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August

31 Aug

By the time I got back from Togo (oh, didn’t I tell you? I went to Togo), it was the middle of August. I’d returned to the Dream Flat, which Helen had left in spectacular shape before she left… (*sobs quietly…or loudly*). While I’d been in Ethiopia, Collin had also signed a lease in New York and would be officially moving at the beginning of September. Times, they are a’changin. 

BUT my wonderful boyfriend was there when I landed back in the USA.   He picked me up from the airport with a bouquet of roses and a whole day to spend together. There was kettle corn, vegan chocolate, and a Blue Apron steak and gnocchi involved — A wonderful homecoming.

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In love-thiopia

 

Facebook official: In a relationship with Collin ❤

 

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Dream flat still lookin’ like a dream

 

Because Col knew I would be coming back to an empty dream flat (read: without Helen), he often filled the space by hand-delivering gorgeous bouquets of flowers to cheer me up.

In fact, he cheered me up all month — we spent the latter half of August going on cool dates and doing what we love the most– cooking Blue Apron at home.  While I was in Africa, I’d been craving Blue Apron so much that whenever I got a spot of good wifi, I would look up pictures of the food Blue Apron was offering… I’m not addicted, I swear.

 

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The best we ever had.

 

When we weren’t stuffing our faces with Blue Apron at home (and even when we were), we went on the best dates, including one Sunday where the whole day was a date…a Sundate. We started with yoga day at PNC Park where we stretched in the sun, admired our beautiful city, and snuck a kiss on the Pirate’s soft, green baseball field.

 

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Oms in the Outfield

 

After yoga, we went to the free piano day in downtown Pittsburgh where wonderful pianist professionals played four huge grand pianos. It was glorious! After listening to lots of music, we were inclined to make some music of our own…and popped into FI.2 to wet our whistles.

 

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Head over heels.

 

After a drink, we transitioned to Bridges and Bourbon to treat ourselves to a unique dining experience that included an actual campfire and other fun surprises. 

 

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Fancy schmancy

 

And while August was a month for some really great dates, we did have a home invasion

 

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Finding his hiding spot.

 

It was a bat!  After some discussion, I called the landlord.  Jeff came with reinforcements, and, good news, the bat left with Jeff.  Now? All Col and I can remember are the furry bits. Er, funny bits.

With the bat taken care of, I felt good enough to leave the dream flat and head to Louisville for a long weekend to…… SEE HELEN!!!!!!!

 

New state, old friends

 

Of course, this trip was amazing and deserving of its own blog post, so I won’t gonna get into too much detail here. 

On my return from Louisville, my reimmersion back to Pittsburgh, I was in a rush. It was an adrenaline shot, a caffeinated jolt, Dunkin’ Doughnuts, a “please bring me a change of clothes so that while you’re driving I can change in the car before we go and meet your mother.”  

Col picked me up at the airport with another bouquet of stunning roses (he really knows how to pick ‘em) AND he’d put the white couch back together all on his own.  What a mensch ❤

And it wasn’t long until I was back on the road again. This time, heading to Findley Lake to see my parents who, as always, cooked an extravagant meal.  Which gave me a break (that I didn’t want or need) from Blue Apron, but did allow me to enjoy my mum’s amazing cooking.

 

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What’s cookin’, good lookin’?

 

When we got back from the lake, I wanted more dates. I was greedy for dates.
So, Col did what every good boyfriend does, he let me plan more dates 🙂

 

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Who would have thunk?

 

Like that double date Col and I had with Rachel and Roman (Hi Roman! So nice to FINALLY meet you). We went to the Oaks theater where Col was performing, and where I ordered whatever drink Rachel was having.

I also had my weekly friend-date with Emily where we continued our tradition of lunch in the park.

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#Parkperk

 

And a standout date — in a month of already incredible dates–  the fancy date my honey and I went on where we got all dressed up and he played songs on the guitar before we had even left the house. 

 

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Might as well be on the cover of GQ.

 

Plus, Collin, brought me a 3rd bouquet of flowers… SWOON.

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Painting the town. Dahntown, that is.

 

That night, I got to speak Jamaican patois to a very unimpressed Uber driver. And, after dinner, we turned it into a party when Col, my boots, and I all met up with Emily and Laura ❤

Overall, coming back home to so much change after Africa was hard but.. it was also chock full of memorable dates, love, Blue Apron, family, traveling with Helen, and time spent in my favorite place.

A Portrait of an August as a Young Woman,
‘mi

To Ethiopia we Ethi-go-pia

18 Jul

The day had come!  A hard trip!  It was time for me to embark on a 3-week adventure to Ethiopia (E-3week-opia, if you will — and you should if you’re gunna keep reading). The only hard facts I knew about Ethiopia were:

  1. It was the only African nation that wasn’t colonized by a European power.
  2. Its name lends itself to word play.
  3. And we needed to be prepared for kids to throw rocks at us.

Not a lot to go off of so you’d think I would have, at least, checked the weather.  But I didn’t.  As I boarded my international Qatar airlines flight…what was directly in front me captured my attention: The quality of this airline I’d never flown.

Attentive attendants? Great food? WONDERFUL MOVIES? By the end of my flight, it was clear that Qatar is a 10/10 airline. The only thing that I’m still not certain on is… how to pronounce Qatar. 

I landed 12 hours before Patrick in the Addis Ababa domestic terminal (not the international one, which caused some initial confusion).  I sorted myself out though, and headed to the very nice hotel (that I’d pre-booked) to get some sleep.

 

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A place that calls to mind far away adventure!

 

The official language they speak in Ethiopia is Amheric.  Below is one of my favorite videos from this trip….Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, in Amheric, filmed in the backseat of a moving vehicle on the streets of rural Ethiopia.  It was SO much fun hearing an English song in another language. Enjoy 🙂

 

 

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View from the hotel, which belies how nice our hotel actually was.  Alternate caption: I should have brought a raincoat. There, I said it.

 

Once Patrick arrived, we went to the market and bought me an umbrella.

 

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Speaking of Patrick…Here we are!

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. A lot happened before my best friend, Patrick, arrived.  And by a lot…I mean I tried to get a Ghana visa at the Ghanian embassy. When I showed up, they told me I needed to show proof of my United States residency. You’d think a US passport would’ve been enough. You’d think.

