Monday, January 24, 2011

Experience 8 - Watching an Entire Football Game

I am an American, born to American parents. Football is a huge part of American life. I remember being a little girl and waiting for football games to end on Thanksgiving day so my brother, dad and I could go on our traditional walk through the trails behind our home in Arizona.  But guess what? I had never seen an entire game before yesterday. I've seen parts of games, but I only turn on the Super Bowl for the commercials. Yes, I am one of those people!

Sports do not hold my attention, so this was truly an accomplishment! :) No, really. It was. I watched it by myself! I had control of the remote and chose to watch it anyway.  I won't lie. Initially I turned it on to keep my hubby updated on the Packers/Bears game (GO, PACK, GO!) since he was not in front of a TV. But I actually enjoyed it and understood a majority of it, although the BEST part was B.J. Raji's dance when he got a touchdown. He shaked his 337 pound body as a celebratory dance. It was hilarious!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Experience Number 7 - Estate Sale

On Thursday night I decided to browse Craigslist to see what kind of treasures I could find. I ran down the list of garage sales and clicked one that said "estate sale" since I didn't have much of an idea of what it was.  I found a site called  I noticed a sale in downtown Charleston set to begin at 9am on Friday. Since my husband had to be at work early on Friday, I woke up with him and prepared breakfast. I quickly dressed and drove to the sale at 22 King St.

I parked a few blocks away and walked up to the door. Coats were littering the front porch rail and there was a sign directing the ladies to leave their purses in the car.  I had read this previously on the website, so I walked right in. 

An estate sale is exactly what it sounds like: a sale of the entire estate. Items are individually priced with tiny tags (or pieces of tape).  The house was filled with at least 30-40 people, and I arrived at 9:45! To my surprise, many of the items had "sold" signs and the one item I had been eyeing online (an anthropologie twin bed cover) was already gone! I thought I had arrived relatively early since the sale was going on all weekend, but apparently I was rather late!

I did not find any little goodies to take home with me which was rather disappointing since I made out with a spoon rest, a brand new pair of Banana Republic pants with tags still on, a mail organizer, and 5 thank you note cards at Goodwill earlier in the week for all less than 10 dollars.

My drive wasn't a total waste as I enjoyed my short walk back to my car. I snapped these shots with my iPhone. The estate was located down the street from here, but it looked very similar to the home pictured in the center.

This is the Battery of Charleston (it is located directly in front of the homes pictured above).

This is on the other side of the Battery and is a view of the Charleston Harbor.  Can you see why I enjoyed my walk? :) I love Charleston!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Experience Number 6 - TAXES!

Last year I decided that it was time to learn something while looking for a job. I signed up for the Liberty Tax Service course since it was cheaper than H&R block.  The course lasted 10 weeks, and I definitely took more away from the class than I thought! What I did not know, though, was that Liberty hires from those who take their class.

This year I will not only be preparing taxes for other people (scary!) but also for myself, saving me hundreds of dollars from having someone else prepare them for me. I encourage anyone curious about taxes to sign up for one of Liberty's courses in the fall (they offer day and night classes twice a week for a few hours each class).

Experience Number 5 - Blue Rose Cafe and Irish Potato Cakes

On Sunday my mom invited me to brunch at a NEW RESTAURANT! I jumped at the chance to check out a new place! What excited me the most was that the Blue Rose Cafe serves Irish food (I'm Irish) and I can't name anything Irish except shepherd's pie and Guinness. It is a cute little place that feels like home. I ordered the Irish potato cakes with apple cranberry sauce. The flavors were amazing, and the texture reminded me of crab cakes.

I highly recommend this restaurant. Prices were reasonable and the server was attentive (on top of the great tasting food!) Here's the link if you want to check it out:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Experience Number 4 - The Polygraph

So even though this is supposed to be a blog about pushing limits, I really did not have a choice about experience 4 (I guess I could have walked away...). On Tuesday I went in for a polygraph (lie detector) test. It was scheduled because I am in the application process for a position that works closely with the police. Boy was I a nervous wreck! From the moment the polygraph was scheduled I was NERVOUS. I am a nervous person and cannot sleep the night before a doctor's appointment, so imagine this! It didn't help knowing that I would be going down to the police station for this. It makes you feel like a criminal even though all you are doing is telling the truth. 

