Tag Archives: money

#WEverb12: GROW

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12. toss [GROW]: 2012 was the last time for ________________

I finally, finally, finally went through all the clothes still loitering in my old bedroom at the parents’ house this summer.  There was stuff in there from way back in high school.  Man, I used to shop a lot!  I remember when I worked at Chick-fil-a and I did actually spend most of my money on clothes from Forever 21 and Delias and all those silly mall stores.  It was funny to reminisce about that with Zach because he’s never seen that side of me.  I’ve been shopping at thrift stores and penny-pinching for travel or bigger things since we’ve been together.

I was definitely more fashionable back then, but the importance of if has faded to me, rightfully.  Nowadays I find thrifting more enjoyable anyway because I can find things no one else has!

Needless to say, Ohio Thrift got a huge donation of early-2000s-era fashion after I cleaned out the old closet!

#WEverb12 CATCHUP!

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I got really behind on this due to my business trip to Monterey and other life busy-ness.  I want to keep going so I’m going to catch up now!

7. enliven [GROW]:  Was there a book or article that inspired you to make a change in your life this year? What was the source and what did you change?

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig was the best and most challenging book I read this year.  It taught me a lot about philosophy but also went over my head a lot.  As I mentioned here, the book really helped me realize how TERRIBLE I am at staying in the moment.  I’m trying to get better at breathing in the present without fixating on the future, but it’s going to be a lifelong process.  Here are a couple quotes from the book:

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

“The truth knocks on your door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away.”

“When you are no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.

8. respond [LISTEN]: Do you actively listen to your inner voice/conscience? Describe a time this year you heard and responded to it.

I certainly do try to.  Planning a laid back, nontraditional wedding is an example of this.

9. triumph [CREATE]: How were you challenged by a project or goal this year? What did you learn from it?

The editing of La Aventura Project into a documentary is an enormous undertaking.  I learned that maybe I shouldn’t promise to make a documentary and then end up with a million other things to do and no time to edit.

10. lose [HOPE]: Did you have to say goodbye to a person, or even a cherished object, this year? Take a moment to celebrate the memory

I didn’t say goodbye to anyone permanently (I hope!) but I did say goodbye to many people as we traveled, moved, hosted Couchsurfers, etc.  Saying goodbye to the nomadic lifestyle was hard!  It was an amazing year on the road all over America.  But we’ll travel again!

11. spend/save [LIVE]: Are you richer or poorer this year, compared to last year?

Poorer!  But all that money went towards great times and great memories!  I don’t regret it for a second.

Happy New Year from Peru!

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Hey friends!  Happy 2012!  We celebrated in a grand fashion in Huacachina, Perú, by taking a dune buggy/sandboarding tour, camping at a place with a pool, and getting ripped off by outrageous holiday prices everywhere!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Seriously though, the journey is going great despite it’s many challenges.  Reflecting on 2011, Zach and I both decided it was the best year of our lives.  And it’s only going to get better!

I updated my Thirty by 30 today and was happy to cross four things off the list!  That’s pretty good for one year, I’d say!  So here’s a goofy picture of me out on the dunes on NYE.  Yes, I have dreadlocks now; call me crazy if you must.

So long, Arizona

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Do me a favor.  Start here.  Meg’s post about doing things we’re afraid of is so well written and TRUE.

There was a short but bright rainbow in the sky tonight.  A sign of good luck for the start of our journey tomorrow!  It’s been a weekend of goodbyes and wrap-ups.  Packing sucked.  As usual, I found myself with a way-too-big pile of “essential” clothes and a way-too-small suitcase.  Trying to convince myself that I don’t need these, I really don’t need these, I don’t!  Who cares about variety?  The car is packed to the gills with camping supplies, clothes, food, and camera equipment.  But I’m sure we’re still forgetting something.  The rest is in boxes in a closet here.  So of course I’ll come back, because after a year of only what I stuffed in one suitcase, I’m gonna want to see the rest of my clothes again!

It’s been a year.  A seemingly quiet one compared to last year, but I still can’t believe all that’s happened.  I’ve learned how to live with someone in a real, day-to-day, “in this for the long haul” relationship, survived our first real fights, and found myself more in love than ever.  I’ve worked two new jobs and started my own business.  I’ve learned to snowboard, tried rock climbing, hiked long distances, cliff jumped from 50 feet, and climbed my first two mountains.  I’ve been to Mexico for the first time.  Biked many miles, saved many dollars, made new friends, started to integrate into a whole other family.  Tasted western microbrews and Spanish wines.  Shared so many homemade pizzas with couchsurfers from around the world.  What a year.

