3rd month in Quarantine. (please don’t end).

14 Jun

NOTE: I’ve been feeling torn about when to publish this blog post, not wanting to cloud any messages and posts from the throngs of people who are feeling empowered and finding their own voice.  It’s a humbling time to be alive.

In my own world, news broke that the bar where I work will be closing (again) on today (It’s Tuesday, June 30th) It was only open for 3 weeks.  I went to work (for only) one day before my desire to stay snuggled and safe in this quarantine love-bubble prevailed. I have a feeling that Collin and I will look back on this time in our lives and say that it was one of the best, so, I’m doing my best not to rush out of it.

On a totally unrelated note, it feels really, really, really good to be up writing this blog post in real-time.  Yay! Lately — and who hasn’t had free time lately, let’s be real — I’ve been re-reading past, travel posts — Germany, Kazakhstan, Australia. — along with NYT articles about our failing government and my white privilege.   With international travel being in the state that it is — I enjoy rereading my old blogs for an escape, for memories and for visuals that they conjure up.  Did you know, for example, that when I was in Greece I did a “who wore it best” Greek salad edition?  I wouldn’t have remembered it either, because my memory can’t be trusted.  But the blogs? I trust them.

I also finished editing a historical fiction novel for my old babysitter, Tonya.  It was fantastic. Well-written and interesting, it’s based in Guatemala.  I’ll let you know when she publishes it.  It made me wish I had written more when I traveled; had more details documented.  Especially from those earlier countries I visited like Cuba, Iceland, and Nepal.  Looking back, a post per country was.not.sufficient.  (Maybe one day I will publish a couple of previously unpublished blog posts, but don’t hold your breath.)

In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to know what to document; difficult to know my own place in history, which parts of the story I’m going to want to look back on, to emphasize, and what my responsibility is.  Combined with the fact that living in the moment is endlessly more fun. And these blogs – as Helen, Molly, and Patrick know — are a pain to write but a pleasure to re-read.  Will I ever want to go back and revisit these quarantine posts? It’s impossible to know, but I’m appreciating how unique of a time it is to be alive. Here’s my third post from this pandemic:

 

Home sweet home

Home sweet home base for three months non-stop.

 

May 15th, rain
Allegheny county moved to yellow!
– Yoga (on Zoom) with the best teacher.
– Shabbat Shalom, Molly and Dave.

 

May 16th
–  Trisha in the park, followed by homemade mojitos on the porch.
– Cookies, again.
– Ariann & Senneca’s, burgers and a fancy kale salad.
– Fact: Nacho cheese Doritos are the best way to start arson and have it not be detected.
– Tobo Chico = sparkling water Joey recommends.
– Babe, you look amazing in that green sweatshirt ❤

 

May 17th
Day one: Turning the air con on inside of the Dreamflat.

IMG_3402

The type of breakfast I eat, nowadays.

 

– Potted those plants in a planter that isn’t ours.
– Pasta fagioli for dinner, at Dad John’s.

 

May 18th
Currently, the most used condiment in the Dreamflat = our prized sweet & sour sauce.
– Deconstructed egg roll, for brekkie.
– Using up all of my smiles with Katie Barbaro before seeing Brian.
– Logically, no smiles for scary Brian.
– An all day hang with my favorite wee Emily. Including a cull!
– Scooter rides with both Emily and Collin ❤

 

May 19th
– Yoga
– Patrick in the great outdoors! (Burger King and Arby’s milkshakes.)
– Not completely unrelated, off brand Tums for dinner.

Notes from my time with Patrick:
– Our cars got to meet and hang out!
– A woman driving down the rural road asked:  “Are you looking for the goats?”
– Two (very) large vanilla milkshakes and two different types of fries.
– Gunshots in the distance, apparently it was turkey season.
– One FOUND Geocache and one, on the bridge, we DNF.
– We saw those goats, tho.
– Yoga mats on the road side, relaxing in the grass.
– Air hugs goodbye ❤

 

IMG_3426

Having isolation-ship time, but together.

 

May 20th
– A successful scooter AND stick shift lesson with my boyfriend.
– “Babe! There’s something going on across the street. Grab the cushion, it’s like watching real, live Cops.” – Collin, during his favorite evening to date, in quarantine.
– Our (surprise) final SUSH (for now). Congratulations on a job well done!

May 21st
– Taco salad for breakfast, YUM.
– Emily scooted by to drop off my wallet, and then spearheaded a scooter outing because it was gorgeous outside.
– Both Helen and I are now relishing the lack of stress when it comes to SUSH.

 

May 22nd
Collin did yoga five days this week!
IMG_3457.jpg

Omg, is that a new guitar?!

– The yummy dinner at Hanna’s new apartment.
– An evening porch hang with “Tinto de verano” (red wine with ice), Minn who has “never had a bad rhino”, and Bill, who texted Doug: “Collin is playing Kanye on the guitar, I think you should be here.”
IMG_3479

“Man, that was fun.” – Bill, at the end of the night, giving us a compliment.

May 23rd
Today, Col quoted yoga around the house.  HEART EYES.
– An outdoor comedy show!
– The coolest jukebox and the best slice of homemade, cherry pie.
– A (funny to me) sneezing fit.
– Wild night: Wolf of Wall Street comedy show; midgets wrestling, broken clipboards.

 

IMG_3507.jpg

Being reunited ALWAYS feels so good.

 

 

May 24th
– An early morning, making chicken salad, before we headed up to FL.

– Collin fell asleep in front of the blow dryer 😂

 

May 25th
– Col drove Mouse home (!)
– At Momma Candy’s an idyllic Memorial Day cookout, complete with cookie cake.

 

May 26th
– Emily and I did our research and proudly voted by mail.
– A double date with BELLA AND VB ❤

 

May 27th
The day my unemployment came through 🙂

IMG_3606

A long scooter ride.

– Tonya, in the SUSH waiting room 💜
– Just the two of us, with sparklers on the porch.
– Netflix: Night on earth

 

May 28th
– I put air in the tires of Pinksburgh II: You looked like you were struggling. “What about me looked like I was struggling?”
– Vegging out, watching a “live” Inside Number 9; Disney plus’ short film, Out; Taylor’s city of love concert.

 

May 29th

224B657A-BE02-436A-9A8A-FB7A07205475.jpg

See if you can spot my dinner: Matzo meal coated chicken, to die for Mac & cheese (with my favorite shaped pasta), & green beans

– Went on a 7 minute run.
– Followed #plantydroppers (and felt inspired to be the hashtag I’d like to follow).

 

May 30th
A trip! We rented a luxury Cadillac & planned to find the best ice cream in all of Ohio🍦😃 Col let me pick the music.  Our firs stop was in West Virginia at a Cherokee shop before we ended up in Zanesville, Ohio, as tourists.  First stop: Mission Oaks Gardens where we enjoyed the grounds, searched (unsuccessfully) for a Geocahe, appreciated the soft garden and both got to pee outside.

 

3D9B8D47-F504-4268-8294-87C6008D93CB

One with nature.

 

Zanesville is the former pottery capital of the world.  We saw Vasehenge, a Y bridge, and another, unsuccessful (stinky) Geocache, before our FIRST TIME IN A RESTAURANT (since the pandemic). At a place called Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl where we got, you guessed it, ice cream.  Wow. I mean, WOW!  We only tried one ice cream spot because our data was conclusive: PICTURED BELOW IS THE BEST ICE CREAM IN ALL OF OHIO!

 

EA3CE7A7-1766-486B-A9A5-B1822BFB2F94.jpg

That hot fudge is only $0.30.

