Friday, November 30, 2012

Old [Un]Reliable

People are so unreliable.
I am so unreliable.
WE are so unreliable. 

I have become increasingly aware of a very sad truth -- there are very few people in my life that are really reliable people. Now, I realize that because I will have blasted this post out to all of my friends on Facebook, Google +, and Twitter, many of you might take offense, but before you do, know that I include myself, and hold myself accountable for these actions as well. 

I have come to realize that I don't know many people anymore who aren't flakey, always pining for the best option in any situation (human nature I dare say), and are punctual and dependable. I love most everyone I meet, so this makes it very hard to accept this reality, but at some point, I must. And what's even worse is to know that I must accept this about myself as well. This sad truth has become not just a character flaw, but a societal flaw overall, which is strange and hypocritical considering that most of us request of others that they be reliable and punctual. 

Somewhere along the way, we must have realized that it is people's tendency (again, my generalization applies to the people in the regions of California that I have dealt with, not the whole world and every culture) to keep us waiting and/or bail on plans. The realization of this habit in other people must have led us to begin to run late ourselves, so not to always be the early one left waiting. But now, instead of one person waiting on the other, we're all left not trying as hard as we used to to make it to things on time and be dependable people. 

No one likes to be the first one to a party. It's weird, awkward, and you have all the conversation you planned on having the entire night in the first 15 minutes. You're there with the host left wondering when the heck anyone else is going to show up, and why on earth you thought you needed to be there on time. Not fun. So then came about this "fashionably late" thing, where people realized that you didn't want to be the first one to the party, so instead, we show up 15 minutes late. By this time, people are there, drink in hand, and the awkward ice has been broken. Great plan right? Wrong! It was great when just one person, couple or small group would show up late, but now, as it is everyone's habit (especially considering we flock like herds), we've just created a mess of awkward gatherings where everything is put on hold because people don't know how to check a clock and get there on time, if they even plan to arrive at all. 

Quite a messy society we've developed when you really think about it, but one that can certainly be salvaged. I don't really know at which point we all decided that trying hard was a bad, embarrassing, uncool thing to do, but I think we all need to work on realizing that trying really hard is a great thing! It pays off, it gets you where you want to be, and I know for myself, when I feel like I have been a dependable person, I feel better about who I am and what I'm doing. Let's all take an oath to try a little harder. A little harder to keep in touch, be there for one another, and be someone that people can count on. Yes? :)

Today's Thoughts: I know I am a very flawed person, but realizing these flaws and taking them one at a time, working on them little-by-little, will pay off and I will become the lady that I want to be! And so can you! (Become the lady or gentleman you want to be.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

As We Grow, We Learn

I screwed up BIG TIME when I went to school and majored in Marketing. But before I get into that, I will give a little glimpse into something else....

There is a fairly good chance I will not be able to go to Spain in January because I do not have any savings. That's right, my idiocy and love for material items could potentially kill the one dream I've had for what seems like my entire life. Pretty typical of us as humans, right? The lust for things tends to kill our true loves far too often, at least here in the U.S.. I remember being a really smart spender when I was younger, always questioning several times if I really needed the item before I bought it. This led me to not make the purchase most of the time, but somewhere along the line, I lost that trait. Now, instead of "do I really need this," I am asking myself, "how much do I love this," and "how high are my feelings of 'can't live without?'" Instead of basing my purchases on if I really need the item or not, I gauge it on how much I am in love with it, and how much it costs/what's its opportunity cost. Because I never absorbed and applied the lessons my parents tried to teach me about saving money and putting some away each month, I am now in a position where I may have to take an alternative path than the one I really want to travel (no pun intended).

So as I begin to look at alternate options for my future, just in case I am unable to go to Spain, I am realizing more and more that, while I may be naturally good at marketing and business, it's not really what I want to do for work, in the conventional way that is. The jobs I find myself more drawn to are more on the end of photography, writing, design, fashion, recreation, human/body studies, fitness, nutrition, travel, exploration, inspiration, and life as a whole. None of these studies were covered in Marketing. At least not in enough depth to really give me a chance of getting an interview for a lot of the jobs I find interesting.

