Sunday, December 7, 2008

Once Upon a December

I'm alive and well!

It's been a crazy few weeks, hence the lack of updates. Work is going well. I'm getting more and more comfortable in my position and with JA. I'm preparing and running trainings by myself. Recruiting volunteers is finding a sort-of routine. The recruitment process will change with every year, but for now, I'm finding my niche with it and coming up with some out-of-the-box ideas to get people involved. This week I'm attending a training workshop in Atlanta. I had to purchase a coat because it's about 20-degrees colder there than FL, and I didn't have a nicer work coat. Oh, and when I say it's going to be colder, I mean it will be in the 40s and 50s. Sorry, Midwesterners, but it was 70-degrees all week last week. Considering how much I'm not in my office for my job, it's nice that I don't have to worry about icy temperatures and snow while I'm running around Osceola County.

I spent Thanksgiving here with my cousin and her family and friends. The friend who hosted Turkey Day is a Disney performer, same with just about everyone else who was there. It was a RIOT! It has been awhile since I've hung out with theatre folks, so it was a refreshing, entertaining evening. Complete with wine and frozen mojitos, of course! They made me feel so welcome. This was my first Thanksgiving away from my immediate family, but my new friends made me feel right at home.

I also have some exciting news! I bought a car! It's a 2008 Hyundai Tucsan. Her name is Snow White because it's a white car. I love it. I feel safe driving it and it has plenty of room to haul any and all JA materials when I'm out on the road. It's a comfortable ride and the gas mileage is good, especially since it's in the SUV family. We're getting along great and I think this will be a lasting relationship. :)

I'm excited to go home for Christmas. As many of you know, I was traveling abroad last Christmas, so it will be nice to be with my family this year. I'm doing Christmas shopping primarily online because my new favorite thing is carrying on my luggage at the airport. Hauling gifts would make that a bit difficult. I'm getting in on Christmas Eve morning (it is SO much cheaper to fly on Christmas Eve, I highly recommend it), so I'll spend some time wrapping presents before the family festivities begin. I'm hoping there's some snow when I'm home. I don't miss the snow now, but it would nice to have a white Christmas.

And even though my schedule has been a bit busy, I have watched Elf this season. Twice.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Harses, Harses, Harses, Harses

November is here! In terms of my sister and I, this means it's officially the Christmas season. I can watch Elf as many times as I deem necessary and the Christmas carols can be heard from my computer and car radio.

I have had time to watch one Christmas movie so far: Love Actually. If you haven't ever watched it, make it a priority on your NetFlix. British humor combined with love and Christmas = fun for everyone (though sometimes inappropriate for kids). It's one of my favorites and I was thrilled to watch it while it was 70-degrees outside.

This was my first 5-day work week. Thursday night I went to yoga class. When I came home, I was feeling motivated for Friday and all the things I needed to get done. Friday morning's alarm goes off at 6:30am and I immediately think, Oh. My. God. I want to lay here allllllll day and do nothing. The morning was a little frustrating, but there was a lot going on at the office, so that made for a fun day. At the end of the day, I went to Disney to train a volunteer for one of the JA programs. As we were wrapping up, he says to me "If you don't have any appointments the rest of today, why don't you take a stroll around the park?" I was nearly stunned. I typically don't care much to go to Disney regularly, unless it's Epcot where you can visit different countries and eat and drink all day. I was at the Magic Kingdom, which happens to be the busiest of all the parks all the time, on Friday. His office is right above one of the restaurants in the park, so my park access was pretty convenient. And after a long day, I took him up on his offer to stroll around the M.K.. It was actually fun! Families were everywhere, many looking tired, but still excited to be around the castle and the fireworks during one of the shows. I called home to Indiana and chatted with the fam for awhile. It was the perfect end to the day; just what I needed. Then I came home, had dinner, and we watched Sleepless in Seattle, another holiday-esque favorite (hence the title of this post).

Saturday was a fun day. I went to yoga class in the morning and ran errands. Then the grandparents and I went to the Tampa Auto Show. This is the best way to car-shop, and it was a fun day. I found a couple things I really liked and plan to test-drive, so it was a productive visit. Then we went to The Pub for dinner and beer. It was wonderful to see everyone and I ended up going back later to hang out and drink some more. It's kind of like Cheers for me: sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. We had fun talking about politics and the strange Polk County regulars. I had put myself on lock-down after not getting paid for the month of October, so I was starting to get restless. Last night was a needed night out and I feel like I can still afford to eat next week.

And after 3 weeks of working full-time, I now understand how there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I need to do. I also understand how my friends who work in non-profit feel busier than all get out. I work hard all day every day and sometimes have time to take a real break for lunch. But I love it. I absolutely love the work I do every day for the kids. So it makes the hard work worth it, even on those long defeated-feeling days.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Homecoming at Purdue was a blast. I got to see all my favorite people. I drank Corona with my parents at my favorite bar, only to return a few hours later with my friends. I visited my college job where I recognized about 4 people. I ate, I drank, I was merry.

