New Year, Old Zealand (lots of pictures)

1 Jan

Timeline: Very end of December

After a layover in China gone awry (due to the budget flight and midnight being a difficult time of day to figure out), I felt like I’d experienced China. And while I didn’t leave the airport – I feel as though this trip gets an honorable mention.

December 30th:
Once again, Rachel and I landed in New Zealand. Where we, once again rented a car from Scotty’s.

In the morning, when we were still being healthy, we used booty bands and then criss crossed all across the northern island in our Tilda (that’s a car brand) when, exactly when we wanted to, on December 31st, we ended up in Gisborne, at the Rhythm and Vines festival.

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New phone camera making all the difference.

 

After a memorable walk from our campground to the EDM event, we couldn’t help but notice…Christian rock on the main stage. 

 

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She’s not born again.

 

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Here for it.

 

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Rockin’ out.

 

All too soon the sun starting going down and during our final sunset of 2019 celebrations, we met Carla and her husband.

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My last sunset of the decade.

 

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Girls will be girls

 

…and eventually found the wellness tent. Which was my favorite thing because, duh, I like wellness.

They had a life sized chess board inside!

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Meet Nico, a formidable opponent.


Nico is from Chile and goes heavy on the playful, challenging banter with gems such as “I’ll burn you with my coolness.”  
We played for a joyful hour. It was my favorite thing we did all night; a great match but in the end, I did get burned with his coolness; I lost.  The 2019 chess champ was Nico. There, I said it in writing.

 

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The countdown (twice).

 

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Last photo of 2019

1am was bed time. It was home sweet bach for me and Rae ❤️

 

January 1st, 5am: The alarm went off and Rachel and I headed to the beach to see the absolute first sunrise of this decade. It was breath taking:

 

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Is that 20/20 vision, 4 eyes?

magical,
’mi

2019

30 Dec

Friends. Family. Strangers. It’s that time again… a new year.  Not just a new year, a new decade

 

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2 out of the 3 Travi

 

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a dream in the dreamflat


I spent the first 8 months of 2019
 soaking up joy with my best friends (before spending the rest of the year working non-stop).

 

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Colling in love

 

I maintained my resolution to travel less, visiting 12 united states:

 

  1. Pennsylvania (shout out to The National Dog Show)
  2. Wisconsin (twice because COLLEEN HAD BEA)
  3. Washington — Hi Patrick
  4. Oregon
  5. California
  6. New York
  7. Massachuestts (twice)
  8. Kentucky
  9. Minnesota
  10. Nevada (I’m talkin’ Vegas for a movie premier
  11. Ohio

And
   12.  Nashville, Tennessee

 

And (only) 6 countries:

  1. United States
  2. The north island of New Zealand (with a dozen blog posts)
  3. Guatemala…more like Guatabena
  4. Ethiopia  — a dream-thiopia
  5. Djibuti — bonus country

And

    6.  Togo — solo 

 

If you’re curious, here’s the link to a compiled list of (almost) all of the countries I’ve ever been to:
https://sammitravis.com/2019/01/29/all-the-countries-ive-visited/

 

Other notable 2019 moments:
Or, two-thousand-note-teen moments:

  • When the whole gang got together — all of my besties in one place — EVEN KATIE BARBARO who surprised me by coming back from her world tour — to go to the Furries where “It’s lit! What do you want me to do? It’s lit!”, I was gifted a full fursuit and, for the first time ever, I walked in the parade 😻
  • An INCREDIBLE May 
  • 32, celebrating with best friends I adore
  • Harder months like August and September when the people closest to me moved, forever changing my experience in Pittsburgh. 
  • And a magical Christmas where I celebrated the holiday (for what felt like the first time) as an adult.

 

Now? Onto 2020. I’ll be ringing in the new year in New Zealand. Rachel and I will watch the first sunrise of the upcoming decade over the ocean — from our home sweet bach.

 

 

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Raising a cup of hot miso soup to another year.


AdventureSam is currently in Shanghai, China on a layover, so if you’re reading this in North America, she’s basically writing this from the future.

 

Taking off,
‘mi

 

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The Dog Show **co-authored

18 Nov

Get ready for one of my favorite blog posts ever:

 

I wanted to take Collin on a Mystery Trip.  I love to plan them and I’d had the idea for this one back in August. Collin said yes.  We were going to go ON A MYSTERY ROADTRIP!!!