There's a big problem with the way we do things here in the United States. I know I have not traveled the whole world, but I am confident when I say that I have a global understanding, and I know enough about other cultures to know that we are doing it wrong (at least for the kind of person that I am). Here, we are so focused on being born, learning how to talk and walk, going to preschool, kindergarten, grades 1-8, high school, and then, it's expected of us to graduate and go to college. (Well, used to be, now there are shows like "16 & Pregnant" that pretty much condone teen pregnancy, and "Real Housewives" that inspire females to grow up to be dramatic, plastic women instead of actual, real people, and do NOT even get me started on the Kardashians.) I have learned, through firsthand experience, that this is where the problem lies. Too many of us now a days are born into a culture where we have an overload of exposure right off the bat. This leads us to knowing bits and pieces about a lot of different things. For some, it's wonderful, because they learn early-on what it is they want to spend their time and lives doing, but for others, it just means we are left with this interest in a laundry list of things, and not sure what direction to take.

There are so few of us that are actually prepared for college when we are 18-years old. I was in no way ready to go off and begin to start a degree that I'm supposed to use to get a job that I have for the rest of my life. I'm still not ready for that. Sure, I have a better idea now what I would like to spend my life doing, but it's taken me five and a half years to get where I am now! And I realize that we can't just take however many years to figure it out, while we work some job, and then go to college when we have it figured out, but I also think there is something to this: working hard from the time you are allowed to work, saving up your money, and NOT going to college right out of high school, (unless you know what you want to do) but instead, traveling. This would allow us to have more exposure to other people, ways of life, and places, so we can start to learn who we are, what we like, and what we are interested in spending our lives doing. Not to mention, it would instill in people a sense of ownership and a habit of working hard, something I fear too many of us lack these days. It's a flawed system, like so many of them are, and we have outgrown them.

The point is this: I'm looking at jobs I have little chance of ever getting because my degree doesn't match up to what they want, but I know without a doubt I could do the work and do it well. That sucks. And it isn't any better to know that I was swayed from my real interests because we just assume that people will grow out of most of them, and should pick a more generic path that will bring them "success." That is the peril of being influenced and controllable.

Today's thoughts: If I had just followed my desire to work in fashion when I graduated high school, then who knows where I would be today? (This is just one example of paths I thought of pursuing, but did not because I didn't make my own decisions, and because I let my lust for money trump my love.) I am now going backwards because I was too afraid that I wouldn't make a decent living doing what I really love, and that is a shame.

My name is Allison Fedor, and I am done being a sheep!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Curious Path

Welcome back into my life. It's a tumultuous ride on a windy road, full of hills, drops, bridges, and moats filled with gators. But it's also a beautiful ride, on an easy road, full of color, wonder, adventure, and light.

From September 28th until now, I have been on a path that intertwines both the easy road, and the windy one. That was the day that my job at the Disney/ABC Television Group ended, and I started my journey to my return abroad. I did not know what was to come, but I couldn't have been prepared for what I've faced. And I realize that all of this makes it seem like I'm leading up to a death or tragic accident of some sort, but that is not the case. The case is, as those of you who have been following my posts have seen, that this time has been more difficult than when I graduated college almost a year ago, having not attempted to find a job (therefore graduating jobless).

I was supposed to be on a plane to Spain three weeks ago, but obviously that has not happened. Now, as we approach December, I realize I still have more than a month until my next flight is booked. The last two months have provided me an ample amount of time to think, which is a bit more time than I would like. I know that the upcoming month will do the same, as I wait and see if I go to Spain or not, and I'd be lying if I said I was excited about all the time I have to kill. It's excessive, I'm stagnant, and I feel like I'm on hold.

But, there is some good news to be delivered, as is usually the case -- a good friend of mine introduced me to a little department called the State of California Department of Justice, through which, I can obtain a DOJ (Department of Justice)/CBC (criminal background check). This is the final form that I need in order to be granted a visa, and after submitting fingerprints to them via a Live Scan, results are usually received in 72 hours! Hallelujah! Now, of course had I known there was such a department as the Department of Justice that could issue me a fingerprint verified background check within 72 hours of the request being made, I would have done so many weeks ago. But when I read the instructions that said "Department of State clearance, fingerprint verified criminal background check," and then learned that there is in fact a Department of State, I didn't realize there was another possible Department that I could go through for the CBC/DOJ. Unfortunate, but as always, my circumstances could be far worse.

Yesterday, I called the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco and asked if Department of Justice clearance was enough, and learned that it is since I have not lived in any State other than California. (For those of you looking to get a visa, you need a CBC from all the States in which you've lived, for me, within the last 5 or 10 years, but triple check everything to be sure.) So I went and got my fingerprints done again, and the request was sent off. Now, I am waiting to get my results back, so I can get them notarized and apostilled, then take them back to San Fran to the Consulate so my visa can be granted!

A much, much longer process than I imagined, but a learning lesson I will surely never forget.