 After they turned me away because it wasn’t enough proof (did they want a photo of the dream flat?), I ended up going to the American embassy to ask what else they thought I’d need. They recommended I show the Ghanian embassy my passport. After a quick facepalm, I abandoned my Ghana plans and decided to go to Togo (hehe). #naturalpun

So. Right. Now, back to me and Patrick 🙂 Walking around, we had fun noticing how reality met (or didn’t) our expectations. Thus far, I’d noticed a lack of harassment (compared to what I was expecting). It was there, but not as vulgar or persistent as I’d been bracing myself for. No rocks yet, either. It also didn’t stink as badly as I’d thought (except for in the markets. More on that after I show you my Ethio-utfit). 

 

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Going for a “1” on the attractive scale.

 

The markets, while STIMULATING and interesting, were usually gross with uneven steps that added the possibility of stepping in sewer water. EWWW! There were limited fruits and veggies, lots of dried beans and dehydrated red peppers…and an odor. The kind of odor that one smells in almost every third world damp and musty market. The kind of odor that makes one think ‘Maybe it’s a good idea to avoid the meat.’ It was really overstimulating, at various points we wanted to sit so that we could remove one sense — moving. Overall though, it was enjoyable and the vendors were really nice.  Not as pushy as I thought they’d be.  One time, we overpaid for a skirt, and the woman gave us back the extra bill.

Other things we noticed:

  • Tuk tuk is a universal word (even if we don’t have it in the US)
  • In Ethiopia, the tuk tuks are more closed to protect from the rain, which was a pro (staying dry) and also a con (it trapped the heat).
  • The people were really friendly!
  • Patrick and I felt like celebrities with how many people were greeting us and checking us out in the streets.  
  • There weren’t as many stray dogs as we were expecting (although there were more in the west).
  • Even though this wasn’t something we witnessed, we learned that volleyball is their national sport. 
  • In Ethiopia, they say “yes” by breathing in like a gasp, and it’s a cool sound.

An unfortunate take away:

  • “By far, the dirtiest money that I have ever held”- Patrick
    It’s called bier and it is, essentially, cold hard trash.
    Just think of the dirtiest money that you have ever touched. Vietnamese dong?  ALL the money is worse than that. We had to check both sides to determine…money or garbage?   The kind of money you can’t tell “is it wet?” it’s so dirty.  

As we learned more and tailored our expectations with reality, we also learned some language. The first word we learned was “Amesegnalaw” (which means thank you — phonetically sounds like “ahmeh sar guh nar weh.” You’re welcome).

We used our new word HEAPS, especially when we headed out to eat at a traditional restaurant called Dashen where we exchanged our bier for beer and YUMMY food.  Like that giant shared platter we were supposed to eat with our hands. All I could think about was how I’d been touching the money (gross), and was pleased when waiters came around with at-the-table hand washing supplies. Amesegnalaw. 

The menu was enormous. We had to take a picture of it and then use Patrick’s phone to cross things off because there were SO. MANY.CHOICES.

 

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Family Style-thiopia

 

We ranked each dish (of course), but our favorite was a cabbage dish that we never found again. Injira, we trust.

After dinner, there was a traditional after-dinner workout. We thought it was just a performance for the tourists, but boy were we wrong.  I’ve got two words (and two videos) for you: NECK DANCING

 

 

 

The next day, we visited the Ethiopia National Museum… and, not all national museums look as good as you think they would.  HOWEVER, this museum was were Lucy (discovered in 1974) and Selam resided.  It was really cool seeing the skeletons.

 

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What’s left of Lucy.

 

After some bone browsing at the museum, we went to the Fendika cultural  center where we met the owner, Matteo.

 

Matteo is a dancer and raised himself on the streets. His story was incredible; we had an amazing time talking with him. 

 

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 “What I love in life is when people take risks and go. That is life.” – Matteo

 

That night, we learned more Amharic words: “Bugzaire,” which is when you leave the table, and “Norrrn” (when you return). RIP Buen Provecho.

We also had quite the adventure.

 

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Check to make sure the car looks like it’s in good condition before you get inside — Peace Corps

 

We heard music by a one-stringed cello, met a comedian (just seem to find ‘em no matter where I go), and hung out in the same vicinity as other foreigners who were visiting from Eritrea (first time meeting anyone from Eritrea!).  

Patrick and I felt safe and decided to accept beer whenever it was offered to us. We drank Habesha and, with Matteo, asked each other GQs — but soon upgraded to BQs (beautiful questions).

My best friend and I also spent the night coming up with (what we thought were) genius puns like: truethiopia, Ethijokia, uniquethiopia, clapthiopia. You get the idea-thiopia.

And we tried tibs for our first (and definitely not the last) time. Tibs is a cooked meat dish. Here, I took a picture of the rosemary tibs.

 

As you can see, it was a great start to the trip!

‘mithiopia

Bella

14 Jul

July was all about spending time with my best friend(s) especially Bel, my dream roommate, my soul-mate, who would be moving to Seattle (with the love of her life) while I was in Ethiopia.  It would be the end of an era.

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BFFs ❤

 

We were going to make the absolute best of July, which was bound to be fun since Katie Barbaro had surprised us with her appearance– she had been traveling all over the world and (quite literally) just showed up at my doorstep one day

Before the furries, Katie, Col, and I took a road trip up to Findley Lake. On the ride, we were starving and looking for “more bananas, less republic.” So we stopped at Eat ‘N Park and, after we ate, took some muffins outside to throw against a wall for play.

We also met my parents and went to the National Comedy Center (!), but my mom and dad wanted to keep the cotton candy grapes company in the car, so it was just Col, Katie, and me for that one.

 

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Jam seshing

 

That night, we had a mini concert upstairs and took a short boat ride to dinner. Dinner and a show! And a boat… dinner and a show/boat.

 

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Cruisin’

 

The next day, Patrick and his dad came up to the Lake for lunch 🙂

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The gang’s all “hear”…feat. the furry ears I put on my phone

 

After lunch, we headed out on a longer boat ride. This was pre-Ethiopia.. PrE-thiopia, if you will, and you should, if you’re going to read those blog posts coming up.  Anyway, I gave some of my inside-thoughts about what I thought Ethiopia would be like “based on nothing.” Katie took notes. 

Patrick also brought me my birthday present (wrapped in the picture below…). It was AMAZING, but you’ll have to read the furry blog to find out what it is 😉 

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A photo FULL of presents. And presence.

 

After the furries were over, it CLEARLY deserves a post of its own, the dreamflat — Katie, Bel, and I — played Pandemic 9 times in one day to unwind… And we finally won!!

We also made some amazing cookies with our new Kitchen Aid mixer. And, Katie preformed on a showcase at The Improv.

 

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 Blue Apron dinners in July.

 

This month/always, I wanted to soak up all of the love from Col. So he and I spent days– yes, days…plural– in bed catching up on Handmaid’s Tale. We also drove back up to Findley Lake to meet my parents’ sweet outdoor kittens: Barley, Bean, and Olive.

