Thursday, April 30, 2015


Hey look! I'm going to write about Hawaii in the same month that we got back from Hawaii! (shush, the last day totally counts!)

So the trip was truly a last minute deal. We went last year (to Oahu) and I thought that was last minute because we planned it a couple of months ahead, but this time it was really last minute, about a month out. We had two trips on the line for March and both fell through for different reasons so we ended up with vacation longing and no vacation planned. Brent really needed a break from work and finally just said, "That's it, we are going someplace. Pick Disney or the beach!"

I went back and forth. This is actually a really hard choice for me. But the beach finally won out. He booked tickets and a hotel and left the rest up to me. Maui was the island choice. I want to go to each of the Hawaiian islands and pick my favorite. So far the Big Island is still my favorite but I'm not sure if that's because it was my first trip there, because it was all three of us so it was good family time, or because the excursions we did were in between work meetings so the little breaks were really highlighted as special. Or it could just be that volcanoes are super cool. We will have to go back before I can make my final call.

Anyway...this time was Maui. Last minute and good deals meant a long travel day with layovers and connections but that was really the only travel woe. I know right? Usually there is a good travel story but other than the length of time it took there really wasn't one. I took a picture of us on each new leg and posted it to Facebook as a travelogue of sorts and, I'm not going to lie here, a fuck you to the people who gave me grief about our traveling and my posting too much. Yes I know, be the bigger person...blah blah blah...

Or fuck of those for sure.

So we got to the hotel and BOOM! Upgrade! Wow, that's really nice. They gave us a junior suite with an ocean view instead of the queen bed ocean view. It was all very nice until we got off the elevator and walked the three feet to our room; there were little hints that someone had been in it already that day. So basically because we got in late they took our smaller room and gave it to whoever was in the elevator shaft room once they complained about the noise...It was too late and I was too tired to want to do anything about it that night (I had an hour sleep the night before) so we decided to wait and see how bad it really was.

Turns out it wasn't bad. We were exhausted and people stopped coming and going fairly early so the elevator noise wasn't an issue for most of the night. It started up fairly early in the morning but me being me had us booked every day early with activities anyway so it wasn't an issue. But next time we will ask where the room is located before getting impressed with our "upgrade."

But that view though...

Okay, first day! I booked us on the Road to Hana tour. I really went back and forth on this one. I knew I wanted to drive it, it is the thing to do right? But I wasn't sure about the actually driving it part. Or I guess us driving it. But if we took the tour it would be all day and since our time was limited did I really want to book and entire day? I finally went with the tour because that way Brent could look around and enjoy things as well instead of having to focus on driving.

It was the right call. The roads are narrow, the local drivers are crazy and the enjoyment factor for the person driving would have been super low. We passed one woman on one of the one lane bridges who was slightly confused about what one lane meant and tried to make it two; the entire side of her rental car paid the price. Ouch. So if you want to do the Road to Hana I highly recommend taking a tour.

We stopped numerous times to take in sites. Waterfalls, historic sites, pretty beaches, snack and potty breaks as well. They also supplied breakfast and lunch so not bad at all. It was pouring rain at the top of the mountain (also a great reason to be glad we didn't drive) so the Seven Pools (don't call them Sacred, they aren't that was just marketing, oh you marketers!) were closed when we got there. We could still see parts of them from the trail that was open, but no swimming that day since they figure people don't really want to be swept out to the ocean in a flood of water. 

This was probably my favorite stop. Walk through a narrow short cave then it opens to this. The beach was all black sand and the waves and water were gorgeous. 

See the post? That's the edge of the road. See how there is no road showing? That's how close to the edge you drive.

My last piece of advice on the tour is this...If you are a parent please know who your kid is when you book the tour. If your child is the sort that can tolerate a 12 hour van ride then have at it. If your child is one that will complain about oh...five minutes in...then don't! Also have a sense of humor and be polite. You are going to be riding in a van with strangers for hours and hours. Put your public manners on and keep them there. Okay? 

When we got back to the hotel we grabbed dinner (oh my god good lobster mac and cheese) and then took a walk on the beach. Brent was a little concerned with my mental health by this point. I hadn't been in the ocean yet. Or the pool. I had explained that the trip was short and there wouldn't be time for me to just be in the water, but he didn't really believe it. I love the ocean so I can understand his confusion, but I wasn't kidding about tight schedules. But we walked the beach until it was too dark for me to see anything anymore. Feet in the waves. Then legs. Then a couple of surprise BIG waves and we were good and soaked. I could do that every night and not get tired of it. 
 The water was SO warm. Ahhh...

They had these boats all up and down the beach that would load and unload their passengers right on the sand. This was the end of the sunset cruise. I thought it was pretty cool.

Losing daylight...

The next day was snorkeling at Molokini and Turtle Arches. Another one I recommend. The water was super clear. The weather was perfect. It was really incredible. At Molokini. Turtle Arches not so much, I would recommend doing that one from the shore out rather than from a cruise. Everyone I have talked to that did it that way saw more turtles and fewer crowds than we did. But Molokini was incredible. 

The only part that was a bummer was rude people. We had seats facing the rails and these two couples from Canada came and stood in front of us. They got on the boat later and didn't care for their view so they blocked ours. Who does that? And then the people sitting on the other side of us kept using Brent's towel. The first time I gave them a pass, all the hotel towels look alike, though honestly, you should know where yours is and realize you are grabbing someone else's. The second time? What the hell, really? So Brent had a damp towel each time. 

Not exactly the view I was hoping for...

But when you are snorkeling in water like this how can you be mad for long?

And bonus whales on the way back to port!

The other funny part was this is where we realized we were in the height of Canadian tourist season. It was us and hundreds of Canadians everywhere we went. I told Brent that I thought the very large group of two families sitting near us were Canadian due to their accents. He wasn't sure. I made the joke that we should yell Hockey! and see who looked. We laughed...and then later the Canadians who blocked our view and the large family started talking hockey...I just smirked at Brent. And then was very proud of being a grownup and only saying the snarky things under my breath, like when they both announced their picks for The Stanley Cup and said, "Really any team as long as it's a Canadian team." *whisper to Brent* "'s an idea then, play better." And then they talked about or at least make it an Original Six team. Ugh. There is very little that makes me roll my eyes harder than Original Six talk. And yes, I know, the NHL team I cheer for is an Original Six team. But it just doesn't matter...

