Thursday, May 27, 2010

Foursquare'd.

My once and sometimes account executive guilted me into joining Foursquare. It's very much a strategic move that has something to do with something he's working on that I shan't disclose here, but.. gah. I feel dirty.

Especially since I had such a beautiful, beautiful rant about it and adamantly refused - REFUSED! - to join it.

I'm not going to publicize my check-ins and I don't want people to know where I am. But, listening to one of my web dudes explain it, it sounds like it could potentially have some merit and maybe even a teensy bit of fun attached. We'll see.

I'm trying to make the best of the situation. Don't judge me.

Sigh.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

who the hell uses gravy boats, anyway?

So, I wrote a lot of cracked out posts yesterday and didn't post them. Mostly because, well, I am of the brain that my previous post is all sorts of brilliant and I didn't dare tamper with its momentum, and also because I don't want to scare all of my readers away, what precious few of you I do have. Don't get me wrong, I'll still post them, but all in good time.

Instead, my darlings, I am going to bitch about something I probably bitch about every year, although I don't really feel compelled to go back and verify this statement.

It's wedding season, you guys.

That in and of itself is not my complaint. I actually do enjoy weddings and maybe someday I'll even manage to dig up a date and then I'll enjoy them even more, because being single at weddings is just awkward. Even though nobody is paying attention to you, you just feel like you're wearing this sandwich board around that says "Hi, I'm lame."

That's not even it either.

It's the gifts, people.

Holy lord. It's the gifts.

I am not what you would call independently wealthy. I'm not even dependently wealthy. I'm kind of straddling the poverty line like a cheap hooker. Who probably makes more than I do. Either way, wedding gifts are expensive and you are expected to buy one and it's worse if it's a good friend because then there's a shower gift and maybe a bachelorette gift and you probably have to travel and maybe buy a nice dress and before you know it, you've blown almost half a month's rent on something with very little ROI.

In theory, it all comes back full circle, because when it's your turn, everyone has to buy you shit, and then you're all even.

But what if it's never your turn?

It's kind of like that one episode of Sex and the City that I saw, that one time, on one of the handful of times I've actually seen that show, and SJP/Carrie is at a baby shower or something and her bajillion-dollar Manolos go missing and the mom won't replace them and then she goes on this whole exisitential thing about how society is all commanding you to spend money on these big life events for other people, but you're fucked if you're single. Anyway I think she then registered for the same shoes that went missing and presented it to the baby mama as her registry for her wedding to herself. Or something. I don't know. I think she ponied up to replace the shoes that one of her guests probably stole and everyone lived happily ever or whatever but, I couldn't help but feel like maybe there w was a vallid point in there somewhere.

Society hates you if you're single. In so many ways, it's so much easier to be... and in so many ways, it's not.

I could veer off here on my own existential ponderings, but: let's focus here. In the upcoming months I am going to have to shell out cash on gifts for people that individually cost about as much as I would consider an "expensive" Target run, and that I have a hard time justifying spending on myself, even when it's things like shampoo and tampons and anxiety meds and bread and peanut butter and lightbulbs or whatever mundane shit I happen to be needing to buy. I bought a book yesterday and I felt guilty because it was thirteen dollars and how dare I spend so much money, so frivolously?*

*This mentality changes frequently, usually in accordance with how close I am to a payday.

Anyway. I was thinking of this today because a dude in my department is getting married so I need to chip in on a gift, 'cause I do like the kid, but it's been this neverending stream of marriage and babies and graduations and ten dollars here and ten dollars there and you know what? This is never getting paid forward to me. I already graduated. I'm not having babies anytime soon ever. And lord knows it will be another blue moon before I even have a steady boyfriend, let alone a fiance. And it's usually okay because I love my coworkers like they're my family, but sometimes... agh. It's a financial strain on my already strained bank account.

And, yes, I know, this whole post is incredibly selfish, but when you're single and live alone- guess what, it's your prerogative to look out for #1, because that is literally ALL YOU HAVE.

And, I'm sorry, I would love it if I could guilt-free buy a full cart of groceries and healthy-type shit to eat, instead of dropping $50 on a set of wine glasses that you registered for that you probably don't need because you already have some but "these were nicer." (Shut up, I watched my sister register, okay? I know how it works.)

So, anyway. I just had to get that out before the Season of Unholy Matrimony Spendage comes crashing upon me and I whimper each time those blue sheets come shooting out of the Target registry machines. If this bothers you, then, well. I'm buying you the cheapest shit on your registry which probably means you'll get a pack of chip clips and a bamboo spoon from me and nothing more.* Actually, that sounds fun. Maybe I'll just buy the most random shit on the registry and bundle it together for a gift. Hey it was on there, they clearly must have wanted it, right?

*not that any of you will invite me to your weddings. Except Steph. And I promise I will get you something nice because I love you and this post doesn't apply to you at all. Probably. We'll see what my fincial situation looks like next year when you get hitched. I may just make you macaroni art and call it a day. And you'll LOVE IT.


Sigh.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Scarlett Johansson Is Judging Me.

Ok, I know you're all concerned, so let me preface this by saying that, yes, I did survive my Monday. And if you're not concerned, well, fuck off. It was a very traumatic morning, you insensitive bastards.

Anyway, about fifteen minutes after I posted my post, the A/C mercifully kicked in and it was luxuriously cold all day, because fucking fuck it was hotter than fuck outside. Really, though. It's not the heat, it's the humidity. So they say. True story.

So I get through my Monday and I get home and I need to go coach a softball game and I'm still faced with the fact that it is STILL hotter than fuck outside so, I ... put on a pair of shorts. Athletic shorts, but, you know. Shorts nonetheless.

If you are not shocked by this, I feel it is imperative to inform you that I have not worn shorts in public for nigh six years.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, people.

After the game (which we totes won, by the way) I decided to stop at Walmart to buy shit. Walmart is probably the only place in the entire world I would likely consider visiting while in shorts. But, you know. I was sweaty and had softball dirt all up on my leg, so, you know. It was okay.

At Walmart, I was faced with an epic decision.

Epic by Monday standards, anyway.

I've been drinking Dr Pepper lately in much the same metric quantity as small children drink milk. The arrival of a Dr Pepper machine to my office is clearly responsible for this.

Anywho. Walmart had a 24-pack for $5. Which, when you consider that their 12-pack was retailing for about $4.63, this is a damn good deal. Also, because quarters don't grow on trees and even though the cans were only fifty cents, in the long run, I'm probably ripping myself off. So I was all, DUDE. I AM BUYING MY OWN STASH OF DR PEPPER.

But then!

A voice from the heavens spoke to me, and was all, "bitch, you've been complaining a lot about your weight. You'll notice the Diet Dr Pepper is on sale also. Hint hint." and I was all, lo! It's probably not the best of ideas to buy a 24-pack of sugarsugarsugaaaar beverages. And as far as diet sodas go, Dr Pepper is the least vile.

So I do the right thing, and I hoist a giant pack of Diet Dr Pepper into my cart, and away I go.

So then I get home and put some in the fridge so they are cold for when I am done with my much-needed shower and there is fricking Scarlett Johansson's face staring at me. Dr Pepper is doing an Iron Man promo, btw. Which I'd totally noticed having been consuming copious amounts of this substance lately. But she's all in her super tight Black Widow costuming and, I'm sorry, she's gorgeous, and she's staring at me all judgy-like, and I'm pretty sure it's some sort of subliminal Dr Pepper marketing ploy, like, hey, you should drink DIET Dr Pepper, because then your fat ass can maybe trim down and look like Scarlett Johansson.

Anyway I now have twenty four cans of ScarJo staring at me all judgy-like. And Diet Dr Pepper does largely taste like regular Dr Pepper, except it leaves a slight aftertaste that screams out I'M A DIET SODA HAHA but it's something I'm willing to live with.


So that is in absolutely no way, shape, or form what I intended to blog about but there you have it.

Moving on.

My rear passenger tire apparently has some sort of stupid leak in it and I've been too lazy to go get it patched because I would much rather fill it with air every week than go deal with it because I am still wary of car-repair dudes that might rip me off. BUT. I am supposed to go to Minneapolis this weekend for a bachelorette party aaaand I really don't want to drive it that far on a bum tire. So, yeah. Looks like I will be needing to do that this week. Blah.

Anyway, speaking of weekends. I had a fun one. Minus the fact that I pretty much slept through most of Sunday, but whatevs. My friend chimes is moving back northwards so we decided to have one last hoo-rah in Des Mones, EVEN THOUGH it's redonkulously close and we just go there all the time anyway.

Because of my need to be a capitalist whore, I didn't get off work in time to join them for what smelled like delicious BBQ, but I did make it in time for us to jaunt off to a roller derby bout. I have never been to roller derby before, and, well, holy shit. It's fucking awesome. Also, if I wasn't such a wuss, I'd totally do it. Except I'm not really a wuss. More, I have an irrational fear of rollerskates.

No, seriously.

