Costa Rica was Worth 3,500 Words

My trip to Costa Rica was mostly characterized by my crotch being constantly sore, spiked smoothies, bad hair and an Army of leaf-cutter ants that we greeted each time we came or left the house.  I’m fairly certain now more than ever, that if ants wanted to rule the world, they could.  As for my crotch, the soreness was due to zip lining harnesses, horseback riding and lots of biking.  And as for my hair… ladies, unless you have stick straight hair, just accept now that if you visit Costa Rica, your hair is going to suck.  I fully understand now why hair braiding is such a big thing there.

Since I can remember, my mom has never showed strong desires to travel.  I think she would like to more, but we don’t have much money, she works a lot and gets nervous easily.  Suddenly, she said that she wants to go to Costa Rica with her two daughters.  So Raven and I couldn’t really say no.  Neither of us had the money, but there I was, signing onto kayak.com, my familiar friend, to look up plane tickets while simultaneously googling images of mouth-breathers because Logan made the very good observation that all mouth-breathers look like aliens.

Raven and I decided we needed at least one other person for the trip who was more of Mom’s age.  We chose Carol and it’s the best decision we could have made.  To put it plainly, Carol and I are good at traveling and Raven and my mom kind of suck at it.  For example, after flying into San Jose, we needed to rent a car and drive 4.5 hours to the South Caribbean coast.  During this ordeal, I was driving and Carol was navigating while my mom was on drugs and unconscious in the backseat and Raven was listening to her headphones and probably fantasizing about becoming a Caribbean Princess.

*I really wanted to leave it at that because it’s funny, but I don’t want you thinking my Mom is a drug addict.  She had just taken some over the counter anti-nausea drug that rendered her incapable of anything.

For those of you planning on visiting the wonderful country of Costa Rica, I’m here to ease your anxiety about driving.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting.  I was expecting the roads to resemble scenes out of Mad Max.  But it wasn’t that bad at all and it quickly reminded me of driving in downtown Los Angeles.  Once I realized that I was like oh, I got this, let’s hit it.

The drive from San Jose to Puerto Viejo was through the rainforest and it was breath taking.

We planned our departure time so that we would not be driving at night.  Well, that didn’t work out at all.  To our surprise, it gets dark their early.  All year round, it gets dark at 6:00pm.  That was kind of a buzz kill.  We thought we were in no rush, so we pulled off to get some grub.  It was some little local spot, and the food was pretty plain.  This was a good preview though of what the food would be like.  I wasn’t surprised.  I kind of figured that considering we were visiting a non-touristy area of what I consider to be a country somewhere between a Second and Third World, that the food wasn’t going to be a spectacle.  I was perfectly welcoming of that because I’m not a foodie and I hate when vacations become one giant food frenzy or when discussions of what restaurant to go for dinner becomes a thing.  Luckily, all of us are kind of like that.  Mom and Carol (with a combined weight of 180 pounds) probably ate four mangos and a handful of guacamole the entire time we were there, and Raven and I consumed mostly fresh eggs and homemade smoothies that I drowned in Sailor Jerry.  I recommend eating lots of fruit, the eggs, guacamole, ceviche and fresh bread.

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Raven embracing Third World life carrying fresh eggs and a pineapple while walking down a dirt road.

We stayed at a house that we found on Air B&B, and it was fantastic.  There was a small pool, the yard was its own mini rainforest, I ate breakfast every morning outside near the bird bath, and lounged in the hammock when I called home to Logan.  There was no hot water, no way to close the windows, no television, no air conditioning, temperamental plumbing and the power would go out for a few minutes everyday.  Those may sound like cons to you, but I friggen loved it.

First of all, you really don’t need hot water there.  It doesn’t get cold and the water is not cold, just cool; refreshing.  Same with the air conditioning.  You really don’t need it.  They have fans and they keep their homes completely open.  Our windows had no glass over them.  There was just screens to keep the bugs away, which was an absolute necessity.  Even with the screens, we got a few interesting insects inside and on the last night, a bat.  Sure, it can get pretty hot there, but they’re not a bunch of pansies and they just deal with it.  They are accepting of nature.  When it’s hot, that means they’re kind of hot!  Duh!  And what is wrong with that?  You couldn’t flush toilet paper (which was something I am very familiar with to due to touring, but something the rest of them had to get used to), and when the power goes out, the locals just wait it out and don’t have a damn meltdown like we do in the States.

So much of America, and similar cultures, are so out of touch with nature, it’s no wonder we are desensitized to destroying it.  When you live in a place like Costa Rica, where outside of your bathroom window as you take a shower, you can see the Rain Forest that is providing you with the water that is cleansing you, I would imagine that one might not take advantage of that resource so much.  When the mango tree and coconut tree in front of your home provides you with your lunch, you might not be so quick to not care about someone cutting it down.  When you can’t hide in air conditioning when it’s hot, you might think twice about sending your car exhaust fumes into the atmosphere.  If you give as much as you take, slow the fuck down, appreciate the simple life, you will ultimately be happier and healthier.  The Ticos (what the people of Costa Rica call themselves) seem to know no other way. #PuraVida

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#simplelife

Of course, one of the first things we did was visit the beach.  Some people assume that I’m not into the beach.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because I wear mostly black and grey and I have a lot of tattoos?  But I actually love the beach.  I think the shore has magical healing powers.  The beaches in Costa Rica are gorgeous.  I’m sure you’re not surprised, but I felt compelled to state the obvious.  The forest went right up to the shore, which made for such a beautiful scene.  I jumped into the water a couple of times a day just because I could and the waves are fun.  At certain stretches of the shore the sand was completely black, which was a cool change of scenery for me because I come from Clearwater, where it has the whitest sand that I’ve ever come across.

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Black sand.

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Not sure why I am not laying on the towel.

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Raven and I.

On one of the black sand beaches Raven and I met a dog that we fell in love with.  Neither of us are particularly dog people, but there was something about this dog because he chose us.  He passed by many other people laying on the beach, walked right up to us and just chilled.  If you’re a dog lover, you’ll like Puerto Viejo because there are wild dogs everywhere, but they are very friendly and not vicious in the slightest.

My Mom falling off of her bike, TWICE, was possibly the funniest thing that happened the entire trip.  The one road we lived off of was very bumpy, but still, that’s no excuse.  Grown people just don’t fall of bikes!  We only had three bikes on the first day, so I came up with the bright idea to ride Raven on the back of mine.  I didn’t make it more than a few yards before it became appallingly clear that idea was not going to work.  #ThirdWorldProblems

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lol.

Raven however, was impressive and somehow managed to ride very successfully with me on the back, my legs flailing around because I had no where to put them.  You should see the Ticos do it!  Seeing three people on one bike there is totally normal, and one time I saw four people on one bike!  A mom had one kid on the handle bars, one on the middle bar and one on the back.  #ThirdWorldSolutions

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That night Raven and I went to a bar called Hot Rocks.  We sat one some giant swings that they had and sipped on Imperial and watched some live entertainment.  It was kind of cool that their entertainment was fire dancers and hoola hoopers, instead of just a DJ or a cover band.  One of the performers was trying to get people on stage to follow along with her dancing.  Raven and I were not even a little bit buzzed, so that was just not going to happen… but it did.  The girl was desperate and no one else was getting up there, so we figured, fuck it.  With a few other brave souls, we followed along on stage doing what I’m assuming to be zumba.  The leader looked good, but we looked like assholes.  When I told Logan what went down, he said, “So basically it was like karaoke… but cardio.”  Yes!

Zip lining was the first major activity we did because that was what we were all the most excited for.  My mom sounded like a wild animal while she flew threw the canopy, Carol snapped pictures while simultaneously checking out the hot, mysterious man who was one of our guides.  Raven and I just looked absurd with our tiny spandex shorts and helmets on as we befriended the other guides.  They were all fun, and truly enhanced the experience.  After I snatched one of the radios out of one of the guide’s hand and shouted into it at the whoever it was on the other end who was incessantly talking about nothing important, “Can you shut up so Manuel here can focus on not letting me die,” they all laughed and encouraged me to say obnoxious things over the walkie-talkies for the remainder of the outing.   Zip lining is absolutely incredible and should be on every person’s bucket list.

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Raven and Manuel

There were two things we witnessed that completely sum up Costa Rica to an outsider.  One, a mule walking down the dirt road, completely alone, at night, minding his own business as Raven and I rode back to the house after buying goofy Pura Vida souvenirs.  Second, was the sexy, mysterious guide who rode on the outside of the van up into the rain forest.  With all of us tourist, there was not enough space in the van, so of course he just rode on the outside of the van.  Because duh.  #CostaRica

The following night Raven and I went to Lazy Mon and I’d like to state here, that she is a TERRIBLE wing girl.  A wing girl should help you when you’re trying to talk to a boy, but should also help you when you’re NOT trying to talk to a boy.  I got stuck talking to this English dude and Raven might as well have been non-existent.  She was just sitting next to me not saying a word.  At that point, she was probably thinking about where she could get some ice cream.  After a solid hour of conversation, she finally chimed in.  And of all things, her topic of choice was Taco Bell’s verde sauce. The English dude and I were talking about environment, immigration and the misconceptions of latin food in America.  Somehow this led to Raven suddenly being alive again, and shouting, “Taco Bell doesn’t make verde sauce anymore!”  Jesus.  It was the most passionate I had seen her the entire vacation.  A close second being when we were making fun of a girl attempting to surf.

Mom was scared to go horseback riding, so me, Raven and Carol took the risk of leaving her alone, knowing full well that utter calamity could ensue.  Then the three of us met up with a tiny Tico man named, Raul, who guided us on a wonderful tour of the shores of Puerto Viejo and nearby paths through the forest.  It’s a good thing we took the risk, because I think Raul ended up being the best part of that trip.  He was born and raised in that tiny little town, so he had a lot of local knowledge to offer.  He was also the poster boy for healthy and happy simple living, along with encompassing the full spectrum of good character.  He happens to be a big fan of the Tampa Bay Ray’s, so once we got back to the States, I sent him a Rays baseball hat in the mail.  Who the hell knows if he ever got it because there, they don’t exactly have addresses.  Basically, you send the mail to the one post office and assume that at least one of the worker’s knows the name on the package/envelope, and hope they can get in touch with that person.  I am not kidding.  Raul’s address was, “Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica.”

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Princess Pendola (Raven) of course had the white horse.

