Sarah's Scribbles

The Year of Months

New Job

I know I'm behind on posting pics, but I just wanted to throw this up since so many people are asking questions about it.

I got a job today. Kinda. It's a 6-month contract position with the possibility (if the company continues to do well) of going on full time. I'll be working in the Contracts department of Rotech Healthcare working on all aspects of contracts. The pay is decent (much better than what I've been scraping by with the last year or so) and she promised me the work would be challenging.

I like what the manager told me about her management style and she seems to love her team. They're not exactly paying me what I'm worth (but, seriously, who really can? ;-) ) though it seems so many companies are taking advantage of the economic situation in this way.

I'm most excited about having a regular schedule again. Even though I've had plenty of time recently, it's hard for me to do anything on such a random schedule.

This has been a GOOD week for me. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.

On another note, I've decided that May will be Postcard Month so make sure I have your updated address and you may be one of the 31 lucky people to receive a postcard from yours truly :-)

Best Day EVER!

Normally, when I'm behind on posting pictures, I post the oldest ones first. But today, I'm starting with today's pic. Why, you may ask, is this today's picture? Read on.

We had a rental agent coming to look at our apartment at 10 am so I woke K up at 8 am so she could clean her room before he got here. We tidied up and after he left, we went to look at apartments. Our goal was to decide by today where we were going to be living (in case you missed it, we're rooming with my Sorority sister Chelsea). 

In between apartments, we stopped by Verizon because K's phone had stopped working yesterday. Verizon sent me an email a week or two ago that said if we upgraded to a a Palm Pre or Pixi, we would get free Mobile Hotspot (it turns your phone into a mini wireless router for up to four devices). So K and I both got a Palm Pre Plus - for $25 each! They only had one in stock, so mine will arrive in a few days but it's an AWESOME phone and I'm so excited.

I had an interview at 2pm and at 1pm, when we were eating lunch, I called my recruiter because she had asked me to in order to help me prepare. She informed me that my interviewer was in an ambulance on her way to the hospital. So my interview is postponed until further notice. (I know, you're thinking this probably isn't the way to start a blog titled "Best Day EVER!" but please bear with me)

After looking at the three remaining choices for apartments, we decided (while eating gelato at a cute little cafe) on The District at Universal. It's a cute, trendy kinda place and all three of us get walk-in closets!! :-D We're all super excited.

So, after deciding this, we wanted to put a deposit down to hold our apartment. K and I (Chels was still at work) found the closest ATM and withdrew money to get a money order. While we were in line at the Post Office, my aunt called me. We had some hints that something exciting was coming so K leaned over to listen with me. My aunt works at a small non-profit in Tulsa and they had a huge fundraiser yesterday with an auction. She told us that, for our birthdays (yes, 5 and a little over 8 months away) she bid and won an item for us. Here is the description of the item:

A trip to LA, CA where you can be ON SET DURING FILMING OF "Castle", and tour backlot sets of "Desperate Housewives", plus stay at the Sheridan Universal Studios, airline tickets, dine at Wolfgang Puck, UWink, The Grill on the Alley and other wonderful treats.

I'M GOING TO SEE A FILMING OF CASTLE!!! When she told me this I started squealing in the middle of the post office and Kayelee shushed me. People were staring at me, but who cares? Two words, people: Nathan Fillion

Then we put down the deposit on our apartment. I couldn't stop grinning.

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Pic for Friday April 23rd. I took this shortly after arriving at the Residence Inn near the Cincinnati Airport. I took it because it struck me as strange when I realized how quickly I feel at home in these kinds of places. I spent so long living in hotels that I'm almost immediately comfortable in them.








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Pic for Saturday April 24th. Here's a picture of the Foundation's Board of Directors (plus a BOD Alum) hard at work.












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I took this picture shortly before my plane landed in Orlando on Sunday. It was the first time I looked at a city lit up at night and thought about how wasteful it is. I know that many of these lights are necessary for safety reasons, but I wish it wasn't so. There's also humans' inherent fear of the dark to contend with. But I wonder how much energy is wasted - how much pollution is created - just to keep cities lit at night. I mean, you can see this stuff from space!

Pics: I've Been Busy

I haven't posted a pic since Sunday, so I have a little catch-up to do.