Growing up, our neighboring "city" (aka the only place to go for work or food or anything) had a roller rink. An honest-to-God roller rink. It was the shit. It was the home of many a birthday party in our day. When I was little, I was all "whee! awesome!" and then as I got older I was all "whee! I'm uncoordinated! I'm going to stay close to the wall because otherwise I will inevitably fall on my ass!" and now I'm just like "Um, I like my teeth. No thanks." Like, I never even had a bad experience of falling down or anything, I just gradually grew into this state of apprehension about being on rollerskates. Don't even get me started on rollerblades. I never had a pair, but the very few times I tried on a pair of my friends', it was just this ABJECT TERROR OF FALLING DOWN. Also, I am totally amused by the fact that I typed "rollerbaldes" and spellcheck is like "mmkay whatever" and I'm like, "that's not actually a word" and it's all "maybe. maybe not." and so whatever.

Anyway.

Roller derby was the shiz and probably something I will never do but it was fucking cool.

Then we went in quest of booze and we ended up at my favorite bar which is known for its martinis and I fucking love martinis but I didn't want to keep shelling over $7 so I had one and then switched to Woodchucks. And then I tried to pay my bill and they had two other random drinks on my tab and I'm like BITCH PLEASE, I did NOT drink that much, and so the dude gave me a dirty look but took them off, and I'm like, excuse the fuck out of me for not wanting to pay for drinks that aren't mine, and then at our table we figured out they were probably supposed to be on the chimes's tab because "Calee" probably sounds a lot like "Kelly" if you aren't really paying attention. So, whatever. I probably got her free drinks. She didn't even put out. Lame.

Then I got all hellbent on finding a bar that had karaoke because I wanted to cross it off my list and we wandered around for a while and gave up because Calee's allergies got really bad and my feet were about to fall the fuck off because I apparently volunteered to break in a pair of flats for her and while they were way cute they were trying to eat my feet. So then we just went back to her place and fell asleep. And then she made breakfast for all of us. And now my clothes smell like bacon. The end.

Anyhizzle. It's probably past my bedtime but I'm eating food now so hell with it. Did I happen to mention that I decided to make a dinner tonight that required the use of a crock pot? Yeah, I'm brilliant. Whatever, it's not THAT late and besides I showered tonight so I can sleep til 7:45 tomorrow again if I want to. So there.

Also. I am very, very disappointed that nobody was as amused by my Wonder Woman photoshop job as I was, although, really, I have been known to crack myself up at stupid shit that no one else finds funny, but whatever. Anyway it was funny and I am so glad I went to school for graphic design and am $30K in debt so I can crappily photoshop my face onto bodies of hotter chicks than I.

What's that, you say? Plural?

Oh yes. I have another one for you. Take THAT, Scarlett Johansson.


Money well spent? Not so much.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mulligan.

So... it's only 8:30 and already I want to call a do-over on today.

For starters... it's really fucking hot in my office. I have no idea why. I mean, it's bitchly hot and humid outside ALREADY and since it's only morning it's going to suck the rest of the day, but last week we figured out why the air wasn't working in our little annex and so we fixed it and it got cold and it was kind of glorious. Today, we have a fan going and it's hot.

I'm wearing a pair of jeans because had I known it was going to be this hot, I probably would have made alternate arrangements. Like a nice pair of capris.

Meanwhile, I didn't get a shower in this morning because I slept too late EVEN THOUGH I wasn't tired. I fell asleep absurdly early yesterday under the guise of a nap and then I started having really bizarre yet interesting dreams and I was like, oooh, I want to see where these go, and also, I'm really comfy and want to keep sleeping, so I did, so I ended up just staying in bed the rest of the night and so when my alarm went off at 6:30 this morning I was all "whee! morning!" and yet I was still really comfy and didn't want to move and then it's 7:45 and I'm like, well FUCK and so I didn't have time to shower and so my whole day is thrown off because I like to start the week with a shower, call me crazy, and it's fucking hot and I'm cranky and also I almost started crying this morning because I couldn't find the headband I wanted because I may or may not have skipped my head-meds last night because, you know, I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed, and I skipped them the night before because I crashed at a friend's place and so that makes 2 days without them plus I'm all hormonal this week anyway so basically this day was OVER before it started and I'm also really crampy which you didn't really care to know but I feel is a necessary component to why this morning sucks.

So, what I need to do, is go home and shower and put on something more comfortable weather-wise and take a deep breath and pop a xanax or something and start over. But my earliest opportunity to do this isn't until lunchtime, so, whatever.

* stress stress stress *

Is it 5 yet?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

my brain hurts trying to think of a title

[Note: I wrote this yesterday but my Internet was being stupid, so pretend you are reading it in the context of it being Wednesday, because I'm too lazy to go change all my tenses and references.]

I am finding, these days, that 24 hours seems to be an inadequate amount of time to be assigned to each day.

I am also finding that I've about maxed myself out on what I can reasonably do over the course of one week.

Now, this is saying a lot. Because I don't like to admit that I can't do it all. I'm superwoman, goddammit. I can do everything and be everything and swoop in there with some degree of grace and sophistication and in general just kick all sorts of ass and brush the dirt off my hands at the end of the day and go home and piss away all my free time and then go sleep the sleep of the just.

In actuality... I've been a frazzled mess lately. Shocking, I know.

I forced myself to leave work at 5:30 today, upon which I proceeded to head directly home and collapse onto my bed and pass the fuck out until about a half an hour ago, when I found myself irritatingly awake. So I wandered into the kitchen and made a sandwich and remembered there were a couple tshirt designs I was supposed to revise and send out so I wake up the ol' G4 and here we are. A day wouldn't be complete without some sort of bitchfest into the abyss of the Internet, but, alas, my Internet connection is being so difficult right now that I am actually writing this in a TextEdit window instead. It's how I roll.

I don't really know how to explain just exactly how frazzled I am... I've apparently accidentally quit Twitter. Like, I haven't been on it in ages and while I'll occasionally send forth a tweet via my blackberry, I haven't checked it or read it in probably weeks. I suppose it's mildly liberating; but I have no idea what's going on in the world or with my friends.

Inversely, my facebook usage has increased, if only incrementally. Facebook has pictures, what can I say. Plus I can hit the majority of my Twitter peeps in addition to those who have not embraced my beloved microblogging technology. Plus I had to redo my profile because of facebook's new "linked pages" approach which wiped out everything I've spent the last five years or so crafting to my liking.

I'll find a little bit of time to blog, because if I don't write, I pretty much implode. But I haven't really had time to read much else of what is going on with anyone else, so to that end, I apologize. I'll get there. I had my reader down to double digits not long ago and I was so close to that finish line I could taste it, but now I'm back up to a bajillion unread items and it seems to be a battle I can't win. Which, fine. It's probably not that big of a deal, anyway. I just feel... behind. And when I feel behind, I feel frustrated, and when I feel frustrated, I want to curl up into the fetal position and cry.

And maybe I'm not talking about my internet life anymore.

I've been so, so busy at work... which, don't get me wrong, is a great thing. But the more that gets piled on, the more I can feel my stress levels rising... and I'm having a hard time navigating my way out of this endless stream of to-do items. There's only so many hours per day I can work. Coming in over the weekends is starting to sound like a really appealing option, even if it's where I've historically drawn the line. But if I don't, then it piles up, and come Monday morning, I'm no less stressed than I was Friday afternoon when I left. One of our account execs likes to make sure to remind us that "it will all be here tomorrow" aka "go home" but I always retort "yes, it will be here - and so will a whole new batch of stuff" and quite frankly, I'm right. Anything that gets held over just gets lost in a sea of even more things.

Boo hoo, first world problems, etc etc.

I did get a raise today, though, so that was nice.

I also grabbed a part time job and I KNOW, I'M CRAZY but financially speaking I had to do something and it's not a significant increase in time obligations or anything but it IS extra money and I'm fucking broke as hell so I need everything I can get. I made my triumphant return to plasma donation last week but I don't really have the time available to go as often as I used to so that's kind of something hanging out in my back pocket for when I need it. Otherwise I am picking up some hours in our shiny new retail store that my company is opening and selling some high-end awesome merchandise, including but not limited to collegiate apparel and some cause-related apparel. Anyway, they basically transformed the main floor of our office building into this chic space and when I say shiny I mean quite literally because they restored the hardwood floors that were under our ugly corporate-carpet and they've got so much lacquer and varnish on them that I can see my face in it. But, it looks great. IRL friends, you must come visit. We officially open tomorrow.

I forget where I was going with any of this. Basically, I'm about ready to drop and of course I had no less than three friends almost simultaneously try to make plans with me for tonight and somewhere in between feeling like shit and just wanting to crawl into my bed and die, I subsequently blew all of them off (sorry guys) and now I'm wide awake except listening to myself prattle on is actually making me somewhat sleepy, so, score, I guess, but anyway I'm hoping that by next week all this shit falls into line and I start feeling less like a zombie and more like SuperKelly again.

or something.


