Tuesday, December 28, 2010

French fries and frozen custard

Upon hearing that my husband and I were going to spend the following day in Ocean City, Maryland, my mother had just one piece of advice: “Hit the boardwalk. Walk all the way to the end. Get a box of Thrasher’s french fries and cover them in vinegar. They’ll be the best fries you’ve ever had.”

Those fries were part of her childhood. Her father’s military career took her family practically everywhere, but Maryland was where she spent the most time, where many of her relatives still lived, where so many of her childhood memories were made. In fact, my own very first fuzzy memories are of Maryland, where my mom took me to meet my extended family when I was three years old. When we planned the road trip, it was never a question of whether or not we’d stop in Maryland. Since it was summer, Ocean City was our logical destination of choice.

The next day, we walked down the boardwalk hand in hand and enjoyed the warm sunshine and cool breeze common for the East Coast in June. It had changed since my mother had been, obviously, and there were now several Thrasher’s booths. But we walked all the way to the end, like she suggested, and we got ourselves a Medium box of fries. I thought they were tasty, but nothing spectacular. My husband couldn’t quite get into the taste of the added vinegar, but I thought it was genius.

Anyway, it wasn’t the taste of the fries that mattered. It was the fact that I was enjoying a staple from my mother’s childhood. How many people could say they’d gotten to do that? As I sat on the boardwalk and munched the fries, I pictured my mom there as a cute young kid on summer vacation. I wondered what I might, one day, tell my kid about my childhood trips…or about this cross country road trip I was on.

We’d barely finished the fries when we spotted another booth in the corner.

“Frozen custard?” I read. “What’s that? Is it like ice cream? Or some kind of pudding?”

“I don’t know,” my husband said. “But we should get some.”

We debated on whether or not to split an order before remembering we’re not the couple who shares desserts. He ordered plain chocolate; I ordered a chocolate and peanut butter twist. I took one bite and almost burst into tears from sheer joy. It was that good. It was like ice cream’s much prettier older sister with the perfect body, shiny hair and the Prom Queen crown. We were instantly obsessed. We devoured it and walked away before we were tempted to order more.

I texted my mom about my findings, wondering why she hadn’t told me of this delicacy.

“Oh, Jessica,” was her reply. “I’d forgotten about it. My Uncle Lee bought me my first frozen custard when I was a little girl.”

Uncle Lee died of lung cancer before I was born. My middle name is Lee. So is hers. I’d unknowingly found another favorite childhood staple.

These days, the food I eat is more often than not consumed for its nutritional value and the energy it gives me, with thought given to calories and fat. But that day it was about eating for the sheer joy of the taste… eating through the eyes of a child who was now over 50 (sorry, Mom, but you are) without worry of what it would do to my waistline. Sometimes I think kids have the right mindset: food is meant to be enjoyed, not a punishment, and no matter what, there’s always room for ice cream (and frozen custard). 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Memory Punch: The Last Party

“Get me a giant punch bowl,” I called out to my husband Mr. W as I rushed off for a last-minute pre-party workout. “No… get me a trough. I’m going to make a punch with every remaining bottle of booze we have in the bar and throw in some lemonade to make it tasty.

I returned from the gym and laughed. There, on the bar, sat a giant freshly-cleaned clear tote practically big enough to hold our 80 pound boxer. I should’ve known Mr. W would take my word literally. I showered and got dressed, thinking of all I had to do to prepare. It was going to be a very small get-together, but I wanted it to be fun and flawless, much like my other parties in the basement bar of the home we’re selling.

It started with our epic housewarming party when we bought the house in 2007. We were so proud of our bar with its red wall lined with autographed band photos and pictures of mermaids in martini glasses, the wooden bar Mr. W had built himself while I spent four days sunning myself on the beaches of Cancun with my best friend Sydney… and of course, the crowning glory, the stripper pole we put up more for bragging rights than anything sexy and that was climbed by more drunk male friends than hot ladies.

That first party was a hilarious disaster I wish I remembered more of. In lieu of a housewarming gift, we had everyone bring a bottle of alcohol to stock our bar. Mr. W promptly drank his weight in beer and passed out by 10 PM, leaving me unsupervised with tons of alcohol and friends who were bad influences. When you ask guests to bring bottles, well…they’ll want to sample those bottles.

“You need to have more control over me,” I said the next day as I vomited purple Gatorade into the toilet, soothed my pounding headache with Advil and screeched in horror at the pictures on my camera and vague memories of bits of revealing conversations I’d had with people I barely knew.

“There’s no controlling you and you know it,” he said. Ah, my soulmate.

Since then, there had been New Years’ Eve parties, birthday parties, slumber parties, “Why the hell not” parties, and pity parties in that bar. That bar was where Mr. W and I had some incredibly tough conversations over the summer about our future as a couple and in general. That bar was where my friend chose to hide from the world after her father was taken from her in a house fire and where I was honored to provide her with hugs and wine. There's some downright awesome stuff that happened in that bar. Out of every room in the house we are leaving, I think the bar is the room I will miss the most.

This party was The Last of the Official Parties. Titled “Thanks for the Memories,” it was to be the wrap up of the housewarming party. Instead of bringing in new alcohol, our job was to get rid of the old. I laughed as I made the “punch” and recalled how we’d acquired each bottle and nearly cried when I saw the bar sitting emptier than it had been in years. My friends trickled in, all but one of them part of the “old crowd.” We had to distance ourselves from most of the old crowd over the years, something that happens when you’re in your twenties and you befriend people that turn out to be less than stellar. But everyone from the group we still talk to showed up. Even though they were busy and even though it was the holidays and there were a million other excuses. They came for Memory Punch.

I snacked and drank punch until the room got fuzzy and the stories got a little more inappropriate. I snuck upstairs to get more ice and stepped into the bathroom to re-apply lip gloss. At our house, you can hear anything that happens in the basement through the vents in the upstairs bathroom and bedrooms. I could hear my friends talking and laughing as I searched for my pink lip gloss.

I stopped for a moment and listened, thinking of how beautiful it was to hear those voices in that bar one last time. I don’t know when, or if, each of them will ever be in the same room again. All of us are making changes in our lives and I realized that my have been the last time I ever heard those particular voices in that particular bar. Instead of being sad about that, I found myself filled with gratitude that they’d made it for this last party. I don’t know what the future holds but each person in the bar that night was a very special part of my twenties and my time in that house and I don’t think they’ll ever know how much it truly means to me that we shared so much together.