 

On our way home, we visited Dillon road, along with a cool, hand-cranked river locke, and went antiquing because we’re “never going back to Zanesville again”.
“Antiquing. I’m not into it.” – Collin
“Didn’t you pick out the antique mall for us to go to?” – Sammi
“Yeah I thought we could find some cool old guns and things we could sell for thousands of dollars, but I was wrong.” – Collin

We spent the evening at Mike and Kendall’s, and wrote a yelp review:
Great people with lovely ambiance, drinks, and decor  – on Mt. Washington
<> <> <> <> <> 

 

May 31st
A lazy day
– Binge watched TV shows (including Run)
– Made cauliflower pizza (plus 3 bowls of mac & cheese)
– Used the blanket that smells like Findley Lake
– Took a nap
– Ordered DoorDash, Thai
– Mingled on the family Zoom
– And was told, accurately: “My babe has not left this couch in awhile.” – Col.
– The whole day wasn’t a waste.  Here’s a fact from Night on Earth, episode 1: Stars are 200 times dimmer than the moon. And the Moon is 4,000 times dimmer than the sun.

 

June 1st
– Col did my hair (again). What.A.Saint! Reminder: Our next apartment needs ventilation.
– THE DOLPHIN GLIMPSE phone chat!
– Marta made a book about drawing that both Patrick and I ordered.
– I cleaned the entire house, top to bottom.

 

June 2nd
Black Lives Matter.
– “Something’s going on with the washing machine, mark my words.” – Collin
– Finished Inside No. 9 and ranked all of the episodes. Our fav? Cold Comfort. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SHOW.
– Collin makes the best homemade soup.
– “How the frick did a good boy like me get the dirty glass?” – Col

IMG_3732

Patrick arrived at the Dreamflat, YAY!

 

– Scoot scoot!
– Played the hardest level of Pandemic, with 6 epidemic cards, AND WON!

 

June 3rd
When Collin does yoga with my mom MY HEART COULD EXPLODE! He’s getting so good.
– Red, White and Patrick thrift store shopping.
– Waffle cone Wednesday at Happy Days turned into a fun adventure with ice cream on the back of our scooter.  Patrick, held two cones, one was dripping: “Is this the fastest way home?”, he asked. “I’m reaching the point of overflow”.
It was joyous, I couldn’t be happier! “I love ice cream! I love the scooter! I love you guys!”
– Deconstructed egg roll for dinner, MMM!
– Tree Identification: We found our first tree by noticing the label. Hint: Look for natural context ‘clues’.
– American Sycamore? American Healthyless.
– “Dang” Re: How unique Ginkgo leaves are.
In the evening, Patrick and I talked about travel.  We re-read past blog posts and felt some of the same emotions that we got to experience while traveling. Can’t wait until we can plan another trip together!

 

June 4th
– The best breakfast with so much food, and then “Big tree fall hard.”
– Amazing, long scooter ride through River View park.
– Hours of culling with my bestie. Including…the hardest cull of our lives: Packing up the furries.
– Photosynthesis, a buzz kill (the board game not the scientific process).
– Watching Patrick’s 8th grade graduation ❤
THANK YOU FOR COMING OVER, PATRICK! LOVE YOU!!

 

June 5th
-First (and only) day back to work

 

June 6th

IMG_3765.jpg

❤ ❤ A successful FL family excursion ❤ ❤

 

June 7th

IMG_3782

Happy birthday, Pearl!

– I’m very into this plant identification app.
– Ray’s first time in the Dreamflat, welcome!
– “Do you remember when you shot a sparkler off of the porch like it was a wand?” – Ray

IMG_3814.jpg

“Yo. You wanna bite fight?” -Col

 

 

June 8th
– A planned TV day! Garth Brooks, 13th Amendment, Schitt’s Creek.
– And… all the dessert: Hot mug, frozen banana. I was in classic mouse-cookie mode.
– Spent time editing Katie’s book ❤
– “I get in trouble because my sandals aren’t working right.” – Col

 

June 9th
– Yoga
– Whenever we leave the room, on a journey: “I Forgot that You Existed”

 

 

June  10th
– Half-off day at the thrift store.
– Dead to Me (a TV show, not how I feel on the inside.)

 

June 11th

IMG_3872

That sky AND no traffic?! I’m gunna miss this place.

 

– A party at Michelle’s with Mike and Kendyll.
– Note to self: HOW GREAT WAS IT IN THAT HOT TUB?!!!
– Collin got his passport! 🙂

IMG_3884.jpg

Cheers to many more.

 

 

June 12th
– Peppi’s sandwiches, in the park
– Dumb squatter on our porch, will Collin be able to fall asleep tonight?
– Haha, had to go retrieve the letter I (accidentally) sent to the wrong address .

 

June 13th
– Watched Liz Miele’s YouTube special.
– Double date with wee Em and the Tall One in that amazing backyard. SUCH a great spot to hang out! Those lights! We missed mini-golf and almost didn’t leave.

IMG_3943

Trouble makers who love each other.

 

IMG_3948.jpg

FOUR! (as in, how many of us were on the date.)

 

June 14th
– Continual emphasis on long scooter rides.
– Played cornhole at a cookout with Bill’s dad, also named Bill.
– Martini (!) with Doug – he puts the “u” in dog. We happily hung-out as his second choice.

IMG_3969

Highest point in Allegheny County, allegedly.

 

And, just like that, we’ve wrapped up another month.
Black Lives Matter,
‘mi

Another Month in Quarantine

14 May

I have an acute awareness that it’s going to be hard to readjust to life outside of quarantine.  I anticipate going through quarantine withdrawal.  So, I’ve been obsessed with chronicling the experience.  (Which is absolutely worthless, in terms of function.)
And yet, here we are.  The truth is, I am self-isolating with a funny, happy, loving, professional comedian. And, I get to laugh all the time. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

My quarantine calendar:

April 14th
First thing’s first, I filed for unemployment. (Spoilers, I got rejected.)
– Welcome back, for one week only, Blue Apron

A15F7953-E760-4363-BC89-8F079043A025.jpg

The only thing I like better than taking pictures of food, is eating.

 

April 15th

IMG_2895

On our walk we thought caliper was a tree because it was written on tree markers. It is a not.  It is a tool for measuring.

– Beans & greens for brekkie. Banana bread with chocolate chips for dessert.
– Angie, Ziva, and coffee from the Bean Thru.
– “Plant emergency!”

4A7A857E-BEF1-4A6B-91DA-DC09A62114AC.jpg

Our very first SUSH show! I practiced.  Collin was nervous for me.

 

 

April 16th
– Binge and snack

Me: “Why are you so wired today?”
Col: “I dunno…Probably cause I drank 4 maybe 5 Dr. Pepper’s.”

IMG_2911.jpg

Fine View fitness trail.

 

“Who’s pig do we have to slaughter to get invited to your party?” – Schitt’s Creek

 

April 17th
– On our morning walk, haunting screams coming from the 6th street bridge.
– Hamburger helper on steroids, a new Blue Apron favorite.
– Well, I thought it was funny (a comedy show).

 

April 18th
Weekend vibes before a spiral into…

 

April 19th
…a black hole.

 

4/20
– Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Giant Eagle.
– My bestie, Emily, to the rescue by the aviary, with a Heineken.
– Collin made 59 cookies.

IMG_2968.jpg

A cookie making factory.

April 21st

C06B059C-A200-45EE-8107-3532602E3024.jpg

Drooling.

 

4/22 is 4/20, too
– The best breakfast I’ve ever had. Sunny side up eggs, yummy bread cooked in bacon fat, ripe avocados, sliced tomatoes, all eaten with my hands, full on messy.
– Mimosas, sub tequila
– Hey Siri, “Are birds a mammal?”  Who, who needs to know?
– SUSH
– A Patrick phone hang 🙂
– Collin, in the kitchen, making food that will make our taste buds explode.

 

IMG_3437

Look at this TALENT

 

April 23rd
– A perfect day. Again with that breakfast!
Collin started a podcast called Hell Gigs! Listen, subscribe 🙂
– Chicken tortilla soup for lunch.  Mmmm.
– A Molly hang, with notes. At 26 minutes I looked at my timer: MAY DAY.  This was the day before Molly was going to have arrived in Pittsburgh. Lesson one: Do this again. 
April 24th
– Yoga in the morning

IMG_2999.jpg

Homemade eggplant parmigiana and incredible salad.. ARE YOU KIDDING ME

 

– An Emily FaceTime with hours worth of culled clothes.

