Unleashed

26 Jun

In honor of one of my favorite things in the world being less than 10 days away….
This is a (fun) parody of a poem by the former Slam Poetry World Champion, Harry Baker.

 

 

Anthrocon (aka, the furries)

Prelude:  I’ve spent most of my young life trying to fit in because at school I was told I was a big eared, lanky girl who would never get a boyfriend.  Teachers can be cruel.  I was also told that I was creative, intelligent, thoughtful, kind, and brilliant.  Thanks mom.  But what if we were made to stand out?  What if we were made to escape the rat race?  I’m going down that rabbit hole.  This playful poem is for my “people”.

 

As I refur you to the animal kingdom
We’ll just puff puff pass like a dragon’s own wingdom

I’m a furryyyy roaming canine
Who just signed on to wolf it down
Pittsburgh is my hometown

Furisky is my fur name
EEL-ated is my fur name
I prefer things when they’re off the chain

Feel the power
touch your howl
It’s not complex
read the syntax

At Anthrocon I never quite know what to expect
But every year has been the best yet
So on your mark get set
GULP

Try to swallow this down your esophagus
I’m an optimist, rhinoceros, with a hypothesis
A cat with a dog tail ain’t preposterous

A.D.D. has never been a con.  What’s the con? Anthrocon. Imagicon.  This is context.
Here’s two cents.  I get the sense that it’s all nonsense

Having a cow!? Cat got your tongue??
Hold your horses — we’ve heard how they’re hung

In a squeaky accent you can say anything
and it’s difficult to sound menacing

(squeaky accent) I’m not pro life, I’m fur life!
Like that owl amongst a rodent pack
who left without a single snack

Personify.  Person imma fly.  Imma fly fly outta here on the buzz of my fursona
Get so high yinz think that I’m a stona

Metaphorically creeping
and lyrically speaking
Our birds and our bees are real birds and real bees
who know how to please
while you’re on your knees
I’ll climb on your back
Where are all my Tauras’ at?!!

Some fursuiters are naked underneath.
Now imagine the fun that we’re having and then adding the feeling of fleece

Life is an expression
not a depression
and there ain’t no reason the furries shouldn’t be kickin’
and licken’
and sticken’ their noses in all kinds of fun

My giraffe taught me the gift of not fitting in
So in a way, these things I say, are an embodiment of him

My snake taught me it might take awhile for folks to see your hidden worth
So in a way, these things I say, are a reflection of her

We need less teasing, less telly, less CSI
More jungle, more wagging, more give it a try

Pile meta facts with questionable reality as perception starts to teeple
It’s us animals who stand around and pretend to act like people.

Memorial Day Cabin

27 May

There are many, many things I love about Victoria and Helen, but their infinite list of lovable traits got even longer when they decided to arrange a trip to a cabin in Ligonier for Memorial Day weekend.  

Cabin Crew: Victoria, Helen, Betsy, Emily, Laura, and yours truly.

—————

We headed out for the weekend; cars brimming with drinks, snacks, food, and everything to share.  Big thanks to our cabin crew!  It was clear that we were all ready for an unforgettable weekend. 

I drove up with Emily, Laura, and Not your Father’s Root Beer.  The cabin didn’t have a house number– bold — but we had no trouble finding it because Victoria’s truck was already parked out front.

 

IMG_5562.jpg

Gettin’ cozy.

Betsy manned that fire while the rest of us got to lounge 🔥

IMG_9908.jpg

Talented Victoria’s spot-on painting of the view.

 

Stunning views, fresh air, outdoor fires, and deepening friendships weren’t the only beautiful parts of our Memorial Day weekend.   There was also the well-plated, delicious sustenance [which we took gorgeous pictures of (below) before devouring].

 

IMG_5050.jpg

Definitely as good as it looks.

 

 

IMG_9896.JPG

Breakfast of champions.

 

Bel and I decided to make the best chocolate chip cookies on earth, which you will see featured (and pictured) in another blog. This time, though, we had put the coconut oil in the fridge, making it difficult to mix the batter…but no matter! They turned out amazing — they always do. 

———-

In between the talking, the laughing, the cooking, and the eating, we played board games like What Do You Meme and Pandemic.  Emily and Laura decided to spice up (literally) our Pandemic-game by making a new rule where we had to eat a spicy peanut ghost pepper everytime we had an “outbreak.”  They were INCREDIBLY hot, as you can imagine.  Betsy, the genius, stayed within the new consumption rules but decided, instead of chewing the peanut, to swallow the ghost pepper peanut whole. What.an.innovator!  

—————

Our cabin bliss checklist:

✅ fantastic company

✅ scrumptious food

✅ rambunctious games

✅ hot-tubbing….

Yes, there was a hot-tub! We didn’t even let the rain stop us– in fact, it only enhanced our experience.  I would go so far as to say that hot-tubbing in the rain is my favourite type of hot-tubbing.  Another perk of hot-tubbing at this cabin?  Admiring Emily’s gorgeous bathing suits!  Next time, thanks to Amazon, Bel and I are going to match with her.

Of course, since we were at a cabin in the woods, it would’ve been very confusing to not actually go into the woods. And so, with our powdered drinks, we went for a walk 😃 ✅

 

IMG_5532.jpg

Cabin Crew feet.