“Isn’t it cool,” I said as I returned with the ice and chips, “that no matter where life takes us, how much time goes by or what happens, we all keep returning to each other?” They nodded in agreement as I filled their cups with more Memory Punch.

I believe in living for the present and setting goals for the future. But sometimes, you’ve got to reminisce about the past. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Don't Fast Forward

If only life had a fast forward button.

I couldn’t agree more at the text I read from a good friend the other day. She, like me, is “on hold” in life. Like me, she can see the light at the end of the tunnel (which is actually just the beginning of a whole lot of newness, but I digress) but can also see everything that has to happen in the meantime. It’s frustrating. It’s, at times, very disheartening. I mean yes, life is a journey and I really am grateful for every day of it. But it’s scary. This whole life overhaul thing is not for the faint of heart.

My friend and I both have moments where we wish we could pick up a life remote and hit the fast forward button… not for long, just until we’re relocated, unpacked, adjusted…stable.  Stability isn’t something either of us has known for quite some time. That’s mostly our decision, as she and I both knew early on in life that the 9 to 5 lifestyle would never be ours. But just to fast forward until we can breathe again would be wonderful.

Last Saturday, my husband and I were having a “date night in” because we’d just returned from Thanksgiving in Yakima and couldn’t really afford a date night out. I don’t mind staying in, but I was still annoyed. Our budget has been crazy since the road trip and I didn’t like not at least have the option to go out for Italian food and a movie or knowing when I could again. This is one area where I crave stability. I longed to reach for that life remote and fast forward to after our move to Seattle to a time when we knew what our rent was, what our bills would be and had a real budget again. Instead of the life remote, I picked up the TV remote.

I believe in coincidence, but I also believe in fate. The movie Click with Adam Sandler was just beginning. I’d seen it before and remembered really enjoying it so I thought I may as well watch it again. And I quickly remembered just why we don’t actually get life remotes. Because when we fast forward through the bad, we miss out on all the good that goes with it. When we focus only on the future, we miss all the beautiful things about our present. And even when we’re in the depths of despair, frustrated or stressed out, there still are beautiful things about the present.

In case you haven’t seen Click, Adam Sandler plays the role of Michael, a busy employee of a large corporation and working so hard for a much-anticipated promotion, he has no time for his (way out of his league, by the way) wife and their kids. He goes to Bed, Bath & Beyond one night and actually does get one of those fancy life remotes. And at first, it’s awesome… he can fast forward through arguments with his wife and anything he finds unpleasant as well as revisit his past. But Michael gets out of control with the remote and accidentally ends up missing his entire life and losing the people who matter most to him.

I actually got tears in my eyes at the part where he grabbed the remote and whispered, “I can’t take it anymore. Fast forward me to when I get promoted.” Michael is so upset in that scene because he wants something so badly and has worked so hard for it, but it seems continuously just out of his reach. He can’t take the long hours, the stress, the disappointment in his families’ eyes anymore. He just wants to fast forward the bad and get to the good. That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. What I wouldn’t give to be able to grab that thing, fast forward, and just relax already.

Except that deep down I don’t want to miss the bad and the scary, even to get to the good. I’d miss too much good mixed in with the bad. Yes, this being on hold things sucks, as does being powerless about a lot of things that simply have to work themselves out. But I also will never forget the way this feels and that will motivate me to work hard to ensure I never feel this way again. I’d miss the last few months living in close proximity to some truly amazing people I won’t get to see enough after we move. I’d miss the last mornings waking up in my blue bedroom I was so proud to decorate that will soon be replaced by white apartment walls I don’t get to paint. I’d miss more chances to drink Oval Office flavored martinis and eat the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had, anywhere (even, dare I say, better than anywhere in Seattle).

 If I fast forward to my new life, I’ll miss the life I have now… which, at one time, was the exact life I wanted. And even though times are tough, tempers are flaring and there’s a lot of anxiety… it’s still a pretty great life. And I’ll think of that as I’m surrounded by my friends tonight who are coming over for one last epic basement party to help rid our bar of all the alcohol we don’t want to carry with us to our new life.

At the end of Click (sorry to spoil it for you but really, if you haven’t seen it by now, that’s not my fault), Michael is miraculously given another chance at life. I was so relieved the first time I saw the movie because I expected it to really be over for him. After all, real life doesn’t work that way. We’re born, we live, and we die, and how we spend the time in between is up to us. No sooner had I finished the movie than an old song popped into my head. I’ve always liked it, but the message really resonated with me. As bad as you want to fast forward… through the monotony of your daily routine, through suffering and heartache, through life’s downright unpleasant moments… don’t. Live them all. I’m writing this post at a very scary time in my life to remind myself, because no matter what happens, I know it will be worth it in the end.

“Getting There” by Terri Clark

Written by Terri Clark

Well the sun sets in the west 
But as fast as you go, how would you know 
You're a busy boy, I guess 
Who just wants the gold at the end of the road 
Think of all you miss 
Passing through like this 

You want an answer as soon as you say a prayer 
You want to land the moment you're in the air 
Baby the living is all in the getting there 

Don't be the first in every line 
Now and then you can be at the end 
'Cause there's only so much time 
And you can't get back every minute you spend 
You're not even sure 
What you're running for 

You want an answer as soon as you say a prayer 
You want to land the moment you're in the air 
Baby the living is all in the getting there 

Think of all you miss 
Passing through like this 

You want an answer as soon as you say a prayer 
You want to land the moment you're in the air 
Baby the living is all in the getting there 

The living is all in the getting there 
Getting there 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Whose Salvation is it?

photo courtesy of progressivepuppy.com

It’s that time of year again. From now until Christmas, every time you go to get groceries or that extra stick of butter for your Christmas cookies you’ll be assaulted by a bell ringer from the Salvation Army. And, unless you’re a heartless jerk, you’ll probably drop your spare change in their bucket. Why wouldn’t you? Your spare change will go on to help assist thousands of homeless, hungry people down on their luck during the holidays.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve always just dropped in your quarters without another thought. But I read a few things recently that made me start to wonder… and resulted in me thinking twice about where my quarters go. And while I’ll never dictate to others where they should and shouldn’t give, I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t at least get the word out about what I found.

