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A Midsummer’s Night (and Day) Dream

25 Aug

So I’m not going to write this blog post in Shakespearean prose because…that sounds really hard. But I will say that in my midsummer (which, honestly, doesn’t rival the original, I’m not trying to compete, Shakespeare) — there was absurd fun, laughter, drinking, hanging out in nature, waking up to random fairy creatures (just kidding although I did witness some really awesome clouds with magic-like qualities).  Please sit back, relax, and enjoy the show (aka my blog).

 

PARTY EVENTS

  • Helen, Kristin, and I got ourselves invited (by asking to be invited) to Nanny Stock (thank you, Lauren!) where we set up a camping spot and enjoyed this small, friendly memorable festival.  As we were pitching our tent, which was a daunting task, Helen lifted our spirits by reminding us that camping “looked hard, but it was just fun in disguise.” Once we set up, we hung out, laid on that Peruvian blanket, and watched the clouds roll by.  We each got to make a wish…and all of them came true. Helen even saw a shooting star (which made me wonder, was her first wish for a second wish?!). It was a great weekend.

 

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That camping fun sure does look like a lot of work. Thanks for the help, everyone!

 

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Sky Blot test: what do you see?

 

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Can’t get enough of these clouds!

 

 

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Making wishes that all came true.  

  • I also went to….my second Hanson concert! Hanson was playing live with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra — how special — and Laura, Emily and I had center seats…but all the way up in the back as if I didn’t book these tickets 3 months ago. We had to take an elevator to get there, haha. Regardless, the show was fantastic.  The Hanson boys kept switching instruments and even sang a brief acapella song at the end which was my favorite. No offense, symphony. After the show we waited outside in the hopes that we would get to chat with them (a true fanson always holds out hope). Alas, they escaped to their hotel without time for photos.

 

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Look at all of those brothers on that stage.

 

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Sisters from other misters going to see the brothers.

  • Another concert that I LOVED was Taylor Swift, opened by Camila Cabello. We got “Ready for it!” at the dreamflat and walked over to Heinz Field.  I got to sit next to Helen which was invaluable because she whispered little known facts and commentary in my ear, really enhancing my experience. Such a good show.
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Pregaming for End Game (wink, wink).

  • Another cool mid-summer party:  A Harry Potter-themed event by Eva, whom I had met only once anywhere from 3-6 years ago, I couldn’t remember. The two of us had really connected over a random lunch but I hadn’t seen her since.  This was the first time that we were in touch and again, it was because she invited me to a Harry Potter themed house-party!  I said yes immediately, sent her a message confirming that she had indeed meant to invite me (she had!), asked if I could invite Helen (I could!) and took the night off of work to attend.  There was no way Helen and I were going to miss out on this golden snitch of an opportunity. Per Eva’s request, Helen and I got sorted into houses on Pottermore before the event (we were both Ravenclaw), dressed up in all the HP these clothes we had, and drew lightning bolts on our foreheads (see below).  We were very excited.

 

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Hindsight:  Wishing we had a spell for face recognition.

 

It wasn’t until we arrived at the house and went inside that I realized I had totally forgotten what Eva looked like. Talk about a party house-cup foul.  I panicked but we started mingling right away, surely I would recognize her….right? We ended up on the porch talking to a guy who also hadn’t seen Eva in awhile but had gone to highschool with her.  “She’s great!” I said. “Yeah, she’s great!”, he said right back. “Which one is she?” I asked. “What, are you kidding?” he asked. Helen was cracking up, I shot her a glance and said “Yeah, of course, but pretend I’m not.  Will you point her out?” He looked at us like surely this was a joke and pointed to a group of 3 women. “The one with glasses?”, Helen asked. “No”, he said. “The one with the crazy pants?”, I countered. “No!”, he laughed.  Haha, okay, great, the other one! Two wrong guesses later, Bel and I went to say hi to our gracious host whose face both of us will totally recognize from now on. To Eva’s credit she recognized me right away and was excited to see me, too 🙂

Shortly after that little mishap, which nobody knew about except the guy (sworn to silence because we used the silencio charm on him), the party officially got started. It was so well organized!!  Eva hosted with a fake British accent. Bel and I grouped up with the other Ravenclaws. We played flip cup with spells, quidditch, find the Horcrux, wizard chess, and trivia. We got a little competitive, lost horribly, but still had so much fun that we are inspired to throw our own theme party.  (This post is a reminder for team #dreamflat to plan that.) Our night ended in the Southside eating delicious Cambodian food.

 

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Ending a midsummer night in Southside.

  • Regardless of how it started or how competitive we got, we must not have totally blown it at the HP party like we thought we did because I ended up meeting Allison who invited me to Phipps conservatory.  She had served in the Peace Corps in Guinea (not Papa, or French… just OG Guinea). She then invited me to an awesome Peace Corps dinner where she cooked a ton of delicious, homegrown food and I got to meet her other Peace Corps friends from Moldova and South Africa.
  • In other ‘foreigners I’ve met this summer’ news, I hosted a Couchsurfer from Niagara Falls who helped me go on a little staycation. I got to explore the city with a fresh perspective and end another night in the Southside watching the chaos.

HOUSE EVENTS

  • I started growing my own mushrooms. No, not the magic kind.  The shiitake kind. After carefully cultivating, growing, and harvesting my first round of ‘shrooms, I was delicately moving them while we were cleaning the dream flat — after I had spent days soaking and caring for them — WHEN SPLAT! I DROPPED MY PRECIOUS MUSHROOM dirt all over the floor. *Whisper Scream!* I couldn’t real scream because Patrick (Hi, Patrick!! We love and miss you!) was sleeping upstairs. (Whisper screams are more concerning anyway, I guess.) And Helen came running to see what was wrong. Such a shame to lose them, they were really fun-gis (lol get it?).
  • Our fridge got clogged (never again, jello shots) so Helen brought the cold items to wee Emily’s house to store in her fridge.  Moving in the first time she ever went there. Classic lesbian. Thanks, Emily!
  • Helen got new glasses 🙂 They are a -.75 and look adorable but are a slight buzzkill because they’re always so negative and complaining about how she can’t see.
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Negative glasses for a positively wonderful person.

  • Speaking of Helen, she and I were long overdue for a bestie date (haha do we just always feel this way or is this just always true?!), so we headed to Eighth Grade (the movie, because nobody needs to go back to experience puberty). It was great — we love Bo Burnham — and made us thankful that we are, from now on, grownups.
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Bestie date.

