Thursday, May 31, 2007

Exploring Santorini

Yesterday morning I woke up early and set out to find some breakfast. While I ate a (really thick and sort of sour) yogurt with honey and walnuts I realized how much more of the island I could see if I just sucked it up and rented a scooter and ignored my fears about insurance, liability, and a bunch of other legal/financial stuff that I have a hard time forgetting about. I guess it's a side effect of doing insurance defense work and actually reading contracts. I ended up renting a 4-wheeler for 24 hours since I've driven them plenty of times, and the guy said they were safer (and more expensive, of course:).

One thing I didn't think about is how cold I'd be zipping around on the 4-wheeler. Thankfully I had a long-sleeve shirt with me, but I was too lazy to go back to my villa and change out my skirt for jeans. First I went to Perissa, which has black sand (not rocks--actual sand). It was neat to see the complete opposite of the beaches I'm used to, but unfortunately it was too windy and cold for me to lay out. Then I drove for a while to check out the red beach in Akotori. The views of the red beach were gorgeous, but it was still too chilly to lay out and I didn't really want to make the steep and rocky climb in my flip flops. So I set out for Kamari, which is the most resort like area of Santorini. I loved Kamari. There are tons of restaurants and shops on the beach, and I enjoyed a leisurely lunch of pizza with some of the best homemade crust I've ever eaten. The laid out on the black (back to pebbles though) beach for a while, and when I got up I noticed the side effect of laying on pebbles--it makes you look like you're covered in cellulite. While I was in Kamari, I made my first purchases of the entire trip that didn't constitute food, accommodations, or postcards (except for my camera). The jewelery here is very pretty, and I love picking up birthday gifts in neat places.

After the beach I realized I probably smelled (at least I'm fitting in, right?), but as I drove, I realized I was on the road to Oia, which is famous for its sunset. So I forged ahead, but unfortunately I didn't realize how steep the drive to Oia was. The cliffs were steep; the curves had no guardrails; I had to share the road at times with huge tour buses; and I was really afraid (and freezing). It was so windy I thought I might just be blown off! Once I got to Oia I wondered around for a bit, had the best (and cheapest at about $2.25) gyro I've ever had, and decided to skip the sunset and head back while it was still daylight. At least on the way back I was on the interior and not the edge of the cliff.

Since I forgot to bring an extra pack of Trinessa, I checked out the pharmacy here and was amazed by the cheap prices and helpful pharmacists. I got a pack of Yasmin for about $9 (compared to over $30 in the U.S.). I bought some Zyrtec for less than 1/6 the price in the United States and got some cream for my skin that we can't get in the United States. While gas may be super expensive here, medication is not and I am taking full advantage.

Other random thoughts:

I'm not sure I'd ever grow accustomed to putting my toilet paper in a trashcan.

Being in Greece makes me feel almost hairless in comparison:)

There are some very good looking men here, but I sort of get the impression they know it.

The men can be very persistent.

Everyone here seems to be incredibly tourist-geared. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners will stop you as you walk by and ask if you need directions, etc.

Tomorrow I have about a 4 or 5 hour boat ride to Piraeus, the port in Athens. Although the rides are a bit of a drag and time suck, they're a good time to read, journal, and sit still (as if I have a choice). Have a super day!

p.s. I am grateful for the ease with which I was able to get the medication I forgot.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I arrived in Santorini via high speed catamaran a few hours ago, and I must say that so far it is living up to my very very high expectations. Just the drive up from the port was breath-taking. This is probably the most beautiful place I've ever visited, and I've only seen about 1% of the island. I can't wait to explore tomorrow. This photo is my first and only photo so far of Santorini. As you can see, it's very windy along the caldera.

I am staying at a family-run villa for $33/night. The room has an ocean view and balcony, two twin beds, a bathroom, A/C, and there's a pool here; you can't beat the price for that! Kosmos, the son, picked me up from the port; gave me detailed instructions; and his mother and sister gave me a ride into town earlier. His mother will also do my laundry for about $6. The villa is about 400 meters from town too, so the location is nice.