 

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Furry to furry connection

 

This month was also the Dutchtown Music Festival!  Literally right outside our front door. Obviously we had to check it out.  At one point, there was even a marching band in our favorite park; Bel and I ran outside to appreciate them.

 

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Best seat in the house.

 

Because all of us were together — Katie was there for almost the entire month — The three of us bought matching/mismatching earrings and then tried to take Helen to get her ears pierced (not gauged) in the Southside. 

The day I left for Ethiopia was hard.  For breakfast, Collin made me a version of the dream flat meal with eggs 2 different ways ❤

And Bel, my darling Bel, had bought the cheapest plane ticket we could find so that she could accompany me through airport security – say hi to Emily and Laura – and so that we could spend every last possible second together.  She wasn’t really flying on a one-way ticket to Altoona.  Instead, she and I hung out in the newly revamped airport lounge where we shared a chair, champagne, hugs, and a whole bunch of tears.

 

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I’m not crying, you’re crying. Well, actually, we’re both sobbing.

 

As we said our goodbyes and I got on the plane, I was thinking of Bel.  I tried to remember the positive parts to a life in transition; it forces you to try new thing and opens you up to new experiences (some that you didn’t even know you wanted). Sigh.  Not to mention, all the gratitude I was feeling for getting to live under one roof with my bestie, Bella, the laughs that we shared and the memories we made.  I had been SO lucky ❤

Life wisdom:   You can’t unburn a cookie.

To Bella,
with love,

Bam

Furries = Fun

7 Jul

“It’s dopening day! ”  – Bel
Our furry squad was reaching the height of dopeness!!

Helen, Patrick, Molly, a super surprise named Katie, Russ, Emily, Victoria, Collin, Laura.

 

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This years furry bingo sheet.

 

We all put so much energy into the furries, bringing people around that we love and who help us shine. “I think the furries brings out the best.” – ‘mi
“The furries are our Burning Man” – KB

The group gathered with puns, hugs, and stories. Russ came in hot with a few gems. 1. How he met the “Bob Ross of furry erotic art” on his flight over, and 2. How when Russ was little he used to tell people his name was “Wuss” because he couldn’t pronounce his R’s.  Bonus: 3. Wuss wasn’t on my case at all. In fact, he was really nice to my case — my phone case.  He was always petting her and being super sweet. (see below for a remind-ear of what my phone case looked like.)

 

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Clawsome new journal!

 

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The gang’s all here… just not in this picture.  Note:  photobomb made by furry phone

 

Standing in the kitchen: Patrick told Katie he decided he wanted his own children when listening to her podcast.

Standing outside: Patrick asked Katie for a favor:
Patrick: Can you blow this bug off my arm?
Kate: Patrick… if you say jump, I’m on it

The festivities officially kicked off on Wednesday night when the whole gang – including Brittny, Ricky, and Katie Diamond – joined us for Italian dinner.  We had funny conversations and lots of Good Questions (GQ).  I let everyone know that the BYOB drinks were pre-offerized and Ricky, incredibly, opened a bottle of wine with a knife.  

 

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Punorities:  When your priorities are pun based.
Stopping mid conversation to evesdrop on a pun.

 

Katie D. asked Katie how her jokes went in Iceland?
Katie: “They Icelanded.”  HA!

Conversation at dinner:  How much would you pay for a full human skeleton? I don’t want to separate the skull from the bones.

Russ, reporting back to us about a different conversation: They were talking about killing and cleaning a guinie pig.  “What!?  Go back and ask how that came up”.  – Bel

 

 

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Good listeners AND good talkers

 

After dinner, Patrick and Katie walked the plank… and not the zucchini variety.

We headed back to the Dreamflat to make (the best ever) cookies. During the dessert session, Ricky noticed that we needed a mixer (AND has since sent us one– THANK YOU <3). Plus Brittny found the WONDERFUL birthday present that Patrick got me…

 

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“Um, excuse me, this car is octopied…”

 

A FULL FURRY SUIT TO WEAR FOR THE ENTIRE CONVENTION!! A FIRST FOR OUR GROUP!!!! WE WERE GOING TO GET TO ENTER THE PARADE!!!

 

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Octopus, octopi, octopuses…the sentiment is itentical..

 

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Makin’ everyone laugh with ten tickles.

 

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“In America, we love puss.” – Molly

 

Before we’d gotten together, the pack used this year’s Anthrocon’s official theme — Surf Pacific — to choose our names:

Sammi: Eel-ated

Helen: Clown Fish

Patrick: Friction Underwater

Victoria: Whale Wolf

Emily: Shrimp

Laura: Ink-redible

Katie: Whaley Swift

Standout name options that didn’t make the cut…:  New squid on da block, Oy(vey)ster, WAGuna beach, EleFUN in the sun, SHELL yeah!, So-fish-ticated , Crabsolutely, Ooo barracuda!, Ten-tickles, Swim trunks , Pupcific Rim , Sun of a beach, Prawn king and queen, Yeah, buoy!!, Pelican’t right now, You turn me Prawn , Sea horsin around, Sam the clam, What the duck…tolling retriever

 

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Four-eared friends

 

Thursday morning we did yoga in the park with Cassie 🙂

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Nam-rawr-ste

 

After yoga, Furiction Underwater and Whaley Swift cooked breakfast, which we wolfed down like wild animals. It was delicious.

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Please feed the animals.

 

Next up was the “Strange and Weird” sightseeing cruise that I had booked furr everyone! The furry one! The one that the furries were on!  The Gateway Clipper! You get it!
Except I must’ve had some a miscommunication with the computer because… we weren’t on the right cruise

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You get what you pay for.

 

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Pawsitivley patriotic on the fourth of July.

 


“Was the best part of that cruise when we passed the actual boat that the furries were on and waved!?” 

They said it was a strange cruise. They said it was going to be weird.  But in reality “it just lacked facts #factlack” – Clown Fish, our new tour guide

 

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Can you believe we’re not on that??

 

We were like two ships passing each other in broad day light.

 

As we waited in line for the (disappointing) boat, someone came up to us and said, “Hey, furries! Look at this!” And pulled out real-fur sugar gliders. It was VERY cute and SUPER unexpected. “Furry surprise” CHECKED off the Bingo sheet.

That night, we watched spider monkey videos from Patrick, and did some prep for how people were going to react to The Octopus; Mostly actions and not words because “you’re a walktopus, not a talktopus.” – Molly

 

 

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“Say 8!” – Brian Regan

 

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4 ears, its just a fun insult for us.

 

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Day 1: Eager beavers.