 

On the walk, we came across a house with absolutely no windows and then, farther down the road, a sign that clearly read “No Trespassing for Any Reason,” which Victoria and I thought would be fine to check out since we were trespassing for no reason (the devil’s in the details, your honor).

We took a lot of pictures along the way. Actually, Victoria took most of the pictures.  Including a serious where we got to smoosh our faces together. When she got to “3” we had to change our pose.

123  123  123  123  123snake

We all turned at the same time and we all saw what she was looking at — a snake that was the size of a house python — and then we all simultaneously SCREAMED AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS AND RAN!! 

 

!!!!!!!!!!

 

It would have been comical if we weren’t so genuinely scared.  #screamedandscattered

 

 

IMG_5518.jpg

Post-python attack. And by python I mean snake, and by attack I just mean appearance.

 

Now, this next part isn’t chronological, or much of a transition…but I did save it for last because, wow.  The MOST gorgeous pond that I’ve ever laid eyes on:

IMG_5342.jpg

Does it get any better than this?

 

This well-maintained pond had tadpoles (huge ones!) and frogs (cute ones!).  And it was here that we found out that Emily is really (really) good at catching frogs — which is a talent you wouldn’t find out about your friend unless you spent time together at a pond. 🐸 

 

IMG_5079.jpg

Princess charming? Is that you?

 

IMG_5309.jpg

Glimmering.

 

I’d like to reiterate that almost all of the photo credit goes to Victoria (thank you!). And, this is one of THE MOST GORGEOUS PONDS that I have ever laid eyes on.  Luckily for me, it also had a rope swing — so this was about to be the most gorgeous pond that I had ever plopped into… 

 

IMG_5144.jpg

Getting a running start!

 

 

IMG_5333.jpg

Walking on water– another talent you wouldn’t know your friends had!

 

Emily had a very memorable drop like a starfish ⭐️

But there is one thing about this pond that I didn’t tell you.  What you didn’t know, but what we did was that this was the neighbor’s pond and not public property.  Eek!  Jim, the owner, caught us red-handed (probably literally, since our hands were red from holding onto the rope) and came over to give us a scolding. He told us that he “wasn’t a bad guy”, but that it was a liability issue.  We understood!  And tried to express lots of gratitude for our afternoon spent in that idyllic pond.

After that, our cabin crew wasn’t quite done with water… So, we decided to spend some (more) time in the cabin hot tub where we brainstormed about how Jim might’ve told the story (about catching 5 girls swimming) to his wife.  We had fun musing about the possible iterations of Jim’s subsequent interactions.  

 

———-

Despite (or maybe because of) getting in just a teensy bit of trouble, our cabin crew left Ligonier closer than ever.  It was a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend.  Thanks to everyone for making it so special 💕

Cabin bliss,

‘mi

Ba*es in Boston

22 May

It was the first flight in the morning — the 5:40am flight.   Our alarms were set for very, very early.  Collin and Sammi’s first trip together!  Boston!  AHHHH!!!!!!! WE WERE SO EXCITED!  After some yawns, we got to the airport way before I thought it was necessary but since we were flying standby, it was crucial to ensure that we got seats next to each other. 

IMG_9733

Happy in the morning!

 

Collin works for JetBlue, so he got to fly for free (incredible) and I got to use his (super duper) discounted buddy pass. Thank you, Collin! And thank you, JetBlue!  We took our seats and before the plane took off, “angel Don”, popped in to give us a wave.  I promptly closed my eyes and fell asleep with reassurances from Col that “in 50 minutes”(ish), we’d be in Boston.

 

IMG_9795

Welcome to the east coast!

 

Speaking of free and discounted transportation, did you know that Boston has a FREE public bus-turned-subway into downtown straight from the airport?!  Col and I took it as we began our (very jam-packed) adventure.  First stop?  Breakfast.

Before the trip, I’d done research about where Col and I should go, taking into account our specific interests (like his love of diners).  We’d been going dairy-free for a bit, with one day off each week to get down and dairy #downanddairy.  Muls Diner, a classically Boston spot, was the perfect time to splurge.

IMG_9734

They had fantastic Eggs Florentine and spectacular taste in ketchup.

 

True to every movie that I’ve ever seen featuring a Boston waitress serving food in a Boston diner, our waitress had a thick Boston accent, a heavy Boston attitude, and served up a stereotypically perfect cup of hot coffee.  Needless to say, Col and I left full and satisfied, to walk around Boston Harbor and to listen to a downloaded walking tour.

One of our stops had us looking at a building in the financial district.  It wasn’t until we got to the end of this particular audio chapter that we realized we’d been staring at the wrong building for the entire talk.  Whoops. So, Collin took matters into his own hands and playfully pointed out the importance of this mural, which was a stop on his (better) tour. 

IMG_9738

“The According to Collin Travel Guide” says this is important.

 

The tour I had downloaded wasn’t great, but we had fun following it along the Boston Harbor anyway.

IMG_9748

Boston Harbor: Home of America’s Best Tea Party. Some say the water is still caffeinated.

 

The last, official, stop of this particular walking tour was at a touristy market with loads of food.  Since Col and I were still full from Muls Diner, we gave it a miss and instead headed to The Green Dragon, a really cool old pub that Collin had picked out for a drink and a warmer.  Next door, literally, was Bell in Hand, which is advertised as “America’s oldest tavern” — we couldn’t help ourselves, we also popped in there to see what we could see.  

