Monday, December 14, 2009

Jump around, again.

There were some technical difficulties with YouTube when I first put this video up. Here is it again in case you didn't get to see if the first time.

My sister Mary and I did this on a cold winter's night.



The great debaters.

Tonight, I decided to go out to dinner with my parents, my youngest sister (Mary), my grandma, and my aunt. I love them all, but about halfway through the meal, Mary and I were reading the same expression on eachother's faces: GET ME OUT OF HERE.

Reminder to the family: I love you all. BUT, every time my dad and his sister get in a room together, it ends up looking like this:

Or maybe more like this:


Okay, okay, don't panic. It MAY not have been as intense as the kittie samurais. But still, it was messy enough to send the rest of us into a state of THIS:

Therefore, I hereby make a request for my dear father and his dear older sister to, from now on, refrain from "debating" (ahem...fighting) over these topics:
  • Politics
  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Race
  • Wealth
  • Right vs. Wrong
  • Good vs. Evil
  • Ignorance vs. Genius
  • Vampires vs. Wolves (I just see this getting messy)
In the emergency situation where no conversation can be established, I offer these generally acceptable topic suggestions :
  • The weather.
  • The deliciousness of ice cream.
  • How Rhode Island is neither a road, nor an island.
  • How lucky they are to have me in their family.
  • The weather.
  • How great Irish people are.
  • The Hangover (they both like the movie)
  • Books (only those having nothing to do with politics, religion, health care, race, religion, right vs. wrong, ignorance vs. genius, or vampires vs. wolves)
  • The weather.

I'll see if anyone else in my family is willing to sign the petition. I'm sure I can at least get their five other siblings involved. What do you think? =)



Sunday, December 13, 2009


I don't know what it is about December, but I always go into hiding. My friends start wondering where I am. I stay at home and wrap myself in layers of blankets, screen my calls, drink a lot of cocoa, and avoid the outside world unless completely necessary. I like winter, but I guess I only like it if I stay inside.

This hibernation has also led me to neglecting my blog. I'm surprised that the number of subscribers hasn't reduced, considering I haven't posted for some time. You guys probably thought I was dead, or in a coma. Close, but not quite. I HAVE had a cold that has decided to last a full three weeks, but I just took the last antibiotic yesterday. If it doesn't do the trick, well... at least I will be here in less than a week:

Key Largo can probably cure any cold.

Yes, I am going to Key Largo, and I am COMPLETELY ready for it. Dyke has a cousin down there, so we were able to put some money towards a flight and a rental car rather than a hotel. I have never been this south in Florida. The Keys are actually closer to Cuba than they are to the United States. AND I'll actually be touching the Atlantic Ocean. Every other Florida trip I've taken I've technically only swam in the Gulf of Mexico. So this will be a new journey for me.

I'm going to go snorkeling. I'm trying to convince Dyke to join in with me, but he has a fear of the ocean and ocean creatures. I was the one who was stung by a jellyfish when she was ten, so why is it that HE is more scared than I am? I told him if he promises to snorkel with me, I promise to skydive with him when the time comes. Yes, when I think about skydiving I almost crap my pants... but I figure thinking about the ocean and all the animals in it probably does the same for him, so it's a fair trade off.

So away we go... I can't wait.

I could write more, but guys, it's December, and I'd much rather hibernate in my house with some cocoa and pack for a warmer place. I promise I will be back in full form after the holidays. But right now, I'm lazy.

And baby, it's cold outside.



Monday, December 7, 2009


Blog Find of the Year: That gem of a blog you can't believe you didn't know about until this year.

Well, I have to admit that I really didn't get into reading blogs continuously until early this year. I'd always heard my older sister mention some blog she liked about a witty, ex-Mormon mother and wife, so I finally decided to check it out.

Yes, folks, my Blog Find of the Year goes to:

I know it isn't a true "find" considering it is well known at this point, but it was a find for me because I didn't get into reading it until this year.

It really is a dream job. She's been able to chronicle her life in a way that is interesting to a mass audience, probably because she is so true and raw about everything: the highs, the lows, the ups, the downs, love, sorrow, humor, randomness... it's all there. It entertains people enough that she now can support her whole family with it, and how is that not fantastic?

You can go as far back into her blog as when she was a single gal working in a cubicle and for a horrid boss (who she talked about on the blog by the way, resulting in her termination), all the way up to her life now with her geeky adorable husband and her two equally adorable daughters. Her battles with depression, religion, family, and failure are experiences to which we can all relate.

