8 months in music city.

I have now been in Nashville for 8 months! This past year has been the biggest series of change in my entire life—moving to a new state, starting a new job, buying a house, adopting a kitten … A year ago (Feb. 17, 2009), I got an e-mail inviting me to interview for an editorial internship. I drove to Nashville over spring break for my March 19 interview, and was offered the position on March 24.

After ideal housing plans fell through, I drove into the city on May 27 with no place to live. A nice couple let me stay with them a couple of nights while I house hunted. There was no cell phone service at their place. I lived in my car for two days, emptying my gas tank as I trolled the interstates. I survived on granola bars and apple juice. After numerous dead end leads, I sat, frustrated and homeless, in a hot library parking lot and cried over the Psalms, certain God did not intend for me to start a life in this city.

But everything worked out. I found a wonderful couple on Craigslist who rented a bedroom to me for three months. I began my internship on June 1 then interviewed for a full time position on July 28. And basically, life hasn't been the same since.
June: Summer Intern Kayaking Trip
July: Summer Intern Baseball Outing
August: Becoming a TN Resident
September: Making Friends with the President/CEO
October: Buying a House
December: Celebrating My First Nashville Christmas
January: Adopting a Kitten


journal | 23 february 2009

Journal entry from 23 february 2009. I mourned with tears and buttered toast.
buttered toast. Total cornflakes. Mountain Dew. Doublemint gum. Juicy Fruit. outdated … everything. refrigerator pictures. ship in a bottle. really old books. Hoolie. Cash. Sam. "my little pixie." toy box. klondike bars. steep stairs. wichita. dog leash. big tree. red fence. squirrel feeder. unicorn glasses. chocolate milk, mostly chocolate. iced tea, mostly sugar. gray carpet. peanut brittle. grandma's pizza. basement of treasures. river. coupons in the mail. typewriter. candied yams. racism toward mexicans. dollhouse. gray walls. newspaper. irises. early mornings. sweetie. cigarettes. britches. oleo. Porter. so proud all the grandchildren would graduate from college. ruby rings. painted sweatshirts. birthday money. love. owls. magazines. photos. TV. afghans.


it's not a steady rain.

Good day at work today. Productive day. I fell asleep at 7 last night, so when I woke up, 5 a.m. felt like 8 a.m. With the exception of maybe an introduction and the indexes (ready though), I'd say 98 percent of our text for the books is on the pages. Finished up indexing today and now working on read throughs and CD-ROM prep. I think our managers should buy us an ice cream cake when we're done. (Just sayin'.) ;)

I went ahead and booked my June 4-6 flight to KC for Jenn's wedding. (Figured I might as well go all out since I've hit my February budget with three round-trip flights and mission trip application fee and passport.)

Miles has been crazy tonight, running around and attacking everything. I shut him in the kitchen and it calmed him down. I think he just gets overstimulated. (Note: Here's a giraffe picture I drew about a year ago in Adobe Illustrator, but the trial version I downloaded filled up my tiny hard drive--32GB!--so I had to uninstall it so my computer would function. This picture is totally unrelated to this post.)

Found out today that one of my friends from K-State is likely moving to Nashville! Anne was in town last week with her fiancee for an interview at Belmont. So I'm really excited about that. There's just something about having someone within 500 miles who knows relatively a lot about you and where you came from that I'm sure will be comforting (and make birthdays more exciting!).


sunday: sleep and chicken.

I've figured out why I haven't been sleeping well lately. 
It's because someone is curious and he can't do this quietly:

I thawed out a chicken breast last night and made homemade chicken breasts for lunch. Just cut it up then shake and bake. Really good and relatively inexpensive.
Today I used a piece of my tax refund and booked a flight to Philly. I have a former college roommate who has lived there for about two years and I haven't been out to see her yet. She came to Nashville this summer, and since I found a reasonably-priced roundtrip flight, I booked it. April 23-25. I'll take a 1/2 day that Friday to catch my 3:40 p.m. flight out of Nashville. I've never been to Philly, so it should be a fun weekend getaway. 

I signed up for Southwest Rapid Rewards, so if I take 8 roundtrip flights every 24 months, I earn a free trip! I added the flight I took last summer, so including Jenn's wedding in June, I'm up to 4 trips in this first year. Between seeing friends and flying home, I'm sure it'll be easy to get 4 more flights by June 30, 2011. 


going up.

I've been walking the stairs since I started in August. The goal was to walk up once daily, but that didn't always happen, and some days I walked twice. I ride the elevator to the bottom (to save my knees) then I walk up to the 7th floor (8 flights of stairs, because they squeezed an extra floor between conference level and 2nd). Before we moved in October, it was 9 flights to the 8th floor.