One of my favorite traditions last year was Breakfast Club. Anyone unfamiliar with Purdue who reads this (which I would imagine is not many): Breakfast Club means the students and sometimes alumni dress up in a costume and line up at 6am waiting for the bars to open at 7am on all home-game-Saturdays. Cheap screwdrivers are the way to drink and it's always super busy. My friends and I were dedicated Breakfast Club members last year and thought we could pull it off this year. After many a round bought and drank the night before though, 6am came too soon. I'm pretty sure we were still feeling some spirited beverages when I was awakened by a phone call asking where we were. I went around the house I was staying at, asking who wanted to get up and go. It turned out we all thought someone else had set an alarm, so we all figured someone would wake us up. Once this was realized, I said, ok, back to bed it is! I woke up again around 10:30, just in time to not feel sick for sitting through the game with my parents.

As far as the game goes: I froze in the stands to watch Purdue basically do nothing the whole time. It was a little depressing, but the marching band is always fun. I know, it sounds lame, but seriously. Sometimes between the band and watching Purdue Pete, they are more entertaining than the actual game.

After going out Friday night and Saturday night, I'm proud to say I didn't feel any consequences from beer. I think it's safe to say I've learned a thing or two since college. :)

It was wonderful seeing the loves of my life, including both family and friends. My sister and I got to spend some quality couch-time, which we loved to do in our old apartment. The only good-weather day was Sunday, and it was the most perfect fall day. Sweatshirt needed, but plenty of warm sunshine. However, I was happy to be able to return to my now-real-life to get cracking at work in the Sunshine State where it was 80-degrees when I got off the plane.

Well, I was happy for about 5 minutes until I found out I absolutely have to get my Florida driver's license first thing tomorrow and I won't be getting paid until mid-November. Then I got home to find my first Sprint bill (of course, due before I actually get paid). I guess real life doesn't take a break when you do, huh?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mommy, wow! I'm a big kid now...

I did it.

I got up this morning, got ready, made my lunch, ate breakfast, and went to work. I felt like a grown-up the whole time.

JA (Junior Achievement) is great. The people at the Orlando office were wonderful and I hope they are patient with me as I learn the whole JA system. My boss is awesome. She has a spark and energy that keeps everyone going. She and I get along very well and appreciate sassyness from time to time.

Today was mostly a paperwork day. Benefits, taxes, boring adult stuff that's actually really important. I have my 30-day goals: meet people, recruit people, organize an office, things like that. I'll be going with my boss a few times to meet people in the schools. I also tried preparing for the board meeting tomorrow morning. My first official board meeting as an employee, not an intern. I'm a little nervous, but am excited to meet people who are also excited about JA.

This past weekend was just what I needed. My Tampa friend and I hung out on the beach all day on Saturday. The weather was perfect: the sun was warm, the breeze was cool, the water was comfortable. We ate, we sun-bathed, we watched Knocked Up (which just gets funnier every time I watch it). The weekend was rejuvenating, just in time for me to put on my big-girl pants and go to work today.

I have much to do this week to get things organized at my office. I have a couple of yoga classes to attend, which are my new favorite thing. I'll be trying to prepare for my trip home on Friday! I can hardly wait to see my sister, my mom, and go to Harry's for a Corona with Dad. If I can find/purchase a new camera cord, I'll post non-incriminating pictures when I get back. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A case of the Mondays.

It's official! Monday is my start date at Junior Achievement and I. Can't. Wait.

I'm so excited to meet everyone and learn all I need to learn to do my job. I'm also looking forward to wearing my business attire again. This girl gets excited about a wardrobe change. :)

This weekend was good. One of my favorite Chicagoans was here. We went to Lake Ridge Winery on Saturday. The tour and tasting are complimentary, so we took full advantage. They have a lot of sweeter wines, which I tend to shy away from. They had a nice Cuvee Noir, a dryer red, which I purchased. Their wine is fairly inexpensive, so it was worth it for us to walk out of there with 5 bottles. No worries, we did not drink them all this weekend. We also went to the pumpkin patch set up in Celebration. It was a cute set up. I learned that pumpkin carving in Florida is a little different from pumpkin carving in the Midwest. Between the heat and humidity, I think our masterpieces may need to be thrown away already. Oh well, we still had fun!

I also went to the Food & Wine Festival with some Purdue girls. Purdue's October break was this weekend, so it was great to see them! We tried wine, had margaritas and beer. Then I took my Purdue drinking buddy to The Pub. That made for a good time, especially because the Elvis impersonater was there. We had so much fun and it was great to see everyone!

I'm going to Tampa this weekend, so I'm looking forward to my real last weekend before I'm officially working full-time. As much as I've wanted a job, it's kind of sad to feel like your youthful freedom will be slipping away within days. I'm obviously excited about the job, but let's be honest: college and these last 5 months after college haven't been anything difficult. I've been able to do pretty much whatever I wanted because of the lack-of-schedule I've kept. I'll be glad to have a routine again, but I'll always appreciate the free-time I've had.

Also: I'm counting down to my Purdue visit! 9 days...And I can't contain my excitement to see my family, friends, Harold's, and my beloved Noodles&Co.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Dear Background Checkers/Drug Testers:

Hi there. My name is Meredith Evans and I was ready in May to start my new job. I understand the importance of background checks and drug tests. I think it is a good thing to know as an employer if your future employee is a drug addict or a serial killer. From the documentation provided, you see that I am 22 years-old. My background consists of living in two different places and a couple of credit cards. There is also a lack of violence, I tend to be a peaceful person. My dependence on drugs or alcohol is zero, as my drug test will feature.