And she takes good pictures. And I love that.

Check her out.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A little bit of knowledge.

ARTICLE: What's an article you read this year that blew you away?

"As everybody knows, all over the world, a little bit of knowledge can be a very entertaining thing." - Ira Glass

It wasn't an article that blew me away, it was a radio broadcast. And it didn't blow me away so much as it completely entertained me and got me thinking.

I'm an avid This American Life listener. If you've never listened to the radio show, or watched episodes of it on Showtime, you should definitely check it out. There is a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It has truth and beauty and sadness and humor at its core.

Episode #293 is a humorous one I particularly remember from this year. The theme: knowing too little. It focuses on childhood beliefs held onto well into adulthood, much longer than they should have been.

The show opens with a discussion of the term "modern jackass." All of us, at some point or another, try to impress people in conversation by acting like an expert on something when really, we only know the surface information. This is when we turn into the "modern jackass." For example: politics. Many people support a candidate for surface reasons and don't dig into the actual policies to which the candidate is associated. "He stands for freedom," is a common expression. What does that even mean?!

I admit it. Sometimes I'm a modern jackass. I'm sure you are, too.

The rest of the radio show focuses on invididuals who, for one reason or another, held onto childhood beliefs for way too long, only to come to embarrassing public realizations. I don't want to give the whole episode away, but I'll give you highlights of the first couple examples.

Have you heard of the Nielson Family concept? It was started by Arthur Nielson, who realized that by analyzing the television viewing habits of different households, networks could better satisfy the interests of a mass audience. One kid heard about this growing up and it stuck with him. However, he had a different perspective on what it meant. Here he is:
"Fast forward twenty years. I was talking with a friend of mine who was telling me about her friend, who was selected to be a Nielson family. And I said to her, 'Isn't it weird that they're all named Nielson?' My friend looked at me, for what seemed like a long time. Sometime during her very long pause--because of the very long pause in fact--I realized, of course they're not all named Neilson. That makes no sense at all."
Poor guy.

Another woman clearly had not divided a clear line between fantasy and reality. This is what happened to her at a party:
"It was a group of about five to seven people, kind of standing around the keg, just talking, and somehow a discussion of endangered species came up. I posed the question, 'Is the unicorn endangered or extinct?' And basically there was a big gap of silence. And then everybody laughed. And then that laughter was followed by more silence when they realized I wasn't laughing. And I was like, "Yeah, oh, god, unicorns aren't real?" Oh no."

I'm hoping that these are situations to which we can all relate (unless you are some sort of perfectly knowledgeable human being that never socializes with anyone, therefore never risking the chance of embarrassment). I know I've done it a few times, I'm sure.

When I was younger, but old enough to be past the whole sex education scene, my family was sitting around the table eating dinner. It was brought up that my younger sister Erin and a neighbor boy, Josh, were playing around that day, chasing each other in the yard, hitting each other playfully, etc. I laughed and jokingly spoke up, "Oh, it's just foreplay." My dad turned red and looked at his plate, and Caitlin (the eldest, it being her job to point out stupid mistakes) said, "Kelly, do you even know what that means?" At the time, I thought foreplay was just another word for flirting, not a word about getting hyped up and turned on for sex. There of course was an awkward silence, and I brushed it off and pushed some broccoli around on my plate. I think Caitlin filled me in later.

Luckily, I found that out before I was standing around a keg of people. Some of us are more fortunate than others.

This led to me to having a conversation with some of the students that hang out with me after school. I asked them if they had any weird ideas about life when they were younger, which they realized later were ridiculous. These were some of them:

  • That teachers lived at school and had no outside lives.
  • That a burn spot in the carpet at school meant the teachers had tried to build a fire at school to keep warm.
  • That they had "magic water" at home because when ice cubes were put in a glass, the water level would rise.
It was a pretty great conversation. I would love to hear you guys comment back on any weird ideas you had about the world when you were younger, or any too-late realizations you embarrassingly discovered.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2009 challenge.

Since I didn't keep up with NaBloPoMo like I wanted to, I thought this month I would try the Best of 2009 Challenge.

It's a way of reflecting on my experiences in 2009 by responding to daily writing prompts. While there is a prompt assigned for each day, there is no requirement to do it every single day, which is nice! I'll be picking and choosing the ones I like.