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Raul

During the horseback riding adventure, we saw a big pack of Howler monkeys in the trees, and those motherfuckers are loud.  If you didn’t know better, you would honestly think that it was a lion or bear.  We also stopped and Raul picked coconuts off a tree for us, plucked the top out, and we drank fresh coconut water.  Coconut water is kind of trendy among health conscious hipsters right now, but I never liked it.  I tried all different brands because I felt like I should like it, but it tasted downright disgusting to me.  However, when I tried the REAL, fresh, coconut water from a real, fresh, friggen coconut, it was one of the best beverages I’ve ever had and I immediately felt my body thanking me.  I’m certain that all the Evil Queen from Snow White needed in her life to look and feel young again were some damn coconuts.  Adding vodka is also a fabulous idea, which they call “coco loco.”

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Carol and a coconut.

One thing that I would like to note for any potential travelers, is that you don’t really need to worry about being ripped off by the locals.  I can only speak for the town that we visited.  I’ve heard that if you visit more touristy areas of Costa Rica (mostly the West Coast) that it can be an issue.  In Puerto Viejo, we did not have to deal with aggressive vendors, beggars, or locals trying to take advantage of us.  The main road is lined with individuals selling mostly jewelry and hair braiding services.  The jewelry was beautiful, but I was a little bit hesitant at the beginning to approach the vendors because I didn’t want to deal with being harassed and feeling pressured to purchase, and wondering if I should try haggle.  Don’t try to haggle there.  Everything seemed to be a fair price and they are not trying to cheat you.  Not yet anyway.  Maybe once tourism infiltrates that town more, things will change.  But for now, it’s safe to assume that their products are a set price and no one is trying to cheat you.  Same goes for services.  Tours given by locals (such as Raul) were fairly priced and I felt that we could trust them.

When Raul presented us with coconuts during the horseback riding adventure, he informed us that coconut water cleanses the kidneys.  He noticed that I had a sparked interest in this, so we got to talking about natural remedies, and I informed him that my mother, who was the scaredy cat who was NOT with us, is very knowledgable about such things, and has been preaching this shit since before it was trendy, and when people probably just thought she was weird for not allowing me to have Jif peanut butter as a kid.  She was a lot more strict about health while I was growing up.  While Raven was growing up… Jif peanut butter and Honey Bunches of Oats definitely penetrated our pantry walls.  One of the best things that my mom has passed to me is nutritional knowledge.  Anyway, this discussion led to Raul telling me that a nearby Indian Reservation might be something that we would be interesting in seeing.

It was our last day, so we were being extremely selective when it came down to what activity to do.  We unanimously decided on calling Raul and having him show us the Reservation.  It was the best decision we made because I think it was the high point of the trip for all four of us.  I called Raul from the house, landline to landline, and he told me to pick him up at the bank at 10:00am.  Of course there is only one bank in Puerto Viejo, so that was all of the details that I needed.  He navigated and told us stories, as I drove us through the misty terrain, and came to a stop at a couple of huts on the edge of the forest.

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A Native family’s hut.

The people inside were just so nice.  They didn’t speak English, and very limited Spanish.  Raul spoke their language enough that he could communicate with them and translate well enough.  What I remember most are their smiles.  They all had beautiful smiles.  The second we pulled up, the tops of little human heads popped up into the “window” of their hut.  Just their eyes could be seen, but you could tell they were giggling and excited for visitors.  The kids were a little bit shy, in their hand-me-down clothes and bare feet, but they were sweet.  They picked star fruit for us and were welcoming to us white people exploiting them with flash photography and very many ooo’s and ah’s.  It did kind of make me sad.  They’re the spectacle on their own native land.  But those cries are for another day.

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The man who seemed to be the leader of sorts, was the medicine man, and also “bird man.”  Apparently he is really good at imitating bird calls.  He took us into the forest, which is their backyard, and we didn’t go far, but within that small radius, there were so many of natures gifts.  He painted our nails with turmeric (which also helps to prevent cancer), we used achiote for lipstick and we learned that building a house with anything other than the bark from this palm that I can’t remember the name of is stupid because it’s virtually indestructible.  The skin of a cocoa plant stops bleeding and acts as a band-aid, they don’t need to buy Elmer’s glue because they’ve got glue trees.  Sour sap helps prevent cancer, sour cane cleanses the kidneys and young coconut water and star fruit lowers blood pressure.  And that’s what I learned in about fifteen minutes, so imagine the possibilities.  The moral of this part of the story is, get off all of your meds that you think that you need, and eat a fucking star fruit.  Oh, and respect the Earth.  Our society has somehow managed to forget that nature has ALL of the cures, but more so, all of the preventatives of sickness.  We are a product of nature you dimwits, so I think it’s common sense that everything we as humans need, we can get from nature.

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Bird Man

Somewhere along the way we have grown accustom to using Earth simply as a floor.  Why?  Why are we littering the planet with gatorade bottles and factory chemical waste when all we really should be doing is opening up a coconut?  It seems ironic, but mostly plain dumb, that we’re cutting down the rain forest to build the shit that it already provides.   Why are we giving our money to big companies that make us sick in the first place, and then give them more money to pretend to make us better?  Nature is your pharmacy!  But you can’t be an idiot!  Don’t eat like shit and not exercise your whole life and then be surprised when your body stops functioning properly.  You are a product of nature, and as such, can only survive off of nature.  Consuming synthetic crap and processed crap and expecting to be healthy would be like feeding a robot a salad and expecting it to function properly.

Well, thanks again for listening to my adventures and rants.  I hope you all find yourselves in Costa Rica someday, if you haven’t already been.  Peace, love and pure vida!

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All of us and a random dog.

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Merch Girl Rant #3: Airport Etiquette for Dummies

Everyone suddenly turns into an asshole when at the airport.  Even people who seem to be able to function as an acceptable human being normally, turn into a god damn spaz when traveling.  They seem to lose all common sense, spatial awareness and cognitive abilities.  It’s incredible.  I travel a lot, so please learn from this and don’t be one of those people.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Just pulling up to the drop-off area at airports, and it suddenly looks like a traffic jam in India.  There is no regard for lane lines, there are whistles and people walking in front of cars and the same person who kindly let you over while you were merging onto the highway to get to the airport, is suddenly blaring his horn in your face and cutting you off because he is worried that he won’t make it to the curb in time.  Chill out you motherfucker!  I am not afraid of walking twenty extra yards, so I’ll move for you.  I swear that people don’t understand that the airport is one big building.  Surprise!  You can get to any part of the airport from inside the airport!  When pulling up to the drop-off/pick-up area, people seem to forget that just because you’re flying Delta, doesn’t mean that you can only be dropped off immediately in front of the Delta sign.  Don’t worry, this isn’t platform 9 3/4, it’s not going to magically disappear.  Drop people off wherever there is an opening, and hopefully they can manage to walk a few meters to the Delta check-in, you freaks.

Before arriving to the airport, have your damn ID in your pocket.  Duh!  In your purse does not count because as we all know, women’s purses are all like Mary Poppin’s purse; endless.  If I have to wait for you to dig around in your bag because you seem to be dumbfounded when security or the airline agents asks for your ID, then you are a fool and deserve the ugly stares that you’re going to get from me.  Oh, and I will probably cut you in line.

The touch screen at the check-in counters seem to be a problem for people and this also blows my mind because it’s people who are drowning their lives in various technological touch screen devices, so how is it that you suddenly can’t figure out how to use a touch screen when it asks you for your friggen name?

Then, we move onto one of my worst pet-peeves.  Escalators/moving sidewalks.  These machines were developed to get you from point A to point B faster.  They are not there to enable all you lazy assholes who apparently find walking to be a hassle.  I cannot wrap my mind around how unaware everyone is.  Do you not realize that a lot of people are in a damn hurry at the airport?!  Essentially, everything you do at the airport needs to be done in the quickest, most efficient way as possible because people are waiting.  Paying for something?  Grab your change and move to the side so someone else can pay while you fumble around with your wallet.  Have plenty of time to get to your gate?  Then move over to the mother fucking right, and let me pass you on the left on the escalator.  Common damn sense.

Pack light and tight.  When we get to the security point, I always avoid people with kids, old people and people with headphones on.  That’s all obvious, but you also got to watch out for the people who have a bunch of shit hanging off of them.  I’m sure you can picture it.  There are those who travel and they look like a damn mobile closet.  There are pillows wrapped around their necks, lanyards hanging out of pockets, straps just everywhere, blankets protruding from overstuffed bags and they are always trying to get away with having two carry-on’s.  It’s such a shitshow.  I should never have to wait for you to pull everything from crinkled up cash to loose Tylenol tablets from your pocket when we approach the x-ray machine.  Be prepared!  Do that BEFORE the last second.  Fucking, duh!  And you never need a neck pillow.  Unless it is over a five hour flight, then I might have some sympathy, but on those flights, the airline has pillows, just ask.  You are not going to be comfortable on a plane no matter what, so just suck it up and get out of my way.

The only person who is allowed to have a neck pillow is the wrestler because he has the kind that fold into a little case that he shoves into his suitcase.  He’s a pro traveler due to the whole being a pro wrestler thing.  Him and I recently discussed the art of traveling, and decided that we hate 90% of people at airports.

I think that the older you get, the more comfortable you are with yourself and the less you’re concerned with what other people might think of you.  This notion simply disappears when people get on planes.  I watch all these middle aged people suddenly turn into those anxious adolescence with pimply faces and awkward haircuts.  People get so fucking nervous about putting their stupid carry-on bag in the overhead compartments.  Jesus Christ, chill out.  The only reason why we’re all staring at you is because you suddenly started talking to yourself, you’re blushing and you’re being frantic over a damn suitcase.

Also concerning the overhead compartments, don’t be that asshole who puts your jacket or fucking beach tote bag up there until everyone is settled.  Wait until everyone has their REAL carry-on’s stowed away, and then if there is room, you can shove your floppy shit on top.

The worst people on planes are the ones with headphones on who have no regard for how loud their music is.  I’m sorry, I know you’re enjoying your tunes, but I should not be subjected to your shitty Pandora’s top 40 playlists.  If the person is sitting next to me, I absolutely ask them to turn their music down.  If the person is sitting more than a row away, I ask the flight attendant to ask them to turn it down.  And I don’t feel bad about it even a little bit.  NOT using headphones at all while watching videos is a recent practice that I’ve noticed people participating in since wifi on planes has become a thing.  Hell no.  I won’t even waste my linguistic energy on why that is 100% unacceptable.

I recently went to Costa Rica with my sister, mom and a family friend.  I’m typing in the living room and my sister is in the dining room wearing an oversized Tupac shirt and playing with her toenails.  I just yelled to her, “what were some of the dumb things that people were doing at the airport?” and without hesitation she just yelled back, “they were just not fucking walking!”  It made me laugh out loud.  This sort of falls into the the category of being spatially aware, and even if you’re not in a hurry, act like you are.  I cannot get over the amount of people who just stop walking in the middle of the damn walkways to look at their phone.  Would you do that in the middle of the highway?  No.  There is absolutely the same traffic flow in the airport, and you are fucking it up and causing a traffic jam.  Just as you would if you were on the highway, if you need to stop, veer over to the right.