This road has been very long, somewhat boring, and at times, very stressful. But this road has also been full of love, laughter, and making memories with people I care most for in this life, so I will consider it to be the blessing it really is. :)

Today's Thought: Have I missed the mark somewhere? Or is it still to come? All of this has taken this long for a reason, and my impatient nature makes it hard to just wait and find out why. But because I know it took this long for a reason, it makes me a little nervous, excited, and completely curious about what December is to bring. Clearly I'm supposed to be here, so is there a clue somewhere hidden that I'm supposed to find, one that will lead me on the path I am to take for the next chapter of my life? So many questions and curiosities in this life. I am anxious for the answers, and so I will continue to search.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hostess Hits The Road

This is copied and pasted from an email that my father forwarded to me regarding the end of Hostess as we all know it. I'll admit it, those dang Twinkies and Ding Dongs sure were good, but considering they don't really digest, I'd say we're all a bit better off. Well, except for 18,000 people who have lost their jobs. Read on to learn the details.... (This comes from The Daily Reckoning.)

Joel Bowman, checking in today from Buenos Aires...
Joel Bowman
Joel Bowman
When a company peddling sugar-infused cream rolls to the most obese population on the planet goes broke, you know market conditions have broken down.

Yesterday, Hostess Brands Inc., the company responsible for such delightful dietary abominations as Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Devil Dogs, Ring Dings, Suzy Q’s and, of course, Drake’s Coffee Cakes, filed a motion for bankruptcy.

Too bad. It seems Colorado and Washington states just couldn’t legalize marijuana fast enough to bolster demand lines for the financially-addled junk food outfit.

The Hostess announcement might have caused a wave of relief for clogged arteries and strained, double-wide diner stools around the country, but it also means 18,000 now-former workers added to the nation’s growing un- and under-employed lists. The move will also involve the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the United States.


In a cruel, though not-unusual, twist of fate, many of those 18,000 workers were involved in the very strikes that ultimately crippled the company.

Double ouchie!

The Ho Ho’s purveyors closed up shop after a weeklong standoff with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). Yes, such a thing actually exists. A statement released by the company read:
The Board of Directors authorized the wind down of Hostess Brands to preserve and maximize the value of the estate after one of the Company's largest unions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), initiated a nationwide strike that crippled the Company's ability to produce and deliver products at multiple facilities.
“We simply do not have the financial resources to survive an ongoing national strike,” warned Gregory F. Rayburn, chief executive officer, on Wednesday. “Therefore, if sufficient employees do not return to work by 5 p.m., EST, on Thursday to restore normal operations, we will be forced to immediately move to liquidate the entire company, which will result in the loss of nearly 18,000 jobs.”

Not good enough, retorted the unionists.

“Hostess Brands is making a mockery of the labor relations system that has been in place for nearly 100 years,” union president, Frank Hurt, said in a statement earlier this week. “Our members are not just striking for themselves, but for all unionized workers across North America who are covered by collective bargaining agreements.”

When workers didn’t return to man the mixers, Hostess shuttered shop...causing a flurry of #HostessShrugged hashtags to light up the Twittersphere.

BCTGM, which represents more than 80,000 industry workers, argued that the company’s policies would send its members back to workplace standards of the 1950s...back when people earned a 1950s wage and benefits package for performing a 1950s quality control management on the Zingers and Sno Balls production line.

So just how hard done by were the browbeaten proletariats manning the Twinkie timers?

The mean hourly wage for the designation of “bakeries and tortilla manufacturers” was $12.57 in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers manning the Hostess picket lines this week were earning roughly 35% more than the national average.

“The union’s demands had plagued Hostess for years, forcing — through the legalized monopolization of labor supply — wages that the market wouldn’t bear,” writes Bob Confer in a column for The New American. “The striking line workers were paid healthy salaries, $16 to $18 per hour. In a low-profit, low-selling-price business such as baked goods, those wages aren’t sustainable, especially considering that baking and distribution involve a lot of manpower.”

“Hostess was looking for wage concessions of only eight percent,” continued Confer. “Even after the cuts, Hostess still would have been paying their workers handsomely, 24 percent more than the industry norm. Mind you, this one-year cut would have been followed by guaranteed wage increases of three percent in each of the three years that followed, capped off by one percent in the fourth year. So, the pain would have been only temporary and cancelled out in just three years.”

Apparently, BCTGM had confused the relationship between employer and employee. It is a privilege to work for a company, not a right. Pension plans, medical coverage and other bells and whistles are not something automatically owing to each and every person capable of holding up a sign demanding such things. To the extent that these modern day luxuries are offered at all, they are offered at the behest of the company’s owners and/or management.