I also want to throw a little twist into it. Rather than writing out my experiences, I thought I'd show some of my 2009 in pictures. I got a new camera and have captured many memories with it this year, so what better way to use them?

So here goes the first one. The prompt for December 1st:

TRIP: What was your best trip in 2009?

This one has to be a tie between my trip to Sanibel Island, Florida with my family, and the several camping trips I took with Dyke and his friends. So, without further ado, here are some memories I captured during those trips.

Sanibel Island, Florida

I love Florida for the flowers.

Pap-pa at the pool.

Beautiful wingspan.

I wanted to take him home with me.

My parents... still flying in their fifties.

Who's the palest of them all? That'd be me.

Mam-ma's always smiling.

A big guy we found in the water.


Camping with Dyke & Friends:

Almost Heaven... West Virginia...

These crazies survived the rapids.

Bring on the s'mores.

Dyke with a machete. Watch out!

Searching the great unkown.

Some green amongst the brown.

Papa Tree.

Sigh. I lost my cell phone somewhere on this hill.

I guess I've got a pretty good life.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The wee hours.

I definitely have been trying to go to sleep since around midnight. My body got comfortable with a completely different sleep schedule due to the two days of sickness and the four days of vacation. I think over the past couple nights I've gone to bed around 4 in the morning... which is fine when I don't have to wake up until noon.

It's a completely different story when I'm supposed to be leaving for school at 6:45 a.m.! Aaaaah!

As much as it is a problem and as much as I'll probably be a tad tired at school because of it, I've heard that it doesn't do a person any good to try to FORCE oneself into a state of slumber. So, instead I've been catching up on all the blogs I've been wanting to read, checking Facebook (like the addict that I am), and watching old episodes online of "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" (because I love Tim Gunn and want a miniature version of him to carry around in my pocket so I can ask him advice at any moment. 'Oh, Kelly, you're fabulous!' he'd say, followed by a kiss on the cheek).

Since I'm up, I thought I'd also update my blog and give a description of my new Thanksgiving experience this year. Normally, I go to one. This year, I went to THREE. I definitely should have worn some pants with an elastic waist band because halfway through the day I was already undoing the top button. FOOD BABY to the extreme, I tell ya. I felt like the octomom.

Thanksgiving #1: Dyke's Family
Dyke and I have been dating since February, and before that we were best friends for three years. This past year I've really gotten to know more of his family and was happy to attend their Turkey Day festivities. They are sweet, and I was told by a Grandma of the family that I am very pretty and that "I look like a keeper." Dyke, of course, made a joke and said, "Thanks. I made her that way." He told me he never knows how to respond to those comments because it's not like he's responsible for how I look... and I see his point. It's kind of a funny way to compliment people. All in all, it was a good time and his family treats me well. We went around noon, and I ate one plate of food and had a bite of pie. I knew I had to save room for more.

Thanksgiving #2: My Family
We arrived around 2:00 and as usual, everyone was hanging out in the kitchen even though my parents purposely built this new house so there would be an open great room for people to hang out in during meal preparation. What is it about the kitchen that draws everyone into it, despite the size? Anyway, as usual things were running behind. Uncle Dave talked and talked and talked about beer brewing and bands, Mam-Ma gave me a wet kiss on the cheek, Erin ran around making pies and rolls and whatever else it is she does, Mary forced me to try her cheese ball, Pap-Pa tried to steal sweets from everyone, Dad was loud and boisterous and turned into a caveman when the turkey appeared, Hannah was pampered because she is the new baby of the family, Uncle David and Uncle Larry rooted for Green Bay, and so on and so on. If Caitlin had been there, there probably would have been some sort of battle in the kitchen between her and Erin and who was getting to make which pie and for how long and in which oven (we missed you Caitlin!). Unlike everyone else in my family, my mom was relaxed and at ease and drinking wine. I don't know how all of her children got the anxious gene my dad carries, but I envy her. I ate another plate of food, had a piece of apple pie, and then Dyke and I played some Uno with the cousins.

Thanksgiving #3: Cliffy and Mags
Cliffy and Mags are friends of Dyke's. They were having a post-Thanksgiving get together at their house that, of course, involved another entire Thanksgiving meal. I changed into jeans only to regret it because I couldn't keep them from squeezing my guts uncomfortably after all that food. Even though I was full, I managed to snack on a bit of mac and cheese. It was Thanksgiving, and I had to be a glutton, it was required. So I did that, and then of course had to lie down and not move for the rest of the night.