 

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Day 2: Howlin’

 

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Day 3: Fur-eaks

 

“Like, even the girls from my high school who still said huzzah probably wouldn’t come to the furries” – Shrimp 

 

Opening ceremonies set the stage (and was on a stage) for a whole weekend of fun.  

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SonicFox with a microphone up his mouth.

 

This year, the charity was raising money for parrots who needed expensive surgeries. And we laughed until we cried while sharing (the best) cookies from last night. 

And later, we met Queenie:

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#YassQueenie

 

 

We asked:
“Why are your eyes two different colors, Queenie?”
Answer: “It’s called heterochromia, and just between us, it’s the only thing that’s hetero about me, baby.”  Haha, got it.

The group also met Smoochy Boo, a mistletoe character who smelled wonderful.– Definitely deserving of a smooch.  And we met some safari hunters who were looking to see unusual animals interact with each other.  

Patrick had a fur-lebrity sighting (CHECK that off of the bingo sheet)! The mascot talk leader from last year…(see below)

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Patrick had some follow up questions.

 

This year, I learned more about how suits were made.  It’s really cool!

Then Victoria, who felt like she wasn’t in America anymore (fair), went to Fursuiting 101, where she heard a golden nugget of wisdom: “You’re already a big, fluffy animal. Clearly you’re happy.”

 

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Fluff on fluff.

 

 

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Getting a little too chummy for my taste..

 

We took our food and lunch breaks on that familiar floor.  Mostly diving into the snack pack (a backpack full of snacks), which had all the treats we wanted.  Including grapes, which Patrick, Wuss, and I had picked up at Giant Eagle pre-convention…when Patrick, with his grocery cart, WAS DE PON A MISSION.
The group also relied on Grubhub for hot meals.  We had Thai food two days in a row which got better each day ’cause we knew what to order.  “Extra broccoli, please”

“This water bottle says Russ but it’s really Sammi’s.” – Sammi

While snackin’, we met Bizzy (with tennis balls) from last year. Luckily, he didn’t remember us.

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Too Bizzy to mingle.

 

 

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Lounging on the octo-pillow

 

We had read (in advance) about the talks and panel discussions, so we were ready to check them out when we got there. The first one was “Definitely Not a Fox Party,” which wasn’t a very strong use of reverse psychology.  We were onto them; it was a fox party.  We happily went, and there was a powerpoint but no presentation. Just a photo of an adorable baby fox that stayed up on screen for the entire duration of the talk.

The fox party was seemingly in the midst of filming a music video, and they played us the track. The head, red fox (also a redhead) asked us “Does it need more fox?” 

GQ, fox. GQ.

Katie: “I honestly think I’m becoming more fox right now.” How could you not be??

It was during this talk where we learned about the Telegram app.  And also where we decided we should add “…being chased by a fox” to every idiom. For example:

  • “Running around like a chicken with its head cut off….being chased by a fox” – Clown Fish
  • “We dodged that bullet…being chased by a fox..”  – Furiction Underwater

 

After the talk, we wandered around the convention. Some of the group ran into the founder and celebrity….Samuel Conway!!

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A regular Dr. Doolittle

 

Others of us mingled.

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Saw some fintastic new furries.

 

And as we wandered, we wondered, “Where can we go be casual next?” 

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Best friends no matter what animal we inhabit.

 

We found our way to the dealers room, where we could be casual and purchase a couple of cool backpacks. And Molly, who took a redeye from LA on Friday, took her own much-needed cat nap.

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Nobody puts kitty in a corner.

 

We saw some epic dance competitions.  I would not discourage you from watching this video:

 

Sometimes, at this event, fursuiters would wave their fursuit head on their arms, as lighters, to show their support.

 

Daily, we took a picture with as much of the crew as we could gather.

 

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You know what’s ironic?  The bigger the ears, the harder to hear.

 

We went to the Rodent talk, a favo-rat every year.  This time, the beaver was a heckler.  When the Moderator Matthias asked: “Who here resonates with being the little guy that wins!?”  The beaver replied, “Beavers aren’t that small.”

The rodents discussed being the misfits. They’ve always had a negative connotation because they caused the plague. “C’mon. All we did was cause the death of ⅔ of the human population…” – Furiction Underwater

During this talk, Wuss raised his hand to ask how he’d know if he was a squirrel?
Answer:

  • You have a big, fluffy tail.
  • And, here’s a question: Do you delay your food gratification?

Followed by: “Since we’re discussing squirrels”….a random guy who wanted to transition topics.

As Matthias finished up the talk Patrick whispered, “Does anyone have Matthias’ number so we can call him and see if he picks up in the middle of discussion?” Lots of GQ’s.

Later, we went to a hoofer talk, where everyone had to introduce themselves but Collin and Wuss bowed out gracefully.  And then, a huge, spontaneous blow up party grew up around us.  Some sentences only make sense at the furries.

 

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Horsin’ around.

 

Whaley Swift, talking to a small horse:  “Do you like to get ridden?”

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Now watch me whip, now watch me neigh neigh

 

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An elephant with an octopus head.  Being walked by her dalmation mole.

 

Furiction Underwater and I decided to sign up for (and win) a furry escape room!  There were eight spots available which was how Octopus, Party of 8, got her official team name.  Even the orchestrators of the Escape Room were impressed with our strategies.   They said we worked well together, were clearly the fastest, and afterwords, they wanted to be our friends.  Party of 8, and growing 🙂

 

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Octopus, Party of 8

 

Afterward, on the way to Railfur’s talk, I met Babaru.   A friendship that, at first, went swimmingly.

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This seems fishy.

 

Babru and I took many pictures together, and I thought we had fun.  But Babru didn’t remember me later.  “That’s because she has the memory of a goldfish” – Wuss.

Babaru shut me down hard.  It was almost cruel. We were both underwater animals. I had thought we had had something. I was devastated.  Am I laughing so hard or am I just crying?  I said, in a retelling of the story.  “Delete the pictures. Delete them all.”

 

Luckily, the fact that it was almost parade time distracted me.  Patrick and I went into a room we had never gotten to go into before!  He was my handler and we seemlessly blended in with all the other fursuiters who had gathered in the Hall A. It was an experience neither of us will ever forget (unlike Babaru who WE HAVE ALREADY FORGOTTEN ABOUT).

Before we headed off, Molly reminded me to “remember your moves”

 

 

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Pre the first OFFICIAL furry photo.

 

Patrick’s perspective:

 

 

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Can you spot my orange head? (Hint: middle, all the way to the left)

 

And thus, the parade began…

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#1 fans ❤

 

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Octoproud!!