There will, no doubt, be complaints about the “greedy capitalists” who took advantage of the poor, helpless worker class. And, to be sure, insiders did award themselves some rather hefty raises when it became obvious the company had no viable economic future. (The CEO was gifted a somewhat tasteless 300% raise after the company filed its first bankruptcy suit earlier this year.)

But if the capitalists are so greedy, so profiteering, why stay and toil for them? If workers are unhappy, if they feel themselves poorly treated, they are free to leave and seek other employment at any time. They are also free to “down spatulas” and to collectively bargain...just as they are free to strike themselves out of a job. 

The truth is that, without “greedy capitalists,” unions of the world wouldn’t ever have a Hostess to kill. So, our congratulations go to the aptly-named, Mr. Hurt. Now you and your comrades-in-arms can feast on 100% of the Cup Cakes that Hostess will never make.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Get On My Spain Game / Day Dreamin'

The latest news in regards to my trip to Spain is this: I still don't know if I'll be going. LOL, I know, a bit redundant  but that is really where I'm at, where I've been, and where I presume I'll continue to be until I get my CBC (criminal background check) back from the West Virginia...where I sent it the day before Sandy. (Makes a little more sense now why the news hasn't really changed, huh?)

But in other, new news, my friend Megan told me that the program adviser for our study abroad program in Bilbao was looking for an au-pair to come in January and help his kids further their English-speaking skills, which would match up perfectly if I can't go to Sevilla. Sure my flight might be to Sevilla, but getting from one end of Spain to another is much easier (cheaper) than it is to get from just Sacramento to Los Angeles. But before I could tell Megan to tell Ibon that I want the job, I needed to see if I could still go to Sevilla or not. So I followed up with the program in Sevilla to make sure that it's okay for me to go in January. I'm not sure it will take me until January to have my visa, but to be honest, I'm thinking giving myself two months for all of this to work out was a good idea considering that we're already in mid-November. They said it's okay for me to go that late, it is just unfortunate, but hey, what can we do? I screwed up royally in the beginning, and now I shall reap the consequences and uncertainties. 

I really am not sure if this is going to end up happening for me at all at this point. Now, I know I'm one of the biggest promoters of positive thinking, manifestation, and getting what you want, but I really am not sure if this is right...still...big surprise. I haven't been manifesting anything lately, or even trying to. I've just been a sitting duck here in Stockton, not really sure what I want to do, should do, or am called to do. It's a really weird place to be considering that I graduated and got a job at a great company already, and it's almost like I'm moving backwards now.  

Today I went on a very long walk on the levee by my house that is a perfect place to think and be with nature, and over-sized homes in the gated community near my neighborhood. I didn't have my phone, didn't have any music, just me, an apple, a Klean Kanteen, God, and my thoughts. I spent a lot of time thinking, reviewing, deciding, and trying to figure out what it is that I'm going to do. One thing is for sure: I will never figure it out sitting here. If I continue to stay here stagnant, I will never figure it out or find out. I have to get out, but to where, I do not know, and that is the frustrating part.

Today's Thought: There are so many different possibilities of things I could do, be, and see, and I want to experience it all. That doesn't make it easy to find a profession and stick with it, so I really do have to create my own. (Anyone want to pay me to be their happy companion and just keep them company and smiling?) Another thing I realized, even further, is that I don't care what it is, just being outside is where I am supposed to be. The sky is so big, there's plenty of room for all my thoughts to go, wander, bounce, and fill. 

Enjoy your life. As long as it makes you happy and isn't hurting anyone else, just do it. :) 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where Is The Love?

Every single one of us is born with certain desires and questions. The desire to love and be loved is one, and the never-ending question and exploration about what our purpose is in life is another. Both of these are things I have struggled with for my entire life in one way or another.

I remember being in the first and second grades. There was a group of us girls that were "BFF's" and always "stuck together." We always fought over one of the girls, Michelle, and for some reason had decided that she was the ultimate BFF, the one we all wanted to share our friendship necklaces and secrets with. Now, I'm not sure how this cruel game came to be, but I distinctly remember that we would alternate excluding one of the girls. A few of us would completely exclude her and make her feel like she wasn't part of the group anymore. We would walk past whoever was out of the group for the week and say things like, "I can't wait to spend the night at your house tonight! It's going to be so much fun!" We would say it loud enough, and deliberately enough that whoever we were shunning that week would hear, feel sad and jealous, and know that she was missing out on something, even though no sleep overs were ever actually planned. And one thing I remember more than any of it, was how it felt to be the girl sitting against the cement building, watching as my so-called "best friends" walked by, bragging about the plans they were making, and excluding me from. Even though I was part of doing that to others, I felt like I was on the outside more than the inside. It brings tears to my eyes and pain to my heart to recall these times.