  • I was inspired to get a job in government work (highly classified)– or at least tell people I work for the government.  “I’m a government contractor. I do government work. I can’t talk about it.”
  • I found out the owner of the bar where I work is selling (but hopefully everything else remains the same)  …Maybe I really will have to work for the government, Josh.
  • I hung out with Jodi and Bella and went for a walk (one of many because….)
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A walk by the river where we ran into the Regatta.


PLANES, MOTORCYCLES, AUTOMOBILES

  • …My scooter got hit by a truck (all the crying emojis!!!!)  PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE: a Chevy Silverado. But not all of them. Just the red one that hit my scooter. Luckily, she was parked (legally – “Excuse me, ma’am, you know nothing.” / “I’m not going to thank you for doing the right thing.”), no one was driving her, and the people who hit her came inside to get me and their insurance paid for everything. But for an entire month during the best part of the summer (but not early or late summer — read: mid summer) I didn’t get to drive Pinksburgh. I fought hard with their insurance company, and ultimately they rented me a motorcycle for three days.  Ahhh!!!! HOW EXCITING!!!! I ended up getting….
  • A monster. A complete monster (pictured below). An 800cc BMW machine that was waaaayyy too big for me and held waaaaayyyy too much power. The guys at Eagle Rider were incredibly kind and patient with me but I could. not. handle it!  I needed to downgrade. Didn’t they have any scooters I could rent?? No. After spending 30 minutes trying to ride the 800cc beast I had to return it. In it’s place, Eagle Rider gave me another monster. This one was larger (in height) but smaller (in CCs — 400).  I still couldn’t leave the parking lot. Every day (for 3 days) I drove my car to the rental place, geared up, and drove that motorcycle around the parking lot getting better each day but never actually taking her out onto the road. It was like a motorcycle carousel ride (but more dangerous) and I’ve decided that it’s the scooter life for me, thanks!

 

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Monster #1

 

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Monster #2

 

  • I visited Findley Lake with some beautiful women I don’t get to see very often:
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Two aunts and a niece.

 

  • I also learned about my mom’s stunning garden– like mother like daughter, eh? Just kidding, she wasn’t growing mushrooms indoors.
  • I got ready to feel THE BURN. AKA prepped for Burning Man.
  • And, after the furries (most wonderful time of the year), I headed to Toronto to visit a legend for a hot minute and to support England in the World Cup.

 

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Seeing double (and not just because my phone case still has fuzz on it from the furries).

 

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Ordering traditional fish & chips to honor the OG motherland.

 

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We started the weekend on an Austin Powers themed couch and ended it with our faces painted to root for the monarch.

 

Anecdote: I sent the above picture to Nikola in Croatia, congratulating him on the World Cup win over England but included “ignore the face paint” in the caption. He said “that would be like my wife sending me a naked picture but telling me to ignore the guy in the background.” Ha!

 

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Nikola, Congrats to Croatia!

 

  • On the way back from Toronto, I slept in the car to harness all of the energy I possibly could before seeing Patrick and packing for a mere hour to then rush off on our 25-hour transit into Kazakhstan. They asked me if I had anything to declare at customs… I sure did.  

 

FRIEND EVENTS

  • I went to Goat Fest with Emily where I got to meet her bestie, Erin and, later, Erin’s boyfriend, Josh. Josh brought a penny (not one cent but, like, a sports shirt) for Erin to wear and all the girls went into the bathroom to switch clothes. We took photos to commemorate. See below.

 

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One of these is now hanging on my mirror.

 

  • I got to have a fun dinner with Josh and Kristin (what a group!) at my favorite restaurant, Cafe du Jour.
  • I played darts, went to a bonfire, started Anne of Green Gables and was “one curry away from eating a curry” (beans, veggies, and pineapple from a can).
  • At one point during our midsummer, Helen and I were 85% positive (still are) that someone is pregnant  (hint: it’s not one of us!) 

MmmMOPIN’ AROUND

  • Helen got to perform twice at the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival, plus a special edition Harry Potter show at Penny Arcade. Harry Potter was a theme this midsummer (wink). During Helen’s shorter second set (which was so fun) she told a Hanson joke and then, because of that, Mmmbop – by her favorite band – was the closing song of the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival!!! AHHH!!!!!  You can only imagine how excited we got! I told you… this midsummer was a DREAM!!!

 

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I still feel the anticipation and it’s already happened.

 

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After her closing set, Helen and I got to help clean up Arcade Comedy theater, which we were honored to do. Cleaning, you say? Honored? YES!! You know the feeling where you get to take care of the things you love? Like making your bed after you’ve slept in it?  Welllll…

 

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Mmmoping with love & elbow grease.

 

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Faces of the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival #PGHisfunny

 

HAMILTON, HAMILTON!

  • Earlier this year, I bought Helen Hamilton tickets for her birthday (watch her amazing reaction below!).

 

The day finally arrived for the show and we road tripped to Cleveland with her besties, Patrick and Andy (hi, guys!), stayed at an airbnb, popped into the original Moe’s Tavern (which inspired the Simpsons’ bar as the writers lived above it!), and went to Playhouse Square to see one of the greeeeatest shows around!  It was so good, even better than Helen and I thought it was going to be. We loved it. We got into an Uber in the best moods of our lives and said “HELLO! …. stranger” to the driver. 

 

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Young, scrappy, and hungry.

 

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“Talk less. Smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.”

 

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“And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?” — Eliza

 

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Bestie’s Best Belated Birthday!


Helen and I ended the night at a hot chocolate bar, i
t was truly a midsummer for the ages.

‘Til summer’s end,
‘mi

 

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Pittsburgh in the (MID)summer #nofilter


PS.  Hi to Paul and Siri who always read until the end 🙂

PPS.  Katie, did you know I knew Siri too?

Furries 2018: My Herd and Soul

8 Jul

In a world where animals can talk, where goats and dragons date, and where a secret society of rodents (allegedly) lives in Walmart, anything can happen, so it’s important that you find your herd. LUCKILY for me, I already have mine. This year, I wrote a preparation e-mail and sent it out to all of my flock so they would know what to expect. Here’s a blog hyping it all up.

