.
O'Hare - You know I love you O'Hare.  I don't even have to keep telling you.
RDU - Oooh, your new terminal is lovely!  Those lofty, arching wooden beams are so creamy and rich, I just want to run my hands over them and whisper sweet nothings to them.  You may not be big and full of shops, but you were glistening, and open, and you fed us just fine.  Thank you.
DFW - Screw you Dallas.  Well, your Skylink is pretty cool, but the rest of you sucks.  You would think that such a uniquely shaped airport would have more going for it, but you would be wrong.  I will avoid you in the future whenever possible.

American Airlines - I don't have any complaints, other than nearly spending the night in both Dallas and LA, but really, what airline doesn't promise to leave you stranded somewhere?  (What?  They don't promise that??  Well... they should, because it almost always happens.)  But I don't have any compliments either.  Don't be offended.  The only airline I've ever loved was KLM.

The Franklin - Snazzy rooms.  We had a king size bed that came with a down comforter and no less than 12 pillows, and I kid you not, half of those were down as well.  I reveled in using four at a time, while DS made fun of me and stuck to one.  I didn't accidentally bump into his sweaty sleeping self once, and it was glorious.  (Accidentally mind you, I wasn't avoiding him; but really, why do guys get so gross while they're asleep?)  There was an LCD tv on the wall, and all the fabrics in the room were luxuriously woven jacquards and patterns.  Also, I actually liked the free toiletries, which is really rare.  The breakfast service in the dining room was rather slow, but I can't say whether that was due to our timing (we got there right after a huge party), or if it is always that way.  The food was good though.

Raleigh - I only saw your airport.. so... maybe next time?  Sorry buddy.
Durham - You have both a Kroger and an REI, which makes you infinitely better than my current locale.  So hurray!  Also, Duke Gardens was in bloom.  Lovely.
Chapel Hill - You're an odd one, because you think you're some kind of small town with your little main street and your lack of big business.  But you're no small town I've ever seen.  You're like the small town rich people made for themselves.  Like Disney's Main Street USA, all clean and stuff.  That being said, you are lovely.  I wish I was one of those rich people, so I could have one of your mansions.
Carrboro - What little I saw of you was pretty cool, though I will admit that was only two restaurants.  They were scrumptious.
Hillsborough - Now you!  I could live in you.  You remind me of what my hometown was before it exploded.  <3!  You don't have a Kroger though *tear*

Up next: Philadelphia, PA - April 29-May 2.  Anyone know anything about living around UPenn?  We are taking advice before our trip.

April 08, 2010


A month of photos for your enjoyment, back-posted to reflect actual chronology.

SB Botanical Gardens
Figueroa Mtn
Winston and Birds
Arroyo Beach

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to throw some crap in a back pack so I can be at the airport in six hours.  See you in Chapel Hill!

April 07, 2010


Lots of things brewing this week.  Currently DS is in Philadelphia for his last interview, and on Thursday I'll be meeting him in Chapel Hill so we can be "wooed".  We've been jokingly referring to it as our chance to "live it up on someone else's dime", but in all honesty, I don't know how much time we'll have to do that.  He'll be meeting to negotiate an offer, and we've been scheduled time with a realtor to look at houses.  Let me tell you, going through a website full of houses that you know you can't buy yet so that you can get a feel for the area is... both exciting and scary.  Also, there is a LOT of new construction for sale in Chapel Hill.  It seems like they were hit hard by the housing collapse.  Not that it helps me any, because I want an OLD house!  With acreage.  But after much hand wringing, I chose five for us to see on Saturday.

After a month of letting them gather on my camera, I finally got all the photos into my computer.  I'm hoping I have time tomorrow to go through them, clean them up, and then put them on here for your curious eyes.  But just in case the packing and the last minute errands keep me from it, I wanted to at least post this one.  Almost all of my photos of DS are of him scowling.  Maybe he thinks it's funny?  It often is. But sometimes I just want a good one, and here it is.  I had to tickle him to get it, and he was momentarily irate, but it was so worth it.