I've noticed since then that all my jeans are a bit tighter, and I hope the weight of this one day will not force me to go out and buy an entire new wardrobe due to my expanded behind. We'll see.

I guess I'll try to sleep now. Wish me luck.

Jump around.

My little sister Mary is on break right now, and she came over to spend the night. We were restless, so this is what we did with our time:

If the video won't play, here is the direct LINK.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A case of the crazies.

Over the past few days I've definitely had a case of the crazies. Here is my own personal definition:

The Crazies [the krey-zees) noun - a deranged and impractical guilt which results from a minimum of two days isolation as a result of sickness, a recent fixation on a major life change, a lack of anything to do, and an obsession with perfection.

Tuesday and Wednesday I stayed home from school due to the fact that my body was fighting off some sort of scratchy throat demon causing me to sound like a man and cough like a dying cat (which it still is fighting off a bit, by the way. Fun times). During this time, I forced myself to stay in bed, but of course... I couldn't just SIT there. Instead, I watched way too many episodes of Dexter and The L Word, and also repeatedly looked online at the house I'm potentially buying, looked up potential furniture, looked up potential local restaurants and bars, and basically dreamed up the entire next chapter of my life. It was like crack.

Then of course, after staying in bed for so long and after allowing an obsession with the future to seep into my into my mind, a horrible guilt flooded my soul. I was feeling guilty because 1) I stayed in bed when I was sick, and 2) because I was happy and excited about something and nothing was stressing me out. Ridiculous, right? Not really things I should feel guilty about, yes? But I did.

For some reason, when everything is going well for me, when I let good things cloud my thoughts, or when I let a day pass when I don't specifically do something "productive," I start to feel bad. As I've mentioned before, when I'm not stressed out about something, I feel like I'm not doing enough or not living enough. Then, I get into this even more ridiculous state where I start beating myself up over any little thing I've done slightly wrong or selfishly recently in order to make myself feel bad, as a sort of punishment. It's messed up!!!! Where's my straight-jacket?!

My dad blames himself when I talk to him about this. After all, he is very much the same way. If he sleeps in too much, or he relaxes too much in one day without doing anything to occupy his time, he beats himself up about it, too. I guess I just inherited that trait. On family vacations, my dad is known for his constant berating for us to get off our butts and stop relaxing, to get out and do something and have FUN on vacation. Mandatory fun time, we call it. He only recently has been able to let up on it a little. I think he and I are both realizing how ridiculous it all is.

Where did this habit develop? I want to find the original person who decided this was a good way to live and give him a good punch in the face. Is it the Catholic guilt passed down from generation to generation on my father's side of the family? Who knows. I was taught to feel bad about a lot of the stuff I now do these days, so maybe that's an underlying part of it. Either way, it's a part of me that I need to release.

Before my boyfriend left for work today he gave me a hug and said, "Now, don't stress out because you don't have anything to do today." Then he gave me a pat on the back.

He knows me too well.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dyke's duck.

This entry is dedicated to Dyke, who for a long time told me that I must see the movie Howard the Duck, simply because it was one of the classic cheesy science fiction action adventures of the 80's, along with Back to the Future and the like.

Well, Dyke, it was no Back to the least from what I could tell, because I was tired and fell asleep before I saw the ending.

However, I must say that I was happy to find out that this wasn't some randomly created script about a duck from outer space, but rather was a result of a comic book that started the original ridiculous idea. Why George Lucas decided to put so much money into a film such as this, I don't know (Eric, I'd love to hear your opinion of the movie.)

I really didn't loathe it. In fact, I love a good pun every now and then, and you can imagine how many times I "quacked up" at a few of them. I do love that Howard was a horny son of a bird, and I also like that the Principal from Ferris Bueller's Day Off turned into a nasty bug monster.

So now I've seen it, or at least I've seen most of it. My rating: eh. That's what I say to it. Eh.

I guess I'm more of an early 90's kid. The Mighty Ducks blows the feathers off this one. (though, some will always differ in opinion).

Quack. Quack. QUACK. QUACK! QUACK!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back from the dead.

Hey everyone! I am BACK FROM THE DEAD.