So why is that it's been over a week since all this information was submitted and yet, I STILL can't start my job?

When you have an answer, please respond accordingly. And hurry: I may have to start a dependence on drugs to get me through the next few days of not being able to work.

"Employed-But-Not-Working-And-Would-Like-To-Know-When-I-Can-Start" Meredith Evans

Monday, October 6, 2008

One Saturday Morning

I had to go for a drug test for my new job. No big deal, I don't do drugs, so I have nothing to worry about.

At 6:30am on Saturday, I groggily dragged myself to the drug test facility. They open at 7am, and at 7:20 when I arrived, the place was packed. Being a walk-in, you just wait until they have space for you after the appointments. So, I brought a book with me and listened while this lady complained that her elderly parents had to sit and wait for 45 minutes, even though they did NOT have an appointment. Then I get called back. They take my driver's license and my forms and I sit and watch people with bandages on their arms from blood tests. Then I get nervous. I hate needles, I can handle getting a shot, but I prefer my blood in my body. I'm thinking, maybe they'll have to do blood work AND a urine test! YIKES.

Between the fear of needles and the fact it was about 60-degrees in the room, my anxiety could not be comforted. Then the doctor came to get me. She pulled me over to a little counter and asked me if my name was Evans Anne. It is now that I see the Indiana driver's license makes no sense because your last name is printed above your first followed by your middle.

Once that confusion is over, I ask her if it's a blood and urine test. To my relief, it's just a urine test. She hands me the cup, has me rinse my hands, then closes the door. A few minutes later, she taps on the door. I open the door to say "I've got nothing." Frustrated, she orders me to drink as much water as possible and I have to wait another 30 minutes. Feeling like a failure, I hang out for awhile drinking water out of a cone cup (which is difficult to drink out of, two-year-olds were more coordinated with it than I was). About 40 minutes later, she comes back and motherly asks, "are you ready now?" I nod. This was a success.

This whole time frame was about 2 hours. It took me two hours to pee in a cup.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


1 summer, 5 months post-graduation, 10 books read, and 1,031 miles...and I have a job.

That's right, you're not seeing things, I have a JOB. Doing what I've wanted to do since I walked across the stage at graduation. Yes, I've been working at the Pub, but you know that wasn't what I wanted to do with my Purdue degree.

In previous posts, I mentioned my meetings/interviews with the folks at Junior Achievement. They decided to offer me the position of Education Manager for JA Osceola County, one of the counties I live right next to. I will basically be coordinating and keeping track of the volunteers we send into the Osceola County school system (which is HUGE, by the way) to teach kids about their community and how to be good citizens. I loved JA when I volunteered for them and I am THRILLED to be working for them! They are doing my background check now and I have to take a drug test, so once those are done, I'm good to go! When I got the call about the official offer meeting I was going to have this week, I almost started squealing with delight on the phone, but I played it cool. When I hung up the phone, I shouted with joy and jumped up and down. I was house/dog-sitting for my manager at the Pub, so the dog looked at me like I was nuts. Which may or may not be true...

I'm looking forward to meeting so many people in the community. I'll be getting involved with the Chamber of Commerce, meeting the Board of Directors, attending meetings and trainings, basically a bunch of things to say, "Hey! I'm the new girl and I'm ready to work!". I wanted to work for a non-profit after graduation because it's great work experience and you're doing something good for society. The regulars I met at the Pub were very impressed and proud last night to know someone who's actually going out in the world really trying to make a difference. And these were people I don't know that well, so that was so sweet of them to be so supportive.

The Pub has been a blast. I've met so many great people, both staff and customers. That part will be hard to leave. I plan to visit, of course, because at this point I still think the food is good. And sometimes you just need a pint with the people who helped you pick yourself up when you moved over 1,000 miles from everything you've ever known. Now that I've given my official notice, I told a couple good friends of mine at work. Boy, news sure does travel fast. But when I explain why I'm leaving, people see I'm excited about this opportunity and they are excited for me.

I feel so blessed for my life. I have so many supportive people surrounding me, whether they are happy I'm taking this job or not. I have great friends who are thrilled I'll have a job that allows free weekends and paid vacation time. And a shout out to Miss Naomi sending me roses as a congratulations for the job! It was a wonderful surprise when I got home from my meeting yesterday! Thanks to everyone for your support during this not-so-long but difficult job searching time. I think I found something I'm going to love doing and I can't wait to take on Osceola County!! I'll keep you guys posted on when I start, people I meet, events I'm doing, things like that.

In other news, my current obsessions are as follows: already researching for my job, even though I won't get paid yet; the Twilight series; car and phone shopping; and seeing some sassy ladies in about a week and a half!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


In my most recent post, I wrote "wait to HERE back from...". I am HERE to edit said post with "wait to HEAR back from...". And you should know I was mortified to read that mistake. I do apologize for my lack of editing and those of you who, like me, judge people for poor grammar, judge away....


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Waiting Game

Being a new graduate, I could go pro if there was such a team for the Waiting Game. Hey, maybe that'll be my newest job prospect...

I interviewed with the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement on Friday. I feel it went well. Everyone was so nice. Unfortunately my 22 years of age is still working against me, so I'm hoping they are overlooking my "youth" and see the hard-working, motivated employee I will be for them. I'll be in touch with my potential boss at the end of this week, so I'll share what I hear then.

