Friday, August 26, 2011

Why having money is nice.

Having two jobs is not fun, but having money certainly makes life easier.

This summer I picked up a job at a hotel as a night auditor. Essentially what I do is take care of people, check in people, check out people in the morning, and compile a giant stack of paper reports for the managers. It's been a pretty great job, actually. I love to people watch, and hotels at night rank somewhere in between the mall and a bar on the people-acting-stupid scale. I work the 11pm-7am shift on weekends, freeing up my weekdays for my job at the bookstore. I've managed to save quite a bit, but I've also managed to spend money on something I've pretty much neglected through high school and college - clothes.

I've managed to prepare myself for a year in Scotland with just under 4 shopping trips. We're talking an entire wardrobe restocked in less than 6 hours. I tend to shop by touch, running my hands across racks of clothing to feel for the softest fabric. Next comes color, and I am lucky in this area because anything but orange is an acceptable color for my skin tone. Put orange next to my face, and I looked like I swallowed something vile and will soon be sick everywhere. Every payday, I take one full check (mostly the hotel's) and stash it in savings, then spend the other one to live and buy clothing. I've bought three pairs of jeans, two peacoats. and countless long and short sleeved shirts. My savings is used specifically toward rent and getting to Stirling, and I bought my plane tickets in June. I think I'm substantially more prepared for this trip than I was the last time.

By this time two weeks from now, I'll be on a plane to London where I'll catch a flight to Edinburgh. I think time needs to hurry up, but I still have to clean out my room and pack. A week from now I will be in a panic, and the world will be a scary, scary place. For now, I'll enjoy the happiness of purchasing pretty things.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

And so it begins.

I figured I'd start this blog off with a countdown of 17 days until departure. It's an odd number, but I'm trying to build up suspense in my head. I've recently entered the numb phase of the pre-trip experience. Let me explain.

When planning a huge journey to a place very different from your home, there are several stages of mood one goes through. At first possible trip plannings, there is a sense of excitement and wonder at the chance to travel so far away. This 'honeymoon' stage of planning lasts from a few days to a small period of weeks, depending on your particular ETD, estimated time of departure. As my planning began in early April and my ETD is September 9th, the honeymoon stage lasted nearly a month.

Following the honeymoon stage is what I like to call the 'OMGWTFwasIthinkingIcan'tdothisIcan'tdothis' stage. This stage is where the majority of the trials and tribulations of planning and making preparations for your journey are enjoyed in a near-panic state. I did my best to warn Misty of this panic and ease her pain as she made her way through this section of the emotional roller coaster. This feeling dropped off for me just after I managed to find an apartment nearly a month ago. No small wonder, that.

The last checkpoint of emotions begins just shy of a week or two of ETD (again, depending on the time between first planning and actual exodus). This phase is second most enjoyable to the honeymoon period: numbness. As you finish your preparations, a period of complete calms seems to steal over you, leaving you with the enhanced, superhuman-like ability to get things done. You become an efficient machine of details and timelines, searching for the right bus, plane, or train into whatever area you need to be at whatever time you need to be there. I have successfully plotted my tracks from the plane landing to the time I set foot in my new apartment and signed the lease. I have studied maps of the surrounding area for groceries, distances to bus stops and places of interests, and possible areas to have fun or sight-see within walking distance. I have familiarized myself with which methods of travel are easiest and cheapest. In short, I have become an expert on an area I have already visited. Superhuman planning machine.

The day of travel is the day when all of those emotions collide in a flurry of unrestrained panic and joy with intermittent periods of get-things-done. If you're very lucky, travel runs smoothly and all plans are executed with the quiet efficiency enjoyed in phase two. In between flights, train, bus, and taxi rides, you're a mess of what-ifs and what-about-whens. When you arrive to your final destination elation is combated by exhaustion, and you stay up all night even though the suggested treatment for jet-lag is a good nights sleep. It's just the way it always goes.

In 17 days I will be leaving for Scotland once again. It's already proving to be a more involved process with private housing and personal dealings with financial aid people. It almost makes me wish for the treatment I received as an undergrad, but this degree of independence is a nice change from having everything handled and decided for me. I'll probably be updating this blog once every few days for now. More frequent blog entries as I head over. If you're reading this blog and not reading my cousin Misty's, shame on you. Hop over there and read it. There should be a link somewhere in blogs I'm following. She's already in Ireland, about to leave soon for Bath, and she has some funny stories.