And in answer to all the wonderful notes I've been sent regarding my last post, let me just say that I have been reminded that I don't have to work when we get there.  Which means I'll be able to do things like volunteer, and take classes, and generally get a feel for what makes me happy.  It's so strange to be in that position, after years of toiling just to make ends meet.  Thank you all for being so supportive, and giving me truly helpful advice.

Yes, lots of things on the horizon.  But no earthquakes.  Sorry Mom.  I know you keep calling to ask if I'm still alive, but honestly, we've felt nothing.

April 05, 2010

SB Botanical Garden

In an attempt to "see California" before we leave sorry state, we spent Sunday at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens.  At least half of it is still trying desparately to recover from the last forest fire, but as you'll see below, lots of lovely things remain.  To my enjoyment, I even saw redwoods for the first time.  Feast your eyes on what can happen if it rains even two or three times a month!  So, you know, like once a year.

Visit the blog if photos do not appear. Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

April 02, 2010

Future Job Hunting

So DS has job offers.  Probably more than is good for us, because now we'll have to make decisions and negotiate and all those things provide opportunities for future "what ifs" and regrets.  Here's hoping we make the right choice... Who would have thought that being successful would cause more stress?  We are very excited about the future though.  In fact, next weekend, meaning the 8th, we'll arrive in Chapel Hill to see how we like the place.  I'm assuming DS will be talking shop with the school as well, and apparently we'll be meeting with a real estate agent?  oy.

All of this has me contemplating my own job prospects.  I've spent a large part of today on Craigslist for the cities with offers, as well as filling out surveys intended to help me find my calling.  So far, I've discovered that I've most likely wasted my six years of higher education on degrees that are useless...

So I'm asking you, the collective mind, what I should do with myself, because I honestly feel like a failure.  I have a bachelor's degree in art history, where I attempted to focus my studies on architectural history.  I also minored in mathematics.  I went to graduate school for historic preservation, though I never wrote my thesis, so I don't technically have a degree.  The majority of my actual experience is in lowly sales positions, but I did spend a wonderful two years at a healthcare IT company doing user testing on medication software.  I have mad test plan writing skills, but no coding knowledge.  I can tell you that I prefer working with my hands, and thinking things through, and coming up with creative solutions to problems.  I like to see some sort of finished product or goal, so that I feel like something was accomplished with my time.  I like my work to benefit society in some way, even if indirectly.

Whatever job I've held, my reviews are always good, and if it's possible in the job, I'm promoted quickly.  I can be trained to do just about anything, in my opinion.  The problem is that I want to do something I enjoy, and I haven't the slightest idea what that is.  I'm terribly afraid that my two year stint at the software company will be my only fulfilling job, and that the rest of my time will be spent in whatever minimum wage gig is currently hiring.  The idea of going back to school to get another degree only to find out that the jobs are either undesirable or seemingly impossible to find is terrifying.

I still have my craft business, but here I am working less than 10 hours a week at my current job, and I have no real desire to go into the craft room.  It's not that I don't like it.  Probably more that I've had the business for 4 years and still average 1 sale or less per month.  It's hard to keep doing something when it seems like no one appreciates it.  I think I would like to do commissioned work, where someone has a general idea in their head of what they want.

At the risk of sounding like a pity party, I'm starting to feel stupid.  I used to think I was smart.  I think the combination of being surrounded by PhD scientists and my decreasing ability to find engaging, fulfilling work is wearing me down.  And the longer it lasts, the harder it's becoming to find the inner strength to find a way out of this.  Worse, I'm finding myself incredibly jealous, almost resentful, of DS's success.  Aren't I better than this?  I used to know I was, but in the last year and a half, doubt has eaten a hole in that confidence.

I'm floundering.. drowning.. and I need help.  Preferably in something other than empty reassurances, as nice as those are... God, I hope I feel better tomorrow.