There are so many wonderful charitable organizations in this country. And, admittedly, the Salvation Army is one of them. It was an actual moral debate for me, personally. I know it’s just spare change, but spare change adds up. Are a ridiculous view on humanity, factually inaccurate beliefs and discriminatory practices reason enough for me not to donate to all the wonderful things they do? And do I really want to deprive some homeless kid out of a potential warm bed to stand up for my beliefs? I mean, if I withhold my money because of my OWN narrow viewpoint, depriving them of funds they need to help millions, am I any better than they are for excluding certain groups? You can see my point.

 In the end I decided that, personally, I just can’t drop a single cent into that bucket knowing I’m supporting such an organization. And I wish I had known what I know now years ago. That’s the purpose behind this blog post. It’s not to change anyone’s mind, because I don’t appreciate people telling me “you should give here but not here” and it’s certainly not my place to do that. There are plenty of people who will think this church does much more good than harm. I just want to provide information and let others make their own decisions.

I have to add that I have no problem whatsoever with religious charitable organizations. I think they’re amazing and more in line with what Christianity is supposed to be about, not what these insane right wing hypocritical bigots have made it into. But I do have a problem with discriminating against whom you help. And any organization that’s going to turn anyone away for such a ridiculous reason isn’t getting any of my change until they see the light and change.

Now, that being said… what’s my problem, anyway? Well, it started a few days ago when I read this blog post.

Now I’m not an “all or nothing” person, nor was I about to buy into the “IF YOU SUPPORT THE SALVATION ARMY THAN YOU ARE EVIL AND SUPPORT BIGOTRY” statements. I mean, each and every one of us buys things every day that were made in China, probably by a toddler who gets paid with a grain of rice. Finding out where our dollars go opens up one hell of a rabbit hole I don’t intend to fall down at this point. If you read the comments on that post you’ll see that some people, gay or straight, have been helped by the Salvation Army and were quick to defend them. But it did implore me to check out their website. Here’s some actual text from the “What we believe” section of the site and, because I can, my thoughts:

The Salvation Army holds a positive view of human sexuality.

Um, really? I don’t agree! Read on:

 Where a man and a woman love each other, sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.

Hey, totally. That’s the life I’m living. It’s awesome and yes, enjoyed, though not always frequently enough. Good for you, Salvation Army. But what of those who didn’t follow my path or haven’t found that special someone yet?

However, in the Christian view, sexual intimacy is not essential to a healthy, full, and rich life. Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy.

My single friends are going to be pissed at you, Salvation Army.

Sexual attraction to the same sex is a matter of profound complexity.

I agree. And what a beautiful complexity it is. And why we have to govern it with laws and moral high ground is beyond me.

Whatever the causes may be, attempts to deny its reality or to marginalize those of a same-sex orientation have not been helpful.

That’s because doing either of those things is complete and utter bullshit. Bullshit tends not to be helpful.

The Salvation Army does not consider same-sex orientation blameworthy in itself.

Oh, gee, what a relief!

Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, requires individual responsibility and must be guided by the light of scriptural teaching. Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.

Oh, I get it. So you admit that being gay isn’t a choice. So rather than risk offending the Creator who made someone a certain way, you’re asking them to just ignore their (God-given?) sexual urges and ignore their hearts when they fall in love and live like a nun or monk. Right…because that makes so much sense.

Likewise, there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation. The Salvation Army opposes any such abuse.

But you’ll let them go hungry until they repent?

In keeping with these convictions, the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation.

Yes, you’re free to shop at Salvation Army stores and donate to them, gay people. But if you want to work for them, be a church member or receive help… you may be out of luck.

Here's another article of interest.

Again, this organization has the right to uphold beliefs. I may not agree, but I respect their right to think we should all be a bunch of heterosexual celibate monks and nuns until the joyous day when we marry. But I sure don’t have to support them. With all the charitable organizations out there that kick it into high gear during the holidays, my quarters will find their way to a less “evangelical” one. I’m going to feel like an asshole every single time I bypass that bucket and ringing bell, but not as much as I would if I dropped money into this mindset.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The holidays got here quickly this year. I realize that makes no sense whatsoever and makes me sound like a complete moron who doesn’t understand the way time works (I actually don’t fully understand time, to be honest, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t speed up when I stop paying attention). But really, it seems as if one day we were unpacking our van from the cross country road trip in hot July weather and the next day there was snow on the ground, sub-zero temperatures in the air and Christmas music on the radio.

It’s a scary, volatile time at my house. There’s a lot of change in the air without a lot of control. Change and loss of control are two things that make Mr. W and me very grumpy. We know it’s all for the best and that we’ll be much happier (and hopefully better off in every way) once it’s over. In the meantime, it sucks. And there’s nothing we can do about the sucking except wait it out and see how it goes.

Still, this is the time of year when we’re supposed to reflect on all the good and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving means even more to me this year since I’ve recently explored Plymouth and saw where it all began (for us white people who stole the land, anyway, not the lovely indigenous folks who were here already…sorry). And even though right now my life is scary and stressful, at best, I’m still thankful.

I’m thankful for all those things I normally take for granted like a car than runs, a house that stays warm when it’s -7 outside and the fact that I have access to clean water. It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting the best of everything that you forget that some people have none of those things. I’m thankful that even when money has gotten tight, we’ve always managed to come up with what we need when we need it.

I’m thankful that, even though things are stressful and uncertain right now, I finally have a clear direction I want my life to take. Things are clearer for both my husband and me now than they’ve been in a long time. It’s going to be s struggle, there are no guarantees and we’ve had to put some things on hold, but instead of resisting change, I’m going to embrace it and see what happens. The goals we have are intimidating and difficult and at times not fun. But I’m excited and will take the bad right along with the good and be grateful to be taking the chance.

I’m thankful that time really does seem to heal all things, even old hurts and grudges. I recently reconnected with an old friend and some might think I’m crazy for forgiving her for the past, but I just can’t perpetually punish people once my anger runs out, especially those I truly love. I hope one day it can be this way with everyone I’m estranged from. I am also thankful for that hope.

I’m extremely thankful for my health. It’s easy to complain about the little aches and pains, the minor injuries, the extra ten pounds that show up at the worst possible times, but overall, my health has been good and I’m so grateful just to be able to walk and to face my days without any major illness.

I’m thankful for my amazing support system… my husband and my best friends who, no matter what crazy ideas I throw at them, just shrug and have faith in me. I’m thankful for my family who even in all their faults are angels compared to some of the horror stories I hear. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made recently who feel as if they should’ve been in my life all along.