I hope this helps you.  I’m considering printing this out into pamphlet form, and distributing them at my local airport.

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It Sucks When Your Favorite Songwriter is Your Ex.

I never thought that I would write about Tommy, but here we are.  I’m not going to talk about our relationship.  Too much happened and didn’t happen to tell that tale coherently.  Maybe one day, if I’m feeling particularly masochistic, I’ll open a bottle of whiskey and that Pandora’s box, but this is not that day.  Today, what I will talk about is that Tommy Simms was the best singer/songwriter that I have ever known.

Tommy turns his Alvarez into his bitch.  I am a junkie for a heartfelt melody, and he was my supplier.  That may have been one of the reasons why I stuck in that relationship for longer than I should have.  For a time, I think I may have been his muse, so that’s probably one of the reasons why he stuck with me for longer than he should have.  I am addicted to stripped down songwriting and  I’ve never seen someone do what he can do with an acoustic guitar.  He can make it sound like there are two guitars playing, while simultaneously setting your soul aflame with his vulnerable voice and charismatic ways that seems to pull at everyones heart strings.

I always knew how special his music was, and the fact that I still thought so, even after being heartbroken, confirms that I wasn’t just a fan because he was my boyfriend.  I was his number one fan because I saw him at his best.  Tommy alone with an acoustic guitar is where the magic happens.  I’m one of the lucky ones who got to witness the behind the scenes footage of him sitting on a dilapidated couch with heavy eyes that always had some secret behind them, strumming through minor chords and humming new melodies under the pale moonlight.  And those songs would fill the room and find their way into your bloodstream.

I don’t think he ever liked his songs as much as I did.  He always seemed pretty nonchalant about his talent, and never used it as much as I felt that he should have.  Years later, and I think only now do I kind of understand that it wasn’t so much that he was apathetic, but maybe he was just tired.  I knew him after he had already put everything he had into music.  I’m not sure, but I think that he had got his ass kicked by trying to “make it” and that tends to deteriorate your soul.  It happened to me.  It’s like a cancer.  It spreads.  In less than a year, I went from 100% identifying as being an artist, to 0% thinking like an artist.  I once saw artistic inspiration in everything, and in a matter of months, I lost it all.  When your dreams keep getting shut down by the rat race, it’s very discouraging, and I think that may have been where Tommy was at while I knew him.  However, even without his whole heart in it, Tommy had more talent in an EP, than I probably do in my complete portfolio.

One of the reasons I say that is because he can write a song for every style.  If you ask Tommy to write you a pop song, a rap beat, a doo-wap, a country tune… he will do it in a few minutes.  That was always one of the more impressive things about him.  So it’s a real shame that he never quite figured out how to wholly utilize his natural abilities.  Society is just not conducive to artists.

Tommy’s recordings are fine, but they absolutely do not do him justice.  He is best live because half of the experience is him.  He’s got this allure on stage and it’s like a sudden spell that cloaks the room.  No one knows exactly why they’re suddenly entranced, but they are.  However, he only has half of the qualities required to be known.  He has the talent and the charisma, which is the recipe for greatness.  Unfortunately though, he’s lacking in work ethic and has a tendency to burn bridges.  That may be the main reason why he’s not in a recording studio with Steve Albini at this very moment.

What inspired this random musing, is a video I just watched of him.  I have been cleaning out and organizing my digital closet over the last few days, and I came across this old video that I had forgotten about.  I recorded this years ago when he was playing a small show in Savannah, Georgia.  We were living together at the time and I remember that he hadn’t done a show in a while.  Please read the written guide I have provided below as you watch.  It’s all worth seeing and hearing.

The first song is called New Accents and it was always one of his most popular.  I believe that he wrote this one with Josh Greenburg and I’m pretty sure he wrote quite a few of his songs with Josh, so I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due.  Josh is probably the best musician I know and I suspect that he has perfect pitch, but I’ve never asked.

He was surrounded by close friends, so in the beginning, you can tell that he is kind of nervous.  But at minute marker 1:15, you can hear those nerves dissipate and he becomes more comfortable.  This is why I believe that live music is the most powerful form of art.  It’s a direct interpretation of someone’s soul in real time.

 

I never asked him about song lyrics.  As long as I live, I will never ask a songwriter the meaning behind the lyrics they write.  I think it’s far too personal.  Yes, he was my boyfriend, but there are still privacy lines that shouldn’t be treaded through.  I can guess what some of the lyrics are about, but I never confirmed any of these speculations.  I know that mingled within these songs that he wrote while I was around, are words that other girls would know the meaning to, and that’s where being in a relationship with a musician gets ugly.  I was similar though, so I’m sure it wasn’t easy being with someone like me either.

 

10:49- Tin Lizzy is possibly the best song he has ever written.  No idea what it’s about and never asked.

14:30- Timmer!  The boy who is in that shot, I have very fond memories of.  One of my favorite times with Tommy was the winter of 2009.  I think it was 2009 anyway.  He was living with me in Savannah, Georgia and most of our friends went home for the holidays but me, Tommy and Tim stuck around.  It’s one of those slices of life where everyone involved probably remembers it differently.  Tommy and Tim’s memories of that time are most likely different from how I remember it.  When I think about it, I feel this odd little temporary family built between three early twenty-something year-olds.  Tim never left his house, so Tommy and I would walk down the road to his place and we would all drink NOS energy drinks together in the morning, then switch over to beer at night, and talk and laugh and dream up ideas that we knew deep down we would never create.  In hindsight, it felt like our own little secret world.  None of us really keep in touch anymore, but we had December of 2009 together and it was something to be cherished.

20:34- He starts with that build up and you can feel it.  From here until the end, this is the epitome of Tommy in his element.

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe Tommy and I just aligned in some fucked up telepathic, artistic way.  I always said that if Tommy and I used the same medium, we would create the same art.  My true art was dance.  Dance and choreography was the only thing that I was ever really good at.  If he was a dancer, I think he would choreograph like me.  I choreographed movement and he choreographed notes.  And if I was a songwriter, I think that I would write like him.

The climax of his studio recordings was “Homeboys.”  He nailed it with the recording of that song and I was very proud of him.  I have it, but I am not sure that he ever formally released it, so I don’t want to throw it online.  Here is a fucking beautiful live performance of it however that I just found:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TI8at4JgS0I

Tommy, I always thought that How It Feels would be great solo live if you can figure out how to make it work.

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I Pretended to be Muslim for a Second. Sort of.

Ramadan just ended.  Happy Eid!  I’ve always thought that religion is a very strange concept.  I cannot at all relate to the need to believe in something above ourselves.  I am 100% comfortable in believing that all I am is science and cells reacting.  With that being said, I have no problem with you or your religion.  I might think it’s silly… but in the same, harmless way that I think middle/lower class Republicans are silly.

I know a fair amount of Muslims who I have worked with for years, and developed friendships with.  So this whole hating and/or fearing Islam mentality that people have is really starting to irritate me.  I believe that intolerance and hate ultimately stems from a lack of education.  People tend to judge what they don’t understand.  It’s no coincidence that the most famous humanitarians in history were well educated.  I believe in being the change you want to see in the world, so I took it upon myself to not be a hypocrite, and to further educate myself in the field of Islam.  When I say educate… I mean that I read one book and a few scholarly articles.  But hey, that’s probably one more book than most non-Muslims.  And I’ve been a bit more exposed to it.  Like I said, I work with a huge ass Muslim family and I also went to Istanbul last year, where the majority of the population is Muslim.  I found the people and the place to be beautiful and peaceful.

After learning a little bit more about the Qur’an, to my NOT surprise, it seemed similar to the Bible in a lot of ways.  They are definitely both violent at times, but underneath all of the stories, they are basically all about spreading love, staying humble, helping each other out and blah blah.  Oh, and worshipping God of course, but that’s where it loses me.  I don’t need a book or a God telling me to do good.  I do good because it’s the fucking right thing to do.  No doctrine necessary.

Despite how baffling I find religion, I decided to participate in Ramadan this year.  My Islamic friends have conformed to our culture, and are not only a minority here, but a minority that has been at the center of such negativity over the years.  I was curious about their practice of Ramadan, and I also wanted to show my respect to them, and also because why not?  I celebrate Christmas even though I’m not Christian so what’s the difference?  For me, Christmas is about giving, not Jesus’ birthday.  And now for me, Ramadan has become a time to appreciate what I have and recognize what others do not.

I didn’t fast for thirty days.  I’m not that hardcore.  I fasted for the first four days of Ramadan, and then again on the very last day.  I was just going to do the first three days, but I got a fairly large tattoo on the third day, and knew that it wouldn’t be a good idea to go in for that without eating a granola bar and a glass of water.  If you break the fast, you just practice for one extra day.  A fair amount of American Muslims only fast for the first three days and the last day as well.

For those of you who don’t know, the “rules” are: no food or water from sunrise to sunset.  Traditionally, the household arises before the sun (in my case this was 5:30am, but obviously it differs depending on what latitudinal line you’re on) and have breakfast.  At no point do you gorge yourself.  This would completely defeat the purpose of the practice.  Then the fast is broken when the sunsets (which was around 8:30pm for me) and you eat a fig and drink a cup of water.  Then, dinner is served and you celebrate with your friends and family by eating and drinking tea.  This goes on for thirty days.  During the entire duration (not just when the sun is up) one is not allowed to participate in sex, smoking or drinking alcohol.  Of course, strict Muslims also pray five times a day, but I didn’t do all that.  Obviously.  I just did my own type of mental checks of all the things the be grateful for.  I suppose that’s my form of prayer.

During the first day of the fast, I was surprised at how NOT tempted I was to break the fast.  I discovered that when one fully devotes themselves to something, that it is relatively easy to just do it.  (The Nike slogan has a whole new meaning).  Like smoking cigarettes.  I think if one wants to badly enough, it is a lot easier to overcome.  Truly wanting to quit is the hard part.  Truly devoting a month to fasting is the hard part.

The second day what I was surprised to discover was that the hunger and thirst was not the hardest part.  For me, the inability to focus was the hardest part.  I thought that the hunger pains would become unbearable, but those subside.  The true battle is making your brain function.  I suppose if you’re a devout Muslim in a Muslim state, you don’t do much during Ramadan other than pray, and you don’t need many brain cells for that.  But I had to work!  I was attempting to bartend, but finding it difficult to remember orders and difficult to communicate in a way that didn’t make people question if I was a zombie.

