Throwing My Hat In The Ring!

Back in the day when I was young and impressionable, I worked with this lady who was an absolute contest whore.  No matter how much she won, she would insist that it was just a numbers game and only possible if you threw your hat in the ring.  Everyday she’d be entering everything in sight and after months of careful observation (and no, not of the stalker variety!), I started to think maybe she’s right.  Her winnings went from little prizes such as a movie ticket here to a gift certificate there all the way to a rather impressive celebrity studded trip to the Grammys.  And somewhere between that and munching on a year’s supply of free bread she won for the office  – I became a believer.

Despite the fact that I morphed into a contest whore just like her, she hadn’t crossed my mind in years until I stumbled upon Nomadic Matt‘s latest contest.  I saw the headline, Win a 12 Day Trip to Europe!  and held my breath as I clicked the link.  Yes, I realize that holding my breath is more likely to guarantee me passing out than winning but some habits are hard to break – DON’T JUDGE!  Anyway, like her, I had won a lot of little prizes such as a digital frame here to a gift basket there but nothing came close to her Grammy trip.  As I read the details of Matt’s contest – it became obvious this was my equivalent to a celebrity studded Grammy trip!  I totally understand that on this 12 day trip there wouldn’t be any celebrities or red carpets but what I get is a self customized Budapest, Prague, Vienna trip that allows for all the shits and giggles that an odd little lass like me could handle.  That in my eyes is worth just as much as going to the Grammys and being amongst all the a-listers a girl like me could barely handle.

Granted I’ve already relocated to Europe to execute on my mission of no stone unturned which will eventually include visits to Budapest, Prague, and Vienna but what winning this contest affords me the opportunity to put my Tour De Street Art into action a lot quicker than originally anticipated.  Even though Europe is full of history, culture, and stunning architecture, what really gets my engine roaring is all that lies just beneath that surface and in my humble opinion, street art is the eye candy of this realm.  There are many different ways of approaching my Tour De Street Art but my plan is to have a few must-see items on my agenda and then just go where the winds blows me.  The things on my list to date are exploring the old Jewish quarter in Budapest for all its works of art, paying my respects to the John Lennon Wall in Prague, and using and abusing the urban art guide map in Vienna until my little heart’s content.

The winner for the contest will be chosen on October 1, 2012 and until that time, I wait with my fingers and toes crossed.  Hopefully lady luck will be on my side and I’ll walk away with my version of a celebrity studded Grammy trip.  Wish me luck!

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Now That’s A Work Visa!

I needed to include a passport photo as part of my application for the Irish Work Permit – no sweat!  Not a surprise either since one was also required for my New Zealand Work Permit.  It wasn’t a big deal as it was just a terrible photo that was going to be buried in some folder at some immigration office after all, right? WRONG – well when the Irish are concerned anyway.

When I got my Irish work permit, it was nothing but a 9×11 laminated piece of paper with that terrible passport photo slapped right on it.  Yup, you heard right, instead of a little sticker in my passport, I was handed this giant piece of paper that would resist folding or manipulation of any kind and needs to be carried with me whenever I travel.  Now, not only do I have to find a way not to lose this unbelievably valuable piece of paper but will also have to show it to people and wait for endless ridicule of the stellar mug shot front and center.  Wish me luck!

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Just Me And My Snuggie

My new carry-on!!!


 So much for my carry-on.  It got confiscated at the gate when I went to board the plan from LA to Auckland as an agent gave it a quick look and said it looked to be over 7 kilo.  My precious backpack is now making its way to Auckland as checked baggage without an extra charge but trust me, that won’t help lighten the blow that it just got taken away from me.  The point of putting what I did in my backpack was so I could have a handful of stuff at my disposal encase my luggage got lost.  Looks like I’m out of luck this time.    