Yes, I was on a boat in Hawaii in 80 degree weather snorkeling, whale watching, diving with turtles and thinking about hockey...totally normal.

This was also the part of the trip where I messed up. I put on more sunscreen after each dive but I don't think I dried off enough after the turtle dive for it to stick. Between that and not thinking about reapplying before the drive back to the hotel (convertibles aren't designed for the translucent) I ended up with a sunburn. Which isn't hard for me to get, but I am usually really good about not getting much of one. The first trip we took to Hawaii we were there for a week, I was in the water every day, and I came back beige with a pink nose. That's the way I usually handle the sun. This time? Bright red. Ugh. 

We headed in to Lahaina for some site seeing and to see the world famous banyan tree. Okay, I'm going to be honest here, we should have gone back to the hotel and spent the afternoon in the pool or the ocean until dinner time. The tree was cool, I recommend seeing it, but it's a tree. It will take about 15 minutes. And unless you shop, Lahaina is not all that wonderful. But the guides all said GO! So I went. I wouldn't again. I would swim. But we saw it, and that was something. The best part of Lahaina was vacationing Canadians. Or I guess more specifically OUR vacationing Canadians. Friends of ours were there with their family and we got a chance to have dinner with them. It was awesome to see them and just reinforces that we need to take the drive and the ferry to their island soon!
It really is a cool tree. You should see it, just don't plan on it taking long. 

Yay for Canadians!

And on to the last day! Which came really quickly while we were living it, but I appreciate you are probably thinking, FINALLY! 

This was the geek day. I made Brent do a tour of a pineapple plantation. Yes, I know, not super exciting edge of your seat stuff, but I thought it would be cool. And I did think it was cool. Because I'm a geek. If you are interested in farming and pineapples and seeing how the only pineapple operation in the states runs, then take the tour. It's short. Like an hour and half long. You get to sample pineapples at different stages of ripeness that are cut right out of the field while you are there and you get to take home your very own pineapple for later. It was a yummy tour. 

Then on to the helicopter tour! When we were on the Big Island we went back and forth on taking a helicopter tour over the volcano. I finally decided there was no way I could justify the expense. This trip I justified. And it was amazing. If you can fit it in your budget (it's not cheap, I'm not going to lie) you should do it. We saw parts of the island we would never have been able to get to otherwise. We saw the Road to Hana from above and got to see all of the switchbacks and narrow roads we had been on. We saw waterfalls, and bamboo jungles, and whales in the ocean It was gorgeous. Really and truly.

The crater of the volcano

 The waterfall from the opening of Jurassic Park

One of the best parts for me was when we took off she played the theme to Hawaii 5-0. It was geektastic. There was also one point where just as we were turning in to a canyon and this majestic waterfall came in to view the theme from Superman started. Really nice! She did the "use their names to establish a connection" tactic a little too much for our liking, and needed to add a few more stories to her repertoire, there was a lot of repeat, but those are really nit picky things when you are talking about the views we got to see. Gorgeous. 

We wrapped up the day with a trip to the aquarium and dinner in Paia, or hippy town as they call it. Then the red-eye back home.

Whirlwind trip but I got us a pretty good overview of the island, I think. We have a list going for things we missed that we wished we hadn't so someday when we get back to Maui we will hit those up.

Some extra travel tips! Pack expecting it to be windy. The trade-winds on Maui are no joke. I wear skirts instead of shorts and had to wear my maxi-dress twice because the shorter pleated skirt would have been a disaster! The longer skirt I wore the first day took both Brent and I to wrangle it at one point on a stop on the Road to Hana tour! And watch that sunscreen! With the winds you might think it's not getting you...but it's getting you! Make reservations at Mamma's Fish House as soon as you know when you are going! We didn't and they could have fit us in on a cancelled reservation 45 minutes before our flight left Wednesday (remember we were taking the red eye!), or April 25th.  And remember, ask just exactly where that upgrade room is located...


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My life in click bait...

Imagine if your life were described in internet headlines. What would it look like? Here are some of my highlights from the past couple of days:

Woman hits Starbucks where it HURTS!!!
(I used a $2 off  drink coupon this morning)

Anti-environmentalist asks GOTCHA question...what this woman does in response will INSPIRE you!
("Paper or plastic?" "Oh, no thanks, I don't need a bag for that.")

Woman discovers TIME MACHINE! See if it will work for you!
(I listened to an 80s playlist at the gym this morning)

Woman shows Fox News EXACTLY what she thinks of them!
(I rolled my eyes and went back to watching SportsCenter)

Portland Winterhawks using VOODOO to win home games? We will let you decide...
(I always wear my red shirt first in a home series and you know, we won, so yeah...)

Could this SIMPLE symbol be the key to international peace??
(I posted a heart emoticon on a South African friend's status this morning)

Woman discovers SECRET of extra likes on photos. We think it will work for you!
( Opened my Facebook feed saw a new profile picture of a friend and Woah! That's a lot of cleavage! *like*)

Was it skin cancer? What this woman does will ASTONISH you!
(Saw a weird black spot on my arm, realized it was a mini-chocolate chip from the cookies I was making so I picked it up and ate it)

Is this the secret to keeping a marriage HOT?
(I brought Brent his knit hat for the game last night)

A half hour and two and half miles later and she ends up exactly where she started. How is this possible?? The answer will AMAZE you!

Discover the SECRET to maintaining online friendships!
(typed a response on math and percentages versus raw numbers and racism in the media and confirmation bias and then deleted it)

Woman DESTROYS tomato lobbyists! 
(put mustard on my hot dog)

Woman discovers SECRET to HAPPINESS. Try her trick and see if it works for you! 
(I hide all stories from websites I know are full of shit)

Amuse yourself for HOURS with this one EASY habit!
(sometimes I pretend everything I do can be summed up in a clickbait headline)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's funny because it's sad...

