Monday, August 15, 2011

New York, New York!

When I was younger, I dreamed of going to New York City. Now, I've been not once, but twice. I was still in awe this time around. I think that goes away only if you live there (and maybe not even then). Ashley and I were there from Friday to Sunday and we had an INCREDIBLE time.

On Friday, we flew out of RDU airport. Before we even got on the plane, I had already left my bag on the bus from the parking lot AND dropped my license on the floor while we were checking in. I just hoped I wouldn't be this scatter-brained for the rest of the weekend. Our flight was not as smooth as I would have liked it to be and I'm not even sure why there was so much turbulence because the weather was absolutely beautiful when we landed at LaGuardia Airport, greeted by the Welcome to New York sign. After picking up our luggage, we took my first ever New York taxi ride to the hotel. Our taxi driver (well, all taxi drivers in NY, really) drove like a crazy maniac but he was friendly and conversational. We were dropped off at Yotel (our hotel) which was a cross between an Apple product and something straight out of the Jetson's. We checked ourselves in at a computer in the lobby, or I should said we tried to because, as it turned out, the hotel still showed a $350 balance for us (!!!). Fortunately, we were able to get that all sorted out (talk about a heart attack though). Our cabin was incredibly tiny but so cool. There was a flat screen TV, a "couch" that stretched into a bed at the touch of a button, purple mood lighting, and the list of neat little gadgets goes on. It didn't even matter to us that it was small and, even better, the bed was really comfy (cleanliness and a comfy bed are what I care most about). We had a quick lunch at Yotel's Green Lounge. The plates of what we ordered (I had a pulled chicken salad) were tiny but delicious (and sort of expensive!). It was all that we needed though because, for dinner, we were dining at Cafe Un Deux Trois, a French restaurant (in case you couldn't tell by the name). Our waiter was fabulous and so funny. He couldn't believe we were 25 and, after we assured him that we were, asked what moisturizer we use :). The food was AH-MAZING. We ordered escargot as an appetizer (yes, that would be snails...with butter and garlic, in fact...don't knock it 'til you've tried it), pasta with a gorgonzola sauce, and the most delectable crepe with bananas, chocolate, and a scoop of coconut ice cream and coconut flakes on top. I was so stuffed! Also, the waiter accidentally poured water into my glass of white wine so I got another for free! Afterward, we headed toward the Al Hirschfeld Theatre to see How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring DANIEL RADCLIFFE. There are truly no words for how wonderful this show was...the singing, dancing, and acting were all phenomenal. And D. Rad can do all three! Though we were all the way in the back of the theatre, the moment was no less magical. After all, it was my very first Broadway show. When the show was over, we made our way to the stage door but it was pure insanity. Unfortunately, I didn't even get a glimpse of Daniel. But I did get the see the top of John Laroquette's head (whoopie). It was disappointing but certainly not unexpected. My feelings at the end of the night were a mixture of exhaustion and contentment.

Saturday was also beautiful. We grabbed breakfast at the hotel and were out before 10am. At the airport, we'd come across the brochure for a Harry Potter Exhibition in the city. Well, of course, we knew we couldn't pass it up. So, on Saturday morning, that was our plan. The exhibition was completely worth the time and money. It was filled with costumes, props, and set pieces. We were able to pull up mandrakes, sit in Hagrid's chair, and play Quidditch. Ashley even touched Ron's bed! When we arrived in the gift shop, we realized it was going to be nothing but trouble and, yes, we did end up spending a ridiculous amount of money (again, totally worth it). Next, we headed to a Broadway-themed gift shop and back to the theatre to pick up How to Succeed... t-shirts. We had lunch at Roxy's (both Ashley and I opted for the foot-long hot GOOD) and met a really nice family from Minnesota (mom strikingly resembled a blonde Sarah Palin). We highly recommended they see How to Succeed... at some point during their trip. By 2pm, we were ready to head back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the remainder of the evening. That night, we met up with Ashley's friends, Laura and Ashley, and my friend from grad school, Jodi, for dinner at Trattoria Trecolori. It was so good to see Jodi and the food was delicious. I had gnocchi with eggplant and mozzerela and ate every last bit (prompting me to feel like I needed some sort of food detox when the trip was over from eating so many rich dishes). After dinner, Ashley and I sprinted (literally) to the theatre for Anything Goes. I was especially excited to see this one since my high school did it in 2004 (way back when!). We were in the SECOND row and it was AWESOME. It was another beautiful performance and so much fun. I was even able to remember some of the words to the songs. Before the curtain call, we rushed off to the stage door and were the first ones there...just to find out that the cast wasn't coming out because there was some sort of party that night. I was disappointed but Ashley was even more so. Sutton Foster (who played Reno Sweeney) is her hero and she was hoping to meet her for a second time. Regardless, I still considered my second Broadway show to be a success. Back at the hotel, we met up with Ashley again for a couple drinks and a late-night snack. Since the hotel restaurant closed at 12am, we wound up at a place called Shorty's for some deliciously greasy bar food (what else can you find to eat at 12am?). The walk back to the hotel was a wet one as it had started raining...