Monday's picture is of an apartment complex's leasing/clubhouse area. I don't even remember which one. After a while, they all look the same. They have a sort of faux elegance that (I guess) is supposed to convince you they are, in fact, a 'luxury' complex. I've looked at 30 apartment complexes this week (Some of them were in I'm-just-going-to-lock-my-doors-and-keep-driving areas so I didn't look at 30 apartments). I have some tips for the folks who come up with the marketing materials.
  • If EVERY complex says they have "luxury" apartments, the word doesn't mean anything anymore. Come up with something else.
  • Calling an apartment that looks at a retention pond "lake view" and then saying you're going to charge me extra for this "wonderful" view makes me want to punch you in the face. Lucky for you, I have a great imagination and simply imagining this act makes me feel better.
  • On a related note, having an upgrade charge for ANY floor you choose is kinda ridiculous.
  • You cannot say that a 2-bedroom with 900 sq feet is an "open, spacious floorplan." Unless you're in NYC. Which you're not.
  • What exactly does "resort-style" pool mean? Because you all say you have one, but some are really crappy so I'm confused.
  • Three machines does not translate to "state-of-the-art fitness center."
  • Don't advertise that you have a clubhouse if the residents can't actually use it.
  • Do not have your leasing agents say something like: "You really should put down a deposit today because these are going so fast!" Um, I know that Orlando's apartment, condo, and house vacancy rate is 28%. Remember what I said about wanting to punch you in the face?
End rant. On a brighter note, I may soon be sharing an apartment with one of my favorite people: Chelsea. (In addition to K. Don't worry, I haven't been able to get rid of her yet ;-) )


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Tuesday's pic is of the wonderful weather we had Tuesday night. Beautiful, isn't it? I got soaked running from Barnes and Noble to my car. Approximately 15 minutes after this picture was taken, I was snuggled in my bed with two adorable puppies. THAT is how you deal with this kind of weather.




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To describe Wednesday's picture, I'm going to have to rehash some of Rachael Leigh Cook's immortal words: This is your brain. This is what happens to your brain after watching LOST.

And doesn't Jasper look as happy as a clam in this picture? (Or as Kayelee would say, he's a clam-face) He <3's David. And Andrew. And Chelsea. And Sam. And Aaron. And just about everyone who comes over except JM and people who yell a lot.



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I haven't taken today's picture yet. Also, I'm going to be in Cincinnati (RANDOM side note: this is the first time I've spelled that city correctly the first time I tried - and I've been typing it for weeks. Yay me.) this weekend for a Foundation meeting, so I'm going to have LOTS of new material for my pictures.

See you on the flip side! :-)

Pics: UCF Book Festival and Puppy Eyes

Yesterday, I went to the UCF Book Festival. It was great! One of the highlights for me was getting to meet Janice Hardy. I'd been reading her blog for a while so that was fun. This picture is from when I got her to sign her book, The Shifter. (The lights in the arena are really bad for pictures so they all pretty much look like this.)

In addition to book signings and vendor booths, they had panels all day where authors and editors talked about books and book-related topics. Most of the people there were teachers and librarians. I wonder why there weren't as many readers there? It's a good chance they weren't marketed to. I only found out about it because I periodically check UCF's public event calendar for my Central Florida Events page.

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I'm taking the easy way out today and going with a puppy pic (my first one for the month!). But look at those eyes! This is what I face every time I have to leave the house.

Today's Pic AND Bonus Video!

Today, Kayelee and I went to see Robert Venditti (author of The Surrogates) give a talk. It was a special "open to the public" session of a Creative Writing class at UCF. 

Can you believe some of those students came in, signed the attendance sheet (for extra credit) and left?! Ungrateful little ... Oh wait, I'm starting to sound like an old person.

Me and K were two of the few there who weren't in some UCF writing class. I know there was at least one other there - this hot guy who sat behind us. Oh well, we enjoyed it. And K has a strange fascination with signed books.... Seriously, it's kinda creepy.

Speaking of my charming sister, I've always said that we should have a TV show. Like the Kardashians, but way more awesome. As proof, I submit to you this video from our explorations of Celebration this weekend. And the conversation (if you can call it that) we had on the way home from UCF. Only, I don't have that recorded so you're going to have to just watch the video. :-)

Pic: Art of War

My sister, her boyfriend, another friend and I went to an art showing and lecture today at UCF called Art of War. Kevin Haran, a UCF art professor, makes these pieces out of foam board and consumer cardboard. Keep an eye out on Kayelee's blog for a picture blog about the event coming soon!

Here's Kevin's bio from the event website: Kevin Haran offers a look at his experience with drawing, painting and sculpture. Haran has a B.F.A. in Studio Art and a B.A. in Art History from UCF. He earned an M.F.A. in Painting/Drawing from the University of Tennessee in 1991. Haran was Associate Curator of Education at the Knoxville Museum of Art and currently teaches studio art at UCF.

Pic: Just Before the Dawn

I took this picture this morning while waiting for Panera to open.