**Hey, Collin here. I’ve been told several times how much I like surprises. I’m still trying to figure that out. However I was completely willing to let Sammi book this Mystery Trip. How could I not? She’s the most well-traveled person I know and it’s good for me to get out of the house. That being said, I would have never expected what was in store for us. 

 

[On Friday, the two of us prepared by having a pre-mystery-trip photoshoot in the bathroom (naturally) with matching clothes (naturally), a hangout with Emily and Laura which included a snail-mail gift card sent to make up for slow service, and a Club Cafe show where Col needed a bouncer. **This is true. Thankfully, after about 20 minutes of verbal assault, one of the bouncers came back from his vape break and apathetically asked the gentleman and his loving wife to leave.]

 

The next day, the two of us packed up the car.  WHERE WERE WE GOING??? You might ask (and Collin did ask)… **I did ask. A lot. 

 

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Mystery Trip starter pack. 
**I mean how cute is this? Who wouldn’t want to travel with this angel

 

We left at 9:55am, at which time morale was high. But after several closed turnpikes and five hours of driving, the captain’s log read: “Delirium is setting in. Rations are low — we have consumed nothing but wasabi peas, grapes, and peanut butter whipped cream that was meant for the garbage.” 

 

**It’s hard to remember who said that. Was it me? Was it Sammi? Was it a voice in one of our heads? I do know that we were bordering full mutaney, and though I prefer not to stop often, it was necessary. We found the closest gas station, walked around for a bit, and remembered why we love each other. 

 

As we were getting close Col still wasn’t sure where we were going. Was I tricking him? 

**Sammi revealed that we were going to the National Dog Show. I didn’t believe her. I thought it was a false lead to shake me off the scent. This is a paranoia you can only get from watching too much Law and Order as a child. 

 

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THE NATIONAL DOG SHOW #WOOF 
**She was telling the truth

 

Spoiler alert:  They don’t film this ON Thanksgiving. **Thank God or we wouldn’t have gone.

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A Nederlandse Kooikerhondje – dare you to say that 5 times fast. 
**Heart. Melted

 

And even though I’d planned this trip, I was just as in awe as Collin. We wandered around to take in all the paws, tails, and ears as well as the side conversations like:

“Yeah, I got a new outfit. God forbid they actually judge the dogs.”

and

“My dog’s been getting a lot of thank yous– you know, best in group, best in breed, thank you.”

 

**The amount of drama and gossip we heard was unprecedented. Before this, I’d never seen a woman dressed like Jackie Kennedy, carrying a Dachshund, complaining about another dog’s attitude. This was an overload of stimulus. Like seeing the Vegas Strip for the first time, or Time Square. Truly awe inspiring.

 

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Who let the dogs out, amiright?
**Faces of two people happy to be out of the car

 

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First place for cuteness

 

We wandered for quite some time, not knowing exactly what was going on. After speaking with two (**extremely) unhelpful ushers, and a helpful man who worked the jumbotron, Col and I started to get the hang of things. **We were getting our paws under us, you could say.** We headed to the main event area where the judges were picking which hound dog was the best in group.

 

 

There were mounds of hounds (adorable). And Col and I were both introduced to dog breeds that we didn’t even know existed like the petit basset griffon vendéen (**imagine saying that when people asked). Then it was the working class dogs time to shine.  Go dogs, go, work the room!

 

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Line up dem pups

 

The event was fascinating, but it was crowded and they were obviously running behind schedule.  Col and I were famished so, after a little deliberation, we dipped out early to get a yummy burger and discuss what to do next. 

**At this point we felt pleased with what we saw. We had no hard intentions of returning, that night or ever again. 

 

Hours had passed.  Was the dog show still going on?  Should we jump on trampolines in a glow-in-the-dark environment (our other option)?  We had driven this far…”let’s check in at what’s going on at the dog show one more time.” Col dropped me off to peek inside and see if it was still happening.  It was after 8pm and I popped inside …and ran immediately outside with news. “BEST IN SHOW IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW!” I said exuberantly.  So many parking spots were open to us! Had people left?! We scandalously parked in the judges’ spot.

**I was thrilled just to be able to park near the front door. So I was happy to go back in. 

Col and I entered the arena and got good seats on the side we wanted when WE NOTICED THAT THE BEST IN SHOW HADN’T EVEN STARTED YET!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!!

 

**The lack in communication and delay in the schedule were shocking for the prestige of this event. But it couldn’t have worked out better.  