I'm a list maker. I have notes by the computer for stories. I have notes in my phone for things I want to get done. I have lists for shopping trips. I have lists for things we want in the next car we buy. Lists for things that are specific to what we own now (printer ink, jean brands and sizes, oil type for the car) I keep all of these things going because I am...well...I use multi-focused because flighty sounds so bad.

But I am scatter brained. I don't look at that as a bad thing, even though it's usually used as an insult. Flaky, flighty, scatter brained. All of them can describe me at different times. I use multi-focused and busy brained. I just have a lot going on in my head all the time and so sometimes that means a thought slides in and then right back out without sticking, even if it's important.

Thus lists.

So a couple of weeks ago we are driving to breakfast and the Sunday puzzle comes on. As they are going over the clue from the week before I say, "OH! That's why I had producer and director written in my phone!" See, I had written those down to try and work out the puzzle but then forgotten why I had written them down so when I was looking at a different note I saw that and thought I must have been trying to figure out who produced or directed a certain movie but I couldn't for the life of me remember what movie it must have been. This was close on the heels of discovering that the notes I had taken when we went couch shopping had left of the very minor detail of which store which couch was in.

Brent pointed out my note taking left something to be desired. I argued saying that normally I took really good notes and I knew what they were for. Because I am sure that I do. Except when I went back to look at the list of blogs I was going to write for April I have two short notes on there that I have no clue what they were. No. Clue. Dang it. I bet they were going to be brilliant too.

So now I need to pay attention to my note taking and make sure I have notes for my notes.

Oh and just in case you were wondering this is my 11th blog for April, I wrote out a quick list for 10 ideas to cover and I have Now granted, I took 3 blogs to cover it, but still the other 8 blogs for the month have been on other subjects. Because I am multi-focused.

I guess that just leaves a lot of things left to cover in the next...ummm...two days....

Seriously, how do you guys put up with me? (winky smile emoticon)

Monday, April 27, 2015


He asked her what she wanted from him.

She said , "Nothing"

He asked her again.

She smiled and said, "Nothing. I want nothing from you. Just be."

Time passed and still he would ask her.

She would always smile and tell him, "Nothing."

Finally in frustration he yelled at her, "What do you want from me?"

She gave him a puzzled look. "Nothing. I've told you, I want nothing from you."

"But how can I make you happy if you want nothing from me?"

She laughed, "You can't."

"But I want to make you happy."

"I am happy."

He smiled, "You make me happy."

She shook her head, "No, you make yourself happy."

He argued, "It's you. You make me happy."

"Don't put that pressure on me. You are in charge of you being happy. I can't make you happy."

He was confused.

"Don't you want to make me happy?"

"I want you to be happy. I can't make you happy."

"You make me happy."

"You make yourself happy."

"Now you are making me angry."

She smiled sadly at him, "You are making yourself angry."

"You want to take no responsibility for your actions!"

She shook her head, "I take responsibility for my actions. And my emotions. But I refuse to be in charge of yours as well. Be happy. Or be angry. You choose. Not me."

He chose angry. She chose to leave.

He didn't understand her then, he is not sure he understands her now. But he can still hear her voice.

"What do you want from me?"


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Soft kitty...

Something about her always reminded him of a kitten.




He wanted to protect her.

To hold her.

To always take care of her.

And for awhile he would.

She would bask in his attention.

She would look at him with those wide eyes.

She would curl up next to him.

Life would be good.

Then he would hold too tight.

He would move too quickly.

He would try too hard.

And the eyes would flash.

The change would come.

Retreating to a corner.

Back up.

Teeth bared.

Claws extended.

She would slash out at him until he left.

He would lick his wounds and swear never again.

Until the day would come and he would see her in the sun.



And he would just want to hold her one more time.

Something about her always reminded him of a kitten.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


If she had to sum up her childhood in two words it would be easy. Sit still. There were more words, of course, but those two were the theme of childhood for her.

The constant drumbeat. Sit still. Stop fidgeting. Wash your face. Brush your hair. Straighten your dress. Tie your shoe. Sit still. Act like a lady.

School was miserable. "Cathy is a bright girl but tends to fidget." She could still feel the rap of the ruler on the back of her hands for tapping her fingers on her desk.

Church was even worse. "Stop tapping your foot. Stop wiggling in your seat. Sit still." How was anyone expected to sit still on a wooden pew for hours? Or it at least it seemed like hours. She had wished they were Catholic so at least she could stand and kneel to break the boredom of sitting.

And the worst part for her, the biggest injustice was that the boys were never expected to sit still, to stop wiggling, to behave. It was written off, "Boys will be boys." How could you think they would be able to sit still and have clean faces and tied shoes and brushed hair? That was crazy.

But for her? Sit still. Be a lady.

She tried knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, anything to give her hands something to do while she sat still. She ran when she had free time. Tucked her skirts between her legs and in to her sash and ran. Not to anywhere but just away. Away from the over stuffed chairs in over hot rooms. Away from people who thought that you could only listen if you were still. She learned that she could listen to the woods while running. And sometimes she could hear her own thoughts best when they were accompanied by the stead drum beat of her heart pounding in her ears.

Sit still.

Eventually she learned how to turn that energy inward. To create worlds in her mind. While people would tell the same stories over and over again she made her own. Her face pleasant and blank, worlds of action going on behind her eyes. But she was still so they were fine.

Until they weren't. "Cathy, you aren't paying attention! Did you hear a word I just said?"

And no she hadn't. Sit still. Pay attention. Focus on me.

She would smile and apologize and try. She really did want to try.

Well, no, she didn't really want to try. But she knew she should want to want to try. Everyone else seemed to be able to do it.

Sit still.

She couldn't. Eventually she would be running again. Creating her worlds again. Moving again.

"Cathy's daydreaming again. What are you thinking about? The day your prince will come?"

She smiled.

If he was coming he'd better be able to keep up.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Words, man...

This was going to be a status update but then I realized it was going to be way too long for a status update so now it's a blog.

I am a feminist and I am a humanist. These are two different things. I happen to be both. But they are not interchangeable. I feel like I have to say that because I've noticed more and more people trying to distance themselves from the word feminist and using humanist instead. Sorry, humanist already means something else, so stop it.

Feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

I feel like I should put that there because people tend to have a hard time holding on to the definition. I've written about it before here. My take is if you aren't a feminist there is something deeply wrong with you. Now I get that you don't want to be thought of as one of "those" people. The ones who whine and bitch and moan and carry on about things and claim it all in the name of feminism. But why do you think that means you should abandon the name? That makes as much sense to me as if Christians and Muslims stopped calling themselves Christian and Muslim because the fringe elements of their groups do crazy things.

Or if you are a republican/democrat and some crazy person starts ranting about things you don't believe and says they are doing it because they are republican/democrat do you then say, "Well I'm not a republican/democrat." or do you say, "Don't agree with that." You don't abdicate the name because the fringe is crazy.

I'm a feminist. I believe men and women should be treated equally. Period.

Now for those of you who are trying to distance yourselves from feminist by using humanist. I get what you are trying to do. You want to be inclusionary. You think that just by the name and by the association it seems feminist means promoting women over men. And feminism is promoting women. But not ahead of men, just to same level. The reason why it's not genderneutralist is because the movement is about raising up a segment that is being treated in an unequal fashion. It's not about dragging men down, it's about raising women up. Not above, but to the same level. Equality. I for one will be thrilled when it's not an issue anymore, but we aren't there yet.

Humanism: a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism).

And that is what being a humanist is. It's a philosophy. Not an equality stance. It's about reason instead of magical thinking. It's about evidence over faith. Being a humanist goes with my lack of religious belief, not my belief that men and women should be equal. It's not the same thing. Get it? I am a humanist. And I am a feminist. But you absolutely can be one or the other and not be both.

Words mean things.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New Orleans!

So I'm not sure if you remember this or not but I took a trip to New Orleans last November...

Yes, this is it! Finally writing about the city.

Here is the picture that sums it up.

I took this shot yesterday because those are the things that are still with me from the trip. My extra padded hips and the bunged up toe. We walked and ate. And ate and walked. And then walked and ate.

In planning the trip I thought that we would take the street cars around more than we did so I packed boots. I shouldn't have. After about 30 miles I finally gave in and bought some slip ons. But the damage was done by that point. Bruised my toenail and I am finally losing it. So it's all wrapped up and protected and I am sans a professional pedicure for another few months.

We also ate the best food. Everywhere we went was the best food. It was crazy how good the food was. After about 400,000 calories I gave in and decided that hips are good. Okay, maybe not, but there is still some extra hanging around that I am putting firmly on the shoulders of New Orleans.

Where to begin?

New Orleans has never been on my list of "must go" places. I don't drink much. I don't like crowds. I really don't like crowds of people who have had a lot to drink. Bourbon Street is like my worst nightmare come to life. I just could not imagine it. But I do love old cemeteries. I do love interesting people. I love water and warm weather. I love a good story and I love good food. So the loves outweighed the rest and when Brent asked if I wanted to join him after his conference I said sure.

Then the planning, what should we see? Most people I know this ends at Bourbon Street and drinking. But like I said, not really my thing. I asked around and my friend Raquel sent me her links to restaurants to try. Another few friends sent their "must haves" as well and I quickly realized that food was going to be an issue. As in there are too many places and not enough stomach space. So I wrote down a couple places we had to try. Cafe Du Monde and Willie Mae's Scotch house for instance and then just types of food. I wanted a shrimp po' boy. I wanted a muffaletta. And then what I would do is add Best to the food and we would go to whatever popped up.

I also booked two tours. We were going to see the houses in the Garden District and do a cemetery tour. I could have done a ghost tour, a haunted tour, or a vampire tour, but I just wanted the cemetery, not the rest. Though I have heard from a lot of people that the haunted tour is great. So if that's your thing, have at it.

The first tour we got there early, as is our way, and stopped to get coffee. While we were sitting in the coffee shop I look over at a table behind us and there are three people having coffee there. All dressed in black with splashes of purple. I thought to myself, "witches" just because it was New Orleans and of course there would be witches hanging out in the coffee shop. AND THEN THEY STARTED TALKING ABOUT A WITCH CONFERENCE! Sorry, didn't mean to shout but it was so freaking perfect I had a hard time not vibrating with joy. Not just because they were talking about witches with a nonchalant air, but because it was about a conference. Not a coven, not a wiccan ritual, not anything woo woo sacred sounding but a freaking conference. See, it seems like there is this group that doesn't want to let in some of the younger VooDoo practitioners to their conference because it's really strictly for witches, and though they (who was they? the people talking? the people holding the conference? come on! give me details!) were both voodoo and witch the people who weren't going to be in the conference weren't also witches, just voodoo.

People, let me tell you, this is gold. Sitting in New Orleans, drinking a cup of coffee before taking a tour that was starting at a cemetery listening to witches bitch about bureaucracy? You can't make this shit up...

Alas they packed up their things and left and we had to get to our tour anyway but rest assured those three will be in a story soon.

Okay, so the first tour. We used Haunted History Tours for both of our tours and I do recommend them. There are a ton of tour companies around, and you can just pick up a tour guide in the French Quarter as well, but I researched, read TripIt and Yelp reviews and settled on this one. Really happy with them. Okay, so plug over, the first tour was the Garden District but it started in Lafayette Cemetery. Our guide Jesse explained the whole burial process which is fascinating. And kind of creepy. But mostly fascinating. And we looked at few graves of note. This is the only cemetery that allows filming anymore, so if you see one on a TV show or in a movie, this is it. Which was pretty cool.

Every cemetery needs a cat right?

So part way through our tour of the cemetery we start getting followed by a cat. Every time someone stops to pet it or pays attention to it, it runs away. Because cat. So finally I stop and kneel down and he comes over to be pet. Because cat whisperer. Then I made a mistake. I stopped petting him for a second to listen to Jesse talk about a grave we were stopped at. *SLASH* he reached out and snagged my arm, he was not done being pet, thank you very much. Little shit. So I lectured him about being nicer to the next person who pet him. He gave me a head but and got a few more pets from me before I headed off. A guy behind our group knelt down to pet him and got hissed at. Dude, this was no amateur hour cat. 

Then on to the houses. If you dig old houses, if you dig interesting architecture, if you just want to see a bunch of houses famous people have lived or currently live in, take this tour. Gorgeous places. I don't want to live in the south. It's too hot. Too sticky. And I would weigh 300 pounds, but if I did, I would want one of these houses. 