 

April 25th
– Aunt Marjean received half the envelope with no pop tabs.  5 days later, we received the other half.
– Hello Bistro.
– Hen, roasted.
– Really nice night time snuggles.

 

April 26th
– Arugula pizza and mint ice cream.  Because? It’s Sunday.
– The last episode of UnOrthodox
– The funnest painting project!

9A368453-8B81-4EEA-95D8-07D48DB3CD61.jpg

Qu-ART-antine: The best thing we’ve ever made together.

 

– A family Zoom, washing the couch cushions, and a book to edit.

 

April 27th
– Anthrocon is officially canceled.
– 126 days until move in Bae.
– A deconstructed egg roll.
– “Is this our life now? Listening to the police scanner?”

 

IMG_3041.jpg

A good view.

 

April 28th
– Too Hot to Handle; including stalking cast members & texts with Emily to fuel the fire.

April 29th
– HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BELLA! It’s a great day for a great day 🙂
– Collin made cabbage noodles and I ate 3 bowls.
– Didn’t get through once but…called the unemployment office 872 times.
– SUSH birthday edition, featuring The Brulee of Hellie.

 

60987889460__91272CA4-B031-4E36-91A7-2053AE3CC33B.jpg

A social distancing porch hang with Emily on Bella’s birthday ❤

 

April 30th
– A
social distancing hang with Nick.
– CAA potential hookup; thanks, mom!
– Brought toddle into bed. Disgusting.

 

May 1st
– Collin was my hairdresser.  I thought Joyce might be out of a job but Collin said he would “pay her double to never have to do that again”. We shall see.
– Burgers from Riley’s Pour house.
– UCB ASSSSCAT. They’re on Zoom and we’re on Zoom and now I’ve left Zoom.

 

May 2nd
– Missed our anniversary. (We did, however, accidentally, have rainbow cake.)

IMG_6688.jpg

Hanna moving out day. Congratulations!

 

“Today a bird dropped to it’s death next to me. I have not recovered.” – Col
– Song and story swap with Cousin Richard.
That backyard firepit lyfe.

 

May 3rd
Trash AND recycling night (again?! Where does the time go?)
– Blackklansman, a movie we loved.
– Geocaching around the corner. DNF.
– Family Zoom, it must be Sunday.

 

May 4th
– The computer AND my stimulus check arrived; oh glorious day.
– Played catch outside on a wonderful, long walk.

 

May 5th
– Sammi day 🙂  Plants galore, a perfect Thai lunch special, Gigi’s cupcakes, and at night, a show of my choosing: Inside Number 9.

 

May 6th
– Scrappy, sadly, lost a freezer.
– Emily’s friendship, I acquired my first “new clothes” since this all began.

IMG_3192

SUSH: Pre show hang!

 

biZW5qUQ

SUSH: Post show hang!

 

May 8th
– Market District Giant Eagle shopping trip.
– A surprise present, a quarantine knife!
– Homemade schmaltz to go into that homemade, matzo ball soup.
Molly asked me to be her MOH!!!!

 

May 9th
– Angie’s surprise sweet 16 birthday. Monopoly Cheaters Edition.

 

May 10th
– Mother’s Day
– Nate let us drive his BMW

 

May 11th
– Inside Number 9, before we have to delete our free subscription (or so we thought…)
– An afternoon hang with Helen, we don’t need Aaron.

May 12th
– Cried about not being able to buy a cheap plane ticket to Norway this year.

 

May 13th
– An out of body experience. Napped for two hours. Woke up to more matzo balls.
– SUSH
– Texting on Instagram with a plant doctor
– Bed at 3:30am, just kidding, 12:30am. Cracking myself up.

IMG_3436

 

May 14th
– I’ve never seen so many matzo balls together for me to enjoy; so special; so beautiful; 5.

 

IMG_3207

All the glory.

 

– 109 days until move in Bae.
– Findley Lake hang with omg that steak dinner.
– Family game night 🙂 Are you having fun? “A moderate amount” – dad
– When everyone went to sleep we finished season 3 of Schitt’s Creek.

 

Happy too,
mi

My First Month in Quarantine

13 Apr

Right now – and for more than a month – we have been sitting tight, with not much to do. The current status of this pandemic requires a forced release of control and some people are, understandably, struggling.  There is so much discomfort in not knowing what the future holds.  Although, heads-up, I do think that coming out of this is going to be much tougher than coming in; like reverse culture shock.   Looking for things to remain the same, I have a feeling that people might wind up a bit crestfallen.  We can’t anticipate all the ways that this global pandemic is going to change the way that we travel, communicate, learn, do, buy, dress, go out, teach, work, and date  Although, goodness knows, the internet is certainly giving guessing a go.

On my end, I don’t mind giving up control.  I don’t mind things changing.  My experience backpacking has been full of things not going the way I expected, flights getting canceled, entire itineraries changing, a new country being thrown into the mix, cars breaking down, hitchhiking, rain delays, and seeing the world in all of its mess and glory.  AKA, I have spent a decade developing the “go with the flow” side of my personality.  So, a sudden change in plans – especially when a month doesn’t turn out like I had expected – is already in my repertoire.

Yes, I had some travel plans get canceled (Mystery Trip 2.0, for example) but I’m doing my part to fight Covid-19, I’m staying home. Actually, on the whole I’ve been craving less travel.  And so, this past month of self-isolation and stationary lifestyle has suited me.  Recently, I wrote about how my time in the Peace Corps was eerily reminiscent of parts of my time in quarentine.  I feel very well-versed at doing nothing and being happy.

My favorite analogy between quarantine and travel that I’ve come up with so far is to draw a parallel between self-isolation and a road trip (remember those?) because the day to day decisions involved in both are so banal; Should we stop for gas now or in a little bit? Sun chips or Sweedish fish as a snack?

During quarantine, I’ve kept a calendar of events which includes gems like “Trash AND recycling day” because that’s an actual bullet point on my agenda tonight.  So, without further ado, my quarantine calendar:

 

IMG_2572.jpg

Madness at Trade Joe’s

 


March 13th
– I had a t
ailgate with Em, pre-Costco.  With lines the size of amusement parks.  THANK GOODNESS for that extra freezer space those girls lent me.
– “The only time getting tested and finding out you have influenza A is positive.”–mom
– Hellooooooo, Collin!

 

March 14th
– Entertained ourselves with outdoor PAC man.
– St Patrick’s day party with “dare Jenga.”
Farewell to live comedy — for now — at the St Mary Fire hall show.

 

March 15th
The world is closing its borders and seemingly shutting down.
– Hotel breakfast; whipped cream and Kashi cereal; I absolutely love being a grownup.
– Party for the Health of It and the musical discovery: “Still of the Night.”


March 16th
Pittsburgh is closing all bars for 2 weeks.

Collin, literally every day: I just wanna Netflix and Chill.
The week everyone needs to stay inside: I MUST go outside, run around, and burn off all of this energy.

 

IMG_2590.jpg

A fairly empty schedule, in direct contrast to how long this blog is.

 

March 17th
Quarantine and ch(elp)ill
West Virginia, the last state to report a case of Covid-19.
– A unique St Patrick’s day celebration with Aunt Marjean, Cousin Dwayne, and a fantastic, new, pop tab obsession.

 

March 18th
Happy birthday, Colleen!
– Apple bread, filming funny videos with Collin, Photosynthesis,
and a Bitcoin purchase.

After getting grapes thrown at me I retreated and, while screaming, laughing, crying yelled “there are no grapes in my pants!”

“Goodnight, baby doll.”
“Goodnight! You made me scream so many times today, it was so fun.”

 

IMG_2615.jpg

That bed is heaven.