 

 

And here are some reviews:

“I felt like I was living a dream I didn’t even know I had!” – Katie B. (Tail-y Swift)

“A weekend full of highlights” – Helen (EnthusiasTICK)

“I ex-fur-cised my body, mind, and soul.” – wee Emily (Em-azing)

“The only weekend of my year where I got both stronger and more cuddly.” – Patrick (Paws)

“Every year it exceeds our impossibly high expectations!” – EnthusiasTICK (see above)

 

 

The convention started on Thursday, but Patrick arrived on Monday to help plan our adventfurs — or “earscapades,” if you will. That “fur”st night, the two of us were up until 3:30am, chatting and having fun when we realized that we had FORGOTTEN TO PLAN MONDAY!!  Shoot.   We had been so excited but now… we also were going to be so tired. Ah, well, the best laid plans forgot to account for the entire week. #lessonsfornextyear #ITWASWORTHIT

As more of the herd came trickling in, Anthrocon began in style: at the Dream Flat brainstorming, making a snack pack (which, just to be clear, is a backpack full of snacks), and ensuring all of the food we had was going to get eaten.

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Fur real, wearing a pair of ears increases brainstorming capacity.

 

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The Best Kind of Graffiti.

 

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Furry Friendships!

Everyone on our crew had a role.   During that initial brainstorming sesh, some of us became food distrubution pillars.  Helen, Sammi, Patrick and Katie were just that, meaning, we weren’t going to let anything in our fully-stocked house go to waste.  “Let’s move some watermelon, people!”, said Katie, and we did.  Helen and I ate cereal (that was pretty much dessert) with lots of milk (so much milk).  In addition, since Patrick hearts snacks, he had put himself in charge of the snack pack (a backpack full of snacks).  “Does anyone one want any hardboiled eggs?”, texted Patrick like the good food distrubution pillar that he was, 30 minutes after we had all left the house and eaten a hearty breakfast.  We looked over at him and laughed (he had texted us while we were all in the same room).  He had a smile on his face and eggs in his hand.  Katie made a gorgeous list of house food and house rules (3. HAVE FUN “Don’t tamp* my tail**.”), and Colleen was in charge of making a bathing schedule and keeping us to it (with only one shower in the house, each of us furries had to clean our tails in a timely manner.) 

*oppress
**fun

Using some of our snacks as brainfood, that first night we came up with the idea to play some Furry Bingo this year at the convention so as not to wander aimlessly, because you know, it’s a jungle out there.

 

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This new game we created gave us a challenge, a focus, an activity all weekend, and a lively group thread.

 

Most of this blog, from here on out is going to be pictures and if you’re a part of the herd, you’ll catch the references.  Otherwise, enjoy the visuals. I think they’re joyful and surreal.  The scene is set in Pittsburgh…

 

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The furries, making reality more romantic.  
“I can’t believe we just get to live here.” – ‘mi
“Yes! I’m just a short 8 hour mega bus ride away.” – Katie B

 

Walking to the convention center that fist day, it was clear how much Pittsburgh loves the furries! There were police, ambulances, humans (without tails) in cars, all honking at us, waving, and smiling.  WELCOME, FURRIES!!!!  

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Crikey! A pack of wild furries caught in their natural habitat.

 

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We’re off to see the furries!

 

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“It is the best holiday of the year” – Bel (Helen)
(This year, Bel and Emily took Friday off of work!!!)

 

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The Convention Center watering hole: But DON’T drink the water. We’re animals…not savages.

 

We knew that inside, we would be joining the really slow, tame stampede which definitely couldn’t kill Mufasa. #spoilers

 

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A bird’s–I mean an elephant’s-eye view of our stomping grounds.

 

My phone cover case was so fluffy and hot — but it matched the theme of the weekend…It was a furry!  You’ll see it in the corner of the above picture and all throughout the other photos in this blog.

 

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Emily from the front at her first — and definitely not last — Anthrocon.

 

We went to the opening ceremonies where Dr. Samuel Conway, the organizer of Anthrocon declared in this magical, accurate quote: “We’re not crazy,” he said, “We’re just individuals who like having fun!”  I couldn’t agree more!!!  LOOK AT ALL THIS FUN:

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Sweetness.

 

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Don’t let the big paws fool you, they’re a bunch of teddy bears!

 

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Only time I want to see a jungle cat this close up.

 

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Cat(s) nap?

 

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Never seen a cooler otter…I mean just look at how he’s sitting.

 

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Except maybe this otter…who is also a bat!  Part otter, part bat.

 

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Katie (aka Tail-y Swift) saw Otterbat too 🙂

 

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Spotted: Furiosa (Colleen) in the wild!!

 

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Macro furries.

 

So after a full day walking around the convention center, doing furry things, and checking off the Bingo sheet, we called it a night and went back to the Dream Flat to snuggle like the true pack that we are.

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Smartbo helping EnthusasTICK love the snuggles.

 

We lounged a bit, and I stayed really hydrated by drinking out of every open container I saw…because that’s “the best part of being the hostess, drinking all of the open available drinks.”  #hostessperks The more guests you have, the more variety of beverages! Katie figured out that I hate labels though, so she told everyone the best way to keep their drinks safe was to a) label it or b) keep active guard.

When it was finally time for bed — and we all welcomed it; we were exhausted — we snuggled onto two air mattresses, two beds, and a couch to accommodate all of the animals in our herd. But, even with adherence to the schedule, I didn’t get enough sleep. I never sleep enough during the furries. There is always someone I LOVE who is willing to stay up late and talk and someone else I LOVE who is willing to wake up early and snuggle. And I’ll do both every. single. time.

 

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Fur family cuddles in our den.

 

This year, we decided to add exercise to the schedule to keep us fit and healthy, so in the morning, we woke up ready for a worksnout. We had a fursonal trainer, and everyone had the option to work out for an hour (but you had to wear tails and ears, obviously). Katie used a smaller pair of ears for the worksnouts.

Overheard on the way to the ex-fur-cise park…
Katie:   These are my workout ears!
Helen:  Every girl needs a pair!

Everyday was a really hard workout, but we pushed through like the BEASTS that we are; although, we were sore all day long. When asked where, Molly (Bone Sandwich) said, “I’m sore in the center. In the middle of my center.”

 

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“I’m sore in my haunches and my cheeks.” – Bone Sandwich

 

After the workout, we had a quick cat-shower (like a cat-nap, only wetter), we took breakfast to go, and then it was time for DAY TWO!!!!!

 

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Merry Fur-day, ya filthy animals!! (but not really filthy, because we had a bathing schedule. Thanks, Colleen)

 

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Howl always love you guys.

 

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Have you herd? We’re the coolest pack around, so says we. #Avengers

 

One of the squares that should’ve been on the Bingo sheet but that wasn’t was “Start a Furry Trend.” At one point, we were all trying to find each other at the convention, and we started howling so that we would know where our other herd members were. AND GUESS WHAT? Everyone on the convention floor started howling too. Is that amazing or what? Inspired by goals that we didn’t even know we had. Here are other times that we crawled around aiming to cross items off of our Bingo sheet:

We met an interspecies couple! Tail-y Swift and Em-azing got to hear the love story between a dragon and a goat.

