23 August 2012

pack up, we're moving

I'm moving house!

Sorry to any secret devoted readers who have already bookmarked this page. After a day long deliberation (like I've mentioned, I've been stuck at home all week), I've decided that wordpress is a better fit. Mostly because 20 minutes after I copy/pasted an old post from here just to get a feel of the site, I already had one follower, and a great rating from someone else. Sorry, blogger, but you just can't compete with that. (even though I like the font better here....shhh!)

So everyone, kindly follow me on over to

oh, and here's a picture of my cat looking startled.

21 August 2012

A History of Violent Near Death Experiences

I like to live life on the edge.
Now this may be because I'm a high-octane adrenaline junkie, or it may be because I'm extremely, extremely stupid. Who's to say? Either way, I've had a couple near death experiences.

The first time (that I know of) that I almost died, I was about 2, and I had swallowed a penny. Why? Because pennies are fucking delicious, that's why. Or maybe I thought that if I swallowed a penny I'd shit a quarter. Again, who knows. Anyway, an aunt's boyfriend saw me choking and apparently performed the Heimlich maneuver to get me to spit it up. That's what my family has told me. I vaguely remember being forced to shyly thank him before I ran off to try to find another way to die.

maybe by climbing an ancient oak tree

My second brush with death involved a(n apparently drunk) teenage driver who drove a car that I was in the backseat of into a large pile of rocks and mud. The pile acted as a ramp and launched the car through the air and into a harbor. It was very Dukes of Hazzard. As water rushed into the car, we all scrambled to unbuckle our seat belts and the boys helped us climb up through the driver's side window because the car was lying sideways in the muddy water. It was terrifying, and it took a long time before I could comfortably ride in a car (with a drunk person) again. (Side note: In my defense I was only 15 at the time, surrounded by friends that I "trusted," and since we were all caravaning less than a mile down the road, no one thought that he would destroy the car and endanger all of our lives so quickly and efficiently.)
I include this as a near-death experience because the car hit a boat on it's way into the water, and everyone speculated that if it hadn't, it may have flipped on it's roof-drowning us all.

The third near-death experience was nearly as idiotic. This time, I was in Spain with the boyfriend of the time, and two travel buddies we had met in Napoli a few weeks prior. After meeting up in Liverno, and splitting a ferry cabin across the Mediterranean, we all decided to rent an apartment together in Barcelona. One sunny Spanish day, we borrowed a couple 150 cc scooters and drove all around the city and up a mountain.

we also almost died from being so cool

Despite being in constant terror as the boyfriend wove through the crazy city traffic of a major European city on a vehicle he had no experience with, the day went pretty well until we decided to stop for lunch. All of us had downed a few pints the previous evening and we agreed on some greasy pub food. So, stopping in a nearby Irish Pub, I innocently ordered some fried mushrooms. And, being extremely hungry from a long day of hard scooting, I tried to eat one as soon as the basket was delivered. Except that the mushroom was really, really hot. Probably because it had emerged from a vat of bubbling-hot grease mere seconds before I decided to stuff my face with it. Instead of rudely spitting it out in front my new friends, I tried to just swallow it. This didn't work. The mushroom firmly lodged in my throat, I got the boyfriend's attention by waving at my face and looking panicky (he asked "are you choking?" and when I nodded exasperatedly, yelled at a waitress "she's choking!"), and the poor guy had to quickly learn the Heimlich in front of the entire pub. Thankfully, he figured it out before I died, and, other than the horrified looks on our friend's faces, the rest of the day went relatively smoothly. The shell-shocked waitress mentioned in broken English as we left that she's glad someone helped me because she had no idea what to do. I told her I was glad, too.

plus, we left our travel buddies with something to remember forever

Safely home from my trip to Europe and newly single (this had nothing to do with the mushroom incident, I promise), I spent the next summer on the coast of North Carolina, in the area I grew up. I even met a boy, at my favorite place in the world, The Backstreet Pub. One day, this boy and I decided to drive out to his parent's beach house. We took a quick dip in the Atlantic that instantly turned into us getting sucked out to open ocean by the rip tide. Now, I'm not a strong swimmer. Nowhere near it, in fact. So when the rip current came to get me, I tried to fight valiantly, but pretty much immediately lost my mind and started to panic. That is, until the boy yelled at me to shut up, and scooped me up, Baywatch style, to dispose of me on the shore. He then casually mentioned that he was a lifeguard for 6 years. No big deal.
All in all, it was an okay first date.

the sea was angry that day, my friends

Besides flinging myself in terror off a 265 ft bridge in Costa Rica, which doesn't count anyway, my most recent near run in with death happened just a few days ago. 
You see, I happen to drive a very sexy red Yamaha C3. I named it Colin Firth, for what I think are obvious reasons.