I did a little online research beforehand so I would have an idea of what to expect.  I found out that it is standard procedure to have an interview before being hooked up to the machines.  The examiner tries to get you comfortable with talking to him/her and they make it seem like they are your friend. They then try to get you to believe that your not-so-clean history is OK. Lucky for me I've always been a good girl so I had no worries about that!

When I walked into the station and said to the officer that I was waiting for a polygraph, the college student next to me said, "how cool!" ... if he only knew.  I waited about 5 minutes before the examiner came down the stairs to get me.  He escorted me into a small white cinderblock room.  The only decorations were of framed posters of golfers. B-O-R-I-N-G.  What I later found interesting was that the only person who could see these posters were those who were about to be interrogated.

Then he spoke.  I was instructed to sit down in one of the chairs and to put my coat and purse in the other.  After setting my coat down, I began to pluck my dog's cream colored fur from my navy blue coat. "Are you picking something off of your jacket?" he asked.  "Yes," I said as I explained that I had a light fur pug.  The nightmare had begun.  The interrogator went on about himself for about an hour and a half. no joke. I had to insert my own personal stories in there so I wouldn't have to listen to him talk about himself for that long! He was a white haired white male in his early sixties. I only know his age because he told me. I would have guessed he was in his fifties. He explained that he wanted to become a vet tech because his parents had breeded (not sure if that is correct English?) dogs when he was growing up.  You couldn't tell by the way he described his hatred for cats. "I once went to my gilfriend's house and she had 3 cats. That was the end of our relationship."  While he was speaking, I was wondering to myself if this was the "interview" I had read about. I kept wondering how long it would last as his words seemed to go on and on.

My resume was in front of him. Finally, I had a sign that was relevant to my being there. He saw that I was fluent in Spanish and decided to tell me about his Cajun wife and explained the customs of the people from the Southwest region on Louisiana. Men have their own "gumbo" nights, and women aren't invited.  He told me about his previous wives (one had cheated because he was never around). I thought to myself how all this was going to calm me down before the test. My mind kept racing about the possible questions I would be asked. Then since I couldn't listen to his voice any longer I told him about how I had studied abroad, came back, and met my husband. He asked how marriage was. Great! It is great! I feel like every year just gets better and better.  I also found out about his jealous brother who can't keep a wife because of his jealousy, his wife was a slut in high school (along with details of her high school reunion), and his children and occupations. We talked about the local Brazilian population and I learned that the shelving in his garage and his porch were the work of Brazilian contractors.  It wasn't anything like listening to a grandfather telling stories of his past. It was weird and awkward.

For the duration of the interview, I was focused on remaining still and trying to look comfortable in my chair. I had my hands held together most of the time. I wonder if the interview would have been shorter had I not sat there with locked hands. I played into his conversation to let him know I was not afraid of talking, and that I had nothing to hide. 

After an hour and a half (my best guess since I left my phone in the car and there was no clock in the room), he pulled a few papers out from his desk.  He continued blabbering about his life. I waited a few more minutes.  The examiner's tone completely changed. He went from being somewhat friendly and spacy to serious and focused.  He looked directly at me (before his eyes wandered and never really looked directly at me).  He told me to answer the questions on about 5 sheets of paper and to answer truthfully (the front of the questionnaire said polygraph questions). Most of the questions were related to different drugs. I handed the papers over. "You can always tell how truthful people are by the amount of time it takes them to fill these out." 81% of people fail because of drugs. 15% fail because they have stolen items before. Then he found another paper in the drawer. These were the true polygraph questions. There were a total of ~8. A few of them were "Is today Tuesday?""Would any of your references say that you frequently lie to get out of trouble?" and "Were you completely truthful on your application?"  We reviewed the questions before hooking me up.


 I got up to sit in the chair. It was black, looked like fake leather, and reminded me of an electric chair.  The back was straight and the arms were long. My arms sat flat on them.  I was tied with a hose-like monitor above my chest and with another below my chest (to monitor heart and breathing rates). A blood pressure monitor was velcroed to my left arm and two finger monitors (black velcro rings) attached to my ring and index fingers on my right hand. I received compliments on my wedding rings and the tanzanite ring my mom gave me for graduation. I looked at my nails and realized I had forgotten to paint them. They looked really terrible. "Oh, you've got nice REAL nails," he said. "Yeah," I replied, embarrassed because they looked so bad.  He walked around the desk, which was now behind me, and sat down. I stared at the blank white wall as my heart pounded so hard I felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. I was nervous and I expressed that to him.  "Everyone is nervous."  He read the questions to me leaving at most 10 seconds between questions.  Then we did a second run.  THEN IT WAS OVER.