Ambitiously, he and I then set out to go on (yet) another walking tour this one called, The Freedom Trail.  And, since freedom was the name of the game, Col and I decided to just stop wherever we pleased as we made our way across town.  We walked for miles, learned about cool history, passed through Little Italy, saw the oldest publisher’s house which had been converted into a Chipotle (burrito bowls are the new books, folks), and visited Paul Revere’s grave. 

IMG_9746

The final destination on ‘Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride’ (January 1735- May 1818)

 

Eventually, our hunger reached historic proportions, and so, in keeping with the ‘freedom’ theme, we got some pizza to celebrate our free-from-dairy-free day.

 

Photo May 20, 3 04 11 PM

The Boston Pizza Party– a significantly less revolutionary but way more delicious event.

 

Belly’s full of pizza and brains full of historical facts that we could use to win Jeopardy, Col and I headed to our Airbnb to check in and rest.  It was 4pm — we’d been walking around with our backpacks on, awake and active for over 12 hours!  I needed a nap; knowing that when I woke up in 50 minutes…. we’d STILL be in Boston.  Plus, then it would be dinner time.  I was thrilled with the restaurant options and Col let me pick where we would go.

 

unnamed.jpg

Map Code: Pink pins are must-sees that I’d researched prior to the trip.

 

I chose a place called Bergamot. I’d read lots of reviews that complimented both the food and the service and we were not disappointed on either front.  Col and I got to the restaurant around 8pm.  Even without a reservation, the hostess greeted us with gusto and gave us the best seat in the house (right next to the window).  The lighting was dim — just the way I like it.  While she got the table ready we sat on a couch and, while we waited, pretty much every employee at the restaurant came over to check on us, to make sure we were taken care of and that we didn’t need anything.  So attentive! When our spot was ready, the hostess sat us down at a table set for four.  When the hostess came back, she removed the extra table settings.  I apologized to her saying “there are only two of us”, and she told us that she had set out all of the place settings so that we could choose where to sit and not have her choose for us.  So thoughtful!  We were thoroughly impressed.  

Col and I were served complimentary freshly baked bread and fava bean butter.  We ordered lobster risotto, Brussel sprout salad, and a plate of ravioli to share.  The customer service was impeccable and so was the food.  Dinner at Bergamot was one of my favorite things we did in Boston.  Date night while we were already on a date… Was this a double date?

 

Photo May 20, 8 48 08 PM

Incredible food. Incredible place. Incredible company. See you in 20 years!

 

I wanted to be awake and see live music, so we headed to Toad, albeit just for a second.  It was very loud (and I was very tired).  When our Uber driver dropped us off he said, “I rate you 5 stars, and I hope to be your driver again.”  Which I loved and immediately started to repeat.
Ultimately though, we went to bed.  And it was a good thing we did.  We couldn’t sleep in.  The people who lived above our Airbnb were up early making a ruckus, BUT, we were HAPPY TO BE AWAKE!!!  HAPPY TO SPEND THE DAY IN BOSTON!!!!!

For breakfast, Col and I were back to the dairy-free grind.  We got Acai bowls from a cafe called Nu and I even got to drink my water from a sustainable pasta straw.  

 

Photo May 21, 9 01 35 AM

No surprise, these were delicious.

 

After eating our dairy-free delicacy, we called a Lyft and headed to Beacon Hill, the poshest part of town.  Col and I enjoyed the next part of our day holding hands, walking around, admiring the brick houses, the streetlamp, and the shops.  We went to the Botanical Gardens, played in the park, and saw a “Make a way for the Ducklings” installation.  We then walked across the street to THE place to be in Boston: 

 

Photo May 21, 11 25 05 AM

Cheers, yinz!

 

Photo May 21, 11 21 38 AM

 

Photo May 21, 11 16 18 AM

The gangs all here.

 

Photo May 21, 12 35 36 PM

Grabbing a beer with Norm.

 

We got to the bar right when it opened and saw the owner giving a TV interview.  Our friendly neighborhood bartender, Pearse, was great to chat with, especially with his thick and memorable accent.  We drank and cheersed to Cheers.  Col even got us matching hats as a memento, so fun!

For lunch, we had our hearts set on some dairy-free pizza.  Neither of us had ever heard of it before…so we ordered, to go, vegan pizza with VEGAN CHEESE, from Upper Crust.  We walked back to the Botanical Gardens for a picnic….and ate just a couple of bites before promptly deciding that while we were all about that dairy-free life we were definitely not all about vegan cheese.  It was so bad it almost ruined our day.  Almost.

We tried to forget what had just happened and walked through some more interesting parts of town, stopping for edamame, and visiting an exclusively Harry Potter shop (SO neat!) before heading to the “Mapparium” at the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, or what I like to call ‘The Library.’  Now, you might be wondering what a “Mapparium” is.  I certainly was.  I knew it had the word “map” in it, which I liked.  The “Mapparium” is a giant map at The Library which is made up of glass — it’s so big you can walk through it! I was v excited… that is until we actually got there and it was located in the Christian Science Monitor building.
What?
Col and I were both pretty confused, the propaganda was hard to ignore.  We were required to join a tour (and even though we were in the birthplace of the Revolution, we couldn’t claim our independence from the group).  We learned, on tour, that the Christian Science Monitor has won 7 Pulitzer prizes.  #themoreyouknow

After several minutes of listening to whatever we had to in order to gain entry…into the world we went!  Col and I entered the “Mapparium” and were suitably impressed.  Even though there were countries missing and a few of the boundaries weren’t accurate, it was really cool.  Since they’d made this map in the 1930’s, I was in a forgiving mood. After all, they didn’t have Google back then, we gotta be understanding.  Col and I walked around, admired the stained-glass world, and listened to the echoes. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but, below, is the Christian Science Monitor-approved selfie we snapped.