I don't know how or why girls are so viscous, and why when we are young we feel the need to prove "how cool we are" by completely bringing down other people. And the fact that we never were really planning a sleep over, just means that we premeditated the pain we were inflicting. How sad and gross. When we are that young, we do not realize the psychological damage that we are inflicting on our fellow lady friends, and it's no wonder so many grow up to be depressed adults, constantly seeking the attention, approval, and acceptance of others, and generally finding it in the company of men. And if this is the kind of thing that was going on back in 1996, I can't even imagine what goes on today now that kids are exposed to so much more violence and hardship.

Our society is full of problems, but one of the greatest, by far, is our inability to simply give into, accept, and go with one of our only desires -- to love and be loved. If all we want from the time we are born is to feel loved, then why do we waste so much energy and time doing exactly the opposite to those around us? Why not just give in to the fact that we want to be loved, and realize that in order to be loved, we must also love?

There's a real problem these days, and as I've demonstrated, it's been going on for years, more likely decades and centuries, with people and the way we treat one another. If we weren't put on this earth to take care of each other, then why are there so many of us? So many people have children and pets because they want that bundle of joy that validates them. A baby or pet loves you, needs you, adores you, and is there for you. What else feels as good as a baby looking up at you, smiling, with its arms outstretched for you to hold it? Or a dog that gets excited and races up to you for love when it sees you? And what feels worse than being dissed by a baby or dog? Very little. This innate need to love and be loved is something we all have, so why don't we express it more?

I believe that we can see changes in the world. But I also know for a fact that the only way to see these changes are to love and be loved. We can't keep closing ourselves off to the possibility of great love, refusing to give it, and hope that things will get better. It's impossible, and I don't need to be a poli sci major or politician to know it.

Let's work on loving each other, unconditionally. :)

Today's Thought: If every person gave as much love as they had, and every person received all the love that was offered to them (not meaning sex), then the world would be the most beautiful place. But maybe that's not the point. Maybe earth isn't supposed to be that happy, because then what desire would any of us have to move onto Heaven (whatever your idea of heaven/after life might be)?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Newest Desire

So anyone that knows me well, or not-so-well, or anyone that reads this blog regularly, has probably grasped by now that I am, like many women, completely unsure of what I want in life. I do not know what I want to other than a) help people, b) spread the word of God, c) travel, d) write, and e) photograph, and I have been graduated from college for almost a year now. (Can we talk about where that time went!?! Unbelievable!) But I recently have been getting much more into yoga and pilates, and am thinking I might like to become certified in these practices, and open up my own studio somewhere down the line.

I took my first yoga class during my sophomore year of college (2008) at the gym I was going to, and didn't think much of it at the time. It was a great way to relax, but my balance and land skills weren't the best after I quit playing land sports, and I was still playing water polo and drinking heavily at the time, so something as calm as yoga didn't really match up with my mentality. I loved it after an intense spin class or other type of cardio workout, but never thought I would become a practicing yogi. I was way too ADD to do something as slow and centralized as yoga, or so I thought.

Since I have graduated and not been forced to learn, I have this thirst for knowledge and desire to actually learn things. I've mentioned before that I would love to go back to school and study something I am actually interested in like health/fitness/nutrition. My current favorite idea is one where I go back to school and study these things, while practicing yoga, meditation, and pilates, so I can open up my own yoga/pilates studio, and offer nutrition counseling and personal training. It would also force me to work out, which seems to be about the only times it actually happens..when my body starts to shape-shift into something I don't recognize or desire, or someone else is making me.

Of course, this is just another idea of something I think I might enjoy doing right now, but if you know me, I'd hope you think I would make a good fitness instructor (loud, motivating, but in an encouraging way, and energetic). The human body has always fascinated me, and even though anatomy and physiology are difficult courses, I've always loved them when I've had them, or exposure to different aspects of them. This would also fulfill my desire to help people. Helping them be healthy and live in a more conscious and calm state would be very gratifying, and it would also help me to stay in the kind of mentality that I want to be in at all times -- calm, centered, thankful, positive, and joyful. Also, there are lots of conferences, studies, and gatherings for yoga/meditation/pilates, so I could fulfill my need to travel and explore.

