Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Since this week is spring break for me and I have two days I can devote to something other than living and breathing literature, Jeff and I have been trip plannin' fiends. We found out a couple of weeks ago that hostels in Norway were filling up fast, so we did our best to get the smaller towns booked on Sunday.

Norway is expensive. So, so expensive.

Our first plan of attack was to buy a Hostelling International membership. You can get it in Portland for $28/adult (though I've found digital memberships for less) and save 10% on hostels worldwide. We're saving enough money on our first two hostels the membership is paid for. YIKES.

The small town we're staying in on our wedding anniversary (appropriately the same name as my last name) does not have an HI hostel, but rather 3 other options: moldy and sleazy, falling apart and sleazy or "mid range" aka a decent hotel at a price considered luxury in Portland. We finagled our way around the internets and found a "frequent guest programme" for the mid range hotel that was free to join and allowed us to save 20% on our room, bringing the price down a bit.

(this brings up another important point - don't get exasperated and book without looking for a discount. I can't tell you how much we've saved over the years just searching a bit deeper)

Eating in Norway is a whole 'nother mess. Every place we stay includes breakfast (a requirement) and I'm a huge fan of bringing food from home to survive slightly less vegan friendly areas, but it looks as if we'll be packing much more than usual. I gleaned a few tips from this lovely lady's blog post and am leaning heavily towards freeze drying everything we have in the fridge. You think I'm joking.

I really can't complain too much though. I mean, what's travel without a little problem solving? Plus, look at some of the sights we get to see in Norway alone:

Viking Ship Museum, Oslo (I mean, c'mon)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Legs are Strong.

In training for my first half, I've learned two things.

1) Sometimes running comes as easy as breathing, sometimes it's a horrific uphill struggle.

2) My legs are strong.

The past two weeks I have ran longer and farther than I have before. My minutes-per-miles times are coming down while my mileage is going up. Today I ran 8 miles and half of those (ok, the easier first half) were in the 12 minute range. I am not a fast person, so to see my pace go from 14 to 12 in the space of just a couple months is amazing to me.

My legs are tired right now, but I know they'll be ok tomorrow. Just like they were last week.

Shamrock run is this weekend, I'm tackling the 15k. The very uphill 15k. Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


So, we're going abroad again. In September.
While most of the people in my life have been incredibly supportive and excited for us, there are some out there who ask, "oh, did you win the lottery? Where do you get all this money? How can you complain about being broke the rest of the year when you go on trips like this?"

Lately, these comments have really started to bother me. Yes, we live pretty damn frugally throughout the year, which puts a cramp in my social life. In January, we moved and paid some tuition out of pocket, which meant we spent an entire month's salary EXTRA on things we normally wouldn't spend money on. That put us in a rough spot but, as we always do, we made it out just fine.

When somebody asks me where I get all this money from, I just say "a tax return." I shouldn't have to say anything else because frankly, it's nobody's business. I am not going in debt to go on these adventures. I am not begging, borrowing or stealing the money. This is my money I'm spending.

I was telling Jeff last night that these trips of ours are the only thing keeping me going right now. Just the thought of "hey, we're really going to do this again" keeps my spirits up. I have no idea what I'm going to do after I graduate. I have no idea if I'll ever find a job in my area of interest. I do know that I spent one depressing summer unemployed, the next working just one day a week and now I'm working  3 days a week while going to school. The time I spend at home, bored out of mind, is suffocating. I hear friends complain about "losers on funemployment" but it's not like that. It's not easy to get a job right now, and it is really, really depressing. I put out 60+ resumes during the summer of 2009 and only landed a job at a horrific small company thanks to a friend that worked there. The summer of 2010 was spent much in the same way, but with no job at the end.

When Jeff and I go on these trips, we live damn cheap. We sleep in sketchy hostels in red light districts to save a few bucks. We live off of bread and peanut butter from foreign grocery stores. We bring instant coffee and Larabars along to sustain us when we can't afford the breakfast not included at the hostel. We walk, everywhere, to save on transportation costs. We try our damnedest to stay under $100/day for both of us, which isn't always the easiest considering the exchange rates.

I grew up poor. This isn't something new to those that know me. I never, ever thought I would have the opportunity to see the world but now that I have, I can't give it up.

If I have to live dirt cheap all year long just to buy plane tickets, I will do it. If I have to live with a crappy cell phone plan in order to buy plane tickets, I will do it. If I have to volunteer for anything and everything under the sun to get free race entries, beer festival entries and vegan food, I will do it.

All I ask is you not question my finances, my responsibilities, my life. The way I see it, I'm doing just fine.