Sunday, August 29, 2010

TSA Warning!!

I was stopped by TSA in LAX airport on my way to Burning Man because my backpack looked suspicious.

TSA: "Before I search your bag, is there anything sharp or dangerous inside?"
Erika: "No, just a couple lightsabers. But don't worry, they are only training tools an are not fully functionally. They are not capable of instantly cauterization. "
TSA: "OK, so I am looking for two lightsabers... Wow, haha, I thought you were kidding!"
Erika: "Nope, I really am just a geek."

Upong further inspection and another x-ray just to be safe, TSA returned my lightsabers and rendered them harmless.

He had a huge smile on his face when I left, so I like to think I made his day.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Урра! Наши паспорты приехали!


Сегодня наши паспорты приехали.  Спасиба за Виза Экспрэс!  Было очень легко.  Я болновалась, потому что на моей фотографмии я улыбалась и это не приятно для России.  Не понимаю почему людям не нравится улыбаться... но я знаю, что иногда когда я улыбаюсь не можете видите мои глаза.  По моему, мой рот не красивый без зубов!  Итак, я играла денги и победила!

Подумаете...что сделает если Россия сказала нет и отказала, что нельзя приходить!  "Покеда, Джеймс!  Маршрут изменился!"

Я почти готова!


Today our passports came back in the mail.  Thank you, Visa Express.  It was actually super easy to get a visa with this company.  We just sent them our passports, a money order, some passport pictures and *poof* our passports had visas!  It was so convenient because there are 5 of us who needed visas for China, and I needed a visa for China and Russia.  I was worried because I was smiling in my passport pictures and I know that is not cool by Russian standards.  I don't understand why Russians don't like smiling faces...but I guess it is true that when I have a full smile on my face, you sometimes can't see my eyes.  In my opinion, my mouth looks ugly without a full set of pearly whites!  So, by sending them pictures of me smiling, I made a gamble and I won!

This was actually a legitimate concern on my part though.  Think about it...what would I have done if Russia said, "no" and refused my entrance into it's country!  "Buh-bye, James!  There has been a slight change of schedule!"

With my passport in hand, I am almost ready to start traveling!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh, Blog! How I've missed you!

Loyal readers, the mighty few who actually have asked my why I stopped writing, thank you for your "unrelenting" support.  My boyfriend, Nat, once referred to my love as "unrelenting," and tried to convince me he meant it in the best possible way.  Having the predisposition that this adjective is generally used in a negative way, I decided to look it up myself.  According to

un·re·lent·ing [uhn-ri-len-ting]  –adjective

1. not relenting; not yielding or swerving in determination or resolution, as of or from opinions, convictions, ambitions, ideals, etc.; inflexible: an unrelenting opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment.
2. not easing or slackening in severity: an unrelenting rain.
3. maintaining speed, effort, vigor, intensity, rate of advance, etc.: an unrelenting attack.

1.  relentless, merciless, unmerciful, ruthless, pitiless, cruel, remorseless.

2.  unremitting, implacable, inexorable.

My love is like a severe storm or a civil rights opponent.  I guess the whole "not swerving in determination or resolution" is flattering.  For the future generations who read Nat's Honor's Thesis, you will see his tribute to my "unrelenting love" in the acknowledgement section.  Thanks, baby!  ;)

Anyways, what have I been up to??  Well, I moved out of my fabulous SF apartment where I was briefly living with my best friend, Tristan, and moved back down to Los Angeles County to live and work at my parent's clinic.  My dad is a doctor and my mom is the office manager (cute, huh?).  They pay me handsomely enough to give up my sweet SF life and move back to the exciting city of Rowland Hts... haha  For the most part, I have been working at their clinic and taking many vacations on the side.

Since I moved back, I joined Nat's family along for their family reunion in Monterrey.  Highlights of the family reunion: Monterrey Bay Aquarium, seeing dolphins jumping not far from the shores and successfully managing to infect about 5 of Nat's family members with the Norovirus (food poisoning/24 hr flu) while on a family retreat... sorry guys!!

Nat and I looked up how difficult it would be to get a jellyfish tank.  Apparently they require a circular tank or they get stuck in the corners of the tank - crazy, huh?

I also went camping in the Santa Cruz County with the Santa Rosa Crew for Nat and Bobby's Birthday.  Childhood friends, both born on the same day, same hospital, and both dating fabulous women named Erica, spelled with a "c."  Highlights of the camping trip: over 30 mosquito bites (about 8 on my face alone!), a rope swing into a mini lake, winning a card game of BS while waiting since 7AM for the ranger station to open so we could make a campsite registration, stories around a campfire, and raccoon encounters.
From there, Nat and I eventually drove back to So Cal.  Highlights of So Cal: Venice Beach with my sister and her husband, Jacob; first construction of the dome we are to live in at Burning man, and loading up the car for TX.

Nat and I packed all of our stuff into my little Hyundai Accent hatch back and began the journey to Austin.  Highlights of the drive to TX: meeting up in Phoenix, AZ with Michael Caruso, Nat's high school friend, and Angelina Lin, my good friend from my study abroad program in Russia '06; a whole lot of nothing in New Mexico, and meeting my aunt Delia in Dallas.

Check out our pimped out ride down to Austin.  My uncle from Sacramento hooked us up with cheap furniture from his distributor in Dallas.  We drove my aunts truck from Dallas to Austin, then back up to Dallas... then drove our car back down to Austin the following day... phhhew, that's a long drive!

 It took us 4 hrs, since going over 53 MPH caused swaying!

Austin was fabulous of course.  Highlights of Austin: Apartment decoration, craigslist (everyone was selling their stuff to move to CA!), party at our new place with Austin friends we know from CA, hookah at the Arab Cowboy, pool party with Will, my ex-coworker from Health Diagnostics; lunch with Ginger Banks, past international president of AOII; and belated birthday dinner for Nat at Ruth's Chris.

Double-fisting hookah; I think I have already mentioned how much I love hookah!

Since I have been home, I have been preparing odd scraps of clothes for Burning Man, and successfully packed my backpack for my trip abroad. My trip is in less than 3 weeks... scary, right?

Everyone, I left my love in Austin, TX. When he told me he would see me in December, "It's only 120 days..." the longevity of my trip hit me and I couldn't but cry.  So, I decided to risk the side effects of one more flight and am going back to Austin before my journey.

On Sunday, I am flying to meet Mark in Reno, NV so we can party it up before heading to Burning Man and meeting Qui (little sister), Diana (older sister) and Jacob (husband).  After one week of crazy night events, bright lights, sand storms and burning art, I will be back on a plane to Austin on September 5th.  I am flying back to LA the morning of Sean's wedding (remember, the one I had to reschedule my tickets for?). Yay for cheap flights on 9-11! 

So there you go, you are all caught up!  Now, if I could only exude the effort to type this up in Russian.  I could definitely use the practice.