Shopping is Fun!

May 16, 2010

Yesterday we went shopping for more fun stuff for the island.  We had been shopping before for food, but if anything that was depressing and filled with sodium and poverty (where else do you find cheap, not-so-perishable food but the Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, Big Lots, Fred’s, Ollie’s, etc.?)

We’ve made umpteen lists from the posts online about what to bring to various schools.  Dominica definitely sounds like the worst option, but I’m afraid that even though it has resorts, Nevis isn’t far behind.  The fact that I won’t have a car down there worries me so I’m packing even more liberally, making sure that I don’t run out of things I won’t easily have access to.  I adore shoes and accessories, but the necessity of having to bring so much food is limiting my packing space for other things, like shoes, so I have had to make my choices about what I will bring, carefully.

On the one hand, I’d like to bring a few sturdy T-shirts and outfits so that I can have more space for other things, but on the other hand, the practical side of my brain says “Hi, you know you’re going to be doing all your laundry in the sink, right?  If you bring big, beefy T-shirts, it’s going to take them hours to dry.”  That’s right.  I had neglected to remember that since the cost of laundry is roughly outrageous and requires hunting the dormlord down for laundry machine tokens.  I’m going to be doing my own laundry.  Thankfully I’ll have two sinks, so hopefully it won’t be an issue of can’t but rather don’t want to or don’t have enough time to.  So, not only will thin T-shirts dry faster, but they’ll take up less room and are cheaper and easier to find.  The goal will be to wash them gently enough so that they’ll last long enough for me to fly back home in December and purchase a few replacements for them.  Finding T-shirts in December shouldn’t be that bad, right?  That’s another can of worms.  But back to shopping, we did manage to find some of the afore-mentioned thin T-shirts at Old Navy today, although they were not cheap.  $10 for a distressed T-shirt?  I had something else in mind, entirely.  Last summer, I stumbled upon, what I thought at the time was a relatively good deal, at the Gap Outlet: plain v-neck t-shirts with some silly little functionless pocket on the front for like $4-$5 each.  Trying to get into that new layering fad, I bought up a bunch of them and some cami’s and have consequently worn them and loved them, especially when paired with gauchos.   Turns out, they were a total bargain!  The shirts at Gap were brand new and non-distressed and very reasonably priced; here I am in Old Navy paying $10 for $0.50 worth of fabric!  And what really frosted my cookie was that I found an old Earth Day T-shirt that I thought looked cool and retro that fit in exactly with the distressed, thin T-shirts except that it had a different graphic and the date on the front and it rang up for $0.97!  So wait, Old Navy can sell me two shirts of identical composure with different graphics for $9 difference in price?  No wonder there are so many of those stores, they’re making a killing!  And that’s not the best part, $10 was for the shirts on SALE!  They were originally $14.50!

While I cool down about the shirts and re-think what I can possibly bring with me to the island, I must share the exciting story about the shoes.  According to the posts, the terrain is rocky if you’re walking to school on Nevis because even though the main road is paved, most of the secondary roads, like the one the school is off of, are not.  They recommend very sturdy shoes.  I was honestly planning on buying up a bunch of those cheap Old Navy flip flops and wearing them until they died, but the students on the forums strongly advice against that.  They said that you should invest in a couple of pairs of Chacos or Keens and that they would last you during your time on the island and you would love them, and they would pay for themselves once you realized you didn’t have to make a trip into town to buy overpriced shoes that were crap and would break any way, once you had quickly broken all your cheap flip flops.  The downside?  I’m obviously going to have to bring them down in my suitcase.  There’s no way I’m trusting these pricey shoes in a barrel that could be ravaged and unattended.  I had been pricing the shoes online since I got my first pair of Chacos a couple of years ago.  Chaco’s are Grecian-style sandals with a very durable Vibram sole and straps built-in to the sole so that you just tug on them to fit your foot accordingly.  They retail for $70-95 per pair depending on the style.  I was lucky enough to stumble upon a tent sale at the Great Outdoor Company in Chapel Hill one summer for half price.  Though they were red, not my first choice of colors, I fell in love with them and have been looking to buy them siblings ever since, just not at full price.  Unfortunately during my move home, my Chacos were misplaced and I thought they’d accidentally been sent to the Salvation Army.  Mom and I spent the morning looking through the storage building and utility room for them but they were no where to be found.  I looked online at pricing but the best I could find was a 20% off/free shipping coupon that would bring the ones I wanted, black ZX2’s, down to $76 + tax.  Still not a very good deal in my opinion, so we went to Hickory to see what we could find.  Dick’s sporting goods didn’t carry them, and since our options for outdoor retailers are limited in this part of the state, I was ready to give up.  Mom remembered a place in Hickory by her office that was an outdoorsy kind of store.  I honestly wasn’t expecting much.  Mistake.  There was a very decently sized outdoor store that took up two storefronts in downtown Hickory.  And the best part was that they were having a 40% off sale on all of their clearance shoes.  Too good to be true, right?  I immediately went to the back of the store and found the exact model of Chacos that I wanted but they weren’t on sale, still $95, but a quick trip through the clearance racks and I found more Chacos, on sale!  The only women’s they had were Z1’s (no toe straps): a blue pair of ZX1’s and a black pair of Z1s, and the crazy part is that they were both women’s 10’s!  Go figure.  So even though I liked the blue ones because they were split strap like I liked, I figured the black ones would be much more functional and go with almost any T-shirt you could pair with gauchos.  Then, just as we were getting ready to head to another part of the store, I saw a pair of Keen’s!  They had 4 boxes left and 1 was a 10!  They were lime green with grey soles and just happened to match the shirt I had on perfectly.  They too were $95 with 40% off, again, another deal that I wouldn’t be able to match online, so I got those too.  I got home and was regretting not getting the blue Chacos because they were such a good deal, but then lo and behold, Mom gets this crazy burst of energy and decides that my old Chacos have to be here in the house somewhere.  She runs upstairs, dives through the closet, and produces [from dust-bunny central in the very back of the closet] my long, lost Chacos.  So, now I’ve got 3 pairs of awesome shoes that will probably last forever.

