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