I was also worried that I would get snappy.  Logan calls me sassy, and according to him I need to “take it down with the sass” when I’m hungry.  I think he takes advantage of that however because when he says something like “there are monkeys in the Everglades,” and I call him a retard, he will say, “do we need to get you some food?”  No Logan, we just need you to not think that there are monkeys in the Everglades!  Anyway, I acknowledge that I can start to suck if I haven’t eaten in a while, so I did have my concerns about such.  However, it didn’t happen at all.  I was actually happy.  I was absolutely hungry and thirsty and lightheaded, but I still somehow was not sassy because I felt good about what I was doing.

The thirst is really rough.  But I just kept thinking to myself, there are so many people in the world who HAVE to do this.  It is not a choice for them.  So now when I’m hungry or thirsty, I just think about that.  I am lucky that I have the luxury of eating and drinking essentially whenever I want to.

On the third day, I was working with the two other people who were also fasting.  We had this lovely moment when the sunset.  The woman walked out to the front of house with a fig for me and a cup of water, and made me stop what I was doing to break my fast.  The man had cooked the three of us up some food.  We sat together at the side of the restaurant away from everyone, and enjoyed a meal together.  It felt good, like we had done something together.  It was pretty.  Ramadan also seemed beautiful to me because it is about the passing down of values, and also about simply being among friends and family.  The latter is a practice a lot of us have lost track of or don’t devote enough time to.  Ramadan is a good time to slow down and enjoy the here and now.

I was passion vomiting at Logan about all this shit, and had a sort of epiphany.  It seems as though those who have less, are those who are the most gracious and giving.  Within the four days that I was fasting, I even found myself to be more wanting and willing to help a brother out, in a truly altruistic way.  It was this feeling that we are all one, all in this shitshow together and if we can all help make each other happy then… well, then we will all be happy and boom!  World peace!  People who have less, those who aren’t all caught up in the rat race seem to have this notion already imbedded in them.  Logan brought up that geography plays a huge role in this, and that topic will be one of my next discussions.

Overall, I learned that fasting is a practice that I believe everyone can take something from.  It’s humbling.  I wasn’t doing it for God, so it doesn’t really matter what month I was doing it, but by doing it during Ramadan, it unified me and a couple of my friends, and it gave me a greater understanding of what is at the heart of not just Islam, but people.  Ultimately, I believe that people are good, but so many seem to lose track of what is good and just along this journey.

So stop thinking of ISIS and other similar groups as Islamic.  They’re not.  Think of them as more of a gang.  I bet that most of them haven’t even read the Qur’an from front to back.  It would be interesting to see what the literacy rate is among the members.  I would be willing to bet that it is low, which further proves my point that intolerance stems from a lack of exposure and education.  Education is the solution.  Now go read a book about a culture or religion that you don’t understand and try fasting.  It will be good for you.

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We Turned New Orlean’s into Our Bitch

I’d like to start this by letting you all know that Homeboy always seems to be ordering pink drinks, he is perpetually sunburnt, he does not take himself or anyone else seriously and he reads out loud every sign that he sees.  He is also the only real friend I made when I was living out in Los Angeles.  The only person who truly cared about me there, during a time when I had no one.  So needless to say, he holds a special place in my heart.  I had only seen Homeboy once since I left California, (3.5 years ago) and it was while I was on tour, so that doesn’t count because trying to see people while on tour is a nightmare and if you can make it happen at all, it generally consists of meeting for coffee for thirty minutes and apologizing for your hygiene.  So Homeboy and I decided to get serious, and meet up in New Orleans to hang out and catch up on some friend time.  He was the absolute perfect person to go to the Big Easy with.  We definitely kicked NOLA’s ass.  Cut to the shitshow.

The most important things that happened on the first day was that I possibly gave Monterey staph infection, and Homeboy and I found our bar.  Monterey is a good friend of mine who was a fellow roadie on the ballet tours.  I spoke about him in Adventures of Touring Christmas Edition, and beautifully enough, he now lives in New Orleans.  He picked us up from the airport, showed us a bunch of shit and made me the best gin gimlet of my life at the swanky restaurant/bar he works at in the Quarter.  I knew it would be fancy because they spell Revolution, R’evolution in the name.  Monterey just got surgery on his clavicle, so when he picked us up, he was sitting shirtless in his fucking yellow car that he stole from his Dad, and attempting to bandage up the wound with one arm, his seatbelt still on and simultaneously taking hits from his apple pipe and subjecting tourists to his loud easy listening alt-rock blaring from the car.

Monterey.


That pathetic little scene was oddly cute and endearing, so my empathy which usually stays dormant in the base of my cold heart, became active and rose to the surface.  I sat on the center console and gently bandaged Monterey up as he told us about the sink holes on Canal Street that had sparked a renegade “Sink Hole de Mayo” party on May 5th.  I think that Homeboy is probably STILL laughing at that.  He always laughs so hard at the most rudimentary of jokes.  Monterey did ask me if I had washed my hands recently, to which I said yes, but then realized that in between washing my hands thirty minutes ago and now, I had touched countless items which would be considered a germaphobe’s nightmare, including hotel remote controls, which is a rule straight from the fucking bible I feel like… to sanitize after coming in contact with hotel television remotes.  Whatever.  To my knowledge, his shoulder hasn’t disintegrated yet, so I consider my temporary nursing career a success.

That night Homeboy and I attempted to go to this bar/jazz lounge called Maple Leaf, which seems to be a well known establishment.  There was a line, and he and I are both way too pretentious for that, so we immediately said, “Nope,” and walked into the bar next door, which only had five people in it.  Much more my style.  At this point, even though we had only been in the city for approximately five hours, we had probably already had ten drinks each, and homeboy had STILL not figured out that New Orlean’s traditional cocktails are mostly not good.  He probably ordered something with SoCo in it.  I tried to steer him away, but he didn’t learn until the third day that I am always right when it comes to decisions involving liquor.  I know everyone feels like they have to have a Hurricane while in the Big Easy, but why?  Gross, sweet, syrupy drinks do not geographically discriminate.

In the Quarter.


By the end of the night we were feeling gangster, so we were sipping on gin and juice’s once we rolled into what would become “our bar.”  It was superbly sketchy, located on the controversial Lee Circle, and seemed like it was an old house that someone decided to chuck a bar into and the city just doesn’t give a shit.  Actually, New Orleans seems to have zero laws or permits when it comes to alcohol.  Love.  I call NOLA the Wild West.  You can basically do whatever you want.  From what I’ve observed, there is minimal infrastructure, laws are nominal, sewage is still something that civilians have to deal with, no one gives a shit about liabilities, the colors and architecture are unlike anywhere else and people sing and dance when they want to and it’s not weird.  Basically, in a lot of ways, New Orleans functions like a Second or Third World country.  People complain that it’s dirty… which it is, literally and metaphorically, but I thrive on filth.  The city seems to open its’ arms to all eccentricities, making it such a beautiful freak show.


Anyway, the only reason why we knew that our bar was a bar and not a house, was because there was a sign outside that simply said BAR.  That’s it.  I was immediately in love.  Then when I saw that they had Old Overholt Rye whiskey, and that they were heavy handed with it, I knew I was home sweet home.

The next day, Homeboy was having a rough time.  Too much gin.  I love gin, but I know to be cautious with it because gin is a terrible hangover, only second to wine.  I wasn’t exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed, but I chugged half of a warm beer in the morning and was ready to take the day head-on.  Homeboy high-fived me and said, “I’m impressed,” while he probably threw-up in his mouth a little bit just at the thought of drinking a beer for breakfast.  Monterey brought us to breakfast at a joint called Elizabeth’s, which I highly recommend, then we rolled up to a drive-thru daiquiri shop, and enjoyed taking a scenic route around town with alcoholic beverages and an apple pipe.  Wild West.  Then Homeboy and I went on a cemetery tour where we met Shiela, who was one of my favorite frumpy middle aged white women.  Maybe Homeboy and I were just drunk, but we were cracking up at a lot of what she was saying, while all of the other chumps stayed silent and smoked electronic cigarettes.  Other than the cemeteries being above ground, the other interesting thing is that multiple people are in the mausoleums, and not necessarily all family.  As Shiela put it, “you can shop around” for a tomb you like.  When a new casket goes in, the old one is taken out, the bones removed, and then thrown back in there, along with the new casket and all of the other bones.  It’s a damn party in those things!

Shiela!


That night we found a 24 hour gem called St. Charles Tavern.  A fair amount of bars are open 24 hours there, and what is also great is a lot of them seem to serve food and all of them have liquor because as I said, I don’t think a liquor license is a thing there.  I went full blown NOLA and got fried catfish and red beans and rice.  It was beautiful.  I don’t even remember what Homeboy got because I was busy having a love affair with my plate.  The next place we stumble upon was called Lucky’s Bar.  Honestly, I didn’t remember the name of it at first, but I just did a google map search and found “Lucky’s Bar: saloon with live music and laundromat.”  Yes!  I totally forgot that they had a full blown laundromat in the back!  Homeboy and I didn’t really understand what this meant, but we just chalked it up to “hashtag, NOLA” when we saw some early twenty-something year-old’s emerging from the back with laundry baskets and basketball shorts on.  The best hashtag NOLA thing we came across was a car parked literally in the middle of the road, just not giving a fuck.  Back to Lucky’s, we just thought we were sitting and having a drink at some random bar, but immediately after our drinks were poured, someone came to the mic and announced that it was stand-up comedy open mic night.  Homeboy and I looked at each other and started cracking up.  He does stand-up in Los Angeles, so of course, of all of the bars that we could have walked into, we go into that one.  Without words, it became crystal clear that he would HAVE to sign up.  So we stuck around there and he drank his weight in Hendrick’s gin and went up and did the best stand-up of the night.  Of course, we ended the night at our bar and then stumbling back into the hotel room where I forced him to listen to Jack White songs until we passed out.

The third day, and again, Homeboy was sucking at being a pro drinker.  He was not feeling great, but we still got up and went to Cafe Du Monde to get beignets and figure out our game plan.  We decided to walk for years, to go to the garden district.  I drank a beer on the walk and Homeboy got more sunburnt on the walk and then fell in love with a fucking cuban sandwich that he purchased at a corner store.  I swear that sandwich was his favorite part of the trip.  I just had another beer.  After a few more miles down the road, we ran into a Whole Foods and Homeboy made the executive decision that I needed to eat.  I like when guys kind of take control like that.  I wasn’t drunk or anything, but we had just walked six miles and I had only consumed a piece of friend dough, a beer for breakfast and a beer for lunch, so he basically made me get some vegetables into my world.  He was very right.  I immediately felt better.  He got Kombucha like such a white person.  This is in no way relevant to anything, but I just have to mention that there was an entire cooler for all of the different Kombucha’s.  There must have been at least 40 different flavors, and Homeboy picked the very last flavor I would have chosen.  It was some green bullshit with the word algae and living in the name.