I’m thankful for where the roads took me in 2010 and where they’re taking me in 2011. Perhaps more than anything, I’m thankful for learning that it never is too late to change your entire life. You just have to leap. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why I'll never tire of Vegas

I walk a fine line between being insanely grateful for everything that happens to me to worrying over whether it’s too much… as if someone shouldn’t really get to experience as many amazing things as I have… or, worst of all, if somehow I’m going to start feeling entitled to having nothing but the best. I don’t ever want to be someone who feels entitled to something simply because I’m alive. So when I was recently offered another chance to party in Las Vegas, my home away from home and favorite place ever, it seemed too good to be true. Everyone deserves a crazy Vegas trip or two in their lives… but with as many as I’ve had, I found it hard to believe another one was presenting itself to me. And with three amazing women I adore, no less. Still, the fact is, all four of us needed it for different reasons. So I said yes, quit worrying about it and packed my heels.

The novelty of Las Vegas should’ve worn off for me years ago. It hasn't. I should be tired of it. I'm not. As soon as I step off the plane and hear the slot machines in the airport, I’m giddy. I eagerly anticipate my first viewing of the lights of the Strip. I take in the people watching and can never quite get used to seeing it all… the insanely beautiful women in their tiny dresses, the eager men in their suits and heavy cologne who turn their heads at every pair of breasts, the costumed entertainers, the older pot-bellied men re-living their youths, the couples, and the crazies. With each trip, I’m excited about something else… a show we’re seeing, a club we’re checking out or just experiencing the madness with the people I’ve brought along. This time I was thrilled to see the city I’ve come to know and love with three people who really hadn’t experienced it before. And for me, it meant a new way to experience Vegas as well… in a 1600 square foot two bedroom luxury suite. Go big or go home, I guess.

What do you do when you lose your father and stepmother suddenly and tragically right before the 30th birthday trip they were going to take you on? Or when you end a relationship of almost six years with a man you’ve been with since you were barely legal? Or when you’re stuck in limbo and so much depends on things that are out of your control, you find yourself snapping at those you love, having panic attacks and wake yourself up crying from stress at night? Or when you unexpectedly get your heart broken and can’t trust someone the way you thought you could? You pack up your smallest dresses, your make-up and any cash you can get your hands on and you get your ass to Vegas. At least, that’s exactly what we did. And it turned out to be better therapy than any of us could have imagined.

From the moment our limo driver met us at baggage claim at the airport, we were treated like rock stars. You get what you pay for in Vegas and if you’re willing to shell out the cash for a suite, you’re entitled to the amenities that come with it… a personal concierge, high class transportation, a lounge that always has plenty of treats available (“Omg, there are cookies in here!”), a sweet man to hail you a Taxi and tell you how beautiful you look each evening, and the most gorgeous surroundings you can possibly imagine. And it just got better from there. Each night, we were treated to a table and bottle service at some of the city’s most high end nightclubs that just kept getting better by the day. Each night we had some of the best meals of our lives which also seemed to keep getting better. Every evening when we’d emerge from our suite dressed up and strutting, we were catcalled and offered free drinks just so the men would have the honor of talking to us until our egos just couldn’t take it anymore. Throw in an incredible show, several hours lounging in the whirlpool tubs and steam rooms in a gorgeous spa, room service and two ridiculously hot bodied women dressed as “peas and carrots” and you’ve got yourself the best Vegas trip of all time.

I’m no fool. I know there’s a dark side to Las Vegas and there are a lot of things about it that aren’t so great. I know there’s the dirty, high crime, bad energy, ugly side of Vegas. I know one round of drinks there could feed a family of four for a week. I know it’s all about who you know, who you are and what traits you’re willing to compromise. It’s a hustle, all about the money. But I think it’s the fact that the city doesn’t even try to hide that side of it that makes me love it so much. They’re not pretending to be anything they’re not, even though 99% of the tourists do (Vegas alias, anyone? I’ve got one). Like anything else in life, Vegas is what you make of it. I’ve had plenty of bad experiences there, but they will never be able to tarnish, or compare to, all the good. With a city that has shown me so much love over the years and treated me so well, I have no choice but to love it back with all my heart.

So no, I don’t believe I will ever tire of Las Vegas. As the years go by and my life changes, I’m sure I’ll go there less and less. And there will come a day where I’ve had enough. But I’ll always look back on my trips during my twenties with a smile. And when my memories (those that survived all the free champagne) fade, I’ve got an entire folder of Vegas pictures on my computer that will never see the light of day but will always be there when I need a reminder that yes, it really happened, and yes, we all deserved it.

Yes, those are my pink panties. No, I don't have any shame. The pic is awesome.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eight years of lessons

Today my dog turns eight years old. Today I find myself wondering how eight years have passed since I saw the ad in the Spokesman-Review and called and reserved a puppy for my then fairly new boyfriend. I couldn’t really afford one, but Russ wanted a boxer and by God, he was going to have one. And one Sunday in late October, we made the trip up to Post Falls and came home with Dexter (and some Krispy Kremes).

We had no idea how to handle a puppy. We were puppies ourselves. Boxer puppies are exceptionally cute and I believe this is because they are exceptionally emotionally devastating. In his younger days, Dexter destroyed more property than Hurricane Earl and made us aware that we were not to keep him in a kennel, outside, or go anywhere without him. Apparently boxers have more separation anxiety than most breeds and this one had more than most boxers. Dexter did not live with me until after I married his daddy and I was perfectly fine with that. Once we did become roommates, he tore up my important papers and dove into the garbage and generally let me know who the boss was. The joke was on him, though, when I gleefully made the appointment to have him neutered.

Eventually, Russ and I figured out that we didn’t have a bad dog… we just had a very smart, stubborn dog who was trying to communicate with us. Once we figured him out, we were able to successfully train him and compromise with him (yes, we compromised with our dog) and eventually we were left with a very pleasant animal who gave us minimal trouble. It only took about four years, hundreds of tears, thousands of dollars in damages, about a dozen marital rifts, two training books, millions of treats and a plethora of patience. There was also one incident where we underestimated his strength that resulted in an empty tray where Christmas cookies had once been. But even then, as my parents pointed out (it was their tray of cookies) he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone… he simply saw an opportunity and took it in the form of a dozen peanut butter balls and two dozen sugar cookies with the little Hershey’s kisses in them.

