I got back from Scottsdale last night. Two weeks worth of training. It was a wonderful experience, but oh, I am so glad to be home. Flying over Ft Lauderdale Airport, looking down and seeing the place I now recognize as my home … yep, it feels so good to be back in familiar territory.

My trip to Arizona had loads of firsts. Among them was my first time seeing a real live cactus, the first time traveling for work, and also the first time traveling with a group who were not my family. One thing I leaned about traveling in a group is that there are times when you have to go with the flow and be accommodating towards others (meh, so overrated). If you don’t want to come across as a total A-hole, you have to take an interest in what others want to do and be open and willing to take part. For this reason, I didn’t always have the time or the ability to do everything that I had hoped … but I didn’t do too bad either. Below is a rundown of my Scottsdale adventures:

I went to Sprinkles cupcakes where I encountered the coolest invention ever: the cupcake ATM, and I ate the most delicious cupcake of my life so far. It was their famous strawberry flavor. Superb! These cupcakes aren’t just cute, they are certifiably awesome.

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I walked around Fashion Square, a high end shopping mall. It was very pleasant, but the stores aren’t anything unique. Pretty much every store can be found in my own neck of the woods.  That’s not to say you can’t buy a ton of lovely stuff though. I also enjoyed browsing around Kierland Commons.  I did happen to drop a hefty portion of my per diem allotment on the most beautiful black dress from Anthropologie while I was there. That money is supposed to be for food … but things happen (and as you will see, I did not starve). If you need a little retail therapy, these places are great, but they are nothing you probably wouldn’t find in your own area.

I had some incredibly delicious chicken tacos at a place I didn’t expect to like at all: Restaurant Mexico. It was kind of a dated looking hole-in-the-wall sort of place, but I went along with my coworkers out of a sense of duty. I’m glad I did. The tacos weren’t much to look at, but they were so good and so fresh. I never had homemade taco shells before. They were still hot from the fryer. Tacos will never be the same.

I went on an art walk. Apparently Scottsdale is where the art walk was invented. What is an art walk? It’s when a collective of art galleries stay open late, open their doors, and sometimes dish out free nibbles. If you are intimidated by the arty farty factor, this is a great time to get your feet wet. In Scottsdale this can be experienced every Thursday evening from 7 to 9. So how was it? In all honesty, I didn’t see that much original artwork, but there were a few nice pieces. It’s in a lovely historical part of Old Scottsdale, and it’s worth going to if you are in the area, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for this one.

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I had my first ever visit to In-N-Out, and I went all out with the double double animal style burger (an off-the-menu item that includes a few covetable extras). It was good, but my mind wasn’t blown. I have wanted to try this burger for years, so I’m so glad I finally got this morsel into my belly, but now I can say “been there, done that.” The burger was was fun, the service was good, but I recommend skipping the fries. I also tried a burger at Rehab Burger Therapy, which is more of a gourmet burger than a fast food one. It was good, but I will forever be spoiled by beloved Emperor Burger at Charm City Burger Company. It’s going to be pretty freaking hard to top that — maybe even impossible.

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My favorite Scottsdale find was a 1950’s luncheonette/ice cream parlor called The Sugar Bowl. It’s a pink and pretty girly paradise. I could totally imagine Dita VonTeese here, having a cheeky treat. All the 50s fixtures are still intact, and the sundaes are fabulous. I decided to go with the build your own banana split. THIS was why I came to Scottsdale … I fell in love a little. This is the sort of stuff that makes me forget why I ever wanted a man. I can not recommend this place highly enough. In fact, I loved it so much that I needed to make one last visit before I left.

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By the way, in case you are wondering if I ever do anything besides eat and spend money, let me inform you that I am indeed multi-talented. Behold: a picture of the moon over Scottsdale.

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You see, I can appreciate natural beauty, but honestly… can you eat a sunset? Now this, on the other hand…

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Okay, so my fat ass needed a bit more padding for the 8 hour journey home. Don’t hate.

I also had the opportunity to do a little exploration outside of Scottsdale. I will save that for my next post. For now I’m just happy to be home. Unfortunately, I must now begin operation detox. I can barely put my jeans on. Whatevaaaa… so worth it!

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Once upon a time I was in a VERY bad place. I remember being in London, wishing as I crossed the street that one of those big red busses would run me over. I remember crying in Sainsburys (a supermarket) as I walked down the isles.  All I could feel was this horrible crushing grief. I had a lot of trouble seeing past the there and now. Things were bad. I needed hope. I needed to know that life was going to get better. The only way I could figure out how to prove to myself that this would pass, was  to document it (this was before I started blogging). And so, on December 20, 2013 I started a journal. Today I wrote the last entry. I can indeed confirm that things did get better.