Photo May 21, 3 57 11 PM

World explorers.

 

After that, we got some delicious, dairy-free, Thai food in the air conditioning and enjoyed lots of noodles . To work off our huge meals, we walked to Fenway Park to see their community center, sit at a bar called Bleachers, and enjoy the views.  

 

IMG_9773

I like to call this one ‘Fenway through the Fence’.

 

The next stop was “home”.  The Airbnb was perfect.  We relaxed, got changed, and talked about how badly we needed a coffee.  We were about to head to…. the Boston Handbell festival!!!  This only happens once a year and, this year, it was on one of the nights that Collin and I were in town!  It was 100% fate!!!!!  I reminded Collin that he loves live music, which he does. “I’m taking you somewhere that you’re going to love.”

 

Photo May 21, 8 49 48 PM

Gotta hand (bell) it to them, they did a great job.

 

At Old South Church, Collin knew the first song that the handbell musicians played.  Yay! I knew he would love this festival!  Throughout the show I kept whispering, “Isn’t this the greatest? I know how much you love live music.” 

The festival was chill and relaxing but the two of us still needed a caffeine jolt.  Col and I left to go to Dunkin’ Donuts in order to grab a warm cup of joe. We took our coffees to go, got onto the subway (shout out to the orange line), and headed to Mr. Dooleys where I got some peach in my Jameson from Terry the Irish bartender.  Collin and I then lounged and relished (some more) live music — this time from Calm O’brien who played Irish songs including Molly Malone, a favorite. 

The coffee did the trick and Collin and I appreciated a late night in Boston, hung out for hours, until eventually heading back to our apartment.

—————-

The next morning, we got this good-looking grain bowl that I had been craving (see below).  

 

IMG_9779

Energizing grain bowl is equal to or greater to energizing coffee.

 

I LOVED IT SO MUCH!!! I swore I could’ve run 6 miles.

However, ten minutes later, the grain bowl decided it didn’t love me back so Collin had to carry my bag.  We walked to Harvard Yard where I read us a walking tour out loud, learned about their library, and saw a statue of a guy who’s not who he says he is.

 

Photo May 22, 11 09 33 AM

The imposter statue.

 

The Harvard Yard was our last stop in Boston, and, soon after, we headed to the airport where we hung out and lived our dairy-free life in the lounge.

 

IMG_9793

A look of satisfaction.

 

Overall, the trip was a raging success.  Setting the tone for many more.  There were enough things that kept us moving and exploring… but we also went with the flow.  It was full of love, joy, play, serious talks, incredible food, and experiences to remember for a lifetime.

Long live Boston,
‘mi

Take a picture, it’ll last longer (another sort-of slideshow)

30 Apr

April brought a lot of beautiful things like….

 

0-2.jpg

These gorgeous pink flowers

 

  • Planning and embarking on a trip to Guatemala! (posts to come!)

 

0-9.jpeg

Hiding a note in the Pittsburgh airport

 

095D465B-E89B-4CAD-B1CA-D7B243E7B63D.jpg

Patrick’s birthday!!! ❤ ❤

 

IMG_9474.jpg

Helen’s birthday!!! ❤ ❤

 

  • …At Helen’s birthday party where I got to pet Victoria’s cat and micromanage some seating arrangements 🙂 — so it was really like I was the one getting the presents.

  • “They call me Crash.”
  • A visit to Findley Lake where I got to see my cousins Wendy and Paul! (and, at the local restaurant, briefly meet that weirdo.)

 

0.jpg

Photo credit: the beautiful Wendy

 

  • THE RETURN OF GAME OF THRONES, which brought about the smiles below.  And then, spoilers, took away the smiles below.

 

0-2.jpg

Playdate

 

  • A fun brunch (but not a delicious brunch) at Enix Brewery with April, Emily, and Laura.
  • But then a stopover at the super cool Voodoo Brewery, plus VB shirts!
  • An emotional breakdown after The Improv.
  • Eating, with Matt (all the way from Australia!) and Col (a hometown favorite) in the Northside at, what the sign referred to as “the best chicken salad in town,” (it’s not) and, on a different day, getting to actually eat the best chicken salad in town (it is) back at my parents’ house.  

 

0-3.jpg

A party at my new friends Joe and Trisha’s with Emily, Erin Tobin, and April ❤

 

0-8.jpg

This VIEW outside of my bedroom! I love this season!

 

  • A bad-beer power hour with Bella.

 

0-1.jpg

And lots of board game days ❤

 

….Which we were assured would be fun.

 

IMG_9808.PNG

Peppered reassurances are as good as a money-back guarantee

 

0.png

The peppered reassurances were accurate — It was fun!