I never thought I’d say this, especially after he tore up my $400 Love Sack bean bag chair, but I wouldn’t change one bit of it. I was strictly a cat person before Dexter and he has changed me to a dog person for life. There is nothing like dog ownership. We really are his love, his life, his family, the ones he would do anything to protect. When I walk through the door, he acts as if he hasn’t seen me in decades, as if he really believed I’d left him and wouldn’t return. He takes such pleasure in eating, sleeping, getting pats on the head, and walks, I can’t help but be inspired to take joy in the simple things myself. We walk the same path nearly every day but he always acts as if he’s seeing it for the first time. And oh, my God, the way he acts when he learns he gets to ride in the car… it’s like he’s won an Oscar. He follows me from room to room without asking for anything, just to be near me. I haven’t owned anything more valuable than that.

Dexter has grown with us throughout practically our entire relationship. When Russ left him at his parents’ house for nine months to go to school in Wyoming, Dexter slept faithfully on Russ’s old shirt the entire time. The night I got the call that brain cancer had claimed my grandmother; Dexter was so anxious to comfort me that he spilled a glass of wine on his own head (and tried to lick it off). Whenever I return from a trip, I know he’ll be at the top of the stairs when I open the door, shaking as he waits for me to lug my big pink suitcase through the door before barreling downstairs to greet me.

Today we’re celebrating him like we’ve done every possible September 19 prior: extra love, extra walks, and a cupcake (vanilla… he survived 36 chocolate Christmas cookies, no need to push our luck). But this birthday is hard. Though he still acts like a puppy, eight isn’t young for dogs. Eight is especially not young for big dogs. I can’t help but think of the heartbreak that lies ahead of us. I know when you get a pet you’re just biding your time until the heartbreak and it’s a pain I know all too well. The loss is the result of having pets who aren’t just pets, but part of the family. I’m trying not to dwell on it, but it’s like the year when people’s birthdays stop being funny… his birthdays are no longer funny.

Still, I wouldn’t trade the impending heartache for the experiences with Dexter and the lessons he’s taught me. The stories of his life will live on long after he does, from the day he ate the dryer lint to the evening we tormented him with the sound of the buzzer from our “Taboo” game only to find it mangled and chewed up the next morning. He has taught me lessons in responsibility, selflessness, patience and understanding while giving me more unconditional love that I could possibly deserve. I’m so grateful we’ve had him for eight healthy years and will do my best to greet each of his remaining days with the same enthusiasm that he does.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The proud flexitarian: how I made my peace with meat

Oh, you people who refuse to learn anything about nutrition and live your lives in a state of blissful food ignorance, eating fast food burgers like champions… you have it so good. Sure, you’re probably consuming unknown levels of chemicals, hormones and possibly enough sugar, sodium and saturated fat to give you numerous health problems or kill you. But you just don’t give a damn, do you? Because stuff tastes good and by God, you’re going to eat that stuff. I’ll never be like you, but believe me, part of me is envious.

I’m also envious of those of you who have committed to either a vegetarian or vegan diet… and actually stick to it. For some reason, people are offended by this type, which is ridiculous because numerous studies have shown that cutting out meat (or cutting back) is extremely good for you. I admire you all, I really do. Even if you don’t like the taste of meat or dairy, it’s in almost everything and requires a real commitment to a lifestyle.

Then there’s me, someone who has spent the last three years falling somewhere in between. I’m blessed and cursed: blessed because I have a real passion for learning about nutrition and health and cursed because I just don’t have the discipline to go all the way. I know about all the horrors of the meat and dairy industry, the grotesque conditions animals are raised in before their diseased remains become our meat, and have read enough information to somewhat agree with the moral opposition to eating animals (don’t jump all over me for the last one, everyone’s body is different and I know some people would literally die without it). I’ve spent the last three years struggling with my personal philosophy on vegetarianism and this summer it became apparent that I was going to have to find a balance between raging carnivore and devout vegan. And yes, I’m aware that healthy isn’t synonymous with veganism and there are healthy meat eaters and unhealthy vegetarians… but for the sake of this post, I’m sticking to one aspect.

Once you learn certain things, you can’t unlearn them. And after I’d done my share of research, I knew I could never eat the way I once did. My balance between veganism (much too strict, I knew I’d cheat) and eating lots of animal products (never again) was a fun little term called the “pescatarian.” I’d have to give up chicken, turkeys, pigs and cows, but I could still eat fish and other seafood. Having been raised on my father’s wild caught Pacific Northwest salmon, I knew I couldn’t give that up. So I was a pescatarian. And then Thanksgiving came along and I ate turkey. Then I was a pescatarian again. Then several months later I went to Vegas and absolutely nothing from Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris would do except their filet mignon. Then I was a pescatarian again until my friend made chicken and I didn’t want to be rude. You get the drift.

I stopped developing a taste for most kinds of meat. When I did eat it, I’d feel sick because my body wasn’t used to it. Yet I never completely kicked it and I felt totally guilty for it. I felt like a gay Catholic… I agreed that it wasn’t right, yet I couldn’t help myself. I kept up the “pescatarian” front until our cross-country road trip this summer. My plan was to go as long as possible without animal flesh. On our first day, we went to my husband’s aunt’s birthday party and the menu consisted of a veggie tray, meatballs, chicken and ribs. I didn’t want to starve or be rude, so I ate two meatballs with my veggies. And I admit, they were good. I made my normal pescatarian choices for much of the road trip, but I also ate my share of meat, especially in the South. By the end of the trip I was thoroughly disgusted with myself, with animal carcass and the whole mental debate. It was time to find a balance.

I am the entire reason the flexitarian diet was created. We’re literally called “the meat eating vegetarians.” A flexitarian is someone who abstains from meat most of the time… but not all of the time. I finally decided to stop fighting my natural urges and just cave in and have meat when I really wanted it. After all, I craved it so rarely that I assumed it meant something when I did want it. Besides, even the most PETA-friendly vegan will admit that just cutting back on the animals we eat is good for our bodies, for the environment and of course, for the animals it saves. Fewer animals in demand means less factory farms and less animal suffering in general. And that was the reason I quit eating the damn things in the first place.