There are so many things I want to do in my life, and I think it is time that I really get out there and start making them happen, because I have no idea if Spain is going to happen for me. The latest update on Spain, other than my flight being rescheduled for the 9th of January, is that I might not be able to go in January at all. The school cannot make that decision, and has to check with the local school authorities that run the international program. So, all my plans and ideas about Spain could take a bit of a 90* turn at some point. (Explanation as to why a 90* turn instead of 180* turn coming after I learn more myself.)

Today's Thought: I have no idea if Spain is going to happen for me, so I've gotta start thinking of some back-up plans. I have no idea where my path leads, but I'm looking forward to the journey, and the destination. And I have nothing to worry, stress or fear in all of this, because where ever I end up will be perfect, and where I am supposed to be.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Re-Book Business

Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. That is how I can sum up all of this so far. First, let me start by saying, that at the current moment, I should be in an airplane that took off from Chicago, and would land in Madrid, Spain, sometime in the early AM's. Clearly, since I am writing this, I am not.

Yesterday I went through the glorious process of re-booking my flight. I first was going to try and cancel it, and assumed that since I had purchased the trip insurance when I bought the ticket, that it would all work out. Well, let me give you my next piece of advice when you are planning an overseas trip: Do not book/pay for your flight until you know for sure that you will have your visa, or have it, but if you must book the flight ahead of time, do not use a cheap website (online service that gives you price comparisons), or finalize everything until you have really checked out all the details.

I was told not to book the flight itself, but to just get an online booking to present at my visa appointment so they can see my trip itinerary and when I am expected to be flying out/arriving. I should have listened. But instead, I thought that giving the Consulate 12 business days to complete the process and return my passport, visa inside, to me would be plenty of time, so I went ahead and purchased the flight. HUGE, monumental, absolutely massive mistake. Actually, let me clarify, it wouldn't have been such a huge, monumental, absolutely massive mistake had the trip insurance I purchased with the ticket been something that covered any and all reasons why you can't make your flight.

I always use to book my flights. I think they are the best website out there that gives you flight comparisons, and they give it to you all in one window, instead of many windows that pop up simultaneously. (For someone with ADD, that is never a good thing.) So, naturally, I used Skyscanner again to look at flight prices and find the one I would use to skip town. It redirected me to the GetawayASAP website, which is actually run by a travel agency of some sort, I think. I booked my flight on this site, and purchased the insurance that comes from a different agency, I guess. Not good.

When I originally contacted the company that I used to book the flight, they told me that there is a $400 fee for cancelling or changing the flight, and that if I got the insurance, then I needed to contact the company who I purchased the insurance from, and ask them to give me the refund. I did this, and came to find out that any, and I mean ANY excuse under the sun counts as ones that you can use to get a full refund for being unable to take your flight, EXCEPT if it's because [you're dealing with government agencies,] and haven't gotten your visa yet. Grrrreatt. I was going to go over-the-top and make up some sort of story about why I couldn't go, but came to realize that I was going to need a flight at some point anyways, so I should just re-book.

I spent from 9:00am till 3:30pm yesterday working on all of this. Looking at different costs for different days, locations, times, and etc for changing the flight, finding the most reasonable one, the best date, best option, and had it down to a flight change to January 9 for less than $260. Not too bad at all. The only problem? I cannot change the flight through the Iberia website, because I used a travel agent (I guess) to book the flight. As if you can even qualify me looking at and comparing flights for myself, on my own, as an agent!

In the end, I contacted GetawayASAP's customer support (who I might add are very responsive and helpful, I would suggest this site because of how great their customer support is) at 3:00 to see what I could do, and realized that God was once again, ultimately, on my side. I was told that I had until 3:30 to cancel, change, or take the flight I already had booked before it was lost or wasted. PHEW! Something good! So I "paid" the $400, and am now am scheduled to fly out on January 9. Whether I am on that flight is entirely up to the FBI, Spanish Consulate, and whatever other agencies I must deal with between now and then. Once again, my best wishes are sent to those on the East Coast dealing with the aftermath of the storms, but I am mostly praying for myself here, because I desperately need the FBI to get me my CBC back. Sorry.

As you can see, this is a perfect guide of exactly what NOT to do when you are trying to move abroad. I hope that lessons can be learned from my unfortunate case of procrastination and self-ruin, so that your travels might be much less stressful and costly than mine.