IMG_4825

That damn cuban sandwich.

Later that night we finally made it to Bourbon O. so that Homeboy would shut the fuck up about meeting this guy named Eric.  One of Homeboy’s friends from Los Angeles is from New Orleans, and she told us that we should go visit her brother who works in the Quarter at a bar called Bourbon O.  Well, this was Homeboy’s number one mission.  I was down because whatever, it’s not like it was cramping my style or anything.  I just thought it was a potentially awkward confrontation.  Actually, I hoped that it would be awkward.  I pictured Homeboy walking in and saying to Eric, “I’m Punchy’s friend!” and Eric just being like, “cool, man” and then we just sit there looking at him like assholes.  That’s what I wanted to happen just because he had been talking this meeting up so much!  However, Eric turned out to be a cool motherfucker, and the bar turned into one of our favorite spots.  So, if you’re ever in New Orleans, give Eric at Bourbon O. a high five, drink one of their moscow mules (they make their own ginger beer and it’s the best I have ever had) and stick around and listen to the band because they had some of the best live jazz that we came across.

IMG_4856

Jazz at Bourbon O.

The next morning was when I turned into New Orlean’s bitch for over an hour.  I had passed out in my dress, and woke up needing to take a shower and wash my hair so I could begin functioning like a human again.  I needed stuff from a Walgreens or wherever to make that happen, so I just threw some sunglasses on (because I didn’t feel like taking the time to remove the eye crust and smeared eyeliner) and some ridiculous boot/sandal shoes and walked out the door, leaving Homeboy alone with his continental breakfast.  According to google maps, there was a CVS 0.2 miles away.  Perfect.  SOMEHOW this turned into an hour walk at 8:00 in the god damn morning while wearing a tiny dumb dress and my hair piled on my head like a friggen gypsy whore.  Once I realized how lost I was, I didn’t even care about the shower anymore, and just wanted to find a Daiquiri shop.  Turns out, I was in the only part of New Orlean’s that doen’t have a bar every fourteen feet.  I’m sure I was quite a spectacle for the construction workers that I kept passing due to my temporary inability to decipher North, South, East and West.

IMG_4832

I took a picture of my pathetic reflection.  8:00am HOT MESS.

After I got my life together, we walked out to Bywater, which is a neighborhood of New Orleans.  There, in essence, we bar hopped from dive bar to dive bar, but it was a great time.  Everyone we met was prime.  Other people might say, “everyone was so nice!”  To which… sure, everyone was nice, but normal nice can be kind of boring.  I mean, most people can be described as “nice” in one way or another, so that word is such a useless description, in my book.  People are much friendlier in the South, that’s a more effective description.  They want to talk to you and it’s not just an act or a means to get something they want from you.  The people in New Orleans are real and genuine and make visiting there such a good experience.

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Dive in Bywater.

That night we went to Frenchman Street, which is a congregated area of lots of bars with live music.  My Heaven.  I love jazz, but I love real Blues even more.  Like every big city, there is a lot of music, so you have to sift through the garbage to find the gems.  This is my field.  Live music shows is when I am in my element.  I took the reigns and found us a hole in the wall that had two men city in the corner with a slide guitar, a three piece drum kit and a microphone.  That’s it.  With just the combination of those three sounds, these guys pulled at my heart strings and stole me away.  I was good after that.  I let Homeboy make every decision from that point on because I felt completed in my New Orleans adventure after listening to twenty minutes of blues from two men in a moldy corner.

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Random mural near Frenchman Street.

The next morning, Monterey took me to breakfast again, and showed me the part of the city that had been hit the worst by the Katrina flooding.  Where full neighborhoods once were, there is a sporadic, obviously new house with solar panels.  In between those, there are rows and rows of empty lots with overgrown grass and the occasional stack of a few bricks from what was once a base for someone’s home.  The people and the city is still deeply effected by the disaster.  You see it everywhere.  Every local we spoke with, mentioned something about Katrina at least once in casual conversation.  Pre Katrina and Post Katrina are two very different periods to those who live in New Orleans.

It’s a remarkable city with a lot of history and if you have never been, definitely get your ass down to Louisiana.

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The Key to a Healthy Relationship is More Relationships – 2 of 2

If you’re just tuning in and have trouble staying focused like most humans seem to when it comes to the written word, this means that you didn’t finish reading the title of this entry which ends with “2 of 2.”  So, to get the most out of this topic, which I think is important, please click here for the first part of this write-up so that you fully understand why the hell I’m discussing people currently in my life.  Or as I like to call it, “my village.”  I know that a lot of you won’t click… so I’m going to first encourage you again to do so, otherwise this may be confusing.  Then, because I know a lot of you still won’t, I will quickly summarize the point I am attempting to make.  In modern romance, we have grown to expect one person to satisfy all of our human desires, from security and dependability to adventure and spontaneity and that’s unrealistic.  Different people play different, yet integral roles in our lives, and we need all of them to keep us fulfilled and happy.

Every Sunday night I drink gin gimlets with Snow White.  Her and I have a lot in common, so when you parallel our personalities, it might make sense that we would get along.  We both have a unique perspective of the world that others may classify as odd or eccentric.  The unexpected part about our friendship is that she is barely twenty years old.  Twenty-year-olds can be entertaining for a second, but for the most part, they are not going to hold my interest every Sunday night because there is little chance that they can say something that I haven’t already thought about.  There are exceptions, and Snow White is one of them.  She’s further than an exception,  I would describe her more as an anomaly because she is not like talking to a girl.

Girls are great, and having a girly outlet is a need in my life.  Having a person in my life who I can have cerebral discussions with is also a desire I seek, but you don’t often find yourself in a cerebral conversation with chicks.  Snow White and I at times have challenging conversations that I’m finding inspiring.  She is one of the smartest people I know and she makes me want to learn more.  Somehow she makes things like the value of entropy sound like something I want to study.  Having inspiration in my life is definitely a role that I need present.  I’m used to being creatively inspired, but I’m really enjoying Snow White’s scholastic inspiration.  I’d like to think that in some way I do the same for her.  We have a kind of beautiful complementary friendship because she will teach me about acute pulmonary embolism, and then I’ll tell her stories, summarizing for her the poignance of Of Mice and Men or the genius ending to Lord of the Flies.  It’s a nice little routine and I love my Sunday night’s with Snow White.

I used to need my significant other to inspire and challenge me.  I still LOVE when boys I am with do that, but now I’ve recognized that maybe that doesn’t need to be what their principle role is in my life.  If I keep people like Snow White in my “village” and others who inspire me, then that desire will be fulfilled and I won’t feel unsatisfied by my boyfriend if he is not the one making me run to an encyclopedia or a canvas to everyday.

Then there is Lady Insanity.  Lady Insanity is a 50-year-old woman who matches her eyeliner color to her shirts, she is obsessed with mini bottles of hand sanitizer, she owns a tanning bed that is in the guest bedroom, her favorite drink is Bud Light Lime-A-Ritas, and she slaps me when I “take the lord’s name in vain.”  I don’t know how or why, but I seem to have recently ended a lot of my nights with this crazy woman.  We absolutely have some great times (bordering on sloppy), but we also have become strong friends.  We talk to each other about a lot, and we support and help each other.  It’s a very unexpected friendship.  Sometimes she satisfies my spontaneous desires because I’ll think it’s going to be a low-key night, but suddenly I’m with her, singing along to Snoop Dogg songs and then going to talk to psychics.  Then some nights she plays the role of a more maternal, voice of reason to my life.  We all need days when we get wasted by the pool and then think it’s a good idea to dance in public.  And we all need days to talk shit out and get insight and advice from someone who has been there.  Lady Insanity is one of the ones that meets both of those desires.

Kristy is my best friend and you would NEVER guess it.  She looks like she was in a sorority, she is loud and outrageous, she is the most high strung person I have ever met, she is obsessed with “nippies” which are nipple covers and she will happily tell you all about them and send you a link to the ordering page.  Essentially, Kristy was a Xanax girl.  We all know those.  The chicks in college who were into Xanax, they all have very similar characteristics am I right?  If I had to sum them up… borderline obnoxious but fun.  Kristy is like that on the surface, but then you get to know her and she is such a beautiful human being.  That girl has been there for me through every single life obstacle I have gone through post sophomore year of high school.  A lot of these obstacles, I probably couldn’t have fought through had it not been for her.  She has been my life support during times when I thought I would never recover.  Kristy is the only person in the world who knows EVERYTHING about me.

Luckily, I really like her fiancé and her other friends too.  So often there is about five or so of us who go out for drinks, and it is always such a good time.  My cheeks hurt from laughing.  I’ve come to notice that almost every time we are all sitting around a table drinking beer, Kristy’s asshole gets brought up.  I don’t know how or why, but it seems like at some point in the night, we all start talking about her butthole for some absurd reason.  The last time was her fiancé asking her if he has been in her ass the furthest.  “I don’t need names!” he said, “I just want to know that if anyone else has been in there, that I have been in the deepest.”  Such a ridiculous conversation, but I was dying.  I’ve been sitting at a bar with them before when they ordered a sex toy on their smartphones from amazon.  Obviously, Kristy plays the role of “best friend, trusted confidant” by which she meets my human desire for “dependability and permanence.”  All at the same time… I have so much fun with her and that girl can make me laugh.

These descriptions of people who make my world go ‘round, leads to me Logan.  Logan meets multiple desires, but I would never expect him to meet all, which is why even though he is a new addition in my life, I still need all of the people I’ve already discussed in order to maintain a healthy romantic relationship with him.  If I abandoned those relationships, or if he abandoned his, then we would seek ALL of those desires from each other and that is unrealistic and unfair and would ultimately lead to an inevitable demise and most likely resenting each other.  Basically, what happens to a lot of couples who devote their lives to one another and don’t nurture the other integral relationships in their INDIVIDUAL lives.

What is amazing about Logan, and one of the reasons why he impresses me more and more every single day, is that he is the only boy I have ever been with who seems to TRULY recognize that, and does not just pretend to.  He also impresses me because even after telling me that he shaves his fucking forearms because he thinks it makes the swollen muscles show up better after leaving the gym… I’m still obsessed with him.  That’s a feat.  He deserves at least a high five for that because normally I would be gone before that sentence was even complete.  We have grown accustom to a point system using high fives.  So when he tells me that he shits his pants once a decade (which is something that I could very easily write an entire entry about), he gets at least negative a million high fives.  But when he says “I was super into Xena Warrior Princess when I was younger … For real, I was all about that bitch,” as a way to prove that he is not sexist, it makes me laugh really hard and want to kiss him and he gets at least two high fives for that.

