Monday, July 26, 2010

Movies Abroad

One of the relaxing things that we get to do here in Ohio is to watch movies. We watch more movies here in States than we do back home in Manila. We unconsciously made it a Sunday habit practically because there's nothing much to do here on the weekends except shopping, eating and movies.

We watch at Newport on the Levee in Kentucky, an entertainment hub full of classy restaurants, bookstores and bars with minor retail shops. It's a 15 minute scenic walk from the apartment. From the office, it's a 10 minute walk, we would just have to cross the bridge. Newport on the Levee can be seen from our apartment on the East and south from our office in Cincinnati, which is just across the river.

**Newport on the Levee, out for July 4th dinner at Claddagh Irish Pub.

Newport houses AMC Theaters. They have 20 cinemas there, not that it really matters, I haven't experienced falling in line even on prime weekends anyways. It's 10 Dollars per movie, 14 Dollars if you want to watch it on 3D. Since they have 20 cinemas, there is an average of 2 theaters per movie. So if you missed your target screening, there's probably another one coming up 30 minutes. They also have combos of humongous refillable popcorn and drink for another 10 dollars. But there are no sure seats. You just buy a ticket by telling them what you want to watch, they'll print it and you go to the cinema lobby. Once there, you submit your ticket and immediately be welcomed by a huge counter that sells the usual movie finger foods. You go to the hallway where cinemas are located and just enter the tunnel where your chosen movie is being shown. No one would check whether you are entering in the right theater just in case you change your mind on which movie to watch. No one even checks if you're just killing time by watching three different movies. You can even watch half of a crappy movie and transfer to the other one. Minor things adopt an honor system here, clearly not what we practice in the Philippines.**Walked from office to Newport on a Friday afternoon. We were about to watch Eclipse here.

So far so good. I already watched three movies since I got here. I watched Eclipse, Inception and just a few hours ago, Salt starred by Angelina Jolie. My movie experiences here have been relaxing and fulfilling so far. I guess my 10 dollars per movie was worth it. The sound and picture quality are top notch and the same back home. But I believe our cinemas back home are more compact and sophisticated in terms of the seats and layout. It's not that bad like your normal SM Cinemas, but just a minor thing I've noticed. One more thing I noticed was that theaters are hardly sold out even on the first weekend. Unlike in the Philippines, to watch a good movie on the first weekend you'd either reserve seats online or go to the movie house at least 4 hours before. I believe movie watching is not so much popular here.

Movie experience here is okay, not extraordinary, but okay. It helps curb the homesickness and occasional boredom. Movies almost always relieves the mind and strengthens imagination except when the movie is downright crappy. This is what I have been doing just to bring more life to a weekend charged of shopping. There must be some other things to do than eat and shop here, right? Well, this is it for me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Getting my groove back

I know. I know. I haven't written here in such a long time. It seems like forever. But I haven't forgotten this blog at all. I just don't have the mood to write these days practically because there was no time and energy. Everything's fast forward here that you just want to rest when you get home and marvel at your bed. And my mind is on overdrive every single day and activities come and go on a weekend. Whenever I actually have an interest to write after a long day, the bed just kills it.

It's a different kind of stress here compared to the Philippines. In the Philippines there are more hours to do stuff. Here, hours aren't enough, seemingly. And in the Philippines I work, I do the shots and face the pressure I'm used to. Here, I undergo training which involves a lot of assessments, interactions and adjustments. Not exactly my cup of tea. 8 Full hours of training with tests can really put you in an unimaginable pressure cooker not to mention I have to do small talk all the time with people who are practically strangers. I feel awkward. But I'm fine. I'm coping and I'm still having fun whenever I can. Sadly, I just don't have the time to write.

When I'm at home, I cook dinner, do some cleaning and laundry which take up my time. By 9 Pm I'm pooped and I just go online to surf and watch entertaining stuff in youtube. For some people, that may be a perfect picture of a lonely life, but I think a part of me is built that way so I don't feel weird about it. As long as I'm in my bed with everything I need in my bedside table then I'm fine.

