Curiosity Killed the Kaeli

{February 21, 2012}   Happy Mardi Gras!

It’s hard to believe February is almost over. A LOT has been going on around here lately, and I finally have a little free time so here you go:

This time last year, I had just been in New York for a little over two months. There was at least three feet of snow everywhere you looked, and I was struggling to balance being a part-time intern and rest-of-the-time struggling freelance writer with having to pay for my Metrocard and other little luxuries like sandwich-making materials for lunch. I skipped a few nights out with cousins and friends, scrimped and saved all my measly freelance earnings (I’m talking $10 an article at the beginning, although eventually higher paying ones did come along), and had to adjust to being so far away from the place I’d called home for the last nine years.

A year later, I’m happy to report everything has paid off. I am the postergirl for “a little hard work, dedication, and persistence goes a long way.” I worked my way from intern to freelance Real Deals writer, to person-who-covers-other-editors-on-vacation, and eventually by January had turned it all into my first ever full time job as Digital Editorial Assistant for Budget Travel, a magazine I have been reading since I was about 12. Never give up, never surrender. You just never know what’s in the cards.

That being said, things have been going pretty well at work so far, and I’m in the process of saving up for our trip to Italy–it’s Dad’s graduation present to April (I’d gotten a down-payment on my first car) and neither of them have been to Europe before, so this should be a really exciting trip for all of us. We’ve managed to buy the airline tickets so far, flying into Venice and out of Rome, and are now trying to find hotels and train tickets around, and book anything (like the museum that has David in Florence) ahead of time that needs to be done now. It’s amazing how expensive these hotels are at the end of May, supposedly just before prime tourist season starts. Ugh. We’re planning to spend time in Venice, a day on Lake Como, a little time in the Cinque Terre area, see the art in Florence, and wind up in Rome. We’re going May 18-29 so hoping we have enough time. I’m just thrilled to be going back. In July of 2009, I was lucky enough to go to Milan, Lake Como, Venice, and Rome with my friend and her family, and have trying to get back ever since.

In other news, it’s been really great getting to see all the cousins I missed growing up with all these years, and we’ve been having a blast. I’m starting to get more girly–a special thanks to my cousin Nicole for helping me navigate the way over-complicated world of make-up, and for all those awesome trips to Macy’s. It’s great to go shopping and find stuff I like that fits me. I’m usually always in between sizes for everything! I can also understand now why mani-pedis are so popular, and super relaxing. I have more shoes than I have in my entire life, although I have yet to wear the pointier ones, and actually have fun picking out outfits in the morning. Who knew?

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my cousins’ friends, too. It’s great going to hang out with the Long Beach side and almost always ending up at Tim’s house for a jam session with Rusty Willy and the Grenade Whistle Orchestra, and, of course, the “after-parties” at The Inn. I love finding new places on Bell Blvd. in Queens and sneaking into our studio at 4 or 5 in the morning after a night out with Laura and the girls, having Dad wish me a good morning as I crawl into bed and sleep past noon. It’s been awesome hanging out with Joe and his friends in Astoria, a neighborhood I’m currently scouting out as my first place with roommates (The thought of a 20 minute commute rather than an hour and 20 minute commute everyday is WAY too tempting). I am saving up big time, keeping my ears open for anyone wanting a roommate, and if all goes well, plan to move out by the fall.

Still getting used to the swing of things. I’ve been taking a lot of Zumba classes lately and they really help if I’m stressed out from work or just have tons of energy to burn and no one around to help. Those classes are great–you don’t even realize you’re exercising. It’s almost like a salsa class with bits of other dance styles integrated, and all of it with the explosive energy of a Richard Simmons ‘Sweatin’ to the Oldies’ video. The only thing we need in those classes: MEN. Attention, men of the world. Women love Zumba. Every class has been 99.9% female, and the one time there was a guy in the group, the whole atmosphere changed. It was fun flirting while seeing a guy with great rhythm and dance moves working out with us, and frankly, it was more motivating that way. It’s funny how I can be self-conscious at a gym with other guys around, but when any hint of dancing is introduced, bring it on!