I think after failing at the NaBloPoMo thing, I decided I'd give myself a little hiatus from the daily writing. It really was a LOT harder than I thought it would be. Now I know what I'll be getting myself into if I sign up for it again. They do it every month, so maybe I'll try it again in the summer, when I have more time on my hands.

I've been busy. Remember way back when, when I mentioned Invisible Children? Well, the roadies ended up coming to our school and doing a presentation, and it was great! I let them stay at my house the night before and treated them to some homemade pizza (made by the boyfriend of course, not me). It felt great to be hosting again, and was really reminiscent of couchsurfing, so I MUST get into it again once I get my own place.

I also went through the whole process of getting a realtor, and getting pre-approved for a loan (YAY!). I have great credit and no debt, so they said I'm set. I'm not looking for a house any more than $125,000, even though they say I could go much higher. THAT is partially why our economy is in such a mess, because people buy more than they should just because they CAN. I'm going to play it safe. I'm looking at houses today! There are some cute historic ones downtown, and I'm pumped up.

I also had my third paid photography job, and I'm thinking now I at least have enough decent pictures to get the photography website going. My friend Justin is going to help me. I hope to have it up and running by summer so I can start a summer career out of it.

Thanksgiving Day is coming up, and I MUST write an entry soon about my family. They are hilarious, and there is a wide spectrum of personalities that show up on Turkey Day, and it is always an interesting experience.

My next entry will be dedicated to a movie Dyke made me watch. I'll be back soon. Wanted to let you know I'm alive!!! Expect more entries more often!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tsk tsk.

I know, I know. Where did I go? I messed up and got too busy to post a daily entry. Hey, I tried. I've learned that NaBloPoMo is a lot more challenging than I thought. I didn't want to cheat and post another random video of something just to get my entry in.

I also learned that it is very satisfying to post more consistently, so even if I don't do it every day I will try to do it more often than I did before.

I took some more pictures today. I'll put some up in my next post.

I hope you aren't too disappointed in me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The deal. (NaBloPoMo Entry #11)

According to my boyfriend and his friends, there is a certain word in the English language that can be used for pretty much anything:


Not a day goes by when I don't hear one of them using it in a sentence, and while it is always a very broad reference, they always seem to know what each separate "deal" exactly is. Below is a list of common phrases I hear used among Dyke and his friends.

Substitute the word with whatever other word you see fit.

1. "What's the deal with tonight?"

2. "I'm going to go over and deal up the old lady."

3. "I'm going to put this stuff in the deal after it cooks completely."

4. "She's got some deal going on and can't make it."

5. "Dude, what's your deal today?"

6. "She deals in the dry cleaning business."

7. "I cleaned up your deal for you while you were gone."

8. "There's some deal going on today so he's in a mood."

9. "Can you deal me up with that chick, man?"

10. "Deal's a deal. Take the deal, or you have to deal with the deal."

Okay, so that last one is a bit exaggerrated. But, they do have this deal with the word "deal," and it really could be dealt with in any sentence.

So that's the deal.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Couchsurfing, part 2. (NaBloPoMo Entry #10)

Besides continuing with the Couchsurfing story I started in the last entry, I'll also summarize some of the fabulous times I have had as a Couchsurfing host while living in Bloomington, IN. My roommate Lindsay and I (the same one I went on the road trip with) decided we'd try hosting some people in our little home on Roosevelt St. We got a wide variety of visitors. I'll cover our first experience here, and then continue with the North Carlina story.

Hosting Session 1: Elin and Traveena

The second Elin and Traveena showed up at our door I knew they were going to be up for anything. Traveling without a car, they managed to get a lift to Columbus, IN from another host. From there, they went around with their bags at a gas station until they were able to find a guy willing to let them hitchhike with him to Bloomington. They offered to pay him, but all he ended up asking for were some coins from both of their countries (Sweden and New Zealand).

Wanting to be gracious guests, Elin and Traveena also brought with them a bottle of fruit punch flavored Boone's Farm as a token of appreciation. They had no idea what Boone's Farm was, but decided it looked good, so that's what they got. We loved telling them how overly sweet and cheap the drink was, and of course opened it up and let them try it.

We learned that they'd become friends while working at a summer camp in Texas, and after finishing the summer decided to road trip around the country together. I can't remember where they'd been, but I believe we were their first official Couchsurfing hosts. Before their visit with us, they'd been staying with people they happened to know throughout the different states. By chance, they heard about the website, and jumped on the opportunity to meet some friendly strangers while on their adventure.