Fortunately I woke up to sunny skies this morning and enjoyed a few hours on Paradise Beach in Mykonos before my boat arrived. No nudity or topless women though!! I've not been to a beach or pool yet where more than 5% of the women were topless. I know you all have been wondering....tomorrow I'm visiting Perissa Beach (a.k.a. the black beach). I'll also visit the red beach and maybe the white beach too, so I'll keep you posted on my sightings:) And yes, this is a rough life.

Before coming to Greece, I had eaten a few Greek foods and not enjoyed them at all. The feta cheese here is soooo much better. And baklava is totally different and a thousand times better. The meat, which I thought was disgusting at the Greek restaurant in Macon, is delicious. Everything is so fresh, and it makes such a difference. Tonight I had a Greek salad and saganaki (a hard cheese fried)...and of course, a crepe with Nutella and white chocolate.

Lucky for me, I'm here until Friday. On Friday I take a boat to Athens, spend the night, and catch a 9:00 a.m. flight to Madrid. From Madrid I will take a train or bus to Cordoba (is it worth a stop? Any thoughts?) or Seville. Hope everyone had a lovely three day weekend!

p.s. I'm grateful for Tim Keller. I have so much more free time now to listen to his sermons and soak them in. Every time I listen to one I learn a ton and how to articulate what I believe too.

Monday, May 28, 2007


After spending three relaxing days in Malta, we got up at 3:45 or so to make our way to the Malta airport and catch our 5:55 a.m. flight to Athens. From Athens we had a short one-hour flight to Rhodes, one of the Greek Islands. One thought that has occured to me several times is how different the beaches are when you're not suffering from the humidity found in Georgia and Florida. The air actually feels clean; you don't want to constantly shower; and it's just generally a thousand times more enjoyable.

Unfortunately our luggage did not make it to Rhodes at the same time we did, so after completing the necessary paperwork we had a ride with our first chatty cab driver. He told us about the island, his first wife who he lived with in Sweden(it wasn't his fault Swedish women are so gorgeous and that he cheated on her (at least) three times that she knew about), his second wife (crazy Greek woman; never marry a Greek), his Russian girlfriend (she's 25 and couldn't earn enough money to live in Russia), and a lot more, pointing out that if either of us were a writer, he'd just given us a wonderful book idea that we should use (for free).

The Hilton's grounds and views were beautiful, and as we looked at the ocean view, we noticed another land mass that seemed a swim away. Turns out it is Turkey! You'll notice it in the photo background. I wish we'd had time to visit it as well. Since we didn't have our clothes, we set out to walk to the Old Town of Rhodes to check out the historic stuff in blue jeans. It was pretty hot, and I had no sunscreen but the breeze made up for it. The Old Town was full of beautiful old monuments and whatnot and olive trees. I spent the rest of the day at the pool.

The next morning we caught a bus to Lindos, a beautiful village (whitewashed with the pretty crooked streets) that houses the acropolis on Rhodes. I also had the most delicious thing I've had in weeks....a crepe with one half white chocolate and one half Nutella. I'm pretty much hooked and had two yesterday. Afterwards I enjoyed another relaxing day at the pool and the beach. We walked to a little village near our hotel and enjoyed a very leisurely Greek dinner. So far I am enjoying the food, especially the pork gyros.

Yesterday we flew into Athens very early and visited the Olympic Stadium, Temple of Zeus, Acropolis, Parthenon, and a lot more very very old stuff. It was pretty amazing despite the thousands of tourists around us. We enjoyed lunch and dinner at outdoor cafes. Last night we made friends with two Canadian women, and I am meeting up with them this week in Santorini for sight-seeing. Plus one for being outgoing:)

I had another early start this morning, catching a subway to the port and then taking a highspeed catamaran to Mykonos. Unfortunately it's rained all day, so I'm wet and stuck inside an internet cafe right now. I met a guy from California this morning, and we've spent the day together wondering around Hora (the major city here). His story is pretty inspiring....he works half the year at a major accounting firm as a consultant, and the other half of the year he travels and works at camps for children.

