Monday, August 27, 2007

The Unemployment Line

Last Thursday night, Ken and I braved the ferocious storms that swept through the Chicago area to visit our friends Dustin and Laura in Schaumburg. The reason for driving through green skies and downpours, past pulled over vehicles, through flooded streets, and alongside downed trees? The promise of some easy money from the producers of the famed show, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"... What else would lure us to the hinterlands of the north?

We had some delicious pizza at our overnight stop and Laura and Dustin even pulled out an interview with a former "Millionaire" contestant for some inspiration. Though the dude was certifiably insane, it helped us to get ready for our very own "Fastest Finger" questions. The open auditions were to be held at Medieval Times and the parking lot supposedly opened at 5 am. Ken and I will do some crazy things, but getting up at that hour isn't one of them. We rolled out of bed at 7:15 and as we arrived, we couldn't help but notice the wrapping line. But the good news was that it was moving. This was especially good news because it was still raining. Within five minutes, we were inside the walls of the make-believe castle and within an hour realized that we had just missed the next audition group by five people. Although we were a bit discouraged, we decided to stay for the extra hour and continue with our dream for glory and a moment with Meredith.

During our time in line, we had a chance to meet others with million dollar dreams. And as we talked with them, I noticed a theme... Everyone was unemployed. How else would they be sitting on the floor at 9 am on a Friday morning? We were in an unemployment line! The girl in front of us had quit her job as a writer a month ago, the lady in front of her lost her job two days ago, etc. etc. This was not just an audition. This was survival.

Ken and I got in with the fourth group of folks taking the test. We sat in the front row and received directions for our two quizzes. One of them was a Netflix movie quiz and the other was general trivia. Both tests had 30 questions and we received 10 minutes to complete each. The movie one was first and I had no hope of actually passing it. There were completely random questions. Some of them were extremely easy, but then others were small little details from movies I had never seen or heard of. The second quiz was much easier. I felt fairly confident with all my answers except about three. Thanks to the miracle of Scantron, we knew our results within minutes. They announced the people who had passed both quizzes first and there were probably about 15 people on that list. Then the movie-only passers which numbered about 4, including the guy next to us. Finally it was time for the general test. After listening to quite a few numbers, I finally heard mine. I might have squealed a bit.

After the passers and non-passers had been separated, I was herded to an "interview" area and was given about five questions by some random girl who wanted to know about my T-shirt and why I wanted to be on the show. I highly doubt I did anything to stand out, but in two or three weeks, I'll find out if I've made it to the contestant pool.

The day was quite fun. Ken and I spent the entire ride home trying to remember all the questions. Ken didn't make it to the interview section, but by comparing our answers, we think he only missed one more than me... the passing grade must have been a 28 or 29 to make it to the interview.

Here's hoping I can get on the show and bring home the bacon! Otherwise, I really really really need to get a job.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sweating with our Sox

Today Dad and I headed to The Cell to watch the White Sox take on the Mariners. Our team lost, but we walked away with some purchases (including some flip flops and T-shirts) and nice memories from some great seats. We sat right behind the White Sox bullpen seven rows up. I got some excellent shots and even though the Sox got spanked, I was entertained by the action going on with the other pitchers. Besides just having a nice day out with Dad, I also got to check something off my list of 101 things to do. Here are some of my favorite shots from the day:

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pass the BBQ sauce, please.

This weekend Ken and I finally had our big bash and I'm hoping everyone had a memorable time! We ate lots of pig, consumed copious amounts of beer, and, I think I speak for all the females, were absolutely captivated by the excitement of beanbag throwing. Here are some photos from the event:

Izzy licking frosting off of my nose during the baking bonanza with my mom.

Ken and his niece, McKenna, who is remarkably bigger than this time last summer. What a cutie! (Both of them)

McKenna declares herself the beanbag champ.

The pig being prepped. Thanks for the sacrifice, Wilbur.

Ken with his college buddies - Miller, Girdler, and Skinner.

Ken ruining a perfectly good photo of Krystal and Zack.

Fawning all over Ken with Amy.

The true warriors of the evening (having to deal with all the men) - Laura and Krystal.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Merging back into American life

I'm home! I am writing this post from my new bedroom... I was upgraded to Brooke's room. My flight home could have been better. I will never fly Northwest by my own free will. I had to get on the plane twice in Detroit and got kicked off twice due to mechanical problems before we were given a different aircraft. I arrived in Chicago a couple of hours late, and thankfully Josh, Laura, and Ken decided to stick around and pick me up. Also, the flight attendants were rude and looked stuck in the 80s, you had to pay for drinks (not that I was wanting a drink on a 12 hour flight), and the planes were dingy and outdated. My flight in Japan was as nice as always, though, and I had a fellow Okinawa ALT with me to keep my mind off of the reality that I was leaving for good.

My transition back to the States hasn't been too terribly difficult as of now. I am adjusting to how fat and loud people are and only drove on the wrong side of the road for about a block before Ken said, "Ummm..Rachel? Right side." The sad part is that I was so torn up over leaving my apartment and Chatan and the kids.... and now I feel like I was never out of the country. Why can't memories stay crystal clear? Am I taking up too much important space with useless pop culture trivia?

I have had some nice evenings with friends since being back. Last night, I met up with Josh, Laura, and Zack, plus Ken and two Shimane ALTs (weird, right?) for some Mexican food, margheritas, and time at a local bar. Ken and I were able to enjoy our favorite chicken salad sandwiches the other day and then jumped in the pool afterwards...exactly as we had planned. And this weekend is the big bash where hopefully I will get to see a lot of familiar faces. I'm going to mix together some sangria ingredients tomorrow. Yes, I know--- rough life.