Nerd/Travel Bucket List Update

It has been a while, a LONG while, since my last post and I have to say that I miss writing. My free lance didn’t turn out how I had hoped, but I have been wanting to get back to doing it for myself for a while now. First up, re-visiting my Nerd Bucket List  and my Travel Bucket List. A few years ago I wrote these lists with the determination of trying to accomplish as many things as I could, but had some setbacks with my health right after I wrote both. For the past few years I have tried to get back to accomplishing things on both of these lists and I think it is time to get back to writing about them!

So one of the nerd bucket list items that I have managed to do since writing the list was #6, travel to Oahu and see some of the Lost filming sites. It wasn’t quite the tour I had wanted to take, but it was still satisfying. My aunt and I took the movie tour of the Kualoa Ranch, not just where Lost was filmed but also movies such as Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Godzilla and You, Me and Dupree. Kualoa Ranch is one of the most amazing  places I have been. It sits right off the ocean and the views of the mountains are amazing. On the tour you get to take a bus through the valley and stop at some of the movie locations. There is also a World War II bunker that now houses the submarine from Lost and various pictures/posters from the movies/TV shows that have been filmed in the area. The highlight of the tour was seeing Hurley’s golf course and the pond where the submarine scenes were filmed on Lost. It was such a great trip and it definitely made me love Hawaii even more than I already did!

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Kualoa Ranch pond

#5 on my nerd bucket list, meet more celebrities, is the other list item that I have also kept up on. I have been to San Diego Comic Con and Emerald City Comic Con a few times in the past five years and have managed to meet some more people from my favorite movies and TV shows. Some highlights have been meeting Karl Urban, Stephen Amell and some of my favorite S.H.I.E.L.D agents, Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge and Ming Na Wen. In June, my best friends and I are traveled to Philadelphia to Wizard World Comic Con to see some of the cast of The Avengers.  I still can’t even believe that my best friend and I got to stand next to Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans!  When we were talking about going, I felt like it was a crazy decision to go all that way to talk to them for probably ten seconds, but then I thought that life is short and this is what we want to do. So we canceled everything we had booked in Seattle for ECCC and booked everything in Philadelphia in a matter of days! It turned out to be an amazing trip! We spent a day and a half exploring the city, then another day at the con. Yes, it was only about 30 seconds standing with the Chris'(which I was too nervous to even look at them!), but I had the best time with my best friends in an amazing city.

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City Hall, one of the coolest buildings in Philadelphia.

For my travel bucket list, since 2012 I have been to Oahu, took a road trip to Vancouver BC, been on two more California/SDCC trips, had a 30th birthday celebration in Vegas, explored parts of Colorado with my other best friend, went on an adventure to Lake Havasu, AZ with my mom complete with side trips to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam and this year I made it to the northeast, not only to Philadelphia, but split a week between Cape Cod and New York. I am hoping that in the near future will be a trip to D.C. and I never stop dreaming about New Zealand and Europe! Hopefully when my finances get a little better, that dream will become a reality.

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Staying at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, has been a highlight of my travels.

So that is what I have been doing since my last post and I am okay with it. Life does not always go the way you expect it to, but I believe that it is better to make the most out of it. I am definitely grateful to be able to do the things I enjoy most and spend time with the people that I care about. Traveling has been what makes me happy so here is to more exploring the world and to more writing about it!

My Nerd Bucket List

Thanks to some inspiration from my friend Mindy, I decided to follow in her foot steps and do my own nerd bucket list. I feel pretty lucky to have been able to do the things I have done already and I look forward to completing my goals. 

My accomplishments so far:

My big bag from Comic-Con

Attend the San Diego Comic-Con: I had been wanting to do this for a while and I finally got to go. I went with my friends, Mindy, Dan, Addie and Anna, last year and it was the most fun, but frustrating thing I have ever done. The lines were long, the waiting was sometimes unbearable, but I saw some of the coolest stuff and met the coolest people. It was nice to be in my element and be able to geek out in public. If you are passionate about comics, movies, tv, art, then this is something that you need to do at least once in your lifetime. You can find my recap of my adventure here. I am hoping to make another trip in 2012.