As the realization dawned on us…the show was running 3 hours late and we were about to see the best part …we noticed that there were EVEN MORE SEATS OPEN THAN WE HAD FIRST THOUGHT!

We snuck up to the third row.  THE THIRD ROW!!!!!

 

“We are definitely going to be on TV.” Col whispered as I squeezed his hand. It was EXCITING. Honestly, this was living!  A Mystery Trip? A TV credit? Adventure? Love? Dogs? Am I the best girlfriend ever? 

 

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I’ll answer my last question with a photo.
**I’ll answer the last question with a yes. She is the best girlfriend ever.

 

The best in show event WAS THRILLING!! A week before it aired on “live” TV, Collin and I had the honor of watching Thor, the bulldog, win best in show for being the bulldoggiest bulldog out of all the other bulldogs (and other breeds).

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Celebrity sighting! Thor’s owner!
**He was not as flattered to get a picture with us as we had hoped

 

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The happiest duo watching the goodest pups.

 

The next day, we woke up still giddy.  How could we not?! And we hadn’t had enough!   We went to Day 2 of The National Dog Show. Where, ultimately, we finally left BEYOND satisfied — THRILLED with our weekend — and I still had one more thing planned … 

 

Indoor skydiving! **What a world we live in…

 

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Arms straight. Legs bent. Spit on my chin. Perfect form.
**A vision of pure beauty.

 

We got in the car for our long drive back home, grateful for a weekend away, a flexible travel schedule, something to look forward to, and forever memories. I may have even have found a new favorite dog – the Irish setter.  The Mystery Trip was an undeniable success.  

**I couldn’t have said it better myself. If you would’ve asked me before this, “Would you like to go to the National Dog Show?” I would’ve said, “Who are you?” But that’s what Sammi Travis does. She’s a creator of experiences. You don’t just go and see something with her, you live it. I have become almost unbearable now in the way I talk about dogs. I’m interested in their breed and gate and bone structure. Short of taking one of the dogs home, that is the best souvenir I could have. The memory of the National Dog Show and plans to go back. 

 

 

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Best in show
**I mean come on! Even in a red jumpsuit she looks stunning

 

Here’s to a new Thanksgiving tradition,
‘mi  **and Col

 

NYC, what is it about you?

4 Nov

(As I hit post on this, once again, I’m in New York City.  But this blog takes us back to the beginning, back to October.)

Collin, as you (may) already know, had moved to Astoria, Queens, in New York City to follow his dreams and the two of us were long overdue for a visit.  

 

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Home.

 

I took an overnight mega bus to the city that never sleeps and made SURE to set myself up for success (I even bought two seats next to each other so that I could curl up and try to comfortably sleep). Even with legal amounts of melatonin, it didn’t work.   By the time I got to New York City, I felt MEGA car sick from the mega bus.  I ducked into a flower shop to appreciate their fresh air and purchased white flowers for all the boys. #alwaysbewooing

 

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Can you say Stud flat?

 

Collin met me off of the train, we hurried to see his apartment, and then… it was off on an adventure!!  Collin had planned a secret mystery date that was starting soon!

 

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Our first subway ❤

 

Turns out, we were heading to The Met; cool! And not only were we going to The Met but… we were also going to go on a Harry Potter tour!

“Disclaimer: None of the sights you will see here were actually in either the movies or the books. You’ll just use your imagination.” – Our tour guide.  

Col and I looked at each other and smiled. We love making eye contact.  This was going to be funny.  Soon, we started seeing Harry Potter imagery everywhere.  The staircase.  The doors (is that a griffyn… door?!). The chandeliers.   It was a private tour with a Harry Potter expert as my handsome date.  10 (more) points for Collin!

We built up quite an appetite and went somewhere close by for lunch – Thai food – and headed back to the apartment where I met Chester, Brandon, Dahlia, Carla, and hugged Ray.  Apparently, this was the most people that’d ever been in the Stud flat. 

In the evening, we got ready for Halloween. I was Carmen SAMdiego. “That’s what they call me.”  “Who calls you that?”  Collin was a stylish Waldo.

 

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FOUND HIM!

 

 

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First name: Where

 

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Ray Za-PAW-dni

 

We ended our day the best way possible.  Together.
Walking home, eating pizza, and falling asleep.

The next day(s) were perfect.