The next one is going to be even better.  A circular journey that will take us through two continents and back.  The western US, Ohio again, all of South America, and back to Ohio by August 2012.  After that, who knows?  These next six weeks we’ll be living out of the car, couchsurfing, exploring new national parks, and going to Burning Man.  I do have several goals for our time on the road:

1. Study Spanish every day.

2. Hike or run every day.  Work my way up to running a 10k.

3. Dumpster dive.

4. Keep the car clean and organized.

5. Take amazing photographs.

6. Keep up this blog.

7. Eat healthy.

8. Enjoy myself!!!!!

So tomorrow we begin.  First a quick stop in Las Vegas, for Zach to sell some of the scrap copper wire he’s collected at work.  Yes, we really are that poor.  And as Zach said “What great story doesn’t start with driving to Vegas to sell something?”  Lol.  Then to Death Valley NP in California, where apparently the highs can be over 120 degrees this time of  year.  Yikes.  Now it’s time to share a bottle of wine in hopes of being able to sleep tonight.  I’ll catch up with you again from somewhere in California!

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”-Christopher McCandless

How to Treat Your Server Like a Human

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After several years as a waitress, there are some things I just need to say!!!!  If you care about behaving like a decent person when you go out to a restaurant, here  is some advice from one who knows!!!  And for the sake of this post, the personal pronoun “I” really stands for ALL SERVERS you will ever meet in life.

1. Don’t act like I’M inconveniencing YOU when I come to the table!  You’d be amazed at how many times I’ve gotten rude facial expressions or even words, telling me to “Go away, we’re not ready yet”  or something after I’ve given a table plenty of time to decide on their order.  If you want to take your time and aren’t in a rush, just tell me that nicely in the first place.  Otherwise I’m going to assume you came in to actually EAT so don’t get fresh with me for trying to serve you promptly!

2. Realize what’s going on around you, and that I’m not the only one serving you.  I take your order, but the bartender makes the drinks, and the cooks make your food.  Hence, if your drink order is taking awhile, it’s not my fault!!!  Same goes for the food.  If you see me hovering at the bar pleading with the bartender to hurry it up, know that I am doing my best for you!

4. Order preemptively.  If I come by and ask if anyone wants another drink, and you are anywhere close to finishing yours and know you will want another, just order it!  There is nothing more annoying than a large table where one person asks for one more thing each time I bring something to the table.  Get in sync, people!  I should not have to make six consecutive trips just to get you one more round!

3. If you’re going to complain, have a solution in mind.  I hate it when people tell me something is wrong but then reject every offer I make to correct the problem!  First of all, if something is wrong with your dish, stop eating it and tell me ASAP!  “Problems” reported about things you’ve already practically finished will NOT be taken seriously.  Duh.  But, if you don’t want your food remade, don’t want to speak to the manager about a discount, or don’t want a free dessert, why are you even telling me???  You are a complainer for complaining’s sake and I’d rather just not hear about it if you’re not going to let me fix the problem.

4.  Something small but significant:  make it obvious when you’re ready to pay!  Stick the cash or credit card out of the top of the little black book, and stand it up or put it somewhere different on the table.  I HATE it when people just stick their card inside and leave it exactly where I placed it.  That makes me have to guess whether or not there is something in there, and believe it or not I am not psychic.  And there is nothing more awkward then having to go up to a table and ASK if I should take the check.  If you’re not ready, it just makes it seem like I am rushing you, when really I was afraid that I was keeping YOU waiting.  So stick your freakin’ credit card out the top, people!!!

5. Don’t think you can make up for a bad tip by being super nice to me.  This is known as the “verbal tip.”  Honestly, it’s just like an extra-hard slap in the face.  If you’re really nice and complimentary the whole time, then I’m going to expect a good tip.  Not getting one from such nice people makes me lose my faith in humanity.  I can’t take your compliments to the bank.

6. I make $4.35 per hour.  That’s NOTHING.  My checks are like a bonus.  I live on tips.  20% OF YOUR BILL IS THE NORMAL TIP FOR A GOOD SERVER!!!!  (I’m talking to you Euros, you’re in America now.)  So, you should always start with the idea of tipping 20%.  If the service is bad and it is clearly the server’s fault, you can deduct.  If the service is AWESOME, or you feel like being extra generous, feel free to tip over 20%!!!  But you should never tip less than 20% for good service in this day and age.  Also, guess what?  I don’t even get to keep all of those tips you give me.  At the end of the night, I give 10% of my total tips to the bartender, another 10% to the busser, and 5% to the host.  So I only even keep 75% of the tips I make!!!!  Also look at it this way: when you tip me, you’re also tipping everyone else who’s working to serve you!