I'm loving my life here, but I know it's time to do some writing. I can't be consumed with comfort and silent pressure. I've got to get my groove back. I've been silent long enough.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Philippines Rock the Storm

While my colleagues and I here are enjoying a cozy, gloomy and slightly rainy day in Cincinnati, our family and friends back home in Manila are suffering a major beating from a tropical typhoon. We have been receiving precautionary emails from the office regarding the storm's build up since yesterday only to find out this afternoon that it has escalated into a stronger scale. The last communication I got from Manila was an email from Mitch telling me that he heard a major explosion nearby and electricity's out in major parts. He was using the remaining battery life of his gadgets. Apparently, brownout is still in effect after 10 hours and it temporarily inactivated my friends and family in Facebook. Mitch hasn't replied to me and almost everyone I know in Manila is offline.

Worried about the folks back home and looking at the gloomy skyline outside our office windows, I asked my American colleague if they have extraordinary natural calamaties in Ohio. And it was like asking for her to decipher a code for me. Cincinnati, the queen city of Ohio, gets rains. They do have storms, but she couldn't remember the last time they had one. Nothing ever seriously bad happens in Cincinnati, which is always a good thing and a weird one for us who hail from Manila. I would imagine if we give them a Signal number 2 storm lashing, they might feel it would be the end of the world. She asked me if Philippine has bad storms. If she only knew how storms become a usual natural calamity for Filipinos. Things like Ondoy, with heavy rains and fiery Milenyo, are of course nightmares and glaring exceptions. I don't think any country could have prepared for those two major storms that actually brought the adaptable, tough and resilient Philippines to its knees. Storms are fine. Strong storms are manageable at some point. I just hope it doesn't go beyond what Philippines could bear like deathly floods that clogs major streets for days, uncontrollable epidemics, numerous landslides, massive drowning and infrastructure damage.

As much as I'm scared for the folks back home, I cannot help but feel confident that Filipinos could withstand another storm. We may always fall down, but we certainly know how to get up. People would get together soon and invent ways to communicate and save each other. Filipinos are generally optimistic and very ingenuous. Philippines as a country is strong and very advantageous in terms of the landscape. They should all be fine. I believe this storm is just passing through.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dreams 101: I just overate

I had a dream last night. Predominantly I was in my village in sepia effects. The houses and streets are accurate and recognizable. Instead of our new house, in my dream, I still lived in my old house across the street. In the dream, my setting changes from my house to a busy international airport. Some pieces of the dream escape me, but I know for sure that I am assigned to go to Paris for work with two of my current colleagues. Upon the news, I shuffle back and forth to my house. It seemed that my colleagues were already given an envelop that contains our important documents. I saw a barcode on one of the documents while my colleague examines it. It seemed we're already in the crowded airport and they have packed bags with them. I excused myself and shuffled back to my house which is a hop from the airport. I got a suitcase, a black with purple lining. I opened my cabinet. Some of the clothes that I chose I recognize while some I know I don't have in real life. While packing, my bag kept on expanding as I went to search for more essentials. I randomly check my time. After that, there's a blur. There was a part that I booked a roundtrip ticket to Paris. Missed it only to find out in the airport that a popular Filipino travel agency will book a ticket for us. I wasn't worried about the added charge on my silver credit card. They told us to wait since they have lots of clients. Upon that knowledge, I went back to my village to pack more stuff. I found myself biking in reverse while I saw two familiar faces talking about me. I realized I was on backwards, but I was faster that way and stuck to it. I arrived at my house. In a few minutes my dad entered the front door asking me if he would bring me to the airport. I resoundingly said yes. While there, I received a call telling me that a ticket had been issued.

I woke up at 5:30 am with a bladder that was about to burst. I tried to sleep again, but I couldn't. Instead, I took my mini note and searched for the meaning of the major activities I did in my dream: pack, bike in reverse, fast constructive thinking, Paris?