They said they were up for doing anything, so Lindsay and I ended up taking them to our favorite local bar, The Bluebird. It was Wednesday, and it was 15 cent pint night, so they were able to get a lot for the little bit of money they had with them. The band playing was called The Pop Tart Monkeys, and as the night went on, we became the most central group of dancers on the floor of the bar. Traveena and Lindsay both developed crushes on different members of the band, and we ended up getting their drumsticks, an autographed drum cover, and bunch of hilarious pictures.

We stopped and got some pizza on the way home, and stayed up late reviewing the pictures we'd taken, laughing about the whole situation. Traveena and Elin had so much fun that they stayed with us another night. A year later, Traveena even came back and stayed with us again, and of course... we relived The Bluebird experience.


And now, a continuation of the North Carolina surfing adventure:

(continued from the previous post...)

The next day Lindsay and I explored Asheville—walking around the adorable downtown with its artsy corner shops and street musicians. With no set schedule, we went where our feet took us. The Biltmore Mansion, the most famous tourist draw in Asheville, was too cliché for us, but we did drive by the gate. Excited to see something besides flat landscape, just driving within the smoky mountains was enough to thrill us. We didn’t get back to the house until that evening, after eating at a delicious local Mexican restaurant with extremely spicy food (It was called Salsa’s. I recommend it if you can handle heat. My mouth was burning and I think I chugged my margarita a little too fast).

We were both exhausted and were thinking of crashing early just to get some energy for the following day’s drive to Florida. Lindsay was yawning and curled up on the floor mattress, and I sat at my laptop sending some emails out to friends. Then Cory came in and threw out an idea. “Some of us are heading out tonight to one of the bars. There are a couple other couchsurfers in town that are meeting up there, too. You guys up for it?” I was pretty tired, and I knew Lindsay was, so I started explaining our exhaustion to Cory when Lindsay piped in.

“Yeah, I definitely want to do something, I’m restless. Sure, we’ll go!” After Cory left the room, I looked at her with a sly smile. Just a moment ago she had explained how tired of a state she was in. At the time, I was dating someone back home, but Lindsay was as available as available could be. I think she saw an opportunity open itself up before her. Cory was cute—he was strange, but cute. So, of course, we went.


The sound of muffled bluegrass music seeped into the outside air as we walked towards Jack of the Wood pub. Once inside, the quick-paced fiddling hit my ears with full force. We were in Appalachian country, for sure.

Wooden tables and benches lined up against the far right wall, and a large aged bar acted as the room’s centerpiece. The musicians to our left continued to play and stomp away, while a gathering of ten to fifteen people stood watching, drinking their pints and smiling, the brave ones dancing an attempted jig.

Lindsay and I got our beers, selections from the local Green Man Ales, and sat. I love to people watch when I can, so I didn’t mind spending most of the time as a voyeur to the scene around me, sucking it all up in my senses so I wouldn’t forget it. Lindsay chatted it up with Brandon and Cory, and a couple of other guys eventually joined us—one of them a couchsurfing host, the other a surfer.

As expected when one drinks a few beers on a pretty empty stomach, I became very content with my surroundings and myself over the next hour or so. My senses were bleeding together—the beer, the music, the dark wood, the low lighting—and I found myself in a daze of smiling, so much that my cheeks ached. “Hey, I think there was supposed to be a drag show tonight at another bar. We should go!” Cory said, looking at all of us with anticipation. Brandon, who remained silent, looked hesitant. At some point we must have all decided to go for it, though, because all of a sudden I was in a line with my ID out, waiting to be let in to "Scandals"—self-dubbed “the hippest, most fabulous, exciting, almighty dance club in the history of the world.” For boys.

Unfortunately we’d missed the drag show, but the night was still young and active. The club was dark, but the flashing colored strobe lights reflecting off the aluminum bar and walls gave enough luminosity to keep me from running into anything. I vaguely remember getting a drink from a tight t-shirt at the bar, and then walking over with Lindsay to a stand among the many men among us, again trying to saturate the experience. Brandon got a drink and stood awkwardly off to the side, while his brother Cory took the center floor and began gyrating to the beats, his curls dancing with him in all directions. Eventually, under a bit of persuasion, Lindsay and I finished our drinks and took to the floor as well, making fools of ourselves, but too mentally and physically free to care.