A good moment

Meet a celebrity: So this is probably something everybody wants to do, but when it actually happens you can’t believe it. When I went to Comic-Con I wanted to meet at least one person that I could go home and brag about. I ended up meeting a lot of people, some on purpose and some we just ran into.

I saw Thomas Jane (The Punisher) on the street, got an autograph for my parents from Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek), got an autographed poster from the Vampire Diaries cast including Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev, got a picture with Jerry O’Connell at a fan party for Entertainment Weekly and got a Serenity comic signed by Nathan Fillion. If that wasn’t enough I recently attended the Emerald City Comic-Com and got to meet John Noble (Walter from Fringe) and Jasika Nicole (Astrid from Fringe). All of this was accomplished just by going to a couple of comic-cons!

My signed EW issue by Doc Jensen and Michael Ausiello

Talk LOST with fellow fanatic and my favorite Entertainment Weekly writer Jeff “Doc” Jensen: I got to attend an Entertainment Weekly fan party in San Diego and I got to talk to Jeff Jensen. I had been reading his recaps on Lost for years (you can find one of his articles here) and it was exciting telling him how much I loved his writing. He even signed my copy of the Lost finale issue of Entertainment Weekly. A bonus was meeting fellow EW writer Michael Ausiello. He signed my issue too!

Charlaine Harris and I

  

Attend a book signing of a favorite author: The Southern Vampire Mysteries is one of my favorites series and I jumped at the chance last year to attend Charlaine Harris’ book signing for Dead in the Family, her tenth Sookie Stackhouse book, here in Portland. She seemed like such a sweet lady and has the best southern accent. It was fun to listen to her and she was pretty hilarious too. When asked if she would sleep with a vampire or a werewolf her reply was “depends on if you like it hot or cold.”

My elven star inspiration. Mine is in color.

Get a nerd tattoo: True nerds have at least one “nerd tattoo”. I chose something from Lord of the Rings for mine, with the intention of getting this flower I saw on the Return of the King dvd box. After looking around on the internet at various Tolkien sites though I found something I liked better. So when I turned 21 I went and got my elven star tattoo.

Start a book club: I have been wanting to do this for a long time and it finally happened. Mindy helped me get it running and now we have been doing our movie adaptation book club for over a year. I have to say I am pretty proud of us for sticking with it. It is one of my favorite things to do each month.

Things to do:

A Lord of the Rings New Zealand map

1. Travel to New Zealand and walk the road to Mordor: Okay so you can’t really walk the road to Mordor, but you can still go see the amazing scenery from the movie. I have already found a tour, I just need the cash. It might take me a while to save it up, but I refuse to give up on this adventure.

Hogwarts. I could see it, but couldn't go in

2. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ever since they announced this theme park it has been on my must see list. I went to Orlando last May, but the park had a delay and opened up two weeks after I left. It was one of the main reasons why I was going and it wasn’t ready! The worst part was we could see Hogsmeade and  Hogwarts castle while we walked around the park. The first thing I would want to do is get some Bertie Botts from Honey Duke’s and try a butter beer at the Leaky Cauldron.

Dream costume

3. Dress up for a Comic-Con: I have been to two cons and I have yet to do a cool costume. I dressed as Sookie Stackhouse in San Diego, but I would like go bigger. I would like to do a custom-made Batwoman costume that is the actual Batwoman and not the lame Batgirl one.

4. Write an article for Entertainment Weekly: Writing for Entertainment Weekly is actually my dream job, but to write at least one thing for them would be amazing.

5. Meet more celebrities (and actually talk to Nathan Fillion next time): Celebrities on my wish list are True Blood cast, JK Rowling, JJ Abrams, Steve Carell and Nathan Fillion is a must again because the first time meeting was too quick and I would like for actual dialog to happen!

6. Take a LOST tour in Oahu: I almost did this when I was in Maui last November, but it was too much money because of the plane ride. Next time I go back to Hawaii I intend to stay in Oahu so I can take the Lost tour. There are plenty to choose from too.

7. Attend the JRR Tolkien birthday party at McMenamins: Unfortunately I have to wait until next year to do this because it is in January. They do it every year where they have music and food inspired by Middle Earth. People dress up in costume and then all three Lord of the Rings movies are shown in the theater.