p.s. I'm grateful for all of the interesting people I am meeting.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"A Simpler Place and Time"

"On that midnight train to Georgia...." This song was playing as I finished writing some postcards at a cafe over the Spinola Bay here in Malta. Every window and balcony is adorned with boxes full of bright flowers, and the bay in filled with colorful boats, reminding me of Venice. The cafe is called Papparazzi, and the menu is full of cutesy sort of names for meals including a "Comfort Zone" for entrees like cheeseburgers. We ate dinner there last night, and I had my very first Nutella pie. I headed back today for a peanut butter and cookie cake afternoon treat. It's the first time I have seen peanut butter mentioned since I've been here, which is saying a lot as I've visited at least 10 grocery stores thus far. I love walking through grocery stores in other countries. It's a fun way to see what they eat, how much it costs, and what is different/the same. It's also a good place to get a cheap meal or produce.

My waiter, an older gentleman, asked me how I liked Malta. I told him how much I enjoyed it, especially that it was always sunny. He replied "striptease." I said "excuse me?" And he said yes "striptease. I am single." I laughed, and he told me to come back if I change my mind. Hmm.

After doing some camera research, I learned that I basically have two viable options. Use disposable cameras and hope the photos turn out alright. These cameras are expensive here, and of course, quality is questionable. Or I could buy an Olympus that is just like mine or very similar, thus enabling me to use the same batteries and memory cards. Purchasing any other digital camera wouldn't work very well as I'd have to buy new memory cards and would have to use a converter back in the US to charge my batteries since it would come with a European type plug. Olympus is hard to find here, but after looking on the internet and making some calls, I found a place. I tried to haggle the price down, but the best I could get was 5% off for paying with cash. Of course, the camera costs $150 more than my mother paid for it on sale in the U.S. But after doing some thinking and chatting with my mom, I decided biting the bullet and buying the digital made the most sense. It stinks to be out almost $400 for a camera, but like my mom said, I'll be glad I have the quality photos and I need a digital camera regardless.

p.s. I am thankful for my mom and her advice....and not having to wear a suit or wash my hair:)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Guess I Was Due....

for a little traveling bad luck. In all of my years of travel, I've never lost or had anything stolen. On our last day in Zurich as our tram pulled into the train station, I looked down to realize my camera wasn't in my small bag/purse-like thing. I panicked, glanced through my backpack, and told Sam I was going back across the city to our hotel. I was hoping that I'd left it beside the computer in the lobby. The last thing I did before we hoped on the tram was look in my gmail for my grandmother's address. I had pulled the postcard out of my bag, so I thought perhaps I had also put the camera on the counter. No such luck. Since I still had about three hours before our flight to Malta I decided to retrace our steps (with all of my luggage) but no luck. The upside of rapidly walking a few miles with my luggage is that the exercise sort of helped me calm down and come to terms with it. So in short I lost all of my photos of Switzerland and my brand new pretty camera.

Thankfully it's just a camera and not my passport and something else that would be a nightmare to replace. And thankfully at least Sam took some photos of the last two places I visited. I hate not having the photos of beautiful Luzern or any photos of myself but what can you do?

I have yet to find an Olympus camera here in Malta (since I already have extra batteries, etc. for Olympus I would rather replace it with one), and even the cheapest bottom-of-the-line no-name digital cameras are $300. So I may wait until Greece to replace it and just rely on Sam's photos for now.

On to more happy news: Despite my running around looking for my camera, I made it to my flight o.k. thanks to the efficient Swiss transportation system (which waits for no one which must be why it is so darn timely). We arrived at our hotel in Malta around 8:30. The front desk guy noted the contrast in what Sam and I chose to do upon arrival; Sam went to Hard Rock Cafe to have a beer, and I went to the "Synergie Gym" that is connected to our hotel. Then I wondered around and found a nice cafe. It was nice to work out; I always love checking out the unfamiliar machines, and this gym certainly has some. I did a stairmaster in which your legs stick out in the air in front of you. There's a rock climbing wall, and a cage that helps you stretch. Half of the cardio equipment uses the metric system, which I still totally do not know.