Colin Firth

So while this means I get to zip all over town looking awesome and spending less than $2 a week on gas, it also means that I need to drive a lot more carefully than everyone else on the road since I am not surrounded by a cushioned metal cage. Except that it's me. I mean, come on. Did you really read this whole post and not figure out that I don't have the ability to keep myself out of harm's way? So of course, a few days ago, and less than a half mile from my apartment, I took a turn too sharp, Colin flew out from underneath me, and I landed on my face. Hard. How hard? Like, knocked-three-teeth-out hard. Broke-my-nose-and-gave-me-a-black-eye hard. Have-to-miss-work-for-a-week-maybe-longer hard.
So, I'm currently on bed rest, waiting for a dentist to give me some new teeth, and for the skin on my face and body to grow back.

I was told that there's supposed to be more tooth there

Thankfully, there is the entire Harry Potter series, a lot of chocolate, and ibuprofen PM to help with pain management. Oh, and vicodin helps too.

So, what's the consensus? Stupid or just accident prone? Have any of you (my billions of loyal followers) ever had a brush with death?

15 August 2012

The Art of Making Someone Else Keep A Journal for You

In lieu of the awesome post about the nightlife in Raleigh, which is still in progress for financial reasons, I was thinking today that I'd write about something I already have on hand-my travel journals.

Travel journals are a finicky business. In hostels or long bus rides, you almost always run into a (usually female) traveler scratching away frantically at a battered book, sitting out the conversation for a moment in order to better remember others. Or someone pulls out their notebook for you to write your email address in, and you catch little notes like "Manuel Antonio: Whale watching. Riptides!" or "Buy underwear!"
On the other hand, when you're the person scribbling or forcing people at penpoint to give you their personal information, a lot of the time a journal discussion beings. Some people say that they try to keep up with writing daily and always forget, or that they feel that taking down an account of an experience cheapens the real thing. Some make it a ritual to write each morning or afternoon, no matter what. Others still have traveled hundreds of miles to party, not to fucking read or write, and neither you nor God can make them, okay?
Where do I fall on this spectrum? Somewhere in the sloppy middle.

My first ever excuse to buy a beautiful travel journal was when was I was 20, right before I went to Europe. It was my first time out of the country and while doing some shopping beforehand, I somehow ended up at a Barnes and Noble. Have y'all seen their leather journals? All I can think about is Bilbo Baggins sitting around, writing There And Back Again in one of those things. I mean, that's totally what he wrote that in. Definitely. In everyone's imagination except Peter Jackson's, apparently. Anyway, so, I bought one. Because I had to.
See? I had to.

Of course I only filled it up about 10% of the way. I just didn't have that much inspiration. It begins gracefully with "Verona, Italy. October 10, 2009. Walking around with a 300 lbs backpack is hell. Just hell." Then goes on to skip a full week from Sevilla to Lisbon, which I reported as "weird" and "likeable," catches up a while afterwards with a brief but glowing review of Paris before summing up, two weeks and 4000 miles later, with an illuminated account of readjusting to life in the US, and subsequent reverse culture shock. ("I can't wake up tomorrow knowing that I won't be spending the day visiting a famous monument or museum." Yes, my diaries are of the angsty sort.)

This last time around, instead of just writing in the rest of the Bag End book, which was forever tainted with laconicism, my aunt bought me a neat little reversible journal that flips inside of itself to create two different areas. I used the unlined pages to scratch down invaluable advice for each city I was planning on visiting in Latin America (funny story: at one point before leaving, I flipped a little and tore out most of these pages to arrange them to fit my updated itinerary, never secured them in again properly, and they all flew out within my first hour in San Jose), and the lined section on the other side for keeping a journal. 
I took this so you'd understand

Except I got bored. Real quick. The first few pages detail fretfully the woes of getting ripped off by an airport taxi driver, being hungover (as does every other entry), and white water rafting halfway across Costa Rica, which I resentfully describe as "obviously amazing and wonderful."

life is hard.

