Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Career Direction

So. I've been unemployed for 4 months now. I search job postings diligently, and there's just not a lot that I'm interested in applying for ($8/hr Kmart part-time cashier, anyone?) I've got mad skillz...the whole gamut of medical administrative experience (billing, insurance, transcription, scheduling, front and back office, database management, composing correspondence, terminology, medical-legal procedures, credentialing, executive meeting management, etc) I've enjoyed the last 8 years that I've worked in the medical field, and don't plan to stray too far from it. As I've struggled in this journey for work, I've been REALLY enjoying the time I've been able to spend at home. It's gotten me more interested in stay-at-home career opportunities. I've had a nagging desire for about 6 years to get certified as a medical coder. I have some coding experience, but not enough to get a job. Through the encouragement of some old coworkers who code, I've decided to go for it. Yesterday I signed up for the Inpatient/Outpatient Coding and Medical Billing course. If I work at it full time, it should take about 4 months. I know I want to finish my bachelor degree, but I've strongly felt that now is not the time for that. It's time to get a career skill that is more professional and portable....and one that will get me earning money faster than a bachelor would. So wish me luck, in a few months I'll have the CPC credentials after my name.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rexburg Redux

After being back from London for only one day, Rosie and I roadtripped up to Rexburg, ID. Rosie was feeling left out because we didn't bring her to London, so I promised her we'd do something fun over fall break. I've wanted to drive up and see my sister Mary at BYU-Idaho since she started last year, and now she's in her last semester. We dropped Taylor off in SLC, drove on the Legacy Parkway for the first time, and headed north on I-15 Wednesday afternoon. I made my two usual stops...gas at the Flying J in Willard, and dinner at Jack in the Box in Pocatello. We arrived in the 'Burg around 8:30 pm.

Mary, Monica, Rosie and I got frozen custard a BRC's

It was fun to share college stories with Rosie. She said she already knows she wants to go to BYUI. She is interested in the nursing program, but let's see what she says in 9 years when it's time to declare a major.

I had fun getting to know Mary's roommates, and as this picture attests...they were very sad to see me leave. We had fun stalking people on an old boyfriend of mine, whose brother is friends with Mary's roommate. Small world.
This was my first time to Rexburg since the temple was dedicated. When driving into town at night, it looks like the temple is floating about of town. It would have been nice to have this available when I was a student, but I do have fun memories of Idaho Falls temple trips with my student ward. My favorite diner from back then is now a hot tub store, and the Retrix dance club is now a home decorating store. There's loads of new married student housing, many more restaurants, a movie theater, and a lot more students. There are several more buildings on campus...and the Manwaring Center just opened a gorgeous new cafeteria. I went to Foundations of Light and Sound with Mary, pretending to be a student (also to have internet access, since it was blocked from Mary's apartment for guests.
We participated in some Walmart hijinks until the store employee reprimanded us

Mary made us some stellar banana Nutella crepes

After class on Friday, we went into Idaho Falls. Weshopped for a few hours at the Grand Teton Mall. I found a new dress, which was much needed at Dillards. Rosie had fun posing in the rides for silly pictures. She got to visit with some cousins while Mary and I met Taylor's cousing Kylie at Craigo's back in Rexburg. We returned to SLC on Saturday morning in time to attend a funeral and a wedding.

25 Random Facts About Me

1. I have an obsession with multi-colored striped socks.

2. I sometimes want to go to a concert so badly that I'll buy the tickets and vow to eat Top Ramen and Mac & Cheese until I've made up the price of the concert.

3. I've always wanted someone to throw me a suprise birthday party....but now that I've said that, I don't want it to be on my upcoming 30th birthday.

4. Since my trip to London, I'm keeping my eye out for anything Black Currant flavored (which is proving hard to find at the regular grocery stores)

5. I've been baby hungry lately. Yep, I've admitted it. Maybe in the next year I'll do something about it.

6. I watch at least one episode on per day because there are no TV stations that work at my house without cable or satellite. Current shows I'm following are Grey's Anatomy, The Biggest Loser, Private Practice, 90210, Glee, The Office, Ugly Betty, and clips from SNL.

7. I need to make appointments with a dermatologist, OB/GYN, dentist, optometrist and endocrinologist before the end of the year (when my amazing copays will likely go up)

8. Today Rosie made me an awesome fresh fruit salad. She seperated the pomegranate, sliced up Fuji apples, bananas and mango. She used all my fruit that I bought at the grocery store yesterday, except for the blueberries. It was refreshing and a fun suprise from my awesome daughter.