I’m sure I will think of more of these later so perhaps I will add to this post.  But for now, keep this post in mind next time you go out to eat!  What do you think?  Have you done any of these things I just warned about?  Or are you always an awesome customer and appalled that others are not?

Support Letter for La Aventura Project

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Hi all! This is an easy post, but important. We finally got our fundraising underway for La Aventura Project.  I figured the easiest way to share this is just to copy and paste the same letter I sent out to family and friends detailing what we’re doing and what we need.  Of course you should also click over to the La Aventura Project website (link in the right sidebar) to see the trailer and more.  And please, please ask questions if you have them!  I’m feeling the vibe of a lot of doubts expressed by non-supportive silence by certain people who are close to me.  And it really hurts.  I’ll probably write more about that later, but for now, here’s the letter:

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings!  I hope you all are well!  What is going on in your lives???   Since I’m fairly bad at keeping in touch, I wanted to write to you about what is going on in my life at the moment.  I’ve been living in Williams, Arizona (near the Grand Canyon) for almost one year now with my amazing boyfriend Zachary Minnich.  This is the first time for both of us to live out west and we’re loving it!  The many mountains, creeks, and canyons to hike and explore keep us endlessly entertained and active.  Most of our time is spent working, however.  We both work in Flagstaff, Zach as an electrician and me as a server at a nice restaurant.  We are saving as much money as possible for travel.  We both have the same desire to see the world.

That brings me to our other main activity right now, which is planning a year-long backpacking/filmmaking/volunteering adventure in South America.  On October 27, Zach, our good friend Melissa, and I will be departing from Chicago and flying into Colombia (which I assure you has become very safe and pleasant for tourists recently).  We plan to work our way around the continent in a counterclockwise direction through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Venezuela.  We have budgeted $17 per person per day for an entire year of travel.  In order to live cheaply and really learn the language and culture of these countries, we will be doing lots of volunteering, mostly through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (www.wwooof.org).  We so look forward to building relationships with locals this way, and to learning about and contributing to sustainable agriculture on our planet.  We also will be finding other volunteer opportunities at orphanages and schools along the way, couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing.org), and camping.  To finally put my film degree to use, we will be filming our experience every step of the way, telling our personal stories and searching for everything else worth documenting.  Because it’s hard to predict what will happen on a journey like this, it’s hard to say exactly what our film will be about.  Right now the working title is La Aventura Project and we are focused on telling the personal narrative of our journey and showing how travel and exposure to different cultures affects three 20-something Americans.  I am hoping to tell our story and eventually edit a feature-length documentary to show in film festivals.

And now the part you probably knew was coming and that I hate to write…the request for money.  Although Zach, Melissa, and I have all been working hard and saving, leaving on a year-long trip is quite expensive.  We are each trying to raise $7000  for travel and living expenses, plus cover our loans and US obligations for the year, plus purchase some filmmaking equipment.  Our film equipment alone will be about $6000 once we have everything we need.  We are so, so close to having the money ourselves, but we need just a little bit of help.  We are trying to raise just $5000 to split between the three of us to assist with equipment and travel costs.  We really feel that this project will make the world a better place by enabling cross-cultural learning, challenging and growing ourselves, and telling what is sure to be an awesome story through film.  We believe that world travel is the best education you can get, and that explorers and artists have and continue to change the world for the better.  If you believe this too, and can spare even $1 to help La Aventura Project, we would greatly appreciate it.  We are accepting secure, tax-deductible online donations via indiegogo.com.  Our project link is www.indiegogo.com/LaAventuraProject.  You can get some awesome perks for donating!  Please also visit our website, www.laaventuraproject.com, where you can find our film trailer and blog updates throughout our preparation and travel.  If you know anyone who would be interested in our project, please pass along those links!  And if you have any questions, please reply and ask away!

Thank you all so much!  And for those of you in Ohio, Zach and I will be back in early October and would love to see you before we leave!

Sincerely,

Carrie Hoffman

“What’s the difference between exploring and being lost?  The journey is the destination.”  –Dan Eldon

End of the Dental Drama

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Remember this post, all about how messed up my teeth (supposedly) are?