Today's Thought: If all this ends up happening, I am going to make everyone I meet pat me on the back, because I'll be deserving of some serious pats if I make it over there. This has sucked big time, and I have wanted to give up more often than not, but have not. Which leads me to the main thought: your dreams are not supposed to come easily. I highly doubt it if Bill Gates hit Microsoft's programming in one shot, and I know that Thomas Edison failed over a thousand times before he got the light bulb right, so why should any of our dreams come any easier? It's a hard pill to swallow, especially since all of us want instant gratification and have no concept of this so-called thing they call "patience," but that is how it goes. If you want it badly enough, you'll find a way to make it happen, and stop at nothing before you've done it. And that is what makes thing so much sweeter in the end -- knowing we worked our tails off, cried many times, probably bled a little (ladies), and thought we had failed and would never make it happen, but succeeded in the end. My dreams are too big for this world, but that's why I know they will work. Work hard for what you want, because if you persevere, in the end, you'll be proud.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Story Time & Visa/Travel Tips!

As usual, I got back into the swing of things in the writing world, just to get caught up in whatever land I happened to get lost in for a while, and now have some serious ground to cover in this post. In my last post, I went over the final things I had been doing in Los Angeles to wrap up, pack up, and move out. I have since been out of LA for quite a long period of time, living at my parents house, and since I know that they will read this, I will be kind in my assertions. No, I'm just joking, it's actually been quite an enjoyable time here. I have spent countless hours hanging out with the love of my life, my grandmother, and enjoying living a life of little to do. I realize I was only in the working force for seven months after graduating, but that many months spent in a cubicle from 9-6 really wears a gal out!

My main lady and I 

Living at home has meant: helping my grandma out with whatever she needs help with, aka Driving Miss Daisy all around town for her errands, lunches, and other sorts of "hang time," helping my dad out with the toffee/candy business we are building, and trying to unpack all my stuff (yes, that's right, it's been almost a month and I still have not put everything away, namely because there is more stuff than space, but also because it's a sad reminder of the life I gave up). Oh, and there have been lots of little trips. Most of them for the purpose of my visa and this whole moving-to-Spain process, but also some just to visit my dear friends.

But before I make you all jealous with my travels, I will start by reviewing a bit of the visa process, because it is a fairly crucial step for anyone to follow if they have the intention of going abroad for more than three months.

It's important that you find a website for the consulate of the country that you are trying to apply for a visa to because I assume they all have some sort of variations, and they usually include links to different sites you need to use, which could always vary too. Once you find the website, poke around a bit and then find what they require of you to get a visa. I recommend printing the list of things that you need so you can check them off, and do it like Santa..make the list, and check it twice! The list that I printed included nine different items, some of which include: my original passport + a copy, the visa application + a copy, a note from your doctor on medical letterhead that states you are "free of contagious diseases as per the international health regulations of 2005," a background check that has been verified by fingerprints, which must be notarized by a notary, and Apostilled by the Secretary of State (SOS), and originals and photocopies of several other things. Now, if you do all of this ahead of time and do not wait until a few weeks before you are supposed to be leaving, then you have nothing to worry about. So here is my first major travel tip: PLAN AHEAD! If you know you will be trying to leave and get a visa, plan accordingly. I would work on it at least a month in advance from when you need to have everything for your appointment (needed if applying in person, which many consulates require). You will be dealing with government entities and have no idea what kinds of hold-ups you will encounter with them, or any other part of the process. And trust me on this, because I am now in a position where I have a flight booked for the day after tomorrow, and all of the stuff I need for my visa isn't even in my possession.

I booked this flight about three weeks ago, knowing that my visa appointment was in San Francisco on the 24th of October. This would have given the Spanish Consulate 12 business days to process my paperwork and get me my visa (a reasonable amount of time). Unfortunately, I didn't look at the final steps that I needed to complete before I was ready for the appointment until a few days before my appointment, in true Allison Fedor fashion. So, the day before I was planning on leaving for San Francisco (I planned to go the night before so I wouldn't have to worry about driving there and arriving on time in one day), I went over everything to see what I still needed to get. I knew I needed to go to the Police Department (PD) and get a background check done so I could get it Apostilled, and that was the final thing I needed. I had gone to the doctor and gotten my letter saying I'm not a drug addict or walking contagion the day before, and was pretty sure it was semi-smooth sailing from there. So I went to the PD, got my paper, and then jammed. Naturally, I should have gone to the PD before the day I was planning on leaving/same day I needed to get it notarized and Apostilled, but like I said, it's me we're dealing with. After racing out of the PD like they were hot on my trail, I hopped in my car and left Stockton for Sacramento.