 

  • Spicy, yummy soup delivered to me when I was sick.
  • A Federal Galley date involving the question game.
  • The Table celebrations edition was published!
  • A(n annoying) closure of our 9th street bridge.
  • A gorgeous dinner party for 5 hosted by my best friend, VB.
  • Inspired by outdoors-y films, in particular a mother daughter movie, at the Banff Mountain Film Festival ❤

 

0-5 2.jpg

Great lightening in the Byam Theatre loo!

 

  • Victoria Pinksburgh coming out for the year!!!!!  Huge shoutout to Laura who babysat, and by babysat I mean stored the little cutie. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

 

0-5.jpg

Her maiden voyage.

 

0-2 2.jpg

Full bloom.

 

  • A new tradition with Emily and Laura, we eat lunch together every week!

 

0-1.png

All this friendship is making us hungry. 

 

0-6 2.jpg

LUNCH WITH LAURA’S DOG CHARLIE (AND HELEN) – who also gets her name in caps because, honestly, it’s just as exciting

 

  • April 12th: My and Victoria’s best show ever!!  Drinking champagne, celebrating, sitting next to the Wildys.
  • April 19th.  At The Improv again.  Sitting next to Victoria.  Always glad to be there together! But this time wishing we had ordered our small drinks earlier.

 

 

0.jpeg

Helen got to do a guest set on Ray’s show.

 

  • MATT FROM AUSTRALIA COMING TO VISIT!! ! !!! !!!! !!! ! !! !  HOW EXCITING!!!!!  

     

    0-7.jpg

    Forever friends.

     

  • Going with Matt to Bingham Tavern to watch the Penguins game (FYI: I’m a fan now) and getting involved in trivia on accident, which, thanks to our bonus player, we ended up winning ON PURPOSE.
  • And then, taking Matt to the Micro Diner for pancakes and listening to his accent while he spoke with Dana, our server, whose Yinzer accent (and openness!) served to remind me (thanks for the service, Dana!) how there are people in each corner of the world with a genuine eagerness to show off their hometown (#hometownpride)  — and to help someone from a different place realize why ….(whatever city they’re in)…. is so great. 

 

0-6.jpg

Battle of the accents, except not a battle because everyone wins.

 

I always love this time of year,
‘mi

Winter to Spring: A slideshow (OF SORTS)

31 Mar

Winter was great.  And it’s only getting better as spring descends into Pittsburgh. (It’s still spring, right?) And, well, to be fully inclusive: summer was great, too, New Zealand style, as I was there as autumn descended onto  that country.  I spent the entire month of February down under.  (Posts to come.)

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  (or is it that I’m so far behind that it now feels like I’m ahead of myself?  I can’t keep track.)  Anyway, there are so many great moments that I’m trying to record.  For my own memory.  To share with friends.  And to reflect upon this fabulous life.  

I decided to make this blog post a slideshow. And by “a slideshow” I just mean a list of pictures. Enjoy!  

 

  • One of my most memorable nights was Helen’s performance at The Improv’s open mic in January. It was memorable because 1. It was her first performance there and, as always, she was amazing.  But also, 2. There was the after show hang!  And the rest of the evening spent in the parking lot, sitting inside of my car (in the funnest way).

 

IMG_7412

 

Things I absolutly love in March:

  • March 2nd ❤
  • Victoria becoming my BEST FRIEND 🙂

 

IMG_8714.jpg

Best friend & best friend

 

b1a466fb-6187-4a56-8bc6-7b8eacfff6a0.jpg

This photo was taken on January 31st, before they said I love you.

 

  • Another great night was when wee Emily and I nailed our hangout, back in late 2018.  As my journal so eloquently puts it: “We nailed it! We had a night in. We had a night out. We had an after hours with two Iraqi men.” We chilled at the hookah bar.  It doesn’t get better than that.

         (Not pictured: Any of this experience)

 

IMG_8547.jpg

Our first house fire… but not how it sounds, more how it looks.   Fully contained! (with water just in case). Hi, Laura! Hi, Emily!

 

IMG_8581.jpg

Second house fire!  PURE JOY!  Photo credit: Best friend, Victoria Bradley

 

  • At one point during this seasonal transition, coffee with Madeline.  I only had to pay $0.25/ hour for parking, which was a dream come true — Thanks, Millvale! I got to spend all the extra cash on treats, where Madeline and I spilled some water that the hot barista said was fine, but actually needed a good mopping. Madeline also practiced tipping a non existent hat and finger pointing.  Super suave.

         (Not pictured: the hot barista… or anything else)

 

IMG_8605.jpg

Sneaking away for a selfie at the Baby Grand show.

 

  • A slight neg: “You have Cricket Wireless for a phone company?  I have T-mobile, and I’m looking down on you.”

         (Not pictured: my phone plan)

 

  • Bel and I met some young, Australian backpackers fresh off the mega bus. We gleefully gave them an itinerary.

         (Not pictured: the Australian backpackers)

 

~I’m beginning to think this is a bad slideshow.~

 

  • I thought of a new Furry name: Trigger.  
  • Also, I got to brainstorm other furry names with a theme!

(You can picture it.)

 

  • Emily C and I tried a new restaurant during restaurant week!  The Twisted Frenchman.  Followed by an Ethiopian restaurant afterwards (with Bel) because we weren’t full enough. We might’ve been full. But not enough.