 

During the parade, Patrick, the not-pictured handler (handlers have a tough job) “Remember your moves!”

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All fur-together again.

 

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Octo-scarf

 

After the parade, there was (obviously) still fun to be had. Wuss realized he just might be a moose.

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Antler alert.

 

And we went to the My Little Pony Talk.  Where Katie was having a very good ear day.

“I’ve never gotten so much ear attention!” — Katie
“How stelephant got her groove back.” – Molly

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Prized pony.

 

At the talk, we won some prizes.  And Wuss looked up the lyrics and sang the theme song ❤ Perhaps that will be his next karaoke breakout??

This year, we also learned how important badges are because they represent what ‘you’ look like before you can afford get a costume. Or, as you’re figuring it out.   Party of 8 was commissioned, looking very mischievous, and currently hanging on my fridge. Katie drew this badge for Helen:

.

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Furfection

 

Should Katie set up a booth in the Dealers Room next year??

At one point, we saw 3 blind mice and wondered…Is the guy in front the leader of the Blind Talk?  (a real event that we went to.)  During that talk, we heard “If you’re going to be blind, “also be fat ’cause if you crash into someone, it’s better for you than it is for them.”

Molly asked a GQ:  “What are the perks of being blind?” #blindperks

  • In airports, you only need minutes to get through security.
  • No car insurance.
  • No electric bill. 

 


 

On Saturday night, to close out the convention, there was a rave (of course). In fact, it was THE best rave ever and DJ Ultra Pup made an appereince.  

 

To quote my boyfriend in what might be one of my favorite videos ever… “It’s lit.” 

 

 

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Outside the rave cave!

 

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Inside the rave cave!

 

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Who’s ready to octopartyyy?

 

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Passing around the tentacles

 

Everyone took a turn wearing The Octopus 🙂

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GIVING ME LIFE!!!

 

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Col, Patrick, and Wuss making my heart burst with LOVE

 

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My heart repairing itself so it can BURST WITH LOVE one more time.

 

Molly was all over it.  We needed her; She made Helen’s hair match her own, she scoured the building until she found some long straws that I desperately wanted.
“I feel so safe here.” – Molly

Saturday night is the best.
And Sunday’s are great, too.  After closing ceremonies, the team, what was left of us, had a heart to heart at Proper Brick Oven before heading back to the Dreamflat to watch a one-woman show of the full-length award winning musical, Pockets, sung by our darling Molly.

 

Plug:  If you wanna check it out, Pockets will be preformed LIVE in New York City in December 2019.  I will be there for sure!

 

Furry weekend, I couldn’t have been happier.  Everyone I love, having fun, with an insane  backdrop.  In 2019, we were prepared for Anthrocon.  Deeply prepared. Thank you to EVERYONE for bringing it.  In fact, next year, might we be up for a new challenge?? …

Furry week in Atlanta is supposed to be an absolute party…
May 7th – 11th 2020
The theme sounds amazing:  The Enchanted Forest

I did some research:  A hotel would cost $40 a night per person (depending on how many people come). Plus registation (which is the same as Anthrocon). And flights are bound to be reasonable…

Then there’s the Boston one, which is also supposed to be good.
February 20th -23rd  2020
Theme: The Roaring 20’s

 

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Back to our natural habitat.

 

Anyway, an octopus can fant-fur-size.
Love,
‘mi

 

An excerpt from a text I sent during Anthrocon:
“I don’t want to type out what a good time we are having ….but you can assume it’s fantastic” — Eel-ated.  

The Things June-o Know

30 Jun

In June, I was elevated; food, time spent with people around me…
Here’s some evidence:

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Elevated open-faced sandwich with a side salad.

 

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Shrimp tacos. Level: Elevated!

 

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Peach pork with a little side of ELEVATION

 

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Elevatoes– elevated tomatoes.

 

All of the above was inspired when Victoria sent me my very first Blue Apron Box… I fell in love!  And, as you can see, it also elevated my food photography.  I won’t add this many food photos to every blog from now on, I promise.  

During June, I also reaffirmed a belief long held by Katie Barbaro:  Eating out of a bowl is BY FAR the coziest way to eat.

————-

 

June was a great month because a show I love, The Handmaid’s Tale, picked back up (fitting, since the main character’s name is June) and also, unrelated, because Bel and I threw a Pride Party at the Dream Flat!  JUNE IS PRIDE MONTH!!!! WE LOVE PRIDE MONTH!!! IT SHOULD BE PRIDE YEAR!!!  PRIDE FOREVER!! (and yes, before you ask, we’re working on a Pride Party blog post )

 

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Colour bones

 

On Friday, Bel and I got dressed up and painted the town (well, just 5801, aka the best bar) before her show.  We saw lots of friends and brought bonus stickers to gem anyone who wanted ‘em.  It was a wild pre-show night that included sneaking into a private area for free things, trying on a hard-shelled furry mask, and a police officer who encouraged us to take everything to go.  Wahoo!  HAPPY PRIDE!

 

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Purple hair for pride is #elevated

 

After that, Bel’s show – hilarious —  and the next day was our Pride or die party.  Super successful!

On Sunday morning, Helen, Victoria, and I walked downtown to the Arcade Comedy Theatre to march in the Pride Parade where we grabbed blue t-shirts and, close to the start, ran into our saviors, Emily and Laura.  While we were standing there, chatting to our friends, a man I didn’t recognize came up to me in a sneaky way.  I was suspicious but it ended up being no worries because he was only after past-friendship!  He pointed to his wife, Ali, reminded me of how I knew them both, and I walked over to meet their three children and to have a bit of a catch up.  I couldn’t believe they recognized me.  I was very flattered and pointed out my best friends before we had to walk away and find our place with the Arcade team.  Unbelievably, Eva, of HP house cup fame, was singing beautifually behind us during the march.

 

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Pride & Joy

 

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A celebration!

 

The three musketeers ducked into fl. 2 because we needed to cool down.  And, truth be told, we also wanted to drink champagne.  That afternoon, Bel and I continued to walk around, appreciated Pittsburgh’s new Pride layout, and watched a drag show.

 

Speaking of shows …..

 

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This stud.

 

There was the one at Apis Brewery where both Col AND Helen preformed #mydreamteam and Andrew also stopped by to meet us (how fun!). 

Also, June was the month where Collin…..

 

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Collin watching Collin.

 

…headlined at The Improv!!!  I’ll say it again. Collin had a headlining performance at The Improv!!!!!  It was a sold-out show!!!! He’s very impressive 🙂 My family drove in from FL, along with Andy & Baker from Ohio, and Brit from another zip code.  Emily and Laura came, too. We all went out to dinner at PF Changs. Emily, Laura and I ordered for everyone before 6pm so that we could get the good deals and winked at the waiter to “keep cool”.