Then, brilliance struck. Less than a week into the trip, I found myself in Puerto Viejo, which is a super chill Caribbean town in southern Costa Rica. At the hostel I was staying at, I met pair of Frenchmen who were working as a favor to the owner. At least, I think that's what they told me. The cuter and less spiteful one, Elwon, had purchased a piece of land outside the town and built a jungle house with his own French hands. He told me he could watch the toucans from his outhouse. Charming, right?

French boys

So, on the day that I accidentally put salt in my coffee instead of sugar, ended up giving up on life, and having a beer instead-all at about 9 am-Elwon found me trying desperately to come up with a decent explanation to my journal for my bad behavior. ("I am the worst at keeping a journal. I hate it. Last night I drank rum, bad rum.")
Despondent, I gave him the pen, and this is what I got:

a little like a yearbook, and a lot like a French fetish 

Translated poorly, it begins with "When one wakes head still foggy vapor of the day, sometimes for resuming the correct wavelength is continued to drink." Which makes total sense when you're drunk and had a heatstroke the day before. Elwon's surly companion, who I deemed "the tall one," did not approve of this. Even though I totally gave him a glass of water and a damp rag and babysat him when he was throwing up in the common room toilet all night. Elwon also advised that if I find myself in a strange city and can't think of anything to put in my journal, to buy a local newspaper and write about the top stories. Smart guy, this toucan watcher. 
He also left me with this piece of French brilliance, which I immediately scribbled down before I forgot it: "My father said to me once, when you have pass away, zen you have rest."

We can sleep when we're dead. 

and on these nights, we do

25 July 2012

City of Oaks, Part One: Why That Guy At The Fire Is An Idiot

I met a guy in Costa Rica who hated Raleigh, and it pissed me off. Now imagine this: a group of half drunk gringos, all laughing and talking, passing around a bottle of rum, listening to the Pacific crash ashore. The stars were shining. The conversation was good. Someone was even playing fucking ukulele (it was me). Someone calls over, "hey Lauren, this guy's from Raleigh too," and I happily walk over, sit beside my fellow North Carolinian, and say something along the lines of "Hey, small world! I love Raleigh."
And this guy, this fucking guy, he says: "Oh, I hate Raleigh, I live in Asheville now and love it." So immediately I'm like, you damn idiot hippy. Raleigh kicks ass. And I try to tell him this, I'm all, "I like Asheville too, but how could you hate Raleigh?!" He just spews some nonsense about how there's like, not enough nature in Raleigh, or some shit. I mean, what a retarded piece of shit. At some point, I vaguely remember getting up abruptly and going to the other side of the fire.
Now, come on. I have no right to be offended, I know this. I'm not even from here. I only moved to Raleigh, on a whim, a little over a year and a half ago. My boyfriend, who I had known for all of 4 months, was all, "hey girl I gotta go to grad school in the city, wanna join?" and I was all, "nah I gotta go to Colombia to learn Spanish and shit." But then I didn't go to Colombia. And I missed him. And I certainly never learned Spanish. So I moved here, and it was one of the few super reckless life decisions I've made that have actually turned out well. Go figure.
Anyway. To formally address the "not enough nature" argument against Raleigh:  Fuck that. 

Things To Do OUTSIDE In Raleigh

The JC Raulston Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
Part of NC State University Campus

The Arboretum is one of my favorite places in the city. There's never a lot of people, just a few Asians taking pictures in the Japanese garden and the random couple holding hands on the rooftop terrace. If I wasn't too lazy to leave my apartment most of the time, this is the place I would go read a book and drink coffee for hours. 
Japanese Garden

There are cute little ponds,
cute ponds

Beautiful fields of flowers,
Annual color trials

Educational signs,
learnin' about nature

an Asian valley,
Asian persuasion 

And the public restrooms are adorable.
adorable restroom

In the summer it's open from 8 to 8 (Winter hours are 8 to 5),  and there's all sorts of kids education events, if you're into that.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "oh snap, Raleigh DOES have a lot of nature." But that ain't even it. Besides that, we have, like, a ton of lakes. Seriously. People are all, "hey I'm going to the lake," and you have to ask, "which one?" Because there are so many. 
Except there are actually about 5. My favorite, probably because it's the closest one to my apartment, is Lake Johnson. 