        (Not pictured: the food)

 

  • I had some great times (as always) with Helen. Like when we split ice cream, and split it again, and then again until the end, laughing until we cried.  A treat while having a treat!

        (Not pictured: the ice cream)

 

IMG_8560.jpg

Cooking already cooked vegetables to perfection.

 

IMG_8753.jpg

A dreamy deamflat meal. With salsa!

 

IMG_8564.JPG

The Hello Bistro salad (that I’d been craving) with a quality foodtograph.

 

  • The time where — uh, oh– it was raining inside the house and Helen needed an umbrella.

(Not pictured: because we want to forget)

 

  • After the Club Cafe show, at wee Emily’s house, trying to figure out where on the “scale” scale we were.  Garrett came to hang out and I wouldn’t tell him anything about Helen for their interview.

(Not pictured: the night)

 

  • 18 hours after I landed from New Zealand I started French class.

(Pas dans une image)

 

And now…actual pictures!!!

Other things I loved in March:

  • My first time officially working at R’s C.
  • Turning into a Penguins fan. Go ‘Guins (just kidding, no one says that)
  • I’m uncomfortable or I’m comfortable. “You gotta enunciate that first vowel, they’re just too close together” — CC
  • A plan b, which included eating an ice cream sandwich for breakfast
  • The best parts of shows are the after show hangs
  • And the Smallest Show with Helen and Francis!
  • Eating vegetables #vegetablejob and speaking up at Unplanned when asked “When did you know you were straight?”
  • Voting (obsessively) for Best Comic in Pittsburgh
  • Presents from Nashville ❤
  • Zenith for brunch

 

IMG_8542.PNG

The sweetest text from a new father, Rusty made me Blush.  Congratulations! 

 

IMG_8621

Lake house chillaxin’ ❤

 

IMG_8620

Lake house dinner; scallops!

 

56372150_10157034332112403_1853482347630952448_n.jpg

Meeting Kendyll, Mike, Jeff, and Gatsby at The Apis brewery show #ourfirstpic

 

Emily, Laura, Katie, and I went to the casino and I had the nicest cat-callers. One of them even got me flowers — how can a girl be so lucky…yet still loose all her money?

 

IMG_6095.jpg

More flowers?! I should have been on a roll!

 

A grocery store game!  $30.01 total!  Then “helping” to cook and getting to eat a delicious homemade dinner for two.

 

IMG_8905.jpg

Essentially a $15-dinner for one. #math

 

unnamed

Calling all the shots. Fool me once, Colombia….  I’ll take them all, please  #AlleghenyHealthDepartment 

 

IMG_8904.jpg

Love of my life flat

 

IMG_8801.jpg

New bed, new sheets, new pillows, same princess.

 

IMG_8764.jpg

A champagne cork POP; celebrating a Just for Laughs showcase at Cafe du Jour.

 

And, another big moment. We got to read an article written abroad from THE Katie Barbaro featured in THE Table Magazine

(Pictured below: the experience. Not pictured below: Katie Barbaro)

fc64b4f6-6b0c-464b-bc38-a149d76fc4ec.jpg

Reading my best friend’s words in my best friend’s magazine with my very best friends.

 

…And that’s all she wrote! Literally… that’s all I’m writing.
See ya on the next post,
‘mi

 

All the Countries I’ve visited

29 Jan

I’ve JUST NOW LANDED in the *50TH country that I’ve ever been to.  WOW (that’s not the airline I flew, but rather just a word describing my feelings)!  I’m so excited to see what kind of friends I’m going to make and what kind of adventures I’m going to have.  This is going to be an amazing trip.  I haven’t even gotten off of the plane yet and I’m already planning on coming back (it does help that I have a work visa.  And that my besties wanna join…! And there’s so many places I want to see on the way!)

In honor of this unbelievable milestone, I’ve compiled a list of all of the countries that I’ve been to in the order that I’ve been there.  Scroll down to find out….where is Sammi now?!

 

1987

USA (USA USA)

 

1997

Canada

 

2005

Mexico (Cancun and then, 2016, Mexico City)

 

2007

France

Northern Italy

Austria

The Czech Republic

Belgium

The Netherlands

England

Wales

Ireland

 

2008

Switzerland

 

2009

Costa Rica

 

2010

Jamaica

 

2012

Cuba

 

2013

Iceland

Sweden

Turkey

Nepal

India

 

2014

Fiji

Australia

Japan

 

2015

Singapore

Malaysia

Myanmar

Thailand

Portugal

 

2016

Spain

Morocco

Nicaragua

Croatia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Slovenia

Denmark (Copenhagen)

Vietnam

 

2017

Cambodia

Peru

Israel and Palestine

Jordan

Germany

Ukraine

 

2018

Transnistria (Moldova)

Armenia

Georgia

Azerbaijan

Cyprus

Greece

Kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan

Colombia

 

2019

Now, drumroll please………..number 53 (I miscounted before)…..  New Zealand!

 

Here’s to 50 (*53) more but also, you know, sincerely loving the one you’re with.
‘mi

West Coast Bopping

28 Jan

I 100% could not have done this trip without the generous, generous Patrick who let me borrow his car (keeping costs to a minimum).  And so, because Patrick is amazing and also because his car is in the Pacific Northwest, this leg of my trip began in Seattle.

