What a weekend... and then some

Wow, it sure has been quite the weekend at work! Friday and Saturday were Parade as usual, however, in the mornings I was treated to a couple exciting shifts. I got to be a "play tester" for the brand new American Idol Experience at the Studios - it was so much fun! Basically, myself and about 20 others played the role of normal Guests and got to experience part of the attraction first hand. I don't want to give too much away, but I did make it to the "producer" where I sang and was booked for the show (theoretically speaking). It's nice to know I have a decent voice, but sad I'll never actually get to take part in the new attraction. This was a nice taste, though.

On Sunday, I managed to FINALLY make it back to Boat Dock to hang with my good friend Tigger for the day. It was nice being back in that role for a bit, really enjoyed it.

Now, for the "and then some"... on Monday I randomly picked up a Star Tours shift. Yes, this was the attraction I used to manage and yes, it was a little weird working alongside my former Cast. Nonetheless, it was a good time. We were REALLY busy and things kept happening that helped the day fly by. Although I was there for eight hours, I never got to actually fly a Sim - what I had been looking forward to. Guess that's just they way it happens sometimes.

After I left Star Tours, I ended up picking up a perm greeter shift in Tomorrowland Ops where, for six hours, I greeted at Stitch and TTA, as well as flung a bunch of strollers around, and met a few really great families. It was good to put a name tag back on in the Magic Kingdom.

To top everything off, yesterday I got to step back through the wardrobe into Narnia, where I haven't worked since early September. I was with Riley, which was great. Had a few amazing families that reminded me just how much I love doing what I do, as well as an INSANELY angry Asian man and some guy who said he had a bigger "sword" than me... idiot.

It's just been an awesome past few days at work. Off to lunch now with Alex, perhaps I'll even pick up a shift later tonight.

Here's to the last day of 2008!

Hooray for Christmas!

I had a great Christmas.

For the first Christmas in a long time, I took the WHOLE day off of work (NO! Really? WHAT?!?!?) and spent the first half with my Mom, opening presents under the tree, watching the WDW Christmas Day Parade and eating dinner, and the second half with my Dad, Uncle Jeff, and Grandma, eating MORE dinner. It was awesome.

Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday. Merry Christmas!

One more thing

I really need to work on reducing the length of my posts. To my loyal followers, I promise I'll try to make them more concise for your reading pleasure.

I'm in debt... and it's scary

"Guess now it's official." (sorry, but random HSM references always help me feel better)

Anyway, I'm in debt. Big time. More than I've ever been in my life. Mind you, I'm not an all-out crazy spender and I'm not so far in over my head that I won't be able to make it out... eventually... but still. Also, I'm fortunate to have my parents who can assist if I REALLY need it, but I don't want to have to ask them for help unless I absolutely can't do it on my own.

I've felt this kind of strain before... it was just a few months into 2006 when I had only $26 of my own to my name... literally. I was driving to McDonald's after work late one night to get a cheeseburger (because I was starving) before beginning my 45 minute drive home and BAM! Right out of nowhere an Orange County Sheriff's officer jumps out, pulling me over for going 57 in a 35... right in front of Downtown Disney. Didn't that hurt.

Yes, I was speeding. Yes, it was late. Yes, I was tired. Yes, I was on the phone. Yes, I thought he pulled me over for blowing through a red light one second after it had changed (thankfully, he missed that one). And yes, I cried. Big time. Right in front of him. I hadn't cried in a while, and it was all because I wasn't paying attention, going too fast on Disney's roads, and got slapped with a $157 ticket. It hurt. Bad. I was so embarrassed. I knew it would take two whole weeks worth of paychecks just to pay that thing off, as this was before I ever had credit extended to me. That was the first time in my life I truly got scared about debt.

Now here I am today: two credit cards with a combined balance of $1,212.41. I only have $203.87 in my accounts, so that works out to $1,008.54 of debt. That's over one thousand dollars. One thousand dollars?!?! Yes. That's a lot of money. Especially for a guy who is still in college, barely gets any hours at work, and absolutely hates asking people for money. It's scary.

I'm really not sure of how I even got here. I did have the car insurance payment this month (which took out a chunk), but the other dollars and cents listed on my bills seem to have appeared out of nowhere.

Christmas will be here soon and, fortunately, I finished my shopping a long time ago. I am expecting a little bit of cash during the holidays, as well as a decent tax return shortly into 2009, but I don't think it's gonna be enough. I may have to pay interest on my credit card for the first time ever. Many may say, "no big deal", but interest on a credit card is simply a company's way of penalizing you for being dumb enough to allow yourself to rack up that much debt and not live within your means. Sorry if I offend, but that's just how I feel.

Being sick these past three days hasn't helped much, either, as I've missed out on a good $200 at work I could have made, had I been able to go into work. Stupid two-in-a-row face shifts.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. Hopefully, I'll find a way out of this hole soon enough. Perhaps I should buy a dry erase board to keep track of my finances? Nah, that would cost too much.

Well, I'm off for some window-shopping, as that's about all I can afford to do right now. Ugh.

Fun Hair Cuttery BGM!

I'm not able to get a haircut with my usual person today, so I decided to just walk in to the salon and take the first available spot.

To preface, this post isn't really about the haircut at all, but rather the music that's playing in the background. It was just regular holiday music when I walked in, but soon transitioned to some kind of nursery rhyme. One of the stylists spoke up to her co-workers, explaining that it was a track that she plays for her kids to listen to, as I think the music was coming from her iPod.

As soon as that track finished, it transitioned to some youngsters singing "Jesus Loves the Little Children", followed by a joyous rendition of "I've Got the Joy Joy Joy Joy Down In My Heart", and then "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands". Now, it's playing some random Caribbean rhythm.