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Dragon + Goat: An Interspecies Love Story.

 

Emily got a signature by a furlebrity — a famous furry who we met in the RODENTS! talk.

 

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Starstruck by a Rodent!

 

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On the hunt for the perfect tail

 

We found a shark to follow on Instagram!

 

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Platypus & Shark wearing matching shoes… they must be friends. Told you anything could happen.

 

Another bingo win came when I “weaseled” (hehe) my way into a picture with over 5 full-suiters!

 

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Find me behind the furrr!!

 

Of course, being on the hunt is hard work, and we didn’t factor in any coffee breaks into the schedule this year. So we found ourselves taking a few breaks to rest and enjoy a snack from the snack pack (a backpack full of snacks).

 

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Smartbo had to take her ears off every now and again — they’re heavy! Point me in the direction of the Headless Zone, please.

 

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You can’t fur-get to rest!

 

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Bumblecoon and co.  –  “Molly, here, I got you something”, threw it on the bed and walked outta the room.

 

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The absherd.

 

I was determined not to be another elephant statistic and, as Smartbo — not Dumbo —  I decided to name off a few other famous smart elephants…There was Babar… Mrs. Babar (who did get shot, but that’s beside the point), Dumbo’s mom… you know, there are probably more I just can’t think of them right now. I mean, there are definitely more.  There are more.  I’ll think of more. #opentohelpwithbrainstorming #trumpetingsound

 

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Not the only famous elephant.

 

We also decided to watch wee bit of the world cup! And I made up an elephant dance.

 

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Make sure you sit in front of Smartbo if you’re trying to see the screen.

 

 

EnthusiasTICK was always excusing herself to address the elephant in the room and I was all ears.

 

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Didn’t mean to hoover, but I was really digging this moose.

 

Some talks TALK:

On that first day we went to the Scalies talk (everyone made their way over there while Molly and I ran back to prevent anyone in our herd from getting a ticket because THE FUN IS IN THE RUSHING!)  We missed the talk, BUT from what I herd [lol, pun], everyone who went to the talk now thinks they are party Scaly except Patrick.  Right before it was her turn to share Bella (Helen) turned to Patrick to let him know she felt nervous.  Patrick responded with:
“You think you’re sweating!? I’m sitting in a dog suit at a Scalies talk!!”
And then! Patrick continues, “it becomes Helen’s turn and Helen says, in front of everyone — while dressed as a giraffe — that she thinks she’s part dragon.” Ha! Give it up for 2018 Helen, figuring out her fur-dentity!

 

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Let the scalies do the talkin’.

 

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Raptor Jesus Delizard Us From Evil

 

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Helen, is that you?!

 

We also went to the Bird’s talk, and we decided that a well-done bird costume is the flyest of them all. Colleen even bought a macaw suit for next year!!

 

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Trading in the tail for a couple of wings.

 

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Do birds need scarves?

 

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May the stork be with you

 

Going to all of the talks was really informative, and we learned a ton! We learned about the Skull furries, the Milfurs, and the Aces (asexuality). Patrick took empathy to a whole other level and now we can tell people “we are a bartender; We are a teacher.” ❤

Even though we went to a lot of talks and learned a lot about the different types of furries, our favorite talk this (and every year) was the RODENTS! talk. And no, the all caps and exclamation point does not signify my enthusiasm. They write their name like that — RODENTS! — and I love it. This was the best forum where I really get to know my friends. Both Katies and Molly participated as well as Colleen. They had never had a mole in the room before either, which was exciting for both us AND them (thank you, Bone Sandwich!). Colleen — a black panther — apologized to the RODENTS! for her previously destructive behavior (furry dare completed; checked that off the Bingo sheet). The rest of the herd sat listening with awe.  WHAT A YEAR!!!

A non-rodent — a jackal — walked in late to the meeting group and there was a stir.  But someone in the meeting said, “No, it’s cool! He’s my roommate,” to which the leader of the group responded “Oh, so you can vouch for him? Then it’s cool.”  But it wasn’t cool.  He aways had to hold his tongue out to speak and and Squirrelly Diamond (who most identifies with squirrel’s fluffy tails) kept fact-checking to see if the non-rodent was, indeed, telling the truth. (hint:  HE WAS NOT)

We also learned about the rats of Walmart, which I previously alluded to.  Those are a group of rats that live in Walmart and only come out after Walmart (which is open 24 hrs) closes.

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Fievel goes West(ern Pennsylvania).

 

During the talk, the head rat recalled the time he became a rat. “Thirteen years ago — I can’t remember the exact day —  but I became a rat.” He says. Helen turns to me and remarks, “Um, yeah, I think I would remember the exact day.”

I laughed.  I mean…she’s not wrong. Seems important.

Another time, we were talking about specifics of being a rodent and Helen almost called out an Opossum sitting in the back for thinking he belonged here.  #marsupial But at the last minute figured it might trigger an identity crisis so she kept her dragon mouth shut.  Although, it’s easy to see why the Opossum thought he was a rodent — anyone that attends the RODENTS! talk thinks they are probably a rodent, because, as I keep mentioning, the head rat is amazing.

After the talk, Helen and I debriefed.  “There were a lot of times when I was sitting in the RODENTS! talk I found myself sincerely saying “that’s a good point” or like ” I agree with that” or “Wow! I hadn’t thought of it that way”  to these really CrAzY questions and answers . We learned a lot.

 


 

Over the next few days, we really got working on our bingo sheet.

 

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We were on a mission!

 

Helen got to put on a head!

 

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It’s no dragon, but it’ll do.

 

And EnthusasTICK and Emily found a full-suiter, Bizzy, to bring to our favorite bar, The Warren, which is amazing and supports the furries! They even hung an Anthrocon sign to welcome us!

 

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Bingo! Found a full-suiter to be an honorary member of our herd.

 

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Look at that SIGN!  How could this not be our favorite bar?!

 

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Fluffin’ each others’ tails.

 

Another time when we were out to eat, a guy named DJ Yoda Fat came up to Molly and said that they had a mutual friend on Facebook. Katie D. said, “Is it Sammi? Because we all also have one mutual friend here, too.” Turns out, the mutual friend was Helen, and when we all turned to look at her it was abundantly  clear she didn’t know who Yoda Fat was. She turned bright red and after a beat said said, “Oh, hello again.”