I’ll try to do a better job at keeping this updated. Wish me luck and Happy Mardi Gras to everyone! Tomorrow is Lent, and I’ve officially given up giving up stuff this year. I can’t give up Facebook (it’s my job now…), and any other thing like soda or ice cream is something I haven’t eaten in months, so that wouldn’t make a difference. I’ll donate to a worthy cause instead. At least my “sacrifice” will make a difference that way.


{September 11, 2011}   Ten years later

Ten years ago, I was your average fourteen-year-old freshman just starting the third or fourth week of school. Back then I was a wreck. I was nervous about starting all over again in a new school just after we moved to the Tampa Bay area from Hawaii and my parents had essentially separated. To make a long story short, I had trouble keeping my breakfast down some mornings since I was so stressed out about all these new (not bad, just different) changes happening in my life. I think I was also terrified of my first period Band teacher, so that didn’t help either.

That Tuesday morning I had been sick on the way to school (again) and we had gone home so I could pull myself together. We drove back to school an hour later–probably close to 9am–and Mrs. Lentini, the high school office woman who kept track of attendance, came out and waved us over, telling us to just go home. “Don’t bother, just go home today, Kaeli,” she said, not indicating that anything was out of the ordinary.

We got home shortly before 9:30am and were getting ready to watch “The Price Is Right.” I had gone into the other room to change out of my uniform and when I came out I saw the footage on t.v. Not knowing what was going on, I said something to my Mom like, “Oh, Wow! Cool! What movie is this?” She froze for a minute, then turned to me and said, “Kaeli, this is live. It’s happening right now.”

From that moment, until we had to pick my sister up from her middle school around 3pm, we were frozen there, watching everything unfold. From time to time we’d both panic, remembering which relative worked where, since nearly all of them live in the New York City area. We knew my cousin Erica was an NYPD police officer. We knew my Uncle Tom worked in the World Trade Center area, luckily in another building. We actually had a list going of all the relatives we knew could possibly be in Lower Manhattan that day.

We began to feel better as news piled in throughout the day and relatives called to let us know they were ok and they’d heard from other family members, too. Erica was safe at home, off duty. Uncle Tom had gotten out before things got nasty. Uncle Joe had actually had two appointments in the World Trade Center that day, but apparently my cousin had left her homework on the kitchen table and he was running late after bringing it into school for her. Other cousins had seen the smoke and turned around right away, watching events unfold from afar. For the most part, everyone was safe. Our family was lucky.

Later that night, after another round of calls from the family in New York, word began to spread that no one had heard from my Mom’s cousin, Billy. Just weeks before, we had had dinner with his father in Florida, and he had been so proud telling us his son worked for Cantor Fitzgerald in one of the greatest buildings in the world, the North Tower of the World Trade Center. As this recollection began to sink in, and we kept trying to find out his whereabouts, it became more and more clear what had happened.

To this day, I cannot even begin to imagine what his wife, sons, sister, and parents must have gone through. My heart continues to go out to all of them. I never had the privilege of meeting Billy, or at least if I did, I was too young to truly enjoy his company.

Ten years later I now live in New York City and often find myself wandering the Downtown streets after work or on a day off. I felt compelled to visit Ground Zero the day after Osama Bin Laden was killed, to absorb all the emotions that were coursing through me, to participate in the historic significance of it all. I saw survivors and families of victims alike celebrating and consoling each other. There were people waving flags and hanging posters of loved ones on the wall, telling reporters their stories.

September 11th will always be a day of remembrance for my family and many others. Please take some time to think about those who perished–whether they courageously tried to help others, or just happened to show up for work–or a flight–that morning.

Rest in peace, William A. Gardner. 9.11.01.

{May 23, 2011}   Budget Travel clips so far

Just doing some maintenance and figured I’d squeeze in a bit of shameless self-promotion as well. Here are the clips I’ve gotten on Budget Travel’s website from my internship so far, ranging from December 2010 through May 2011.