Jay, my normal stylist, even made sure to mention aloud, "we play only the finest music in our salon!" He sure had that one right.

I just love fun, random music.

Another blog from the air

My, how I love doing this! Don't know why, but blogging on my BlackBerry whilst flying high above the dark country in an airplane, snacking on M&M's, sipping on a Coke, and listening to Jason Mraz is, strangely, quite comforting and relaxing...

... as is going into an extensive, rather detailed, setup of my current time and place. But that's another matter.

Anyway, yes, I'm flying home solo this evening from my visit to Colorado, returning a day earlier than my Mom to attend a stilt audition at work tomorrow. Full trip report and results of the workshop are forthcoming, but, for now, I just want to share with you an intriguing thought.

Before boarding, I purchased and began to read (gasp!) an interesting little book entitled "Astonish Yourself! 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life" by Roger-Pol Droit. Now, some of you may know that I'm not much of a reader and usually only succumb to such great titles as "Stuff White People Like" and "Diary of a Whimpy Kid"... and this one is no exception to that genre. Although I haven't finished the entire thing, what I have read so far has been rather interesting and thought-provoking.

The book contains simple experiments to attempt to put our seemingly important lives into perspective - to take a look at the world from an angle that you may have never even thought possible. Instructions and summaries of fun little games such as peeling an apple in your head, drinking while urinating, contemplating a dead bird, trying not to think, and dialing the phone at random all litter the pages, as do any tools that might be necessary and the expected time for completion, if any.

But enough about the book. After reading a few pages, it got me thinking about the person sitting next to me. Why? Why not? I began to think about this stranger in a way I don't think I've ever thought about a person I didn't know before. He's a white guy, about my height, mildly attractive, probably just a little older than me, wearing jeans and a casual, long-sleeve button down shirt. He ordered a Jack and Coke and that's about all the factual insight I got into his life.

Did his beverage choice mean he's an alcoholic or was this his first drink? What does he do with his life - student, employee, model, actor, escort? Is he from Orlando? Does he have a significant other? Gay? Straight? Bi? Transgendered? Sterile? Fertile? Does he wax his legs? Is he a Democrat, a Republican, or neither? Are his parents still together? Did he even know his parents? Does he drive a car, truck, SUV? Does he even drive? Does he care about the environment, the planet, or its future? Is he even from this planet?

Ok, the last one probably already answers itself. But... what if it doesn't? That could just open up a whole other box of questions, now couldn't it?

I went on and on like this for as long as my mind could bear and came out of it with the stark realization that I, in fact, know absolutely nothing about this guy. Yes, that fact is what makes him a "stranger", but what if I struck up a conversation with him? The simple act of a discussion between us could inevitably change all of my original thoughts, opinions, and ideas. We might even end up becoming the best of friends.

Despite this, have I spoken with him? No. Do I plan to? Well, not really. If I do, my few minutes of pondering would probably be put to waste, because then the mystery of the unknown would have been shattered forever.

Some may view my thoughts as judgemental. Rather, I like to think of them as my ability to imagine and wonder about the life of just one of the seven billion humans here on Earth.

What to say about all this? Probably the conclusion I've gained is that you should never judge a book by its cover - or its choice of alcoholic beverages. Yes, I did originally pull "Astonish..." off the shelf due to its cover, but I did read a few pages before deciding to buy it.

So, the next time you find yourself sitting next to a stranger for three and a half hours (or whatever length of time it may be), strike up a conversation with them before thinking about anything else, take in a few pages from THEIR book, and discover the wonders of just how they managed to end up sitting there. You might be pleasantly surprised. Have questions? Ask! It's the only way to really find out anything.

Or, of course, you could just let your mind formulate a ton if questions and assumptions about them that you'll never get officially answered... which could put any kind of a future potential relationship with them in jeopardy. Your choice.

That being said, we're now entering our final decent into Orlando, and very soon I'll be back into the reality that, seemingly, I take for granted every day. Perhaps I'll try to make a conscious effort to change that... and you should, too.

What to wear when it's cold out

First of all, I know it's been forever. I know. Please don't hate me. Please. There's been so much going on that I need to blog about, but with all that going on I haven't had a lot of time to do so. I PROMISE I'll catch up when I'm home.

Wait, what is that I just said? Yes, "home." Why, you ask? Well, it's because I'm... in... COLORADO! My 5th vacation of the year! Crazy, right?

Anyway, much to catch up on. But right now, we're in Denver for something called "Tuba Christmas". It's an outdoor music concert with a band made up of 150 tubas. Fun!

It's kinda cold outside (like 5 degrees, feels like -6) and I'm rather bundled up, so I thought I'd share some tips for what you should wear when it's THIS cold out. Mind you, this post is really for my warm-weather friends who don't really know what they're doing while in this kind of weather, but still. I'm sure everyone can find some benefit from this.

My recipe for keeping warm (from top to bottom):

Head (2 items)

Top (5 layers)
Thermal long-sleeve henley
Long-sleeve shirt
Wool sweater
Ski jacket

Bottom (4 layers)
Regular underwear
Long underwear
Ski pants

Feet (2 items)
Wool socks

Other (2 items)

Well, at least that's what I'm wearing right now. All the clothing IS doing it's job and I'm quite warm. The wind is killer, but manageable. Mind you, not everyone around me is wearing the exact same thing, but they're natives - they have an excuse.

Despite the crazy cold temps, this is good prep for me as my aunt and I are visiting Breckenridge tomorrow where I'm going to learn to ski for the first time in my life. Exciting! Inviting? Yes. Let's do it then! (sorry, just felt like throwing that in)

Well, show's over and we're off again. Keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow, hope I don't break anything! =P

Updated 12/19: added picture