I also did a really interesting article for Orlando Style. Well, the interview part, I haven't started the article part. Two 30-somethings in Downtown Orlando are throwing a huge party to raise money for a patient in one of the hospitals. More specifically, a spinal cord injury patient. They are putting the money toward a new vehicle to make their new life transition a little easier. These women were incredible to talk to and I wish them all the best in their efforts. I may even try to get tickets! I'll post links with information when more is available online, then you can see the work these ladies are putting into it.

In other news, my roommates are here! Grandma and Grandpa arrived safely on Saturday evening. It was nice coming home from work to someone being at the house. And there's actually food in the house! Many of you know I love cooking and food in general, but living by myself with the schedule I keep has left the fridge a little emptier than normal. Grandpa has been busy working on projects around the house that I couldn't take care of and Grandma is getting the house decorated for the season. I spent my day off yesterday laying in the pool reading Twilight thanks to Aunt Joyce. I also made us a version of chicken pot pie that turned out pretty good. As Grandpa said, "it's very different, but good." I have new palates to cook for, palates that differ from my brave sister. Hopefully I'll come up with some things we all like!

This week I'm working on my article, working at the Pub, house/dog sitting for my manager, all while waiting to here back about the job. At least I have some things to keep my brain occupied.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I know what I know

People keep asking me how long I'll stay in Florida. 3 months? 6 months? What happens if you find a full-time, "real" job? How long will you stay then? What is you don't find your dream job?

Here's the answer: I don't know.

This specific journey started for me one year ago. My sights were set on Chicago; that's where I'd wanted to live since I could remember. Chicago prospects came and went. My newly-graduated self thought perhaps the job market would be different somewhere else, hence the move to Florida. Plus, my living expenses are paid for the time being. Now I'm here. STILL figuring out what it is I'm going to do. And no, I don't know how long I'll live here. But here are some things I've figured out so far:

-I have little to no desire to stay in Davenport for an extended period of time. When I'm able to afford it, I'm moving on.
-The South is not so bad. It's wicked hot, but so is Indiana in the summer. And if you're near water, you survive.
-I'm within an hour and a half from the ocean. And I like it that way.
-Orlando shopping is amazing. Having an outlet mall within 20 minutes of where I currently live is spectacular.
-My job at the Pub is fun. The majority of the customers are super nice and the British seem to find me entertaining.
-I do not want to continue serving for an extended period of time. It's nice for now because I'm making easy money to pay my credit card bill. After that, my sights will be set higher than they are already.
-I know I'll miss autumn at home, but I plan to visit during that season. I know I won't miss snow in January, but again, Christmas will be nice in Indiana.

While I don't know what's going on as far as my career goes, these are some of the life things I do know. There are no exciting job updates today. Just the thoughts of a recent college grad who's figuring out her place in the world.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Real Life: in it and waiting for it

This blog may appear to belong to someone who has no clue what she's doing. And that's true. I'm playing it by ear all day every day, but it makes my life a little more interesting.

I'm making money at the Pub. Hooray! I opened a bank account last week, which makes my Florida stay a little more permanent, though I'm not investing too much in this state yet. Time will tell if this is where I'm meant to be. In the meantime, I'm taking steps to become what I call a "real adult". This means having a schedule that doesn't entail sleeping all day and working all night. This means exercising and meeting marathon goals that I can't train for right now because as you probably know, it's about 100 degrees in the middle of the day, which is when I have time to run. (I'm not running, needless to say) This means having health benefits, having a new car and being able to afford the insurance, having an apartment, and paying my own bills. I'm grateful for all the help I have now, but my independence kicks in sometimes and I start hoping for my "real life" to start.

In fact, "real life" called last week. I talked to someone from Junior Achievement about a job and I'm so excited. It'd be a great start for me and I would meet so many people in the community. I would be working really hard, as any non-profit employee does. It would be such a great experience that it'd be totally worth it. Here's hoping I find out more in the next week or so...

While on this quest for my "real life" I took a break and hosted Ladies Labor Day Weekend. A friend from Chicago flew down and a friend from Tampa drove up. I seem to know a lot of guys here, which is fine, but sometimes you just need your girlfriends. Thanks to these ladies, the weekend was exactly what I needed. We shopped, attended happy hours, shopped some more, ate, drank, all of the above. The weather sucked Saturday and Sunday, so our pool time was limited to nighttime hours. We woke up early on Monday to have breakfast at the Polynesian, which has amazing stuffed french toast. We walked out of the Polynesian, still groggy from going to bed only a few hours before, and the sun was shining. There were clouds out, but the sun was there. We shouted with joy in the parking lot and sped home to throw on our bathing suits. We spent the whole day in the pool, it was GLORIOUS. We listened to music, read magazines, napped, and got the neighbors out to be social for dinner. The guys grilled burgers and we supplied beer and dessert. We ended up having a lot of fun, even though we were all delirious from our whirlwind weekend. Altogether, we had a blast this weekend and I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Oh, and when did September get here? Oh well, I guess that means my trip home in October is that much closer :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Pub Factor

As many of you probably know, I'm a planner. I like to know exactly where and when my life is going, no matter how many times I know the plan will change. Things almost never turn out the way you expected them to, yet, I naively think I have that much control. My planning trait created my 2-year plan. I made it for financial purposes. I wanted to put down my financial goals for the next two years. Some of these goals include paying off my credit card, buying a car, etc. The only revolving factor was how I was going to get the money to do all this. I'm here today to tell you that I think I found it: the Pub factor.