 

March 19th
One week since Collin arrived.
– Read an article titled “Freezers sell out as consumers stock up,” and I get it.
– From now on, when we say “sprinkler kisses”, you know what to do.
My face brushed is the best part of shower day.

 

March 20th – Friday
It’s hard to know what day it is.

– Finished my taxes and subscribed to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

 

March 21st…

DF380176-A59D-48D3-B3C2-7D0D343EA3E5.jpg

I’ve been eating well.

 

March 22nd
Sunday morning bliss: We watched E
x Machina and played Monopoly.

“This pasta is done perfectly. Which is crazy ’cause it was frozen and made in the microwave.” – Collin

 

March 23rd
“Shelter in place”, officially.
– THIS MORNING I HAD COFFEE. (and now I can’t sleep).
– Our new set up for work = looking at each other.
– (Obviously) this quarantine has been great for my blog life.
– Lunch time discovery: We need two microwaves.
– Fleabag, Season 2

 

March 24th
Every day’s the same:
9am Wake-up / 9:30 Out of bed / 9:45 Start work
11:45 Change / 12
Workout / 1:15 Stretch
1:30 LUNCH / Free time / 5pm Dance
9pm Make (the same) schedule for tomorrow

 

March 24th

981C20C5-1708-42E9-B2B3-54320EA674FD.jpg

“I could tell you so many Assembly of Gods.”  – Getting to know Kendyll better, and loving it 😂

 

March 25th
It was a no schedule day!
–  Zoom Yoga taught by mumzy.
– I like it the best when I’m lounging all-up-in Collin’s space.

IMG_2675.jpg

BBQ frozen pizza, add broccoli and corn

 

March 26th
– Cardio day in the park
– Read a
Michelin Star chef article about gnocchi… and then I got gnocchi!

“This is the worst experience of my life. I’m not kidding.” – Collin making fudge, after the wax paper ripped for the second time.

Live hard, laugh hard; the Sammi Travis story.

 

March 27th

IMG_2690.jpg

Comedy in my living room.

 

March 29th
– Egg salad for breakfast because I live with the BEST chef!

 

March 30th
– A concert hosted by Elton John (our first).

 

IMG_2959.jpg

Family Zoom.

 

734C6C06-B410-4616-9FB2-6E3399BD97FB.jpg

An evening porch hang.

 

 

March 30th
Woken-up abruptly….they were towing cars out front :/

IMG_2743.jpg

Thanking workers at Allegheny General Hospital.

 

– Surprise, a quarantine present which makes me into a human toddle!
– A phone call with Rebekah, my expensive friend. I felt sparkly after.
WHAT A WONDERFUL DAY I AM HAVING!
– In my own living room, the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

6D896612-DF40-467A-8EF6-4A263A510E0D.jpg

Actually, I don’t have too much to complain about.

 

 

March 31st
Food shopping day!
– “This is wild, this is so fun!” – me, at our Doce Taqueria car picnic.

 

IMG_2632.jpg

Ever seen McKnight Road this empty?

 

 
– A Scale bug attacked all my houseplants.  “A pandemic of a different scale,” Dad said.
– A pandepic hang with Molly 🙂  This is just, like, available to us.

 

April 1st
– A new April Fool’s Day tradition = Michigan roast
– Played Cards Against Humanity with Emily and Laura!  One quick note for the makers of this online game, taking all the cards (by accident) shouldn’t.be.allowed.

 

April 2nd
– Tennis while we still could.

 

April 3rd
– Those “famous nachos”.

 

April 4th
– A hunt for the ages!

 

April 5th
It’s both trash AND recycling day, a big night in our household.
– Chatted with foreign friends; Paula on the cruise ship!; Katie K.; Ira.
– Pork chops for dinner and a lemon poppy seed cake (sans poppy seeds) for dessert.

 

April 6th
– American Dreamer, the stressful movie thriller with Jim Gaffigan that we liked.
– Clapping in gratitude for the health care workers and a short walk to see the full, maybe pink moon.
– Beto’s reheated…but we kept the cheese cold.
– A “Hoseparty” hang and game night with my parents 🙂

 

D0C9F0E8-F6CC-4C9C-BA7D-A7369F0C8FDA.jpg

If you can’t handle me at my worst than you don’t deserve me at my best

 

April 7th
A new low: I didn’t leave the house once today.

 

April 8th
Samantha Traverstein (I’m Jewish now.)
– Chag Pesach!  A sedar through Temple Sinai with homemade matzoh anointed with olive oil. The best I’ve ever eaten, even with the wax paper.
– Two Guvners, National Theater of London, a play.  [2012. James Cordon (pre talk-show).  And Christine Patterson, an underrated actor.]

Q: “What are you looking forward to tomorrow?”
A: “Waking up and being happy.”

 

571B6B6E-94E4-4282-A919-EA11F9331578.jpg

Spoiled.

 

April 9th
– A package from Sam Dorky! Pittsburgh, like I suspected, has really fast mail service.  It’s so fun to have the same exact flavored items in two different states.
– A scallop pasta dinner and then, the funnest Molly hang!  Lesson number one:  Let’s do this again.

 

April 10th

E5D94AA1-4119-4898-964E-E95E9A1A5978.jpg

Spring has sprung.

 

In the middle of the night: Does it sound like someone’s here?
Don’t you dare kill my roommate.

 

April 11th
First time filling up the car with petrol since March 13th.
– Homemade, to-die-for brookies.
– Hi, Trisha and Joe!
– The Amazing chicken lunch special at the Sesame Inn by a gorgeous, flowering tree.
– A second sedar, hosted by Aaron.
– Helen’s Instagram live comedy show!
– Forbidden Island, the board game.

“Are you busy?” – Collin
“No, why, what’s up?” – me
“Could you, like, maybe google how to get gorilla glue off of your skin?’” – Collin, after fixing a wooden spoon in the kitchen

 

April 12th
– Tonya contacted me ❤

IMG_2874.jpg

Googled “big bunny”, was not disappointed.

 

EFFBCAD7-D9E6-4DDD-A1C5-78EFBF2E13B7.jpg

There goes the cat. – Wendy
I wanna see the cat. – Betsy
I don’t believe they have a cat – Marvin

 

 

April 13th
– Started Schitts Creek and, unrelated, we froze Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls.

IMG_2897.jpg

It’s only Quarantine if it’s in the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.

 

 

I’m not taking this Sparkling Isolation for granted.
Sparkle sparkel,
‘mi

Wisdom from the Corps; How my time in quarantine is similar to the Peace Corps

5 Apr

“Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
— John F. Kennedy.

 

From March 2010 – May 2012 I served in the United States Peace Corps, stationed in Jamaica for over 2 years.  Now, April 2020, 8 years later, I find myself sitting on my white couch in self-isolation, thinking back to those years and feeling totally prepared to fill each hour, which, after a decade, turns into a day, after an eternity, a week, and, after an eon, will turn into the month of April.

 

“Travel teaches us new ways to measure the quality of life”. – Rick Steves

 

I’m including links to past Peace Corps posts which I HIGHLY recommend reading because, 1. honestly, what else do you have to do, and 2. I was a way better writer back then (probably because I was reading so many books).

 

Here’s a time I almost. ate a bug.
Here’s one about being a single woman in Jamaica
Here’s my day to day.
A favorite called “Excess vs. Not quite enough.
This one’s a quick one: It was SO HOT where I lived that…
And finally, while there, I updated my resume

 

Below is an excerpt to show you just how little I actually did while in my 2012 quarantine, I mean, in the Peace Corps:

“I’ve been in Jamaica for 14 months and here’s what I have to show for it:
My community knows who I am.
I am a proud dog owner.
I can pretty much speak and understand patois.
I have re-discovered a love for reading.
I am the walrus coo-coo-ka-choo (?)”

 

TBH, there are some marked differences that make this 2020 quarantine much easier.