Sick of snow? Lobby for summer!

This weekend: The New York Times 2011 travel show

How to get close to Hawaii’s massive, erupting volcano

Readers’ Best Ireland Photos

26 Stunning Ireland Photos (I built the slide show)

Hilarious new safety video from Air New Zealand

Airport lounge access for $17.50?

Road to Hollywood Tour coming to a theater near you

April 9: The easiest day of the year to get a passport

SNL takes on Southwest Airlines

New website tracks outrageous souvenirs

They want to know what?! A new passport questionnaire could get very personal

Should the government ease all restrictions on Cuba?

Feel free to comment or pass them around. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did writing them.

This is but a snippet of what my dating life has been like since moving here. New York City is a fascinating place with some really great guys so far. I’ve been on a few dates over the last four months and am starting to get the hang of it. Just be yourself and crazy  stuff will continue to find you. Case in point: St. Patrick’s Day, 2011…

My cousin and I had spent the whole day at the big New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade this year and ended up celebrating at an Irish pub later that night. We ordered our drinks, and after getting crunched by the crowd, ended up standing next to a group of people our age.

I noticed one of the guys pretending to fall over from lifting up his gal-pal’s purse. “God, what do you have in here, a body?” I heard him say and my laugh caught his attention. He handed me the purse and I proceeded to pretend to fall over from its weight as well. He laughed, too.

A few minutes later as we talked, he asked if I wanted a drink. As the two of us approached the bar, a cheery, inebriated Irishman probably in his 60s stopped us, said hello, and told us we looked like a lovely couple. The two of us played along as the man complimented us and said things like, “I can tell you two are really in love with each other!” (I leaned into Drew and said, “Oh, isn’t that sweet, honey?” and he responded with an arm around my shoulder and a, “Sure, sweetie, isn’t that nice?”)

And then the old guy told us we’d have beautiful babies together.

We both lost it. There was no way to contain or hide our laughter.

Drew walked over to the bar to get our drinks and the happy old guy (David, it turns out) and I immediately struck up a conversation. I politely informed David that the two of us had just met five minutes ago.

David went white. He got a very serious look on his face, swore with a brogue, and promised me he could take it all back when Drew returned. “I can change your future! Don’t worry about what I said. Oh, heavens, I’ve ruined everything for you two now.”

I told him not to worry, and the two of us kept chatting about life, his sons, how he would have never been a good father to a daughter, how I was like the daughter he never had, and finally he let me in on a little secret I was already too aware of: “All men are pigs.”

When Drew finally came back with the drinks, David told him, “I want to let you know I just ruined everything. I just killed your whole night. I told her our little secret, that we’re all pigs!”

Drew cracked up but played along, shouting, “Oh no! Why?!” and acting all offended.

The last thing I remember David saying to me was that he’d pray for me. “I’ll pray that no man every breaks your heart, and if he does, I’ll break his neck!”

I can’t wait to see what happens next. If I can stop laughing long enough to find out.

To make a long story short, I’ve been having the time of my life up here in the Big Apple and I’m starting to wonder why we ever left it. I go to my internship at Budget Travel on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and have the rest of the time to do some freelance writing, meet new people and otherwise re-kindle the bond with all my cousins and old friends I haven’t seen since I was little. Except now we’re all old enough to drink so it’s been really, really fun.

I’ve published four stories (and a slide show I made entirely from scratch, using html coding, photoshop, you name it!) on the Budget Travel website. Check them out:

Readers’ best Ireland photos (make sure you click on the slide show, too!)

How to get close to Hawaii’s massive, erupting volcano

This weekend: The New York Times travel show

Sick of snow? Lobby for summer!

I was also featured on slide #11 in our “Girlfriend Getaways” piece.

So, my plan to snag as many clips as possible is working out quite nicely. I’ve been learning so much up here! I’m pretty much doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work on the website (answering reader emails, producing hotel reviews and slide shows in the CMS, compiling lists of daily travel news stories, generating ideas for blogs, etc.) It looks like I’ll be staying up here a few more months after all. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I got to see three amazing Broadway shows: Million Dollar Quartet, Rock of Ages and La Cage Aux Folles. Alas, seeing Broadway shows is becoming a great-although expensive-hobby despite the help of TKTS, my new love. I’m holding out for Evita next year.