(As I mentioned,) SEATTLE

Patrick picked me up from the airport, and thanks to Carmageddon (pile-up of traffic due to a major highway closing), we had extra time to catch up and chat in the car while we headed to The Octopus to watch a sports game and then back to his place to drop off his vehicle in favor of walking around in the GORGEOUS SEATTLE WEATHER!   It doesn’t rain there, I swear. 

IMG_7607.jpg

Hello, beautiful Seattle 🙂

 

That evening for our first dinner, we went to a Mexican restaurant, where Patrick and I both had “good orders” including a fantastic soup which I tried to eat while a plate was still on top of it — The bartender, Samantha, watched me try with a spoon but, as I said, a plate was still on top of it. Not the smoothest I’ve ever come across to a stranger.

I recovered, with class, at that bar though with another interaction (sarcasm) — Here’s the story: A man named Fernando, with a gorgeous mustache, was also working behind the bar.  Because of him, between Patrick and I the conversation topic was: “Would you prefer to be told ‘nice mustache’ from a guy or from a girl?  “Fernando!” I yelled as we were talking about him. Of course he looked over. Oops. Um, I stammered, yes we were talking about you but no, we don’t need anything.  Ugh, not smooth, Patrick whispered. (My cheeks turned red and) Patrick and I left shortly after that.

But we didn’t got far!  Right around the corner the two of us *accidentally ducked into a place that became one of my new favorite restaurants — The Barrel Thief!  Why was it so amazing?? Because of this item on on their menu: Cold baratta, beets, and toasted, hot bread.  Fact about me? I absolutely love hot-cold combinations.  Hypothetical warm cookies, chocolate sauce, and ice cream?  I CAN NOT SAY YES FAST ENOUGH! Cold baratta, pickled beets, and hot bread??  LET’S ORDER ANOTHER ONE, please!! 

But even after that surprisingly perfect stop, my night with Patrick wasn’t over.  We still had one more restuarant left — it wasn’t time for bed until we consumed two orders of muscles and two orders of fries.  Sure, it felt like a mistake the next day….but that night it was a blast!  Thank you for taking me out, Patrick ❤

The next morning, luckily for both of us, Patrick lives v close to the best coffee shop.  He enjoyed an espresso while I downed, as fast as I possibly could, the best chai latte I’ve ever had (except for that other time that I was in Seattle and I’d had the best chai latte that I have ever had), and then Patrick and I shared treats.  The treats were 1. I had brought Patrick homemade chocolate-covered goldfish (a la Kyrgyzstan) and 2. Patrick presented AND READ OUT LOUD two blogs from central Asia ❤

Our second night together we went to bed early both because of Patrick’s work schedule and because of my impending road trip to Portland the next morning.  Earlier, Patrick had told me about the time his car had been broken into because there was a blanket on the backseat.  He told me to seriously never leave anything in his car because the homeless population on the west coast was a bit dangerous. I assured Patrick that I would be careful with his vehicle and promised to heed all of his warnings.  

 

PORTLAND

My road-trip to Portland was kind of a bust.  But not because the car got busted into! Yay! I choose not to (but wish I did) get a hostel. #sleepinthecarlyfe Hindsight is 20/20 though, and my perfect vision is telling me that it would’ve been a better idea to splurge on a hostel so that I’d have had a safe place to leave my belongings (and hopefully make friends) instead of bringing my bag with me everywhere I went and driving very far out of town in order to sleep and feel safe.  At the time, the reason I didn’t get a room felt justified: The only hostel in town had ALL of their beds available.  Meaning that there weren’t any friends to be made at that hostel anyway.   So I saved my money and tried other avenues for friendship, like a Couchsurfing event!  But that got canceled.  And then, for other activities that I attended (like an open mic) I was forced to bring my backpack inside with me #nerdalert and that, apparently, doesn’t scream camaraderie in Portland.  

IMG_7563.jpg

A view of the city.

 

Also, the job I applied for didn’t pan out, and the second place I tried needed a social security card, which I had not brought with me. I told them they could have my passport, and, even though it’s the most valuable thing that I own, it wasn’t good enough. Sigh.

I ended up finding a nice hotel that let me leave my backpack with them for a few hours (thank you, thank you!) while I got ready in a fancy bar. Since the hotel staff was babysitting my luggage, I felt safe enough to walk around downtown. I found some ramen to eat and a FedEx driver to ask: “Which part of town do people leave their keys in the car??”

Answer: Lake Oswego

I drove 20 minutes to sleep in a safe part of town i.e. the parking lot of a hotel in a (notoriously) safe part of town.  I knew I was in the right area of Portland when I stopped at the gas station in Lake Oswego — it was fancy and had the perfect solo bathroom to brush my teeth.  It wasn’t until the morning, however, with this discovery, that I knew I’d made it to the big leagues:  Home Depot.  I found the most wonderful box store in Lake Oswego — it opens early, has a filtered water fountain to fill up my water-bottle, had a hairdryer (er, hand dryer) in the bathroom, and had the word “home” in its title! My strategy to bathe at “home”:  Use a refilled water bottle to wash my hair (and bits) in an empty parking lot and then head to “Home” Depot  to blow dry my hair with that hairdryer/hand dryer.  I’ll call it the “Minimalist Chic” beauty regimen, if you will. And I will.

IMG_7565.jpg

So much good food in the Land of Port.