And they all had so much history...

Okay, so at the end of the tour we stop across the street from Commander's Palace. I am sure it was on everyone's list but for some reason just didn't stick with me. So as Jesse is describing it and saying that if you have a chance you should go, I am thinking, sure, why not. So Brent and I decided to grab a light lunch/snack there before heading off to see more sites.

Oh my god.

I didn't get a picture of the gumbo because I ate it too quickly. But it seriously turned both Brent and I in to foodies describing it. I don't think I really understood terms like depth of flavor and layers of flavor before I ate that gumbo. This was their bread pudding souffle with whiskey sauce. It was incredible. If we go back we will be stopping here for a real meal. It is incredible. And the level of service? Insane. 

So the rest of our day we spent site seeing on our own. Went and walked around the French Quarter. Spent some time on Bourbon Street. It was like Vegas with a spin. Or I guess Vegas must be like Bourbon Street since New Orleans is older right? But was a Thursday afternoon and it was still crowded (though not terrible) and people were still pretty toasty (though not nearly as much as later in the evening) and it was hustling. Interesting, very cool sites to see. 

Then we decided to head back to the hotel and grab some dinner. One of the places Raquel recommended was a block away from the hotel so we headed there for dinner. Cochon Butcher is the fancy half, we ate at their butcher shop, The Butcher-Swine Bar and Grill. Definitely not for the feint of heart and strictly for carnivores. When we walked in they were prepping a pig behind the counter. Full on pig laid out to be butchered. I thought it was cool. Brent could have done without that part. On to dinner. 
Muffaletta. Check. 

Next day!

Cafe du Monde. Check.

You have to right? Very tasty. And I'm not even a fan of powdered sugar normally. I did shake off most of it from my bites, but not all. It was good. Crowded, but not horrible.

Then on to the next tour. We were meeting at Reverend Zombie's VooDoo Shop to start. Just the fact that it was going to start at a VooDoo shop made me smile. Only in New Orleans right? So we walk up to the shop to check in and NO WAY!! Remember the witches from yesterday? They are here! THEY RUN THIS SHOP! OH MY GOD! Yes, I was this excited. I love shit like this. Now our fates are tied and they are truly going to be with me forever. Unless I insulted them yesterday by eavesdropping and mocking them for their PTA Meeting sensibilities in a VooDoo world...oh no do you think I'm cursed? Were they following me? Is there a chicken out there bleeding out next to my doll? Yes, these are the things Brent had to listen to as I gleefully skipped around planning a story in my head. He's a very patient man. 

Our guide was Ernie, who was not in fact one of the VooDoo witches from the day before, but a history buff with a wealth of knowledge about New Orleans and a list of books to read if you wanted to know more. He was awesome. Now the one thing I will add to this part is that one of the groups touring with us included an older lady, like 70s-80s older who had trouble walking. This is not the tour to take if you cannot walk far. You have to walk to the cemetery, around the cemetery and back from the cemetery. I cannot imagine it if you were having issues. Also, we did it in November and it was warm, if you were going in the summer you should make sure you book it early in the day or do the ghost tour at night or you would roast! 

Bring your offering and your request...

Lots of history, lots of cool graves, including Marie Laveau, the VooDoo Queen. The picture up there is of one of the three graves she is believed to be buried in. There is the official one, and then two like this, where stories are she is, or at least part of her. Who knows...But yes, the VooDoo Queen of New Orleans is buried in a Catholic cemetery. So many things for me to say here but instead I will just smile...

After the tour ended I checked my maps and saw we were only a little over a mile away from the next place we wanted to eat so we decided to walk. 

This was the only time we probably shouldn't have. Now I have to say I have never seen nicer people than we did in New Orleans. At one point during the trip I was checking my phone for directions and Brent was looking at a map near the street cars when the guy driving the street car stopped and leaned out the window to ask if we needed directions. This was sort of standard. Everyone was nice and so southern polite. And this is coming from someone who lives in Portland where the first thing tourists usually say is, "Everyone is kind of freaky nice here." so if we noticed a high level of nice, there was a high level of nice. Anyway...this was not the neighborhood two middle aged white tourists should have been walking through. And I would not suggest it after dark for anyone. 

But it still made me laugh. At one point we walked by a group of late teen early twenty year olds. As we were coming toward them they were watching us and we heard the, "who are they? they must be lost be walking around here." And I thought, well, here we go. (I grew up in a fairly rough part of the country, young kids acting tough is not out of place there so that's what I was expecting) but as we walked by after a little flexing and staring from them we got a, "How y'all doing?" "Great, thanks and you?" And we went on by. They just needed to let us know we were out of place. Which was fine by me.

And at the end of this probably not a good idea to walk walk we found Willie Mae's Scotch House. 

I have never in my life had fried chicken this good. You can skip the macaroni and cheese, as much as that pains me to say it was just average. But the red beans and rice were the creamiest I have ever had and the chicken was just...I have no words for how good this fried chicken is. Just go. But take a cab. 

After that we hit the park and saw the sculpture garden and the botanical displays and walked around there a bit. We hopped on the street car to head back in to town after walking around there for a few hours. My feet were giving out by this point so we headed to the mall near the convention center and found me a pair of glorious slip ons that fit and look a bit like slippers. I was in heaven at that point and we kept right on going with the week!

So after some more random site seeing around the French Quarter we headed out to dinner. I know, right? How could we be hungry? But all of the walking, and the fact that we shared everything helped. So what was left on the list? Po'boys! And the recommendation was Parkway Bakery and Tavern. It's a local place, and some of the locals aren't super amused with the influx of tourists, but fuck 'em, the sandwich was worth a little attitude. 

Not to mention the bread pudding.

Last day! 

One thing New Orleans is just now catching up with is a great place to have breakfast. There are a few places that do a nice Jazz Brunch on the weekends, but just breakfast isn't as easy to find. Unless you are me, and then you find this place. 
 This was Elizabeth's Restaurant. And I think it was the only time Brent was worried I had steered him wrong. It's on the other side of the French Quarter from where we were so we took a cab. As the driver went farther and farther in to this back neighborhood away from the main spaces he started looking at me like, are you sure? I wasn't. I mean I got it off of the internet. The cab driver had never heard of it and was using GPS. Who knew what we would find?