After I took it, I started thinking about the magic of those few minutes just before the sun rises. It's the visual promise of a new day. It's when you have no idea what's going to happen, but you're looking forward to it anyway.

So it's funny that I took this a few hours before I received some not-so-good news. I hadn't told too many people this: I was in the process of applying for Commission with the Coast Guard. It has been a long process and I was supposed to find out in mid-May if I got in.

I found out today that I have been medically disqualified. (I always hate my psoriasis, but some days I hate it more than others)

Oh well, I guess. One door closes... how soon until the next one opens?

4/12 Pic: Harley and 4/13 Pic: Life-saving Buckets

Last night, my job was to watch this motorcycle. For eight hours. In a locked room. I pretty much have the most exciting job ever. (That was sarcasm in case y'all didn't catch that)

On top of the thrilling task, I opened my book and discovered it was actually the third in a trilogy and not the first as I had expected. So I watched TV shows all night on my cell phone. Thank goodness for VCast.






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 These buckets save lives. Don't believe me? Watch this. (Bonus: It has Anderson Cooper)


Also, if you'd like to help Firehouse Subs help firefighters (for free) go to their Chip In Program on Facebook.

Pic: Two Days of Pics

Let's be fair: I said I would take a pic every day, not that I would post it to my blog every day... I took a picture yesterday but finally got home at 1 AM after being awake for 30 hours straight - and then got kidnapped by K this morning to help her film stuff for her blog - so I'm posting today's and yesterday's pictures here now.
Today's picture is the first from Picture Month that I'm actually in! Yesterday I went to Gainesville for a Phi Sigma Rho Family and Alumnae event at Lake Wauburg. There were more girls there, but these are all we could round up for the picture; some of them were at the rock climbing wall.

I had a fun time hanging out with some old friends (most of the girls I knew have left by now) and meeting some new Phi Rhos. One girl came up to me and said, "I heard you were one of our founders." Heather said, "She's THE founder*." The girl said, "Oh, well it's nice to meet you. I'm Michelle" Then she giggled**. It was cute.

*Most of the people who knew me from college knew this, but the people who have met me since or know me from high school don't. In 2003 I started a local chapter of Phi Sigma Rho, a national engineering sorority. You can read more about it on the Phi Rho-Tau About Us page and in this guest blog I wrote for the national sorority.
**Phi Rhos don't generally giggle. At least, as far as most of us will admit.

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Today, my sister and I went gallivanting around the Orlando area filming footage for her blog. We had fun... you'll have to watch her blog over the next few weeks to figure out exactly how much fun :-)

Today's picture also has me in it! This is a replica of the "Fountain of Youth." It's in the St Augustine area of Gaylord Palms, attached to the scaled replica of Castillo de San Marcos.

Pic: With Spring Comes.... Pollen?

First, I want you to guess what this is a picture of. Go ahead....


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This is a picture of my truck from this morning. It looks like it took a shower in yellow paint. I heard on the radio this is one of the worst pollen seasons ever. Have I mentioned lately how thankful I am for my lack of allergies? (Don't be too jealous, I didn't exactly hit the genetic lottery when it comes to health. My family history includes: Psoriasis, heart disease, breast cancer, thyroid issues, diabetes, you name it.)

This is also why we've been having the trouble with bees hanging out at our front door. My sorority sister Amber suggested using a fruit cup to lure them away from our door and so far it seems to be working - but it rained really hard last night so I don't know which is responsible for the lack of bees outside this morning.

My heart goes out to all of you allergy sufferers. My advice: get a good air filter and stay inside for the next few weeks. It's not pretty out there.

Florida Senate Bill 6 = Idiocy

I interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you some breaking news: The Republicans in the Florida House are idiots. Just to be clear, I am a political moderate who usually votes to the right of center. But passing Senate Bill 6 is nothing short of idiotic.

For those who aren't familiar with the bill, here are the highlights:
  • Teacher pay will be based on students' scores on standardized tests.
  • When considering pay, silly little things like experience, advanced degrees and certifications will not be taken into account.
  • New teachers will only receive one-year contracts with renewal hinging on student test scores.
On the surface, this sounds kinda good doesn't it? The teachers get paid more if students do better on tests. What could be wrong with that?

Well, for one, how would you like it if you didn't know what your salary was going to be next year? If you didn't know whether or not you'll be able to pay that mortgage payment anymore? Sure, none of us know for sure but you usually have a determined salary. And if you knew you could get a more steady salary if you just moved to another state?

Also, what motivation would you have for pursuing a higher-level degree - for increasing your knowledge in your area of expertise - if it had no effect on your job position or salary? Hmmm, probably NONE.