Beyond playing Furry Bingo, the weekend was filled with spontaneous fun, and we purrrticipated in events that we didn’t even know we wanted to do until we did them — like being asked to be involved in a chain-tail fashion show.  We hadn’t considered non-fluffy tails up to this point. 

 

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Emily, gotta fluff them all!

 

We ate a lot of food (would it be my blog if I didn’t talk about the food?) Of course there was the snack pack (a backpack full of snacks) and the food distribution pillars.   But we also organized other aspects of the food differently this year, like getting orders in advance and having lunches and dinner delivered right to the Con.

 

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Only eating fish this weekend because we’re not cannibals.

 

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Birthday Katie!

 

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Vietnamese Grubhub pre-ordered for the WIN.

 


 

Recently, Arcade Comedy Theater had an auction, which I bid on and WON. The prize was that the troop made my life into a musical and I decided, with all my besties there, that furry weekend was the time to use the prize.  I got called up on stage, interviewed (with help from Molly because I did not want to go on stage by myself), and then the entire herd (including me) got to watch a hilarious, well-done musical comedy featuring my best friends played by actors.

We were introduced to Colleen with purple hair (uncanny), Molly the comforter, and PCP (Peace Corps Patrick).  Helen was distinctly missing on stage but she sat next to me in the audience, holding my hand. We all felt like our hearts were so full they could burst.

 

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The interview.

 

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My real life friends played by real life comedians.

 

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Watching the show, beaming with joy.

 

After the show, my herd went to the furry rave and danced our tails off 😉

 

 

 

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Foxy ladies.

 

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The party was hoppin’.

 

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Anthrocon? More like AnthroPRO!

 

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Look at those ear headbands on EnthusiasTICK’s leg.

 

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Snuggles.

 

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Snuggles AND cuddles.

 

Another WONDERFUL thing happened. During the convention, Helen found out that she got accepted into the Pittsburgh Comedy Fest!!!

 

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Smilin’ from ear to ear — the ones at the top.

 

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CONGRATULATIONNNNSSS!!!!!

 

Overall, I had THE BEST time with my herd — fluffin’ tails, tradin’ ears (insidEAR trading?), eatin’ snacks from the snack pack (everybody, say it with me: A BACKPACK FULL OF SNACKS!!), and loving “OUR CITY!” as Katie B. (who comes here quarterly) calls Pittsburgh.

 

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Bunch of animals.

 

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Ruh Roh! Someone furgot their ears….

 

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Best friends furever!

 

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Smiling cus Nina did not end up in Philadelphia for Anthrocon.

 

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Does the person choose the ears or do the ears choose the person?

 

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The fur gods shining down on us.

 

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Couldn’t be happifur!

 

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Friends who tail together stay together.

 

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You can be any animal you want… in fact, you can be TWO AT ONCE. I present to you: girelephant.

 

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In the Dealers room. Tip for Friday next year: It stays open one hour later than the art show.

 

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Giving me PAWS.

 

 

This was the best year yet.  Everyone in the herd gave it 2 paws up! Honestly. I thought it couldn’t get any better BUT THEN IT DID ! ! ! ! ! ! !

 

Wag wag WAG THAT NON-TAMPED TAIL,
Furisky, part Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and part elephant

 

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Stay furry, my fur-ends.

These Slugs are Bananas – 4th of July

4 Jul

B-A-N-A-N-A-S

This year, my 4th of July was so full of pure and innocent Americana excitement that it could put a Judy Blume novel to shame. So that’s where I’m drawing inspiration from from with this blog, Judy.

The weekend began like any good Blume book would: with a fun group of friends, a summer at a lake, and most importantly, a competition. So without further ado, I present to you:

 

T h e     S u m m e r     o f       t h e       M i g h t y       S l u g s

Chapter One: The Search for Slugs

The day before the 4th of July. Aka the 3rd of July.
My friends and I drove to my parents’ cottage at Findley Lake to soak up some sun, and since this is the year of never ending holidays (see Christmas) — this was going to be my never ending birthday.   My parents decided that since so many of my people (heart eyes) were going to be up at the lake this would also be my families time to celebrate my birthday! Fun!!  

Before we got there, there had been murmurings all over town about the annual boat decorating competition.  “Let’s sign up!” Patrick said last year. “It sounds so playful!” He had planted the seed.  This was going to be the first time we’d ever signed up for the prestigious competition

We found out that the 2018 theme was….drumroll please…. college sports teams!  (?!)  Uh oh.  “So, that’s different than regular sports teams?” – Helen.  

Before the big day my mom and I spent hours scouring the Internet for the most original team we could find. We wanted to think of the perfect mascot to TOTALLY DESTROY the competition (but, like…in a really sweet and innocent way).   Should we channel the Syracuse mascot, the Otto the Orange? No, too east. How about the Ragin’ Cajuns? Seeing as though we’d have to dress up for the competition, we looked at something slightly less racist. We found the perfect team: The UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs (we’re fans for life). Not only was this the most (respectfully) hilarious mascot I’ve ever heard of but we could easily all dress in yellow, it was like a furry without the fur, and the mascot’s name is legitimately Sammy. So that settled it. We were on our way to complete world domination!  I mean…winning the Findley Lake boat competition!

 

 

Chapter Two: Birthday Banana Slug Bonanza

Like I said before, it was the perfect time to celebrate my birthday (never-ending) since so many people I loved were in the same place at once. And because my parents are creative and absolute gems, they held true to the theme when picking out my birthday cookie cake.

“Can you decorate it with banana slugs?” My parents asked the cake decorator who just stared at them in return. Had no one ever asked them for slug decorations? Not even kids who are into bugs when they’re in 3rd grade?

“Well, what about if  you just decorate it like a butterfly without the wings?” My parents explained. The decorator was on board with this strange request. AND IT WAS PERFECT!  My parents surprised me with the ABSOLUTE cutest cookies with banana slugs on them, and they. were. DELICIOUS!!!

 

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Banana slug birthday cookies — highly recommended!

 

So we put some candles in the cookies, I closed my eyes with all my might, made a very special birthday wish — I think you know what it was  (if you guessed it was to win the boat decorating competition, you were right.).  And when Brit got me some “lucky me, lucky you” shoes as a birthday gift (thank you, I love them), I couldn’t help but take it as a sign and wonder… will I get what I wished for?

 

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Wishing on Sammy the slug to do Sammi a solid and win us this competition.

 

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The best bananas are the ones shaped like slugs… made of frosting… on cookies…

 

Chapter Three: The Banana Slug Way (aka mostly Katie)

When the first of the guests arrived, we kicked off the decorating process by spending time blowing up hundreds of thousands of yellow balloons! We hadn’t realized how much huffing and puffing Patrick had done until he left (thank you!).