 

We all arrived at The Improv in high spirits, and grabbed seats , front and center.  Collin invited me to pop into the green room for a pre-show, green room kiss, making me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

 

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Happy to be here.

 

The Improv made a special menu featuring Collin-themed drinks and I wanted to try them all.  The show could have been twice as long and I still don’t think I would have gotten enough.  It was incredible!!!!  And the crowd gave Collin a STANDING OVATION!  He deserved it. 

 

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After show hang.

 

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Improvisation photo station

 

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Thrilling!

 

That night, we booked a room in a hotel that offered us a free cookie.  I ate chips on the floor before bed, wore sunglasses to breakfast, and asked Collin to carry milk in a bowl up an elevator for “later”.

 

The next day, Col had another show — so awesome! — this time at the DVE local stage comedy festival.  We found some quality time before the show, just he and I, at a fancy dinner, which was not delicious but was very fun.  As we sat down, we heard this quote that made no sense: “Better early than never, as they say.”

 

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Deciding what bad food to order

 

After the DVE show — where Collin did so well — there was an after-show hang with Billy Gardell (!) who’s just as nice as his reputation makes him out to be.

 

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Pirate to the left of me, joker to the…farthest left of me.

 

——————-

Another show… This time in the form of a podcast!  Col and I had the honor of being on the Ya Jagoff podcast together.  He was on to promote his aforementioned, sold-out gig at The Improv and I was invited on to talk about travel.  It was really entertaining.

 

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Pictured: John and Rachel  Not pictured: Me or Collin

 

 


 

 

The laughter in June wasn’t confined to comedy shows or podcasts.  I shared laughs with my parents and aunts in FL, where we hand painted pint glasses to raise money for the library and made homemade avocado ice cream for dessert.

 

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New boat; new captain

 

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Sisters ❤

 

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Sleeping quarters at the lake house.

 

 


 

 

At some point in June (or maybe this is just when I started to process it), I got some news that both elevated and deflated me at the same time.  Helen and Victoria announced that they were moving in together (CONGRATS!!), but that they were moving across the country to Seattle (CONGRATS BUT ALSO CUE THE TEARS).  I was (and am) really happy for them, but it was very bittersweet.  I love Helen, I love living in the same city as her, and I love our Dream Flat.  But, in good news, Helen and I appreciated our time — you could say it was elevated — once we realized the finite nature of our summer.

And, of course, since Victoria and Helen were leaving, they had a going away party which was organized by the famous Kate — who I was so excited to meet.  Little did I know I would be the one getting a KATIE BARBARO-SIZED SURPRISE.  On the day of the party, Helen texted me to ask if I could bring, in my car, some wine bottles that someone was dropping off at the house. “Of course!” I responded. So when the doorbell buzzed, I ran downstairs to open the door and…..this is what happened.

If you didn’t watch the video, here’s the Cliff Notes version: It is a video of what genuine shock looks like.  Katie Barbaro, who had been traveling internationally for 9 months, WAS AT MY DOOR.  I was in pure shock.  Absolute, total shock.  The most surprised that I have ever been in my entire life.  I literally don’t know if I’ll ever be that surprised again. In this video, you’ll see me find out that Helen knew (WHAT.  “Helen knew?!”) and that Katie was going to stay for the furries.  SHOCK, SHOCK, ABSOLUTE AND TOTAL SHOCK.

20 minutes later, still in shock, we pulled up to Magarac, where the gorgeous, sweet going-away party was being held.  Victoria’s besties, Kate and Dana, threw a wonderful event at a gorgeous venue with delicious food, wonderful people, and genuine warmth.  I feel so grateful to Black Radish for all the love and attention to detail they lavished on our shared best friends, thank you!

 

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SURPRISEE!!!!!

 

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Leave a message after the bee(r)p.

 

At the going away party, I got to see Martin (yay!) and he suggested that after Bel leaves, Katie B. should move into the Dream Flat…. GENIUS IDEA.  Fingers crossed that his idea comes to fruition!

 

That night, after reeling from excitement, and finally getting over some of the mouth-agape shock, Katie, Col and I went to Kendyll and Mike’s to play some games (including charades). Kendyll’s friend Kheng, was (according to Katie and I) the MVP and, no surprise here, the girls team won.
———
June was a whirlwind of excitement and changes.  Here are some more memor-Junes:

  • Fathers Day at Findley Lake, my dad hit publish on his first ‘my blog post’ — and is now sipping on coffee from around the world.
  • Enjoying the process of planning a 3-month anniversary dinner.  Farm to table. Vegetarian. Unique menu item. But then deciding that lacked pizazz and went with Jewish. Good lighting. And you can bring a dog.
  • Erin Tobin and that extra long scooter ride ❤
  • Sleepy goose. Quack quonk
  • Words with friends
  • Playing tennis with an evenly matched opponent named Doug.
  • Our first 24-hour day in Pittsburgh; commemorated by pouring water, very dangerously, into each others’ mouths.
  • Nailing the world premiere video of You Need to Calm Down because “We have our pulse on pop culture.”
  • Helen and I thinking we’re the same person due to our #SharedMemories: “I took Improv with Walt!” “Wait. Did you?! I took improv with Walt.” “Oh, that’s right. You did.” 
  • Helen’s first time headlining at Arcade!
  • Victoria’s drink dysmorphia at Bar Louie after a fantastic ‘Most Wanted’ showcase
  • A picnic I planned (and then loved) of ribs, outdoors, and a scooter ride
  • The roast of Jon Snow (featuring Drogon, Jamie Lanister, and others)
  • This conversation about hard lessons: “I want to play with my ball, that’s my ball.”  “Well, I know you love your ball but other people can play with your ball, too.”
  • Feelin’ cute:

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Commemorated with a selfie.

 

  • Multiple, cozy nights of Blue Apron, Handmaid’s Tale, and love in the Dreamflat

 

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Couldn’t get any cozier.

 

  • Lunch with Emily & Laura at Federal Galley followed by dinner with Emily, Laura, Julie, and Charlie

 

This last photo will be of a real-fur named Charlie, in anticipation for the **next blog, which is Anthrocon 2019!!!!!

 

**Next is subjective.  I write these in whatever order I want.

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Sweet Charlie who did not bite my finger

 

 

El-June-vated,
‘mi

 

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.

The Taste of 32

23 Jun

(Editors note: This post is a requisite 3 months behind.)