My balance is still eating a mostly vegetarian diet. I limit my dairy to small amounts of cheese and Greek yogurt along with the occasional Ben & Jerry’s binge because I’m human. I eat local, cage free eggs, but not often. I eat lots of the fruits and veggies I do like and avoid the ones I don’t because eating shouldn’t be torture. I eat meat, on average, once a week these days and feel just fine when I do. That’s because I buy the hormone free grass fed stuff instead of the products of animal concentration camps. With very few exceptions (maybe once a year during the worst hangover of all time) I avoid the hell out of pork because I simply know too much. And I can honestly say I’ll never touch another hot dog. Last Thanksgiving, I talked my mom into buying an organic, hormone and antibiotic-free turkey and even my “I don’t care about that crap” family admitted it was the best they’d ever had. Some meat-eaters think I’m an idiot and some vegans think I’m a sellout. I think I finally found a diet I can stick to. And in our obese, food-obsessed, fast food eating, bloated culture, I think that’s pretty great.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Where the heart is

Since we’ve been home, rather than immediately falling back into our old routine, Russ and I have been in a constant state of readjustment. Our trip across the country was more than a long vacation. We agreed beforehand that it would be a “reset” button for us in some ways. We didn’t realize just how true that would be or how far we’d go with it.

Those last two weeks, when every day meant long drives and moving all our stuff yet again, we longed for the day when we actually woke up in our own bed and didn’t have to pack up and check out by 11:00… really, hotels, what is up with 11 am checkouts? Get with it, noon is the new 11. On our first day back, it was nice not to have to move. But we did have to get used to being in our home again. It sounds simple, but surprisingly, it was more of an adjustment than life on the road. Bags went unpacked, souvenirs sat on the dining room table, and it took us three days to completely wash a load of towels. Still, weeks later, we haven’t completely adjusted. I think we left part of our brains on the road somewhere because we can’t seem to get it together and function normally yet.

When it’s just you, your husband, some clothes and a van, to put it bluntly, shit gets real. You realize how attached you are to your possessions and at the same time, how unattached you are. The highs and lows in life are magnified. For hours and hours, while you drive uncharted territory with nothing to do but think, you come to a lot of realizations. You realize what has to change and what doesn’t. Your ego gets in the way and fights you, but eventually, you concede. When you’re with your partner, all of that doubles because they’re going through it, too. Even the best relationships have their baggage and let me reassure you, every last ounce of that baggage will resurface at some point. All you can do is deal with it and get through it.

There’s not a doubt in my mind that I’ve experienced enough to write a book about our time on the road. If I tell the story right, as cocky as it sounds, I also know that it’s a story people will care enough to hear. It might not be the next Eat, Pray, Love or make any kind of bestseller list, but it will sell… if I do it right. Weeks later I’m sitting here in my office with receipts, notes, phone numbers, stories, pictures and postcards. I feel like I’m trying to put together a crazy puzzle and I’m fighting the inner voice that’s telling me I won’t be able to do it.

Then there’s the question of how honest I’ll be and how much of the story I’ll tell. Do my readers need/want to know what was said on the night of the South Dakota tornado scare, the argument in Nashville or that hilariously catastrophic night in Atlantic City when we left something critical in the van that was valet parked? Do I try and put a positive spin on every place, which wouldn’t be hard since we loved 95% of it, or do I talk about the fact that, yes, the obesity in Memphis and the smoke-friendly Texas environment and factory farms disgusted me?

Writers are chronic over-sharers. Telling our stories are what we do, sometimes at the expense of our privacy. I have tried to write articles where I leave the “me” out of it. Those articles are dull, lifeless and flat. What gives my words the breath of life is the “me” that I put into them. Some people...fellow writers, even... have a problem with this and don’t approve. Those people are lucky in the sense that they can write about certain topics that have nothing to do with their personal lives. I envy those writers just like I envy those of you that go to your office, work 40 hours per week, then go home and forget about work. The writer is always at work. Don’t get me wrong, at times it seems like the writer is perpetually on vacation and those are the times we are incredibly blessed. You’ll never catch me complaining about writing off a Vegas trip on my taxes or scribbling into a notebook from the comfort of a lounge chair or the days following “wine Wednesdays with the girls” when I literally work from bed. But every now and then I find myself wishing I could “turn it off.” I can’t turn it off… ever.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with over-sharing to a point. You’d never catch me writing about sex in detail (unless it was under a pen name…hmm!) or anything like that. I keep plenty of things private, believe it or not. At the same time, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about putting so much of what happened on the trip out there for anyone to see. The first book I wrote was completely fiction. I created characters and scenarios and made things up and made them go how I wanted them to go. If people don’t like the story or the characters, it won’t hurt my ego at all. If they hate this story… well, they hate us! Then there’s the fact that my mother is one of those people who thinks I should have a boring office job and a completely private life. Ah, how easy her life would be if I didn’t tell my funny drunk stories in my blog or tweet about my utter contempt for Sarah Palin! I’ll change some names and identifying details in this story, no doubt, but I can’t change me. And if I don’t put some “me” into this story, all it’s going to be is a really boring travel recap with a few love stories thrown in. Sorry, Mom. You should just join the witness protection program right now.

My husband said it best the other day, as I lamented over this very thing.

Me: But do I talk about... you know, our stuff?

Him: I think you should. I think it makes the trip even more awesome and it makes the story a story instead of just a travelogue.

Me: But what about your family?

Him: My family is awesome. They won’t care.

Me: Oh yeah. But what about my mom?

Him: She’ll just have to understand.

Me: But what about her friends and her co workers? She gets embarrassed by the things I do as it is. What is she going to tell them? What will they think?

Him: *pause* Exactly how many of those people’s kids wrote a book?

Me: *pause* No kidding.

So there you have it. I’m just going to sit down and write the story and go from there. I don’t know when it will be done, who on Earth will want to publish it or who will want to read it. At this point I can barely visualize it in my mind. But I’m going to tell the story and just not worry about all those things yet. Our trip was amazing and crazy and we are still recovering from it in many ways. But we’d do it again in a heartbeat. As the saying goes, no one promised life would be easy… just that it would be worth it. The same can be said, I’ve learned, for true love.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Please Direct Your Attention...

I've been neglecting this blog severely, but for good reason. I'm about to drive across the country with my husband in a van. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I'm sober(ish). Please follow our journey at the travel blog, www.thestatesoflove.com. I'll return to my regularly scheduled Blue Eyes blogging when we return. I'm sure there will be no shortage of topics....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Las Vegas: My Destination of Choice

Across the USA, sales of Jose Cuervo and Plan B skyrocket as college students are either recovering from, enjoying or about to embark on their Spring Break adventures. While my college Spring Breaks usually just meant doing laundry at my parents' house, many more fortunate students take epic vacations to Cancun or the Bahamas for a week of fun in the sun.