A.   I have a boyfriend living with me! (WAHOO!!! Peace Corps couples, hot dang did you guys have it good).
B.  I have running, hot water and air conditioning.
C.  This pandemic will not last 27 months. (RIGHT?!)
D.  Netflix, duh.

 

But, here are TEN ways my Peace Corps experience is just like my quarantine:

  1. There’s an emphasis on home cooked meals and harder to make recipes.44432_629715288489_2670673_n.jpg
    41107_628169441379_6458259_n.jpg

    Pizza with whatever ingredients us Peace Corps volunteers could find.  (I think that’s ketchup.)

     

  2. The temptation to adopt an animal(s) to keep you company.
    photo-210.jpg

    A photo of actual dogs I adopted.

     

  3. Sharpening of weapon skills for either agriculture or civil unrest.39506_628166023229_5824424_n.jpg
  4.  At home workouts with whatever water bottles, cans, and bags of sand you have available.
    24824_609341243239_5826842_n.jpg

    Dance party; party of one.

     

  5. Crossing boarders…in our own minds. Dreaming of where in the world we might have been or are planning to go.248509_743898249919_6754115_n.jpg
  6. Projects (like arts & crafts or home improvements).
    40221_628047820109_1049573_n.jpg

    Andy, Angie, and is that Valina? Repurposing old tires into garden beds.

     

  7. Grocery shopping is an activity to get excited about!!

    285316_743894168099_292108_n.jpg

    Looks like she’s going to bake  “bammy” (out of cassava root) for dinner

     

  8. Laundry
    418269_871967123869_689704171_n.jpg

    This laundry is “hand-washed”.  (Hand washed means something else in this climate.)

     

  9. Making friends as you can. In Jamaica, it was cockroaches who laughed at insecticides; you sprayed them and they got bigger.
    251681_743892735969_1042374_n.jpg

    A parade of ants.  I mean, new friends.

     

  10. Taking time to intentionally go outside and notice the sunsets.24824_609341158409_5449305_n.jpg

 

This quarantine will end; you will look BACK on this period of time and, my instincts say, due to what memory does to your brain, you’re going to remember it fondly.

430599_871861635269_1263533370_n.jpg

“Di ting sort out.”

 

 

On an unrelated and completely lighthearted note, I wanted to share some fun sports facts for a much needed diversion:  The New Zealand rugby team is called The All Blacks. The New Zealand basketball team is called The Tall Blacks (take a minute here). And, there’s one more — they have a badminton team — The Black Cocks.  That’s for real.  And, the very first article that comes up when you Google it is: “Black cocks hard for New Zealand to swallow”.

Doesn’t that country seem like it has a really good sense of humor??  Probably the best way to handle all of the pain in the world.  I mean, not necessarily for all of the people who are actually having a difficult time but definitely for those of us who are required to sit on the couch.

 

Three goals. Two years. One love.

In solidarity,
‘mi

The month before

12 Mar

We’re going to pick this diary, I mean blog, up with Valentine’s Day perfection.  Rachel cooked fish and Collin and I rediscovered the BEST Blue Apron, although the highlight was a vegan mousse (made with avocado).  Dinner was followed by comedy at The Lamp, aka the coolest spot in Greensburg.

 

A favorite for a reason.

 

 

The girls are back in town

 

Later, I got lost at Arcade on my way to a special green room invite.

 

February 15th
Hanna’s birthday party, with left over pizza and lots of clapping.

 

Birthday girl and co.

 

February 16th
Happy birthday, dad!
Home cooked dinner in FL with, once again, the best Blue Apron.
THIS was the day that
Collin got the wifi password at my parents house. #milestone

 

February 17th
Happy official birthday, Hanna!
Yoga and pickle ball! We found our couples sport. A basket in the hoop! Swish.
Lunch at Wegmans with the fam 😍

 

Stay at home dates are the best type of dates (post-traveling, pre-quarentine)

 

February 18th
Happy birthday, mom!
Out to eat at Yuzu for ramen with Emily and Laura, plus, gifted a Taylor Swift t-shirt! Giggles during impressions of Smellenour.

 

February 20th,
And now, my working life begins (So I thought.)

 

February 21st
If you need me, I’ll be at work

Things I’m grateful for tonight:
This bed. Breathing through both of my nostrils.  My clean body. These clean sheets.  My favorite pajamas and my favorite sleeping socks.

 

February 22nd
191 days until move in Bae.
I’m sore from the gym.  Advil helped!
I finished a blog and Nate was at work 🙂

 

 

A perfectly cooked, microwaved meal.

 

February 23rd
Nailing the ratio: TOTALLY THE BEST

 

The most amazing day off, spent with Joe and Trisha

 

Geocaching.  One we found, one we didn’t. And I ended the night laughing until I cried.

 

February 24th
My most lucrative day at work in 4 years. And it was in February, go figure.

 

My best friends are hanging out right now ♥️ #MolAndCol #colly

 

 

February 25th
A day in court with full family support. Lunch at delicious Cafe Brugge.
A well-deserved night off. A 3 hour phone call with Bel 😍
And, the Love is Blind addiction continues.

 

 

February 26th
Final Ethiopia blog gets posted!

 

Things I’m grateful for:
Brian was at work!!! Thank goodness.
I’m sore from the gym.
The ability to leave work early.

 

February 28th

 

Welcome (back) to America!


With Emily, Laura, and Chris, Atria’s has the best happy hour.
I f
ollowed the amazing driver — aka, wee Emily — to Laura’s house using only right turns.  Nick Lackey started out our music playlist (I do, I do, I do) before being joined by Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift. I’ll never forget the Pretty Girl Rock, where sweetheart Em knew every word and every move ❤

These blueberry cookies:  “They are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” – Laura
https://omgchocolatedesserts.com/best-ever-blueberry-cookies/

 

February 29th
Leap year!

Birthday Brittny


An outdoor h
ot tub! That cool, cellophane bathroom. And, I met their human skeleton.  (Still less than one year since Collin and I started dating.)

 

March 1st
I started my taxes.  (Which I love.)

 

March 2nd
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! (Or should I say, “Happy Cookie-versry!”)

 

“This is without a doubt the best cookie I have ever had” – Collin Chamberlin

 

March 4th
Rebekah, life coach “to do anything amazing in life you need a butt load of energy!”

 

March 6th
Friday. It’s been too long, I need to see Collin.
Also, what’s going to happen with this virus?!

 

March 7th
A ten hour drive to New York City. Almost immediately, I got to laugh
until I cried.

 

March 8th
Bagels for breakfast and then a Locke and Key binge. We watched all of season 1 that weekend.  Plus, house hunting in Sunnyside!  Followed by delicious tacos at a restaurant and a
lmond-milk ice cream at the Stud-flat.

 

March 9th
The sweetest morning snuggles.  I threw myself off of the bed for a sneeze.  We visited Roosevelt Island where I d
idn’t share any hugs with Katie instead, we took headshots by the lighthouse and went geocaching for a multi-cache…but were 38 miles off (read: unsuccessful).

 

Physically separating, incar-light.

 

March 10th
Back to the ‘burgh.
Colleen was the first to register for the furries! 🙂

 

March 12th
Allegheny City Brewery.  Was this to be my last hang with Emily and Laura for a while??

 

March 13th
Happy 39th wedding anniversary, m & d!
A HUGE grocery store shopping trip and…
The day Collin had his exodus from New York City.

 

Sparkle sparkle,
‘mi

 

Birthday Boy in the City

2 Feb

It was the best homecoming.  When I left Pittsburgh, I apologized to my room for leaving.  And when I came back?  I gave her a HUGE hello.  But first…I landed at our adorable Pittsburgh airport (voted 2017 Airport of the year #neverforget).

 

IMG_2073.jpg

Getting ready in the airport bathroom. Classic.

 

And drove STRAIGHT to the Pittsburgh Improv where my boyfriend, Collin Chamberlin, met me at our favorite spot (in a parking lot).  What a feeling it was to hug him after over a month of being apart!