Today I walked my 99th time. I'm trying to decide how to celebrate #100.
Perks of walking stairs:
  • It's a good break from sitting at my desk
  • Gets my heart rate up = happy heart
  • My legs are staying toned
  • Burning calories (really not much, but better than nothing)
  • Not using the elevator = saving LifeWay's money!
  • Fighting #1 danger of office workers: Fat Butt Disease (via "Safety Training" - The Office)
  • If I can get someone to go with me, social interaction


oh happy day.


Booked my flight. :) Oh happy day.
Nashville to Kansas City
March 5-7



the refund I won't receive.

My sister (the CPA) was wonderful and filed my taxes this year. Fortunately I don't have to file in Tennessee, because there is no income tax here. Unfortunately, I still had to file in Kansas because I was a Kansas resident during my internship. And, obviously, the federal return.

Over two months as an intern, I didn't make anything significant, so I'm expecting a refund from Kansas. Erica filled out the online return and I ended up owing $48. LifeWay had already taken out $51 from my paycheck for Kansas tax, so my refund is a whoppin' $3.

Well, I'm feeling optimistic. $3 is better than nothing. I can buy myself a chai latte at Starbucks or something. Then Erica sees the note:

Overpayment of less than $5 will not be refunded.
You have the option of donating the payment to one of the following charities ...

So my $3 is now going to Senior Citizens Meals on Wheels.

Yeah, you can laugh. Thanks, Kansas, for giving me another reason not to miss you! Well, I'm glad it went to a good cause. And I'm also glad because I'll be meeting my standard deduction and thus itemizing for 2010, so I can count this as part of my charitable giving. :) Win-win.


cat + monkey.

My cat Miles and the monkey.

Erica and JR's cat, Grey-grey, and the monkey.



This post requires focus to get through. It's long and is about lots of random, unimportant stuff.

This morning I went to Andrea's classroom to help her out; I wasn't very productive because I only had two projects: making a handout and making 24 labels for stations. I made the handout first, using fancy flowchart pieces in Word -- the kids color in each square when they finish that station. I even added icons to match the icons I designed on the turn-your-work-in-here baskets. I spent way too long on it, and since the Internet was down, didn't finish the labels (I wanted to add clipart). Andrea took me out for a day-after-my-birthday lunch. We went to Panera and I got black bean soup and a whole grain baguette. Yum.

I scanned all my tax documents and sent them to my dad and my sister. Dad got to them first, and sent me a filled out form. I'll be getting a nice refund. I think I'm going to be itemizing next year because I'll be able to meet my standard deduction for being single. I also got a letter from the IRS today saying that in 4-6 weeks, I should be receiving my housewarming gift from Uncle Sam (have you seen that commercial?)! I'm excited; it's all going toward my mortgage, but I think I might spend the interest on myself.

Miles has been a little stinker today. He woke me up at 4:30 a.m. (again). If he's in my room, he walks all over me and knocks stuff of my nightstand. If I kick him out and shut the door, he stands there and meows his head off. So sleep is basically impossible. I didn't get up until 7. Just before getting up, I'm laying in bed and all of a sudden I hear this noise. It's loud, and I realize there is definitely something moving around in my attic. Ho-ly Cow. There is no way I'm dealing with that one. That's totally a guy's job. There had been a nest up there when they did the inspection and you could see daylight, but they removed the nest and supposedly blocked up the hole. So maybe something made a new hole. Maybe a squirrel (Margaret feeds them, so they are everywhere). Whatever it is, I hope it vacates or dies before I get back up there in the spring to clean the junk the previous owner left. Sheesh.

Every time I open the refrigerator door, Miles jumps in. Even if I'm pulling out some wet cat food for him. So tonight I'm trying to grab the cat food and hold it in front of his face before he jumps in so he realizes he's getting food and he jumps in anyway and I'm holding it down yelling, "Miles! Food! Focus! Focus, Miles!" Um, yeah. It's kind of ridiculous. I could probably film a reality show that documents the conversations I have with my cat. My coworkers can't imagine me yelling at him, but I do! He's cute but he frustrates me when he jumps up on things.

My engaged friend Anne is going to be in town on Tuesday to interview for a job at Belmont, so that's really awesome that I'll get to see her. What would be even more awesome is if she got the job and moved to Nashville! Wishful thinking. :)



 We're 22 today!

Picture: Don't wake me up at 4:30 a.m. … unless you're super cute. :]

Well, I know it's not over, but my birthday so far as been pretty good. Teresa surprised me with a gift because she felt bad that I have to celebrate my birthday so far away from family and friends. She's so thoughtful. :) Jeff and Bill moved a twin bed and boxsprings into my second bedroom, then for lunch we went out as a team. The calendar said, "Alyssa's Birthday. Location: Wherever Alyssa Wants!" You have to understand that I never eat out. So I've never been to most of the places in Nashville. But there's this place called Penn Station we've been to two or three times so I suggested we go there. (Because I knew I liked it; it was a safe choice.) 

