The Pitfalls of Packing

I am a terrible packer.

this is me every time

You’d think that after several lengthy trips abroad, living in an apartment and the dorms on-and-off, I’d get the hang of it.

But, no.

For example, when packing for my studying abroad in Peru, one would think I had bought the plane ticket the day before: not only was I frantically packing an hour before we were to leave for the airport, but I also assumed that because Peru was south of the equator, it would be warm in Cusco in January (it’s summer, right?), a city set at around 13,000 feet.

Therefore, I had many clothes I couldn’t actually wear, terrible rain gear, and I spent the first several weeks freezing until I gave in and bought some alpaca wool.

I remember my first shower: although my host family did not have central heat, I had assumed they would have hot water, so my first night I dove into that water shivering with cold and excitement.

I almost bit my tongue off holding in the scream as the cold water poured down and left me freezing for days. I eventually learned that flushing the toilet would give me several glorious minutes of lukewarm water, but that was much, much later.

(I’m making myself sound terribly brilliant, I know.)

The school I was going to was also freezing–even when it got slightly warm outside, the walls would emit cold, I swear.

The next time I traveled abroad, you would think I would have been more prepared: this time, I knew more about the climate, and this time I knew to bring more books and less shirts.

But, no.

My pack was bursting constantly, and every time I bought a souvenir I ended up leaving several shirts behind. I also ended up losing my headlamp on the first night (I still think it was stolen, but everyone else seems to think this is a ridiculous claim for some reason).

Strangely, I am no better at packing up everything I own. Part of the reason is that I have to extract it from everything else in the basement (of which there is a lot) and collecting it from all the other rooms in the house. (And convincing my sister that if she hasn’t noticed a shirt missing for the last five years, it’s mine by now…if it ever was hers in the first place).

I also need to decide what I actually need to bring, while piling all of the other stuff, mostly kept out of purely sentimental reasons, into organized boxes in the basement.

I’m not sure how organized they are going to end up, considering I have about two-and-a-half days until I leave!!

AND I’d better get back to it, as I’ve barely started……….

No Chicken

Oops.

I believe I said I would put up a recipe for that chicken…but after making it, it just wasn’t quite blog-worthy. However, I did make my own Italian bread crumbs–from scratch! It’s easy: preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and place in several slices of (I used wheat) bread. Several slices will go far: I used four and I had way to many crumbs! Leave the bread in the oven for about an hour, turning several times. After the allotted time, take out, crush into crumbs, and add choice Italian seasonings. I kind of go crazy with spices, and I hardly ever measure them, but I used oregano, garlic powder, a tiny bit of cayenne pepper, freshly ground black pepper, a little bit of dried onion, and some paprika.

yum. bread crumbs.

You can also just use the pre-made Italian seasoning mix…but either way, lots of flavor!

Since I failed to actually complete a “top ten” for last week, I will attempt to make it a top ELEVEN this week. We’ll see how it goes…

Small Towns

While the idyllic small-town life is a lifestyle many want to attain, I’m here to tell you, think twice before moving to those homey streets where everybody knows your name.

There are several reasons for this, but one of the main ones that I run into alarmingly often is the awkward encounters with a) people you would like to avoid or b) people you don’t know who somehow know embarrassing stories about you.  Oh, those degrees of separation can be killer…

Now, I know that, wherever you go, big city or small, you’ll likely run into someone you don’t want to see–but I seem to have a particular knack for running into the dreaded friends-of-friends that, upon learning your name, say “Oh wow! So-and-so told me all about you…”

Last Wednesday, while out on the town for my friend’s birthday, I ran into an aquaintance from high school (yet another reason to get out of this place) who thoroughly enjoyed the retelling of the infamous Prom Night 2004.

This in not, unfortunately, the first time a relative stranger has recounted this night to me. I’m not sure what makes it so hilarious: the fact that, in all the pictures  I look out-of-my-mind drunk (what made my eyes DO that?) or that, apparently it wasn’t just pictures, but I did in fact, look drunk, as I was immediately Breath-a-lized upon my entrance in the Prom.  Not the most elegant entrance, and the fact that I was the least likely of most of my classmates to actually drink, still makes me ponder the education/drug testing system.

Oh, and there’s a small matter of me crushing in the sliding door of my parent’s van on the back of a beastly truck (damn Montana and it’s huge trucks…and by the way nobody could ever open that door again, so we had to crawl through the front doors, until they finally got a new car a year later…we’re sounding a little white trash here) and that my date, who happened to be my very-recent ex-boyfriend’s little brother, spent all night making out with a picture of his girlfriend. (Don’t ask me why I took him to that Prom–I think I was trying to prove that my first boyfriend dumping me for another girl totally had NOOO affect on me).