In my previous post, I mentioned my new job at The Pub. My first few days of training, my manager kept telling that I'll be great, I'll make a ton of money, yadda yadda yadda. You never know until you try, so my first night on my own was a little scary at first. Making sure my tables are happy, making sure my orders are entered correctly, all things that can make or break your night. The night started out super slow, probably due to the first sunny day in a week, meaning the tourists were in the parks all day (as in Disney/Universal/whatever else there is). I knew there would be nights like this, so I tried not to dwell on it. I had a few tables, which I was perfectly comfortable with because it was my first night without someone following me to make sure I didn't screw anything up. I ended up getting cut early, which was also fine. As I was counting out my cash to give to my boss, I realized: I did pretty well for it being such a slow first night. I practically danced out of there with the idea that I could add to the almost-nothing in my bank account. Oh does it feel good to have some cash-flow again...

Now, I'm a believer of retail-therapy, so some of you may be a bit concerned. But having gone a few months with no income at all, I like seeing money in front of me and I don't want to let it go. I'm so motivated that my goal is to have my credit card paid off by the time my next bill is due. And that's a great feeling. It's also great to think that this job can get me the things I want in the next 6-8 months. Obviously, I couldn't do it without the help of the grandparents, so a HUGE thanks to them for helping me get on my feet. I'm sure they'll be happy to hear the money I'm making won't be taking me on luxurious vacations and shopping sprees anytime soon.

So the Pub factor is good. The people I work with are super nice and patient with me when I have questions. The Irish owners are crazy and expect me to drink like an Irishman, which I politely decline. The Pub factor is good and I'm confident it can sustain me for awhile.

During the day I'm working on a small article for Orlando Style. I'm contemplating joining a freelancing website, but you have to pay for it, so I'm holding off for now. Maybe after more research and time I'll be comfortable spending money to make money.

On another note, Purdue starts school today. It makes me a little sad, but at the same time I'm glad I moved away. I think it would have been harder living at home while my sister and friends are nearby going to classes. I miss Purdue, I miss my friends from/at Purdue, and I'm bummed that it'd seem inappropriate to partake in Breakfast Club. But, I'm SO excited to visit at the end of October and reunite with some of my favorite people.

In the meantime, I'm getting used to a new schedule (working late nights, sleeping late during the day) and enjoying my new workplace. I'm also happy Fay has passed and I can finally spend some quality time in the pool.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hey Fay.

It's been awhile, so this is long.

My days have been spent job searching and laying in the pool. Last week was actually very busy. I had a meeting with the president of Central Florida's Junior Achievement. We chatted for a couple hours and he now knows every detail of my college career. He put me in touch with the person in charge of JA of Osceola County for a potential job opportunity. She's yet to get back to me, but she's running the county herself, so she's a busy lady. I also went for a copy writing interview, which consisted of a human resources person administering a 50-question test to make sure you understand the English language well enough and have some sort of math skill. My math skills = nearly non-existent. I haven't heard back, so either my Purdue degree doesn't make me as smart as I thought I was, or I just don't have enough experience. My bet is on the latter, but it's possible my test-taking skills are rusty.

Friday was a great day. I had a meeting with the editor of Orlando Style Magazine. She briefly looked over my stuff and talked about the magazine, then proceeded to tell me about the position of being a contributing writer (!). She liked me, we bonded over my love of writing about fashion and health. Then she broke the news: the job is unpaid. Right now, the magazine thrives with the help of unpaid contributing writers who work full-time jobs and write in their free time. Basically, this is just like what I was doing at Purdue for HELEN. Which means I don't know any different, so I tell her I'm totally excited to work for them. I just sent her some pitches for November stories and she should be getting back to me soon with story assignments. My writing could be reaching over 180,000 people in the Orlando area come November. (Hooray!)

I left that meeting feeling great and excited about my upcoming assignments. I felt focused on my writing career, thinking about the experience I can put on my resume and how I'll be soaking up everything Orlando Style can give me. Obviously, I need to work somewhere for money, so I start thinking about my options. While focusing on my writing career, it'd be best to work somewhere flexible. I also want to have a life, which I'm realizing would NOT happen while working for Disney or a Disney equivalent. My lovely sister had recently pointed out one job venture I hadn't considered: bar tending.

One delicious hazelnut latte and a sister-convo later, I walked into this little bar near the house. The girl behind the bar looked nice enough, so I asked her: "Hi, um, I don't know if you guys are hiring, but I'm looking for a bar tending job. I've never bar tended in my life, but if someone is willing to train me or you know a place that would, I'd really appreciate it." She recommends a couple places and tells me she's been doing it for 6 years. She started bar tending to pay for school. She's been doing it ever since because of the money she makes. Excellent. I make my way to The Pub. An Irishman gives me a cup of tea while I fill out my application. We chat and bond over my recent travels to Florida and his worldly trips. Then he asks me about my experience in waitressing, which I proceed to admit that I basically know nothing, that my hostessing duties consisted of busing tables and helping servers with beverage orders. Once he realizes he'll have to train me in everything restaurant-related, he asks me when I can start. So, I'm training this week at The Pub, where I will be learning the ropes of the restaurant biz while looking forward to bar tending.