Most I got from the internet is that for PACKING/SUITCASE: I'm preparing for a journey (professional, social and spiritial), I'm choosing or taking a major risk in my life. It might that I was prioritizing or extracting excess baggage in my life. RUNNING IN REVERSE means I'm doing an unpopular method in achieving things or running in denial or a constant struggle. Or fleeing something or someone in my life.

I do have dreams, but I won't remember it when I wake up. It starts to bother me if I remember vivid details after waking up or strong emotions are stirred within me. I usually get this when I was upset when I slept or if I overate the night before, which in this case is reason number 2. I've dreamt of bad things that happened to me, horrific things that I would not dare remember, happy and ecstatic things that I wish I would remember. I even dreamed of Ethan Hawke waiting for me in a white background with a red car. He looked exactly the same as Troy Dyer in the movie Reality Bites, but it's been years and things like that do not happen in real life. Let's see. But first, let me have breakfast.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lazy Weekend at KY

Yesterday I stayed in my apartment. 80% of the time I was in my room. 10% I was in the living room to get a breath of fresh air. 10% I was in another apartment for late night dinner and some live chit chat.


Movies Watched yesterday:

1. Harry Potter Movies 1 to 4
2. Forces of Nature
3. 28 days
4. Final Destination 3
5. Truman Show

Internet Usage: (All done in the bed)

1. Blog
2. Facebook
3. Youtube
5. BPI expressonline

Meals (IN the dining and living rooms)

1. Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese, ham and mustard, yogurt with fresh strawberries and chocolate milk
2. Brunch: Half of Cheetos and Orange juice
3. Late Lunch: Toast with cream cheese and chicken soup
4. Snacks: Iced Coffee and Twinkie
5. Dinner: Italian Spaghetti and cookies

Other Productive Activities:

1. Bath at 5 pm
2. Nail polish at 5:30


1. None.


1. Ideally at 5 pm, but nope. Not a single sweat in an airconditioned apartment.

I'm not proud of yesterday. I wasn't productive at all. I just ate and slept the entire day. But the guilty feeling is...I enjoyed it immensely. I deserve this day once in a while. I shouldn't be hard on myself. Laziness and voluntary house arrest moods come when you need it.

But yesterday is over. Today is a new day. I have a dinner invitation to go to, but before that I will do laundry, fix my room and get some clothes ironed to prepare for another week at work. Today is a promising day indeed.

Does Lindsay Lohan deserve to be Jailed?

A resounding YES.

The sentence is a product of her irresponsibility. She wasn't able to fully carry out the court's instructions. She even has a legal team to remind her, which I have every reason to believe they did. How hard is it to follow concrete instructions written on paper or attend hearings on scheduled dates?

She cries because she doesn't believe that it is actually happening to her not because she realizes what she did was wrong. The thought of jail was only a fantasy of her detractors, but now she would play and live the part. The tears are for humiliation, frustration of her situation and anger with herself. She says she is sorry, but it was a little too late.

I don't feel hatred towards Lindsay Lohan. I'm not a big fan of hers either...especially now. I could've been until she kept doing silly things that created too much negative attention. It's funny that people all around her want to help her probably not all out of concern but because out of a good challenge. But even if you gather all Dr. Phils in rehabs, the change should initiate from within. And I believe Lindsay Lohan already had too many extensions on merciful judgment. She needs to be accountable. It may be the only way she could learn and change for good. Who knows, she might be having a beautiful comeback from the lowest of the low. She might have her own E True Hollywood stories.

Anti-Bella and Pro-Jacob

In lieu of the Eclipse movie I've just recently watched, I think it's about time for me to share my views on the characters. Though not a fan, I have formed my own preferences.

To start it off, I hate Bella's guts. It may not be her fault that the vampire and the werewolf woe her, I don't know why, but she makes everything worse. I just hate the fact that she's not sensible enough to stop a conflict. But if not for her incompetency and fickle minded nature, the story would not have progressed, right? Her personality, dependency and nature just tick me off.

Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson, is still awkward for me. I wouldn't know for sure if he's the best actor out there to play the part, but it seems Edward's lacking a bit of personality and stellar. He fixes things, shows disapproval here and there, but that's about it.

Jacob Black, now that is a character. I've always liked him from the start. He evolves and he has the guts to offer something unlike Edward who offers only love and gets a little bit too protective. Jacob knows the human side of having fun, evolving and right amount of protection. I like him. He has a great sense of humor. He's not bland and frozen. Just like he said, he's hot.

So to summarize it all, I hate Bella's guts. Edward Cullen doesn't exist to me. Jacob Black I prefer. So to all violent reactors out there, feel free.

Movie 101: Eclipse

After work, my colleagues and I decided to catch a movie as a form of relaxation after a week's information overload work. From our office building, we took one of the industrial bridges from Ohio to cross to Newport on the Levee in Kentucky. The mall reminds me of Greenbelt, but a tad smaller and less flashy. It has lots of upscale restaurants of different cuisines, retail shops, huge Barnes and Noble and a movie house. With the list of movies to watch, I decided on watching Eclipse just because the book hinted a more interesting scenes of confrontation.

I'm not a HUGE fan of the Twilight Saga though I've read all the books. The first book was enough to get me interested. The second book is a teenager's diary from hell, which I had a constant urge to throw away. The third book gives more meat, confrontation and less cheesiness. The fourth book I have extremely mixed feeling for, it was bland. But I totally respect those who are fanatics especially when the movies came out. I have been in that phase once, but as for the Twilight Saga, it just wasn't for me.

Eclipse is indeed more entertaining, though I was not spared by some extremely cheesy scenes that don't necessarily happen in real life. Kirsten Stewart's acting has improved. Edward Cullen played by Robert Pattinson, still feels struggling and awkward. Jacob, played by Taylor Lautner, seems at home with his role. The action scenes were manageable, not spectacular. The wolves are like floating computer effects, I don't know how it's shown in 3d. The movie is entertaining enough, but could be easily seen in DVD. Nothing grand unless you're a fan of course, which I'm not.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Books in Tow: Atlas Shrugged

I'm not sure if I blogged about this already, but let me blog about it again since I feel like it. There aren't any rules here for me since it's mine...ha!

When I got my first pay at work last June, the first set of things that I bought, which I indulged in were books. Lots and lots of books. I bought my latest set of books on a rainy Saturday night while Mitch conveniently did his business transactions nearby. I missed the feeling of like being in a candy store, only that I'm looking at aisles and aisles of books. And I was purchasing without a care of the price. It was an empowering feeling.

You see, before I transferred to my new company I had tons of bills to pay. My financial status was in shambles that's why I haven't had time and enough resources to squeeze books in. I wasn't really happy and proud of that phase. So I just kept a list of books that I had planned to buy so when the good cash came in, I stuck to my list and fired away. It was good timing too since I knew that I would be traveling and I always bring good books to accompany me on my new adventure.

One of the books that I brought with me is Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I brought this because I have been itching to read it since my literary maturity and I saw the thickness will make me miss home less. I don't know why I haven't read this earlier since I know about it since eternity, but I think it has something to do with the right timing.

Atlas Shrugged is considered a classic in a sense that there has been editions and versions of it over time. I remember when I was still in my RL Stine phase, I have seen this particularly thick book. Naturally the plot was not an interest back then, but as time went by this particular book kept on nagging me as Leo Tolstloy's Annakarenina did. Atlas Shrugged is one of those books wherein you just have to read at least once in your lifetime. Your literary experience would not have been complete if you missed it. When I have conquered Annakarenina, I was hooked though it was a challenging read. I knew I could take anything else. It was a period piece with a unique narrative style and it is thick. Atlas Shrugged just like Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth is also noticeably thick and has the industrial era and plot as a setting. Though the thickness could be intimidating, it is something that I am already used to. It's the writing style and setting that scare me the most. It could make or break the book instantly.