I got my picture taken in Times Square with The Naked Cowboy and spent a day promoting the use of pants as part of a counter-prank during Improv Everywhere’s No Pants Subway Ride 2011, probably the most ridiculous yet most hilarious afternoon of my life so far. We handed out flyers saying things like “Are pants right for me?” to the thousands of pantsless people converging on Union Square at the end of the prank. Afterward, we all went out for drinks and talked about travel, Harry Potter and the movies. It’s nice to know some things will never change.

Through a chance encounter at a birthday party, I reacquainted myself with some cousins on the other side of the family and started hanging out with them as a result. One of them brought a friend out dancing with us one night and we ended up going on a few dates. Nothing serious. My first trip to Dave & Busters and a few drinks later and we’ll probably be friends, but that’s cool. It’s been fun meeting new people and just talking all night or dancing til 4am in Long Beach or just going for a walk in the City.

Anyway, it’s getting late and I have to be up early to catch my #7 train into the City. There’s nothing like watching the New York City skyline emerge from behind the buildings as the subway makes its final turn after Queensboro Plaza on the way to Grand Central Station. It’s my favorite part of the day-and night-seeing the city lit up like that either by sunlight or its own luminosity. I need to start carrying my SLR more so I can show you what I mean.

On a final note, I’m thinking of joining a dance class or something up here. I’m going through serious line dancing withdrawals! There is one place out on Long Island that sounds like it could be like The Round Up, but I’ve got to figure out a way out there. Until then, I’m looking into Liberated Movement, a donation-based dance company a 15 minute subway ride from work that looks like fun. I’ve been staying in shape by going for long walks around the City after work. One evening, I wound up walking from my office on 39th street up to the John Lennon Imagine site in Central Park and back again, somewhere near 4 miles altogether on a whim. There’s so much to see. I really need to write more.

{December 31, 2010}   Happy New Year from New York City

So much has changed over the past two months that I’ve been too busy to sit down and give everyone a proper update.

For starters, I published three articles for AOL’s new website, City’s Best Tampa. (And now for some shameless self-promotion…)

Country Line Dancing Bars in Tampa Bay

Best Places to Snag a Cheap Dance Lesson

Try Your Hand at Tampa Gambling

Around the same time I wrote those, I stumbled upon an ad for Editorial Intern at Budget Travel, a popular travel magazine I have been reading since I was about 14. My dream job is to be a travel writer/photographer, so even though I figured they had already filled the position (as had been the case with just about every other internship or job I’ve applied for recently) I sent in my resume and online portfolio anyway. Surprisingly, I got a response the next day, so after a few weeks of chatting back and forth and getting some things settled in Florida, I hopped on a plane to New York and have been here ever since.

That was on December 10th. My first day was the 13th. The office is just a few blocks from Times Square (great for the view, bad for walking through the insane amounts of tourists stopping to take pictures – one of which I used to be and I would like to deeply apologize now to my fellow New Yorkers). I go in from 10am to 6pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, leaving me plenty of time to pursue freelance writing/editing and go exploring. The internship is unpaid, but I have some money saved up from working at Old Navy last year and my Dad is graciously allowing me to stay with him in Queens. I basically just have to pay for my Metrocard and chip in for groceries.

If I thought the first night’s snow flurries were exciting, you can imagine how I felt about the blizzard that just came through. I was born in Floral Park, New York, and hadn’t experienced this kind of heavy snow since I was six. I remember being a kid and thinking the blizzard of 1994 was my fault since I had asked God to make it snow one more time before we moved to Hawaii.