The rest of the night comes in flashes, like a roll of photographs in my memory. Image one: Cory stripping off his white t-shirt and humping the air on the stage of the bar. Image two: Lindsay swaying and giggling outside, swallowed up in Brandon’s giant furry coat creature. Image three: Flying pellets from toy guns in the hippie kitchen. Image four: Hiding from pellet-guns on the floor mattress. Image five: Finally falling asleep as the sun comes up.

To be continued...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Couchsurfing. (NaBloPoMo Entry #9)

For those of you who already know me, you are probably completely sick of hearing about Couchsurfing. But for those of you who don't know me, get excited... because I'm about to tell you about a way to have a unique, exciting, spontaneous, safe, yet affordable adventure while traveling. Couchsurfing, to put it simply, rocks my socks.

The world is smaller than you think... at least that is what is said by past and present participants of The website allows you to search the globe according to your destination of choice and find locals who are willing to host complete strangers in their homes. Many hosts not only provide a roof over your head, but also take you around town and show you the local sites. You get your own personal travel guide, and get this... IT'S ALL FREE.

And safe, too. The website has different levels of verification, as well as visible reviews from past encounters with the hosts and travelers. Think that Johnny guy asking you for a place to stay seems a bit shady? No worries... just see his past experiences, talk to some of his previous hosts, and if you still feel uneasy, you don't have to host him. It's all up to you.

The same goes for the opposite situation. Going into one's home can be a bit intimidating, especially when you have no idea who the person is. If you think their lifestyles are too different from yours and you find out that they only will let you sleep in the backyard, you can hunt around for someone else. There are usually so many options, and most of them good, that it is hard to narrow down a decision.

I have been a Couchsurfing host as well as a Couchsurfing traveler. Not once have I had a negative experience. Some people I bonded with more than others of course, but everyone was polite, hospitable, friendly, and open to new experiences. Everyone involved in Couchsurfing knows that the goal is simply "creating a better world, one couch at a time." It's all about the peace and the love, and that is just what I'm about, too.

And on that note, I'll share with you a story I started up sometime ago about my first Couchsurfing experience as a traveler. My former roommate Lindsay and I went to on a Spring Break road trip, and one of our stops was a Couchsurfing visit in Asheville, North Carolina. The first section of the story is below. I'll add to it later:


We pulled up to their house in Asheville, North Carolina, and we were both afraid to get out the car. Crazy from being stuck in such a small space since our leave from Bloomington, Indiana, we were in a fit of giggles. Lindsay’s nerves were also getting to her in more ways than one, and coming out in the form of gas. Trying not to piss my pants from laughter, we both stepped out and went towards the front door.

Right away, we could tell the house was odd. Random weeds and plants grew all around the front yard. Odd stone statues covered in overgrown vegetation watched us as we climbed the steps. Their door was ancient, with different colored glass forming a mosaic square in the upper center. Below this was a sign hanging that read, “Please ring the doorbell.”

“I can’t do it!” Lindsay was still bent over with gassy discomfort, laughing, her eyes big and looking at me, pleading.

“No way,” I said. I stood back and refused. As much as we had hosted people ourselves, it was different to think of being the guests.

“Fiiiine,” she sighed. Lindsay pushed the doorbell button, and we both screamed. As soon as her finger went on the button, a massively loud air-horn blow came out from who knows where, sending us jumping and flying back from the porch. Laughing hysterically again, and barely catching our breath, the door opened, and young guy with curly hair, also laughing, told us to come on in. It was Cory.

“That never gets old,” he said, smiling and shaking his head.

The inside of the house matched the randomness of the outside, and right away, I liked it. The main living space to our right had an assortment of furniture like one you’d see at a flea market: random couch, iron-rod chair, another random couch. The walls were adorned with eclectic paintings, artistic statues and knick-knacks rested on the mantel, along with some didgeridoos, banjos, and guitars leaning against a back corner.

Cory led us into the next room, the kitchen, where a hustle and bustle of dinner preparation was taking place. Five or six people were standing around or sitting, and they all looked like they had stepped out of 1967 San Francisco. One girl, I think, even had flowers in her hair. They stared as Lindsay and I walked in, a few politely said hello, and a few just nodded or stared. “Here, I’ll show you where you’ll sleep,” Cory beckoned, and we followed him through the kitchen to the next room. As I passed through the kitchen, I looked at their spice rack. There was a small jar of baby snakes next to the garlic powder.