 

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The bluest sky, the biggest phone

 

Activities during our weekend included: walking around multiple parks including Socrates Sculpture Park and Central Park (is the New York City marathon going on or do they keep those signs up all year?), crying in a delicious bagel shop (Col was just there for the ride); holding hands, playing, falling more in love, and EATING all the treats (I’m talkin’ healthy bowls, steak, Greek desserts, hot chocolate from Max Brenner, gelato, mini cupcakes, cookies and milk).   On the street, I saw a guy with a sign that said “$20 to punch me in the face.” It was a moral dilemma that I never thought I’d experience. 

 

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Happy couple in the big Apple… The Big HAPPLE

 

To celebrate our anniversary we walked 8 miles  — say 8! — lol jk, it was over 10.

 

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Happy Anniversa-tree

 

We ate dinner at an all-vegetarian Indian restaurant called Night Music where I ordered the Tea Swift <3. And I GOT A BONUS HOUR (thanks, daylight savings), which I used to watch the Steelers win their baseball game. 

Back at the apartment, we drank the best kind of wine and the best kind of popcorn.  IT WAS CLEARLY THE BEST KIND OF WEEKEND.  We laughed in bed where I learned how funny it is to watch someone (Collin) try to put something on a shelf while they are laying upside down.

We capped off one of the nights at a QED party.

Before it was time for me to go back to Pittsburgh – for now – Collin and I ate (more) pizza, had (more) bagels, did more walking, more listening, more talking, more loving, more dreaming.

 

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When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie… that’s amore ❤

 

A(nother) long walk in NYC was how we spent our last night.  Which, at the risk of sounding redundant, was perfect. A well-deserved (delicious) bottle of wine, Sac’s Pizza, and a to-die-for mushroom appetizer. 

And since I was a miserable lump en route to NYC, to get me back to Pittsburgh, Col impressively used his connections to book a super cheap Jet Blue flight. I got the royal treatment on the airplane and even snagged some extra leg room. Take that, Mega Bus.

 

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Back to the ‘burgh.

 

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Don’t forget to chase me when we …. …….. (you remember the sign?)

 

My heart is in New York,
‘mi

Rocktober (an October that rocked)

27 Oct

In my opinion, (and even though it’s over now), this was the most beautiful autumn on record.

 

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Those colors are unbe-leaf-able.

 

And, even though change was in the air (see September slump) I found ways to enjoy the most gorgeous fall to date. Hey, did someone say date? (I did!) A solo date where I treated myself to award winning, boneless wings on Mt. Washington before a romantic walk, party of one, to make some unexpected friends.

 

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These are the new friends I was bragging about. Aren’t they dears?

 

Later that month I rented a vehicle (’cause mine sounds like a bad race car) and headed to Chagrin Falls, Ohio to check out (another!) premier of The Ringmaster!  I admired leaves on the way, and admired Chagrin Falls when I got there, meeting up with Zach (the producer/star!) and Andy (hi Andy!).  We had a really nice time in Chagrin Falls; it felt like Stars Hollow but, you guessed it, with a waterfall.  

 

 

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Chagrin and bear it

 

We grabbed onion rings (which weren’t as good as Larry’s) before the movie and waved to Kat’s mom.

After the show, we had a FABULOUS Italian dinner starting with pizza (it was Friday night, after all), including the best eggplant Zach’s ever had, and returning a soup which showed me that I don’t have to dim my sparkle.  I thought it was an absolutely fantastic night.

 

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Pizza, the only love triangle I ever want.

 

It was SO FUN to see Andy and Zach get along so well (not like I was surprised), but it was cool to see two different parts of my life interacting.  In fact, by the end of dinner, Zach declared himself ‘President of the “Fan-dy” club’, and the two of them helped me solve my 5-kid dilemma. Should I just get pregnant with them all at the same time!? (Collin: ‘No.’) Overall, it was a wonderful night full of laughter, a fun movie, delicious food, and friendship/fandom. 

The next day, it was just me and Zach. We drank fruit water (exactly what it sounds like) while enjoying a perfect hot/cold combo by the fire.  After a matching breakfast, I drove back to Pittsburgh and took advantage of my easy to drive rental car by stopping at multiple grocery stores (Aldis and Trader Joes). 

Back from that short trip, I continued to throw myself into work — it was really “paying” off.  As in, I had some pretty large bank deposits despite mourning the destruction of my favorite parking garage.  And whenever I would have a particularly tough night (honestly, it was most of them) Col sent me the best, most encouraging texts.  ❤

 

And then later, as I recovered from a mini surgery, Collin upped the ante on his encouragement (and fun) and sent me on a scavenger hunt from afar! This, again, cheered me up, as did the Hello Fresh meal I tried (Blue Apron, it’s not what it looks like!) 