This time, we holed up at my Uncle Joe’s house in Whitestone, watching the snow attack our neighborhood with my cousin’s cocker spaniel barking at the snow as it continued to fall. And as the plows eventually showed up  few days later. I was lucky enough to have two “snow days” although I have to admit they were a lot more fun when I was younger and didn’t have to help dig out cars and walkways. It’s still thrilling and different for me to see snow, so please be patient with me if I suddenly am overcome with the urge to go sledding or build a giant snowman, etc.

Christmas itself was lovely, and felt even more special with the cold weather. (By cold I mean in the 20s rather than Florida’s version of cold.) Seeing all my cousins, aunts and uncles made it seem more like a holiday than usual, although I did hate the fact that I had to not be celebrating this time of year with my mother and sister in Florida.

That reminds me: I will be flying back to Florida for a few short days in January to get my braces taken off, a day I have been waiting about two years to enjoy. Once those miserable things are off, I want to look into getting contacts as well, so I will be able to look as good and confident as I feel.

And now for the semi-mushy, self-deprecating and brutally honest explanatory part.

I hope everyone has a safe, healthy and Happy New Year, but would like to reflect on a few things first.

While I officially have no one to kiss as the clock strikes 12, I am happy that I am happy about it. This time last year, I was not in a good place and would just like to say that everything has worked out quite nicely. I have discovered how strong and independent I can be on my own and however selfish it may be to say, it’s nice to just have to worry about me for a change. No planning things out, no compromises, just me.

I treated myself to a Broadway show last night. After standing in line at the TKTS booth for 90 minutes and watching West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles and Rock of Ages sell out before my eyes, I decided on Million Dollar Quartet, a show inspired by the impromptu jam session of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins on December 4th, 1956. It ended up being a great show and the best part is, I got a great seat for $49. It was nice to just play it by ear and roll with the punches.

It’s funny how I can enjoy being single yet hate it at times. Like the holidays. After work, I sometimes walk down to Bryant Park Holiday Market, grab some hot apple cider and sit there watching the ice skaters. It’s strange how two completely different sets of raw emotions (Aww, that’s nice to have someone to hold hands with and keep you warm & a wave of loneliness) can hit you at the same time. The funny thing is, I miss being able to hold someone, be close to them, etc. but can’t think of anyone I’d want to be with right now. I’ve met some great guys this year and had some pretty powerful crushes, but they’ve essentially fizzled out by now due to a lack of feelings in return or the addition of a new love interest on their part. No hard feelings and I wish you all the best. It’s just a little confusing and I’m not used to dealing with this kind of stuff. At the same time, it feels like I’m just waiting for a mystery man to make himself known and once he does, I’ll know exactly what to do and things will just fall into place.

Such are the trials, tribulations and triumphs of being single during the holidays while trying to build a career. The last thing I want is to be one of those women who doesn’t make time to meet new people and becomes obsessed with her job. That’s not me. I might be heading in that direction but I want someone to experience all that with. I’m not sure if right now is the right time for that, but definitely soon.

The other strange thing is I will be in New York for “at least three months.” Unless I secure a job of some sort (hopefully within Budget Travel) I am doomed to return to the Tampa Bay area sometime before summer. I know that’s a terrible way to think about it, but that is basically how I feel right now. I’ve tried to find work in and around Tampa that is journalism-related and it’s just not there. Or it wants more experience. Or just doesn’t pay. The job market here in New York is enormous and the possibilities are endless. That alone is enticing as hell to me. Throw in the Broadway shows, close family and friends, beautiful city, easy and efficient transportation and being able to stay with Dad in Queens, and I’ve got a pretty good chance of making something of myself up here. I know I left virtually all of my friends behind in Florida, but now is the time in our lives where everybody shifts around a little. People move for jobs or guys or girls or financial reasons. We’re in our mid-20s and anything is possible. Wish me luck!

{October 25, 2010}   I am job.

Three little words from the movie Mrs. Doubtfire that my father once used to let my mother know he was hired: “I am job.”  Today, I can repeat them with the knowledge that I am officially a paid freelance writer.