As a replacement carry-on, I was given a beautiful plaid shopping bag.  Super.  I quickly pulled out the most valuable/necessary things such as my laptop, all electronic stuff, book, and my snuggie.  The agent may have made a comment about my snuggie (some crap about blankets on the plane) but I thought it was best to ignore it instead of picking a fight at this moment.  It must have been my ultra pathetic expression as she seemed to take pity on me after a while and said that I could carry my “blanket” on the plane to make sure that the rest of my electronic items could fit into the bag and would mark my backpack as fragile so it was handled with care.  

This is definitely a good grief Charlie Brown kind of moment.  Now if all my bags get lost – I’ll be super screwed as it’s essentially just me and my snuggie against the world.  After all, the snuggie doesn’t leave that bad of an impression as I’m outfitted with black lululemon pants, pink/black harajuku lovers hoodie, a purse covered with cartoon characters, and pink Ed Hardy wellies.  If everything gets lost, this outfit will go a long way to give Auckland a stellar first impression of me.  Here’s to fingers crossed that all 3 pieces of checked in luggage will be on that carousel when I get off on the other end.

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Have Not Mastered the Art of Packing


All week I had my suitcase open on my bedroom floor as I kept throwing clothes in and then taking them out.  The dream going into this was that all I was going to take was a carry-on and one suitcase.  The suitcase would be something that I could toss into storage until I found a flat while my backpack would contain everything I needed to survive for the first couple of weeks including decent interview clothes.  Sadly, the dream died at 8am this morning.   

Shoved as much as possible into the carry-on pack!


Once I gave up on the dream, I was able to fit everything into my carry-on and two suitcases.  The backpack I’m using as my carry-on contains my laptop, pink snuggie, a book (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), hair straightener, and enough clothes to last me for 1-2 weeks including a decent interview outfit.  Suitcase #1 contains another backpack with items that would be great to have at the hostel if hunting for a flat takes longer than a week, my knee brace, and running shoes.  Suitcase #2 contains my work clothes, work shoes, and all that other fun stuff.  My plan is to pull the backpack out of suitcase #1 and then dump both suitcases into storage until I can find a place to stay.  

Even though I gave myself over a week to pack, I still ended up doing the bulk of the work this morning.  I guess by nature I’m just a last-minute packer and I don’t know if that’s the best thing if you’re leaving for 52 weeks.  I spent about 3 hours this morning throwing everything in a suitcase in a its now or never fashion.  All I know is that I’m the last person to offer any advice on packing as I’m now realizing that I’ve left some minor things behind but much-needed items behind.

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Rockin’ a bowl-cut

I have a list of things that I have to do before I leave.  Most are things like ensuring that all the paperwork was properly completed to transfer my RRSP/pension from my previous employer or figuring out what to do about filing my 2010 tax returns but there are also superficial things such as getting a haircut.  I may be pretty easy-going in a lot of ways but getting my haircut is a big deal.  Just to clarify, I’ll essentially try any cut/colour but its vital that its well done.  

The only way that a good cut can be guaranteed is to go to a good stylist.  I had one in Vancouver who did an amazing job with short hair and so I started by trying to hunt her down.  After some calling around, it turns out that she’s changed salons since I last saw her a couple of years ago.  Not a big deal as I managed to find out where she’s at now but was then was given the bad news that she’s on vacation.  Where I lucked out was that she happened to be in the salon when I called and after a quick chat, she gave me the name of another stylist who would do a good job.

Butterflies in check, I booked an appointment with the recommended stylist and went in with fingers crossed that all would go well.  When I walked into the salon all I was looking for was a trim and a severe thinning job.  I walked out with my style being modernized, bangs, and what the stylist told me was the in thing: a bowl-cut!  Yup, a bowl-cut.  I wasn’t sure what to think when it was all over and done with. 

I decided to give the cut a couple of days before passing judgement.  Now that a couple of days have gone by, I can honestly say that the style is growing on me…even the bangs.  Its cut really well and is low maintenance which I love.  It may have been unintentional but looks like I’ll have new hair for my new city!

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