Lake Johnson Nature Park 
view from paddleboat

Although Johnson is smaller than it's neighbors, Wheeler and Jordan, there's still a ton of crap to do. There are picnic areas with public grills. There are jon boat, pedal boat, kayak, canoe, and sailboat rentals. 
For a while, I was good friends with a crazy girl, and we spent several afternoons on the lake. 
this is illegal and leads to terrible hangovers

Paddleboard and yoga classes are offered, as well as a bunch that I can't remember. There's even a fishing tournament. But my favorite part is the 5+ miles of trails. (3.5 paved, 2 unpaved)
view from a trail

Sometimes I decide that maybe I'll live longer if I start exercising, and in a fit of enthusiasm, my boyfriend and I walk the trails and talk about leaves and I make fun of fat people. Sometimes you try to get away from people who are on awkward first dates because the guy is talking to much, so you go down a side trail, but they follow you with their stupid dog and then it's super awkward because you have to stop and pretend to stare at the lake and simultaneously make sure you're not stepping in poison ivy as they go around you. But that's a pretty rare occurrence. Also there's a little lake dam that you can climb down into at night and splash around and drink whiskey. But you didn't hear it from me. 

Parks and Squares 
In addition to our awesome ass lakes, Raleigh has about a million parks suitable for various needs. For example, if you happen to be in need of some crack cocaine, just go to the tiny park right next to the bus station, Moores Square. I guarantee you'll find some there. If you need to drink a cheap bottle of wine with your friends after the bar closes and no one can drive, just hop on over to Nash Square for a while before you hail a taxi. Perhaps you find yourself slightly drunk from a long lunch at the Raleigh Times, and you just need to lay down and read an Indy Weekly for a bit. The tidy little area around the State Capitol Building is the perfect place to do so. 
Confederate Statue

Of course, not all park actives have to be associated with drinking. They're even nice enough to hang out in sober! My favorite place to hang out, in front of the Museum block, is perfect for taking terrible family photos when they're in town for Christmas and you have to be at work in 30 minutes. 
"we are not photogenic people," to quote my aunt

Bonus: the Museum of Natural Science is right across the street. 

Indians love nature

Okay, okay, I realize that except for the Lake Johnson one, these places are more city squares than nature parks. But just chill out for a second. I haven't even told you about Pullen Park. I don't have any pictures yet, so you'll just have to take my word for it-Pullen Park is the shit. If you have loud ass kids that need to get out of the house, take those brats to Pullen. If you have an extra 20 minutes before work and it's already on your way and everything, go walk around Pullen. If you wanna hotdog-they have those. Pullen Park.
Now I don't even wanna mention this next one.

William B. Umstead State Park 
Umstead blows the "not enough nature" shit out of the water. You don't even know what nature IS until you've been to Umstead. 
hint: it's this

This place is huge. NC State forestry kids come out here to identify trees for their classes. 
They also perform gruesome experiments. 

Frankenstein tree

A ton of people come out here to jog, but I mostly just stumble around and ask Jon questions about the trees. 

all up in nature

Had enough nature yet? Too fucking bad. If you like art, and being outside, you gotta check out the
NC Museum of Art Museum Park

It was super hot the day I went and my friend and I had to leave to go get beer, but there's a couple miles of trails out there, as well as picnic tables, and little signs about ecology and stuff. 
Oh, and some big ass statues. 
big Ass Statue 

The actual Art Museum is closed on Mondays, but you are free to roam the grounds until a beer run is necessary. 

Raleigh Little Theater and Rose Garden
little theater, pretty garden

I'm not a huge fan of roses because they're ugly and cliche, but this area is beautiful. Even though there are apparently 56 varieties of ugly ass roses. 
nature is pretty

I've never gone to a show, but the theater itself is pretty cool. It reminds me a lot of Italy. 
Italian ass theater 

Besides the stuff I've already mentioned, there's also a few small parks around Cameron Village that I like to sit in sometimes, the creepy and awesome Oakwood Cemetery (pictures soon!), and, if you're into it, some serious golfing in the area. Then there's 
The Friends of Dorothea Dix Park
Dorothea Dix Park a beautiful area with a killer view you can pose stupidly in front of the day after you get back from Costa Rica and you still feel the need to be outside at every moment. BECAUSE YOU CAN IN RALEIGH.

suck it camp fire guy!

