Job Interview and Tips for Booking a Room

Well! Today was a pretty big day. I got my first call back for a job interview this time around. I hate getting calls from numbers that I don’t recognize. Usually it is someone who wants to “Let me know about an offer I can’t refuse” or ask me to vote for their favorite candidate. So naturally, I was hesitant to answer this phone call from a 614 number. I have never seen a 614 area code before. But I answered (as I always do for numbers I don’t know) with my impatient “hellooo?” Some middle aged guy asked if this was Melinda Morris- usually a sure sign that it is an unwelcome call. However, I (smartly) remembered that I apply for jobs under my legal name. So I told him that I was she. Good move, Min! He was calling to see if I was interested in setting up an interview for tomorrow. Luckily, my schedule is pretty wide open- so I squeezed him in. I’ll let you know tomorrow how that works out.

On another exciting note… I also started working my way through the stack of  photography books I got from the library yesterday. I spent my entire morning reading the book Exposure by Chris Weston. Around one o’clock I took a break from my reading and ventured into the back yard to test out my new knowledge. Well, my experimenting was cut short by the quickly multiplying bugs appearing on my arms and legs. Interesting- now I have a clue as to why my little dog is always so itchy. Imagine the bug-infested grass being almost as tall as you!

I had better luck this evening from the safety of my porch. Since I didn’t much care for the whole “backyard experience” I practiced with the props I had available. The result??? Pictures of the sun setting through my wine glass. That’s not a clever way of saying “the sunset through my eyes.” I mean I was actually taking sunset pictures through a wine glass.

Sunset, wine glassSunset, Wine glasses

Last bit of excitement for today: I had a great hotel-room-booking experience. Kevin and I are taking my mom and dad to Vegas this weekend so  they can see the Beatles LOVE (which Kevin took me to see for my birthday this year). It’s pretty much the greatest show ever. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Beatles fan. It’s actually a part of the “Kevin and Mindy Fall in Love” story. The first night that I was in Chicago, he and his roommate took me to O’Callaghan’s and I just so happened to discover the jukebox. Well, would you believe that there was not a single Beatles song listed??? Kevin said he knew he wanted to date me when I came up with the alternative plan to see if they had the  Across the Universe Soundtrack. At the time I didn’t realize that he is as big a Beatles fan as I am. So that is part of that story.

Okay, back to booking the room… I did several searches and the best prices I found were through http://www.getaroom.com. Now, here is a little secret I have learned over time. Yes, the internet has great deals and you can compare lots of rates-BUT- you can almost always get a better deal than what is listed by calling them!!! Take that little nugget as my travel lesson/tip for today.

So, knowing what I know, I called GetARoom (love that name!) and the woman told me that the rate for that hotel room was exactly what I had displayed on the computer screen in front of me. Now, take note… (here is the real tip) ALL I said was “Okay, before I book it, I was just wondering if you had any kind of unlisted rates for that room.” That was it. No sweet talk, no convincing. Just say the magic words “unlisted rates” and you will most likely hear a response that goes something like this: “Well, yes, Miss Morris (or insert your name here). I can get you the same room for $174 per night.” The originally listed price “discount price” was $200. Since we are staying for three nights, that was an immediate $77 savings. I wonder how quickly we could lose that in Vegas? 🙂

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Conquering the Dewey Decimal System

I received an email earlier this week that the Books-A-Million around the corner from the library was closing. This throws a real kink in my style. See, bookstores have GREAT displays. As soon as you walk in to a bookstore you see tables of books propped up to display their covers (and I’ll be honest, I totally judge books by their covers). They often have categorized displays that call to certain demographics: “Summer Reads”, “Classics”, “NYTimes Best Sellers”. Lately I have been most intrigued by the new display: “The Romantic Undead/Vampire Thrillers.” Honestly… were all of these vampire books around before Twilight or did every aspiring author just jump on the bandwagon after the seemingly unlikely success of that series??? I never saw vampire books before that! Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right places  – but I am certain that there were never “undead” displays in the bookstore. That would have caught my attention. Partly because I wouldn’t have understood it. Undead… as in Alive?? But I digress….