Turns out "Wherever Alyssa Wants" isn't exactly accurate and Jeff and Cheryl vetoed my decision and suggested we went to Demos'. I'm glad they decided to go there; it's downtown so we walked (even though it was freezing!) and I enjoyed it. They brought me a free piece of cake with a candle and didn't embarrass me with a song. I shared my cake because I'm not a fan. The waiter also took a picture of our team (except for the boys who got cut out) and put it in a little paper Demos' frame for me to take with me.

I had a classic conversation with my friend Keira. It went like this:
"Happy Birthday, Lis! Are you having a party?"
"Thanks! And no ... lame."
"I'd come party with you if you had ice cream cake."
"Okay, great! I'll buy the cake. You drive to KC and get on a plane. You can be here in an hour and a half. But you have to buy your own plane ticket (I have a mortgage now, sorry!)"

If only. I think it'll be a pretty quiet evening. I have a phone date with my friend Jenn though, which I'm looking forward to. Anyway, here's to being 22. I'd say we've come a long way since the potty training days.



Last Thursday I became eligible to donate blood (after a 56-day waiting period), so I scheduled an appointment online. Apparently the Red Cross people downtown don't see it when I make an appointment online, so they called me. I missed a couple of them, but they kept leaving voice messages asking me to come donate. I think I had three calls in one day. Relentless.

I had scheduled my appointment for tomorrow afternoon, but I was in the mood to donate today, so I went. My iron was good (13.1). I always donate with my right arm because my left arm kind of wimps out when it comes to providing a decent vein

So today they're trying to put the needle in. I always start feeling a little queasy just in anticipation, and I can never look until they've covered the needle with a gauze. Well now they have Dr. Oz playing on the TV so I'm trying to focus on that when they start bringing out all these gross things like maggots and leeches and weird looking animals. So here I am trying to not look at the blood coming from my arm but over here is this TV showing maggots and leeches. I told the nurse to hurry because I didn't want to look at blood or leeches!

This guy came in to donate who knew everyone on the staff and was real funny. He donates double (both arms at the same time) so he had made himself this long stick with squeeze balls on each end. One of the ends was a character head with spiky hair. He used it if he needed to scratch his face during donating because he hates asking a nurse to do it. Then I was done. Favorite part of donating is probably snacks afterward. :) I'm good to go until April 7.


the good and the bad.

Yesterday I got home and found this:

Apparently Miles had eaten all his food during the day and was still hungry. So he dumped the trash.

Sometimes I get mad at Miles, but then he gets all cute and surprises me with sweet gestures:
And it's love.



Today I've been reading through the kids book we started working on 5 months ago. (It sure doesn't feel like it's been that long! Well, sometimes.) :) Some of the activities today included origami. Although they didn't call for swans/cranes, I was testing out the instructions and swans/cranes just happens to be what I'm good at. Now I have some fun decor for my computer screen.

(Note: I've heard I'm not the only person who covers the webcam with tape! There's no light to indicate if it is on, so I'm paranoid someone's watching me. The tape fixes that fear. ha!)



Miles decided to start talking today.
What do you think he said? Leave a comment!

Picture: Miles slept through the Super Bowl.



My friend Rob and his fiancee Melissa flew in last night. They got to my house around 12:30 a.m. (They were coming from the east coast, so their flight was delayed thanks to the huge snowstorm.) This morning we went to East Nashville for breakfast at Marche then saw all the Nashville sights including Hillsboro Village and the Parthenon in Centennial Park. They are in town for a wedding tonight in Green Hills.

We spent a couple hours walking around Hillsboro Village. It was cold! But it was fun walking in and out of all the little shops. One shop we stopped at was called FieryFinch. They had a lot of cute things, like these dachshund bookends and like these owl pillows, but I won't pay like $24 for something I am pretty sure I could make myself. :) But it's fun to look!

Taking it easy this afternoon. I think a nap might be in my future. I'm also going to make a grocery trip. Waiting to hear from Jenn so I can find a weekend to fly back to KC. She's getting married in June and I want to hang out with her before she gets hitched (and possibly moves to Colorado). I think if I could go anywhere in the world right now, I'd fly back to KC.



Problem solved! Apparently I don't need RCA at all. RF Coxial cable goes straight to the TV from the converter box. I don't know enough about what each cable even does but my dad called me and straightened me out. (So JR, you're right.)

Here's my dilemma: troubleshooting a converter box hook up to a TV without RCA jacks.

Here is my proposed solution:

Necessary Extras
1) RF modulator, or VCR/DVD player
The RF Modulator is less expensive, but since the TV and coverter box were free, I could splurge on a DVD player (or find an inexpensive used one).