Candied bacon. That's what we found.
And grits.
And biscuits and gravy. Though I'm going to be honest here, don't get biscuits and gravy in New Orleans. They do a weird butter gravy thing. It's just not right. Stick with the grits.

Anyway...fortified with that giant breakfast we headed off to the French Market and more French Quarter sites. Then Mardis Gras World. Which was really fun. They showed how they made the floats and you got to see all of the various in progress works as well as see how they re-purpose old floats in to new ones. 
And do new carvings as well.
Then we wrapped up with more time in the French Quarter. More beignets from Cafe Beignet, which I might actually like better than Cafe du Monde. The beignets were good and you get live jazz in the courtyard. We went back later in the day to drink and listen to more jazz. 

We hit up the aquarium as well. I like aquariums and this one was nice. And it was near where we were so a nice break from the drunk crowds and in to the kid crowds. Not sure which is worse. 

Then back out for our last run at Bourbon Street we stopped and had a snack at Bourbon House. Brent decided if I was going to keep drinking then a little food would probably be a good idea. 

BBQ shrimp and a crab cake to split. Then off to find the daiquiri I was craving. Which was actually a bust. They only had flavored ones. Catering to the kiddies. Which was a bummer, but I drank the strawberry like a champ.

The crowds settled in and so did the clouds so we headed back to call it a night...

Well we might have made one more stop, when we ate at Swine Bar earlier in the week we were too full for dessert and that just wouldn't do when you had choices like this:
Peanut butter chocolate pie and a bourbon pecan. The peanut butter chocolate was good, but I could have eaten an entire bourbon pecan myself. It was outrageously good.

So bellies full and buzz wearing off it was time to grab some sleep before the early wake up. And it would have worked out perfectly except there was some sort of dance going on and our hotel floor was invaded by college students. Very drunk college students. 

We got to hear them shouting at each other as they came back from the dance and got dressed to go out to party. We got a few hours of sleep but then they came back from round two. We got to hear a very unfortunate try at sex. Seriously, it was painful to hear from our side of the wall, son, son, son, when you get that drunk just give up and try again tomorrow. We got to hear about how they snuck in to and then were kicked out of the Jacuzzi. I kept reminding myself that we were all young and dumb at one point in our lives but this is why I don't carry a gun...but finally they all passed out and we got another hour or so of sleep before the alarm went off and we headed for the airport.

Sore feet, a few extra pounds, but a great trip. 

Go. Eat. Listen to the music which is everywhere! Have fun.

But do pack comfortable shoes and pants with a touch of extra room.

Travel woes...

Oh my god, y'all! I'm going to write about New Orleans! Or at least the trip there. I had notes about the travel so figured I would start there.

A lot of time I get really interesting stories out of my travel time. Sometimes I think it's just because I get bored and start watching what it going on and see things I would have otherwise missed but mostly I think it's because people are weird when they travel.

This is not one of those interesting story about traveling blogs. This is a bitch about travel blog.

I bitch about this one all of the time, but seriously, folks, have you people not traveled since 9/11? How do you make it to security and have no clue what you are supposed to do? I am one of those that has their shoes off, computer out, baggie on top of the luggage within seconds of hitting the line. Move it along. We all hate this part so why do we need to make it linger? There was a woman in line who made it all the way up to the front who didn't have her ID handy. Took her forever to find it. I am stuck in the chute at this point and can't duck over to a different line. She tried to show the guy an ID on her phone. Nope, not going to work. So she kept looking. How is this something you haven't looked for up to this point?

Now with the body scanners you have to make sure there is nothing in your pockets at all. No paper, no wallet, no cell phone, nothing. So people are slowed up because it's something new, you used to have to have your ticket and ID in hand all the way through security. So maybe you can get a pass for being a little confused at this point. Even though as you are standing in line they keep repeating, "Take everything out of your pockets, wallets, cell phones, car keys..." But I guess people tune out.

When I fly I generally wear a cardigan. It's a great thing to have with you on a trip. You can match it to different outfits if you need it. It adds a layer of warmth on the plane if the air is up too high or you can shed it and be fine if it's not. On this particular flight I was wearing a tank top under my cardigan and as I hit the security check point the decorations on my cardigan made the security person suggest I put it through the scanner. So shed the sweater. I am standing in the full body scanner something pings and they have to pat me down. Yay... So off I go to the side and they pat me down. Arms up. Pat, pat, pat, pat...thank you very much, everything is fine. So I walk down to get my stuff and grab my sweater and see a group of boys traveling in a sports team that had been very interested in my pat down. I was torn between flattery and wanting to gross them all out by saying that the boobs they were just checking out were mom boobs. Like exactly the same age as most of their mothers. Because I'm evil like that.

Then you hit the next lovely part of traveling. The bag juggle. "Folks we have a full aircraft today so we are going to limit you to one carry on that can fit in the overhead and one for below the seat." Bullshit. You and I both know you aren't. You are going to let people bring on bigger bags than they should and hog up all of the space. You know it and I know it. You are going to let the more aggressive assholes bully their way in to what they want because you don't get paid enough to argue with them. So why do we go through this? Oh yeah, it's so people like me in boarding group 4 do the carry on math and realize that they need to gate check the bag. Fine. So I gate checked after the 12th we aren't going to have room warning. Though there was plenty of space when I finally got on board. Ugh.

Also the boarding group thing. I was in four so I waited and waited. And finally it's our turn, but then some late 2s and 3s showed up so they jumped to the head of the line. HEY! You missed your call! Now you are part of the unwashed masses like the rest of us! And I firmly believed that that should be the rule until our flight home and we were racing to make the connection and I realized we were boarding group 2 so we would be able to skip ahead of everyone else...(totally didn't happen, everyone was already on the plane by the time we made it)

Okay, so now we cover the people that are most annoying on a plane. Crying babies are not on my list. Because they are babies. They are tired, their ears hurt, they are over stimulated, whatever, they are babies. It happens. I feel for their parents. Now make that a kid over the age of 4 and I will change my mind. But only because my kid was a jewel.