 

My point is that bookstores make it easy to scan the displays and locate great books. Libraries on the other hand, have ZERO displays. Or at least the Palm Harbor Library has zero displays. But I do not let this get me down! I simply go to Books-A-Million, pull out my little notebook, and make a list (shocking, I know) of all the titles I want to check out from the library. Then I promptly drive around the corner to the library and get them all for free! Brilliant. I know. EXCEPT… that now all the bookstores are closing. First Borders went, now my Books-A-Million is going. I can’t imagine that other people might also have used my brilliant plan, and that it has lead to the closing of all the book stores! No, I rarely see people reading library books, so I blame the Kindle.

 

Oh well, you deal with the cards you are given. So I joined the other book vultures today in the advertised 40% off closing sale. I spent a good hour scouring the photography and painting book sections. I had amassed quite the stack by the time I made it up to the register, but when I got there I was very dismayed to have the cashier tell me that only “non-book” merchandise was 40% off. Well! This was not clear from the advertisement. “Non-book merchandise?? You are a book store!” I informed him- as if he didn’t already know. So alas, I left my stack of carefully picked books at the register, drove around the corner, and went to the library.

 

The bright side of this sad story is that I usually only go to the library for novels and biographies. I don’t really care for that whole Dewey decimal system, so I generally stick to the alphabetized sections of the library. Well, today, after my Books-A-Million disappointment, I discovered the 770’s… Mindy Heaven! I checked out a whole stack of books on acrylic painting and photography. Books, Palm Harbor Library

While I was perusing the decimal-ed books, I stumbled across lots of titles that I have never seen displayed at a bookstore. Here are a couple of the titles that made me take note:

  • The Idiot’s Guide to Holiday Crafting… now I am as big a fan of crafting as anyone- and I love holidays- so I am not totally knocking this concept… A book called Holiday Crafting Ideas would not have gotten the same response from me, in fact, I might have flipped through it. But really? An Idiot’s guide?? How much of an idiot would you have to be to need step-by-step instructions on the art of pinning seqins to a syrofoam cone?
  • The Great Pantyhose Crafts Book. Because who has never wanted a life-like looking Mr. Potato Head to put on their bedside table… right?
  • The Art of Painting Animals on Rocks. Okay…so this one I did actually look at. I just couldn’t understand why they would have a whole book about painting animals sitting on rocks. I mean maybe a special chapter dedicated to animals perched on rocks in a book centered on painting animals. But… I didn’t see any books about painting animals on couches, or on logs, or in their nests, so I had to wonder… What is so special about an animal on a rock? Maybe I’m the idiot in this case. The book was about painting on rocks. With pictures of animals. So you end up with a rock that you have painted to look like an animal. Okay no. I take it back. I am not the idiot. But if you are interested in the newest version of a “pet” rock, (geez, I am funny!) Wellford is the author. And in case you want a Sydney rock, you can get more specific than just the “animal rock” book, check out  its sequel The Art of Painting Pets on Rocks. I’m not kidding. 

My Guide to Athens

I sat down to write this evening and I was thrilled because words just seemed to pour out of me. Unfortunately (perhaps because I am new to blogging) none of these words were “Third Blog Post-ish.” Now I have several life observations and memories recorded, which I may use later,  but as far as today’s post goes- I am still sitting pretty in square one.

 

So I took a break. Then I decided to make a list. This is a very Mindy-like thing to do.

 

First on the list was recording past trips. Since I know I have a following of about three… Hi Mom, Beth and Kevin! I thought- why not get started with a trip that one of you was actually on!

 

But don’t worry I have plenty of other trips to write about. This means that a lot of my entries will be retroactive. Luckily, I keep a travel journal on every trip I go on (Surprising isn’t it?? I came up with yet another category of journals!!)

 

So here is my story of gallivanting around Athens.

Mindy and Kevin in Athens

I’ll start by saying that we didn’t even know we would to make it to Athens. We decided on Monday that our best shot at getting out of the country would be to fly to NYC on Tuesday, August 2 and keep our fingers crossed that we would make the one (and only) flight from JFK to Athens on either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, so we could try to catch our Friday morning flight from Athens to Corfu for the wedding. Well, as luck would have it, we made our flight on Tuesday- meaning we had 3 glorious days in Athens. Since the taxi’s were on strike and the country is in just a *little* bit of a financial crisis, we got to have quite the adventure.