Addendum (aka, Thursday) - This post felt incomplete, so I made this. Enjoy.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Head, Meet Desk. Desk, Meet Head. Y'all Better Get Acquainted.

The balance on my student loans is now officially two thousand dollars HIGHER than it was when I graduated three years ago, despite the fact that I keep throwing money at them every month.

I'm pretty sure I am never going to get them paid off.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Memories of Spain

[Disclaimer: this post ended up being really long and there are no pictures to break up all the text and I'm sorry. You've been warned.]

Remember a few weeks ago when I was all ZOMG I LOVE MEMOIRS and I was reading one by Susan Jane Gilman and I absolutely adored it? Well, I unfortunately finished it and then stared dejectedly at my bookshelf for something else to read because I was ruined for all other authors... and then a week or two ago I ended up at Borders with my friend Maria after one of our increasingly-frequent trips to Panera, and lo! I snatched up her latest book, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, and I was way excited. (I also bought a random memoir about two girls from Iowa who spent the summer of 1945 working at Tiffany's in New York City. Which I completely read in one sitting like I do sometimes, but it basically combined all of my favorite things into one book, so I had to buy it: memoirs, the 1940's and WWII (I mean, not that I am all YAY WAR but I am inherently fascinated by that era), my fascination with New York, and people from Iowa, because, well, if you're just stopping by, I'm an Iowa girl. It was a fun book but I was actually a little disappointed that it seemed to go by so quick and I was left wanting more of it. To be fair, the author wrote the damn thing about sixty years after it happened, so it's not like she probably could sit there and recall Every Detail, but still. I'm greedy.)

Anyway. Susan Jane Gilman. Who currently holds the title of My Favorite Author. Her latest book is also a memoir, but is more specifically about the year she went backpacking into China in 1986. I've never had any special interest in backpacking or China or stories about backpacking or China, but I loved this book and towards the end, one night it actually kept me up until 3am until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore and had to go to bed and we all know how valuable my sleep time is and I voluntarily sacrificed quite a bit of it and still didn't finish the book. Anyway. I'm not sure if the intention of the book was to make me really want to travel to a foreign country and stay in shitty hotels and have life-changing experiences, but that's totally what happened.

And now I'm itching to go somewhere.

I've been outside the States approximately once in my life, on a school trip to Spain the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. Now, lest you think I'm independently wealthy and/or come from a wealthy community, let me remind you: I grew up in small-town Iowa. There was a great deal of fundraising and money-saving that went into this, and we got special student group rates through a company that basically exists to organize student trips.

That said, it was awesome.

THAT said, I wish I could go again. I was only seventeen the first time, and I was still in that awkward place of trying to fit in and not be awkward and of course the only thing that really matters in high school is trying to be cool, so... yeah. (I was disheartened by the fact that a couple of the "popular" girls were along for the trip... if it had just been me and my nerdy friends, this would have been irrelevant. I may have spent less time monitoring myself and less time trying to stay on my toes and not be lame - or maybe not. Who knows?) Plus, with the wealth of life knowledge I've gained since then and a greater appreciation for basically everything, I know that I would get so much more out of it if I went again, now. Although, naturally, I can't afford it right now.

In order to do this post justice, I would of course litter it with pictures and stories and other things, but, here's the problem: this was before the age of digital cameras (well, it was at least before the age of me owning a digital camera) and I'm not 100% sure where those pictures ARE, I suspect they are probably in my old bedroom up at my dad's house, which does me absolutely no fucking good right now, but even so, I'd have to scan them all in. Which I would totally do, because I love you all that much. Until then, I'll just talk about it and that won't even do it justice because I will forget things and even though I've got all these images and memories in my head, I don't even know how to describe everything. It was amazing. Even as a dumb 17-year-old American high schooler, I was absolutely blown away.

So, let's begin.

At 17, I was still kind of living in my own little bubble. I've mentioned before (too many times to link back) that I was the awkward, freakishly smart kid that never really fit in. I wasn't popular; I wasn't UNpopular. I just was who I was. I'd never been out of the country before and had never really been away from home for an extended period of time before, either, minus the one time I went to a summer camp for a few days when I was twelve or thirteen and had some sort of stomach bug which resulted in puking outside of our tent the first night. Which was mortifying. Anyway. My point was, this was a Big Deal, except at the time it didn't seem like a big deal, it just seemed like a freaking awesome opportunity (I'm really, really going to try to limit my usage of the word awesome) and I was ready to go. I'm a pretty independent person; I don't remember being homesick. Maybe I missed the comforts of my fairly sheltered American life... but I never ached for home.

At this point, I'd had three years of Spanish. Being the fabulous public school that it was, I did well in the class and got A's without really having learned much at all. I was one of the best students but was in no way fluent, and barely conversational. To this day, the one thing that keeps me from picking it back up and trying to re-learn it is my extreme incomprehension at verb conjugation. I could do it - I just had to think about it. A lot. I have made the English language my bitch, what with all its inherent nonsensical word patterns and grammar rules. But learning a language that was based off the world's oldest language (Latin) - fuck me if I could do it. (The summer after I graduated from college I got bored and decided I was going to teach myself French. Not because it was in any way practical or useful, but because it was pretty and because I wanted to. I didn't get very far, but I can say things like please and thank you and how are you, and now that I think about it, that's probably all I can say in Spanish, too. Minus a few key phrases and a few random-ass words that I've retained.) My point is, thank God most Europeans can speak some English, because otherwise, we'd all have been screwed, because the only person in our group that was fluent was our teacher, and she couldn't be with all twelve of us at once. (I don't actually know how many of us there were. Twelve sounds about right, but I totally pulled that number out of my ass.) The only time this was really a problem was when I went with one of my friends to a bank in Madrid with two of our chaperones (I think one of them was her dad? the other was someone else's dad; either way, they knew less Spanish than we did) to cash over some more money into Euros and the teller was talking to us in rapid-fire Spanish and we all just stood there dumbly like the ignorant Americans we were and the two dads were all, "well girls, what are they saying?" and we were like, "fuck if we know" except we never, ever swore around parents, and finally the lady behind us in line translated for us and I guess she was saying something like the fee to exchange money was the same regardless of what amount we switched over, whether it was $20 or $100, so we ended up deciding to split the difference and one of us would cash out $100 now, the other would do it next time, we thanked the person behind us, and left as quickly as we could, extremely embarrassed and humbled at the fact that we had NO idea what the fuck we thought we were doing.

For the most part, though, we got along just fine. We choked out mangled phrases where we could and basked in the fact that we could speak a retarded brand of Spanglish and people understood us, and we relied on our teacher and our assigned guide, a ridiculously flamboyant man named Jesus who was absolutely darling, and the other school we were paired with, a group from Pittsburgh who actually apparently had learned Spanish at their school. (I can't mention Jesus without mentioning our bus driver Pepe, who was this cranky old man who seemed to be obsessed with cleaning off the front windows with his special chamois-gloves when we stopped and more than once gave other traffic the Spanish equivalent of the finger whenever we had to block the road to unload our luggage and all the other motorists got, understandably, pissed. We also had our suspicions that we stood behind the bus and smoked.. something... when he wasn't hauling us around.) (Speaking of Spanish traffic - we learned the importance of crosswalks, which is not something we ever paid much attention to in the land of jaywalking, because they would not stop for pedestrians unless the light said they had to. Luckily, nobody got mowed down, but it was almost comical to us how very little pedestrians mattered. They would have run us over in a heartbeat.)

We spent 10 days over there, in all. We started in Madrid and then wove our way south. I don't remember exactly where all we went or in what order, but I know it included Seville, Toledo, Grenada, and finally Costa del Sol (which was pretty much a giant tourist conglomeration, but - beaches!) and took a day trip across the sea to Morocco.

Madrid was amazing. I think we spent three days there? The first thing they made us do upon arrival was go on this (seemingly) ridiculously long walking tour, which probably helped stave off our jet lag, even though we were all groaning and complaining about it, having just come off a fourteen-hour transatlantic flight. We saw the palace and some significant plazas and I wish I had my photos and notebook because then I could actually tell you the names of these places but it's been eight years so it's kind of fuzzy. I can't tell you what they are called, but I can picture them well. I was in awe of the architecture and how beautiful everything was. I loved that, later, they let us wander around on our own, although obviously we stayed in small groups and didn't venture terribly far (as previously mentioned, our Spanish SUCKED.) I don't know which part of Madrid we were in, but it seems like it was kind of in the center? We weren't far from the palace, it was part of our walking tour, and I remember something about one of the plazas where there was some sort of significant marker on one of the sidewalks but God help me if I can remember what it was. I know we ducked into a couple shops and bought the requisite souvenirs (I know I bought a fan for my sister and my mom and later some gold jewelry from Toledo, because I was all about cliches, and a shotglass or a magnet or possibly both for my dad because I had to get him something and he doesn't really like lots of kitschy stuff so my sister and I started getting him things like magnets and shotglasses because they are small and pretty easy to find most everywhere. My mother also collects spoons. Like, not spoons that you eat with, but those decorative ones you find at gift shops. So that became a mission as well, and a surprisingly easy one at that.) (When my sister went a few years later, those bitches got to bounce around Europe a little more due to some weird flight plans, so she got to stop somewhere in Germany and then in London and then they got put up overnight in Chicago or something on the way back, which we didn't find out about until we'd driven all the way up to Minneapolis to pick her up; I think we had cell phones at the time, but nobody on the trip had really bothered to bring them overseas with them, so there was a comedy of errors in miscommunication. But, I digress. Basically she got to go to more places than I did, and I was jealous.) I remember we visited the Prado museum. Some botanical garden too, maybe. I don't even remember what else we did there. Sad, I know. I am having a hard time remembering the hotel we stayed at; I remember we had to walk around some construction to get to it, and passed several posters for American movies with Spanish titles, and I can remember the outside of it and that the building was yellow, but that's it.