 

IMG_2078.jpg

BONUS: I watched him perform!

 

Jeremiah, Kendyll, Mike, (and a surprised Jan and Jill) were all there.  At midnight, the staff sang “Happy Birthday” because, drumroll please…
duh duh duh duh duh (this is how I imagine a “drum roll” in writing sounds).  It was officially Collin’s birthday! 

After cake, we headed to the Dreamflat — Nate left it so nice ❤

February 2nd
COLLIN’S BIRTHDAY; aka my first Collin’s birthday.
In the morning, the handsome birthday boy got to open his cryptic present filled with lots of cards from friends from around the world! And a homemade geocaching (inspired) puzzle to solve.

IMG_2089.jpg

11/11/2017 – Answer: A signed, Bruce Springsteen vinyl (single).

 

IMG_2094.jpg

The family party!

 

(where Colleen gave me a phone pep talk <3)

At night, Brian and Andrew hosted an EPIC Super Bowl party!!!

IMG_2101.jpg

with all the best food and all the best company.

 

Highlights included:
– Watching Pearl (try to) go under the TV to get her toy…and watching her come back out.
– Brian, hoisting me up and running around the room. What strength!
– “Ask your parents if they are watching the Super Bowl.” – Andrew
 “Yeah. I hate this halftime show.” – Dad
– 
Katie Sowers 🙂 female coach, Kansas

Lowlights included:
– My car broke down and we had to leave it at Andrew and Brian’s house. Thank goodness for them letting me (always) store mouse at their house.

 

36 hours after arriving home, Collin and I flew Jet Blue to New York City – thank you, Bri! –  chilled in the lounge, heard our names over the intercom (just how I like it), and had a layover in our favorite Boston.

 

New York City.  What follows is, essentially, my diary.

February 3rd
For the first time in 6 weeks I had an evening to myself.  I was productive af; got my inbox down to 15 and posted the final Guatebloga post (to be fair, that’s cashing in on Helen’s productivity).  Here’s a quote that I enjoyed: ”We love the cooperative game we call traveling abroad together.”  — Helen

 

 

unnamed-1.jpg

Daliah listening to Ray’s instructions on how to cook Italian.

 

February 4th (and some other dates)
New York City bagels.  Again, productive.  
A cleared inbox!  Horrible therapy online. Geocaching in Astoria! During snuggles, *his* phone fell on my face.  I met the incomparable Katie Barbaro for a yummy Thai dinner.  And there was late night peanut butter off of a spoon.

 

IMG_2189.jpg

Sam we am.

 

 

A bad comedy show that included a child.   Backlava with Barbaro.  There was also a morning walk that was canceled by the rain but we salvaged with bagels from Nate. The birthday boy told me that he is 0 to 60 and I’m 60 to zero.  The team upgraded to ‘premium’ Geocaching, I’m committed.  A nice hang with Steve at Gossip coffee (tea).  Luce, the movie, on Netflix. 

Katie Barbaro is on her way here! Joy storm is brewing!

 

February 8th
We spent the day in bed.   And the evening was filled with comedy!

 

IMG_2183.jpg

A great show at The Beauty Bar.

 

IMG_2184.jpg

Cousin Wendy and (not pictured) Paul  🙂

 

February 9th (or, maybe I’m getting the date wrong)
A long walk. 

 

unnamed.jpg

Breakfast at The Thirsty Koala

 

Lunch with Wendy at Sweet Greens (thank you again!).  We did search for, but couldn’t find, a geocache.

 

From my notebook:
“Tonight was delicious!  New York City pizza! Followed by Insomnia cookies and a hang with THE Steve!”

 

IMG_2198.jpg

Looking all famous or whatevahh

 

February 10th
A freezing cold walk.  A geocache retrieved!  

 

unnamed-1.jpg

After going back a second time, we found it.

 

Meditation.

 

IMG_2236.jpg

Double date bowling with pitchers of beer.

 

 

February 11th (I think)
Collin woke up with his arm through a hole in the blanket. “We’re homeless.”

A visit to Katie’s apartment! And a walk to look at possible condo’s I might buy.  The Brazil nut, date combo became my new favorite dessert.

 

February 12th (I am now certain that the order of this blog is off.)
A meeting with Phillip! 
And then cake pops, because, reminder, this blog is called “Birthday Boy”.

 

unnamed.jpg

Katie’s first geocache!


Central park at night.

 

0-1.jpeg

Reenacting our first, CRUCIAL hang at Whole Foods

 

At Whole Foods, it was the time of my life.  Here is my recap: Katie and I chose really good, healthy, inexpensive snacks and took.our.time.  (Including blood oranges, the hot food bar, sweet, sweet dates, Brazil nuts, and “geocaching” for pecans within the mixed nuts.)

I’m going to throw this out, directly.” – me
“Wait!!” – Katie
“Why?” – also Katie
“It’s a hazelnut.” – Sammi, the relentless food editor.
“That is a small almond!” – Katie, our hero.

 

At the cafe, a blood orange fell onto the table, not to be eaten.  Katie, put it in the trash pile but, alas, how quickly we forget.  I watched Katie find that piece of blood orange while saying “look what I found” with her eyes and simultaneously putting it into her mouth.  Before I could say anything, I watched Katie – still making eye contact – turn from pleased to disgusted, realizing what she had done.  She spit out the blood orange and the two of us laughed until we cried  ❤️
“I have ecoli,” said Katie.  “I can taste three diseases in my mouth right now”, she continued.
We both felt high. “This is how one feels if Sammi likes you”, Katie explained. 

On the walk to the train, Katie produced pocket chocolate that we both got to eat.

 

February 13th
Early airport run + a hang at one of our favorite lounges  😍 

 

Kings are born in February.
Happy birthday, Goose, I love you.
‘mi

 

IMG_2119.jpg

Sorry, ladies. He’s mine.

Best Friendship

1 Feb

I had a brief layover in Seattle AND I’M SO GLAD I DID! (what uncertain times we live in now). Not only was I thrilled to be onto the mainland (and off of all islands for awhile) but the best reason is (and always will be)… FRIENDSHIP!!!  HELEN AND PATRICK LIVE IN SEATTLE 🙂

IMG_0642.JPG

The bomb dot com

 

Bel picked me up in a big white truck and impressed the heck out of me with her ability to park it in a compact spot.  (Later, Patrick ALSO impressed me with that same skill. Conclusion: My best friends in Seattle are really good at parking big vehicles into small spaces.)  

I slept so well (in an actual bed!) and had a real bathroom to use; (Thank you!) an incredible space, generosity, and forever best friendship!  On this trip, the only downside was that it was SUCH a bummer that I missed Victoria ❤  

IMG_2019.jpg

Kitty kisses.

 

The very next day I visited Bella at her temp job which, ironically, was difficult to find.

 

IMG_1998.jpg

A place of work or, my next obsession?

 

Helen, it must be said, got me into Geocaching.  She took me to find my first (and second and third) cache.  Good job, and I mean that literally.  🙂

We met up with Patrick and I got to enjoy Helen enjoying some drinks (that dry period is over!)  “What do you guys wanna do?”
“I think we should go Geocaching”. -Sammi
Question:  How do you go from one restaurant to another with adventure in between?
Answer:   Same way you turn 120 feet into a mile. Geocaching!

 

903a8c08-ffb8-4465-98b4-539dd07a16b0.jpg

Success!

 

We laughed, longed for Barrel Thief burrata, listed all the provinces and territories in Canada (“Newfoundland and Labrador?  Oh, that’s the ‘and Herzegovina’ of Canada” – Helen) and ate some really incredible Thai food.


The next day I visited Bel’s private, residential gym, showered, and had some quality best friend time on the Instagram famous rooftop coupled with a fire pit and some wine 🙂

 

IMG_2038.jpg

It’s even better than it looks.

 

 

For dinner, Patrick joined us and took us to a DELICIOUS Jamaican restaurant with festival, Ting, ackee, callaloo, and no salt fish.

