24 May, 2014


Often, the periods between my blog posts are either filled with negative things I'd rather not talk about or negative space -- nothing at all to talk about.

This time, it's been absolutely crazy around here.  I kept thinking, "I need to blog this," only to decide that sleep was a more effective use of my time.  But so much has happened and is about to happen that I feel I need to document.  So here is a timeline of the past two weeks and the next five weeks:

The Past Two Weeks:
May 10: Graduation Day!!  Celebrated by Park Hopping with Mom
May 11: Mother's Day -- celebrated with Mom
May 13: Got a call to schedule a job interview
May 14: 14th Company anniversary -- celebrated by going to the doctor. (I'm fine)
May 15: Job interview
May 17: Return to Magic Kingdom, this time to get a sneak-peek of the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride with Cindy, a former intern who worked on the project over the past year. (that's her screaming next to me in the photo to the left. Kat, who was an apprentice at DAK a few years back, is behind my right shoulder)  The ride is great, and I'd say a wait of up to 40-60 minutes is acceptable.  The queue is shaded and has activities.  While at MK, I also did the Hall of Presidents, Haunted Mansion, TTA, and had a Dole Whip.
May 19 (morning): First day of grad school! 
May 19 (afternoon): JOB OFFER!!
May 20-23: Flurry of work-related activities, including trying to wrap up projects, tell people I'm leaving, make sure my area's training compliance doesn't crash & burn while there's no one in my position, learning about my new position... and of course, still trying to get through my normal daily tasks while my head is 8,000 other places at once!

Homework for week one. This includes 2 essays, a quiz, reading 4 chapters in textbooks, and watching a 40-minute movie.  

Next Week:
Monday: Memorial Day; planning to spend it getting ahead on next week's homework so that next weekend I can knock out as much of the following week's homework as possible
Wednesday: getting fingerprinted. 
Some other day: take my car to the dealership to get her road trip ready
Weekend: lots of homework, laundry, and maybe try to start packing

Week of June 1:
Last week in my current job!  Currently, my plans are to work Sun-Thurs (or work 4 10-hour shifts Mon-Thurs).  I'm going to need to pack and move all of my personal stuff out of the office.  There's a lot, including a large metal zebra, race bibs, and a bunch of stuff on the wall.
Thursday: Last day at DAK.  Potluck with my team. I'm planning to be a soggy sobbing mess by Thursday afternoon.
Friday: Leave for vacation early morning*
Saturday: Arrive in Philly in time to pick up my race packet for ODDyssey, spend the night in the city

Weeks of June 8 & 15:
Sunday 6/8: ODDyssey Half Marathon, head over to Jackie's house (my home base for these weeks)
Rest of the time: Bum around PA/NJ, catch up with as many friends and family as possible, do homework, possible trip up to NYC, eat LOTS of pizza, bagels, Chinese...

Week of June 22:
Traveling to Penn State for week-long summer intensive "Seminar in Employment Relations" class on campus.  If not for everything else going on in my life right now, this would be the highlight of my summer.  I'll be staying on campus (in a dorm building that wasn't there when I left 14 years ago), spending most of each day in class, and actually interacting and networking with my classmates.

June 28-29: Drive home

June 30: Start my new job

It's far too much to process logically.  The best I can do right now is to keep breathing, make lots of to-do lists as things pop into my head, and do my best to stop and enjoy the ride whenever possible.  I'm sure I'll check in between now and the end of June, but at least now you know where I'll be!

*Yes, I'm leaving home for three weeks.  Scott is going to be staying here, enjoying some roommate-free living and cuddling with the kitties.  I'm so glad our friendship is "ok" enough that he's willing to do that for me.

15 May, 2014

Actually Park Hopping!

If you've been reading the blog recently, you might have realized that I haven't actually been doing much park hopping.  Perhaps after 14 years of living in the shadow of Disney, I've had enough "magic."  Actually, I don't think that's true at all.  Life has been pretty busy, and I genuinely enjoy my couch!

That said, I decided that the best way to celebrate my graduation (by the way, "Hi, my name is Jamie. I'm an alum of Penn State University, and a grad student.") was to "hop" to all four Disney parks in one day.  And the only person brave or crazy enough to play with me was my mom.