Second, most students don't have anything invested in these test scores. If students don't like a teacher because they are strict or give a lot of homework, they can purposely fail the test with the intent of effecting the teacher's pay (or to get said teacher fired). It's already happening at a local high school that uses test scores to determine teacher bonuses. Don't tell me it won't happen; I don't know if y'all remember high school or not, but kids are mean.

Another complication one of my teacher friends pointed out to me is this: some of these tests also determine what level of class the child will be in the following year. This teacher once had an entire class purposely fail a test because they didn't want to take the "advanced" track. How is that the teacher's fault?

This bill holds teachers responsible for so many factors completely out of their control. Say there's a 16 year old boy who has to work 40 hours a week at Publix to help support his family. He doesn't have time for homework or to study so he doesn't do well on the tests. Is this the teacher's fault?

This is just another instance of people trying to hold schools/TV/video games/the church/whatever responsible for raising their children. (The link will take you to an Onion article, which is only funny because it's TRUE)

If (currently undecided) Governor Crist signs this bill into law, don't be surprised when all our experienced teachers leave the state in droves. If you have kids in public school in Florida, you should probably follow them.

Please contact Governor Crist to let him know how you feel about Senate Bill 6. I'm upset about it and I don't even plan to have any children any time soon.

Pic: Palms on the Water

I'm posting today's pic a little late. I also don't have a post to go along with the pic, so go ahead and call me a slacker. It's not my fault.... I finally started watching The Guild and now I can't stop. I haven't even worked on my novel for at least four days, but I have to watch *just one more* (over and over again). And I'm not even a gamer.


Anyway. Enjoy the pic. See y'all tomorrow (I mean, later today).

Pic: Celebration

<-- This building is very important to me. Well, to be more precise, what goes on in this building is very important to me. You've seen and heard about my writing/editing spaces, but this is where the real magic happens. This building is where a group of talented writers meet every week to critique each other. Inside these four walls, I may hear things I don't want to about my work - but I need to hear them. So I can get better.








I took a few pictures at Celebration today, but not enough for an album so I'm going to post them all here. Today was the sixth day in a row of absolutely gorgeous weather in Central Florida. I was walking around thinking "Why in the world would anyone NOT want to live here?" Seriously, just take a look at these pics and try to tell me you don't want to book a suite at the Celebration Hotel right now.



































































Pic: School Library Month

Today's picture is honor of the 25th Anniversary of School Library Month!

"School Library Month (SLM) is the American Association of School Librarians' (AASL) celebration of school librarians and their programs. Every April school librarians are encouraged to create activities to help their school and local community celebrate the essential role that strong school library programs play in a student's educational career. The 2010 theme will be "Communities Thrive @ your library." "

Check out Laurie Halse Anderson's blog from more information. She's the official spokesperson.

Maybe you're wondering why I chose this particular section to take the picture? If you really want to know... it's because it was the only row at the SW library without people standing in it. So don't try to read too much into it!

Pic: Leu Gardens

On the first Monday of every month, Leu Gardens offers free admission. It's not quite as good as MoBot, but it's still a fun place to visit - especially for free! Most of the people there during the weekdays are single moms, retired people and photographers.

This picture is of a cactus that has been cut off. I thought it was neat. You can see all the pictures from my visit on Facebook.

I'm not quite sure why, but my favorite section at Leu Gardens is the Arid Garden. At MoBot, it was the Rainforest!

I think maybe it's because desert plants are the bad-a$$es of the plant world. They're all like, "Why doesn't anyone else want to live here with these awesome snakes and lizards? You said it rains three days a year and there's no break from the sun? That's cool. What do you mean you need dirt to grow in, you pansy? I'll settle down in this gravel between these two boulders. Oh yeah, baby, check out this vascular system!"

Pic: Easter Basket!

Happy Easter everyone! Kayelee got me a (mini) Easter basket. She couldn't wait until morning so she gave it to me at 12:07 :-) 

I didn't get her an Easter basket, but I did make her no-bake cookies in celebration of her being able to eat sweets again (she gave them up for Lent).

No-bake cookies are something that's been around in our family for a while. They may look a little weird, but they are delish! Here's the recipe if you want to try them yourself: 


No Bake Cookies 
1 stick of butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of cocoa
Mix these four ingredients over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Immediately add:  
2 1/2 cups of oats (old-fashioned)
1/2 cup peanut putter
Fold mixture together.  
Drop on wax paper and chill.