I think our next destination was Toledo. What I remember most about Toledo is stopping on a point in the winding road and getting a breathtaking view of the city below. I remember their cobblestone streets (and our quirky guide for the day who told us that all the women in Toledo had great asses and legs because of all the walking on the uneven streets), I remember visiting a goldsmith (which was interesting; I guess Toledo is very well-known for their goldwork, but I could just be making that up) and all the girls bought jewelry and all the boys bought swords, I remember going to this little building (maybe a small chapel?) to see a giant painting by El Greco ("The Greek") and the guide went on and on explaining the meaning and symbolism in the painting and all my classmates were bored to tears and bitched about it afterwards, but I was beyond fascinated and I remember wishing I could have some sort of tour guide like this for every art museum ever because I could appreciate the art so much more, knowing all the history and nuance behind it, and I think I was the only one who found it interesting, which I guess makes sense now, but at the time, I was not yet an Art Kid.

IMAGE BONUS!



This is the painting that we saw. The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. There's basically a shit-load of things on on in this but I can't remember any of them except the artists painted himself in there somewhere.

I also for some reason distinctly remembering eating at the Toledo McDonald's. I dunno.

(Side: the hamburgers in Spain were adequate, but when you're from Farmland USA, you can discern Good Beef from Mediocre Beef. Also, they had gazpacho on their value menu. This amused me. I never did try it.)

After Toledo... I think we went directly to Seville? I really wish I had my itinerary somewhere handy. Since I've started writing this, I remembered a couple more places in there but I can't remember what they were called. Maybe by the time I get to them. My memory's going, guys. I'm old.

We were in Seville for a couple days. I think it was over a weekend, because most of the shops were closed, save for a line of tourist-trap shops that basically all carried the exact same junk in Every Single One, and we went to Every Single One, because there was nothing else to do.

Seville was the city we got lost in. Twice. It was kind of, well, hilarious. It was amusing at the time, but later the hilarity factor grew with each re-telling to our travelmates.

Here in the United States, or at least in Iowa, all our streets are perfect little squares that run perpendicular to each other and navigating them is easy. In Spain - or at least Seville - they're a wonky mess. They ran in any direction that was convenient, and were not laid out in set distances or measurements. We'd spent the morning climbing a million and a half stairs up to the top of a huge cathedral (which I probably wouldn't be able to do again, because I'm fat and out of shape now, but at the time, I was thin and athletic - and it still took a lot out of me) and after that we were free to roam about for the day. My friend and I decided we were going to head back to the hotel to chillax for the afternoon. (This was before the invention of the word chillax, btw.) We kind of all gathered around this fountain in the center of a large square and they were all, "the river's that way, the hotel is that way, blah blah blah, have fun, bye." Please note: the hotel and the river are completely opposite directions. This will be important later.

So my friend and I strike off in the direction of the hotel, and we hit all these twisty, turny streets and somehow or another end up at the river. That's right, we completely started off in one direction and ended up at the other. We laughed at ourselves and managed to find our way back to the fountain, which was becoming our home base of sorts. Ok, let's try this again.

We wander around for about an hour.

As we had seen from the view at the top of the cathedral, Seville was huge. It's really a huge wonder that we didn't get more lost than we did. At any rate, we just continued to wander around the streets of Spain, looking for something familiar, and cursing the irregular street patterns of Europe. We had absolutely no idea where we were, and we weren't getting any closer to our hotel. Which was fine, except by this point, my friend really had to pee. Spain had these awesomely huge bottles of water that we didn't have in the States until much later. They're commonplace now, run to your grocery store or Target and look to the top shelves, but at the time, we marvelled at their size and uniqueness. I don't know how big they were in all actuality, but they were huge compared to our puny 12-oz bottles of water back home. Naturally, we thought they were awesome and since we were paranoid about drinking foreign water, we were pretty much toting them around at all times. We were very well hydrated. Anywho, my friend had downed one of those ginormous bottles while we'd been wandering, and her bladder was about to explode. Our new directive was not to find our hotel, but a restroom. So we set off in search of a restaurant or something, and by some miraculous miracle, we ran into one of our groups from our school, which included our teacher. We paired up with them on their way to lunch. We ended up eating at an Italian restaurant, of all places. We then hung out with them for the rest of the afternoon, which was probably a better use of our time than taking a nap at the hotel anyway. I mean, shit. We could do that at home.

Either that evening or the next one, a bunch of our group went to a bullfight. I really had no desire to go watch a bull get gored, even if that was one of those probable Must-See activities for Spain. A smaller group of us gals struck out to do something else. We ended up riding around on a horse-drawn buggy sight-seeing tour of Seville in the evening twilight, which was really cool and actually really cheap. We even got chased around for a while by a street musician serenading us with love songs. We laughed merrily and tossed him some Euros and saw things that the rest of our group did not. When our bullfight-goers returned and reported back, they had mixed feelings. One of my friends was so traumatized by it that she cried. I'm glad I didn't go.

(The second time we got lost was after the buggy ride. We were headed back to the hotel, there were three of us this time, and I'm pretty sure we started off at that same damn fountain. "Guys, I know a shortcut!" the same friend I'd gotten lost with earlier, declared. She insisted that a couple of the guys in our group and navigated them back (successfully) earlier. Stupidly, we followed. After a long time of cutting through a bunch of back alleyways, my other friend stopped us abruptly and was like, "does any of this look familiar to you?" My other friend - the Epically Crappy Navigator - sheepishly admitted that, no, it didn't. The pathway we had taken felt to me like it was really far to the right and way past where the hotel should have been - we had definitely overshot it. I'm not an expert navigator or anything... it's just one of those things that I could feel. Intuition, maybe, I don't know. So we backtracked the way we had come, stopping for ice cream because we weren't sure if we were going to make it back in time for dinner. (Because ice cream = survival, obviously). We eventually ended up where we needed to be, which was quite fortunate because by this time, it was starting to get dark, which would have made things infinitely harder for us. We told ECN that she was never allowed to lead us around anymore. She didn't protest.

Seville was about halfway through our trip... it was also the place where we were starting to get tired and cranky. I snapped at one of my best friends one morning and we got in this little bitchy fight and decided it would be best if we shuffled around our roommate situation. (The famous line was "No! I don't want any fucking butter!" when she kept offering me butter for my bread and apparently I did not want it so back off. At this point I'll go ahead and mention that I pretty much hated all the food they fed us, because we never got to choose, and they just plunked down whatever had been planned out, and I poked at it and was repulsed by a lot of it and I pretty much subsisted on bread and whatever I could find to snack on. And of course those giant bottles of water. I had lost a fair amount of weight by the time I came back, despite being over there such a short time. My first meal back was a Subway sandwich, and then I still didn't eat for a few days because for whatever reason, maybe the culture switch, maybe the jet lag, I don't know, I got really, really sick the day after I got back. It was the first and only time in my life I've ever fainted. Like, I just blacked out and collapsed. It was for probably less than thirty seconds, but it is one reason, however irrational, that I am wary of going overseas again - I'm afraid of being uncontrollably sick upon return. God forbid I just plan for that and recuperate and take it easy for a few days.) Anyway. After we switched around roommates, we were all much happier, and it was kind of unfortunate, but it happens, and it kind of helped seal our decision to not room together at college when the time came, and we were all, "remember how we were barely able to live together for five days in Spain before we blew up on each other? yeah, let's not not destroy our friendship." They say you shouldn't live with your best friend from home when you go off to school, because it rarely does good things for the friendship. As it was, we ended up on opposite sides of campus and while we got season tickets for football games for two years and took a couple of gen ed classes together, we eventually grew apart. It's funny how a friendship that started in sixth grade could so easily fade away, while complete strangers that I met a mere handful of years ago, are so ingrained into my life that I can't imagine being without them. Life is strange. I've lost touch with so many of the people that I grew up with, and it doesn't really bother me... but I remember some of the people I met along my journey in college, and it makes me sad.

Digressing again.