So world, meet Logan, the boy with the dodgy eyes.  The first time I saw him, I crossed my fingers that he would talk to me.  According to him, it was my smile that honed him in, but for me, it was his eyes.  He has this dangerous, kind of shady look about him that was really doing something for my boy crazy side.  Three months and about multiple boys later, and Logan is my rock.  I’ve always found that line to be incredibly lame, but if I said, “Logan is my tree trunk,” that would be weird.  I do think of him more like a solid tree trunk though, because I koala the shit out of him.  That’s what he calls it.  I latch on to his torso like a koala on a Eucalyptus tree and he just walks around with me like that with no struggle.  Or throws me onto the bed and manhandles me, which is my favorite.  I lay on him, and kind of climb all over him (especially when we are laying on the couch and I am making him watch Dawson’s Creek), and his body can take it all.  He is big with a ridiculously solid, strong core.

What this description is leading up to is that part of Logan’s role in my life, is like his stomach muscles.  I know that is a weird thing to say.  I’m definitely a weirdo, and Logan definitely is not.  He’s a self-proclaimed bro dude.  A lot of his interests are so douchey.  He likes football and fights and power lifting and he was a bouncer and listens to OG hardcore and has a fucking tattoo of Florida, among other douchey tattoos.  Every time I see the Florida tattoo, I say “Flo Grown!” and he rolls his eyes and says something like, “Okay, you bitch.”  And that makes me giggle and then he just sighs and lets his arms flop to the side until I’m done laughing and then I probably make fun of him for something else like, “remember the time you went to a vape convention?”  Then I REALLY start laughing and he sighs again, and then says, “are you done?” and I’m probably not, but he’ll grab my face in the middle of my laughter and kiss me and look me in the eye and say, “you are so fucking beautiful.”  I am so fucking lucky.

I have embraced his douche bag qualities because when you put them all together, Logan is gold.  He has embraced my weirdness and adapted to it.  When I explained to him that, “you are for me, like your stomach muscles.  I can punch it or koala it or put my weight on it, and it doesn’t falter.”  His response was back, “I pinky promise that I am always going to be like my stomach muscles for you.”  When he said that odd sentence, I knew that he had fully embraced my weirdness and was learning to speak my language.

A friend of mine, named Mark, said something to me a while ago that stuck.  He is much older than me… maybe in his late 60’s or early 70’s? so it felt like words of wisdom.  He told me that one should NOT marry their best friend, but instead marry for lust.  I’ve never been an advocate for marriage (to put it lightly), but I still heard what he was saying.  People often advise, “marry your best friend,” but even at a young age, I never felt that I agreed with that, though I couldn’t articulate why until now.  Mark is right.  There should be people in your life that already meet those “best friend” desires.  You shouldn’t need a best friend in a partner, you should WANT your partner.  Sex.  Lust.  Whoo!  Fun words!  Sex and lust are basic human desire and unless we want to start debating monogamy, is a desire that in our culture we tend to get from one person at a time.  So why not be with somebody who wholly satisfies your sexual desires?  The one thing that no one else can give you.

Obviously, other characteristics are important.  You can’t have lust and nothing else.  But I think we write off lust too quickly when considering partners because for absurd reasons, people associate lust with sin.  I don’t think that I should necessarily be giving relationship advice, but you’ve made it this far, so I might as well continue with my self-righteous solution.  I think that the person you decide to really try with, should be the person who you can’t wait to talk to about your day, and also the person who you can’t wait to grab their face and make-out with.  I think that Logan and I will be okay because on top of wanting to rip his clothes off AND talk to him about everything constantly, he meets my human desire for stability, acceptance, laughter and dependability.  Money doesn’t matter to me, but the older I get, the more I realize that stability does.  Logan is stable, and it’s hot.  Like I said, my tree trunk.  He also accepts me wholly.  We all need people like that in our lives.  Those who accept our past and flaws and nuances and show no desire to change any of it.  And Logan makes me laugh.  A lot.  Which is sexy.

So world, meet Logan.  I thought I had eradicated hope from my life, but I do hope that he is around for a while and that you all can get to know him.  And I still cross my fingers everyday that he will keep talking to me.

To truly bring this full circle, I’ve realized that none of these people would be in my routine and none of these human desires would be met if I was still touring a lot.  Road life was absolutely what I needed over the last few years, and I loved it.  I also truly believe that I am a better and wiser person because of my roadie life, but I think I’m ready to move on from that now.  I was using touring as a form of escapism and while it was a friggen blast at times, I currently don’t feel the need to escape and I have all of these people to thank for that.

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The Key to a Healthy Relationship is More Relationships – 1 of 2

Back in December I had turned down a couple of tours for the first quarter of this year.  One of them because the band’s manager is the most hated man I have ever met and I will absolutely never be associated with him ever again.  The second one because they weren’t offering enough money and it was for a support band on a five band tour package… and I’m a snob.  I very much prefer working for the headlining band, or co-headlining band because it’s a lot less of a headache.  I knew that by turning down these gigs, it would mean that I would be home for a while and the thought of that usually makes my vagina shrivel.  I was expecting the Post Tour Blues to kick my ass immediately.  I was not in a great place because I had just left the Viking for a second time; a true modern romantic tragedy that I may tell someday.  And I also was expecting to come home and be with a certain boy, but life doesn’t give a fuck about your plans, so that didn’t end up working out.  I thought I would spiral into a major depression and then jump at the first opportunity to runaway and onto a bus with a rock band and drown in immediate gratification, new faces to make me forget the old ones, and lots of whiskey.

What actually happened though, was that I was okay.  I’ve been home for a while and surprisingly, I’m good.  My demons must be tired from years of antagonizing because they are laying dormant right now.  My sister and I signed up at a boxing gym, and I think that helped a lot.  We decided that we wanted to be badass boxers, so I dived into that.  Don’t piss me off because I can hit you with a one, two and it will hurt.  Definitely don’t piss my sister off because she is diligently looking for any reason to hit someone with a solid one, two, hook.  In that spot of one’s soul that we keep hidden, I have love and empathy and Raven has rage and violence.  I’m waiting for the phone call from her in the middle of the night telling me that she killed someone with her barehands and needs help cleaning up.  I’m kidding.  But she seriously can’t wait to knock a mother fucker out.

Another reason why I think I’m okay, is that a lot of my human desires are being met, through a kind of routine that I developed.  I never thought that I would use the word routine without rolling my eyes and throwing up in my mouth a little bit, but look at me now!  All grown up!  Well, I can’t get too carried away.  I still get very excited when I come in contact with a bouncy ball, and I still play in the rain and giggle when I see a penis drawing.  My routines are not lame, which is what is saving me.

A long time ago I watched a Ted Talk by Esther Perel about the secret to desire in a long-term relationship.  Firstly, if you don’t watch Ted Talk’s, you’re being dumb.  That talk is one that has always stuck with me and I recommend it to everyone, even if you’re not in a relationship.  Clearly, most of my life I have not been, but I still took a lot from this lecture.  Her thesis statement is that around the globe, where romance enters, there seems to be a crisis of desire.  I will paraphrase.  In modern day relationships, we except our partner to provide all of our needs and wants for us.  Back when marriage was an economic institution, what was expected was children, social statures and companionship.  Now, we expect all that from our partner, but ALSO for him or her to be our “best friend, trusted confidant and passionate lover and we live twice as long.”  When you think about it like that, it’s really ridiculous.

She goes on to say that as humans, we seek security, dependability, and permanence but we ALSO seek adventure, risk and spontaneity.  For some retarded reason, we have grown to expect ONE person to provide all of that for us, when until modern society, it was an entire village which provided those needs for one another.  This lecture of course led to some introspection, and I started becoming aware of all of our “roles.”  No matter what type of relationship you have with someone, you play a role in their lives that in some way meets at least one of the human desires.  For example, Fat Face for a while satisfied my adventurous, spontaneous side, but didn’t meet my innate desire for security and dependability.  I had to get that from someone else.  This confirms for me my theory that it is very healthy and 100% necessary to maintain friendships with the opposite sex (or sex of your choice) when in a relationship.  It’s plain dumb to think that one person can satisfy all of your desires when taking into consideration the grand spectrum of desires.  So, after watching the Esther Perel talk again, I recognized that all of the people currently in my life, play a different role so that my desires are met, which leads to health and happiness.  Like she said in the lecture, a small village once provided all of these things, so this is my small village.  The friends and family and lovers who meet my needs and are helping making this weird life less painful and sometimes down right beautiful.

I’ll start with Rach.  Rachel is my age, but married with three children and doesn’t drink at all.  Basically, we could not have more polarizing lives unless she was a Sudanese woman married with three children and malaria.  However, her and her whole family meets my kind of family, “wholesome” desires.  Each time I leave them, I feel so uplifted and just- – I don’t know… wholesome!  I have become this weird extra appendage to her family.  Think of when people have an extra finger or toe… that’s me.  I’m the strange extra flab of questionable skin to the Holm family.

Rachel thinks that my life is so interesting, but I think her life is so interesting.  She has a cat named Jeff for crying out loud.  I think that is hysterical.  And she has an adorable little four year old girl named Matt.  Okay… her name is Mattie, but I call her Matt because I’m a twat and just find it funny.  When all of us go out to eat or do something, her and her husband fight over which one is going to be on “Mattie duty.”  They’re serious about it, but I just giggle at the side and play soccer with the son using a wadded up piece of paper.  Once we are settled, Rach, me and her husband attempt to use code words and gestures to discuss adult matters such as, what it means that a guy I was dating couldn’t get it up… and how much they do or do not make-out as a form of foreplay.  We manage to have full blown conversations about this while Matt is singing “up  town funk you up” to herself, the boy is coloring and the oldest girl is playing with my bracelets.

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Me and the fam.

Rachel and I have known each other since we were six years old, and we were very close from then, and all the way through high school.  After high school we drifted apart for a while and I think during those years, our differences kept us apart.  Now, I think it is our differences that seemed to have brought us back together.  When you’re someone like me, who is constantly going through an existential crisis and sometimes can’t remember if I may or may not have made-out with two different boys in the same night, it’s good to have people like Rachel around to hear about how they need to bake 300 cookies in one day (for reasons I still don’t understand) and how her kids all play Bloody Mary together in the bathroom.  Seeing Rach and her family has become routine, and the role that they play in my life is getting doses of wholesomeness and innocence that I don’t get regularly from anyone else.  Another integral role that Rachy plays in my life is that she encourages me when I think it’s a good idea to buy a floppy hat and sparkly fake glasses.

On this same vein, there is Cody.  I never thought that I would be watching movies in my living room on a shitty television and ordering shitty pizza with Cody again.  Just like Rachel, I thought that our best days were behind us.  We have been extremely close since age 14, but after a few years of not living in the same area (during our mid twenties) and having very different lives, I figured that we would just continue growing apart until we both realized that the only reason why we were pretending to be friends still was out of some morbid obligation we thought we owed to our former selves.  Close to a year ago though, something changed (including proximity) and I remember announcing to my sister, “Cody is cool again!!!”