Tomorrow, today, rather, we are scheduled to head up to Boone to see Jessica, Cameron, and Ashlyn.  I have missed seeing them because we just can’t seem to get our schedules to mesh and we have oodles of clothing for Ashlyn.  But very excitingly, we must pass through Blowing Rock to get to them and we have already planned to go to Tanger Outlets and stop at the Gap Outlet.  Yea!  I’m thinking happy, positive, cheap shirt-filled thoughts.  The only problem is that Gap outlets tend to be hit or miss, so today is either going to be a major party or a major disappointment.  I’m hoping for the party.  And dinner at Outback and seeing the family will be great too!

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If you know me at all, you must know how desperately bored and sleepy I am to be writing two posts within 5 hours of each other.  I can’t read any more of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I totally see what my Dad said about the series, that he just couldn’t get into it.  I used to be a rabid fan, but when you’re even somewhat tired, the books are just too laden with details and not really action-packed enough.  I made it 160 pages, but then decided to move to a different part of the library where bringing the book along with me wouldn’t have been kosher.

Now I’m rewarded by sitting in a room with 5 other people, designed for 200, surrounded by those 5 guys who are total losers.  And no, not in a good way.  One is wearing Atari pajamas with a matching lime green t-shirt.  One is wearing a toboggan [in MAY!] (although in his defense, I can’t really feel my nose and fingers either, it’s so cold).  Two are sitting a row over from me but still talking at normal volume, like they own the place and it’s not a library.  It’s annoying when you’re trying to study and get something accomplished, but I’m completely bored with nothing much to do and it’s much more than annoying.  I don’t care about how you ‘only studied for like 20 minutes’ and subsequently ‘beasted the s**t out of that final.’ Grow up and start caring about something that matters.  Please tell me that you’re awake at 5:30 am the last day of finals for a good reason.

On a positive note, I would like to express how happy I am that my onyen sign-on still works here in the libraries.  I would have been totally screwed tonight if that wasn’t the case.

Stuck in the library

May 7, 2010

No, I haven’t studied Embryology nearly hard enough to merit this post being about school yet.  The problem stems from the fact that I’m still employed part-time at the hospital and I just can’t seem to let my job go.

You see, back when I was a full-time student at UNC, it worked out great that I worked within eyesight of my classes because I could go to class/study/sleep/work all within a bus ride.  When I graduated, after finishing my MCAT class, there were no more scholarly activities to keep me rooted in Chapel Hill, and paying for a one-bedroom apartment in a collegetown wasn’t really merited just with my part-time job.  The smart thing to do would have been to finish the class, quit my job and go home to study for the MCAT.  No, I didn’t do that.  I decided to ask a good nurse friend of mine if I could stay with her every other week when it was time for me to work in Chapel Hill, as a temporary solution, until I got back my MCAT scores and presumably started med school in January.  (Ah, those were the days!)  Here I am, 9 months later, still driving to Chapel Hill to work every other week, staying with my nurse friend.  So much for the temporary part.  Even though I didn’t start med school in January, at least it’s September.