The next morning I woke up early enough to check out the free breakfast buffet and am now hooked on Nutella (chocolate hazelnut can get it in the US, but I had never tried it). Otherwise the buffet was a lot of things that were not too yummy (to me at least) except for the watermelon and yogurt. I do not think Malta has many American tourists, so I think they are catering to other tastes.

I spent a few hours at our rooftop swimming pool, which has a pretty view of the bay. The weather is perfect--warm and sunny with a nice breeze. You know the type of hot that makes getting in the pool optional?

Later in the day Sam and I took a bus to Valletta, the capital of Malta. The lack of pedestrian crossings (you basically just run for your life), the old buses with wooden seats and no suspension systems and croaking clutches, and the cheap price of a ride stands in sharp contrast to the public transport in each of the Swiss cities I visited. Regardless we got to Valletta and enjoyed wondering around. The cathedral there is beautiful as well as all of the quaint side streets and a fountain with male mermaids...or is it mermen?

As we headed down the main thoroughfare of Valletta, a female voice boomed all around us. We quickly noticed a PA type system at the corner of each building. Atlhough we could not understand what was being said, it was evident (somehow) that it was religious. It was sort of creepy (not to mention incredibly loud and annoying), and it went on for at least an hour. Thankfully it did not brainwash me, although it sort of had that vibe. Yeah for living in a country where religion is not allowed to be broadcast over a PA system throughout our cities for hours at a time. After about half an hour we came upon a processional in which some men in robes were walking around. Later they came through carrying some female figure with about 200 people following them and holding roses. I asked a cop about it, and he didn't seem to know much but indicated it only happened once a year.

The evening ended at a cafe; I had some chocolate pritiforoles (balls with cream in them and covered in a chocolate sauce) and Sam had a half bottle of wine. Now I am off to explore and be lazy by the pool, and Sam is scuba diving. We have one more full day here before our 5:55 a.m. flight on Friday to Athens. We have a short layover there before we catch a flight to Rhodes. I may get to check out a turkish bath there.

p.s. I'm grateful for the chance to check out a country I knew nothing about before March:) And in case you know nothing about Malta either, it is comprised of several islands. They aren't all that far from Sicily, Italy (which makes me think of Sofia from the Golden Girls). The currency is the Maltese Lira, and the official languages are English and Maltese.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Liechtenstein was....well it is evidently one of those countries people visit just so they can say they visited it. We traveled to its capital Vaduz and had a delicious lunch under some umbrellas while watching the patrons at the nearby flea market. There is a pretty castle on the mountain above, and the town is surrounded by gorgeous mountains. Sam was very impressed by the scenery on our one hour train ride, so that alone was worth the day trip.

Tomorrow we have half the day in Zurich before we catch our 5:40 flight to Malta. We are staying at an Intercontinental, so our hotel should be very nice. It is amazing how different the prices for the hotels are in Malta if you book it through the Air Malta website--much less expensive. I am pretty excited about there being a workout room too. I miss doing weights.

Sam and I sort of worked out a deal with this trip. He is much more of a spender than me, especially since I am staying here 33 days. If this was a one week vacation (and I still had a job:), I would likely be o.k. with $200ish hotels. But given the circumstances as they are, I would prefer less expensive places and tend to be game for getting cheap meals more often than not. Sam, on the other hand, prefers very nice hotels and wine, dessert, and appetizers with every meal. So we are staying in nice hotels every single night we are together, but he is using Hilton points to get three nights of our stay. So everyone is happy:) After taking a $60 cab ride to our hotel here in Zurich, he is relieved to do things my way tomorrow with a quick tram and train ride for the bargain cost of about $6 or so.