Well, this week I got all of that sorted out, hurrah!  Thanks to getting back on my dad’s insurance I was able to go see a different dentist.  He was much less pushy/salesman-like.  He basically said that I DON’T need a nightguard because he doesn’t see ANY signs of me wearing my teeth down by grinding, and that getting an electric toothbrush is up to my personal preference.  Take that 2nd opinion, money-grubbing first dentist!!!!  Unfortunately, I did have to get those 3 cavities filled, so I did that yesterday.  But you guys, guess what?  I SURVIVED!!!  It was over an hour in the chair and the 2 novicaine shots were definitely not pleasant but once I was numb I was NUMB, yo.  I actually found it quite amusing how fat and puffy my whole face felt and was able to just focus on how weird it was instead of focusing on them DRILLING my teeth.  Soon enough it was over and you better believe it, I am a lifelong hardcore flosser from  now on!!!!!  Oh, and my dad’s insurance is so much better, I didn’t pay a thing!  Woot!

My face took so long to stop being numb!  I met Zach for lunch and he laughed at my lopsided smile so much.  I looked like a stroke victim.  Also, it is hard to eat sushi when you can’t feel your upper lip.  Thankfully by the time I went to work last night my smile was *almost* normal again.  I think it was still a little droopy but everyone was busy drinking margarita after margarita for Cinco de Mayo that hopefully they didn’t notice.

And hopefully no more cavities ever!!!!

Serving is awesome because…

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I recently started my new job.  I worked two weekends “in training” before getting the go-ahead to give my 2 weeks notice at my receptionist job.  So now I’m in the midst of my last 2 weeks here AND working weekends at my new job.  It’s crazy exhausting but I LOVE my new job and can’t wait to be there full time.  I’m working at Criollo Latin Kitchen as a server.

 

I hate it when people judge me because I’m a college-grad who’s still serving tables.  I got one particularly condescending response from a current co-worker when I told her I was leaving.  Of course she didn’t say it to my face, but to my friend Matt, who in turn told me.  She flat out told him I was “stupid to leave a job with benefits” and should “stay and advance my career.”  Totally sounds like me, right?

So now, I present to you, my list of reasons why I ACTUALLY LOVE restaurant work.

1. Travel is my priority right now.  I don’t want to start a career and get tied down to it.  I don’t want to have a job I will feel particularly bad about leaving if I decide I want to say, go backpack through South America for a year.  Restaurants are used to high employee turnover rates and are usually full of cool people who will encourage my adventures and are often planning their own.  For me right now, work is a means to end to support my travel habit and independent filmmaking, and not much more than that.

2. Tips tips tips.  I can make SO MUCH MORE $$$$ than I can working at a desk job, or even an entry-level film job.  At my old restaurant, Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers, I averaged $20/hr in JUST TIPS on a bad night.  Criollo is going to be even better.  With $30 steaks and $150 bottles of wine on the menu, I’ll hopefully average about $30/hr just tips for dinner shifts.

3. Benefits are not an issue.  Obama’s health care reform included an awesome idea to make parents’ health insurance cover their children until age 26.  So I get to go back on my dad’s health, dental, and vision, and it’s all WAY BETTER than my $3000-deductible insurance from my current job.  Yay Obama-care!!!!!!!

4. Flexible schedule.  I can work different days each week, pick up shifts when I need some extra cash, and request days off whenever I need them.  None of this “you have 10 vacation days a year” nonsense.  If I NEED a few days off, whether I’m getting sick or I’m going to Mexico, I can get a few days off.  I get paid for the days I work and don’t get paid when I don’t. Makes sense to me.

5. No desks!!!!  I HATE sitting at a desk all day!!!  How utterly unhealthy!!!  Of course serving is the exact opposite…you NEVER get to sit down and are running around the restaurant for up to 12 hours a day.  But being active, busy, and up talking to people all day is just so much more fun than sitting at a desk staring at a screen until your eyeballs burn out of your head and you turn into a big fat blob of mashed potatoes.  Ick.  Moving makes the time go faster AND burns more calories.  Hurrah!  Plus, I swear my back hurts more now just from being in the same position all day than any of my muscles ever hurt when I was serving.

6. Learning opportunities.  At Mellow Mushroom I learned all about microbrews and now I can say I really understand and enjoy good beer.  Criolllo is much classier and thus is all about fine wine and liquor.  So now I’m going to get to learn all about that stuff.  And in the interest of “learning” all of Criollo’s servers get to do a mandatory weekly wine tasting.  Hoo-yeah!  Last week we tasted tequilas rather than wine.  Did you know that expensive tequila actually tastes good to sip?  Shocker!

7. Future.  Zach and I definitely have nomadic tendencies.  He now has tons of experience as an electrician and I have tons as a server.  With these skills we can find jobs anywhere.  Criollo is definitely gonna class me up and hopefully after this I’ll be able to find work as a fine-dining server or bartender.  Mucho peso, baby.  Plus, I could see myself being happy as a restaurant manager if it was at a cool place like Criollo.  And Zach and I have been known to dream about “our bar on the beach” in some expat-friendly area of some developing country.  So I AM developing skills for my future.  And that future, hopefully, will never involve a boring desk job again.