I recently returned from yet another adventure in my favorite vacation destination: Las Vegas. Despite being way past my college years, I partied right next to college juniors getting their first taste of Sin City and all its glory. It probably didn't take said college juniors a week of bed rest to recover like me, but I digress. No matter how many times I visit Vegas, I never get tired of it. With so many shows, clubs, restaurants and attractions to choose from, you can never "do it all" in just one trip. And so I return, year after year, while my liver silently judges me and my blistered feet beg for mercy.

People often ask me why I visit Vegas so often and why I love it so much. Here are my top ten reasons I find Vegas so awesome:

10) You can drink anywhere, anytime. Despite my millions of Facebook pictures that suggest otherwise, I am actually not a heavy drinker. I enjoy going out and having fun, but at home, I’m more of a “glass or two of red wine with dinner once a week” kind of girl. Of course, all that goes right out the window the moment I land at McCarran International. There’s something appealing about being able to carry a large fruity drink down the street at 2 PM that I can’t seem to resist. The “open container” law does not apply in Vegas.

9) The shows are amazing. I realize that a lot of concerts in Vegas cost twice as much as anywhere else and that many of the shows tour the country. But there’s nothing like seeing an authentic Vegas show such as Jubilee! or a Cirque de Soleil performance in its home. And unlike most other cities, you can have a cocktail while you watch them. I know. I have a problem.

8) You can be anyone you want to be. When I talk to someone in Vegas, especially at a bar, I automatically assume they’re full of shit. I’m usually full of shit, too. There’s an app on the visitlasvegas.com site that allows you to create a custom alias for a reason. In Vegas, nearly everyone will give you a fake name, occupation, even reason for visiting. Go ahead, give them a fake name. Odds are, they won’t remember or care. That’s half the fun.

7) You can visit nearly everywhere in the world from the comforts of the Strip. Yes, I’m aware that a fake Venice casino is really nothing like the real Venice. I have been to the real Venice. It’s amazing and I mean the actual places the casinos emulate no disrespect. But it’s still fun to go from Rome to Paris to Venice in an afternoon. Besides, unlike the real Venice, the Venetian offers Gondola rides without having to endure the smell of 200 year old sewage.

6) You can wear things you wouldn’t get away with wearing anywhere else. I live in North Idaho. While living here certainly has its benefits, there’s no way in hell I’d wear half the dresses or outfits I wear when I visit Las Vegas. People don’t dress up often here… and on the rare occasion they do, their outfits still aren’t very dressy. Vegas gives me an opportunity to wear all the things that rarely see the light of day.

5) The people. During my last trip, I walked by a homeless man playing a guitar like an expert singing Billy Joel’s Piano Man perfectly on key. Next to him was a Gene Simmons impersonator wagging the longest fake tongue I’ve ever seen. I also met a dentist who complimented my teeth at random. You just never know in Vegas.

4) I would never… EVER… want to live there. I don’t mean to insult anyone who has made Vegas their home and I certainly see how it would appeal to some people. But here in my hometown, I own a very nice home in a nice neighborhood. If I lived there, I’d be sharing a ghetto apartment with roommates being serenaded by sirens every night while enduring the God awful summer heat. The traits I find endearing on visits would quickly annoy me, I’d soon run out of money, and my liver would pack up and leave me. The locals hate the Strip. I do not want to ever hate the Strip. Other places I visit make me want to sell my home and move immediately. Not Vegas. Vegas will always be the mistress I visit for a few days before eagerly heading home to my wife.

3) On that note, Las Vegas makes me appreciate where I live. Don’t get me wrong, I love it there. But after a few days, the city turns on you. Humans can only go so long without adequate sleep, with too much booze and too little nutritious food. I’ve found that after 72 hours of hardcore partying and endless walking, I’m ready for the clean air, the beautiful trees and mountains, and my soft bed. At home, it’s not nearly as likely that I’m going to be hit up for money aggressively by a middle aged man in a cheap business suit or incessantly handed “Live Nude Girls!” cards by cocaine-peddling non-English speaking gentlemen. Just sayin’.

2) The shopping. The girly girl in me absolutely loves the shopping. The Fashion Show Mall, the Forum Shops, the Miracle Mile Shops and the designer outlet mall hold a special place in my heart and are the reason I will probably never retire. Any money I don’t spend on overpriced food and alcohol goes to the stores. Having shopped all three last year, I can honestly say I prefer shopping in Vegas to shopping in New York. Vegas ties with LA shopping, however. I haven't forgotten my insanely discounted finds on Melrose.

1)At any time, there are hundreds of things going on. I do not understand boredom in Vegas. Between the free entertainment (the Treasure Island show and the Bellagio fountains) to observing the guy that is sloppy drunk by noon, there’s never a dull moment in Vegas. At the Rio, the servers randomly jump up and start belting out oldies like professionals and there’s never a shortage of mimes in the Venetian. Every tourist, whether it’s a first visit or a hundredth, should have something to do at all times. The biggest problem with this is trying to be everywhere at once.

When I return from Vegas, I always look like I just spent a month in a third world country. My feet are torn up and I hobble from all the sore muscles that come with spending three days in heels. I’m broke, I’m fat, I have awful skin and I’m exhausted. But eventually my skin clears up, the blisters heal and I find myself craving the sound of the slot machines and the lights of the Strip again. There may come a day when I’ve had enough Vegas, but I’m nowhere near reaching it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Waking up in Vegas

I don’t care what skeptics say. There are moments, now and then, where you can look at a couple and just know in your heart that they are absolutely going to be together forever.

It was Sunday night in Sin City and the eight remaining members of the Wolf Pack who hadn’t flown home after Saturday’s debauchery had just enjoyed the Penn & Teller show at the Rio. N was craving dessert so we headed back to our hotel in search of some sweets. The only thing open was the Pyramid CafĂ©, where I have eaten more times in Las Vegas than any other restaurant combined due to its decent menu, low prices, and being open 24 hours. After all of us had stayed up much later than usual, drank much more than we were used and been screwed out of an hour of sleep by Daylight Savings time, our energy levels were low and we had reached the point in exhaustion where everything becomes funny.