...and it was still raining when we work up, still raining on the way to the airport, and still raining when we took off for Raleigh. The taxi ride to the airport was miserable...we were jostled all over the place and it made me queasy. Ashley woke up with an unhappy stomach so, at this point, we were just ready to get home. The flight was much smoother than the first (our tummies appreciated that) and we arrived safe and sound in Raleigh a little after 5pm.

On the plane ride home, Ashley and I decided that we're going to take a trip every year. Next stop... Harry Potter world in Orlando!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

I absolutely love long weekends. Right now, I'm at my parents' house, celebrating July 4th weekend and my Dad's birthday. We haven't done much but it's been fun. Working with families as I do, and seeing such turbulent relationships, makes me so grateful for the relationship I have, and have pretty much always had, with my parents. We don't agree on everything but they let me be who I am. And I've accepted them (finally) as they are.

Not too much has changed since my previous post. Unlike last summer, I'm actually having a little fun (working at Youth Villages last year didn't allow much time for fun...hard to believe I would have been there 1 year this month if I had stayed). I've been trying to spend as much time with friends as possible because they keep my spirits up when I'm feeling defeated (a common feeling when you work in the mental health field). Speaking of which, things with work are going well. My team welcomed our new member, Jackie, and she's been doing a great job so far. It's amazing how different the atmosphere has been during team meetings in comparison to when my old team member was there. With the previous one, I always felt like I was walking on eggshells but, with my current team, I feel like I can be myself and have a little credibility as a supervisor at the same time. A big improvement. In addition, one of my friends from grad school, Carrie, recently started as a CST lead. It's been nice to have a familiar face in the office. I've been trying to help her out as much as possible because I remember all too well how lost you can feel when you're new.

My social/love life... Sigh. I won't even go there. It's far too complicated.

I'm going to New York City in August with the amazing Ashley Phipps! It was a completely spontaneous decision. When she first asked me, I thought there was no way I could go. Between work and having to pay a ridiculous amount of bills every month (thank you, school loans), I just figured I couldn't do it. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized WHY NOT? I have the time off and, after Ashley did the calculations, I saw that it wasn't going to cost THAT much, especially considering the fact that we're seeing two (yes, two!) shows while we're there. Did I mention that the beautiful and incredible DANIEL RADCLIFFE is starring in one of these shows??? I vow right now to try everything I can to meet that man. I mean, how many more opportunities will I have? Only a few more weeks to wait!

The summer is shaping up quite nicely :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

It's What You Make It

It's Memorial Day and being off of work has afforded me a little time to finally (FINALLY) catch up with my blog. I had considered working today and, honestly, don't know what I was thinking. Yes, I do understand that Memorial Day isn't just a day off...but, truth be told, I hadn't really thought of it that way until at church yesterday (but more about that in a few minutes). It's funny how someone simply reframing something in a different way can change your mind about it. And so, while I don't agree with war, I am grateful for the men and women who have put their own lives on the line so that I can be free and openly disagree with the things in which I don't believe (as well as agree with the things I do believe!). They are in my thoughts and prayers today.

Quite a bit has been going on with me lately. I've been making moves toward becoming healthier - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It's not always easy. In fact, it's pretty darn tough some days. But I'm getting there...mostly because I realize how important it is.