 

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Sarri not sorry

 

 

Here’s a QUICK SHAMELESS PROMOTION for TikToktober:  Patrick, my best friend, is a hilarious, dedicated middle school teacher who’s cray cray for Tay Tay and, even though the month is over, you should go and follow him.

 

 

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“What, like it’s hard?” — Legally Blonde

 

Other highlights?  Burger night with Emily when I really needed it. And a visit from Collin where I got to watch him and laugh.

My favorite quote from the weekend:  “I don’t think you’re ready.”
“WHERE ARE YOUR CREDENTIALS? I’M READY.”

 

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smoosh

 

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Please disregard the affair I had with Hello Fresh.  This is one of my favorite Blue Apron’s.

 

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Never knew what peace felt like until you wrapped me in your arms.

 

Rocktober had another notable burger moment; the Burgatory Bash!  Emily, Laura, and heaps of other friends all got together, ate more than we could, bought food with tickets, compared delicious hamburgers, forgot which was which and tried again, almost won trivia, and browsed Barnes and Nobel to purchase more games.

 

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Go green!

 

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Dexter’s not catty.

 

After Collin left I rented another car, drove to FL, and saw my parents PLUS Aunt Betsy and Uncle Marvin  ❤  The leaves were absolutely stunning. Can’t say it enough.  And the trees losing their greens inspired us to play a game of photosynthesis while the (almost adult) kittens watched.

 

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I spy with my little eye…something gorgeous!

 

When I got back to Pittsburgh I received fluffy socks in the mail, reconvened Friday lunches with Emily ❤ ❤ , discovered Spotify, stopped making meal kits (it’s not as much fun to cook for one), and booked tickets (back) to New Zealand with Rachelle. 

Rocktober continued with:

  • Helen’s first paid gig in Seattle! So proud!! 
  • A phone call with Patrick that lasted for 3 hours
  • The Thai place with mum for dinner
  • Dexter hijacking my heart: Dexter, I loved seeing you. (And I did). 
  • Pitt’s Homecoming where I met Drea and saw Pitt through the eyes of Sour Patch kids, free food, music, sing-alongs, laser shows, and smoke. 
  • Planning a couple’s Halloween costume 
  • And a Halloween Party at Rae’s. I came in third place in the costume contest (thank you!) But the highlight was when I got to pet Enzo, watch baseball, and drink what she drank. It was a pleasure meeting her friends and family — Rachel, a great host, always makes me feel so welcomed 

 

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Pitt giving me laser vision.

 

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The Big RaeBowski

 

“Hey Siri, play smooth jazz,”
‘mi

September slump

30 Sep

September was bound to be hard.

I spent most days coming home to an empty house — to a dreamflat that no longer housed my best friend or my boyfriend.  I am proud of them both for moving to follow their dreams, but it’s difficult to miss someone; it’s painful.

I threw myself into work. I worked all the time which was bittersweet.  It is fun to make money, but the atmosphere’s so loud and pulsing. It’s fake, exhausting, and repetitive. To smile so much, to deal with rejection from people I don’t even like, and to interact with others who want to take and take was emotionally draining.  Not to mention having to shower twice a day.  In September, I woke up still tired.  I do love my job but burn out happened quickly.

It was hard to get recharged.  There was no-one to come home to. Sometimes, after work, I would just lay on the floor because I was too tired to shower, but too filthy to get into bed; a different perspective of the same room.

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Dream flat from the floor.

 

I needed to find something fulfilling to do with my days. I turned to blog writing, but I was just reliving the past to where it felt like the world was becoming smaller; the universe was reducing possibilities until all that was left was sustenance.  I learned to never (ever) write as many blogs about one country as I did for New Zealand.

I thought about reading or free writing about the future instead of the past. But the days in September were a grind– the white noise of contemporary American life.

I spent a lot of time Face-timing, especially Col. He told me he was sleeping in his “office bed,” and that only when we are together does it feel like home.  I agreed and spent September in my own office bed (or office floor).  I made a few solo Blue Apron meals until I canceled them, went to the gym, and spent heaps of time cleaning (the laundry room got a great wipe down).  I did grown up things like visit the dermatologist and took my car for a much-needed check-up.  Mouse sounded as horrible as I felt.  And the dreamflat porch was in absolute shambles.  Literally falling apart.  I rent, so it’s okay, but my house’s outsides matched my insides. 