You know how some people celebrate their birthdays for a full week? I’m not that extra, but, I have to admit, this year I was spoiled by the people around me ❤  

It started on Saturday, with Bel, and some pre-birthday cardio at the gym (thank goodness for that exercise, you’ll see what I mean) followed by our favorite gorgeous scooter ride through the park.  Afterwards, we spent time at the Dream Flat drafting up a super fun furry email and making a delicious Blue Apron pizza before going on (yet another) fun scooter ride. Later, I dropped Helen off downtown at her show. 

When I picked her up, we had a hiccup on the scooter and decided to call it a night before midnight.  But, the fun wasn’t over because when the clock actually struck 12 – on my legitimate birthday – I was privy to a private, hilarious, 7 minute standup show from Collin about Budweiser and the dentist.  And then he and I got to play one of our favorite games: brush each other’s teeth before bed.

The next morning (Sunday funday) was a day of lasts and firsts. It was my last day taking my live-typhoid pill (I’m coming for you, Ethiopia!), but more importantly, it was my first day of being 32.  And I was gifted one of Helen’s jokes for a year (thank you!).  32: “The age we dream of being, am I right, ladies?”

At 8:30am, Emily and Laura brought the party over with flowers and champagne. I opened my two adorable cards (thank you girls!), and we ate some cookies for breakfast because we’re all grown-ups.  Luckily, the cookies gave us the energy we needed to (literally) run to the aviary so we could make the very first bus of the day on our hop-on-hop-off tour at 9:46am.  With a little bit of birthday luck and a boomerang of Old Town Road, we made it on time.

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Humans have 32 teeth so we were smiling like this all day to celebrate

 

It was a gorgeous day!  We had a fantastic bus (Francis), tour guide (Heather), and driver (Ken), who we found out immediately (because of his accent) was from the same suburb in Ireland that Helen’s mom is from. Cool! We took a seat on the top and waited, excitedly, for our tour to start.

There were 21 total stops on this tour, but we weren’t going to stop at all of them. I was going to choose wisely! And thus, we didn’t get off at the first stop, the Warhol museum. That would have been crazy! Getting off right away?! We would never make any progress! But then we got to second spot — The Heinz History museum. Intriguing. None of us had ever been. “Should we stop?!” I turned and asked. “This is like being on a road trip with you. We’ve only just started”, laughed Helen. But, because the birthday girl was the designated chooser and this particular birthday girl subscribes to the notion that “the fun is in the stopping”, we got off at the Heinz History museum, “stop number two, please”.

 

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Next stop: Pittsburgh!


The museum was AMAZING! None of us could believe we hadn’t been in there before. It’s a Smithsonian and it was so interesting and well done.  It was over an hour before we realized that we hadn’t even gotten to the second floor (there are 6 floors total). Helen, who was about to be moving to Seattle, was inspired by our surroundings and said “Is it called Heinzsight when you look back on how great Pittsburgh is?”

At one point, while perusing the exhibits, I’d lost my notebook. I calmly said, “I’m not concerned, but I think I lost my notebook,” to which Helen responded: “I am [concerned]” but as I turned around in a circle, she pointed down to my notebook, which was resting snuggly under my arm. Haha, whoops.

On that first floor, we learned a lot about the Vietnam War and, randomly, Marvin Gaye.

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The headsets that were mistakenly took for recreations of Agent Orange wands…awkward.


An interesting story: Marvin Gaye’s brother, Frankie, fought in the war and would hear his brother’s pop songs on the radio. When Frankie got back, he told Marvin all about the war and what it was like to be a black man in the trenches. Marvin used those experiences in his songs, and that’s when his music started getting more depth; it was a reflection of what his brother, Frankie, had relayed to him.

After over an hour (the first floor was essentially a stop within a stop), we decided to go up a level since there was still so much else to see. We learned, for example, the origin of the word “Nickelodeon”– it’s a mix of nickel (5 cents) + oideion (Greek word for theater).

Beyond language lessons (and other lessons), we also spent time in a lot of interactive exhibits. And the more we learned, the more questions we had. For example, at one point Emily turned to me and Laura and asked, “How long has mortuary science been using formaldehyde to preserve dead bodies?” We waited for the answer because we had no idea. Turns out, she didn’t either. Instead, she answered her own question with, “That’s where our day has taken us…Thinking about that.”

At noon, we were only on the 3rd floor with still a BUNCH more to see. Bel had turned to me and whispered, “If there’s one thing we can skip, it’s the sports section.” But then, as soon as we turned the corner into the sports section, Emily said, “Oh! Here’s the best part!” And Helen and I laughed to ourselves. We went in and it was true, we would have missed out on a lot of fun.  Like. we wouldn’t have been able to see Emily Athleteon pull a hat trick and sink three footballs in.a.row. Ink-credible!

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Hut Hut, Heinz!


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Moments before Laura scored a goal on herself.


It had been three hours in the Heinz museum and we still had so much left to explore (which is a great excuse to go back) but we had to leave.  It was time for us to get back on our tour bus.

On the way out, we exited via a slide. Emily was so eager that she bumped her head before going down and said she “felt betrayed.” The slide was tight and small, and it was amazing to stretch our bodies as we came out the other side. Laura went down last but a bunch of little kids cut her line just before it was her turn so we all patiently waited for her to arrive.

But while we didn’t get to see the whole museum, we were able to weasel our way into getting a prize by running up the stairs and getting a stamp on each floor. Our prize was a pickle pin– a pinkle. And we each got one before we headed back outside to meet the bus. We’d just spent so much time indoors that we’d forgotten what a gorgeous day it was outside!

Luckily, we had the same guide (Heather, yay!) and made some progress (as far as more stops went) on the bus. The learning didn’t end at the museum, either. We learned about what was happening to the strip district (total reconstruction), and then, it was most definitely time to stop again but first we got to lean over and touch the roof of the Roosevelt building on Penn! It was so cool to touch a part of Pittsburgh that so few have the opportunity to.

We chose our second stop to be in a part of downtown that none of us were too familiar with.  We went for a walk to see the Union Tower building (which we had just heard had been renovated), and admired its beautiful architecture. Not to mention the gorgeous orchids! They were stunning and I muckled them with my eyes.  They were safe.  Not too long after we entered the Union Tower a security guard came over and asked if we worked there. We obviously didn’t, and she told us the building was closed.

So we left and walked some more. The four of us found a new restaurant called Wolfies. We loved the furry title. And our waitress, Carrie, was so nice and extremely helpful. Plus, there was great music playing at Wolfies, for those in the group that were excited about that sort of thing 🙂 Food wise, I always want nothing more than people I love loving something too, so we all ordered food that we could share including buffalo jackfruit dip. [Obviously we over-ordered, but Saint Carrie packaged food for us to go (some if it before it even reached our table). We also ordered coffees, that she graciously let us grab to-go, while we, once again, ran to our bus.]