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Give those crazy kids a yellow balloon, please.

 

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50 balloons going on 500

 

While I was turning blue by blowing up an obscene amount of yellow balloons, Katie switched jobs and made the most adorable signs in town. They were made with such care and thought, everyone in the banana slug brigade was impressed. If there had been an internal decorating competition for the decorating competition, Katie definitely would’ve won the title of the Banana Slug’s REAL MVP, thank you!!

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Adorable! Look at that basketball, the slugs know sports!

 

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Photobombed by the cutest slug you’ll ever see.

 

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Someone call pest control! We have a slug infestation in the living room!

 

Chapter Four: Slugs Thrive in the Rain

It was the day of the boat competition. The morning was a flurry of activity. We set up for the competition, and while I ran to the firehall to grab us some chicken for lunch, the rest of the crew headed to the duck race, in which we each had $1,000 riding on our prize-winning duck. Just kidding. But really, there was a lot at stake. Just kidding. But in a Judy Blume novel, our reputation definitely would’ve depended on it which would have been bad because every single one of us had a duck in the competition and every single one of us lost.  We hoped this wasn’t foreshadowing.

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No need to call PETA, folks, these are not real ducks.

 

That afternoon, a dark cloud settled over Lake Findley. Literally. It started raining. So Team Show on the Road (a section of Banana Slug Brigade consisting of Molly and I) headed out to the docks to see what that would mean for the boat decorating competition. We brought a banana slug cookie with us for luck and for sustenance (bananas are fruit). When we reached the tent, the judges told us that the competition was not cancelled, but only pushed back a couple of hours. “Boats-poned” as we started to say. We went back to the house to see if there was any damage done to the signs and decorations we had already put up. Some of them were a little wet, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. After all, slugs thrive in rain!!

 

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Straight up sluggin’.

 

And so once the sun finally came out again over beautiful Findley Lake, we headed to our boat to cheer, scream, clap, and show the judges what the banana slug spirit was all about. We had so much fun, and I had a blast getting to know and bonding with Molly’s boyfriend. He was the first to use the new stove in our house! Life was like salt — we put it on everything.

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Living that slug life.

 

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Can’t spell SLIME without SMILE… ok yeah, you can. But you use the same letters.


We laughed, we chanted, and we used Gwen Stefani’s song,
Hollaback Girl, to make sure everyone knew we were B-A-N-A-N-A-S. (If you don’t use that song to spell bananas every time, you’re lying.)

 

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Happy slugs.

 

As we drove around the second half of the 5-mile lake, we had trouble chanting, screaming, and getting up the hype. Banana slugs must go into hibernation when they reach the second half of the lake. But thank goodness we had already been judged because some of balloons were popping in the heat.  It was that first time we had passed the judges that they had made their decision, inspecting the boats. We had eyed-up the competition. We were mostly worried about a beauty school swim team made up of mature women, which was a crowd favorite. If this were in true Blume fashion, they would’ve been our lifelong rivals and hurled schoolyard insults at us or given us the stink eye. But they didn’t, in fact, they seemed nice. We kept our eye on another boat, too. The one that chose Penn State as their college team. “They’re a shoo-in. Of course the crowd is going to choose Penn State!” my mom lamented.

“Don’t give up just yet!” said Brit with a huge grin. “I have one last trick up my sleeve.” And with that, she brought out some bananas with drawn-on faces.

“For the judges.” She said. And so the banana slug brigade threw out the bananas to the judges — making sure none landed in the lake — as something sweet to remember us by.

 

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Bribing the judges with nutrition.

 

Chapter Five: And the Winner Is…

A quiet hush descended upon the competitors. We watched the judges in silence as they took the megaphone to announce the winners. 

“And the winner is….” The announcer began.

We bit our nails in suspense.

“THE UC SANTA CRUZ BANANA SLUGS!!!!”

*******The whole population of Findley Lake erupted in boisterous cheers. It was louder than a Penn State football stadium! Everyone came to congratulate us because they knew how hard Katie worked on the amazing posters, which, for sure got us the win. That, and the epic balloons everywhere and the bananas we threw at the judges.

“I always knew you could do it.” Said some guy who we had never met before.

“You’re my heroes!” Said a kid who swam up to our boat out of nowhere.

We were presented with the trophy, and I thanked Sammy the Slug who had undoubtedly heard my birthday wish.*******

 

*******Section may be a dramatized version of real events.*******

 

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Captured: Brit’s love affair with the trophy.

 

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“Slow & steady wins the race” was never a phrase about turtles.. It was clearly about banana slugs!!

 

The only thing we (or rather Katie) lost were a few Instagram followers due to the wild stories she was posting out of context. Molly was on epic cleanup (thank you!) And seperatly, Colleen orchestrated a very helpful family talk. With that HUGE win in our pockets, we settled in to enjoy the rest of the evening. We watched the 4th of July fireworks from the boat with smiles on our faces.

“The fireworks are good, but the trophy is better.” My mom said as she patted me on the back.

And when the judges announced the theme for next year, most people got excited. The theme? Favorite band.  Will the banana slugs be back again to rock the boat?!

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Winning isn’t everything (but it sure feels good!)

 

THE END,
Sammi the slug

From: June / With: PRIDE

1 Jul

Here is some inventory of all of the wonderful, not gloomy events June had to offer:

  • First and foremost, celebrating Father’s Day with this guy.

Happy Father’s Day!

 

  • I love Flag Day.  Well, if I had to explain myself (which I don’t), I would say because it’s the Vanessa Carlton of holidays. It’s still famous, but you know, you might just forget about it until someone reminds you it exists #StayHumble
  • My un-furr-gettable box of furry tails and ears came out.
  • Colleen (hi, Colleen) delivered some crazy insane news that I’m so excited about and I love her (love you, Colleen)!
  • Getting pineapple panang curry at the dream flat whenever we had a hankering for it (we now keep some pineapples at our house to avoid the upcharge).
  • For the second time ever, I got to see a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retriever.  #hisnameisJack
  • Got my shiitake (mushrooms) off Amazon and started growing them inside.
  • An almost-gloomy failed trip to Kentucky, which turned into non-gloomy workout at a new YMCA in West Virginia.
  • Kristin’s pool party where we had so much fun we never made it to the pool. I’m tellin’ you, if you actually get into the pool at a pool party, you’re not doing it right.
  • Separated my notebook from my to-do list. Real game-changer, guys.
  • Enjoyed some cool watermelon mules (is there anything more summer than this?)
  • Scooter rides with Spencer.
  • Got lei’d at the Hawaiian theme day at work.
  • Got to drive Krupa’s Tesla (um, what?). The whole time, I sang, “I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m ALIVE!”
  • Emily and I went bouldering and mastered a V1 (see footnote if you want to know what that means, but it’s really not necessary… so don’t… )
  • Impromptu hangout sesh with Sarah where we talked about how people love saying they hate math but are afraid to say they hate reading. Math=cats; reading=dogs. She’s trying to encourage people to say “I don’t like reading” more…I’m in total support. Can we make t-shirts?
  • Bella and I got to play doubles tennis with the Emilies. It was so much fun, and Bel and I laughed so hard that we actually needed to remind each other how to play. Our conversations mostly went something like: “So, when I hit this, I’m going to run forward, and you’re going to run backwards.” Great game plan: just learn how to play your position. For dessert, we got snow cones, which was also an un-gloomy bonus.