I remember being in middle school learning about something called The Scorched Earth Policy.  It was a tactic used in war to destroy enemy land, to kill the people, the animals, and vegetation so that it would be uninhabitable for anyone or anything left. No crops could be planted on that destroyed land; and as a result, no life could flourish. It was utter and complete decimation. That is how I can describe who and what I was at that point of my life. I was destroyed. Though there are no tall majestic trees in my forrest anymore, I can confirm that there is life. There are flowers, and the beginning of something new. What exactly is going to end up there, I have no idea, but I am hopeful that it is something good and beautiful.

When things are bad, there are days that you can not take even baby steps. Sometimes you can take one or two, and sometimes you have steps backwards. The result is that progress is so minisucle that sometimes you wonder if you made any progress at all. This is where keeping a journal can be so helpful. It feels so good to look back at who you were two years ago and have proof of how far you’ve come. Not only that, but its a great place to vent your feelings, tell your story and express yourself,  and to write letters to people that you never actually intend on sending.  What can I say, I like to document my crazy LOL. I like to glue little scraps into mine: tickets for shows I’ve been to, little business cards from restaurants I liked, and all kinds of teeny paper momentos. Today, when I finished the very last page, I felt like a proud mama, like I created a book very unique to me, a story unlike anyone elses, and I can’t wait to get started on my next one.

Journal #2  starts tomorrow as I embark on my journey to Arizona. I am so looking forward to this! I will have a three day weekend all to myself where I intend to do plenty of eating and exploring. Oh, did I mention that I passed my test? I am now a licensed adjuster. I can’t wait to get my certificate. I think I’m going to frame it.

So, out of curiosity, do you journal? Does it help you? Do you look at it every once in a while and read your old entries? Time to share with the class.

p.s. Do follow my Instagram. I hope to post some cool pics of my upcoming adventure!

 

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It was my first week of work (again) at my new job. I guess it’s going pretty well. Sometimes it can be hard to tell. The first day was really nothing like what I thought it would be. Instead of the standard one day of introduction where they tell you how great the company is and go through benefits, we only had about an hour’s worth of discussion with our trainers, and then we were shown to our desk. We were issued booklets to study for something called a 6-20 (Company Adjuster) insurance license. It is dry as fuck, and filled with a bunch of gobbledygook. Nevertheless, I have a licensing test next week, and I desperately want to pass it.

It was also during my first day that I was struck by a mini panic attack. This consisted of me crying in a rather putrid Wendy’s bathroom during my lunch break. I was overwhelmed. I often have these moments where I really doubt myself and my abilities. The truth is, there is only one job I ever felt that I truly excelled at: being a housewife. Now life is about creating something new for myself, something that involves a paycheck. It has been a struggle. Since returning to the US two years ago, this is my 4th job. I am desperate to make a success of this one. The thing is, I have fears. Can I handle it? Am I smart enough? Being fired from job #2 really dented my confidence. Three out of five days this week I went home with a stress headache, but today I’m feeling pretty good… yeah, I got this Martha Falker nailed.

Yes, I have fears aplenty. At first I had planned to write all about them, but I changed my mind. Instead of writing a sonnet to my worries, I am going to tell you the good stuff.

  •  The supply closet is stocked full of goodies… and it is left unlocked. Obviously they do not know me and my love of free stuff.
  •  Nobody pays attention to when you take a break or notices how long you are gone for. Maybe it’s going to bite me in the ass later, but I’m having fun with it while I can. I have never been given this much freedom before, and I like it. I like it a lot.
  •  The people here are lovely. They are easy to chat to, and I am making the effort to be sociable. When I was a housewife, I could go for days without speaking to another soul. I suffered with severe isolation. Now my life is the opposite. Though I still have to push myself, I find interacting with others to be extremely rewarding, and it has done marvels for my self-esteem.
  • As of today, and for the first time since I’ve been back in the US, I have medical insurance. I hate spending money for the sole purpose of waiting for a catastrophe to happen, but in this country, it is a necessity. I enrolled today, and I’m feeling very adult about the whole thing.
  •  And now my lovelies, I am going to tell you the best part: we have two weeks of training in Arizona. I am so super excited about that! If you read my blog regularly, you will know that there are few things I love more than an adventure. Watch this space … if you know me at all, there is going to be a food orgy of epic proportions!
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For once, wouldn’t it be cool if I had an orgy of eligible bachelors? Why does it always have to be food? Damn my thunder thighs!

Let the weekend commence!