I just got off the phone with the Southeastern Regional Editor of AOL City’s Best. As of today I will be paid – per article – to write lists of things to do and see in the Tampa Bay area. Basically I get to write about any up-and-coming restaurants, night clubs, festivals and other events happening in Tampa Bay.

Needless to say after sending out many, many resumes over the past few weeks I am overjoyed to be given such an opportunity. Please keep an eye out for my articles. I’ll be posting them on facebook/twitter so they get around quickly, but will try to stick the links on here as well. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I’m still writing articles for Creative Loafing Tampa Bay and editing brochures and web content for, a non-profit agency that finds new homes for abandoned pets. I’m technically still on the list at Miles Media for freelance fact checking for but it’s been slow all summer.

In other news, I’ve reached the one year mark at Old Navy Clearwater and am happily working as a cashier there for the most part. God only knows what horrors await us as the holiday seasons approach and customers try and get used to the new store layout. Keep your fingers crossed for us humble retailers, please.

The best part of that job? Getting to dress up as Richard Simmons for Halloween while at work. This is going to be a great weekend.

So, to make a long story short, I turned 23 and life is still throwing me curve balls. One after the other in rapid succession.

I celebrated my 23rd birthday on September 8th by going to work. I really celebrated the following day by going with a big group of friends to dinner at TGI Friday’s and heading to Ladies Night at The Round Up for dancing and drinks. It was a blast! We had about 15 people at dinner and a smaller group for dancing, but I had a terrific time nonetheless. I even got to learn the Neon Moon Dance (Brooks & Dunn medley) from one of the greatest dancers at The Round Up. My other friend rode the mechanical bull and we got a bunch of great pictures from that night. Thanks to everyone for making it memorable.

That weekend, I drove up to Gainesville with Corbin and Chris for the epic football battle between my school, USF, and April’s, UF. Naturally, UF beat the pants off of us, but it was still fun to be at my first official Gator game. Like the ultimate traitor, I donned a bright orange Gator t-shirt and snuck into the student section to sit with April, who got me a ticket for my birthday. It was great to bug her about how well The Bulls were doing for the first half, but also fun to chant “Gator Bait” along with the crowd.

Those were the good parts of September. The rest has been eventful for other reasons.

For starters, I took a flying leap through Men’s Clearance one night at work while trying to put clothes away. Apparently someone had dropped a grape and I found it, clothes went flying, and I went down. Hard. I landed on my left hip and left wrist, slamming both knees on the way down. They sent me to a walk in clinic and I was asked to fill out a boatload of forms. Luckily worker’s compensation is paying for my treatment and the x-rays, and luckily I got away from the whole production with just a few bad bruises. Nothing broke and I just had to wear an ace bandage on my right knee and a wrist splint for a few days. Hot compresses and lots of Motrin did the trick. Phew.

In other news, I survived a near-groping and escaped a dinner date with a gutsy older gentleman at The Round Up one night. I had just taken a picture of a group of gals there for a Bachelorette Party and an older guy – probably in his 60s – approached me during a slow song saying, “That was very nice of you. Would you like a dance?” I figured he was a stuttering older guy who was just trying to be polite, so, why not? I can be so naive sometimes.

We start chatting about school, work and life during the first slow song, and are starting to talk about our families when the second one begins. I start to notice I’m getting a lot of  “ah hahs” and “uh huhs” then suddenly come to the realization that he’s paying more attention to my hands, then my waist, then my right breast. My suspicions are confirmed when I feel a finger graze my right boob – nothing malicious about it, just a guy trying to test the boundaries and frankly, determine how drunk I am (not at all.)

It wasn’t a huge deal. I know how to take care of myself. It was just so surprising at the time. I instantly called him out on it, said something like, “Hey. Watch it buddy,” and shot my elbows upward to block any further advances. He looked embarrassed and apologized, as I started blabbing about a boyfriend who would be arriving at any minute. Right.

I slipped off to the side of the bar, found my new friend, Lucinda, and told her the story of my near-groping. We laughed about it later, and she rode the mechanical bull as I got pictures of her on it.