It was a tiny space, practically a hallway with a small extension. A mattress sat on the floor underneath a loft, which happened to be covered with a weird red and black faux-fur blanket. The rest of the space had walls decorated with African masks, and I think I even remember a machete hanging somewhere.

“It’s a bit small, but this is where we have people stay. You guys can squeeze together on the mattress, or maybe one of you can sleep with a bag on the floor. You can also use the couch in other room if you want. Want some good, local North Carolina beer?”

We drank our beers and unpacked while the rest of the crowd hung out in the kitchen. We couldn’t stop laughing; it was a nervous reaction to the uncomfortable situation in which we found ourselves. Then another guy walked in—he kind of looked like Jesus.

“Hey, I’m Brandon. Cory’s brother.” He was thinner and quieter than Cory, but the coat he wore was rather loud. It was made of the same furry fabric that matched the blanket covering our loft. Attached to it was a hood, so long that it came to a point almost at the floor. “We’re going to make a fire out back tonight if you guys want to join us. Help yourself to some more beers."

That night, we really got to know the people of the house. There is something about a fire that brings out the ridiculousness in everyone. One guy, with long blond dreads, brought out his banjo and played it horribly. He was soon joined by Brandon’s didgeridoo and Cory’s drumming on the bottom of a large empty tub. The youngest girl of the bunch, influenced by the many beers she’d swallowed, began moaning an off-key chant to the haphazard rhythm being produced around the fire circle. At one point I thought I heard someone make a bird noise, only to find out that a pet chicken lived in a small pen on the other side of the backyard.

The sensory overload eventually made us tired, and Lindsay and I stumbled back to our sad little mattress. We settled in for the night, her head at one end and mine at the other. Pulling the fuzzy blanket down over the loft, we made a tent and fell asleep in our own little corner—our own little corner of this North Carolina nuthouse.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mystique. (NaBloPoMo Entry #8)

I wanted to show all of you a really awesome Halloween costume I saw this year. My friend Magdalene sews, and she decided to be Mystique from X-Men. This is what she came up with:

Pretty awesome, yes? Together we looked like we could kick some arse:

I'm having a 1920's themed New Year's Party... I think I'm going to make her sew my flapper dress.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

House hunting. (NaBloPoMo Entry # 7)

I recently found out that the $8000 tax credit for home buyers has now been extended until April of this next year. Do you know how awesome this is?!

I've been debating whether or not I should even consider house hunting, but now that the extension has been made, I think it is definitely in my plan. I am SO pumped up. It is a great time to buy because there are a lot of reduced price homes out there.

My own place. That I OWN. I can't wait.

P.S. I had not slept yesterday when I made my post, so TECHNICALLY I think it should still count as a valid entry. Either way, I'm going to try to keep going with the daily blog. You will notice that some entries are rather short. Forgive me for not always having a lot to say. I will do my best to keep it interesting!

FAIL. (NaBloPoMo Entry #6)

Technically, I have just now failed the NaBloPoMo challenge because it is just past midnight.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Enjoy the show. (NaBloPoMo Entry #5)

Tonight I came upon a website I am really excited about. Often, I'll be in the mood to watch a movie, but will go to the video store and not find anything that fits my exact cinematic desire. From now on, I know I can turn to to find a movie that fits the genre, plot, time period, and mood I want (plus more).

It's better than Netflix. Netflix had a lot of repeated recommendations and not as many categories. is currently doing what is called the "Movie Genome Project" where they scientifically, with a certain amount of data, try to match up recommendations to one's specific tastes. It's the of movies. AWESOME.

For example, say I am in the mood for an independent, mind-bending, witty friendship film. Jinni narrowed it down to three specific films for me: Following, Brick, and Orlando.

Or, let's say, I am in the mood for a period film in England involving a love triangle. Jinni gave me Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, The End of the Affair, Tipping the Velvet, and many more.

Or, just for kicks, say I want a humorous action adventure movie with a master villain and a rescue. Jinni says I should watch Stargate SG-1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Superman II for starters.

I could go on forever. This blog entry really does make it sound like I'm being paid to promote Jinni, but I promise you, it's ALL ME. I don't have to wander the aisles of the video store with a feeling of hopelessness.

Again, all I can say is AWESOME. Jinni, I love you.