 

One of the best parts of June was getting to hang out with my friends and enjoy silly moments together. For example, a caterpillar fell from a tree and landed on Emily. She overreacted (I mean…really overreacted), and then Helen overreacted to Emily’s overreaction (her overreaction included drool). Helen admitted that she thought we were under attack, and she lost all her control over her motor skills. I couldn’t help but think that would be a hilarious trait for a character to have in a post apocalyptic movie.

  

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Went out for Laura’s Birthday!

 

Another stand out was going to get hookah with Emily. The hours were wrong online (gonna write a bad yelp review for the misleading yelp reviews), so we waited a while for the place to actually open, BUT I think we can all safely say that a rose-flavored hookah is well worth the wait.

Pink straws for a rose hookah.

And now for the food portion of the blog (because didn’t we all know that was coming anyway?). June was greeeeeat for my food finds. For example, I found this incredible crepe place in Pittsburgh. Had no idea it was there, but fate brought us together, and I’m sure it will make regular appearances in my life.

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Très bon.

 

Another great food find was the chocolate chip cookie that had been sitting in our fridge since early May. We finally ate it, and just like the hookah, it was well worth the wait. 

 

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Favorite meal x2 + favorite water (which is just tap water in used plastic bottles…)

 

My glorious bed who held me most of June.

 

I hung out a lot with Helen, who through most of June was sporting a black eye. No, we didn’t start our own version of Fight Club. She actually got hit in the face (hostage GETHIT) while playing frisbee with a doctor (the doctor is to blame). Hurt by a healer before her first ever headlining gig. The incomparable Katie B came in from NYC!  Back to Pittsburgh for her “”aww, this is where I fell in love with Siri”.   We didn’t have much time to hang out while she was there; however, we designated a full 16 minutes for some non-regimented fun. We actually set a timer because, you know, fun follows a very strict schedule.

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Funny gals.

Speaking of non-regimented fun, PRIDE was allll weekend long, so I got to hang with the gays for days. I skipped work on Friday to partake in the festivities (I mean…I was sick…*cough*)

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The parade started at Blvd. of the Allies (of course it did).

 

During the Pittsburgh PRIDE parade, Helen and I got to rep Arcade Comedy by holding the banner.  We were extra Proud.  Our chants consisted of “This is what comedy looks like” and “Laughs for all.” We also quietly incorporated the song “Please don’t stop the music” and changed the lyrics to “Please don’t drop this banner.” Because…you know, holding the banner is harder than it looks, yinz.

We were marching when we learned that there were more people at Pittsburghs Gay Pride parade this year than at our St. Patricks Day parade (Pittsburghs previously biggest parade!) So PROUD!!! We saw fabulous outfits, including a Harry Potter style shirt that says “No one deserves to live in a closet.”  Amen.

 

 

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Stickers for both utility and for fashion.

 

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Stickers everywhere.

 

More stickerssssss.

 

To the parade, I wore my shirt that said “I’m here for Kristin.” I just wanted to clarify, she’s not dead. In fact, she’s alive, well, livin’ a good life. She just couldn’t make it to the parade that day.

 

Here’s Kristin; nothing to worry about!

 

Friends!

During the month of June, I also decided to avoid the (totally mythical) gloom and host a couch surfer. We met up with Dominic, a french speaking CouchSurfer from Montreal, at the hippest gay bar in town. He was so great and made made feel like a total bamf because, not to make it about me, but I went to pride and took a straight guy home. Ok, so yeah, he was already going to come sleep at my house anyways but just let me have this, okay?

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New friends bonding session.

 

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Rainbows 4 days (and forever).

 

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June was full of me getting even more comfortable with work:
What do you do in a one word answer: Sales
What kind of sales:  Entertainment
What kind of entertainment: Visual but enough about me

“I tell people I do for a living what you do for fun.” – Spencer, bar owner

 

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Friendzzzz!

 

June was great for hanging with friends, making friends, and being an ally. Besides Dominic, I also hosted a couch surfer from Spain. I took him out on a midnight scooter ride and sat on the porch with Bel, practicing Spanish, and listening to Helen talk about how she hadn’t seen that many fireflies since she was in Thailand.  

 

Below are two of my favorite pictures ever, taken of Bel and Bam:

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Overall, June was a success. And I almost — ALMOST– was able to post in real time. Almost.

Here’s to July!  I mean August!
‘mi

 

Footnote:   I told you not to…It’s out of V10, ok…?

🤠 Bandera, Texas 🤠

25 Jun

BANDERA, TEXAS  —   My Mecca ❤

 

Directly from Austin, this is a 4 hour trip but we took the long way.  Kyle told us “Anything north of Kernville is a yankee.”  (Kernville is one of those red dots on the map.)

 

As Team Show on the Road is want to do, we got ready in a Burger King bathroom before heading to one of the five bars in literally all of Bandera.

My friend and I!  Out celebrating!

 

The faces of two cowgirls ready for adventure.

 

We chose the first bar by pure intuition, but before we even stepped inside, some woman who was talking on the phone outside directed us to another bar, which she said had better music. So that was one bar down, four to go. We ended up at The Red Horse Saloon, sharing earplugs, and if you can’t tell what kind of place it is by the name, then you’ve never seen a cowboy movie in your life. Nancy had told me to tell the bartender it was my birthday (because it was) and I’d get a free drink. And, in true traveler fashion, we met some friends: Carla, Elbert, and Don.  Our new cowboy friends were so much fun to be around and changed the course of our night — they were very kind, gentle, respectful, and encouraging. They even taught us how to two-step!

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Molly dancing the two-step.