What do you think?  Am I extremely naive and shortsighted?  Or can you see where I’m coming from?

TMI about my teeth

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I really want to cry right now.  I just had the worst dentist appointment of my LIFE.  I seriously feel like this is some sort of cruel joke because everything I just got told came out of NOWHERE!!!!

I have a real job with benefits (even though I hate it and am quitting in two weeks).   So yeah, I figured “I’ve got insurance, I’m’a go to the dentist to get my teeth nice and purrdy!”  It’s been exactly a year since I had my post-Peace Corps dental check and x-rays.  Everything was declared “a-ok, lookin’ good” at that time.  And I’ve NEVER had a cavity in my life.  Ever.  So I went to a new dentist in Flagstaff today just expecting a routine cleaning and to ask about a possible retainer for a teeeeeny little overlap two teeth are doing.

Oh boy, was I unprepared for what was coming.  I got x-rays done and then immediately got worried when the dentist looked at them and started telling the hygenist to take notes of all these dental mumbojumbo things.  Dr. Happyface then gleefully translated to me that I have THREE cavities.  The jig is up.  Effffffff.

But that’s just the beginning.  He proceeded to stab all my teeth with the poker thing in order to reveal that I now have sensitivity problems and I need to start brushing with Sensodyne and using flouride mouthwash.  Cha-ching.  I’m sure that stuff’s not twice the price of Crest or anything.

Oh, and the nighttime teethgrinding I’ve been known to do but never had result in any problems?  It’s definitely worn down my teeth and he “highly recommends” a nightguard.  Of course, this costs $400 and my insurance won’t pay for it.  But it will save me bazillions down the road so it’s totally worth it, he assures me.

Oh, that little overlap?  I could maybe get Invisalign but I also have some issues with my molars aligning so I should probably just get braces again.  Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WTF was all that orthodontia I had as a kid worth if everything is coming to this??????

Of course that’s not the end.  The hygenist proceeds to measure my “gum pockets” and of course those are also all effed up also.  I definitely need to start using a Sonicare electric toothbrush to prevent further problems.  “How much are those?”  I ask warily, defeat in my voice.  “Oh, about $120.  But it’s totally worth it.  Most people who switch to them never go back.”  Yeah, buddy, that’s awesome.  I definitely want to cart an electric toothbrush around the world with me on all my life’s adventures.  And she proceeds to give me the same lecture and demonstration about how to floss they give you every freakin’ time that makes you feel like a two year old or like you’re wearing a “World’s Worst Flosser” t-shirt.  Except this time it’s even worse because I can almost read her thoughts as she judges that obviously all the dental debacles I am having are due to my own hygenic negligence.  I want to yell at her “I lived in Africa for a year and came back with no teeth problems whatsoever so all this junk going on now is not my fault!”

Good God, can I just get out of this place?  I was already half an hour late getting back to work.  (I *thought* I could easily fit this appointment into my lunch break, judging based on all my previous easy-peasy dental checkups.)  I was already holding back tears, voice wavering, as I stopped at the front to schedule my fillings.  I told Judgemental Hygenist I had never had fillings before, thankyouvermuch, so could she please explain what all was entailed/could I go to work after/what drugs would they give me (aka PLEASEEEEEE say you’ll give me laughing gas or knock me out or something cause I HATE PAIN!!!!!)?  No dice.  All I got the pleasure of scheduling for next Wednesday was a time to come in to get a novacaine shot in my mouth (probably two because the three cavities are spread on both sides) and then AN HOUR AND HALF of torture.  Omg.  I seriously wanted to cry.  And the kicker?  I asked if my insurance would cover all of this, seeing as it is supposedly medically neccessary , and of course I have a deductible and sliding scale and all that crap.  So what do I get to PAY for an hour and a half of torture?  $150.  Thanks for that final slap in the face, receptionist.  Thanks a billion.

Seriously guys, I’m horrified.  I do not understand at all how I went from having totally fine teeth to having this grab-bag of problems in ONLY ONE YEAR!!!  WTF???  It either makes me think that my Ohio dentist was a total slacker, or that this dentist is a golddigging torturous monster.  (Which does not seem like it should be possible since he is actually really attractive.)  So what should I do???  I’m seriously terrified to get these fillings and I CAN’T AFFORD all this other crap!  My day just went from happy to crappy.

Has anyone who’s had fillings tell me it’s not that bad????  Or is it really that bad??