A few minutes later, as she’s putting on her shoes, my little gutsy friend finds me in the crowd, pulls up a chair, and says, “Hello again. I was just wondering if you would like to join me for dinner sometime.” I was in shock – trying not to giggle uncontrollably in his face, yet a little creeped out that he had the nerve to come over after what happened on the dance floor. I quickly said something like, “Oh, that’s very nice of you, but I don’t think my boyfriend would be very happy with that.” He smiled, said he understood and left.

So, now it’s just another fascinating story of being single, but at the time I was truly and utterly appalled by the whole experience. Why can’t I just get hit on by normal guys my own age – or maybe a teensy bit older – not in their 60s. Do I just give off a vibe of being old fashioned or something?

Anyway, in less than two weeks, April and I will be flying up to New York for our cousin’s wedding. We’re both really excited, especially since this will be the first time since we moved from New York in 1994 that all the cousins will finally be together. Should be great! Plus, I get to hang around for an extra week and hopefully get over to Montauk before the trip is through.

I have been job searching like crazy lately. Some desperate feeling inside me has finally come to the surface and I can’t stop myself from looking everyday. In the past two months, I’ve applied to jobs at The Tampa Tribune and The St. Petersburg Times, but heard nothing notable back. Yet. Maybe it’s too early, but I’m already starting to get depressed about it.

So, I have decided to apply for positions in New York as well as in the Tampa Bay area. It seems like anything relating to magazines or big online positions are either in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. or Chicago. Dad is still up in Queens, so it might be a good idea to apply for jobs and possibly move up there for a few months or years. I’ve seen ads for Hearst, Meredith, Conde Nast – every major magazine group – up there. Maybe it’s time I just go and make something of myself. I don’t have any boyfriends or really big reasons to hold me back anymore. I can always fly down and visit Mom and April so maybe I should really do this.

On the other hand, I keep looking up exciting jobs that involve travel – like flight attendant positions for Virgin Atlantic and Delta, and lately, jobs onboard cruise lines. How exciting that would be to get paid to do a TON of work (sometimes 10 hours a day for seven days a week) but be able to “play tourist” at different ports around the world! I’m still looking into this damnit.

In the meantime, I’ve written another article for the Creative Loafing website – this time about romance rather than travel – for your reading pleasure.

I’ve also created a blog for my most recent poetry. Frankly, I have a notebook that is falling apart and just needed somewhere to put it.

{July 21, 2010}   Long awaited update

I just wanted you to know I’m still breathing. I know I haven’t written anything new in a month, but life has been relatively uneventful.

Okay, maybe that isn’t entirely true, but I have been insanely busy lately. Please allow me to elaborate using a few choice words. Lately, I have been:

Excited: I wrote a blurb about my “The $25 Challenge” that ended up being published on the website for Oprah’s Angel Network. I started getting some comments on it, too. Not only will thousands of people worldwide view my little story, but it will be great to stick on my resume as well.

Stressed: I am still at Old Navy and trying to get as many hours as possible, which is turning out to be quite a feat during the dull summer months. Let’s just say I’m working half (if not a third) of what I was a few months ago. I am considering finding yet another job to make up the difference, but am told things will get better in August with all the back-to-school specials and sales coming up. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the next few weeks.

Under-worked: I am still listed as a Freelance Fact Checker but things have slowed down significantly on that front as well. I contacted my editor and she forwarded my availability to the main editor, so we’ll see what happens. I am still also writing freelance travel stories for Creative Loafing’s website, which I am counting on for experience, exposure and clips more than anything else.

Curious: I have been conducting daily journalism-job searches for months now and keep finding the best options are in New York and Washington D.C. My hope is to stay in Florida and save up enough money by January to make a move if I have to. My Dad says I can stay with him in Queens (temporarily) if I am able to find something there. I am highly intrigued by Washington D.C as it has cleaned itself up in recent years and just happens to be home to National Geographic. Coincidence? I think not.