I'm employed. I have a writing gig. It's not what I thought I'd be doing 3 months after graduation, but I'm excited to be making money and working on a writing career.

I also had a visitor! Aunt Joyce came down for a few days. It was great having someone here with me and we had a blast. She showed me around Winter Park, which I LOVED. My favorite place: The Wine Room. It's basically a dream place made for wine lovers. Winter Park was beautiful and I can't wait to explore more of it. We did some shopping. I got a few new dresses, now that I've figured out that the weather here really doesn't allow for a girl to wear anything but a dress to be comfortable. We also bought me some provisions in preparation for Fay's arrival. By the way, the sky is cloudy and it's rained a little. This hurricane/tropical storm thing doesn't have me convinced yet, but maybe it will by the end of the day. She took me to see Mamma Mia, which was fabulous! My newest addiction is the soundtrack, which plays on repeat in the car (sorry fellow Orlando drivers). We went to Disney for awhile on Monday (thanks, Grandma!). We went to Magic Kingdom where the air was hanging around all of the sweaty, screaming kids. It was wicked humid, but luckily the sun wasn't out much. We went to Epcot later in the afternoon for the sole purpose of going to the World Showcase's Mexico for dinner and margaritas. It was delicious! All in all, it was a fun-filled weekend and I'm so lucky to have a family that takes care of me during my unemployment.

Interviews, Irishmen, Pool Time, Family Bonding, and Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Glorified Thunderstorm Fay. A packed couple of weeks it's been.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sun, Sand, and $5 million houses

My August is going good so far.

I went to a wine bar last week called The Vineyard. It was a small place with wine lining the walls. I had a delicious sauvignon blanc thanks to Annie's great friends. Her fiance was doing stand-up at this bar, and he did a great job! It was s fun night out with good friends and family.

I also met my neighbors. They are doing internships at Disney in sports management. We bonded over Corona and agreed the tourism is a little intense if you're not used to it. One of them is doing a half marathon in December and he's trying to recruit me. Luckily, he lives next door, so I'd be more likely to train if I have a buddy. We'll have to see, but I think it'd be good for me and a great new exercise regiment.

I visited Tampa this weekend. A friend from Purdue lives and works there now, so she and I had a ladies night complete with a scary movie and delicious Italian food. And a $5 million mansion. She was house-sitting this weekend and this house: ridiculous. We concluded that about 90% of the house is marble, both floors and counters. They have a movie theater complete with 4 loveseat sofas, 2 armchairs, and THX speakers. Of course, there was a huge pool, picture window overlooking the lake, a wine fridge, and murals on the ceiling. We stayed one night there, so of course we spent the better part of it looking around, but not touching anything. It wouldn't surprise me if the owner took measurements of where everything was before she left. She was a little nutty, which showed in her decor.

After breaking and fixing the gate for the house, we spent a few hours at the beach! We went to Clearwater and it was beautiful. The water had a lot of seaweed at the beach we went to, which was the less crowded one, but it was as warm as bath water. The sun was hot, but the wind on the water was glorious and the water felt good once we got over the seaweed wrapped around our legs. We snacked, we chatted, and spent way too much time at Target finding the things we forgot to bring.

I'm amazed that I live so close to the ocean. The scenery as we were driving yesterday looked so serene. Clearwater is very expensive to live in, so I doubt I would ever try to live there. Well, at least not until I'm making millions. :)

I'm getting used to Florida and what it has to offer outside of the tourist society I live so close to. Though I was happy to join the crowds at the Outlet mall today.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Family Tour Vans and Cheap Disney T-shirts

My next audition is coming up in a few weeks. Make that two and a half. This one is for a singing group. Alert: I haven't done any real singing except in the shower or car in about 5 years. So the practicing has begun. Sorry to my neighbors who hear me screeching at the top of my lungs trying to push out a high-C note, but by the end of these couple weeks, I promise to have my vocal strength back.

On this excursion of training my voice, I needed some music. Both to practice and present to the judges. I really only venture out of the house when I have a real errand, minus the time I simply went exploring. The gas prices, though somewhat cheaper than Indiana, are high enough to keep me busy at home. On my travels for the perfect vocal performance sheet music book, I discovered that I am in very close vicinity to TOURISM. (Link: notice the red flashing road, this is tourist central). Guess what? I DON'T like it. Between the lost family vacation vans of fun and the words GIFT SHOP: CHEAP DISNEY T-SHIRTS, my patience with the general public in certain areas lasts about 5 minutes. These 5 minutes are spent relishing in the palm trees I drive by and the fact that I drive through Orange County almost every outing. Once I come back to reality, I realize I hate everyone. I probably drive like a maniac due to my Chicago-style upbringing, so I suppose there are mutual feelings between me and the tourist population.

I did find a book after figuring out a place where I could avoid the tourism-infested streets. In fact, it was a pleasant drive through the Floridian country, complete with orange groves. My favorite thing, which off-sets the tourism annoyance: rolling the windows down, opening the sunroof, and breathing in the citrus-filled air while blasting the tunes on the open road. Little did I know that I would miss the open fields of the Midwest. I do miss Chicago, which is obviously not a field at all. But everyone drives correctly (according to me and, well, other Chicago drivers) and at least there is legitimate architecture. They shot The Dark Knight in Chicago and seeing bits of Navy Pier, Wacker Drive, and the curvy Lake Point Tower brought a smile to my face and a tiny tear to my eye. Now, I've yet to explore downtown Orlando. I'm looking forward to discovering new places besides the typical chain restaurant in a strip mall with a discount ticket store.