Greece, Cafe

I will admit it… On our first day, I found Athens a little bit limited as far as any real “beauty” went.  But every once in a while we would stumble across a side street or outdoor cafe that was quintessential Europe. Moped, Greece, Athens

Antique Bottles, Coca Cola,

Greek CookiesPlus, Greece as a grown-up is better than the grocery store as a 5 year old. When you order a cup of coffee, they bring you free cookies. Every Time. Without Fail. Learn from that, America!

Acropolis, Greece, Athens

Greece, Parthenon, Acropolis

Parthenon, Greece,

Acropolis, Greece

Parethenon

Parthenon

Parthenon

By the second day, I had warmed up to Athens. I have decided the key is to move. If you stay in the same place for too long, you are absolutely certain to have beggars demand cigarettes. And be warned, they will not take no for an answer. They will just stand there staring until you get so uncomfortable that you decide to leave.

 

Here is another tip. If you decide to take the Sunshine Express train to the top of the acropolis, but it is not leaving for about 20 minutes- you should stop at a cute little cafe and order frappes. However, if you see a little train full of people pass you: drink up and run (don’t walk) after it. That is your train. They decided not to wait 20 minutes and you have probably missed it.  IF you do manage to chase down the train (as we did) and you hitch a ride to the top of the hill, bring your student ID for a discount. They won’t give it to you on the “honor system”-  I tried that. We also can’t tell you where to catch the train to take it back. They told us they would pick us up where they dropped us off (trains run every 20 minutes) but we waited there for an hour and they did not come back for us.

 

A few other notes:

  • Syntagma Square is the place to go if you want to find restaurants, go shopping or feel safe.
  • Do not be tricked. A “dirty martini” has orange juice in it. If you want a real one, I was told to order it “James Bond” style. Well, saying “James Bond Style” sounds cooler in writing than it does when you try to explain it to a different bartender who just looks at you like you are a stupid American. (Which you really do sound like by referring to James Bond when you are ordering anything.)
  • Gazi is adorable! Rooftop bars and restaurants everywhere and cute white cabanas lined up along the streets. Definitely worth a visit. Also probably much easier to get around when the taxis are not on strike.

A Very Good Place to Start

This is my first attempt at a blog. Originally my concept was just to have a photography blog. I  was looking for a way to share my favorite photos and watch myself grow as a photographer. But the more  I thought about what I wanted to write, the more my focus expanded. Sure, I love to take pictures, but I also love to travel, paint, write and create. These are interests that have driven my life. They have shaped who I am and inspired who I want to become.

I’ve kept a journal since I was in 7th grade, but back then I kept one journal- like any normal person would. Now, I keep three. I’m not kidding. Every night I write one thing I have to be thankful for in my “gratitude journal,” then I record prayers and praises in my “prayer journal” and I have a “Real Journal” for everything else.

I also have a book journal so that I can remember what I have read. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to the library, scanned the shelves and checked out books that look very interesting only to get home and start reading and realize that I already know how the book is going to end. Because all of a sudden it hits me, “I have read this book before!” I’m not old enough to have a good excuse for this, so I keep a book journal. I rate the book and summarizing the plot lines ad this helps cement them in my memory. It’s also nice when someone asks if I have read something because I can quickly look back and tell them what I thought. “Oh ya, that book?? I gave it 3.5 stars...” Who doesn’t wish they had friends that actually talked like that?

In addition to updating journals, I am constantly on the lookout for things that inspire me. I keep a huge binder of clippings of things I want make, bake, create, etc.  I take all these ideas and file them away by category in a binder full of plastic sleeves. Once they start filling up I take my very favorite clippings and add them to a bound book for future inspiration. Whenever I am painting or working on a project and I get stuck, I can just flip through my “Inspiration Book” and the creative juices start flowing  (okay, maybe not always a steady flow, but at least it gets the creative drips dripping).

So, I decided that this blog won’t just be about the photos that I take. (Although there will be plenty of those!) It’s also going to be about the trips that I take, the projects that I make and the paintings that I paint. All the while, there will be plenty of writing– as I am sure that I will be doing lots of wondering as I wander my way through wonderland.

A blog about life being pretty magical