That’s just the beginning–there’s also the part where my friend was with Mr. Broomstick (who, unfortunately, had been invited to go as “just friends” by my Chem lab partner, before dumping her in favor of taking a “real” date), and that said Broomstick (so called because of his inability to dance–just in case he reads this, I’m sure his dancing skills have improved, but either way he doesn’t seem to have too much trouble with the ladies) had us all over for a fondue dinner, which was freakin’ delicious but also the type of dinner where you can hear everyone chewing. A lot.

My excellent fill-any-silence and connect-with-anyone skills were not fully honed at this time, and of my two girlfriends who were along I am definitely the loud one. Add in the awkwardness of your date being someone who, about two weeks ago, had walked in on you and his brother making out, and  that Mr. Broomstick was only willing to discuss the chain mail he was making, and it was quite a fun night.

(Yes, chain mail, as in the stuff from the age of knights.  I didn’t pay much attention to this part of the conversation–I only made several Ivanhoe references which did nothing to endear me with my audience–but upon reflection, it might have been interesting to know exactly how he was making this chainmail, and why).

The moral of this story is, it might be time to move away from the town where you went to high school, if you’re anything like me. They say you can never truly escape your past–especially when people still be approach you in bars, saying “I hear you dated all three of the Smith brothers till you passed one along to your sister, is this true?” (And NO, I only dated one. My sister took the youngest brother of my ex and my Prom date to a dance too…her reports were also of extreme awkwardness. It’s either us or them).

Upon reading this, I kind of feel like I really do live in one of those “idyllic” small towns where stuff like this actually happens.  Is it weird that someday, after I live in several cities and countries and rise to the top of my chosen field, I also want to live in another small town–just not this one?

One that’s preferably closer to the beach, and preferably does not contain any of my former classmates that know any embarrassing stories about me.

 

p.s. Thanks to any of you who stopped by and checked out my SuitMode post! They are tabulating the numbers as we speak! 🙂

Insider Interviews

I’ve had quite a few jobs in my young life–partly because I was a student for a good chunk of that, and ended up with a lot of seasonal jobs, and partly because I am always wanting to try out new things.

As you might figure with one who’s had over ten jobs in less than a decade, I’ve had about 3 times as many interviews. I’ve had wonderful interviews, weird interviews, mediocre ones, and terrible ones.

One interviewer said, at first glance, “You don’t look very outdoorsy,” which should have been a clue about what kind of boss he would be–it was an interview after all, so I pulled out all the stops, my red trench coat and brown boots included, even though it was for an outdoors magazine. (I did end up writing for him for a time, and still freelance for them occasionally, so the rest of the interview wasn’t awful, despite the fact, being a novice writer, I hadn’t thought to bring any writing samples. So at least I learned to bring those samples, and to take into account your audience before dressing for an interview).

I’ve also had an interview where the manager angrily interrupted everything I said; yet another where the boss mentioned he’d already met the person he wanted to hire, but his secretary forgot to cancel the rest of his interviews (which he neglected to mention until the interview was over…nice). One interview recently, which I thought went well, ended with the secretary hastily (and quite rudely) hanging up on me when I called later to inquire. Another recent interview, a job I didn’t want but had been convinced to interview for as it’s “good practice” ended with me shame-facedly saying I didn’t want the job, after it was offered to me within five minutes of my arrival.

Lately, I’ve had a million phone interviews, which to me, have pros and cons. For the pro column, I can pace my room and wear my pajamas (although quite a few people I’ve talked to dress up for phone interviews to get in the mindset, but I still prefer my jammies) but a major con is that I’m so much more charming face-to-face. Not that I can’t charm over the phone, but for some weird reason I always have better interviews over the phone with women than with men. Maybe men just aren’t as comfortable on the phone…or maybe my laugh just doesn’t tinkle through the line as prettily as I imagine, and fellow females can overlook that. One of the men also unfortunately heard my mother repeating “fun, fun, FUN!” in the background when she thought I was describing myself, and in actuality I was describing my ideal supervisor. I’m not sure the he knew what to think of a random voice hissing loudly in the background…another definite downside of phone interviews, especially when you live with my mother, who has zero respect for closed doors.

Speaking of fun, my latest interview–just taking place today, for a job in my home town I actually would enjoy–was a new experience for me. I was interviewed by four women who worked there, one of whom informed me it was “the funnest interview they’d ever had.” (No, I didn’t correct her grammar, although I desperately wanted to–it’s a compulsion).

It is a compliment, of which I am very grateful for (it’s nice to be fun after I spent many of my adolescent years painfully shy–I guess traveling has beaten that out of me) but I’m not sure what this means for the job. It’s a coveted position–over 200 applicants–and I don’t have specific experience, just the general variety, so I’m not sure what kind of chance I have. And I’m don’t know if “fun” is an adjective many would use to describe their ideal receptionist (even one at an animal hospital), but when I think about it, that’s really the only kind of receptionist I would want to be, anyway.