I've been with Triumph for nearly 2 months now, which is hard to believe. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was just an unemployed, aspiring therapist with a Masters degree but no license (hence the unemployment), searching for jobs on CraigsList and becoming more and more discouraged by the day. My job isn't perfect but I am SO grateful to have found it. Since my last entry, I have gotten my provisional license (woo hoo!), which means I was able to keep my job as team lead (umm...thank goodness?). So I'm finally able to count my client contact hours toward full licensure. I have 3 years to get 1000 hours and, with this job, I think it'll be doable. I'm slowly getting to know my co-workers and, for the most part, like them very much. As team lead, I supervise 2 Intensive In-Home Specialists. Almost 2 weeks ago, we had to part ways with one of my team members (long story) so, that's been a little stressful. Until someone steps in to fill the position, my other team member, Cassie, and I are doing all the work. I'm hoping, and have been told, that the position should be filled sooner rather than later. Other than that, the job has been leaps and bounds better than Youth Villages. The families are still challenging but everything else is just so much more manageable. I feel less stressed and less drained at the end of the day, even though my hours are still long. The paperwork isn't as demanding. I feel more able to set limits and boundaries. Honestly though, I think my positive feelings toward the job are due to more than just the job itself. After having 3 months off, to recuperate from YV, I'm just in a better place than I was - even when I started at YV. Also, having such a strong and wonderful support system in my own city has been amazing. And, of course, being closer in proximity to my family, being able to go home for holidays, and talking with them frequently on the phone has helped a ton. I had a training on Friday and, as it turned out, all the team leads from my office were there. It was a good experience because, first of all, I'm weird and actually really like the trainings and, secondly, I had the opportunity to become better aquainted with the other team leads. I was able to see them in a more "human" role and they were able to see me that way. For the first time, I felt like I was part of their team (it's tough when you're the new kid and everyone else has been there for over a year). Now, don't get me wrong, I still get frustrated. I still feel like throwing my hands up sometimes at the end of the day. I still wonder at times how I'm going to make it through the week. BUT I am much more able to keep a positive attitude (the bigger paycheck might help with that a little!).

Things with my new roomie, Jamie, have been great. At first, she stayed to herself quite a bit but we've been talking and hanging out a lot more. I've introduced her to several of my friends and I've gotten to the point that I'm comfortable calling her a "friend" too. Sam was in town this past weekend and the 3 of us spent the better part of Saturday just sitting around my dining room table, experimenting with make-up, and talking. Afterward, Sam commented on how much she liked Jamie and I agreed. It was then that I realized how lucky I was to have found such a great roommate, especially seeing as how we met on CraigsList (yeah, I know). Also, the apartment has really come together and I think I'm pretty much finished decorating. I really, really like our space and I enjoy spending time here.

I've recently returned to Journey Church and it was a good decision. I'd taken a little break...not so much on purpose but because I'd been out of town nearly every Sunday. Since returning, I've actually gotten baptized. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time but was afraid for some reason...maybe because I've always been a little intimidated about how much I don't know about God, church, and the Bible. But I took a leap and did meant a lot to me to go public with my faith. Mom and Dad came to see it, which also meant a lot to me. I'd been prepared to do it alone, especially since few of my friends are involved in church, but to have my parents there made it that much more special. And they were proud of me for doing it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...I LOVE being so close to my friends. Just being aware of how much I would have probably missed out on over the last few weeks solidifies that feeling. We've been keeping up with our weekly potluck tradition. Sara is in New Hampshire for the summer (miss you!) but Molly, Tim, and I are planning to keep it going in her absence. I had a few friends over on Friday night for Sam's Mary Kay party and, again, I realized how difficult it would be to do things like that if I was in Greenville or Wilmington or New Bern or wherever other than here. I know that things may not always be as they are now and I can't say that I'll never move out of the Raleigh area but I do intend to enjoy and take advantage of the time that I, and so many of my friends, are here and can share moments with one another.

Until next time... :) <3

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 30...I Made It!

Day 30 - A picture of someone you miss.

Granny (that's my little blonde head in the picture). I never had the opportunity to really get to know her but I miss her and I like to think she'd be really proud of the things I've accomplished. :)


Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 29

Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.

While things aren't even close to what they were like when this picture was taken, it still never fails to make me smile.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 28

Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.

I've always been frightened of tornadoes but, after this past Saturday, I'd say I have a full-blown phobia now.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Behind Again...Days 26 & 27

Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you.

This isn't my baby blanket but it resembles it. Yes, my baby blanket STILL means a lot to me. Don't you judge.

Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.

I realized that my dad has yet to be featured in this 30 day project thingy. So, here we are on Class Day in May 2010.