 


 

Woe is me.
But the month wasn’t
all bad. Even though the dream flat was lonely, the stove got fixed and is no longer tilting backwards.  A small victory.

I still spent lots of Friday afternoons having lunch with wee Emily, which was joyful.  One time I got to see her use her hair as a hand towel. Apryl, Erin, and Laura also made casual appearances. Em and I were making our way around the fountain clock.  During one lunch, we went to a place where “everything here is fried.”

That night, wee Emily invited me to see Matteo Lane in the Southside, and, since I was a flight risk, Emily graciously spent the whole day with me to make sure I wouldn’t bail. ❤ Good friend.  The show was fantastic.  After, we all went out for a drink and talked about TINP as a tattoo —  “cus I’m a T.I.N.P”.

 

Some more good September Standouts include:
-A super fun hang with Trisha and Joe!
-Lunch with Momma Candy and Angie
-Collin asking me for notes on his sets ❤
-That one day at work where all my favorites were there (briefly).
-Mine and Col’s longest scooter ride to date
-Dessert at the farmers market with fresh figs
-Crazy nights at work with rich people, including a food tab that I got part of to go
-A sleep over with my mom plus thrift store shopping, leftovers, and Tilapi-yum 
-Pumpkins
-A new kind of face mask
-My skinned knees healed
Patrick graciously ushered me into his fantasy football league.  

 

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Friends 🙂

 

I also saw Col in person!  We went to 7 Springs where I helped him with a mic swap. He said it was his best trip there yet #honored. Although, he also said that the last time he was there they put a dead skunk in his room, so it wasn’t exactly a tough competition.

We went for a fun hike on the Watercress trail and asked for directions at the start.  There was also bath time and a memorable moment when someone forgot their girlfriend’s name (it wasn’t Collin).  The next morning we enjoyed our free breakfast tickets with a fantastic spread (including imposter whipped cream).

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Giving them pumpkin’ to talk about.

 

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I can’t believe IT IS butter.

 

One Thursday, while Collin was in Pittsburgh, we caught a 10pm movie — our first movie in theaters together. We were the only ones in that entire show and there was so much LOVE and genuine kindness between the two of us (#always). We ordered kettle corn with butter (both a game-changer and a night-ruiner), cherry coke, and hazelnut M&Ms, which we enjoyed from the comfort of one single reclining chair.

The next day, we celebrated Hanna’s “birthday” (read: free dessert).  It was fried ice cream, there was a Pilsbury doughboy moment, and ice cream was everywhere.  Happens to the best of us on our birthdays!

Collin and I also drove up for a quick trip to Cleveland, Ohio for a crowd work show. We listened to Audible on the way and I got to see my dear friend Andy.

 

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Pro tip: boyfriends who keep you laughing

 

At the end of the month, some trees started to change colors – becoming a vibrant red depending on, what seems like, their trees personalities #Treesonalities.
A silver lining to a less than great month? It’s going to be a gorgeous fall.

 

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Col ‘planting’ himself in my living room.

 

I’ll leave you with some contemplative words, ‘cus it was that kind of month:

 

“As I’m aging, the bliss of the novel gives way to a yearning for the familiar. I leaned to travel when I felt it. And I still do feel it. But less now.  Every journey has its end. The trick, of course, is to recognize it.” – J Maartin.

 

But all joking aside, even though I’m not joking.
Going to therapy soon — you guys need anything?
‘mi

Trippin’ with Molly

8 Sep

Molly and I missed each other, so we decided to take a trip together because that is truly the natural course of action. Since we do, also, like other people, we decided to make it a solo trip that involved others along the way (semi-solo trip).

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Oh, heyyyyyy!

 

To kick it off, I flew to Minnesota for a gorgeous stay in her childhood home. It felt like we were in a treehouse during a rainstorm AND we got to hang out with her parents, Betsy and Dooey.  I played tennis with Dooey who figuratively and literally schooled me (once he beat me, he graciously gave me lessons on serving). 

We also visited with cousin Lainey and her two wonderful children, during which time, I, as per Collin’s Theory*, re-decided I would like to have 5 children of my own.

*Collin’s Theory: Scientifically based, mathematical, foolproof formula which proposes that every time I see well-behaved children I want some of my own. 