After, Bella did my hair (THANK YOU!) while Patrick helped me brainstorm and create the puzzle that is: “Walter you doing for Collin’s birthday?” (THANK YOU!).  All the while, “Reputation” played in the background.

The next day, Helen and I both devoured and renamed a yummy kale-sadilla. And, I got to see Patrick’s great new apartment!!  We had lounge access and a fun, fast-paced, secret trip-planning session — which now we know was all for naught.  

Before, drumroll please….

 

IMG_2096.PNG

One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.

 

…Cozying up to watch the new TAYLOR SWIFT NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY!

As we designed our perfect space, Patrick and I walked to get some cookies for the team, despite the rain.  Chip had 12 kinds of cookies…and we wanted one of each, please.  Plus ice cream.  

 

IMG_2058 2.jpg

Dessert distribution.

 
Despite wanting more time to sleepover at Patricks, hug VB, eat Helen’s breakfast (she was going to cook), meet Ashely, watch comedy, and a longing for that upstairs remote to work on that downstairs television, this Seattle trip was darn near perfect.  Obviously.

 

When P-Mart dropped us off, Bel and I stayed up as late as possible, with best friend chatter, not wanting to miss out on a moment of soaking each other up.  I was VERY grateful for the early morning (does it count as morning if it’s still dark outside?) ride to the airport.


And then, I slept for a full 3 hours on the tray table.

Zero wake-ups,
‘mi

Aloha, Hawaii

28 Jan
IMG_1939.jpg

A very clear sign indicating that we have, indeed, landed at the airport we meant to.

 

IMG_1956.PNG

There are 8 main islands in Hawaii.  

 

We were on Oahu, the most populated Hawaiian island aka WE WERE BACK IN AMERICA!!!!!!  Rachel and I had traveled back in time, repeated January 26th (because time is just a construct) and were more bedraggled than ever.  
We flew on Jet Star (which is not as nice as Jet Blue).  Once in Hawaii, our initial car rental fell through.  So, at 7am we walked to another rental spot, waited an hour (where I talked to Molly who was JAZZED; should I become a landlord in New York?!), picked up our rental car (with an adorable Hawaiian license plate), and promptly slept in the airport parking garage for 3 full hours. We were WIPED.

Rae and I woke up feeling slightly refreshed and, using miles instead of kilometers, drove on the right side (right side, right side) of the road to see important WWII history.

 

IMG_1941.jpg

Part of the Pearl Harbor war memorial.

 

After a fish dinner at Zipped, the Hawaiian Eat ‘n Park, and shaved ice that was just okay, we slept – in the car, in a safe neighborhood – for 10 straight hours.

 

January 27th

 

88e7863a-f401-4b2e-b64d-b260863d95be.jpg

Rise and shine!

 

Breakfast and lunch were from the grocery store and included gummy bears rolled around in dried plums.  Later, we tried poi (food) and didn’t love it. 

 

f15deb52-5ff8-4da3-b90a-d44bed098866.jpg

Describes how we felt about most things in Hawaii.

 

IMG_1945.jpg

 A beach from above.

 

IMG_1947.jpg

Eye candy all DAY

 

The whole island is small (and we were used to driving), so Rachel and I decided to see everything.

The temperature here made us think of Goldilock’s porridge:
New Zealand, south island:    Too cold
Australia:                                    Too hot
Hawaii:                                        Just right

 

IMG_1948.jpg

 

“Well this is nice, driving around Hawaii with sand on our feet, listening to Jack Johnson.” – Rae

Side note: Turns out, I love upbeat, Hawaiian music.  (“Is that a ukulele?!”)

 

IMG_1955.PNG

Location of a world class surfing competition.

 

Banzai pipeline, preliminary competition.  At noon (on a Monday) we witnessed some “Epic conditions for finals day.”  It was really cool!  There were HUGE waves that were mega intimidating and talented, strong surfers, each with their own special ritual before they went into the water i.e. praying on the sand, kissing the water, ect.  There was even a  professional surfer (who I had to google) named Billy Kemper. 


“Should we add surf competitions to things we don’t understand?” – I whispered to Rachel. 

 

 

IMG_1954.jpg

Leaving no nook, cranny, or road undiscovered.

 

IMG_1958.jpg

Dole plantation.  Featuring, delicious pineapple ice cream.

 

As we wrapped up our tour across the entire island, Rachel and I used a McDonald’s bathroom for all it was worth before spending the night, sleeping in our car, in a new neighborhood.  We found our DREAM spot to park/sleep but, two hours later, another car pulled up behind us with a VERY loud engine that they would’t turn off.  “Go away!” Rachel frantically whispers, “You’re blowing up our spot!”  After 30 minutes, with still no signs of them leaving, we found another (almost perfect) spot.  Unrelated to that car (but very related to sleeping in one), I’m fairly certain that I will never again take for granted getting up to pee in the middle of the night AND THERE BEING A TOILET (vs. holding it all night/exploding due to being in a LITERAL neighborhood with no bush for cover).  That night, I slept with some pee in my pants.

 

January 28th

We drove to the airport before the sun rose and we lived that lounge life.   Rachel left. (Tears emoji!) We had been counting the days until this trip was over and yet, I still felt a huge pit in my stomach when we separated.  She and I started texting almost immediatly.  

My flight was boarding in one hour.  I was that much closer to “cashing in on one months worth of snuggles.” Collin was so patient while I was off, tramping the world.  

During the 5.5 hours to Seattle (here I come!!!) I reflected on this past excursion.  I knew that I would never again take a journey for this long, away from home. [Even though, yes, I’ve been on (way) longer trips before.]  — that chapter of my life was coming to a close.  I felt SO grateful for my experiences AND for the acute awareness of its finality.

In a lighter vein, I did the math; I had deleted over 8,000 photos on my phone…making the grand total of pictures I had less than 10,000, a number I felt proud of (and, of course, has since risen).

 

“Travel is glamorous only in retrospect”      – Paul Theroux

 

IMG_1960.jpg

To the mainland I go…

 

 

In retrospect,
‘mi

New South Wales, tales

26 Jan

bda67178-daf3-46e2-bf3e-e27053840683.jpg

 

January 22nd

We woke up NEEDING Vietnamese food.  We walked to this:

 

IMG_1793.jpg

We over ordered.

 

Full, we headed to the Sydney Aquarium.

 

IMG_1805.jpg

Here, we finally saw some penguins.

 

IMG_1798.jpg

And, a dugong!

 

 

There are only TWO dugongs in captivity in the whole world.  This one, a male, eats lettuce all day every day (’cause sea grass grows too slowly) and he receives bean sprouts as a reward. It was extra fun to watch him eat because, earlier, we had received bean sprouts with our Vietnamese food (see above).

After the aquarium, Rachel and I kept walking.  We tried to visit an Instagram cafe, but it was closing; Rae bench bartended, we popped by the casino, and then?! Met Rusty for dinner.  It was luxuries to hangout with him!  SO wonderful to catch up! AND SO MUCH FUN 🙂

 

IMG_1813.jpg

Everyone say: Juan Pablo Montoya 

 

January 23rd
100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Raman for lunch, Jojo the Rabbit at an adorable movie theatre; I closed my West Pac bank account, it was the end of a era era era. Matt, darling Matt, picked us up and gave us a tour of his gorgeous new home.

“Say knife” – Rachel
“Knoife” — Matt

IMG_1818.jpg

Forever friends.

 

There was a warehouse brewery tour, koozies from The Grifter, talk about sports, a night train to Newcastle, bench bartending on the train platform, and the hottest train ever…with not enough water.

 

IMG_1826.jpg

Pour me another one, please.

 

When we arrived, Kelsey and Travis had a bed set up for us ❤  Never mind that it deflated a few hours later and we had to move to couch because the next night, Travis let us sleep in his air con.  Thank you, Travis!