What, seriously, you want more? Tell me below by COMMENTING, dammit. Seriously, what does it take to get you people to comment? Lazy asses.

09 July 2012

Beaufort: A Very Drunk Attempt At A Photo Essay

When people ask me where I'm from, I lie. I do this partly out of malice, and partly because it's so annoying to have to explain the concept of Down East: the marshy countryside comprised of small communities that each pretend to have their own unique identity. (Sure, Otwaians, Harkers Islanders are weird. Whatever.) So I say that I'm from Beaufort. Because that's where my happy place is, anyway.

happy place

Beaufort has less than 5,000 residents and was ranked in February as "America's Coolest Small Town" by Budget Travel Magazine readers. I did not vote in the contest, because I know damn well that it won't be so cool once its not a small town anymore. I mean, I've waited tables at like a hundred different restaurants in the area, and I love the dumb tourists that come in and give me their money, but I still think it's best we leave it a secret.  And don't berate me for giving away any secrets, y'all. I doubt I'll lose sleep at night knowing my average of 20 readers per week will flock to the town on holiday.

WPYC members only flag, NC State Flag, Beaufort city flag, US Flag

I recently visited Beaufort with a few goals in mind: getting tan, drunk, and taking photos for a practice travel post on my wildly popular and quickly growing blog. This didn't work out, at all. Well....one of the goals did. Shit, man, I was incredibly successful at getting super hammered and wandering all over town, but I didn't really get much of a tan, and I stopped taking pictures at some point (thank GOD).

moonlight on the water from the end of a dock

Plus, as soon as I snapped a few photos of pretty sailboats and the sunset, a HUGE storm came rolling in, the sky turned scary black, we all made Take Shelter jokes, and had to sprint to take shelter in the nearest bar. This was the beginning of the end for us. After waiting for the downpour to pass over us, we headed to our initial goal bar, my favorite spot in the world, the place that my boyfriend and I met, and where I have made grown men cry-the Pub.

                                                    The Backstreet Pub, Beaufort, NC

There was a customer appreciation event, but, because of the rain, the staff had packed up the picnic food that we were planning on making our dinner. We did see a pretty fucking awesome band, called Vagabond Swing. These guys were from Louisiana, and were awesome. I ended up hanging out with various members all weekend. One guy called me a tease. I won't go into further deail, so I guess he's right.
trumpeteering just got sexy

So, after Jon and I stayed for a few beers, we headed to the local coffee shop/liquor bar/wine store, The Cru, for a quick pizza.

Cru Bar, Beaufort NC

However, once there, we ran into a sailing crew that we had just met. These guys were pretty cool. They had come up through the Panama Canal, and I really enjoyed sharing Central America stories with this one old British man. Anyway, of course they offered to buy us a shot...and then offered to secretly open yet another place in town-

The James: best $1.25 burger you will EVER have. Notice the lack of an open sign.

Since we were apparently about to participate in an illegal after hour party*, we inquired about illegal after hour burgers-they assured us that it was possible. EXCEPT, after arrival, and after probably a hundred more pints, we were told that the grill could not be turned on. I don't remember the reason for this. I just know that we were super drunk and super hungry and by then everywhere serving food was closed. So we were fucked. Eventually we made our way back to the Pub, and picked up a member of the band to go take shots with at the worst place in the world, The Dockhouse.

still at the Pub, this time with a bassist

The rest is a blur of regret and audacity. I won't be showing my face in that town for at least a month. Maybe not until next summer. Fuck it, I have friends in the mountains now (for my 3 international readers, I live in North Carolina-which stretches from the Blue Ridge mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. I used to live by the ocean, now I'm right in the middle of the State-making it super easy to visit either beautiful place over a weekend). If I feel the need to flee the appalling city heat of Raleigh, I'll just visit Asheville, and try not to get quite so blacked out.

this was required to seek forgiveness from my weekend hosts

But I still love Beaufort.

*Disclaimer: Nothing we did there was illegal. Except for the Taiwanese hookers with the heroin balloons. But I didn't invite them, I promise. 

29 June 2012

How do I use you, internets?

You know, I haven't the slightest idea how to work the internet.
I try: I literally sit around reading blogs about running blogs, I really did do several google and bing searches on the merits of each, and I ask around, god help me, about what the fuck coding and HTML and CSS are. But for the love of shit, man, there are just some things that I cant figure out.