 

But, as is on-brand for me, I didn’t let my accomodations (or lack thereof) keep me from eating delicious food.  Besides that incredible ramen I’d had, I also had some burger sliders, and went to a food truck called Jurassic Cart, which was splendid because of both the food and its amazing name.

Some other major highlights include (but are not limited to):

  • Powell’s bookstore which is a portal for really cool people
  • Sean Whiteman, a friend from college who I got to catch up with. We hung out at a nearby bar where there was a dog inside. Sean was pretty astute, although I might have just been dirty, because somehow he knew that I was sleeping in my car.  Once he told me that he knew my secret, I invited him over to my hotel parking lot spot in order to more thoroughly check out my digs. The tour of my temporary home didn’t last long because there was only one room (and weirdly lots of people outside plus this creepy tree branch that kept tapping on the window), so afterwards, Sean invited me to sleep on his couch, which was so nice, but I stuck to my plan and instead switched hotel parking lots for more privacy .
  • This really fancy grocery store called Zappans where I found myself several times this trip.
  • ICE CREAM. I know, I know. I talked about food already, but I was saving this olive oil flavored Salt & Straw ice cream for its own highlight. It was so good that I may or may not have ordered the same flavor twice in a row.  And the employees were so nice that they may or may not have only charged me half-price the second time. Was this the friendship I’d been looking for??

 

Finally, after a week that felt like a month, it it was time to move along back to Seattle to pick Patrick up from his school trip.  The three hour trip took me seven hours, but I made it right as he got off the bus, so, essentially, the world’s best soccer mom even though I don’t have a kid and Patrick doesn’t play soccer. On the way, Scrappy stopped at a casino but didn’t gamble except on them having wonderful amenities. And I won that bet! They had a bathroom, a charger, Internet, and free bottled water. JACKPOTTTT!

 

(Back to) SEATTLE

IMG_7521.jpg

One part of The Unit.

 

Back in Seattle, I finally slept in a real bed, and it was so wonderful that I slept for a well-deserved 10 hours.

I was staying at Patrick’s (duh), and he said one of my favorite things he has ever said: “My roommate smells so bad or maybe it’s the ecology I have growing in my bedroom.” Hilarious. And true.  Anyway, it was nice to get up at 5am, not have to hold my bladder, and be able to go back to sleep.  It’s the little things.  Or the big ones, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Seattle was great! And contrary to everybody’s expectations, it didn’t rain once while I was there.  I got to see Lucie and Allison a couple of times, too. We played in the park and ordered Indian food for the house.  On another occasion, Allison, Patrick and I got burgers and vegan ice cream.

IMG_7600.jpg

This charcoal ice cream was hard to beet.

 

IMG_7587.jpg

We scream (internally) for ice cream!

 

While Patrick ran 8 miles (wowza), I showered at his gym and used an ACTUAL hair dryer — not a hand dryer.  Later on, he and I had wine and tapas while we talked to Katie B. on the phone for hours. And, as a pair does when they are conjoined by headphones, when we ran out of wine, Patrick and I got up together to order more.  We were really happy about saving $12 at happy hour and asked Katie what the last thing she spent $12 on in Bhat. She couldn’t think of any single item worth that much in Thailand.

Also in the cards for us on that Seattle trip?  A Comedy Sports show and some Turkish lunch with rainbow hummus (see below).

 

IMG_7569.jpg

Rainbows always mean something good; in this case, it meant hummus…which is good.

 

The next day, the Unit (Patrick and I) decided to go on a hike with Shane.

 

IMG_7583.jpg

When the sun was deciding on whether to keep to itself…

 

IMG_7596.jpg

…Or to come out to play!

 

IMG_7582.jpg

An ocean of clouds.

 

When we got to the top, we ate some apples and nuts but had to shield ourselves from the The Birds happening overhead. They swooped and tried to get our snacks while we talked, fit in some trip-planning, and of course laughed, especially about Patrick’s favorite quote from the day: “It takes a village to help Patrick make a decision.”

 

IMG_7590.jpg

 

Later that night, The Unit went to Comedy Underground to catch Matt Donahue’s show. We weren’t ridiculously impressed, and we weren’t mildly impressed, and we weren’t generally impressed. But it was fun, and we got to talk to my parents on the phone outside beforehand, so that was a great time.

The next morning, before the sun was awake, I took a Lyft to the train station (felt “Uber” bad for my Lyft driver, who got pulled over right as I got out), a train to the airport, and a plane to….

IMG_7603.jpg

Wait for it….

 

CALIFORNIA

Molly picked me up at the Burbank airport (variety, fun), and we headed out for a leisurely lunch, walked around, identified plants, and headed to a doctor’s office for a visit.

 

57041917330__5D11AACF-3ABB-4A59-98D6-78DB2AA61C3D.jpg

New hat who dis

 

IMG_7610.jpg

The meal we wanted.

 

Molly and I used our time wisely, I was there for one very full day.  During lunch, a whole new genre of jokes emerged, as we evaluated our leases on life and as Molly made concerned facial expressions when I said something alarming. At our office visit, Molly got a clean bill of health and I marveled at her heart sonogram. I quite literally got to see the depths of my best friend’s heart. And, before I headed back to the airport, the two of us celebrated by going on a sour beer mission and discovered that the key (listen up, folks) is oak-aged, not kettle-aged. You heard it here first.

West coat boppin’,
‘mi