Here are a few non nerdy things I want to accomplish:

1. Own a house

2. Own a vacation home. In reality, a place on the Oregon Coast. In my dreams, Maui or Las Vegas.

3. Own a classic mustang or dodge challenger.

4. Get motorcycle endorsement.

5. Become an entertainment writer.

6. Spend a New Year’s Eve in New York and see a play on Broadway.

7. Take a food road trip through the South. I have most of this planned and want to start in Texas and drive to the east coast, eating at as many BBQ places as I possibly can. Better pack some TUMS!

8. Take a European history tour like this.

9. Go on a safari in Africa.

10. Take a ride on at least one scary roller coaster (like the Hulk at Universal Studios). This is no joke, I have a fear!

11. Finish all my scrapbooks and keep them updated

12. Go to Oktoberfest in Munich

13. Do things in Oregon that I haven’t done yet including travel on the Mount Hood Railroad, go to the Sea Lion Caves, take a Columbia Gorge wine tour, visit the Oregon Historical Society.

14. Take a dance class, preferably ballroom.

This is definitely just a start and I hope to add more to this list as time goes by. Hopefully I can cross off at least one item from my nerd bucket list and my regular bucket list this year.

Looking back on 2010/Looking forward to 2011

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011

Happy New Year! It is already that time where we think about what happened in the past year and look ahead to things that we want to happen in the new year.  2011 has already started off as a deja vu and it has made me realize there are some things I would like to change.

Looking back on 2010:

2010 was definitely an up and down year. It started off with my personal life taking a tumble and having to adjust to living alone again. I think I am still adjusting to it and it is hard to go back to something that you have a hard time with. I got back on my feet and decided that I wanted to go back to school to get a degree in Communication. As I have always said I want to be an entertainment writer and I have spent the last ten months trying to figure out how. I decided on school again because I wanted to get better at being a writer and learn the fundamentals of communication. To help with my career journey I joined Examiner.com as the Portland TV Examiner just to get my name out there and add a little experience to any resumes. By September I had been asked to join another website called TV Geek Army to recap and do news pieces on TV shows that interested me. So far it has been a fun experience and hopefully it will somehow help me down the road.  

Standing outside of Epcot

My ups of 2010 definitely were my travels. In May I spent a week in Florida with some family and friends and it was one of the best trips that I have taken. We spent most of our time at Disney World with a side trip to Cocoa Beach. I saw some amazing things and had the best time; Disney World was just an experience by itself! You definitely need to spend a week there to enjoy it all. My only disappointment from the trip was not being able to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We arrived about a couple of weeks too early! It is on my must see list and a future trip is in the back of my mind.

My favorite Comic-Con moment

 In July a couple of friends and I attened the San Diego Comic-Con. I had always wanted to do this so I was able to talk my fellow geeks into going. We bought our tickets in October of 2009 and waited a long nine months for the event. Comic-Con was probably the coolest thing that I have done in my life. We got to meet celebrities and attended panels for anticipated movies. My favorite moments were meeting Nathan Fillion and getting to go to the Entertainment Weekly party where I got to meet my favorite writers. I think this is one trip where I  hardly had any bad moments and all the people I met were really nice.  There is nothing quite like a visit to Comic-Con and always be glad I got to attend. It was a chance for the geek in me to be fully let loose! I do want to go again, but would be satisfied with just the one experience.

I ended my travels with a trip to Maui with my father and stepmother. They had invited me to go earlier in the year and who could say no to Hawaii? We had an amazing time and so far I have not seen a place as beautiful as Maui. We got to see the sunrise at almost 10,000 feet, swam with a turtle and experienced some of the best food that I have ever had. I think Hawaii will always be on my “must go back” list.

My downer of the year was losing my stepfather in August. This was the first personal death that I have experienced in my life and it was very hard on the family because it was unexpected. I have lost grandfathers, aunts and uncles, but nothing compares to losing a parent. As of now it is still a fresh wound and it is hard not to think about it every day. For me it was a wake up call and it made me realize that nothing is certain in life and it is not something we should take advantage of. It helped me realize that one of my goals in life is to experience as much as possible.

Looking forward to 2011:

For the last couple of days I have been thinking about the changes that I would like to make in my life. I haven’t really been myself for the last couple of months and I would like to get back to being me. I think the stress of  trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, finances and personal loss have taken a toll on me mentally.