(Sammi + Well-behaved Child = yes please, I’ll take 5)

After seeing my future, Molly and I went to go get froyo at a place called Cherry Berry, which sounded more like a chapstick flavor than a name for a froyo place (or any kind of eatery). We didn’t get cherry or berry flavor, and we also avoided the cotton candy flavor because PRO TIP: If you get cotton candy flavor, no matter what your second flavor is, it’ll also taste like cotton candy (note: this rule also applies if you just get cotton candy flavor and no 2nd flavor but who would do that?).

Unbeknownst to us until it was happening, we took our froyo to the corner of a busy intersection and danced on the side of the road while we ate it. #LivingOurBestLives

And maybe it was because we were cold from the froyo, or maybe just because it’s a great froyo pairing, we got some matching socks from Target after finishing our treat. Afterwards, we went to see a movie, but first I “buried the lead”  in the one we chose not to see. The movie that we DID see was that Bruce Springstein one called Blinded by the Light. When the credits rolled, we whispered, “Do you like Bruce’s music more or less after that..?” 

The next day, we took a family visit to the cemetery and then Mol and I rented a small car for our roadtrip. Where they tried to give us an “upgrade, a bigger car using more fuel?? NO THX. 

In the car, we talked about things you say as you hang up the phone to prove your integrity (i.e., “She’s such a nice girl,” but before the phone is put down). Unrelated, Molly told me that “the Jewish part of me is a boy”.

Car ride mood:  Sorry, I can’t hear you over the same Bruce Springstein song.

The first stop on our road trip was Culvers.  We got some custard and butter burgers and then….. The next stop was La Crosse, Wisconsin to MEET BABY BEA!!!!!!!

 

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When Bea met Sammi.

 

 

 

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Sammi + Well-behaved baby Bea = yes, please, I’ll take 5+5

 

Now I want 10 babies!!!!  Bea is the most perfect baby I have ever met. I love her!  She has that sparkle  — you can tell how special she is!  And while Bea was the star of the show, we were also there to hang out with Bea’s mom aka my best friend aka Colleen aka Col.

We stayed at Colleen’s house and had dinner with Colleen, Ben, and Bea. We’d brought Colleen the coolest, sensitive plant (#wewereobsessed) that curled up for the night. And for dessert, we’d brought froyo (BYOFROYO). While distributing dessert, we found out that Ben’s first job was at Cold Stone, so he flavor-profiled our choices and added graham crackers to the table to make our froyo experience more decadent.  Yum!

It was such a fun night, and later at bedtime, I talked to Col (but boyfriend Col, not Mama Col) over the phone and belly laughed until I cried.

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Bea wearing a BEE shirt?! Are you kidding me!?!!!

 

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3 Peas in a Pod.

 

The next day, we did role reversal and instead of 3 men and a baby, we performed 3 women and a baby (and Buffy) as we drove to see Colleen’s mom, Mary, at the lakehouse. 

 

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#SquadGoals

 

We hung out at the house for a while, I got to chat with Mary’s husband, Paul, and get a tour of the new, awesome garage (con-garage-ulations!).  Mary graciously watched Bea while Molly, Col, and I went kayaking on the lake. We didn’t get very far, but we had tons of fun and shared stories about other water experiences. We wanted to talk (and succeeded) but at the expense of coordinated kayaking; we ran into each other for the sake of good conversation.

After our amazing visit with Mary and Paul, we drove Colleen, Bea, and Buffy back to Col’s house and said our “see you laters.”

…And then Molly and I were back on the road!  We stopped in Madison to pick up a new backpack for Molly, which she wore like a second skin.  I was so excited to be there for the moment #LoveAtFirstZip.


We had way more time than we realized in Milwaukee, which, we discovered “seemed like a city with no money but had personality.” -Molly-waukee.

We learned that Megan the Stallion was playing.  We didn’t hear her show but we did see all of her fans dressed up just how we like ‘em.

 

The next morning, we had a great food order:

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A feast for our eyes!

 

Followed by a Lime scooter ride that took all of my concentration.  Not featured in this video— the lake.

https://youtu.be/u-frqhLKRCo

Finally, before heading to the airport, Molly and I found the best cream (seriously) and returned the rental.  Once at the airport (here we come, VEGAS), we sipped on some strong coconut water while I read a lengthy Taylor Swift article.

We got picked up in Sin City by Zach, a friend and the producer of The Ringmaster– a movie that Molly had co-directed with her boyfriend, Dave — AND, the movie we were in Vegas to see premier!!! (Hi Zach!)