Our waiter was an older gentleman who apparently learned English from his TV (seriously). His repetition of “Good times!”, “Let’s get this party started” and how seriously he took everything had us all giggling every time he turned around. We ordered some pretty oddball things (a side of french fries and some strawberries for me) and J’s sister, E, ordered herself the biggest and most delicious slice of mud pie I’ve ever seen. Once the pie was gone, E decided to get creative with the leftover food on the table. Apparently this is a hobby she’s had since childhood which makes it even more awesome since she’s now in her mid-twenties.
Intent on creating a masterpiece, E scanned the table and got to work. Before long, the pie plate had morphed into a lake with two canoes made of celery, people in the canoes made of chicken, and oars made of baby carrots. It was an impressive display which got even better when some guacamole became seaweed. All of us were laughing, but no one laughed harder than J. He was thinking about growing up with E and all of her previous food sculptures and that, combined with the exhaustion, caused one of those laugh-till-you-cry moments. At the sight of J losing it, N lost it too. As I looked at them laughing and crying together at the same time while E diligently (and quite seriously) worked on her project, I thought, it’s these moments of silliness that really make marriage the amazing adventure that it is… and I sure am glad to be marrying these two.

I hadn’t entertained a single thought of staying sober or classy for the Vegas festivities. But I knew we were all in trouble when I turned on my Blackberry when my plane landed and immediately received a text from F that said simply, “I’m f*cking tipsy!!!!!!!!” F had arrived earlier along with E and her boyfriend and the three of them immediately decided to drink their way up the strip. After an agonizing hour at McCarran airport, J and N arrived along with two more members of the Wolf Pack and we enjoyed a limo ride to the Luxor. After showering the airplane germs off me and hitting the buffet where I ate all the crap I hadn’t allowed myself for the past month, four of the ladies headed to the Palms to have drinks at the Playboy Club and dance at Moon.

The club was packed and before too long, F and I discovered our feet were swollen (never a good sign). Wanting to ensure we were able to keep up the following night, we went back to our room where we ordered spinach and artichoke dip and I enjoyed a wonderful 2 am bubble bath. Room service has got to be the greatest thing ever.

The plan for Saturday had been set for a month: dinner at Tao at the Venetian at 6 pm, a 7:30 limo pick up, an hour long cruise, the Thunder from Down Under Show at 9, another hour in the limo and then a nightclub. It sounds simple enough, but throw in six ladies and lots of booze and things will get confusing. After getting my hair done at the salon and getting dressed with F, we headed to E’s room to meet the other ladies around 5:30. There we found poor N, who was nowhere close to ready and about to panic. F grabbed a curling iron, the rest of us hauled ass to Tao to hold the reservation, and luckily N and F arrived in time for us to enjoy a delicious dinner and thank goodness for that because I wouldn’t have wanted to see us on empty stomachs.
The limo driver, Joe, was prompt and patient. I could tell he was a New Yorker before he told me as he just had the air of being cool without even trying. We cruised around, drinking champagne and talking about inappropriate things. The Thunder from Down Under show was even better than I remember it being and N got some special attention without having to go up onstage and fake an orgasm, much to her relief.

After the show and some raspberry kamikaze shots, we located Joe while simultaneously being devoured by the eyes of the lecherous men in the Excalibur. The second hour in the limo got a little fuzzy as N and I desperately tried to polish off the rum we’d bought for the limo. The last thing I clearly remember was chugging pure rum out of a champagne glass which is possibly the worst idea I’ve had in years.

We arrived at the Bellagio intending to go to The Bank nightclub but found ourselves distracted by the pretty flowers of the Conservatory. We took some pictures there, most of which I ruined with my incessant boob grabbing and obnoxious behavior. At that point, I was too far gone for it to be anything but awesome. At last, we located The Bank where we learned that we were not on “the list.” I am eternally grateful that my Blackberry mercy-deleted the number of the woman who coordinated the evening as she had assured me this would not happen.

We had an adorable little angel in our group named Megan who had never been to Vegas and thus was not jaded to the ways of the city. She kept asking sweetly for things and getting them….no excess tipping or flirting necessary. So it’s not surprising that before long, we found ourselves in the guest list line bypassing the general line like we’d wanted. And mere moments after that, we were on the dance floor making asses of ourselves like we were meant to.

Then things got even fuzzier. I have no idea how long I was at The Bank but I do know that suddenly my beautiful sparkly stilettos turned on me and we all needed out, stat. The next thing I knew, we were back at the hotel where I traded my stilettos for flip flops and went to the lobby where we found the men fresh back from the strip club and congregated at Liquidity Bar for…ugh… more drinks. I vaguely remember telling the Wolf Pack I really shouldn’t drink anymore. But before long there was champagne in front of me and moments after that it was gone. We told stories, took inappropriate pictures and participated in some debauchery. Some of our group has known each other for over 15 years, some of us had just met but that weekend we were all friends and that made me warm and fuzzy. Actually, that may have been the champagne. Suddenly it was 5 am and we crashed.

I woke up in a complete face plant, clothes strewn all over and my stilettos on the ironing board. F was nowhere to be found. I sent a mass text to the group:

 1. I think I have a brain aneurism 2. Why it is noon and not 11 am? 3. What’s the plan for the day? 4. I AM IN SO MUCH PAIN RIGHT NOW.

 I soon learned that Daylight Savings had cursed me while in Vegas for the second time and spent the rest of the day attempting to hydrate myself and apologizing for my behavior that fortunately nobody seemed to mind.

I love Las Vegas. I shouldn’t. I spend entirely too much money there, eat too much, drink too much and act in ways I normally wouldn’t. It always takes my body a week to recover and my bank account and mind far longer. My feet always look like I stepped on a landmine and I always lose something… this time it was a sweater. But I do love Vegas and it seems that as soon as I return home, I want to go back. So after everyone had headed off to the airport on Monday, I walked myself up the strip to the Paris and bought myself a cappuccino and a French pastry.

I don’t want to go home, I thought as I savored the chocolate goodness and much-needed caffeine. Maybe I’ll walk out to the casino and win enough money to fly Mr. W down here for the rest of the week. I don’t want this to be over.

As if on cue, a creepy man in a cheesy Wal Mart-esque suit approached me, attempted to charm me offered me a free massage and hit me up for five bucks. Every fantasy about Vegas came to a screeching halt and I hauled ass outside, grabbed a cab, got my luggage and headed to the airport. Over my third liter of water I decided to look through my camera and burst into laughter for the millionth time that weekend. I looked up to see a group of young guys doing the same thing with their cameras and we grinned at each other.

There are certain memories that can only be made in Las Vegas. And though I am having issues with recollection, it’s safe to say good memories were definitely made.

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