Thankfully, Atlas Shrug does not bore me. It is an interesting read. Just like Annakarenina and Pillars of the Earth, I feel this particular book will have an audience forever. This is one of the literary works that has authentic characters and interesting plot that would be understood and appreciated through time. No wonder it has been republished and even used in advance literary major classes.

Now, this is the first book I'm reading while I'm here in Ohio. I specifically felt like bringing it here to face dull moments, but unfortunately work and activities bog my reading pace, but I'm getting there. The characters are interesting and it's my first time to read a plot in an industrial era with the railroad business as a backdrop. It's philosophy, economy, drama and suspense combined. I'm beginning to love it. Hopefully I could get to finish it next week. I have three more books egging in my closet.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Strawberries in Surplus

Strawberries in the Philippines are small and very expensive. We only get reasonably priced strawberries mostly in Baguio and it's a 5 hour drive from Manila. The ones available in Manila (if you ever find one that's not trampled on and small) are over priced. I remember being in Rockwell Mall in Makati and saw small personalized plastic boxes containing huge pieces of strawberries. I got excited and was ready to purchase only to put it down immediately when I found out that the box of strawberries costs 600 pesos, that's almost already 8 dollars. So eating strawberries or something with strawberries are considered treats, sadly it's one of my favorite fruits ever.

When I did my first grocery shopping last weekend in Walmart, I saw boxed strawberries, the exact same packaged strawberries I saw in Rockwell. It welcomed me and it pulled me from where I was standing. I was having a mesmerized moment there and the shock came when two boxes of big strawberries are priced for three dollars, which is almost 130 pesos. From 600 pesos/box in the Philippines to 70 pesos/box in the US, that's more than a bargain.

Now, it's Strawberry country in my apartment. I eat it as a snack or as a garnish. I eat it while waiting for the bus and I eat it with my pancakes. I eat as many as I want. Strawberries had become a staple for all of my colleagues who are here and I intend to saturate my desire before I go home, though come to think of it, I don't want to do that in the fear of missing it too much when I'm back in Manila. But whatever, I'm going to enjoy the strawberry surplus for now until I smell, I look and I bleed strawberries. It's something that I could really eat the whole day and something that I definitely could afford without cracking my daily budget.

The strawberries are perfect. It's big, plump, juicy and fragrant. These boxes are my second set since I got here in Ohio last weekend. Strawberries are available in cheap prices. These are everywhere in Walmart, Krogers, Meijers or fruit markets.

In ironic news though, SAYOTE, as in the green vegetable we put in soup dishes or stews in Manila that costs 20 bucks a piece, in the US, it costs 4 dollars each or 188 pesos. Goodness! Great thing I don't eat SAYOTE.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Harvey's first Skype

I was on Skype with my mom and my sister yesterday and my mom told me how I have forgotten Harvey. She pointed out that I hardly ask her about how he's doing. Right. If she only knew.

I haven't forgotten him at all. I keep a picture of him on my temporary desk. I pray I don't see any dogs in sight. I also don't include him in conversations because I know I would be missing him more. But I'm not worried about him at all. I know he is well loved by my family and my boy is really smart. He knows his way around. He's tough and a smart alec. Nevertheless, I know the guys back home would take care of him and let him enjoy his life. Surprisingly even my father, who has no emotion or care for domestic pets, gives extra care to Harvey though he actually calls him Barbie. It's the actual thought and care that count anyways.

While I was on Skype with my sister I told her to put Harvey on. I wanted to see him. My unusually pliant sister got Harvey and made him face the webcam for his first Skype experience. While I kept on calling his name, his head moved everywhere searching for that voice. I hope he hasn't forgotten me.

I was chatting with my friend who just got back from the States and she told me how much her dog missed her after a month of absence. She understands how I feel, putting the dog on Skype and all. But I don't know if the Skype thing did me any good. I believe I miss him more than ever.