WHAT A FUN DAY!!!!

This time, we hopped on and had a new tour guide (Sarah) and a new driver (Rich). I didn’t catch the bus’s name. Honestly, we didn’t like Sarah as much as Heather, but the tour was still great. We all loved being on the bus– it gave us scooter vibes except taller, more secure and very safe. PLUS we were getting a new perspective on our city, which was fantastic.  Helen, Emily, Laura and I were all having the best time. We had one more stop — to pick-up some much needed water bottles — before completing our Pittsburgh tour.

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Laughs-burgh

 

At 4pm, we all got back to the aviary a little sunburnt, a little tired, a little dehydrated but OH SO READY for the second part of the day with….

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COLLIN AND VICTORIA!

 

The two of them set up an Iron Chef layout…they had brought ingredients (and bonus cooking supplies) to the Dreamflat to put together an amazing, multi-course meal.  But, PLOT TWIST (but actually not really because this is how Iron Chef works), Helen and I got to go to the grocery store to pick out $32 worth of surprise ingredients that Collin and Victoria had to include in their dishes.

So, while Helen and I were hopping on and hopping off, Victoria and Collin made an  hors d’oeuvre: black olives, fresh pesto, BURRATA (my newly discovered. favorite cheese) and roasted chickpeas that tasted like popcorn. All served with an absolutely stunning bouquet of red roses ❤ 

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Knocking on heaven’s door.

Helen and I went on a Giant Eagle run with our $32 budget and brought back:
a “hottie mix” (spicy peppers)
2 mangoes
grapes
broccoli
asparagus
guacamole
a pasta shape I’ve never tried before
ricotta
portobello mushrooms
whipped cream
and one (free) nectarine.

Our total was $32.48, less than .50 cents over our $32 birthday requirement!

 

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For the second appetizer of the night (have you ever heard of such a thing?), the chefs made ricotta mango bread covered in hot pepper flakes. Delicious!

 

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Spectacular foodtography feat. flowers by Emily+Laura and FRESH pasta feat. mushroom sauce and a dollop of ricotta. #drool

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Veggies decorated with a homemade balsamic reduction. 

Next up, one of my favorite dishes of the night!  Pasta in a shape that I’d never tried before.  The chefs cooked it in water and then put it in a frying pan, with the “hottie mix”, to make it crunchy.  It was hot and crunchy, indeed! So Collin and Victoria cooled it down with guacamole (because guacamole can be a pasta topper) and it was delicious and SO fun to eat. When it was time to re-heat the left overs, this was one of the first things I grabbed.

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Guasta… Guac+pasta


On Iron Chef, there is one winner.  But on my birthday…We were ALL winners.  Seriously!  The food was exceptional.  The company was sublime.  And then, the chefs CLEANED THE KITCHEN!!  Winner winner, so much food left over from dinner. I was a happy birthday girl.

The four of us retired to the living room/porch in order to relax and digest.  We debriefed about all the amazing food we just ate, brainstormed how to get Victoria’s key back to her house without her leaving, and filled the Brita more than it’s ever been filled in its life.

Eventually, albeit still full, it was time for dessert.  Collin and Victoria had made a watermelon cake decorated with grapes, a (free) nectarine, and totally smothered in whipped cream. They had successfully completed their Iron Chef challenge!

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The birthday glow.

I had a DELICIOUS!, fun, spectacular day AND night, which only got better when Helen and Victoria gave me their Pittsburgh themed present — which I adore, thank you!! I felt special and taken care of all day; it was an absolutely fantastic birthday with people that I love.

The next morning, Victoria and Helen had an early flight to Mexico and Collin and I got to spend one more full day celebrating my 32nd. Col gave me a gorgeous necklace and, because he told me he had something planned, I asked him when the next part of our birth-date would start. Collin responded, “Anytime, cus it’s already here.” *mic drop
I was incredulous. What were we going to do??

The two of us went downstairs (at, like, noon, ’cause we weren’t hungry after the Iron Chef) and continued with the food theme (because obviously).  Col had brought us Matzah ball soup, to make together.  I’d never made actual Matzah balls before, and neither had Collin so it was a really fun first-time activity.

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He’s my Matzah, Matzah man.

Col and I lounged the rest of the day.  We did all the things we love.  Went for a walk.  Watched our show together.  Played a game of Dutch Blitz.  Responded to phone messages.  It was perfect. And if all of this wasn’t enough (it was!) my other best friends had sent me some sweet birthday vibes too.  Molly and I chatted; she had had some fun alone time on my birthday, along with seeing a few Fringe plays. Patrick, hilariously, sent a lone link to an Ethiopian coup, with no further details, and Katie left an adorable video voice mail.  I felt SO. MUCH. LOVE. all. day. long.

That evening, after getting help with cocoa butter application (which was such an unexpected delight), Col and I went on our dinner date. But not just any dinner date.  Cols idea was that we were going to set a timer for 32 minutes and whenever it went off, wherever we ended up, that was where we were going to stop to eat. EXHILARATING! As the birthday girl, I got to dictate the entire drive, deciding which direction we were starting out, if (and when) we were going to turn right, turn left, stay straight, etc. Col was going to steer wherever I told him and, this won’t come as a surprise, we had such a fun drive.

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A game AND a date with this gorgeous man?! Happy birthday to ‘mi.

We ended up driving over our allotted time by 1 minute and 46 seconds but I’ll blame the rain storm that happened on our drive.  We found ourselves at Juniper Grill, a place in a strip mall that neither of us had heard of but that had great reviews.   We never would have tried to eat here without this game. On entry, the lighting wasn’t great, it was like a spotlight on our table, but that was about the only thing that wasn’t tip-top about our experience.  The food was phenomenal and the service was even better (big thanks to Kathy, our waitress). I started with the martini I’d been dreaming about, and fresh corn bread that tasted like cake. Col and I then shared some shrimp flat bread and ahi tuna. Again, this birthday and the spectacular food!  I switched to a mojito and Col stuck with the old fashioned because he’s old fashioned and wonderful like that.  For dessert, we shared (free) ice cream with a candle and a chocolate shell. It was blissful.

 

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About to make a wish that has already come true ❤

After dinner, Col and headed back to the house to play some (more) games (like cards) before I fell asleep hours before I meant to.  This was SUCH a great birthday.  My mom must be right, everyone in heaven is in their thirties.

Here’s to 32 tasting pretty sweet. And savory,
‘mi