Frustrated: I am starting to re-arrange my career priorities a bit. There are a lot more jobs available for writers and editors rather than travel writers and editors. I think I would be better off writing or editing for a major publication and doing my travel stuff on the side. It will be more profitable in the long run but there’s a catch. I’m afraid if I take a full time position I won’t have time to travel. Part of me feels like I got gypped – so many people are able to take a year and travel around the world after graduation and I graduated last May and don’t have the money to do that. If I take a full time position, I’ll be lucky to have two weeks to travel each year. The other part of me keeps shouting that I need to grow up and accept that I can’t have everything – I should be happy I went to Italy this time last year – and suck it up, get a job. The part that bugs me is my Mom’s settlement from the car accident will be here by the end of the year (keep your fingers crossed for me) and I’m due to receive a nice chunk of it. This would allow me to get all that travel out of my system – but only if I have time to do it. I think the best thing right now would be to get more experience/exposure and keep working part time for money. At least until January. Then we’ll see what happens. Sorry to complain so much.

Exhausted: Every time my Mom travels out of state for work, I have to drive my sister to The Vet Clinic at 7 a.m. everyday so she can get her volunteering done. (She needs 500 hours this summer to apply to vet school.) This wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t developed the sleeping pattern from hell. Basically, I wake up at 7 a.m., drop April off, come home and do some computer work until 10 a.m. before crawling back into bed until 2 p.m or so. I then wake up, go pick April up and usually go to work until 9:30 p.m or 10 p.m. I’m usually wired by the time I get home and can’t fall asleep until 1a.m. or 2 a.m. (sometimes 3 a.m.). Repeat.

Icky: Needless to say, my sleeping routine sucks and I have been getting sick as a result. It started out as the usual sniffles and has become bad enough for me to use up my 2nd deductible-able doctor visit of the year. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Surprised: My mom has apparently put a little money on the side and will be taking my sister and me to Key West next week! We’ve never been there before and I can’t wait to go. We’re staying for six days and scored a great deal on a hotel, but are essentially being robbed over the airfare down there from Tampa ($311 each!) My Mom has a bad back and we have a bad car, so driving is out – the train/bus/boat schedules don’t fit just right, and so we fly.

Single: No major developments here except I am learning the ropes slowly. I am figuring out that spilling your guts is no longer in but I am too impatient to wait for a guy to make a move. Where is the middle ground?

Dancing: My sister and I have been spending a lot of time with two of my guy-friends from high school. For the last month or so, we’ve gone out dancing every weekend at either The Round Up or The Wave at Shepherd’s in Clearwater Beach. It’s been great to catch up over dinner (or at Steak & Shake after we’re all danced-out.) and feel good on the dance floor. We finally have guys to slow-dance with at The Round Up and guys to fast-dance with at Shepherd’s. It’s been loads of fun and strictly platonic, which is nice, too. We’re all there to enjoy each other’s company and just have fun.

I am now the proud owner of my first digital SLR camera! My friend from school sold me her old Canon Digital Rebel and I have been playing with it ever since I got it last week. Now I’ll be able to take professional level photographs and hopefully those will help me get more stories published.

This summer is just flying by! When we get back from Key West, I have a few things lined up (Brad Paisley concert, Kelly T’s Art Show in Tampa, moving April back up to her new apartment in Gainesville.) but am really stoked about going to New York again in October for my cousin’s wedding. I’m staying for 10 days this time and hope to fit in more tourist-y stuff and spend more time with the family to help me with my family tree stuff. This time I’m definitely going to Ellis Island and absolutely have to visit The Soup Nazi, who has graciously re-opened his restaurant in the City.

{June 22, 2010}   Shameless self-promotion

Hey everybody! I just wanted to share my second Creative Loafing Tampa Bay story with you – this one is about a day I spent at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. Please click on this link and take a look! Tell your friends!

Playing Tourist at MOSI

If you’d like to see my other travel stories for Creative Loafing Tampa Bay’s Blog, The Daily Loaf, click here.

Or, to check out my story about a recent trip to Safety Harbor, click here.

Thanks to everybody for your interest and support! I promise to fill you in on my hectic summer as soon as I can.

et cetera