After Seville, the rest of the itinerary gets kind of fuzzy. I know Grenada was in there, but I think that was merely a place where we hotel'd for the night. I also remember that it was a REALLY nice hotel, especially compared to some of the other ones we'd been in, and I remember we didn't do jack shit that night but hang out and aurally witness a car crash under our balcony. Some people went off and took a cab somewhere and did something, but there wasn't much to do in that town, so we just showered and relaxed and restocked on energy.

Either before or after this, was another town, whose name I cannot remember, because I'm not sure where in the timeline it fell, but I'm sure I can look it up somewhere. It was the hotel we stayed at where one of the dads blew a fuse with his blowdryer (hilarious), and we dubbed our room the Shit Room, because it was predominantly decorated in brown. It also had a weak excuse for a shower curtain, so by the time the three of us had showered, there was a substantial amount of water covering the floor. One of my friends even managed to spray the bathroom mirror from across the room. I have no idea. Meanwhile, the guys (who were pretty outnumbered on this trip) got put up in some fancy suite and we were pissed. I think this is also the same town where we found an Internet cafe and we were all more than happy to fork over some Euros to access our email. I sent a message home about what we'd been doing and where we'd been, nothing brilliant or earthshattering, but my mom saved that email for years until her hotmail account closed itself down due to 30 days of inactivity and she lost it. She was practically heartbroken over it, it was her favorite email ever, and I somehow managed to find it in my sent messages or something, and re-forwarded it, but eventually my account shut down because I had a bajillion email addresses since this was before Gmail which is the Best Email Ever and I was trying to find one I liked. I also remember having to take a minute or two to adjust to the European keyboard, because it had a few extra keys for the letters with accents and tildes and there was a Euro key which for some reason I thought was cool. I think this was the same town where they made us some American-esque pasta and it was good and I actually was able to eat something. (Another town tried to make us American food too, but they had these really weird oily french fries and no ketchup because apparently they don't have ketchup in Spain except for at McDonald's and they gave us something resembling hotdogs with no buns and it was awkward but they meant well.) I cannot for the life of me remember what the hell town this was. I'm trying to play it against mental images of pictures I have and I know it was in one of the towns where we actually did stuff in during the day, and I've got nothing. It may have been earlier in the trip, because I was still rooming with the friend that I "broke up" with in Seville. So, I don't know. I don't even know for sure it was Seville that we got in a spat in, either. Maybe it was this town. Now I'm all confused.

Anyway. Somewhere around Grenada, we went to a place that started with an A but that's all I remember right now. It was the ONE day the whole time we were there that it rained. And it fucking downpoured. Which was unfortunate because our agenda that day included a tour of some gardens and that got derailed because we were barely into the labyrinth of the landscape when the skies let loose and I was really bummed because what little I had seen, looked gorgeous. There was another site that we were at, same place, same day, can't fucking remember what it was, other than it was some gorgeous architecture and I think it was something influenced by either the Moors or the Muslims or maybe the Moors were Muslim, it's been a long time since I was in high school and learned these things. Either way, it was gorgeous.

Which reminds me, somewhere in there we visited a mosque. Maybe it was the same town. Wait... maybe that was in Grenada. Maybe that's why we were there. Maybe we visited the mosque and then went and did nothing. Or maybe it was in another town.

I am vaguely recalling a town with a C... Cordoba? Is that a place? I think that was where the mosque was.

Maybe that was the town with the Internet cafe, too.

There was another place we stopped at that had some ruins of something resembling a gladiator coliseum and some other such things that I took a thousand pictures of but can't remember what the place was.

I'm all mixed around. This story is starting to suck. Sorry guys.

Somehow or another we visited all these nameless towns and ended up at the Costa del Sol, which I think was actually a town called Torremolinos, I cannot fucking tell you because I clearly don't know. We spent the last couple days here.

This place... was kind of the perfect ending spot.

If any of us were homesick at this point, it was probably as good a place as any to finish out our trip. It was a really touristy place that catered to people like us. I can picture the main street through the bustle of it all, the one that led from our hotel to the beach. Shops and stands galore; at night, it felt like I imagined a city would feel, lots of lights and people and activity. (Again: I was from a small town in Iowa. Didn't spend a lot of time in big cities, and even so, I was only 17 and didn't have much nightlife experience under my belt.) The weather was beautiful and we had absolutely no itinerary; we could do whatever the hell we wanted for two whole days.

We swam, we shopped, we napped, we ate, we wandered. We wandered a lot. It was glorious. (One of our girls did actually get pickpocketed here, like they warned us about, but it was probably her own damn fault, and it was only about $20 max. I don't know why this is an important detail at all, but I just remember it.) We saw topless women and men in unfortunate Speedos and we got to immerse ourselves in the Mediterranean and float in the salty water and get burned by the Spanish sunshine and for the first time, we had easy access to a beach, whenever we wanted. (Again: no beaches in Iowa.)

This was also perhaps my very first taste of alcohol. The drinking age in Spain was (is?) sixteen; I was a good girl and played by the rules. Much to the surprise of some of my classmates, I joined them for some sangria at one of the bars. I was your prototypical good girl, I won't deny this. My mere presence in an establishment that sold booze was, undoubtedly, a shock, but one that they took great delight in. However, I didn't have that much. I was afraid of getting drunk and I was smart enough to know that I had no idea how my body would react to alcohol, so I just had a little, and that was that.

However, that night at the hotel, while a lot of us lounged around or sat out on the balcony or shouted back and forth with the boys in our group who were down on the plaza below, or sat awake in our hotel room having the kind of trivial life discussions you have when you are seventeen and don't really know anything but are aware that there's a whole lot of life out there, a handful of the girls in our group proceeded to get positively shit-faced in their room. Now, while this was perfectly legal, technically... it was also perfectly against The Rules. For the bff of mine that I'd separated with in Seville, who had joined the cool kids and the seemingly wild-child girls from Pittsburgh, this was her very first time being drunk. Which, if I'm being honest, it was completely hilarious the next morning when she was so very hungover, and we were up so very early, to get to the so-small-it-was-kind-of-scary airport to fly us back to Madrid. Maybe she was still even a little drunk, I don't know. But it was our collective mission to get her on the plane without any of the adults in our group knowing. (Whether they did or not, remains to be known. But even though she ended up next to our principal - also her next door neighbor, and her dad's good friend - on the flight home, he was pretty oblivious, so I think maybe she got away with it.) She incoherently complained to Jesus (our guide, not, you know, THE Jesus) that she hated the drinking age in the country; she sat propped up between me and another girl on the big leathery couch in the hotel lobby while we all checked out. Someone had given her some bread to eat and it ended up in her bag. Naturally, her bag got searched at the airport, to which she incoherently whined, "Guuuuys, why is there bread in my suuuuitcase" which I'm sure looked awesome to the security. (Collective facepalm). Might I add, also, that this was the summer after 9/11 and so airport security was rather heightened, though maybe not so much in Spain as it was in the U.S. Somewhere over the Atlantic, she'd slept enough to be functional, and when we landed in Minneapolis, she was doing much better. Which was good, because she had a 3-hour car ride in front of her yet.

Last but not least, and somewhat out of chronological order, we visited Morocco. We ferried across the Strait of Gibraltar and we landed in Africa. It was dusty and desert-y and an even bigger culture shock to us American teenagers. Our guide wad decked out in traditional Arab attire, although when we pulled out his cell phone to check his messages, it kind of ruined the aura of authenticity. Our first stop was a roadside tourist trap where you could pay a Euro or two or five to ride a camel around a circle for, like, two minutes. Totally worth it. I have photographic evidence of this and I can say I've ridden a camel. It was hilarious. After that we ended up in a city where we followed our guide (I can't remember his name, I know, you're all shocked by this) around. I also (again, brace yourself for the shock) don't remember what city we were in; I think it may have been the capital, I remember we went by the palace. We visited a rug factory where people could haggle for fancy rugs; we visited some sort of shop where they sold spices - I missed my opportunity to buy cheap saffron, which, I don't even know what the fuck you use it for, but it's apparently super expensive here, and now that I've learned to cook, I probably could have found a use for it. We ate at a Moroccan restaurant where I totally kept my Arabic Coca-Cola bottle, which the mere possession of probably could have branded me a traitor, in the discriminatory hysteria of post-9/11 America, but whatever, it was cool. Our guide also wrote out people's names in Arabic for those that wanted it; maybe he just wrote down random letters, I don't know. "Kelly" probably didn't translate super well.

It was extremely fascinating and eye-opening, but I have no desire to return, and it is one of the last places I'd ever want to live, what with being female and all. We weren't in any immediate danger or anything; but they made sure we knew to wear pants and nothing revealing, and to just be aware of the culture we were in, and we tried to act as un-stereotypically American as we could, but let's face it; we were a parade of white high schoolers and we stuck out like a sore thumb. Still, everyone was super nice to us, unlike in Spain, where we did garner the requisite handful of dirty looks, which, whatever. I suppose we deserved. We were all well-behaved kids, but, well, Americans are obnoxious and the world hates us and I am well-aware of this.