9. I've got two concerts coming up that I'm excited about: Mat Kearney this week, and Imogen Heap next month. If you want to go, shows are at In The Venue in SLC, tickets are GA and still available.

10. I usually am not at a loss for words, but I have no idea what to say when I made a statement at the Utah State Correctional facility next month.

11. I got a gym membership this week. I haven't had one since last year in Michigan. I figured that I need to put more effort into getting into shape, since I'm unemployed and have plenty of time to spare. I got a freebie personal training session a few days ago, and have been sore ever since.

12. Speaking of unemployment, I'm really frustrated about the lack of job opportunities in my field in Utah County. I'm going to decide this week how I can come up with $2000 to pay for a course to become certified in hospital coding. I've wanted to do this for years, but didn't have the time while working full time. After all these months at home, I'm liking the idea of having a job that will allow me to work from home (see #5)

13. I've been getting quotes from moving companies this week We are going to ship all of our stuff from our Georgia storage unit out to Utah. Since Taylor recently was displaced from Atlanta to Memphis, his company will reimburse a portion of the moving expenses. So far, quotes are $1800-$3000, depending on which company to use. Yet another big expense we need to figure out how we'll cover.

14. I am currently digging these newly acquired albums:
"I Told You I Was Freaky" by Flight of the Conchords
"Far" by Regina Spektor
"Ocean Eyes" by Owl City
"Brand New Eyes" by Paramore
"Ellipse" by Imogen Heap
"Breakthrough" by Colbie Caillat
(500) Days of Summer Soundrack

15. I'm out of iTunes gift cards. I got a stack of them for last Christmas and recently uncovered them in my black hole purse pocket. Thus all the new music. If you are wondering what is on my Christmas list, you can never go wrong with iTunes credit. Or foreign candy.

16. I made the switch from a Blackberry Curve to an iPhone this week. It's a 2 year old used 2G model, purchased for dirt cheap off a cousin who got the 3GS. I had avoided it for a while, but am quickly becoming a believer. I was sick of my BB giving the "hourglass of doom" several times a day, as well as the horrible camera. That now brings my Apple products total to 4. Someday I'll get my Macbook.

17. I started a new blog...Nicole Rates It. Because my opinion matters.

18. I might join my friend's family's handbell choir. I'm missing musical performance in my life.

19. In-N-Out is opening northern Utah locations. Cafe Rio is opening California locations. As much as I love the food from both places, I'm a little sad that they're expanding out of their regional markets. What will we see next...Waffle House in Spanish Fork?

20. 86 kids from Rosie's school missed school in October due to H1N1. I've been experiencing fever, runny nose, body aches, headache, and cough since I returned from London. I refuse to acknowledge the correlation, but admit that I played hooky from church just in case.

21. I found a bunch of great books at thrift stores this week, including piano music for hits from 1984 and 1989. Can't wait to get my keyboard back and brush up on my Wilson Phillips, NKOTB, Donny Osmond, and Duran Duran.

22. I have three different type of toothpaste in my bathroom, which I use depending on my mood.

23. I keep a suitcase half-packed in my closet, just in case an opportunity to travel comes up with little notice.

24. I'm in the mood to go on a really scary rollercoaster.

25. I narrowly averted a Keane crisis at Whole Foods yesterday. I was showing my Keane mega-fan Esther some of the biscuits I'd eaten in London at Whole Foods, and when she saw the HobNobs, she said "Richard loves those!" I thought she meant the Richard she has a date with next week...but she's like, "you know Richard whatshisface from Keane". We couldn't think of his last name and had panicked expressions on our faces, and the Whole Foods employee asked if there was anything he could help with. I asked him if he knew Richard's last name, and he acted like we were crazy. After a few Google searches on my iPhone, we were reminded that Richard's last name is Hughes. Keane crisis narrowly averted thanks to Google Mobile. And for your viewing enjoyment, this is Esther playing with Richard's ear after the LA Palladium Show last May.We met the Keane band members after the concert....and she saw them again in SLC a few days later.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The In-N-Out Layover

Next time you have a 2+ hour layover at LAX, and want some In-N-Out, this video will show you how to do it. Take the Sepulveda Parking Spot shuttle and you'll be next door to the closest In-N-Out to LAX. From disembarking the plane, catching the shuttle, eating, security, and getting back to your'll take you about 2 hours. Even though I can get In-N-Out all over Southern California, I so want to try this sometime!