But back to the library part–sort of–tonight was [supposed to be] my first night back.  Per normal, I did my laundry, packed my clothes, fueled up the black Lincoln sedan, and got onto I-40 around 7:00.  The important step I forgot was to call and ask what the census was like and whether or not the day shift thought they’d be needing my services tonight.  Previously I thought this was an annoying step that just confused day shift and wasted my time, however, as evidence that I am stuck in the library, this is not true.  I found out, mid-Winston-Salem, when I was just far enough from home for turning around to be inefficient, that since we only had 8 patients and there was another CST staffing tonight, I wasn’t needed at all.  Great.  Terrific.  So I text my nurse friend (while driving 70+ MPH–not a good idea, I realize) with whom I stay, to ask if she’s working tonight.  No reply.  Oh dear–at this time I realize that I don’t know the number to the other hospital where she works, much less to the ICU.  Something tells me I’ll be traveling to her hospital to meet her and pick up the key.  The phone rings, it’s her.  Turns out that not only is she at the other hospital tonight, but that she has company at the house because she wasn’t expecting me today–it’s her mother, who has already gone to bed and most likely has the alarm set, so that if someone was to open the door early (even with a key), it would wake up the neighborhood.  Crap.  I really don’t want to wear out my welcome with her since, in theory, we have at least 3 or so more months of this, so I politely (yet awkwardly) volunteer to make other plans.  With the cheapest hotel in Chapel Hill fetching $80+ per night, here I am, in the library.

How soon I have forgotten that I swapped out laptops after graduation at that great back-to-school sale Staples was having.  I walked into the library, clearly disturbed the 11th-hour-scramblers up on the second floor with my cacophonous bag un-zipping, sat down and got my desk comfortable only to realize that I hadn’t registered this laptop on the UNC network.  No internet.  What’s there to do on a computer with no internet?  (Actually there’s quite a few sampler games on that laptop that I’ve never really bothered with but I must confess I’m in the middle of a Survivor marathon and I wanted to get back to my favorite activity of the past couple weeks–watching Survivor and playing tetris simultaneously–when Survivor gets stupid, you focus on the game and vice-versa.)  I had an evaluation to do from work–surely that’d buy me an hour or two–10 minutes.  So after all that terribly impolite noise, I had to bother those poor slackers again by making more noise and packing up my useless laptop and other comfort items to trek downstairs to public computers.

Now my newest dilemma:  I’m sitting in the middle of a college library on literally the last night of the spring semester exams (tomorrow the library closes at 5 pm to accomodate the students still moving out) surrounded by seniors and underclassmen who are unfortunate enough to have signed up for a class with an exam on the last day.  There is nothing standing between them and sweet academia-free summer bliss except for this one pesky exam that they’re trying to finish so they can leave after a year of stress.  The conscientious part of me thinks that it would be wrong to sit here and watch videos on Youtube while they suffer and b******t their way through the last take-home finals in the wee hours of the morning.  I was prone to agree with the conscientious part of me an hour or so ago when I got here and realized that my laptop internet wasn’t working, now, having exausted my evaluation for work, looked over the upcoming semester’s booklist, made price comparisons of afore mentioned books, and seen all those around me who could see my computer screen and be offended, angry and jealous exit, I’m disagreeing with my conscientious self and honestly wondering what I’m going to do for the next 7 hours.  Given that my options are A) Use the online card catalog to find out if any Harry Potter books are here in this library and not near those evil people on the second floor, B) Sit here and pretend to type scholarly things on the internet and stay busy for 7 more hours, or C) Watch Survivor and play Tetris, I’ve decided that now is the perfect time to watch Survivor: I have my headphones and have figured out that the Tetris window that’s still open in Firefox on my laptop, works fine without the internet.

Just in case something goes amiss, I do, however, have a backup plan.  After an initially crestfallen search for Harry Potter within the card catalog just now, the second page promises me that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is indeed in  the UL, in both the fiction section and at PR6068.O93 134 2007.  A dewey decimal system/library of congress hunt may be in order.  Now where is my favorite librarian-to-be, Mary Taylor, when we could have this adventure.  A trip to Cookout would be great afterwards…oh…wait…if I did that, then I couldn’t get back in the library.  Doh!

Update

May 5, 2010

So, I got a phone call and an email a couple days ago from Ross.  My best and worst nightmare–MERPed.  Great on the one hand that I’m in to Ross, bad on the other that it’s MERP.  Plus the price for Bahamas MERP has increased greatly from what I was estimating.  I was thinking $15k for transportation, housing, books, tuition, everything.  According to the email, the cost for tuition alone has increased to $14,665, + $313 required health insurance, +$600 books, + $500 airfare,  +$? for housing all for an intensive 15 week course that doesn’t even count towards med school graduation!  The max loan is $26k but it’s a private loan through a US bank, which means there is no deferment or forbearance.  Why does Ross need all this money from me if it is such a good school?!  And take into account that 20% of the people who pay for MERP don’t get through it–that’s a LOT of profit for the school.  They sound like crooks, I’m going to MUA.