We bussed back to the ferry with an extra stamp in our passport, and that was that. I still have my passport somewhere back home. It expires this year and quite frankly if I were to try to travel with it until then, I probably wouldn't be let in our out of the country. My picture was taken when I was sixteen, maybe newly seventeen. I still had braces, my hair was in a ponytail with those god-awful bangs I had. It doesn't look anything like me at all. Even a year later, it didn't look like me anymore. It's embarrassing, really. But it's got my two stamps in it, so for that alone, I will always be fond of it.

Now, here is where I weave in the part where I could have had a really great story but I'm socially retarded so I don't.

Our overall tour group consisted of the gaggle of us from my high school, a group from a high school in Pittsburgh, and three random middle-age ladies who were always late and wore stupid hats and didn't talk to the rest of us. In our group from Pittsburgh, who we came to be pretty good friends with, was a really cute boy who, much to the chagrin of the prettier, cooler girls in our group, I managed to catch the attention of. I don't even know how. At seventeen, I was completely idiotic with boys and didn't know how to flirt, but I was cute and thin and blonde and had just gotten my braces off (like, JUST. I was still wearing my retainer 24/7 during this trip) and I possess a pair of giant blue eyes and maybe it was my completely unassuming and probably slightly naive nature, but I managed to weasel my way in there and get his attention somehow. (And I have to say - the other girls were impressed. Maybe I wasn't a complete loser after all.) We sat together on some of the bus legs and on our ferry to Morocco, and we checked in at the airport at the same time, which resulted in my awesome baggage fiasco, which I'll get to later, but the part that I kick myself over to this very day, is the night we were all at the beach in Costa del Sol. It was our last night in Spain, and we were all hanging out down at the beach. Half of our group was out swimming under the moonlight, the rest of us were on the chairs surrounded by the glow of what must have been tiki torches, or lanterns, or something. It was almost surreal. He asks me if I wanted to go for a walk, which of course I did. Totally adorable and romantic, right? A boy from halfway across the country that I'd met halfway across the world, a day before we'd have to say goodbye forever, and he wanted to spend time with me. Except that I'm dumb and awkward and we made small talk and it was lame and boring and I probably sounded like an idiot and eventually we turned around and wandered back and why in the fucking fuck I didn't just grow a pair of balls and kiss him on the beach in Spain, standing barefoot under the stars, is a complete and total dark spot on my collection of memories. Stupid girl. To be fair, I was really shy and self-conscious at that time in my life, and I wanted him to kiss me, but it didn't happen and it was probably my fault for being shy and self-conscious, but there you have it. We rejoined the group and that was that. At the airport the next day, it was kind of bittersweet saying goodbye; our flight back to Minneapolis was the first to depart. We hugged our new friends farewell, knowing we'd likely never see them again. We collected what scattered email addresses we could, but there was very little communication afterwards, and then it died off. This was before facebook and social media and the hyperconnectivity that we have now. I hugged him last, and one of the last memories from my trip to Spain was of him waving goodbye to me.

I was thinking about that, earlier... well, I mean, I was thinking about all of this, obviously, which is why I started writing this post in the first place. And I couldn't help but wonder if I'd be able to find him somehow. I remember his name; I'd probably be able to recognize him by picture, assuming he hadn't changed too much. I did try to find him on facebook once a few years ago, to no avail. I have a couple of the girls from the trip in my friend collection, but I could never find the rest of them. This was before facebook was open to absolutely everyone, though, so maybe I'll try again. I wonder what became of him... where or if he went to college, if he's still in Pittsburgh, or if he even remembers me. And why should he? It was an almost-nothing, almost eight years ago. It could have made for a damn good story, but instead it's just a wistful memory.

Before I go, as if this post wasn't long enough, I will tell you of my lost-luggage saga, because it entertains me. They say you can tell a lot about a person by how they handle lost luggage. Which I think means I win at life, because I was really laid back about the whole thing. I was so tired I was practically drunk, and I was jet lagged and it was super late and I was still three hours from home and I'd been waiting and waiting and the baggage carousel went 'round and 'round and pretty soon I was the last traveler standing with nothing to claim. I strongly suspected I knew where it was, and it was in Pennsylvania. I just laughed and sighed and filled out the paperwork with my parents. Sure enough, they found it and flew it to Mason City's tiny little airport and then someone personally drove it to my doorstep the very next day. I was still pretty passed out at this point, so my younger sister had to sign for it, and there it was in all its weary world-traveled glory, waiting for me when I woke up.

In the little airport we flew out of in southern Spain, we had to check in in pairs. I was sitting with The Boy and we went up to check in at the same time. Apparently, they got confused, and tagged my suitcase for Pittsburgh. I'm not sure when I realized this, but I must have looked at my baggage claim and noticed that it did not have MY name on it, but rather his. My teacher and I (her being fluent, me being not so much) went up to the desk and explained it and were trying to describe it to them, that it was this large black suitcase like everyone and their mom has, EXCEPT that mine happened to be covered with bright yellow duct tape. Because my dad was paranoid that it might get lost, so he taped it up and I was embarrassed but it ended up saving the day. Except for that in Spain they apparently have no idea what "duct tape" is, but they did manage to find it, and so in the Madrid airport, it got a Minneapolis tag slapped on it, and I WATCHED them throw it in the bin with my teacher's suitcase and once we were on the plane they actually came up to me and handed me a new baggage claim and all was well and good.

Except for the fact that they never took the Pittsburgh tag off.

If I'd been more cognizant of everything that was going on, in the blur of getting through security in multiple airports and just trying to get home, maybe I would have noticed and yanked it off myself. But I didn't, and I guess the airline staff got confused and tossed it aboard the plane headed to the 'burgh. I don't know. Either way, when we got to Minneapolis and it never showed up, I calmly announced that it probably was in Pittsburgh, which helped US Airways probably a lot, because, you know, they see a lot of luggage every day and trying to track down a single suitcase from an international flight probably sucks. But I was 95% sure I knew exactly where it was, and why. (Boys are the cause of all troubles in the world, I might add.) And sure enough, they found it, and like I said, I got it back the next day. The clothes and shit that were in it, probably didn't matter that much, but all my souvenirs and my camera and film and everything were in it, and that was what I wanted.

Because, all told, I'd had a great time, and it was highly unlikely that another opportunity like that would arise. Even though I had the chance to study abroad in Rome during my senior year at ISU, money and other variables kept me Iowa-bound, and while a lot of good things came my way from sticking around, part of me is kicking my own ass for not going. Watching my friends post their photos and stories and adventures to facebook is really what did me in. Not only did they get to live in Rome for five months, but they jetsetted all over Europe, visiting pretty much any country they wanted to, spending their time drinking wine and sightseeing, taking beautiful photos and having a wonderful time. Those of us who stayed behind were getting our asses kicked by the hard-nosed professors who chirped that the students who stay behind get better jobs because of this and that reason, whatever, blah blah, I ended up working at Target for almost a year after graduation so that theory is kind of shot to hell, but whatever. I was seething with jealousy; not the kind of angry, bitter, resentful jealousy, but the kind of heart-heavying "I missed out" regretful jealousy. Last year when one of our interns from work did her study abroad in Rome, I was glued to her blog, and again those pangs of regret kicked my ass.

But, it was a choice I made. It was a long time to be gone. I would have had to have given up my student government positions to leave. I would have missed a lot if I had gone; but now I wonder if maybe I would have gained more. Who cares if I missed my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas? There would be more, and I would have had my family of classmates there to celebrate with. Most of my good friends from my studios did stay behind, also, so that helped make it easier, I guess. Financially? I probably could have made it work. I could have taken out more loans. Never mind that I'm struggling to pay them off NOW; it truly would have been one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It would have been worth it. But, again. I made a choice to stay, and I stayed.

Someday I'll go back. Maybe back to Spain. Maybe to Italy, to see what I missed. Maybe to France; I'd love to see Paris, as cliche as that might be. Maybe to Germany; I have a really strong German heritage. Maybe to England; I could at least speak the language there. Maybe here, maybe there.

Right now, though? I miss the memory of my time in Spain. I miss how carefree I was at seventeen; I want to experience things that maybe I couldn't appreciate when I was that young. Now would be a great time... I'm young, I'm not tied down, and, oh yeah, I'm broke as hell. I don't have the luxury of school fundraisers or my parents' generosity of covering the balance. I'm on my own and I've got nothing. I can't even afford to take domestic trips. I'd love to go to Vegas (I swear to you all, my 30th birthday will be IN VEGAS, and it will be awesome), to New York, maybe out west, maybe out east, anywhere. Minneapolis is about as far as I can go - I love Minneapolis, and I have friends there I can crash with. Maybe Chicago; I've actually never been there, for as close as it is. I guess there are things I can do... but part of me longs to have that experience again, of being immersed in a foreign culture, even stumbling through the language barrier, of removing oneself from the familiar and maybe even the comfortable, and just... having an adventure, I guess.