We also worked out a deal on me getting a few hours alone each day, and it seems to be going ok. At least I did not feel guilty when I declined his dinner invite tonight (I still had half my sandwich from lunch). Sometimes it stinks to be an introvert as I know he takes this "alone time" thing personally (since he has defensively told me that his other travel buddies say they enjoy being with him all the time on their trips), but I know that we are both better off if I insist on chilling out alone some even if I do not think I need it. One thing that is funny about the alone time thing is that I have found that when it comes to boyfriends I do not need nearly as much time away/alone to recharge or not feel irritated. I guess that is why they have been my boyfriends and not just friends?

I had a small world type run in last night in the elevator. A man asked me where I was from, and it turns out he lives in Atlanta and his in-laws live about a few miles from where I lived in Macon.

p.s. I am grateful for e-mail and friends. Even though I am here, I still feel so connected to my friends and family. Except my sister and father who have not written me...or commented (lurkers!). Sigh:)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Luzern and Zurich

I was happy to leave Geneva yesterday morning and catch a train to Luzern, which ended up being my next stop in part because a direct train traveled there from Geneva. One of the most fun things to do in Switzerland is just sit in the smooth-running trains and soak in the majestic moutains.

And majestic Luzern is. I spent hours walking and sitting by the lake and just soaking in the gorgeous scenery. Really other than a yummy cheese pretzel, some delicous chocolate, and the Lion Monument (which reminds of me of Aslan and is a monument for the Swiss soldiers who died in the French Revolution), I do not have much to report. I feel incredibly relaxed and am thoroughly enjoying not worrying about the details of routine life. It is quite remarkable how different I feel even after only being here 5 days. I have been so mindless--thinking a lot but not about the mundane details of life like returning phone calls, doing laundry, and the like. Even more than before, I believe that we need more than a week vacation once or twice a year to recharge, reflect, and just breathe. Of course, that type of vacation seems rather routine over here in Europe.

I had 5 roommates last night. Three very loud and rude girls evoked a midnight scream out of an older Parisian lady. And I made friends with a woman from Hong Kong named Maggie, who also quit her job and is traveling for about a month by herself. Like me, she is enthusiastically flying solo except she made some "friends" before coming over courtesy of the internet; friends that her long-time boyfriend do not know about. She invited me to a party with her friend and her and giddily showed off a photo of him on her digital camera. It was like watching a preteen with a crush.

Today I caught a train to Zurich and took a one hour stroll with my luggage thanks to bad directions. I finally caught a tram and found the hotel, which is a tremendous upgrade from a hostel (4 Points by Sheraton which seems nice so far). It was great to see Sam, and I have a feeling we will be closer than ever thanks to our modern hotel room which includes a shower that you enter directly from the bedroom and that has a clear door. And the bathroom has a semi-clear wall.

Sam accomplished his first vacation goal--buying a Tag Heur watch, and I stuck to the cheap life and only bought a smiley faced cookie, sausage, and a white chocolate and honey candy bar. I managed to get a lot of sun and enjoyed a lot of time today just sitting around outside in front of the mountains. No ipod, no book, no cell phone....just sitting there. The queen of multi-tasking is finally sort of focusing.

Tomorrow we are taking a day trip to a country I only recently learned of--Liechtenstein since it is only 90 minutes away.

Random Observations:

The diet here seems soooo fattening. Cheese, chocolate, more stuff with cheese, sausage, more chocolate, and pretzels with layers of butter and or cheese. Maybe American seems that way too with Cinnabon, Cookie Company, and the like.

Women love letting the bra strap show...who cares if the shirt is strapless? Just wear the same old bra.

Despite Switzerland being soooo clean, you have to go off the beaten track to escape the smoke. Btw, Aaron you definitely need to visit. You could explore it by motorcycle too:)

Happy Weekend!!

p.s. I am thankful for hot showers, clean and soft sheets, free internet, and comfy robes.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Under-the-Weather in Geneva

I can't believe it's Thursday. My travels began around 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning when we headed for the airport, and I was checking into my hostel around 3:30 a.m. EST (which was 9:30 a.m. in Switzerland) on Wednesday. Unfortunately Monday night I stayed up late doing all of the last minute things that occur to you before a long trip and only got about 4 hours of sleep. I also had a major allergy attack and sore throat and all of that not fun stuff.