Him and I have been hanging out fairly regularly since and it has been my favorite thing.  We have nacho night about once a week which simply includes making nachos, drinking PBR and watching stupid youtube videos.  We also play pool occasionally though we never seem to get better, we watch movies, we talk about writing movies, he tells me about albino snakes and I tell him about books I’m reading and we laugh over the things that we used to get pissed at each other about when we were young and in love.

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Cody and I.

Cody satisfies my desire to talk, and also to be 100% comfortable with someone else.  We talk about all of it.  It’s great to have someone who you can discuss the psychological effects of the technological boom with, but also turn around and laugh about how weird nipples are and if we would rather fuck Fiona Apple or Alanis Morrisette.  Laughter is the most integral to life, so include as much people as you can who make you laugh.  It’s also important to have someone who you can be 100% real around.  Maybe a lot of people get that from their significant other, but that has never been me.  Right now, I’m getting that from Cody and my sister and realizing how important it is to have that in your life.  We all need at least one person who we can be completely unimpressive around and don’t give a fuck if we have sweaty armpits or if we just feel like eating a lot of Taco Bell and not being judged.  What I’ve learned the most through this resurrection friendship with Cody is that sometimes, you can go home again.  That’s part of his role, he provides me with a sense of home and comfort and it helps keep me grounded.

My sister, Raven.  I’m living at home again, and that means spending more time with Flava’ Rave, as Cody calls her.  She is just so funny because she is a paradigm for her generation.  My morning routine seems to be, make coffee, then talk and laugh with Raven for about an hour and a half before we contemplate what we are doing with our day.  Considering how far apart we are in age, Raven and I are very close.  She’s nine years my junior, but I can still talk to her about A LOT.  She’s a total B though too, and if she is getting slightly annoyed with me, she’ll just put her hand up and say, “bye.”  It makes me laugh every time.  She actually just left the room and we both were cracking up because she is being so NOT chill about a current crush she has.  We honestly just spent 15 minutes deciding on the exact words and punctuation to use in a two sentence text to her crush.  In this role, I think it’s more about what role I am playing.  I’m her big sister and providing that role for her, provides me with a small sense of purpose which we all need.  I am there for her in every sense of that “you’re my blood” type of way.  Essentially, she can do no wrong and no matter what, I got her back.  That unconditional love should absolutely be in everyone’s routine.

To be continued…  Part 2

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Raven and I.

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Confessions of a Heedless Sinner – Vol. 17

I had a purge day.  A purge day according to me, is when I realize the absurdity of “dating” a handful of people, and decide to purge out all of the non-essentials from my life in a single 24 hour period.  It’s just like when you eat too much cake and ice cream.  At first, it’s delicious and even though you know it’s bad for you, you just don’t care.  Then you embrace it for a moment.  Then you get uncomfortably full, and you’re sighing and wondering how and why you put yourself through that.  Then, you feel the sudden need to barf it all out.  You know that the process of throwing up will suck, but once you get it all out of you, you will feel much better.  Now replace too much cake and ice cream with too many boys, and that’s where I was.  I have plenty of stories about purge days, but I’ll save those for another time.  The reason I brought this up, was to inform you, the reader, that I am no longer trying to balance a million boys in my life.  I got rid of the ones whose time and energy I was wasting.  So the boy that I’m about to discuss, is in the past.  I considered skipping over this one, but I think the conclusion of it is important, and something we should all consider.

I see more and more interracial dating and I think it’s fucking fantastic.  I’m a huge advocate for dating someone who is completely different from you whether it’s religion, culture or race.

A few weeks ago I had a dinner date with thug boy.  I call him thug boy because he absolutely looks like a drug dealer.  I most certainly inform him of this notion each time I see him.  It’s still up in the air as to if he actually is a drug dealer or not.  I met him at a dive bar where I was by myself, bumming a cigarette off of a bum (not kidding), drinking Budweiser bottles and whiskey and pounding out a five paragraph essay for my Muslim co-workers.  My thesis was that pigs in their natural state are not any more or less “unclean” than any other meat.  If you’d like more information on that topic, I’ll send you my essay!  I’m not sure why I was wasting my time on this because they can’t exactly read English.  I’m just addicted to useless knowledge.  Anyway, the thug walked right up to me and my brightly lit laptop and asked me if he could buy me a drink.  I had about eight ounces of whiskey still in my glass (this bar does not fuck around with pours), so I was definitely good on the drinks for at least another paragraph.

To be perfectly honest, in the first couple of seconds I did kind of blow him off.  I was in the writing zone and I was just not trying to talk to anyone that night.  I even wore my hat, which I do when I haven’t washed my hair in a week.  Also, I am convinced that my hair is the only reason why boys initially think that they like me, so my theory is that if it’s semi covered, they won’t try to hit on me.  A few seconds later though, and he had my mild attention.  Mostly because he took the rejection the way that men should.  I told him that I’m good on a drink for now, and that I’m just trying to get some work done.  He said that he hopes I have a successful night writing, and that if I would like to have another drink, it’s on him, and then he walked away to go finish up his pool game and smoke black & milds.

He was perfectly polite and didn’t say something fucking stupid like, “I’d like to see that beautiful smile more,” or “You sure, girl?  I could help you with your writing,” so I was intrigued.  Those are the lame lines I’m used to getting.  Still, I let him walk away and I finished up my essay and then just sipped the remainder of my whiskey and wondered why it’s Swiss guards that guard the Vatican.  That can be my next essay.  I packed up my backpack and was mentally committed to leaving, but thug boy was right at my twelve o’ clock, so I felt compelled to say hi/bye.  I walked over to him and of course it didn’t turn into a goodbye.  It turned into a fun twenty minute conversation where we laughed about how my wallet looks like it belongs to a Grandpa, and how Patron is for posers.

Then he asked me the inevitable question… “do you date black guys?”

I can depend on getting that question from just about every black guy who hits on me.  It’s not so much sad to me as it is just utterly baffling!  Maybe if we were living in backward town Mississippi where people fuck their goats but are against interracial dating, I would understand that question, but not here, in Tampa, Florida amongst young people!  Apparently though, plenty of girls do say that no, they don’t date black guys.  What the fuck.  What in the hell is wrong with everyone?  First of all, don’t you people know that mixed babies are the prettiest!  I take that as an evolutionary sign that races are intended to mix.  They take on the best genes of both races.  Shit, I would consider mixed people the elite!

When I ask the black boys that I date if they are offended when girls say no they don’t date black guys, they tell me that “No, it’s cool.”  What?!  No it’s not fucking cool and I’m not sure that I believe them that they’re not offended.  With that being said, I understand not being able to grow in a relationship due to cultural differences.  For example, the thug boy grew up in the projects, and I see how having a boyfriend who grew up so differently than me, would most likely leave us with difficulties being able to relate to one another.  It’s not because he’s black, it’s because it would be hard to understand each other in the long run.  Just as it would be difficult to relate to a white guy who grew up golfing and with a Senator for a father.  However, we should all still try!  This is the answer to world peace… understanding each other.  The same applies for any cultures.  I love dating people who are completely different from me, because you end up bonding over your differences instead of your similarities and that can be a very fun and ultimately mind-expanding experience.

On our first date, were laughing when he was rolling his eyes because the only Drake song I know is that one from years ago called Take Care which features Rihanna.  He said, “Oh man, I’m going to have my hands full with how white you are.”  I punched his arm and stated, “I looked like such a fucking hipster with that stupid floppy beanie on the night we met!  You knew exactly what you were approaching!”  He laughed and agreed and then said something about “black culture” at the same time that he refused to let me open the restaurant door.  Not because I’m a lady, but because of germs, to which I shouted, “Now THAT is a black culture thing!  You guys are all germaphobes!”  He almost spit out his chocolate milk (which he made a special trip to a corner store for) laughing. I totally stand by that claim by the way.  Most black people I know are weird about germs.

About a week after that, he invited me over to watch documentaries and drink mango flavored vodka with him.  Which I of course found hilarious.  We ended up talking through the documentaries.  Naturally, sex got brought up, and it is important to note that at this point, him and I had not even held hands, let alone kiss or anything.  During our discussion, I think we both realized that we approach sex VERY differently, and we were both fascinated by the other’s perspective.  It became crystal clear that our sexual history is polarizing when he said somewhat out of nowhere,”So you don’t go down on guys?”

Me:  “Ummm yeah, sure I do.  Sometimes.”

Thug: “Oh, okay.  You just don’t seem like you would.”

I’m pretty good at reading people, and the way he said that, I immediately knew that he was absolutely not used to a girl coming over and not performing oral sex on him right away.  Of course, I just blatantly asked.

Me: “So most girls you hang out with, if they were in this exact same situation, they would just pull your pants down right now?”

Thug: “Ummm yeah.”

Now, here is where I think my lesson about getting to know people far different from you truly comes into play.  I could have easily taken offense and stormed out the door, disgusted with his overtly sexist expectations.  However, because I DO get to know all types of people, I understood that he wasn’t being rude, he was just being honest and equally as eager as myself to attempt to understand each other’s vastly different approaches toward romance and relationships.  I respected him and I could tell he respected me, and I knew that he KNEW I wasn’t going to fucking go down on him.  This was the mutual, unspoken moment when we became just friends.

Me: “So even if you have never kissed a girl, she would do that.”

Thug: “Yeah.  I don’t really kiss.”  Pause.  I was baffled.  He continued, “You like make-out with people?”

Me: “Um, yeah!  And I think you need to recognize that you are absolutely the abnormal one in this situation.  I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that most people round the bases in order.  You can’t just run to third base!”

He laughed.

Nothing happened that night.  Obviously.  We had an eye-opening conversation and I left.  The point I think I am trying to make is, although nothing romantic is going to come between him and I because we are too different, I think that we are both better off for getting to know each other.  We’ve actually hung out a couple of times since then as just friends and it was cool.  It’s so crucial to understand people who are different from you.  It makes you smarter, more well-rounded and ultimately a better person.  I took the time to get to know a guy who is very religious, he only listens to rap and hip hop and wears white jeans sometimes.  He also thinks kissing is foreign and he is probably a drug dealer.  He took the time to get to know a little white girl hipster and I think our eagerness to do that is saying something respectable about both of our characters’.  I just realized, after writing this whole thing, that THAT is what we have in common.  Ultimately, we had good conversation because of our differences, but we bonded because of our innate similarities, and I like to think that we are both better for it.

 

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2015 was Epic – Part 5

…continued from Part 4.