 

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Hangin with the (film) crew

 

Zach was so nice!  We stayed at his house (THANKS, ZACH) — and said “never mind” to the Airbnb we’d booked.  

On Friday, we visited Puppy Town (wondered if the Chinese restaurant next door eats them after they grow up). We lied– or maybe told half-truths– in order to play with the puppies. I said I wanted two because you had to say you were going to buy one if you want to play with them. The truth is, I really do want two…

 

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Sammi+ well-behaved puppy = yes, please, I’ll take 2.

 

 

The next day, we prepared for the premier by eating a breakfast of champions at a diner named Blueberry Hill. In honor of the name, we got a blueberry muffin, amongst other things.

 

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The perfect order, if we do say so ourselves.

 

That afternoon, Molly’s boyfriend Dave, aka the co-director, drove in from LA with our friend Chris to meet us for the premier. (Hi Dave and Chris! See you soon :))

And that night, we headed to the Cinemark movie theater where they were holding the Silver State Film Festival!!

 

 

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On the way!

 

Before the Vegas showing, the Ringmaster had one other premier in New York, where it did really well. There’d be another one in Ohio, where I’d go and meet Zach, and then another one in LA and two in Minneapolis. QUITE a well-traveled movie.

Anyways, this Saturday night premier was SO COOL. It was at The Orleans hotel and had a red carpet!

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Honored to be part of the entourage– #Hontorage

 

The Cinemark theater was nice —  it had reclining seats AND sold popcorn.  The candy that we snuck in was a big hit, but not as big as the movie, which WON THE AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY AT THE SILVER STATE FILM FESTIVAL. NO BIG DEAL.

 

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And so it begins…

 

After the movie, Chris and I had a hankering for onion rings (Zach, Molly, and Dave weren’t affected anymore since they’ve eaten the best ones in the world). So we all went downstairs to Friday’s (the American embassy) to grab some grub.

The next morning, Molly and I went with Pace for a solo run (to work off those onion rings) and then had a hang while we waited for everyone to wake up so that we could go for all-you-can-eat sushi. I wandered away briefly, tried to keep it together, and then ate all I could eat.

The group then headed to Planet 13! And we happened to see the drones but then later found ourselves in another celestial realm– the COOLEST (biggest) gem shop ever!  It was amazing– the colors, the temperature, the textures!  Everything about those crystals was mesmerizing.

 

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After staring for so long, this crystal was like, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer.” So I did.

 

I felt like being impressed some more…so it was suggested that we go and visit some dolphins. Everyone was down, because… who wouldn’t be?  It was a great idea-olphin!

When we pulled up at the hotel, I knew JUST how to help. Still strapped in with a seatbelt, I opened my car door and yelled (to the valet):  “WHERE ARE THE DOLPHINS?!”

 

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…more like DolphFUN

 

Here’s what I learned:  Dolphins are a matriarchal society, and that in this particular aquarium, they have 15 dolphins and over 50 staff.  We saw a baby, a momma, and a grandmother.

While we were there, we also saw a human girl who had a relationship with each individual dolphin, a biblical Siegfried and Roy making a tablet proclaiming they were Noah (weird) and a couple of actual lions (beautiful). 

Beyond the movie premier, the aquarium was a highlight. And so were the gems (I’m referring both to the crystals and my wonderful friends).

For dinner, we went to a DELICIOUS vegan restaurant because after watching the dolphins how could we not think that fish are friends.  The meal was out of this world good. Chef Kenny prepared spicy crispy “scallops,” “sea bass,” and a magical sushi “steak” roll.

 

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Dave & Chef Kenny

 

It was an all-you-can-eat kind of day. So we did it twice.

At the end of the trip, we said our goodbyes, and I thanked Zach PROFUSELY for everything he’d done and all his hospitality!! (THANKS AGAIN, ZACH)! And I headed back home, where Collin picked me up.

When my hunny had dropped me off at the airport, he said he wouldn’t finish the water bottle I’d given him until I was back with him.  I didn’t think of it again until I landed and he reminded me about what he’d said…before he finished it right then and there.

My flight was an overnight one…and I slept zero winks.  It is so exciting to go away and it is so exciting to come home.  I landed at 7am and took a nap in Collin’s arms.

Thank you to Molly, Col, and Zach for a wonderful trip!

Ringmaster ‘mi