  • Traffic. This is apparently vital. I will die, and my blog will die, without traffic.
  • Coding. What do I have to code? How do I do that? WHY?
  • Ads control the internet, and therefore the free world.
  • Loyal followers. Who are they? How do I find them? 
  • Seriously. Loyal readers. Followers. Where are yall?
  • I'd like several million dollars for typing this, please.
  • Search engine optimization. That really is a thing.

Life is confusing. But I shouldn't complain, for this has been a learning process.
In the few days that I've been a professional blogger and have been fighting to gain control of the internet, I've picked up on a few things (mostly from my idiot friends):
  • Getting people to comment is something that will happen over time, perhaps.
  • I will literally spend the rest of my life being a few steps behind on technology lingo.
  • Blogs take, like, 10 or 20 years to even WORK. And even then, probably not.
  • Bookclubs don't work if the other person doesn't want to have a Jewish Lit Month (ahem, Benito)
  • Wordpress? THAT'S HILARIOUS. Pfffffffffffffft. Wordpress. Ha.
  • Comment on other blogs to get them to comment on your's
  • Traffic is vital: how to actually get traffic, however, is a mystery
  • I really want to watch that Traffic movie, with Benicio Del Toro
  • It is absolutely unheard of for anyone to use digg, ever.
  • No one I know knows anything.
  • I remind Benito of Nora Ephron
  • Everyone I know sucks. (AHEM, BENITO)
  • All of my friends are dumb.
  • Uphill battles. All the way.
Maybe things aren't so bleak. I am learning stuff, after all. Shit, I'm even watching a documentary about Caravaggio right now, as we metaphorically speak. And while I'm not taking in a whole lot about the guy's actual life, I do now know how his name is actually pronounced. Maybe.

     Napoli, Italy (where Caravaggio lived and we were both imprisoned), November 2009

So, I propel myself forward with the knowledge that this blog probably won't get any worse, it may get better, and it probably will fulfill my insane and massive need to rant and rave about things my boyfriend really will dump me because of, if he has to listen to it anymore.

So, what, do any of you actually get the internet? Please explain how the cats have come to rule what was once ours, by commenting below.

26 June 2012

open jaw vs round trip

When I'm preparing for a trip and I start to get all panicky and crazy and no one in my life wants to hear my insane problems anymore--"the night bus from Sevilla to Lisbon arrives at 4 am but buses out of the station don't start until 6!!"--I usually turn to forums for advice. My two favorites so far are Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum and Trip Advisor.
Now with the risk of offending any of the 3 people who've found my site via Lonely Planet, I find that Thorn Tree people tend to be a little meaner. I get the impression that there are a few core people who are on there frequently, giving advice to the masses....so I guess it's pretty understandable to be frustrated when some 18 year old gets a wild travel hair up his ass and starts a new thread saying "Hi, I'm going to Europe! Where should I go? What should I do? Where should I stay?" Because the advice normally goes along the lines of, "hey well go fuck yourself. With a guide book." 
On the other hand, those dudes offer some pretty amazing advice....it's like a mixture between having a practical, knowledgeable travel agent, and a local with an insider's perspective, to ask personalized questions to. And since I guess travel agents no longer exist, except in Mexican shopping centers, Thorn Tree kicks ass.
Just make sure your questions aren't really fucking stupid. 
With all that being said, I asked them a pretty stupid question recently, and got a great response-that made me feel really stupid. Basically I posted about both the hypothetical itineraries mentioned here, and the good people of LPTT replied "well, that's too much, but if you fly open jaw, you don't have to double back." To which I said "alright but isn't that, like, crazy expensive?" and they were all, "nah, it's like, half the price of both of the round trips for your dates," and I was like "sweet man."
I'm partly really glad that this was mentioned to me, and that I now know that I don't have to pay for the convenience. On the other hand...I am, like, really good at planning routes that loop around deliberately for single city round trips. I mean, look at a map of Central Europe. Look how pretty of a loop it is from Munich-Vienna-Bratislava-Budapest-Krakow-Warsaw-Wroclaw-Prague-Munich. See how annoyingly far away Prague is if I just went East, then North, from Munich to Warsaw? This is what keeps me up at night.
Now, I know guys, I am really jumping the gun, it's silly to worry this much about a route when it's a year away. But I LIKE it, okay?! I have a serious fetish for staring at maps and imagining the best and most convenient route between the places I want to go. I get off on it. So leave me alone. 
But I've actually been reading a lot about the history of my upcoming Central European countries. About how Austria is all "Bonjour France, we're best friends! Oh nevermind. Oh wait. Oh nevermind." And France is all, "Get your life together you putain." About how Hungary is all "fuck this, this sucks, fucking Trianon."
No, seriously. That's what wikipedia told me. If you don't believe me, ask my friend Benito, who discussed the Austro-Hungarian Empire at length with me after laying by the pool drinking beer all day.