2) Coaxial splitter.
RCA makes these for a couple bucks, but all I could find where all-female plugs.

3) Two extra coaxial cords.
I think I may have found coaxial cords with all-male ends (which is what I need). Somebody look at the link and tell me if I'm seeing that incorrectly. These would be for hooking the TV to the splitter and the splitter to the RF modulator.

The fix would be less than $35 (if I get the modulator, not the DVD player).

I bought two floodlights because mine stopped working. I didn't really suspect the bulb, but I though maybe they died at the same time. But I put the new ones in and … nothing. My breakers are fine; I think there's a problem with the switch. Though when I went out to my car this morning, one of them turned on. Oh, and my trunk still leaks as well as my kitchen sink. I'll troubleshoot those on another day.
Rob and Melissa are supposed to be flying in tonight (though that's not 100% sure with this mid-Atlantic storm—they have a connection in NC) around 11:30 p.m. I told them to call me and wake me up because I'll for sure be asleep!


controlled by the Spirit. (or, the reason I don't hit somebody.)

Last night I drove to CVS to get my passport photo. It only took a couple of minutes and I was on my way. So I planned today to walk to the post office over lunch and apply for my passport. Now I'm the kind of person who thinks ahead, strategizes … to save time. So before today I went to the passport website and filled out the application electronically and printed a copy. Then I get to the lady at the USPS counter.

USPS: "OK, you are going to need to fill out another application. When this prints, it smashes the size so the photo box is too small.
"And also, these photos aren't going to work. They are too grainy."

Me: "What? I went to CVS!"

USPS: "Just because they say they do passport photos doesn't mean they do them right."

Me: "So who does do them right?"

USPS: We do!

(Of course you do. And I bet you charge more than CVS, too. And note on the photos: CVS claims their photos meet government standards. And the asterisks only claim you can't apply for your passport there.)

So here I am not prepared to take a picture. I haven't touched up my makeup and my face is shiny. She points this out by telling me to wipe my forehead before she takes the second picture. (Thanks, lady for making me feel extra unattractive today.) Now my passport photo for the next 10 years will be Angry Alyssa.

Then I stand to the side and fill out my application by hand. Then I wait in line for the other customers to finish at her counter. Then she does everything, tells me to raise my right hand and swear that the information is correct and that the picture is an accurate representation of myself (my greasy, angry self).

Fortunately she marks the CVS photos as unacceptable so I can get a refund, which is wonderful because going home to dig my receipt out of the trash and then driving all the way back to CVS (which is not in a convenient location for me at all!) is exactly what I wanted to do tonight. Sheesh. I'm going to go walk the stairs to release some of my frustration.


dandelion decor

I think this would be neat to put on the wall in my bedroom. 
My wall is yellow, and the white-on-yellow would be subtle.

It's a vinyl wall decal that sticks on. Someday I will put up some decor in my house. Someday.


open. --the dentist

Today I went back to the dentist to get my $198 fillings. (One cavity, one crack around an old filling.) It took forever (like an hour) but they let me pick the TV station and I picked ESPN. SportsCenter was on. The dentist said he was happy I like sports because most people pick something like The View and he wants to mute it.

Lots of novacaine until I can't feel anything and the left side of my face feels incredibly fat, though it is only slightly puffy. When I got in my car to head back to the office, I kicked it into reverse and ... nothing. Just spinning tires on the sheet of ice that was the untouched parking lot after a weekend of snow/melting/refreezing. Fortunately there were two guys outside with shovels trying to clear a path in the parking lot and one of them noticed my trouble and stood in front of my car and pushed it backward until I was free.

After a tiny bite, I gave up on eating my sandwich for lunch because I couldn't differentiate between my tongue and my sandwich. I ended up eating it slowly -- tearing it apart and pushing it to the right side of my mouth before drinking water and making it soggy enough to swallow with minimal chewing. It wasn't the best meal I've ever had. It's always awkward, being numb like that, because you naturally smile at things but then the left side of your mouth isn't working. I should have picked up a milkshake instead.
<--- Miles was super purry when I got home today so I gave in and picked him up. He decided to sit on me and take a bath. I didn't mind because he's so stinkin' cute.

I finished my mission trip application today and got it in the house mail with the non-refundable deposit. I need to go to CVS tomorrow for my passport photos ... I wish CVS stores were easier to find on my route home! I see Walgreens everywhere, but I have my coupon for CVS. Then I need to take my application to the post office with my birth certificate and driver's license to apply for my passport.

Schools are closed again tomorrow. Andrea called me tonight and I told her I was jealous of her and her 5-day weekend. The sun was out most of the day, so that helped clear some things up, but there's a lot of slush and ice and I can't park on the roof. I'm ready for spring.
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