 

New Castle
{Did you know that New Castle, Australia is also referred to as “The steel city”?}

January 24th

Australian Aldi (Al-dee), a chat with Collin — Kate, in Rochester, made our day better with an upgrade, a walk for Rae and I down Darby street, a complicated cold coffee that did me good, and our first introduction to LOLA, the french Bulldog.

 

IMG_1841.jpg

G’day Lola!

 

For lunch we ate gnocchi (emphasis on the g) at the Cranker (thanks Kelsey!), followed by Bloody Mary’s, and the Beach Burrito Company for dinner. Unrelated, you wouldn’t believe how big the bats are here — they look like crows.  At dinner, there was an offer to burn incense and we couldn’t help but notice that there was an appreciation for our accents outside of major cities; “Lets trade accents when you get back from the bathroom!” – Ellie

 

IMG_1891.jpg

Cheers ❤

 

Above: A brewery on the water hang. 

Below: The brand new/free subway with exactly 5 stops

Not pictured: Watching Hughy warm up for karaoke and a good night’s sleep with air con.

 

IMG_1889.jpg

Riding the subway to no where.

 

January 25th
Brekkie with charcoal activated DELICIOUSNESS.

IMG_1897.jpg

A morning beverage that was so tasty I don’t ever want to forget it.

 

Goodbyes to Travis, emphasis on “THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!!” 🙂

A (better) train ride back to Sydney with an airport hang…that included Matt and Priority Pass 🙂

 

IMG_1828 2.jpg

Hanging out anywhere that will have us.

 

Melbourne

TRIPLE J HOTTEST 100: Sitting on a Melbourne bench, with all of our earthly possessions, eating, listening to the top 10, loving on most of them, hating on number 5, and jamming out to number one; Bad Guy, by Billie Eilish. 

 

03ea0ce8-0613-4062-b159-ea606af096d8.jpg

Possoms in the park; a possy.

 

That night, we slept in an expensive hostel where weren’t allowed to use the stairs, and had the worst nights sleep.


January 26th

Australia Day
Invasion Day
Send Scott an email Day (!)

We skipped the Australian Open, visited a lovely market, and headed to the airport…where we put on all of our clothes and were hot (in temperature) hunchbacks. ‘Nothing suspicious going on here, customs officer’, we were just wearing all of our clothes to avoid extra airport fees.

In Melbourne, we LIVED THAT LOUNGE LIFE!  One of the best airport lounges either of us had ever been to; including +216 worth of bonus bucks to spend (which we DID!)

 

IMG_1810.jpg

 

And, yes, after that, we were on the plane back to America (thank god).

In road dogs we trust,
‘mi

Back to Oz

21 Jan

It’s not often that I go back to a country for a second time 🙂  But, in Australia, I had some unfinished business…

IMG_1767.PNG

Sydney, New South Wales

 

In keeping with my resolutions, this post was FUN and EASY for me to write, which means it lacks details.  These are memories of this blog down under are for me, for Rachel, for Travis, for Melina, for Kim and for anyone else who would like to join.  They start on:

 

January 20th
8am
Operation Rescue the Money

Travis, THE SAINT AND GOOD FRIEND THAT HE IS, picked us up from the airport at the crack of dawn.

 

1c02d00f-f7fd-4e0f-bfb9-527a3d6112c9.jpg

Pittsburgh down under, yinz.

 

IMG_1738.jpg

A hidden key.

 

Through the help of Melina, Mark, Mark’s mom, and again, TRAVIS, we safely retrieved the second safety security box key.

Downtown, we parked in the Queen Victoria parking garage, saw a black huntsman spider scurry across the ground, headed to Gringotts Bank complete with a goblin who was working security, had my signature scrutinized, retrieved all the money AND a letter to my 29 year old self (only 3 years later than I’d anticipated, well done), went to the post office across the street, insured the package for $30 (GULP), bought SIM cards half a block away — 30 gigs of data for less than a week — I’ve never had so much data in my life, I’m rich!

“Operation Retrieve the Money” was a TOTAL success!

IMG_1749.jpg

My heroes.

 

After a slight walking tour, Rachel, Travis, and I realized we were starving, and found the PERFECT, fancy place to eat in The Rocks; an outdoor space serving kangaroo, crocodile tail, and pony espresso martinis.  We ate and drank our fill before heading to Beach Road Hotel, which served us well, and was located near the famous Bondi Beach.

 

dc9a035d-44a5-4ae6-bf43-5fd353080a36.jpg

 

Things we talked about that day:
How bummed I was that I didn’t get to see Melina, Mark, and Tilly
“This is such good music!”
THANK YOU TRAVIS, you’re a true mate!
“How great is it that we’re not driving?!” (Said multiple times by Rachel AND Sammi)
I need to get my Burks tightned.
Let’s stop at Ice bergs for a drink.
Celebrate:  A person who marries people and HOPEFULLY MY FUTURE JOB 

 

Back at the Beach Road Hotel, we rearranged all the beds so that they were laying on the floor.  Travis used his connections.  And Kim met us for some soda water, a chat about the horrible fires, a different key (THANK YOU!), and a bought of friendship.

 

IMG_1762.jpg

Real queens fix each other’s crowns.

 

IMG_1752.jpg

Throwing a perfectly curated party.

 

At night, we took hotel room blankets onto the sand, a park bench, and a beach shelter, and the three of us bonded on Bondi ❤ ❤ ❤

 

January 21st
We slept a little but the next day was a VERY hot day.  Since business from yesterday was already taken care of, the three of us decided to walk around, see the sights, and explore Sydney’s free, Royal Botanical Gardens.  

 

d079c2b0-620a-441f-8812-f4943929d7ac.jpg

The entrance. Or, one entrance.  This place is HUGE.

 

IMG_1773.jpg

My lizard brain, telling me over and over how hot it was outside.

 

When we got to the succulent garden, with no shade or respite, I thought ‘Maybe it was the wrong idea to come to these gardens today…’  When the Herbarium was closed? I was pretty sure we had made a mistake.  But then? The Fern Garden changed my mind.  It was nice in there.  And the Carnivorous plant exhibit aka ‘Plants That Bite’, with all the mist, totally won me over.

 

2952ecdb-b8bc-4a8b-85ea-2d23ed3105cd.jpg

A room full of Seymour.

 

Travis, Rachel, and I continued our walk to the Sydney Opera House, drank hair of the dog, used Trav as our GPS, continued on to Darling Harbor, bought discounted ticket to the aquarium, paid homage to Brendan, ate $10 Fish and chips on Tuesday — with every free dip, and said “see you in a few days! We love you!” to our dear friend Travis.

Rachel, me, and all of our stuff, were on our own again.  With our backpacks on, we headed back to the Royal Botanical Gardens, drank wine in The Fernery, and learned that our second favorite tree is called the Silver Fern.  It had been my Facebook banner photo for over a year, but it took coming to Australia to learn that it was the national symbol of New Zealand. Better late than never.

She and I continued walking, past the bin chickens (Ibis); past the sweetest, softest, pinkest, loveliest frangipanis we had ever smelt; back to the Sydney Opera House for AN ACTUAL OPERA, La Boheme (which first aired in 1896).  We went through security, stored our backpacks at the coat rack, and arrived bedraggled, sweaty, and with one minute to spare. But, like always, WE HAD MADE IT!

 

IMG_1786.jpg

The iconic Sydney Opera House where we were heading to see an ACTUAL OPERA!

 

IMG_1781.jpg

Dressed in our best.

 

IMG_1785.jpg

It was so good.

 

There were 4 acts and I cried during all but one of them.  The 4th act had us both sobbing.  We sat in red, cushy seats, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  It was a fantastic night out.

That night, Kim graciously let us sleep at her apartment while she was spending time in Asia. (Thank you again, Kim!)

All these years later, I had come back to Australia.  My mission was accomplished.  Friendship abounded.  We had come down with a bad case of the good times.
In Travis we trust,
‘mi