Day #1: So when I finally arrived at my hostel in Geneva I was absolutely exhausted; my ears had still not unpopped or whatever from my flight; and I was constantly blowing my nose. So instead of exploring the city, I took it easy in a chair in the lounge here at the hostel and slept and read until my room was ready at 2:00. I felt sort of lame about that, but then I rationalized that this was my vacation and that I should do whatever I want even if it is lame:) Then I took a nice nap and felt good enough to do some wondering around. Unfortunately it started sprinkling when I set out and rained some off and on but not enough to really get me that wet. I walked across the Rhone River, checked out the Old City and several parks, and saw the Reformation Wall. Oh, I almost forgot to mention all of the wonderful chocolate shops. They're everywhere! I had a white chocolate truffle (just ok) and a ball shaped concoction, which appeared to be cornflakes dipped in milk chocolate. Oddly yummy. After my exploring I was hungry but never found a restaurant that looked that good and wasn't expensive. So I got a take-out mini-quiche from a place near the hostel, orange juice to help ward off this cold/allergy mess, and had a Luna bar. Then I finished The Partner by John Grisham. I know....really exciting!

I met my two roommmates as I was finishing up the book, and they were young German cousins traveling together. They informed me that today is a Swiss holiday--which ended up meaning I had to stay in Geneva tonight as I couldn't find a room anywhere else in Switzerland. I had hoped to hop over to Milan or Como, Italy, but the Italian railworkers are on strike and delays/cancellations are expected. So here I am in Geneva for another night; tomorrow hopefully it'll work out for me to go to some quaint Swiss town in the middle of the mountains. I guess I should have done a little more pre-trip planning.

Good news: Yesterday I received an e-mail from the PC USA offering me placement with the Young Adult Volunteer Program at the Nashville site. The position will begin in September and last for 11 months. I'm about to check out all of the information attached to the e-mail and expect that I'll accept, although I figure one more day of prayer can't hurt:)

p.s. I'm grateful for Zyrtec and Benadryl...and that my allergies are so much better now than they were when I was little--and received 4 allergy shots a week.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Itinerary

So after spending a few days in Calhoun and embracing what it has to offer (i.e. having a yard sale, eating at a meat and three, quality time with the family, and shopping at the Old Navy Outlet), I'm off to Switzerland today. Several of my friends have asked for my intinerary and one of my blogger buddies, I think, plans to track it on her map:) So here it goes:

May 15: Fly from Atlanta to Newark to Geneva, Switzerland. The extra stop stinks, but hey, at least the flight was free courtesy of Skymiles. Arrive in Geneva at 7:45 a.m. (Switzerland time) and head off to find my hostel and leave my stuff while I wonder around bright-eyed and bushy tailed (or not), looking for those yummy smiley-face cookies I remember from my time in Interlaken ten years ago.

May 17 or 18th: I'll probably head to Lucerne or perhaps a small town unless I'm enjoying Geneva too much to leave. Since Geneva is so expensive, I'm experimenting with a bunk bed hostel room on my first night there. Nothing like sleeping with strangers, right?

May 19: Meet Sam in Zurich, Switzerland. I've not seen him in over a year now, so it'll be fun to catch up. Lets hope my plan of ear plugs works in the quest to combat the disruptiveness of his snoring.

May 21: We fly to Malta. And we're staying at the Intercontinental, which will be a nice upgrade from hostel bunk beds.

May 25: We fly to Athens and then catch a flight to Rhodes, which is one of the Greek Islands.

May 27: We take an early flight to Athens.

May 28: Sam leaves, and I hop onto a "Highspeed 4" to check out Mykonos, another Greek Island. I recently discovered Mykonos is known for being a gay mecca of sorts and for having tons of nude photos. Bet you guys can't wait for that post:)

May 29: "Flying Cat 4" to Santorini. Still need to find a place to stay there. My to-do list is just too long. In this case, I suppose that's an excellent problem to have though.