But annoying people, no slack for them. I flew next to one woman who was a lip smacker. Smack smack smack...she brought sandwich on board with her...chew chew chew...smack smack smack...then she dug in her bag and brought out chips...then some dessert...then back to her sandwich...then she bought a snack pack. OH MY GOD...why are you eating all of the things?? And why are you doing it so loudly? Can you just not?

On the next flight it was the person who was apparently unable to use their legs to lift their body weight. The grab the back of the seat in front of you to hoist yourself up person. How do you not know this moves the person's seat? It's so freaking rude. It's like reclining on a plane. Don't. I have a real issue with this one. People being so in their own bubble that they are completely unaware of everyone around them. Or they don't care. The reclining thing is one of those. You either get that your extra few inches of lean which isn't going to really make you all that much more comfortable isn't worth the bang in to the knees of the person behind you or you are an asshole. The seat grab goes with the lean. At least now that my hair is short I don't also get my hair pulled when it happens. That was always a special joy.

And then on to my last bit about the travel. That bright spot that always happens. You know there will be one. I got a sandwich in the airport for lunch and it was a good sandwich and a really decent price. That's what I thought to myself. Then I laughed. Only in an airport will you think a $10 sandwich is a really decent price!

Oh more story...

So when I travel solo I usually pack my old USA Women's Boxing bag. It's a good size for carry on and it also gives that added layer of "don't fuck with me" for a woman traveling alone. I've talked with a lot of people over the years about working with boxing because of it, and I've also gotten some interesting looks because of it. This time I got to put a drunk in his place because of it. Waiting in line for a taxi and there was a group of business travelers behind me. Four guys who were just a little drunk from the flight in. One of them looked at my bag and then said something to his buddies. Then he gets louder and says to me, "Boxing, hunh? So if I get fresh with you then you will box me?" I gave him the icy stare then the cold smile and said, "Boxing will be the least of your worries if you try and get fresh with me." Then my cab pulled up and I got in and left to a chorus of "OOOH!!!!" from his buddies.

Ah...some boys never grow up and it's still a real joy to slam them back in place.

Picture this...

So imagine the scene...It's like a grown up monkey bars play-structure thing. There are climbing areas and hiding coves all made out of PVC pipes and plywood. The front of it is open so people can see what is happening. And what is happening is brutal. It's a fight, like a gladiator Mad Max cross. You can have whatever weapon you want, but only one. You can enlist people to help you. If you have a gang they can fight with you. They could be injured or killed. But if you win you can share your prize pot with them. Though how much you share is really up to you.

I am one of the fighters. I'm fighting solo. The guy I'm going against has helpers. Right now he is back in one of the coves and two of his helpers are blocking the way to him by laying across the entry. I am poking at them trying to get them out of the way. I have as my weapon of choice what looks like a pocket or Bowie knife. I'm holding the handle and it's about a 3 inch blade at most. Super sharp. And I'm slashing at these guys trying to get them to move.

There is an announcer's voice that booms out over the crowd, "Remember, there will be only one winner here. And you can use whatever tools or people you need to to..." and right at that point through the two helper's bodies comes a drill bit. It's about a thick as a softball. And it's just chewing through them coming at me. My opponent has a giant drill and I am fighting him with a tiny little knife? What the hell was I thinking? But while he is drilling through his friends, what the hell were they thinking, I take it as an opportunity to try and work around the sides to get to him and slice him up.

And yeah, that was one dream from last night here is another.

I'm walking through a desert type waste land and there is a box on the ground next to what looks like a USB stick. The box says that it's a quick charge battery. The person I'm walking with wants me to use the stick, who knows when we will be near a power source again and we should take the chance to recharge. I tell him what a bad idea it is to just plug in a random USB stick, it could be infected with a virus.  As I'm arguing with him in my dream my non-dreaming part is realizing that we (we the people in the dream) are running on rechargeable batteries. Woah...I wake up and repeat that to myself a few times before I go back to sleep so I don't forget it. Rechargeable batteries! Somehow at 2 AM I thought that would be a great story idea...yeah...

Another part of the dreamscape last night was a buffet. There was something to do with family tables and inheritance and not being able to leave and come back...odd...and then it led in to the dream I started with. So I was well fed before going off to play gladiator games at least.

This is what I face when I sleep. Really realistic dreams that can be incredibly odd. And when I wake from them part of me starts in on could that be a story? Sometimes the answer is yes, that could totally be a story and sometimes no, that is not a story, that is a freak show. The fight dream could totally be a story, just not one of mine. I don't write that sort of thing, but it could be in a movie, probably Quentin Tarantino, it's a little violent you know...

The rechargeable battery people thing could as well. Maybe a story about androids taking over the world, or people have finally died off but we figured out how to download our consciousness in to android bodies and they are now running things but because they have our consciousness they are still fighting and waging war even though they aren't human. But again, not my thing. I would get bored with the world building too quickly to move through it. But I could see it being a story.

The part about the buffet? No way...too weird...

Monday, April 6, 2015

Don't call me...

Her phone pulled her out of a deep dreamless sleep.

She reached for the bedside table to answer. There was no need to check the caller ID. No one else would call at 2 AM. It was a ritual. The bars would have just closed. She picked up the phone and slid out of bed.


"No, you don't get a hello, you get a what. It's 2 AM. I was asleep."

"I don't care. I really don't. It's late and I have to work tomorrow."

"No, I left the room so I wouldn't wake him."

"Because waking people up in the middle of the night is rude."

"Yes, that was a dig at you. I am glad you noticed."

"Of course I'm mad."

"Because it's 2 AM. Because I have asked you to stop calling. Because it's been too long and you need to move on."

"My fault? How is this my fault?"

She laughed. "Never mind. I'm not having this argument with you again."

"What do you expect me to say? We have this conversation over and over again. You shouldn't even be calling me. Why don't you call her?"

"Of course I am going to bring her up. It always comes back to that right? You shouldn't call me. You should call her."

"I know. She wouldn't come. But that doesn't give you the right to call me."

"Because you lost that right."

"Would you tell her you called me?"

"Yes, actually I will tell him you called."

"Because I know what it's like to have someone keep things from you."