And I blame Susan Jane Gilman.



Note: I am not in any way being compensated for endorsing this book. Apparently there is a law that you have to disclose such things, but I have nothing to disclose. I am not at that level of blogging, but I thought you should know, that I am merely a geeky fangirl and not being prompted to say any of this. Although if she had approached me and was all WRITE ABOUT MY BOOK ON YOUR BLOG, after I recovered from the inevitable dying of glee that followed, I would probably turn around and dedicate my entire blog to her.

Also, if I was a cool blogger, I'd be all AND NOW I'M GIVING AWAY A COPY YAY but... I'm not giving away MY copy and I'm not going to go out and buy another one just for the sole purpose of having to pay to send it somewhere, so... sorry, kittens. You'll just have to hit up your local bookstore or the global bookstore of Amazon dot com and procure your own.

Also also, I am increasingly peeved about the fact that I don't know where these photos are. I find it highly bizarre that I did not bring them with me ever, because we all know how much I love my photos, and this particular set of photos is obviously important and I only have the one set of copies and why the hell have I not digitized those yet?! Sigh.

Also x 3: If you have made it this far, you deserve a fucking medal. Maybe I'll make a blog badge you can have that says "I made it through one of Kelly's stupidly long posts and lived to tell about it" and you can display that bitch as a badge of honor because HOLY SHIT this is long but I'm done now, I promise.



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fourteen Hours

That is how long I was at work today.

I go collapse now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time For Another Ramblethon

Apparently it's Tuesday and I've been off the Internet for at least four days and SOMEONE HOLD ME I'M SO SCARED but on the flipside it's funny that I didn't notice until now. I think maybe I am slowly becoming cured of my addiction. That, or I'm just spending more time learning to live in real life. That or I've been busy and/or tired.

I'll let you ponder that.

Anyway. It's Tuesday and I did have a busy weekend and I'm going to take a break from somewhat well-thought-out posts (what? You knew it wouldn't last) and provide some random updates instead.

1. I have gained fifteen pounds.

Granted, this is from November to now, but still. I stepped on a scale today and nearly burst into tears. I knew I was maybe putting it on (there's nothing to do around here in the winter but eat) and I was starting to cringe at every photo of myself, but... yeesh. I'm not naming numbers but let's just say I've got a hell of a long way to go now to get back to my "ideal" former weight. Fuck me.

Ironically, or not so ironically, I've been quite obsessed about this lately and even wrote a really long post about it and have been too apathetic to type it up. Sorry guys. I was too busy being fat, apparently.

2. My car... it is not well.

I suspected something was wrong about a week ago when it started making this weird shaking whenever I would be idling, but because I am busy and poor and stupid I decided that it wasn't dire and didn't bother to take it in.

So I was driving merrily along I-35 when my check engine light starts blinking at me in quite possibly the most inconvenient stretch of road ever and I swore a lot then called my dad who was kind of like what the fuck do you want me to do about it right now, and I was all FIX IT OVER THE PHONE and so I get to my sister's graduation and all is well and neither my dad or my brother-in-law can figure it out, they think maybe it's a loose spark plug (which would be nice, cause those bad boys are cheap) but they can't find the damn spark plug because my particular make and model and year of car has the most retardedly designed engine in the history of cars so I'm going to have to take it to a mechanic anyway.

The next day I am heading to leave, and my car is like on SUPERFREAKOUT shake alert and I back out of my sister's driveway, put it in drive, and it won't budge. More swear words ensue and so I just keep driving in reverse until I'm parked along the street and I call my dad AGAIN and he's like, well, shit, and is going to bring his car down for me to drive home and figure out what the hell is wrong with my car and twenty minutes later he calls me back and is all, do me a favor and go check your parking brake. He had put the damn thing on and DIDN'T TELL ME and of course I never would have thought of it because I NEVER USE IT and so I went and took the fucking parking brake off and voila! Magic. It drove again.

And, facepalm.

So of course I have still not taken it to a mechanic and it's TUESDAY so I should probably do that but I hate taking my car in because, hello, I have a vagina and thus know nothing about cars, so please rip me off.

I mean, it's very true, I do know nothing about cars, I will be the first to admit that. However. It's another way in which I am being punished for being single. I must endure the torture of car repairs and being at the mercy of the mechanic who I can only hope is honest. And I have, in fact, in the past, had my dad call and talk to the mechanic before I agreed to anything because I did not trust them. This actually saved me about $150 because my dad deemed one of the repairs unnecessary. SO THERE, CAR MAN.

The last time I had my car fixed, the repair dude had it for a small eternity but at least my total bill was EXACTLY what he had estimated, so, you know. That was nice.

I am adding it to my list that I would prefer if my next boyfriend was somewhat mechanically inclined.

Or, at the very least, could fake it enough to take my car in for me and not get bent over the table.

3. I have a pile of things to post and haven't.

And the longer I wait the more random and irrelevant they are going to be.

I am feeling guilt, actual guilt, that I have not done so.

Mostly at myself. Because dammit I wasted all that effort otherwise. And even though I got it out of my head, it totally doesn't count unless I put it on the Internet for everyone to see. Y'all are my therapists, see. I'm totally using each and every one of you. ;)

4. I am probably going brain-dead.

We are renovating the main floor of my office building. As in, they yanked up all the shitty office carpet and are restoring the hardwood floors that were below it. Which is all fine and dandy but the chemicals and coatings and varnishes they use to do such voodoo magic are NOT pleasant and quite frankly I feel like shit around 3 every day, if not sooner, and they're supposedly done putting things on it but it still reeks of fumes and I'm pretty sure that damage has occurred and holy hell make it go awayyyyyy.

EDIT: new floor looks awesome. I want it in my apartment. pretty shiny!

5. I got a part-time job. Because I clearly need to work more.

The renovations were, in part, due to the fact that we are turning part of our main floor into a retail space cause we've got some prime main street real estate and we've got stuff to sell! Apparel, mostly. But it's going to be sort of this fancy boutique with collegiate apparel and some of our breast cancer awareness line and other stuff, I don't know, but they're kind of running a race against the floor being done because they wanted to open on Saturday (ha) but it probably won't be until Monday and at any rate they asked if anyone was interested in supplementing their hours and I was all, fuck yes I do, because I am broker than shit and still have not gotten my pay raise because paperwork is The Evil and I'm already there anyway and all I really have to do is go downstairs and there you have it.

Also, after I had my interview, the manager lady seemed to really like me so that made me really happy and I think this is going to be awesome. Because, I've done retail. Lots of it. But this is higher-end retail and not, like, Target-retail. (No offense, T-get. I still love you!!!!). Also I've seen the new product and already I want to buy everything so it's probably good that I am making extra money too. I'll probably break even.

So, it will be an interesting experience and a few more dollars in my pocket and maybe between that and my raise I'll squeak by.

Oh and I'm still technically selling Pampered Chef, if anyone wants any. This is kind of a... non-successful endeavor. It's my own fault, I'm not trying hard enough, but I don't have the energy to devote to it right now, so... yeah.

And I donated plasma today.

I feel a little... off... right now, it's been about six months since I've done it, and between that and the chemical headaches I've been having for the last week, it's not surprising that I don't feel awesome, but hey, $20 in my grubby little hands.

Although, I'm a little sad I missed the excitement of the phlebotomist in my section totally biffing it on some dude's arm and blood going everywhere. Like, it was RIGHT ACROSS FROM ME and I was either spacing off or on my crackberry. All I saw was the cleanup. Ah well.


All right, kids, that's all you get for today. I know, I know. Feel free to bask in my brilliance until I can post some of the shiz I've been stockpiling. (see: point #4).



Friday, May 7, 2010

Best Not To Think About It...

You know... some most days... I am really glad the house next door is currently empty. My windows are usually just open enough, that I don't even know how many times a neighbor would have been able to see me running around my apartment without pants on.

I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

on motivation, personal failures, and unflattering white pants.

I'm not sure how to transition back to my profanity-laced rants after thoroughly scraping my emotion well dry, soooo we'll just have a buffer post for today. [As a side note - thank you everyone for your nice comments on yesterday's post. Y'all are sweet and may or may not have made me cry. I admit nothing.]

I have some pictures that I was going to post a while ago but I had really no context for posting them other than "look at meeeeee!" which, let's face it, is probably a good enough reason around here. But, now I have a bit of narrative I can probably pair with them, so it's a Real Post.

As I've mentioned a time or two or five before, I've been taking taekwondo for well over a year now. I've also been slacking off hard core as of late. My motivation just hasn't been there and I've been lazy and just squeaking by. What's really sad and disheartening is... I used to be really good. I mean, for my rank level. I had a lot of potential. I could feel it. And yet? I stopped caring. Or something.

I do feel like I've been barely getting by. I execute my moves well enough to advance in the ranks, and here I am, staring down my black belt, and I am absolutely terrified of how Not Good Enough I feel.