Then this happened:

Did you know that if you are reading this, you are part of only .00000003% of internet users? I think that this makes you the rarest creature in the world. Take that, fucking Yangtze River Dolphin.
Endangered readers, please share your delight at being better than tarsiers below by commenting that there are some of you still left in the wild. I know you're out there somewhere. 

21 June 2012

Skinny Dipping As An Important Life Goal

Basically, my purpose in life, and items 3-21 in the Water section of my Lord of The Rings-sized bucket list, involves being naked in public. Skinny dipping is one of my favorite things, and I aim to do it in every major body of water on the planet.

The List:
Pacific Ocean-CHECK!
Atlantic Ocean-CHECK!
Indian Ocean
Southern Ocean
Arctic Ocean (this one probably isn't happening)
Mediterranean Sea
Caribbean Sea-CHECK!
South China Sea
Bering Sea
Gulf of Mexico
Okhotsk Sea
East China Sea
Hudson Bay
Japan Sea
Andaman Sea
North Sea
Red Sea
Baltic Sea

Obviously, one of my biggest regrets is that I did not realize the gravity of being naked inside of bodies of water until after backpacking along the Mediterranean.
In fact, Skinny Dipping as a Goal only became a crucial part of my life on April 20th of this year. For those of you who don't know, 4/20 happens to be an important national holiday among productive members of society, in which groups of like-minded people get together and hatch brilliant ideas on how to better humanity. It's fucking momentous.
Anyway, for me, 4/20/12 happened in Dominical, Costa Rica. (Anyone reading this who's thinking of visiting Costa Rica: FUCKING GO TO DOMINICAL RIGHT NOW. It's the most amazing place, I want to live there for forever, I love it.) After a skype date with Jonathan, I headed over to Tortilla Flats, which seemed to be the pregaming bar while I was in town. On the way there I overheard some people speaking English, so naturally we all ended up getting completely hammered, searching for mushrooms, and skinny dipping in the Pacific. My sun damaged and beer drenched brain was able to make the connection that I had already done the Caribbean, a week or two prior, and so.....skinny dip every ocean and sea in the world became an important life goal for this go-getter.

                                                     The Pacific at night, 4/20/12

Now as you can see from the list above, I still have quite a lot of stripping and swimming to do. Luckily, on my next trip, along with such Bucket List staples as Visiting a Cafe in Amsterdam, Seeing Auschwitz, and Bathing in the Budapest Bathhouses, I will be able to check off not one, but two skinny dip related goals-the North Sea, and the Baltic Sea.

Hey! If you happen to be one of the 7 people who read this (one day I'll reach double digits), comment below telling me what you think about skinny dipping. Or bucket lists. Or pizza toppings. 

bucket lists

When I was little, I was super weird. I loved to make lists. I made lists of books I had read, books I needed to read, pet I've owned (I went through a lot of hamsters), people I knew, all sorts of OCD shit.
As a quasi-adult, and still super weird, I love bucket lists. Almost as much as I love itineraries. A few years ago I found an old notebook and set about writing a bucket list, to be checked off periodically as I fulfill my dreams. Because, I don't know, I guess I expected to skydive or climb Mt Everest each weekend. It ended up reaching, like, biblical proportions, filling half the notebook, categorized into continents and activity types.
While I actually got to check some of them off in Central America, like learning to surf and going snorkeling in the Caribbean, there are still about 700 more I need to go ahead and get done.
It looks a lot like this one, actually. I've already done a few, but 25, 28, 38, 47, 78, 88, 133 140, 159, 163 are top priorities....so I guess I'm going to busy for the next 200 years or so. 

                                          jumping off a 265ft bridge outside of San Jose, 04/12

What have you done that scares you?