June 1: "Highspeed 5" back to Athens.

June 2: Fly from Athens to Madrid; take a train to Seville (or maybe Cordoba).

June 2-June 18: I'll be in Southern Spain and possibly Portugal and/or Morocco during this time. There are certain must-sees on my list, and they include Cadiz, Seville, and Valencia. If I love them, I might stay for a bit. If not, I'll check out other places like Alicante, Gilbaltar, or Morocco. I tend to like to stay places a few nights rather than hopping around a lot, but I've also never traveled alone like this. Should be interesting. I'm proud to say that my things for 33 days easily fit into a carry-on suiter. After some internal debate, I decided that route was better than a big backpack.

June 18: I'll fly from Madrid to Atlanta (via Newark again). 33 days should be just enough time for me to have a renewed appreciation of ice, air-conditioning, and the like.

If you have any recommendations on things to check out in any of these places, please share. I plan on blogging at least a little and hope to be able to upload some photos too. My mother bought me an early birthday gift today, so I can't wait to use the new (very slim) camera. Hope everyone's week is off to an excellent start!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Last Day

I actually got to work early on my last day, which was Wednesday. I knew I had a lot to finish before I would feel good about leaving, and in the end, I just had to put sticky notes on some things and stick it in my mentor's box. I had hoped to have a much more relaxed last few days of work, so that I could feel comfortable that I had handed everything off and everyone was on the same page. Unfortunately I was quite busy with two hearings on my next-to-last day and actually writing memos, responding to clients' e-mails, and the like on my last day. Oh well, at least the days flew by, and the stress of it all made me extra glad to wake up on my own this morning at 9:00. Late tonight I entered my last billable time entry via computer and am officially finished with my job.

All of this is surreal, really. I've thought about quitting my job for well over a year now and never felt a peace about--in part because I couldn't figure out what the next step should be. I would explore other opportunities for a few days on the internet, and then work would get really busy and I'd be too exhausted when I got home to follow up. And it was hard to get excited about interviewing for other legal jobs, yet I couldn't figure out exactly what else I might like to do. And I finally realized that I didn't have to know the next perfect step to know that I should quit. And inheriting $15k from my great aunt a while back helped make that possible. And all of these steps have just fallen into place, and I have such a peace about it all that it almost doesn't feel real. Perhaps not receiving a pay check in two weeks will help it feel real:) Or sitting on the beach in Santorini will.

Anyway, the most lovely thing about my last day was the love I felt from the staff at the firm. While the attorneys all went out to lunch with me last Friday and the firm picked up the bill, the staff's generosity literally took the cake. Several secretaries took me out to lunch this week and last week. My secretary gave me a sweet card and loaf of banana bread (already eaten) on my last day. And then various staff members made goodies ranging from a homemade strawberry cake to a hashbrown casserole in honor of my last day. I had eaten about 6 pieces of cake by noon! So many of them had the sweetest things to say to me; it was so nice to feel so supported and loved.

One funny good-bye e-mail noted how much the writer loved me and that she hoped the Lord would lead me to a Godly spouse--and that it would most likely happen when I quit looking like it had with her. (Note: the lady writing the e-mail recently married a prisoner who she met through a prison ministry program; as far as I know, he's still locked up too). And yes, this is the same lady who has asked me why I'm not married yet.

Happy Friday!

p.s. I'm grateful for time with my family before I leave.

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Anything Less than the Best is a Felony"

An upside of staying with friends the last week has been exposure to new and some new old things such as the musical compilation named "Living in the 90's" (disc 2; in case you want to order it), resulting in me instinctually and immediately breaking out the Electric Slide. It's interesting to see how how much my environment influences my choices. Last week I stayed at Leslie and Ivy's house while they were on their first "married folk vacation," and my computer wouldn't work with their internet. So I found myself watching a movie, which I never do. And I felt quite domestic watering their plants and grass each night and tending to their cat Angelina. Speaking of said cat, I used my bags to keep the bedroom door (no knob as the owners are remodeling) closed the first night and to keep Angelina out. Around 4:00 a.m. I awoke to glowing eyes staring right in my face. I jumped out of bed, turned the lights on, and began hissing at the cat in attempt to get her to leave. Needless to say, I found heavier objects to block the door thereafter. And like any "good" annoying cat, she still did her best to get in the bedroom. Fortunately I won round two.