Week 2 Reflections: Ohio-Kentucky

Work has been a bit of a stretch lately practically because we're pressured to learn a complex function (as fast and accurately as possible) and figure out how to fix documents and the actual migration. When I go home to our wonderful apartment, I hardly have any time to write, read news from home, and do something relaxing and productive. I usually result to extremes. It's either I do something labor intensive like laundry and washing the dishes or completely relax and get lost in my comforting bed doing nothing. Blogging in between is a treat and requires really good mood nowadays.

Lately I don't have anything to write except about work, which I would try not to do in this blog. I've had too much of work already in one day only to repeat it through blogging. I couldn't write about the news either. I hardly read news online since I got here. In fact, I feel detached from news of my home country except from a couple of Skype and Facebook chats with loved ones that constantly remind me that reality is waiting for me after three months of getting stuck in this comfortable routine.

My colleagues and I wondered how it was easy for us to adjust in one week just because we've prepared for the inevitable. We thought we would die of homesickness and curse the apartment we're in, but it's the opposite. The apartment is very comfortable, the place isn't a drastic difference back home and the people we interact with are really nice (most of them anyways). Positive outweighs the negative, which helps in the adjustment process. We feel we've been here for a month. We already know the various bus stops and activity schedules of the city. We have been to the grocery a couple of times and we know how to budget our expenses. I don't know if Filipinos are just too westernized to put too much effort in adjusting, or we are normally tough and adaptable people by nature. Whatever we Filipinos have, it works, which figures that we're globally dispersed.

Irregardless, stress is always a familiar face wherever country you're in. Work is still work no matter where the territory is. Right now I just need a full weekend to recover and get back to my writing activity. There are so much stories to tell and I've got a backlog of books I brought with me. I just need to find the right mood and energy...soon.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Steady Sunday

Shopping isn't my strength, but I endured it for three straight days. It was tiring and challenging at first, but I got the hang of it, only that I have a limit and I've reached it.

This morning I took the 30 minute bus to Florence to go to the Old Navy Outlet, which I have visited for three days straight. I always seem to get something when I'm there. It never ends until the money's available. Since this is the last day of sale, I decided to take advantage of it. I searched for the bus schedule, took the earliest trip possible and dropped off at the outlet. After my Old Navy stop, I went to do my grocery shopping at Kroger's, which is just beside the outlet store. I purchased food good for two weeks and I slaved to bring 7 heaven bags excluding the three bags from Old Navy to the bus then the 2 blocks walk to the apartment. It was very nice that Ice, my colleague, was there with me or else I would've just stayed there and rotted.

I arrived at the apartment at around 3 pm and left all the stuff just near the main door. I took a shower, cleaned my room, arranged the food items that I bought, cooked my lunch and just relaxed. After my late lunch, I locked myself up in my room to enjoy the rest of the Sunday afternoon.

Thank God for quick meals that are supposed to be a little healthier than usual. Late lunch was Parmesan Crusted fish fillet, pilaf rice, toasted wheat bagel with cottage cheese, mustard and ham. Preparation time: 15 minutes.

This is my reward, a steady Sunday with cold fresh Orange juice and full lunch.

I feel drained...seriously. Three days of roaming around is no big joke. It was hot and physically challenging carrying those bags. Instead of resting for another week of hard work, we slaved through retail shopping. It was a fun experience, but I don't think I would be doing something like that anytime soon. I need to recharge and to save up for other possible expenses which could happen in the next 9 more weeks.

A lot of things could happen still, but the full week was a blast. For now, I'm staying low key until the next big bang happens.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My 1st Week So Far

My first week so far had been great. First of all, my apartment's cool. It may not be in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Cincinnati Business District, but I believe it's better to come home to a quieter set up where cars are passing by at a minimum. My neighbor is a row of red bricked houses that speak coziness and character. As far as I'm concerned me and my colleagues are the loudest people in the street. Speaking of the apartment, this made us easily adjust in a week because we have everything that we need down from cleaning, laundry, cooking stuff, electronics, communication and other apartment facilities like the gym, which unfortunately I care less about. The overall apartment space including the closet space is fantastic. My bathroom is more than sufficient and the bed...oh the bed...I could sleep in it forever. Going home from a busy day at work just thinking of the bed is more than enough to keep my spirits up.