I was detached from the machines and put on my coat to leave.  "You should hear back from someone soon. I am sending your results over now." I wondered what the results were.  Then as I was lead out the door to the stairs, he said, "You've passed."  What a relief!

I hope no one else ever has to take one of these, but if you do just remember to tell the truth! The truth will set you free. Ok, maybe I was free but it sure didn't feel like it being in that room!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Experience Number 3 - Fried Pickles

I must admit that I am trekking along ! It is only the 10th and I have tried three new things! I hope I can keep this up. 

On Saturday I was invited to a friend's home. One of the appetizers served was fried pickle! I had never seen nor heard of fried pickles before. In the spirit of trying new things, I gladly pick one up.  They were actually pretty tasty. The first bite was mild and crunchy but the third and last bites were so spicy I had to sip it down with some wine. I definitely would eat them again!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Experience Number 2 - Creating a Blog!

Ok, so I admit, maybe this post should have been number one, but I am trying to stick to chronological order. Since the plunge took place on the 1st and this blog wasn't created until a few days later, I have decided to post this as number two.  I've been a blog reader for years now and never seriously considered doing my own until a few days ago. I always discarded my ideas for a blog as bad and not blogworthy enough. I had been searching for a theme-- I think every good blog has a theme-- until it dawned upon me! I am going to do DIFFERENT things this year and change things around for the better. I know I will be proud of myself once I have accomplished 52 different things.  This is something I need now. My sense of self-worth has been sinking since the layoff (and the unsuccessful job hunt since then). In the past doing something I normally would have never considered has ALWAYS helped me feel better. I am determined to make this a positive year and I know that by documenting these experiences I will be more likely to follow through!

I have a lot to learn about creating a blog, so bear with me here!! I am learning little by little.
Cheers to a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Experience Number 1 - Polar Bear Plunge

Before deciding to undertake the writing of a blog, I was asked to support a friend doing the Polar Bear Plunge at Sullivan's Island. If you are unfamiliar with the event, Charlestonians gather at Dunleavy's Pub beginning at 11 to drink and warm up with liquor before jumping into the Atlantic Ocean on January 1st. I agreed to go and asked my sister in law to accompany me. Little did I know how huge of an event it would be! It took us a while to find parking.  As we were walking toward the beach, we noticed how foggy it was outside! You could see 15 feet in front of you. Everything else was FOG FOG FOG! It was really beautiful! At one point we started running  toward an invisible crowd that was getting excited about jumping into the frigid waters. I tried calling my friend who did not answer. I figured she must have turned her phone off. At that point I was pretty disappointed that I would miss her jump into the water.  At two o'clock groups of people ran toward the water, then quickly retreated. It looked like an army attacking the enemy. Then the second set of people ran, the reinforcements.   The best part were the costumes... people were dressed up as Jamaicans, pimps, ballerinas... it was liek Halloween in January.  I did not venture into the water this year mostly due to the fact that I had been sick for the week before, but maybe I will have the courage to jump in next year!

A New Year - 52 New Experiences

I am the type of person who likes to stay within my comfort zone. I like to play things safe and not take risks.   Last year I was laid off from my job of four years. I knew I did not want to sit at home and let my mind be completely idle, so I decided to enroll in a tax class to learn how to prepare taxes, something I knew NOTHING about! I was scared attending my first couple classes, yet I was excited to be learning something new and useful (even though most would think that taxes are boring). The class is now over, and I will be starting to prepare taxes at the end of this week. I am no tax expert, but I feel much more confident about doing my personal income taxes.

Since it is a new year, I've decided that I need to do something new for every week this year be it learning about something new, experiencing a new place, or trying a foreign food.   I need to feel more confident about myself, and I feel that doing "scary" things will boost my sense of self.  Expanding Experiences will be my documentation of my year-long journey into the NEW.