The last few days I've stayed at my friend Laura's while she's been out of town. She doesn't have cable, and it has been so nice and quiet. I've read and listened to music and sermons more and have generally felt more rested. And I've finally gotten some things on the to-do list done that have lingered for weeks now. It makes me think that I should be more intentional and thoughtful about the environment I create for myself wherever I end up. Speaking of which, I am currently having informational conversations for volunteer mission positions in Nashville, Miami, Hollywood (CA), and San Antonio. Phone interviews should follow later this week, and I may know in the next week where I'll be for 11 months starting in September. Exciting! And a little scary as I think about the reality of living on a stipend of $400/month, sharing a bedroom with a stranger, and all of the adjustments that will come with any major life transition. But mainly I'm excited, and I leave a week from today for my trip. Fun!

Friday, May 04, 2007

What I Like/Dislike about being an Attorney

Since Wednesday is my last day at the firm, and I'll likely not practice law for another year or more, I thought it would be fitting to take stock of what I do and do not like about the practice. Like many people, I often forget the bad, remembering only the good, so lists are helpful for me. The first list like this that I remember making was formed right after my 4 and 1/2 year long relationship ended. It was my very first "real" boyfriend, and we'd try to end things before but inevitably ended back up together. So I made a list of everything about our relationship and him that I didn't like and reread it (often) as needed to avoid calling him or returning his calls. I imagine this list will serve a different purpose:)

Things I Like About Working as an Attorney at this Firm

(1) It pays relatively well.
(2) It is sometimes intellectually challenging.
(3) Every day/case/client is different.
(4) Flexibility. If I "need" to take a two hour lunch or come in late, I can. Of course, I have to make up those hours, but still it's great to have that freedom.
(5) Some of the work that I do is easy.
(6) Sometimes I get to really help people.
(7) The advisory relationship role I have with some clients.
(8) Working downtown and being able to walk to lunch/courthouse/shops.
(9) The happy feeling I get from wearing a TEE-SHIRT with my if I'm getting away with something really exciting.
(10) About 12 times a year, I get a free super good meal complete with appetizer, drinks, dessert, etc.

One Thing I Like/Don't Like

People seem to treat me differently because I am an attorney. For the most part, there are three reactions to someone learning of my profession. (1) It's no big deal, and the person treats me the same as they otherwise would. (2) If it's at a bar or in a social situation, I sometimes get the attitude from men of "wow" or "You must make a lot of money" or "I guess you think I'm better than you." I'll attribute that to them drinking and being the vice president of the staff that oversees the staff that stocks the restrooms or something silly like that. (3) They seem to treat me with more respect. I know there are a lot of lawyer jokes and the like, but people seem to assume that because I'm an attorney I am also smart, educated, and professional.

I put this in the like/dislike category because I do not like how people treat me "better" because I am an attorney (as opposed to staff or any other human being).

Things I Dislike about Working as an Attorney

(1) Billable hours.
(2) No real sick leave and vacation time as a result of billable hours.
(3) Often feeling overwhelmed by my workload, deadlines, the unpredictability, etc.
(4) Having to wear suits (and having to spend the $ to buy said suits)
(5) Needing to focus 98% of the time and thus not really being able to have an "off" day...or if I do have an "off" day, needing to make it up at night/on the weekends
(6) There being so much I do not know and sometimes things I don't even know I don't know....and realizing a mistake could potentially cost my client a lot.
(7) Having so many balls in the air that I know one is inevitably going to drop.
(8) Having about 20 potential bosses (a.k.a. partners), most of whom don't know (and/or do not care) about your workload for other partners

p.s. I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to work at my firm and learn a lot about the practice of law.