Pic: Not What It Seems

What do you think this is a picture of? You could say it's Shepard's Pie - but you'd be wrong. Well, technically, I guess that's what it is. But with meat that tastes like dog food smells, powdery potatoes and rock-hard cheese on top it certainly didn't taste anything like Shepard's Pie.

Not to mention shortly after I ate the little bit I could stomach I had to take a longish bathroom break.

Eww. Yep, that's what I said.

Pic: Construction Site

This construction site is right next to our apartment (In fact, I think one of those buildings in the distance is mine). It's going to be the future home of the Dr. Phillips Foundation.

I walked by this today on my walk with Jasper (K and Hannah came this time too!). As I was looking at the site, examining how the excavation was going, I realized something: I used to get paid good money for managing things like this. Now I get paid no money for writing books and little money for sitting in locked rooms. (Though, I'm working on changing that - but I've been working on it for a year)

It's amazing how much my life has changed in a little over a year. I'm not sure whether or not I miss the work itself (there's really nothing I'd rather be doing than writing books!) but I know I miss the paycheck. I miss being able to register for conferences whenever I wanted to and not worrying about how to pay for it. I miss walking into a bookstore and walking out with a bag full of new books. I miss not thinking twice about taking Hannah to the vet every time she did so much as cough. I miss being able to go to dinner with friends without wondering if it's going to effect my ability to pay rent next month.

Those people who give you a superior look and so easily say, "Money isn't everything." - They obviously don't realize how much being poor sucks. No, it's not everything. But it helps.

End rant.

And for those of you wondering why I'm posting random pictures on my blog, see here.

Pic: My Writing Space

In case y'all missed it, April is Picture Month. Here's today's picture:

There's been a lot of discussion lately about writers' writing spaces, so I thought I'd share mine. (Glamorous, isn't it?) Well, technically it's not my writing space because its not really mine, per se... but you get the idea. This picture was taken at Panera but I like to write at Bento and Barnes and Noble more.

I do have a desk in my room but I've never actually written at it. If I do write at home, it's usually in a living room chair. I just can't write very well at home. Even though my writing locations all have internet, it's so much easier for me to get distracted when I'm at home. I hate silence and I usually can't write to music or TV... so I prefer the random sounds of a restaurant or coffee shop, which I can tune out. I think if I had an actual room that I could dedicate to writing, I would be able to write in that... but that's just not possible right now.

March Ends, April Begins - Year of Months style

Before I start, I just wanted to link to two awesome things going on in my world right now. My sister has declared that she is FINALLY going to start video blogging. I can't wait because she's pretty hilarious - at least to me. Also, my Twitter-friend ChristaCarol is running a contest to give away a lot of great YA books. You should check it out and check out her blog.


Thank you, Dear Readers, for voting! I know I didn't give y'all much time to vote, but it had to be decided before midnight. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of Photo Month! This means I will take a photo every day in April. Some days it may spark a blog post, some days it may just be a picture. I have a feeling a majority of the pictures will be taken with my camera phone because I have an amazing talent for forgetting things at home - like my camera. That and it's SO much easier to upload from my camera.

What will I take pictures of? I dunno. Whatever strikes my fancy that day, I suppose. Let me just warn y'all, I've never claimed to be a good photographer - so don't expect TOO much.


Now, I know some of you (OK, probably just one of you) are wondering how Bike Month went. Um, how exactly do I say this...?  

I didn't ride my bike once! 

OK, wait... I have a story. For the first few days I just didn't go anywhere within seven miles because I was working a lot. After that, I found myself consolidating my trips. If I wanted to go to Walgreens, I'd wait until I drove by it on the way home from work. The first time I had somewhere to bike to, it was to Firehouse Subs for lunch one day. The day was so nice (and I knew they don't have a bike rack) that I decided to walk (1.5 miles, one way) instead. I've walked to many places this month that are within 2 miles of my apartment.

It wasn't until mid-March I had somewhere I wanted to bike to. So I went in to the garage to get my bike out, only to discover my front tire was flat - and I mean FLAT! I didn't want to hunt for my hand pump so I talked Kayelee into going and made her drive.

A few days later I found my pump and tried to put air in the tire. I don't know if I'm just a wimp or there's a hole in the tire, but I pumped FOREVER and it never got less flat. So that's the first day I cheated. I drove to Bento to get some writing in. I only cheated one other time - today when I went to Barnes and Noble to write because I didn't get around to it until 8pm and I didn't want to lose more writing time (they close at 10).

In summary, I didn't ride my bike once during Bike Month, but that doesn't mean I didn't work toward the purpose of this month. The purpose was to increase my activity levels while reducing my carbon footprint. So we're going to call March a semi-success.