Today was the first day I went to Disney, besides my interview. My auditions were held at a facility on the outskirts, so I haven't walked on Disney property for the sole purpose of enjoying it. I went to Downtown Disney because it's free and they have a Ghirardelli Ice Cream shop. And it was delicious. It was evening, so the families were looking tired. The kids were worn out from a long Mickey-filled day, the moms were exhausted from keeping track of the family, and the dads just looked tired of spending money. In fact, a man was standing outside one of the biggest stores SCREAMING at his wife, who seemed to be spending the last of the money they will ever have, according to his behavior and lunatic tendencies. I don't know if he was kidding around, but he certainly turned heads. It made me glad my parents are not the type to argue/yell in public. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Tomorrow I'm heading back to Disney to go to Pleasure Island with the fam. I walked around PI a little today, so I'm really stoked to go back and experience the nightlife.

Some short news items: I love having a pool, which I think you know, so this is a reminder. I have started my 8th book for the summer: Little Altars Everywhere. That means it's time for a job. Seriously. I'm applying for some writing gigs, from which I'm looking forward to hearing back. I miss Chicago. And my sister, though talking to her almost every day helps. :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

You Passed the Audition!

So this week was eventful. I laid by the pool. I laid in the pool. I read a good portion of The Devil Wears Prada, thanks to Grandma's book collection. I worked out with Gilad on FitTV and swam every day. I ventured out some, too.

I decided to take a drive to get a good feel for my surroundings. I'm near Clermont; it's about 10-15 miles north. There's not a whole lot in downtown Clermont except a big lake and an interesting looking restaurant called Pasta Vino. The little Italian I know leads me to believe they may have a decent wine selection, and those of you who know me well know that wine always catches my attention. I continued my journey east, heading toward Orlando, when I ran into Winter Garden.
Downtown Winter Garden is covered with brick roads to match the brick buildings to match the cute gazebos in the middle of everything. They had a French bakery, a cute-looking salon, and more than a just a street's worth of places to explore. Needless to say, I loved it and can't wait to go back to investigate the little town of Winter Garden.

Then, audition time came. Audition One: Disney Fairy Look-A-Likes. I walk into the rehearsal center at Animal Kingdom to find that I am not the only girl who thinks she has what it takes to be a Disney Fairy. By the way, they are opening a new exhibit-type area in Magic Kingdom to house Tinkerbell and all her friends, hence the audition to find this group of fairies. I'm number 153 measuring at 63 inches. The cut off is 65 inches, so that's one step in the right direction for me. The place is crawling with girls. You have to be at least 16 for this audition, so yes, I saw my share of stagemoms. It was loud in this warehouse-type room with the typical girl attitude of 'look at her and how she compares to me.' It sounds bad, but I haven't been in a situation like that since high school. So I loved it. This audition made for a great people-watching experience. There are at least 200 girls there (I hear there were 400 at the other audition time). They break us up into groups of about 50 or so. My group happened to be towards the end, so we were about 30. We get lined up in a room and are told Disney is looking for girls with 'pixie eyes, a squared jawline, and a general pixie-like look.' I smile brightly at the judge as she walks past me and chooses 4 girls from the 30 in our room to go on to the next part of the audition. And that's it for Audition One. I can't very well change my facial structure, so no harm done. It's just time to prepare for the next one.

Audition Two: Disney Princess Look-A-Likes and Character Performers. Same place. Men and women. Mostly young, like myself. I'm number 54, measuring at 63.5. I either grew a whole half inch over night (boy, that yoga sure does wonders!) or it was due to my hair being up. 55-65 of us get called to cram into this rehearsal room to learn a quick dance routine. We are to move across the room while doing it, repeating the routine 3 times, to a tricked-out version of "It's a Small World". The energy in the room is great, we are excited to show our stuff. During the 3rd repeat of the routine, my face is beaming as I misstep. My energy was too much for my brain to handle, thus my feet doing whatever they wanted. But, I pressed on. And for audition portion two, my number was called. This was the silent improvisational portion. The energy, again, is nothing but excitement. We have to pretend, to music, that we are waking up 2 hours for something, and act it out. Silently. Big gestures and facial expressions a must. When they line us up in numerical order, they take out a group of about 10. These women looked like Disney used them as models when drawing the Disney Princesses, so we learn very quickly who the judges are choosing for that. Again, my lack of cartoon tendencies leaves me with the regular human beings, which, if you saw these girls, you would know you didn't have a chance at becoming Cinderella. I suppose there's always hope. Anyway, I give it my all during the improv section. Then we wait. I have no idea how long, since I left my phone next to my computer at home. I overhear a girl talking about how she just picked up and moved here from Iowa, simply needing a change. It was nice to know someone else was as brave and crazy as I was. Then, they pull a group of us into the hallway. This hallway, as we observed, was used to tell people, sorry about ya, but you're not working for Disney in the entertainment department. Of course, we're all nervous and a little pre-maturely bummed. The guy jokes with us that it's conveniently set next to the exit, but we won't be needing that today because we PASSED THE AUDITION!!!!