When we finally made it to Sofia, it was past midnight and the train station was closed, despite the arrival of trains.  You may be thinking that this means that the vendors are closed up and the ticket windows are dark.  What it means in Bulgaria is that ALL of the lights are off, all of the informative signs have been put away, there are zero employees and if someone stabs you, you will die because no one will find you until the morning.  If our trip was depicted in a cartoon, this would be the part when a tumbleweed blows by.

Maybe six other people got off the train with us and they seemed to know the route, so we just followed them with our fingers crossed.  We quickly realized that we were underground as we marched through this sketchy tunnel that immediately gave me the feeling of being led to a gas chamber.  Once we made it to open air without having our organs removed and sold to the black market, we were immediately met by robust men repeating “taxi” like they had Tourettes.

*Traveling Tip: Never use the cab drivers that are at the train stations.  Walk a few blocks away and pick up a cab, then make sure that they turn the meter on.  When possible, have the hostel arrange a taxi pick-up for you.

We said no to the taxi men, but I will admit that these mother-fuckers were pretty intimidating.  When you imagine a Bulgarian, that’s exactly how they were.  Those dudes had definitely cut off a finger or two in their time.  Possibly ripped out a human heart with their bare hands.  We hadn’t arranged for a place to stay in Sofia because it was a sort of last minute change of plans.  We spotted a Marriott sign off in the distance, so the three of us, and all of the wild fucking dogs, walked toward the light.

What stuck with me was how dark the city was.  In Romania and Bulgaria, when the people are asleep, the city is not only asleep, but it feels like a ghost town.  Insert tumbleweed again.  This was not the case so much in Budapest and Istanbul, but those are much bigger cities and have much more tourism.  That might sound scary, and at first, it kind of was nerve-racking walking around in the dead of night with no lights and little signs of human life.  But I very quickly grew to love it.  They don’t waste resources!  It’s a beautiful thing.  Even in the hotel, you had to insert your key card into the light switch to enable it to turn on.  Meaning, you can’t leave the lights on.

It’s not just electricity, it’s all resources.  They don’t blindly waste them the way we do in the First World.  I bet you would rarely see someone running water in Bulgaria and Romania to wash dishes.  They probably all fill a bowl with soapy water and then just use that.  And they aren’t obsessed with everything being disposable or convenient.  At the grocery store there were no bags.  “Paper or plastic?” is not a phrase that you hear there.  Bags were not at all available.  It was incredible.  I would stoked because I’m a hippie.  Well, my friends unfortunately call me that, but I just call it being right and smart.  How fucking hard is it to just bring your own bags to the grocery store?  Or cut your own damn apple?  When I see shit like apples pre-cut, so they need to be put in a plastic container that will immediately be thrown away, I get pissed.  When did we become such lazy assholes that we would rather suffocate the planet with plastic instead of simply cutting an apple, or god forbid, eat it straight?  When did we start believing that we are superior to the Earth?  I would LOVE to move to a Second World country so that I can contribute to a society that has common sense.

Pardon the rant.  Back to the hotel, which was dirty and dingy and just sad.  The hostels that we stayed at for approximately $12 USD a night, were WAY better.  I have no idea why people have such an aversion to hostels.  I think because of that damn movie.  Forget about that horror movie!  That would be like watching a zombie movie, and then being scared that every person you come across who coughs, may be infected with a ficticious zombie virus.

We only had the following afternoon in Bulgaria because we wanted to make sure to get four full days in Istanbul, which was the next and final stop.  Raven and I decided this would be a perfect day to get tattoos since we didn’t have time to do any real sightseeing.  I researched tattoo shops while Fat Face and Raven went back and forth showing each other funny videos on Vine, or whatever the hell it’s called, and I brainstormed on a design while she popped blackheads.

When we got to the shop, I explained that we just wanted a simple side view of a train and that we didn’t have much time because ironically, we had to be on a train in a few hours.  Our artist walked right over to us, squatted down on the floor and started sketching a little train.  It was really cool and unpretentious of him.  He, along with all of the people that we crossed paths with in Sofia were friendly and lively.  Very different from Bucharest, so it left us wondering why all of the Eastern European natives were telling us to do Bucharest instead of Sofia.

We got onto another fucking train, and headed East to Turkey.  Our experience on that train is a prime example of how travelers just have no idea of what is going on.  Before the border, we were cattled off of the train and wrangled into a concrete room that had border patrol men who didn’t even a little bit pretend to give a shit about our visas, and then we stood around for what I would guess was two hours, having no idea what in the hell was going on.  We were expecting to get on a train in Sofia and then get off in Istanbul.  Of course it was not that simple.  Smuggling Syrian refugees was involved as well as peeing in a hole in the ground… so stay tuned!

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Fat Face.  lol.

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2015 was Epic – Part 4

If you are just tuning in, please see Part 2, where our backpacking adventure started.

When I left of in Part 3, myself, my sister Raven and Fat Face were leaving Sibui, Romania (the Transylvania region) and heading toward Bucharest, the capital.  The main reason why I personally wanted to experience Eastern Europe was because I am fascinated by post Communist countries and envy Second World countries because they don’t take resources for granted, they are as baffled by capitalism as I am, and if you fall it’s your fault and you can’t sue someone because it rained and the sidewalk is wet.  Those characteristics somewhat define Eastern Europe and that’s why I am so drawn to it.

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A giant hold in the middle of the walkway.  An example of Romania giving zero fucks about liability.

With that being said, Bucharest was the only city that all three of us didn’t like.  For me, it happened to also be the city that provided the most insight and was a true learning experience because I would say that we were the most out of our element there. During this backpacking adventure, the three of us discovered that our favorite thing to do was to rent bikes.  We kept up the tradition and rented some in Bucharest.  We were riding around for maybe thirty minutes, and I found myself in this funk!  Out of nowhere I was depressed and at first, thought it was possible symptoms of PMS.  But then I noticed that Fat Face and Raven were the same.  Just by riding our bikes around the city we were all immediately sad for reasons that we couldn’t explain.  I later did some mild musing on the subject while Raven listened to Rihanna on her headphones and Fat Face created memes.  I theorized that our mood was due to the bleakness of the city.  There are no colors there.  At all.  The buildings, the clothing, the cars… everything seems to be this monochromatic tone of grey.  There was an occasional splash of color on a sign advertising an H&M or something, but that seemed even more depressing to me.  It was clear evidence of the city attempting to rid themselves of their oppressive past and conform to Western culture.  It felt contrived, not encouraging.  I will say however, that one of the best things I’ve ever eaten was in Bucharest.  It was essentially a hot pocket, but if hot pockets were good… and then add an orgasm.

*Side Note: Vegetarians, Vegans, Gluten-freers, Atkiners and actually anyone on any high maintenance First World diet, Eastern Europe may not be the place for you.  It’s a lot of meat, cheese and bread.  Just embrace it.  Love, a former vegetarian.

If I had to sum up Bucharest in one sentence, I would say that the people and the places all look like something that was beautiful once, but isn’t anymore.  The big “city center” had this giant fountain that stretched for blocks, with mosaic tiling on the floor and built in lights to illuminate the dancing water.  However, the fountain was not functional anymore, the mosaic tiling was littered with dead leaves, the water had long been dried up and the lights were broken.  The people were the same.  Everyone we passed looked worn and bruised and broken.  Mainstream cultural vibrancy was still dead though it seemed as if the city was attempting to fool you.  It felt like an outcast kid in middle school, trying to fit in with the cool kids crowd.  If that outcast kid were just himself, he’d be great, but he is using all of his energy on trying to convince everyone that he is something that he is not.  In an attempt to conform, his true beauty and uniquely perfect identity gets lost along the way.  What I’m getting at is, Eastern Europe tries very hard to rid itself of its’ oppressive past, but in Bucharest, the reminisce of oppression is very present.  I think that if they stopped trying to Westernize themselves, their true beauty would shine through.

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This is the only picture I took outside of the hostel in Bucharest.  There was very little obvious beauty, so I took this to try to capture the grey bleakness.

Luckily, the hostel that we stayed at in Bucharest, Doors Hostel, was the best hostel of the trip.  After three hours of attempting to explore the city and then wanting to slit our wrists  instead, we decided that making the most of Bucharest may mean just staying at the hostel.  So we spent a lot of time there, hanging out in their tea garden and chatting it up with an employee who looked like a character from a Tim Burton movie.  She had huge sunken eyes, wispy hair, porcelain skin and was heroin-chic skinny.  Fat Face was feeling her because they had similar music taste.  I was feeling her because she gave us shots of Palinka.  Plus, she was friggen cool.  If you find yourself in Bucharest, give Danielle at Doors Hostel a high five.

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Me failing at taking a selfie in the “tea garden” at the hostel.  

We did manage to have a good time at a bar called Control.  It was a walk up bar which immediately made us feel more comfortable because that is the norm in the States, but almost unheard of in Europe.  You don’t sit at a bar in bars in Europe.  Whoa, that was a tough sentence.  Anyway, we discovered that you’re expected to just grab a table and then a server will eventually come to you.  Eventually being the key word.  It requires a lot more time and effort to get drunk in other parts of the world.  (Australia was the same way and I discuss that trip in Part 1).

As much as I bitch about America, fucking high-five to us for producing the most efficient way of consuming a lot of alcohol quickly and at low prices.  In Europe and Australia, your drink could be empty for an hour and no one gives a fuck.  Servers will rarely approach you to see if you would like another drink.  In the States it’s kind of rude to flag down your waiter, but I learned that it is acceptable and expected in the not so touristy areas of Europe.  Still, after flagging down a server, it takes a hot minute before you actually receive your drink, and by then, you’ve sobered up and are over it.  Also, if you’re drinking liquor, their standard pours are only one ounce (about 28 grams for those of you who aren’t on our retarded system of measurement) but almost double the price compared to America.  I would need to order a quadruple shot at a time if I had any intention of even getting a buzz… but that’s not very cost efficient and the drinks aren’t served quickly enough to cross the “fuck money” threshold.  Even if I ordered a double, I would probably have to plan to chill on that for two hours because in Eastern Europe, two hours in the hospitality industry seems to be the equivalent to ten minutes in America’s hospitality service.

To get to Istanbul from Bucharest by train, we had to stop in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Like I said before, the trains have absolutely no indication of what city/station they are at, and there is no PA system.  On top of this, the trains will often stop en route for no reason that is evident to the passnegers, so you never know if you’re at a real stop, or a psych! stop.  Everyone just silently looks around to see if anyone else is getting off.  I swear to God, that’s how it works.  And if you do get off at the fake-out stop, there is absolutely no workers around to tell you that your Made in China Vans are not going to hold up during your trek to the next train station which is miles away.

*See Part 3 for a little more insight on the E. Europe trains.

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A skeleton train.

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