I sat out the last round of belt testing because I didn't have it in me to fake it again. I'd missed too much class, my heart wasn't in it, it was going to be sloppy. I'm sure I could have pulled it off, but it would have felt like I was cheating myself.

So I didn't test.

No big deal.

My participation over the summer is still going to be erratic at best, because of the direct conflicts with softball. But I'm going to try. Working in my favor is the fact that I've gone far enough where the form (essentially a series of moves, not really "choreographed" per se but I don't know what other word to use) is a repeat and I should know it. (I don't remember it, yet.) It's the highest color-belt form, which means I'm going to have to do it this next round for my red-black belt (which is, technically, considered a black belt - not a full-fledged one, but almost) and then again for my actual black belt. I've got time to polish it and make it shine.

If I work at it.

The thing that's perhaps bothering me most, right now... is that, besides the fact that I'm no longer the star, there are several other women who have joined and are way, way better than me. Or, at least, more dedicated. They practice. They are into it, in a way that I've never let myself be.

I don't know why. I'm obviously very passionate about the things that mean something to me. I feel awkward about this, though. In a way that astounds me. Everyone I've mentioned it to thinks it's cool. I feel like it's, like... I dunno. When I was in band in high school. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but when you were trying to fit in with everyone else, it kind of knocked you down a few points. All the cool twenty-somethings I try to fit in with... it's not something they do. It's not that I'm embarrassed; maybe it's just that is something that is unique, to me, and it allows for extra attention that maybe I don't want. I have no idea.

I'm pretty sure I'm self-handicapping myself, either way.

But I want to be good at it. I finally got over my self-consciousness from when I started, and I took pride in the fact that the instructors were impressed with me. Now I'm not even sure they bother with me since I never show up. I clearly don't practice.

To be fair... I'm busy. I work late. A lot. I'm exhausted. Sometimes I just can't make it to class.

Excuses, excuses.

Why all this, now?

Saturday evening I went out for dinner with some of the other ladies in my TKD class. We sat and talked at a restaurant for FOUR HOURS - we closed the place down. Aside from the lady I work with that I've been taking it with the whole time, they were all lower ranks and we'd never had class with them until recently when they rearranged the class times to allow for new students from a closing academy/studio/club/whatever. (By not testing, I sort of demoted myself - but the other, new red belts equally got "demoted" back to the intermediate class also since the advanced class was now suddenly full of black belts. so... it's not just me.)

And they were into it. They were into it the way that I'd never let myself get.

And I was jealous.

I was jealous of how well they were doing, because by the time I had gotten to their rank, my motivation was on its way down. I was jealous of how excitedly they talked about it. I was jealous that they'd opted to participate in a tournament the previous weekend - something that, if I wanted to do, wouldn't come around again until I was a black belt, which means I would get my ass handed to me. I was jealous of so many things that I had sabotaged myself for.

The thing is, though... it's not too late. I just need to find my focus again. I need to find my way. I need to do kick exercises and balance exercises in my (small) living room. I need to practice my form until it's perfect. Somewhere in my head, I already know it. I just need to make it look good. I need to not skip class even on the nights where I'd rather just go to bed five hours early.

I need to believe in myself again and I need to get myself back to performing like I should be performing at my rank. I need them to be impressed with me, not the other way around. I'm supposed to be a high rank, I'm supposed to be a "role model" of sorts, and quite frankly, I suck at it. I need to restore balance to this skewed situation, and, well, yes, it's very likely that they will continue to be better than me... but I can at least strive to be just as good as them.

Because, when I started? I had the potential. I had it. I felt it. I knew it.

And I blew it.

So. I'm going to get back to it, and I'm going to try to be as awesome as I used to be, which, well. It's going to be some work.

Remember how I said I had pictures I wanted to post? Yeah they're from the last belt testing I did (brown to red). In case you ever cared. Even if you don't, I want to tuck them into this blog as a piece of my history because dammit it's important. It's important especially now because I need to not give up on myself.

Aaaand I think I just got really, really (unintentionally) existential all up in here.

Sigh.

Here, have some pictures.


mid-form, mid-kick.

Sparring. Obviously.

I always got stuck sparring the higher-ranks. Lucky me.

If this had been taken mid-kick instead of sort of beginning-kick, it would have looked so much cooler.



So, there you go. I kind of look like a huge dork in all of these but I'm kind of glad my dad was able to make it down for this (did I mention he was like a second- or third-degree black belt? yeah. He's been very nice about not criticizing how much I kinda suck.... and lord knows he would have been more than happy to offer his opinion. His training was much more intense and rigorous, back in the day, and even though he hasn't done it for neigh twenty-five years, he still does it with much more finesse than I can, and I'm pretty sure he could kick my ass, even if I've got youth on my side) and take a few with my pissy little point-and-shoot (the batteries in his nice camera died, go figure.). Cause you know me and photos, and I didn't have any documentation of this particular chapter in my life.

I would also like to add that I have not lost ANY weight from doing any of this - not even when I was going regularly - and this depresses me especially because those uniforms were pretty much designed for men and they make me look horrendifically fat. For serious. They do NOT do you any favors when you've got some curve. Oy. (which, mercifully, you can't really tell in these pictures, THANK GOD. I hate that there is an entire wall of mirror, though. I don't like looking at myself during class even when I'm supposed to be watching what I'm doing in the mirror. Gross.)

Hey, there, look at the time. It's Tangent O'Clock and I need to go, well, be productive and shower and go to bed or something.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

[May 5]

Three years ago today, I graduated from college.

It was kind of a blur of excitement and self-validation. I'd done it.

At the same time, it was scary. I was being forced to leave the only place I'd ever felt like I truly belonged, and headed into the great unknown.

Either way, it was what it was. And it was overshadowed by something else.

Four years ago today, one of my best friends and one of the greatest people I will ever meet, was taken away from us. The day before her graduation from college.

It's something I still struggle with. It gets a little bit easier with each year, but only if I don't think about it. It's when I do start to think about it, that it gets hard again.

I still have a hard time taking Highway 30 across the state. I don't know the exact spot where it happened, I don't want to. It took me over a year before I would even consider taking that route. I would happily add an hour on to my trip to drive the thirty extra miles to jump on Highway 80 instead. To cover my irrationality, I would always just tell people it was because there was an awesome outlet mall right off 80. (Which, there is.) Instead of saying that the thought of taking Hwy 30 made me actually, physically nauseous and uneasy.

And I always wonder... how would things be different, if she were still here? Where would I be? I miss her advice, her encouragement, her enthusiasm for life. Maybe I would have made different choices. Maybe I would have rethought some things. Maybe I would have gotten through other things a little bit easier.

Truth, though? In a way, in a very large way, she saved me. Because it opens your eyes to how very short life is, and you appreciate it. As any textbook case of clinical depression, I used to be plagued with an array of suicidal thoughts. I don't have those anymore. No matter how much things suck, I refuse to throw in the towel. Because if it sucks that bad, that means it can only get better from there, right? And maybe it's just that sudden tragic realization of one's own mortality, maybe. So that, besides the countless memories and photos and a forever-altered-for-the-better life, that is her personal legacy, her gift, to me. She helped to fix a broken part of me, and it would be selfish of me not to embrace that fact.

Anyway. Rather than re-write and re-post and re-state all the things I've said before, I'm going to link to the posts I wrote last year. If you're inclined to care, click and read. Warning: they're really sad. Like, I can't read them without crying. Then again, I did write them, so, you know.

Saying Goodbye [Repost- Originally written May 10, 2006]

In Pictures

It Never Gets Easier

That's all.

Photo circa 2004.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

addendum

Sorry for the super-downer post yesterday, guys. I didn't meant to get everyone all worried or anxious. And I promise I'm not turning all emo or anything. Tomorrow's just a bad day for me. But it will be okay. Thanks for all the love!

Monday, May 3, 2010

waiting for the rain

Here's the thing.

I hate the first week in May.

I enjoy that it's May because that means summer is just around the corner and all the flowering trees in this town are blossoming and it's beautiful and the weather is pretty much perfect and it's the beginning of softball season and my windows are open every day and almost every night I catch a breeze that smells suspiciously like someone nearby is grilling, and lawns are being mowed and it's just all around wonderful.

But my heart goes into a dark place, a sad place, and there's a general gloom that settles in over me as April starts to wind down, and it squeezes my heart and doesn't let go until it's over. Four years now. A blink of an eye, yet a small eternity.

I already have my post for May 5 scheduled. I started it about a month ago, when spring started to hit full-force and I realized what time of year it was and the sadness hit me like a roundkick to the face. I don't feel like there is anything else I can talk about right now, nothing else seems adequate to say... but at the same time, there are words and they don't stop and I have to let them out or they'll destroy me from the inside.

This cloud, it hangs over my head. It gets a little less ominous every year, but it will never really go away. I'm not sure I even want it to. I don't want to forget... but I don't want to hurt. It still does. And I won't forget. Not ever.

I'm sorry for being vague. I can't put my words together right now. In a few days it will be okay. It will be better.

It has to be.