My first step has been to take winter term off from my communication studies and figure out what I really want to do. School is stressful and expensive and I want to figure out if it will be worth it in the long run.  It was a last-minute decision where I dropped my classes a day before they were suppose to start, but I think a little less stress will make me feel better. I will probably go back in the spring time, but at least have the next three months to figure some stuff out.

My next goal is to see how I can lower my expenses and get to the financial position that I would like to be in.  Last years moving and travel expenses left me with less than I wanted, so my goal is to get back to a good financial position. So far, this is what I have to improve things. I think day by day my list  will be longer, but don’t want to start out with too much on my plate.

Another Disney trip in the works

One thing that I am looking forward to this year is a family vacation to Disneyland in June. My nephews are very excited to go to Mickey Mouse’s house and it is going to be fun to go with the whole family. Yes I know I go to Disneyland way too much, but it is my favorite place to go. It will be even more fun experiencing it with some family members who have never been before.

 I don’t really have anything else planned right now, but it is still early in the year! There are places I would like to go, but I think I am going to wait until 2012 so I can save up for the things I have always wanted to do like an out of the country experience.

I am hoping that 2011 will be better than 2010. It can’t promise me anything, but the least I can do is to be hopeful about it.

Back to School

I did it, I survived my first week of class. This term I am taking just two classes, but this time I wasn’t lucky enough to get online ones. I actually have to go to campus…. the horror! It actually isn’t going to be as bad as I thought it would be. I just need to discipline myself into going to bed on time because in order to be able to go to class I have to be at work by 7 and it sucks!

I have an intro to communication class and a family communication class to keep me busy for the next two months. Both are interesting and I find that I learn better in a face-to-face class, although the online classes suit my schedule better. My fam comm professor is hilarious and I don’t think I have enjoyed a first day of class more than I did in his.

Of course I have already my moment of self-doubt this week. I got to talking to someone in my group and he asked me the questions of what my major is and what I am going to do with it. I explained to him that I was doing some post-bacc work for a degree in communication and that I already had a BA in history. Then he asks me what I am going to do with my communication degree if I already have a degree in history. Good question. I think I tried to sound more convincing to myself than him when I tried to explain that I wanted to go into journalism and both degrees would hopefully help me. It’s hard to explain to people. I have gotten those kind of questions a lot lately and it has made me wonder the answer. I feel like I am not going to get where I want to be someday, but I do feel that school gives me the hope that I will. I know what I want to do, I want to be an entertainment writer, but its the question of how do I get there that lingers. Overall it won’t take me very long to get this degree and I am not worried about the length because I have a job and I want to hit my five-year mark at it (which is June 2011). I think it will be a good term and I am hoping it won’t be too stressful.

I am still working on my Examiner page and just the other day I received an email from someone asking me to come write for their TV recap site. The site is TV Geek Army and I decided to take it on. It doesn’t pay like the Examiner, but I want to put my name out there. You’ve got to start somewhere right? I am only going to be doing the Dancing with the Stars and the Office recaps for now since I have lots of other stuff on my plate so look for my articles on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Other than school the only October happenings is a trip down to Prineville and an eventful Halloween weekend. I am looking forward to some parties, but can’t decide on a costume. I was going to re-use my Sookie outfit, complete with fang marks this time, but after a trip to Spirit Halloween last night it is hard to decide. There were too many cool costumes to choose from. We shall see!

Trying to get back in the saddle….

I know, its been a while. August has been a crappy month and I am trying to get my mojo back. It has been hard though, I definitely have a case of writer’s block, both here and on my Examiner page. There was an unfortunate death in my family this past month and it has been a little hard to go back to normal. It definitely has had me thinking about how anything can happen and we shouldn’t take life for granted. It has also made me think about what I want out of life and where I would like to end up. I am trying not to let things get to me as much and am trying to get the people that have done me wrong out of my head. This has been difficult to do, but I have come to realize that in the end I am the better person and I hope I wouldn’t treat people the way I have been treated. I am definitely not perfect and even though I wouldn’t admit it right away, I know that there are times where I have been wrong or acted stupid. I am grateful for the friends I do have and how much they have helped me during this difficult time in life.