Here's the BUT: all of us were about the same height, which seems to be a popular height in the Walt Disney World Company. Right now, they have no space for us. We are in a 'hiring pool' for 6 months. In that 6 months, we can audition for other things if we'd like, but once they have space, they will call us for Character Performer jobs. It's been 4 years since I've auditioned for anything, so I feel pretty proud of myself.

In the meantime, I'm in hiring pools for a couple other jobs at Disney, retail and attractions. Retail is, of course, working in the stores; attractions could be running rides, emceeing, that sort of thing. I'm also wait-listed for the Food and Wine Festival in September, which would be equally awesome. Now I wait.

I'm lucky to have family here who are so supportive and willing to have me tag-a-long for things! Last night, I went to see the batman movie, The Dark Knight. I was giddy when I went in and just as giddy when I came out. I highly recommend it. Heath is really as amazing as everyone says he is. Next week I might be going to Pleasure Island, which is also cool since I've never really been. I've never been of age to go, so I'm looking forward to a fun night out.

And be proud: I got up today and cleaned the whole house. Living alone with not a whole lot going on right now makes me motivated to keep the place looking fresh, so I spent a good hour vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning my bathroom. I might count that as my workout today.

Side note: if anyone is concerned about me being alone here, don't worry. Not only are the Geigers and Annie keeping tabs on me, but the Jehovah's Witnesses come calling every so often.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Meredith in Wonderland

I made it!

I'm officially here in sunny Florida. And it's raining.

The flight was uneventful (always excellent news for Mom) and I met a couple nice ladies who wished me well when we parted ways. One was at least 90 years old with a broken pelvic bone, but determined to visit her son at Daytona Beach. Being me, I immediately picture Spring Break, but I don't think she was interested in Spring Breaking. The other woman was in her early thirties heading to Melbourne Beach for a dance conference. We snacked on pretzels, drank Cokes, and swapped stories. That made for my easy transition from emotional sissy to motivated woman on the verge. Grandpa's cousin came to get me at the airport. It was so nice to feel such a warm welcome from family. Being the new girl in town, it's great to know I have relatives nearby who are happy to hang out sometimes!

I went to Wal-Mart last night to find some nourishment. This was the busiest WM I'd ever seen. It was worse than the students coming back in August to Purdue and getting everything they need for the school year. There were lines everywhere. The whole time. Apparently Lafayette life has spoiled me in that I assume a busy store will have a lull, probably two, while you're shopping. Mel told me they are preparing me for what's to come with lines at Disney. She's probably right.

Fear not: I did have an interview after packing up and leaving the Midwest. After many hours of much needed sleep (who knew moving your life 1,000 miles away could be SO exhausting?!), I awoke in my new home with a bit of surprise. I had actually forgotten where I was. Now, some may assume this is due to too much intake of a spirited beverage or two the night before, but for me, it really means that I slept AMAZINGLY. I haven't been sleeping well at all, so I had forgotten what good sleep is! I got myself all ready and headed to Disney Casting. While driving through, I felt happy that this could really be home for me. I haven't been down here for over two years and being here by myself as an adult trying to live and work, it's different. A good different, though. I arrive at Casting and it's calm and quiet. The people are very nice and helpful. We watch a movie about what it's like to work at Disney, you know, to make sure you know just how magical Disney is. If their video is true, then Disney takes good care of its employees. It's hard work, but they know that and appreciate you. I go to my interview to find out that jobs are slim other than Character work, which I anticipated with the upcoming close of one of their many busy seasons. But, they seem to need a lot of people to work in that department. I'll be attending two auditions next week and if all goes well, I'm hoping to start within a couple weeks after that. That leaves me just enough time to familiarize myself with my surroundings. And utilize the pool as much as possible.

If anyone has Skype, let me know. It's my new favorite thing!

Friday, July 11, 2008

"The time has come," the Walrus said.

Well, the Chicagoland area is not the scene for me right now. I've submitted my resume to everyone there, but nothing is turning out. It's either my dream job that I don't get or they want me to do door-to-door sales (which, by the way, I DON'T want to do). I have to be out of my apartment in one month, so time is ticking. Then I remember: the house in Florida.

Grandma and Grandpa told me around graduation that I could live in their house in Orlando and use their car while looking for work/working. They are in Indiana right now, so I'd have the place to myself with little to no bills to pay (that currently trumps an expensive, tiny one-bedroom in the Loop). This friendly reminder was brought to my attention this week and I've decided to take advantage of it.

On July 17th I'll be embarking on a new journey. With the help and emotional support from great family and friends, I'm packing up a suitcase or two, my computer, and heading south. I'll start with Disney World for my job hunt. I plan to walk right in and demand Cinderella's ballgown. Ok, not quite that simple, but my first day there I'll be heading to Disney Casting to apply for whatever they'll let me do. I'll also be auditioning for some Character Look-A-Like jobs, you know, walking around the park and making little kids' dreams come true because they met a Disney Fairy or (maybe!) Cinderella. I plan to keep my resume going around Orlando and going on interviews, too. Basically, my job hunt is going poolside.

Here's hoping I'm employed sooner rather than later. Oh, and I'm pretty excited too :)