I was going to be pushing it on time, as the SOS closes at 5 o'clock, but knew I could make it. I got there no problem, found a parking spot that had over four hours left on the meter, and got up to where I needed to be. When the woman called my number, tragedy struck. I told her that I needed to get the background check notarized and Apolstilled (two things the information desk man said I could do there), at which point she informed me that they did not do the notarizing there. WHAM. What a slap in the face. Now, I've done this before. The last time I got a visa when I went abroad, I ran into the same procrastination-problem, and had to go and get all of these exact things taken care of in the same day, so I knew that I couldn't get it notarized there, but believed that maybe things had changed and it was now ok. It was, afterall, more than two years later. She told me that I could take it to the UPS Store and get it notarized there, but didn't think I'd make it back in time. Well, I was at the point where I was in Sacramento, about an hour and a half from SF, in an office that didn't open the next day until 9am, and my appointment for my visa was scheduled in SF for 10:30. My heart sunk and I saw my dream slip away. And then it happened, a miracle of God, the sign I had been waiting for and needing to assure me that this was the path I was supposed to travel -- there was ONE other person in that room waiting for an Apostille, and she piped up saying, "I can notarize." 8-O OH HAPPY DAYS! I couldn't believe it. I knew then and there that it was meant to be for me. She went to her car, got her notary kit, and then notarized it right there on the spot for me. It was amazing! I had to try my hardest not to jump on her with a hug. So I got it all taken care of, even got to get together with one of my best gal pals for a drink and a catch-up chat, and then hit it to SF.

When I woke up to go to my visa appointment, I was soaring so high in the sky. I knew things would work out, it would go smoothly, and I would be on a plane in two and a half weeks, ready to conquer the world and assume the role I was born to fill. Well, I've often said that things don't go the way we planned, and this was another one of those things. My heart broke as the good-looking Spaniard behind the visa desk belittled me, was rude, and told me what I'd done wrong. He informed me the letter I had from my doctor was wrong (missing five words it needed to be acceptable), and the background check that I had gotten, notarized, and Apositlled was also wrong (lacking fingerprint verification, and also not allowed to be from the City). Bottom line: every dollar and minute I had spent the day before running around, thinking I had gotten God's blessing, and everything, was essentially for nothing (other than a learning of how-not-to experience).

This is what I mean by do it like Santa and check it twice. Heck, check it three, four, five times, just make sure you read carefully and do not skip a beat, because they will nail you for it, and then you'll be forced to either cancel your flight for a 400$ fee, or reschedule it for a later date for another couple hundred dollars even though you paid for the trip insurance (my figures only, yours will vary -- don't use a cheap site if you're uncertain of your travel plans)!! So I'd learned of my errors, and got my doctor to write me the right letter, and figured out what I really needed as far as the screening was concerned. This required that I print a form and pay a fee to the FBI, and mail them the request form, with fingerprints. Now, this shouldn't be too bad, except for the fact that I sent out the form, money, and fingerprints to the FBI..... in West Virginia.... the day before Hurricane Sandy hit. Yeah, I'll give that a minute to sink in. . . . . .

RIGHT!?! How screwed am I!? As if sending something to the FBI wouldn't have taken a long time anyways, now I have a natural disaster to account for also! (Prayers, thoughts, and well-wishes to those affected over there!) So now, I play the waiting game, instead of the packing game. Instead of prepping to board at 9:30am on Friday, I am prepping to look into other alternatives and jobs. Instead of seeking out on the adventure of a lifetime, one that I have been manifesting for years, I am sitting in a green arm chair in my parents living room listening to KLOVE. (Not a bad option in retrospect, but still, you must admit that the former is a bit more exciting.) And again I repeat: PLAN AHEAD.

I have no idea when, or if, I will be going to Spain at this point. I have not heard back from the school where my job is to know if it's okay for me to arrive this late, and am unsure at this point if it's even what I'm supposed to do (big surprise). I have persevered through it all, because I refuse to believe that it's not what I'm supposed to do, and because, if at the end of it all, I've done everything I could and tried all the different things I could think of, and it still doesn't happen, I will know without a reasonable doubt I was not intended to go down this path. At this point, all I can do is wait, examine other options, and help my family as we try to grow a business, as well as pray and see what happens. It's a truly intense path of faith that I'm being sent down, which could be the real purpose in it all anyways. We'll see, my friends, we'll see.

Today's Thought: Do not live your life with expectations and thinking you can have it all figured out, because right when you think you've got all your ducks lined up, a curve ball comes and throws you off the track. It is better to just let life come as it may, and take it as it comes. Be patient, and slow to frustration and worry. Everything will work out how it's supposed to, even if it's not what you want. Let it be!