As you can see, we did it!
AK, Studios, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom: all in one day!
We got into Animal Kingdom around 9:45 (because I left my ticket in the car.  rookie move!), took our selfies, and then headed to our designated ride, Kilimanjaro Safari.  Unfortunately, the wait time was 45 minutes, and that wasn't on my agenda.  We walked through the gorilla viewing instead, and then left AK for the Studios.

At the Studios, our one and only activity was sitting at the bar at Prime Time Cafe and enjoying a peanut butter & jelly shake.

From there, we took the car to the TTC and then the monorail to Epcot.  We got there around 1:00 and bee-lined to the World Showcase.  We split an avocado margarita, had lunch in Japan, and then split a Gran Marnier slush.  Hooray for Epcot!

Our park hopping day ended at the Magic Kingdom, where we finally rode an actual ride (the People Mover), plus enjoyed the air conditioned entertainment of the Carousel of Progress.  It was a lot of fun, though exhausting, and we got a bunch of fun photos.  Plus, the bonus of not riding rides is that we basically waited in no lines all day!

That evening, mom and I had dinner at Red Robin with two of my work friends.  We ate and talked and laughed... It was a wonderful non-conventional way to celebrate my non-conventional graduation.  And then we wrapped up the weekend with Mother's Day brunch at TooJay's.
BONUS: more photos from our weekend-o-fun

07 May, 2014

Leapin' Lizard!

I'm having a bad lizard week here at Casa ParkHopper.  Monday I came home to a dead-ish lizard in the middle of my kitchen floor and two cats completely disinterested in assisting with its disposal.  As it turns out, the lizard was only "dead" until Elphie took a half-hearted swat at it and her claw hit it mid-back.  THEN it was miraculously cured and running right at me!  It's now dead (I assume) in front of the kitchen sink.  I won't touch it*, and haven't yet been motivated to pull out the vacuum to suck up the tiny carcass.

Today I kept thinking I was seeing motion out of the corner of my eye, but both cats were asleep on the couch.  Finally I realized there was another freaking lizard in the house, this one very much alive and on the move.  On the stairs.  And then the little effer JUMPED from one step to another.

Did you know they do that?

I guess Little Orphan Annie did!

Anyway, I took some video and uploaded it to Instagram.  I can't figure out how to embed it here, but here's the link.  For the record, once I made my new pet do its party trick for the camera, I did try to rescue it.  I grabbed a big plastic bowl with lid and actually managed to get the bowl over the lizard.  But the lid was pretty thick, and sliding it under the bowl gave the lizard a big enough opening to dart through... of course, straight toward me!  After I squealed and nearly lost my balance 7 steps up the stairs, I chased it down the steps.  It evaded capture and darted under the TV cabinet.

If I'm lucky, I won't see it again until the next time the furniture is moved.  Of course, my luck isn't actually that good...I bet I see that lizard again before bedtime.

*I can't touch dead things, even when they've been motionless for multiple days.  Blame this on an unfortunate fish tank incident when I was a kid.  I was carrying a dead swordtail to the bathroom for a burial at sea, and right when I got to the toilet, the thing resurrected and flopped out of my hand right into its watery grave.  NEVER AGAIN -- zombie creepy-crawlies are REAL!

UPDATE: not sure this is the same lizard, but I managed to catch & release this one! (Sorry for the blur - the phone didn't want to focus through the plastic bowl)

01 May, 2014


I just uploaded my research paper -- the final assignment of my undergrad career.

It feels so momentous!

On one hand, I did the math last week and realized that even if I got a 0 on this paper, I'd still have a C in the class and would therefore be graduating regardless.  On the other hand, now I really feel done...and I most definitely didn't half-ass this last assignment.  I'm pretty proud of the way it turned out.

So I guess this means I have crossed the finish line...but it'll be another two months probably before I get the "medal" for this race.  I won't actually refer to myself as a college graduate until the 10th, but I am definitely looking forward to updating my resume and removing that "anticipated graduation..." caveat right away.

It only took me seven semesters to complete my degree, though it really feels like I've been at this much longer.  AND if I keep on my current trajectory, I should have my Master's completed in six semesters more.