Besides August, the summer was pretty good. I had two amazing vacations, Florida and Comic-Con. Both were places I had never been and I had a great time. I would definitely go back to both. Other than those trips, I didn’t do much these past few months, just been trying to enjoy my time off before I start school again. I have Maui to look forward to in November and as always I love the holidays. Halloween activities look promising, school starts again at the end of September and college football is starting this weekend so I have more than enough to keep me busy during the winter.

I definitely would like to keep my writing up though. Lost was my passion to write about and now that it is over, I need something new. Updates are nice, but I want to branch out. I need some ideas! So far one of my ideas is to write like a book report for each month, ie. what I read throughout the month and my thoughts. I like doing the TV recaps/thoughts, but need to find a new show/s. So I need some feedback from my readers. Is there anything you would like to read about? Are my ideas something you would want to read? Is there a show or shows that I should tackle? Please, give me some thoughts! I always appreciate them and always appreciate my blogs even being read!

My Career Outlook

Right now I am on a break from getting my Communcations degree and it is giving me time to think about where I want to go after I am done. I will probably be done by next summer so it is not too bad of a timeline. I have a good job, pays well and has nice benefits. It is really nice having a good job and  I shouldn’t complain, but its just that I feel as if I am not doing what I am capable of. I have been looking around on websites for journalism jobs, but I feel that I am not ready and most of what I find needs to have more experience.

I have been trying to keep up with my free lancing for the Examiner. It has been my favorite thing to do and I am glad that I took on the job. It has been a little hard when I get judged for writing about television, some people think it is nerdy or I watch too much tv, but it is what I like to do. I think I would be good at writing news reports, but I want to write about the things I am interested in. Lately though I have had a little bit of writer’s block. I have been trying to tap into my creative side and come up with stories, but sometimes I feel like they aren’t going to be good and just toss them aside. I guess I need to have more confidence. Afterall, it is my page and I am in charge of it. But then again people need to like it in order to come back. I am hoping this little side job pays off later and give me the experience boost that I will need later.

My dream job

For now I am going to finish school for good and see where things go from there. Hopefully the job market will be better when I am done. Entertainment Weekly would be the ultimate outcome, but I might have to keep dreaming. I just hope that one day all of my hardwork will pay off and I will be doing what I want to do. I am not as good as keeping up with the blogs as much as my friend Tiny Heroes is, but I am going to try.

New path continued…

So far my new start has been pretty interesting. I don’t think I have ever been this busy in a long time. I have two classes at PSU, work full-time, I try to write three articles a week for the Examiner, I am actively looking for a house to rent, I am helping my family and I keep up with my book club. I think I keep myself so busy because it keeps my mind away from things I don’t like to think about. But I do feel like that even though I am doing so much, I am still having a hard time filling the void that I feel I still have. It is hard to let go of things that you were so comfortable with and you were a part of for so long. I am really trying to be more open and honest about things because too many relationships of mine have failed because of it. I know the problems weren’t all my fault, but I some of it was. I am having such a hard time understanding and I wish I didn’t. I have been pretty proud of myself taking on new things. I am really enjoying writing and I love book club. It is nice to be involved in things that I am passionate about.

Besides my current interests, I am trying my hardest to focus more on my future. I started school last week and now it makes me realize why I wanted to get done in the first place. It is so stressful! I have been doing good keeping up, it is just hard going back to giving up my extra time to do homework. I tell myself I am doing this to better myself and have the career I want, but sometimes I feel those aren’t the reasons. In all honesty, I would love to be a travel writer. Dreams are different from reality though. I am hoping I can finish my communication degree in a year and look for a job in journalism. I think when I get closer I will think more about whether I want to work in newspaper or magazine journalism. Even though I feel that I am capable of more than what my job now entails, I need to stay put. This isn’t really an economy to look for a job right now and my retirement fund will grow more if I stay. It is hard to choose between what you want to do and what is best.  

I am going to keep my chin up though and just focus on the important things. I am hoping I can get past all of the negative things that have happened lately. I think looking towards the future will help me. I am moving forward towards the career I want, I have a niece and nephew coming soon and some great vacations to look forward to. It is definitely going to be a busy year.