Friday, October 23, 2009

London: Coming Home

We packed up our suitcases and checked out of our hotel around 10 am. We spent a little time in the Business Centre checking flight loads again, and coming up with more contingencies. We got a breakfast croissant at the kiosk in the Tube station, made with delicious ham and emmental cheese. We scrounged together the rest of our change to pay for our tube ride to Heathrow. It took about 30 minutes to get to LHR terminal 4. We checked in at the kiosk, went through security, and walked around the airport to pass the time until our flight boarded. We got a few snacks and drinks, and crossed our fingers for seat assignments. We missed out on business class by two passengers, and got seat assignments one row apart. A nice passenger offered to let us sit together (giving up an aisle seat for a about a good samaritan!)

We napped, snacked, read, and watched movies. I watched "Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging," "The Hangover," and "My Life in Ruins." The flight was slightly longer back to the US, approximately 10 hours. We came back through customs, grabbed some dinner, and checked out the flight boards. We were hoping to catch a 9 pm flight to SLC, but we still had about 3 hours till boarding. Taylor went down to Ops to check Deltanet, and it was pretty evident we wouldn't make it on that flight. We looked at alternate flights through DEN, HOU, ABQ, PHX, MEM, OMA, DFW, DTW, CVG and TUS, but all of those cities would require an overnight stay before the connecting flight to SLC. We were exhausted from the day of traveling, and decided to call it a night. Taylor got a $36 crew-rate hotel (with free wifi...hallelujah!)

In the morning, flight loads didn't look any better, and we wanted a to find the most certain option for getting back to SLC...which ended up being San Antonio. Once in SAT, we ate lunch at Las Palapas Mexican Grill in Terminal 1. I've got to put in a plug for this place...very delicious food and insanely inexpensive for airport food. Two full meals with drinks, tax and tip came to $16. We were happy when our names were called for a seat assignment, and even more happy that we had seats in first class. First class in a short flight on a CRJ isn't too swanky, just more opportunities for free drinks and more legroom.

We arrived in SLC in the late afternoon, picked up our car, and headed down to Lehi to pick up Rosie from my parents' house. We shared our trip pictures with them, and got back to SF around 8:00. It was an exhausting 2 days of travel home....but it was totally worth it.

London: Day Three

Saturday was our "touristy" day. We had a lot to see, and only one day to do it in. We grabbed breakfast and lunch from Tesco, and headed for the Tube. We started at Buckingham Palace. We arrived 45 minutes before the Changing of the Guards. After about 10 minutes, the crowds were so unruly that we gave each other a mutual "Are these crowds bugging you as much as they're bugging me?" glance. We decided to walk around the attractions nearby and see how the crowds were as the procession started.People, people everywhere
St. James Park
We listened to a few songs by a military band. The highlight was a orchestral version of "One Moment in Time." The epitome of British culture, let me tell ya!

And now a word from our sponsors...
One of my product placement photos (I've got a few more on Facebook) I thought it was funny that the Dr. Pepper Zero was "sweetened with vegetable extracts." It tasted less sweet than Diet Dr. Pepper. Coca-Cola owns the Dr. Pepper licensing in the UK, thus the "zero" brand name. UK Coke was awesome - sweetened with cane sugar, not HFCS. So was Pineapple Fanta. Lilt was pretty good, but too tart for my taste. I HATED the Diet Coke with Cherry....tasted like rancid cough syrup.

Westminster Abbey

Houses of Parliament (aka Big Ben). I thought it was the most beautiful thing I saw on the whole trip. It sounds to touristy cliche, but it really was ornate and spectacular. The photos just don't do it justice.

Waiting for our boat ride down the River Thames

View from the Thames

The dome shaped building is called "The Gherkin." I also heard others call it the "Towering Innuendo," and the "Crystal Phallus." Definitely one of the more modern buildings in the London skyline.

London Tower Bridge

Taylor in front of St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral was the only paid attraction that we did on the trip. We were tempted by the London Eye and a double-decker bus tour, but I don't think anything we could have done would have been as awesome as St. Paul's. We toured several parts of the cathedral, and then started our trek up to the dome. After 250 steps, you reached the "Whispering Room." 150 steps later was an observation deck with this gorgeous view:

We ascended another 150ish stairs to the observation deck at the top of the dome. I was huffing and puffing, and very tired after all those stairs, but the view was definitely worth it!

Coming down was much easier!

We crossed the Milenneum Bridge to Tate Modern. We looked at exhibits on two floors.