"Don't talk to me about what is fair."

"I know it's late."

"I know you're drunk."

"Then call a cab."

"You should have called a cab."


He found her sound asleep curled up on the couch holding her phone in her hand. 

He sighed and picked her up to take her back to bed.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and snuggled against his chest.

"Was it him?"


He took another deep breath, patience was hard sometimes. But it wasn't her fault that he had called her. This wasn't a good fight to have. Not again. He tucked her in bed and took her phone from her hand. He checked the log. 2 AM Unknown Number. He had tried calling him back one night, to tell him to leave her alone. That all of it was his fault not hers. Of course there was no answer.

He had been dead for two years after all.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Artsy Fartsy...

So right before we left on vacation my Facebook feed blew up with stories about a college student whose art project was removed from Instagram for violating its terms and services. Because it showed a woman on her period.

It was a picture of a fully clothed woman asleep on her side with a blood leak stain on her pants and on her sheets. Instagram said, "NOPE! NOPE! NOPE!" Then when the backlash started said, "Oh wait, sorry, that was a mistake here have it back."

It was interesting to read the articles. It was interesting to get the take from the artist as to what she was trying to portray and accomplish with her pieces. I'll link one of them here in case you missed the conversation and are lost. But what was more interesting to me were two things, first my reaction to the first picture, and the wider stance of what art is and then the comments I read about the pictures and the wider stance of what that means to me.

When I first saw the picture my initial reaction was sadness. I didn't read what the artist was trying to convey, I didn't see it as a bigger political statement which was her intention. I saw something that related more to my life than hers. I saw a woman curled on her side in bed whose period had started. It struck me as a woman who hadn't wanted her period. Who maybe had thought she was pregnant, or had been pregnant. It was the body posture of her, with her back to the camera. The curl in on herself. The unexpected bleeding. To me it was a moment of sadness, of loss. A lot of us have been there. Then I read what the artist was doing and it didn't fit my perception of her picture.

Which is what happens with art all of the time. As the creator you have a vision. You have a message that you are trying to get out there but once it's released it becomes part of something else. I see it happen with stories I have written. When I leave the message a little more vague there are times when people who read it take away something completely different than what I intended. It's interesting sometimes how different it is.

I remember fighting with my Honors English teacher junior year in high school about a poem. She wanted me to see that it CLEARLY was about parental abuse and I didn't see it that way at all. I could see how she did, but I didn't. And my point was that even if the author meant it that way, that was his life experience, not mine, with my life experience it meant something else and once the poem was out in the wild it became its own thing. The artist only had control of it up until the point that he published it. Art is supposed to make you feel, but doesn't have to make you feel what everyone else does. She did not agree and I did not get a good grade on that paper.

But I also never changed my mind.

So yes, the photographer was trying to make a political statement with her pieces, and what I got out of it was a grieving mom image. But either way her art moved me.

So then on to the commentary around the pieces. And it boiled down mostly to two camps one camp that was saying "Look, this is a natural part of the human reproductive process and there should be no more shame around it." and the other in the, "GROSS!! THIS IS GROSS!!" camp.

The level of vitriol that started slinging back and forth between these two was amazing. Now I will give you that blood is a hard thing for a lot of people to look at and the other pictures in her series were more focused on the blood. But the reality is that for most women for a large chunk of their lives this is the reality. We bleed. I've written about it before. It's not a fun few days. It can be painful. It can wipe you out. But it also is natural and normal and shouldn't make you feel shame.

You know the shame. The shame that makes you hide your pads when company comes over, even though right by the toilet is the most convenient place for them to be. The shame where you palm the tampon on the way to the bathroom because god forbid anyone know you are menstruating right now. The utter humiliation if you bleed through and have a stain on a sheet or on your clothes. We are taught at a young age not to discuss our periods, not to mention them, not to even give a hint as to what is happening. White pants and BLUE liquid in the commercials. Ugh.

And I saw this shame reinforced through the comments. People were insulted that she showed her blood. Like it was a personal affront to them. The men and women that were horrified that she dare show that side of her. Though if she had taken a picture showing her boobs they would have been fine. Naked is cool, clothed with a period stain? Not so much. Sex is great, reproduction is shameful.


How does that even make sense? But it's true.

Walking in to a store to buy pads is torture when you are a teenager. Especially if the only check out line has a male cashier. Hell, forget teenager, I know grown women who won't do it. They will fill a cart with other items so they can hide the box under them. Because they are embarrassed. Because society has taught them that it's embarrassing. Religions have reinforce this message throughout time as well. Unclean. And we have kept it up. We teach our daughters to hide and to be embarrassed. We tell them that they shouldn't say that they feel like crap today because their period started but maybe say, "Aunty Flo is here so I need to stay home." To not be able to walk in to a store and buy what you need without a moment of hesitation.

And there is something really wrong with that.

And her art did a great job highlighting that.

I think she deserves an A in that class.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Here we go...

Okay, back from mini vacation and BOOM in to April.

What all did I say I needed to get done? Write a ton of blogs and read a ton of books? Sounds good.

This will be my planning and still a little fuzzy brained from the trip blog.

Blogs I want to cover:
New Orleans
Religious freedoms
The gray lady
Bar people-horoscopes
How scary would that be

Some of those are fiction, some are non-fiction.

I've got 4 books loaded on the Kindle right now. Made the mistake of starting with a Stephen King book, which was a good book, don't get me wrong, but it was pretty close to 1,000 pages long so 3 books worth of time for one book worth of credit. I need some short fast reads. Not that I would game the system, but I'm totally gaming the system.

Books are easy to find, blog ideas are scarcer. But those also tend to pop up when I am least expecting them. A little treadmill time, a little cleaning fume action, and I should be good to go.

Not today, obviously, today I am multi-focused so all you get is a random collection of ideas that might become something later.

And also you get a question, any requests out there? Fiction, non-fiction? Anything you want me to write about that I haven't? Not that I am looking at a way to beef up my numbers a bit in any way...

Haiku a Day in May? That would get the numbers up!! Totally game that system....

I mean...No.

That would be wrong...

And if April goes well, not necessary. But if it doesn't...

Writing blogs becomes
Five, seven, five on repeat
Until I catch up.