Really spacious and cozy.

Love this kitchen. Everything's here and it's updated.

Bathroom is very sufficient too.

This bed is so fantastic.

Waiting at the spacious Covington Transit Center. Our gateway to possibilities.

First Sunday at Cincy. Syempre Walmart.

My apartment's location is also cool. Though my apartment is in Covington Kentucky, we're only 5 minutes away from Cincinnati Ohio. We just have to cross the bridge to get to our offices. Our apartment is just a couple of blocks from the Covington Transit Center where the very helpful and convenient TANK buses are there to take us to all possible routes in Kentucky and Ohio on schedule. Thanks to the ever reliable TANK buses and their helpful website, we have been to various shopping malls, outlet stores, groceries and work without the hassle. Without TANK buses, life for us here would've been different.

TANK Bus to Walmart

Roebling Row, just outside my apartment building.

As expected for the young, empowered Pinoy professionals, we didn't waste time on our first weekend and we went to our nearest WALMART store to stack up our fridge and cupboards. It's especially fun for first timers to see a grand showcase of retail and food items on a relatively good WALMART prices. We got our two weeks' worth of groceries there for less than 100 dollars. After WALMART we felt we could conquer the rest. In between work we go to WALGREENS to pick up stuff and as early as the 4th of July long weekend, we already went and shopped at Macy's, Florence Mall in Kentucky, Bath and Body, Kohl's, Target, Old Navy Outlet and the ever famous, Best Buy. In one week, in our second weekend here, most of us spent hundreds to thousands of dollars buying laptops, cameras and gaming consoles in Best Buy, Make-up and vitamins at Walgreens and cool retail stuff from outlet stores and malls. We start our day early and end it late with sore backs from carrying too many shopping bags. We have been doing the same thing for three consecutive days now. We plan to do it again tomorrow and we still have 9 more weeks here.

I admit that shopping isn't my thing and I hardly had any panic attack at the products of Best Buy, but I did shop more than I usually do. I practically shopped for my family and Mitch and I only bought a couple of Bath and Body products for myself with a couple of sale shirts and sandals. Shopping here is great because technically the company money paid for all of the retail therapy. It wasn't an impulsive buy either. It was the 4th of July sale and a good one. To sample, I bought 3 2010 tennis rackets for 30 dollars each with 10 dollars duffel bags for me and my brother. I bought 30 bottles of Bath and Body products, half those bottles were practically free. Old Navy, Macys and NYCo. fill the gaps.

600 dollars in 3 days...not too bad at all.

Going home at 8 or 9 pm with shopping bags in tow is a very empowering feeling. At first we feared at the inevitable accounting activity at the end of the day, but the items we all bought are in good condition, good faith and bought with good intentions. It all somehow eases the guilt. I'm not a shopper, but I burned my wallet this early in this trip. This place is the center of retail therapy. No matter which busy or laid back state you're in, the retail staples are consistent. Anyone who has ever been here should know; and anyone's first time is an experience.

Most important in the mix is that my colleagues are also a blast. Each and everyone has character. I can say that we all get along for now which is important in enjoying our new environment. My colleagues have their own strengths to contribute to our stay. We have seasoned chefs, navigators, comics and intellectuals on board. We are beginning to learn more about one another and the setting seldom makes it funner. One thing we have in common though, which I have proven, is the Bath and Body sale.

My first week has been good if not a complete blast. I was able to maximize my apartment's facilities, maximize my TANK BUS, went to various stores in two States, enjoyed July 4th celebration, ate at fabulous restaurants and constantly share laughter with my colleagues. We sometimes forget we're here for training. I never expected it to be this cool. We have 9 more weeks to figure things out though, but since the first week has been good, then the 2 more months here would be a piece of cake.