We also saw the replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theater

View from the top of Tate Modern towards St. Paul's

Our legs and feet were aching by this point. The closest tube station happened to be closed, and we couldn't figure out which one to walk to. We ended up walking about 25 minutes to Waterloo station, and I felt like I was going to collapse (Yeah, I'm out of shape. Not used to walking 8+ hours in a day) Our last "must see" stop was Trafalgar Square...and that's where we went.

We got dinner at a pub called Garfunkels. Taylor got fish and chips, I got a chicken and mushroom pie with mash. For dessert, we had bread and butter pudding with warm custard.

We got one last view of the Square, and headed underground to go back to our hotel. We had about 30 pounds in cash left at this point, so we went to Tesco to pick up some sweets and souveniers to bring home. Chocolate digestives, Bird's custard, Smarties, KitKats, Fruit Pastilles, Jammy Dodgers, and Aero bars. I cannot even describe the look on Taylor's face as I kept piling sweets into the basket.
We got back to our hotel, and went into the Business Centre to use the internet (20 minutes per pound) We needed to check flight loads, and come up with backup plans in case our Heathrow to Atlanta flight fell through. In this process, we realized that our flight wasn't going to be free...we'd have to pay the taxes and tariffs to get back into the US. That increased the total price of our entire trip about 30%, but we still completed it all for less than a one-way ticket to London would have been. We are so grateful for the kind friends and family who allowed this trip to happen....and that's where most of this candy went to.

London: Day Two

This is the map to the Underground. If only more cities had a system this organized...

The tube kept us from having to drive around and make sense of all the roundabouts and people driving on the other side of the road. I probably would have killed us if I just drove out onto the road here.These mailboxes remind me of the movie "Help" where they're trying to cut off Ringo's finger...

Friday morning we did a lot of walking around. We were hesitant to use our cell phones ($1.29 per minute, $.50 per text) so we looked for a place that we could get breakfast and wifi. After not finding any other suitable options, we hunkered down at a Starbucks for about an hour. I got in touch with Emma and we made lunch plans. She and David would pick us up from the Croydon station, which was within the 1-6 Travelcard zone. We took the tube back to Victoria Station, and onto the overground train to East Croydon station. Unfortunately, the ticket agent unknowingly sold us a 1-2 zone Travelcard. When we tried to exit the Croydon station, the gate wouldn't release and we had to go to the "unpaid fare" window. The agent said we'd have to pay a twenty pound penalty each, but we talked her into just selling us the fare between Victoria and Croydon.

The first pub we went to was on a friends' reccomendation, but when we arrived they said they didn't have license for children to enter. Since Annabelle was with us, we asked for another suitable local pub. We drove to the Sandrock Pub. I got fish and chips with mushy peas, Taylor got bangers and mash. We had a lovely time visiting, and were sad we had so little time to spend with them.
David, me, and Emma

When they dropped us off at the train station, we totally flubbed on social ettiquite. We uncultured Americans just aren't used to those friendly cheek kisses! We'll get it right next time! We took the train back to Victoria, and spent the afternoon sightseeing.

First we went to the Science Museum. We knew we only had a few hours to spend there, so we focused on the medicine and aviation floors.

Taylor was in airplane heaven!


Assisting the Harrier Jet

This Rolls-Royce engine made me feel tiny (for once in my life)

For the next few hours, we did lots and lots of walking. We walked to Hyde Park, and it started to rain a little bit. We were blessed to have excellent sunny weather for the majority of the trip, but it wouldn't have been a true experience without some rain.

Prince Albert Memorial

Trying my hand at some funky artistic photography
Gardens in Hyde Park

Princess Diana Memorial Fountain
By the time we got the the Serpentine, it was raining pretty heavily. We took turns with the one umbrella we had, and both ended up pretty wet.

Next we walked to Harrods was so posh, which is one of the most fabulous department stores in the world. I felt silly walking around in my sopping wet clothes. We toured the several departments, but especially loved the food halls, It. If I'd wanted to pay 5 pounds per kilogram of eggplant, approximately $15/lb, this would have been the place.

Ah, the sweet confections that I dilligently avoided buying (but I did get a free hazelnut truffle. Yum!)

We walked around for a few minutes, but it was starting to get dark, and we didn't feel like staying out in the rain, so we took the tube back to Hammersmith.

We stopped at the Tesco market in the tube station and picked up sandwich fixings for dinner. We watched Zombieland after dinner, as well as some BBC. We had a pretty exhausting day, and decided to call it a night around 10:30 pm.

Related Posts with Thumbnails