The small town feel was something you’d see in an episode of Gilmore Girls, except the country western version. For example, they held a raffle and the person who won wasn’t at the bar to collect it, but all the patrons at the bar knew the winner so they just saved the prize to give to them later.  The personality of the band members matters in a community bar like this one. The singer kept calling me up on stage and, in order to not get even more attention, I had to go but that was my least favorite part.

 

It was such a small town, the residents couldn’t believe that we just came here on our own volition, for vacation, without having any reason…
“Wait, so…you came to Bandera as tourists?”  Yup!
You don’t have any family here?”  Nope!
“You just picked it off the map?!” I mean, I did some research..

 

The best Band-era. (that’s a bad pun with the word Band and Bandera)

 

So after that live music ended, we decided to head over to another bar — Arky’s Silver Dollar — with Carla where there was sawdust on the ground. She introduced us to Arky (from the name of the bar) but when we were greeted by the cast of Sons of Anarchy, we realized this biker bar probably wasn’t our scene. Again, on intuition, we chose another bar one block away (2 bars to go) and hoped that we’d be able to find anyone our own age. All of Bandera is only a couple of blocks long. Of the 5 bars in this town there were 3 bars we could choose from downtown, all walking distance, which felt like a bonanza.  We were going to make the best out of anything (we were having fun) but where did the young adults hang out? Where was our crowd? So far, we hadn’t seen anyone under the age of 50 chilling in Bandera during the weekend.

Texans love to dance and we were having a blast.

 

But it was there at that 4th bar that we saw some young cowboys.  And they saw us. They sauntered over to us with their cowboy hats, boots, and their lone-star-studded belts.  “Hey little ladies,” they said, “you’re about the hottest, darn girls in this here saloon.” Ok, maybe they didn’t talk like a cartoon version of themselves (but yes, they did).  And it was supposed to be a compliment, but we had a huge laugh because their pickup line was pretty much equivalent to “you’re the hottest girls in this nursing home,” with all due respect to everyone who had brought us there.

The boys danced with us and everyone was working on the two step.  Even though I could not figure it out, my partners were patient. Each time Zane complimented me, I messed up without fail, and we had to start over.  Which was hilarious to me and tolerable to him.

 

🤠🤠 cowboys

 

So we danced all night in this very rural town — with two step — with live country music, and some cowboys until sadly, eventually, the bars closed and we hung out in the streets of Bandera, Texas.  It was a very memorable birthday. Molly was outside of the bar in her happy place — this birthday trip was turning into a wild (Wild West) success. I was loving the cowboy look and vibe just as much as I thought I was going to, if not more.

Home Sweet Home.

 

The boys had only been to Bandera 2 or 3 times this year (they lived in a town about 40 minutes away called Hondo). They said that where they live is the type of place you town hop instead of bar hop because that’s where the other bars are: in other towns. Doesn’t get any more small town Texas than that. I loved it.

The boys asked where we were staying (which was the luxurious back-seat-of-our-car inn) and we replied with a vague “just down the road.”  They had some space at their ranch where we could spend the night if we wanted.  An invitation to an authentic Texan ranch from really nice authentic cowboys? Yes please!

And then as we drove our rental on these big empty, Texas dirt roads behind multiple trucks to follow these nice guys to their ranch, we saw a Trump sticker on one of my favorite of the guys’ trucks. We weren’t surprised, but I definitely made a mental note to avoid talking politics if I could help it.

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Wide open spaces are great; the dixie chicks were so right.

Shadow of cowboy Sam haunts these here parts.

 

Waking up in the ranch.  Notice the animals heads hanging on the wall.

 

The next morning, I literally woke up laughing. I could not believe how well my birthday had gone. An ice cream festival to THIS!  Wow. I decided that I hadn’t grilled the guys enough about small town life. I wanted a taste of it because I assumed it would taste like hard work, sweat, and sweet tea. Who doesn’t want that? So I asked them the basics first: when was the last time you’ve seen a snake? (Zane couldn’t remember); Will you call me ‘little lady?’ (the answer was ‘absolutely, little lady.”). They also talked about Mexico and how they had gone hunting there before. Zane said he had caught something and brought it back. I asked him if it spoke Spanish. And said “so I guess it didn’t need a green card?”  This was my transition into the tougher questions like: Where are the immigrants being separated from their kids? To this question, Zane got out a map and showed me the area then asked Kyle just to confirm, to which Kyle denied that it was even taking place and that it was the liberal agenda carried out by the media.

So I guess they had had enough grilling, because Zane flipped the tables and asked me some questions. “What do you think about our president?” To which I answered, thinking about the bumper sticker, “we probably shouldn’t talk about politics.” He said he was a Republican though he didn’t care too much for Trump; I said I hated Trump, and we left it at that. Molly was smart, because her response was: “I don’t want to talk about politics with you guys, I can see the heads hanging on the wall.” We all laughed (some of us more uncomfortably than others). Good call, Moodel.

Rattlesnakes were the next best topic of conversation (after we saw a scorpion in the sink), and we figured out that rattlesnakes were the reason the sexy cowboy boots exist. We also found out that all of these cowboys knew each other because their ancestors founded the town. There was a picture of two of their grandfathers back in the day; Zane said his grandpa wasn’t in the picture because he was the one taking it!  

 

Side note:  Molly and I bought our own pair of matching cowboy boots.  I LOVE THEM SO MUCH, OH MY GOODNESS. We bought them at a Texas-sized outlet mall in a shop called Boot City! The clothes may change, but the accessories will remain the same…boots and belts with a big buckle.  Also turquoise is my new favorite color.

 

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We bought matching cowboy boots.

The boys invited us to go out onto the lake with them in their boat. We parted ways with them (they were going to fix up the boat, and we were going to eat breakfast tacos).  Kyle said “okay, this is where you go right and we got left.” “So, the opposite of our political views?” I smiled. “Haha, yup, we’re going to go and try and see it from the others perspective and meet back up in the middle.”  

We finally got cell phone service and canceled our plans on the river with Carla, telling her, instead, we had agreed to let the cowboys show us around (Carla, if you’re reading this, IT WAS SO NICE TO MEET YOU!!!! Thank you and Elbert and Don for making my birthday so special <3).

 

Breakfast tacos.

 

On the way to Lake Medina, we had had enough of talking so we listened to Pat Green and made up a song about how we were the four best friends that anyone could have because we realized that they were best friends, and Molly and I are best friends. It made the day so easy, because we were just a pair of best friends hangin out and doin best friend things. “We’re the four best friends that anyone can have, the four best friends that anyone can have.”  It was heaven on earth…and here we were thinking you had to die to go to heaven. Molly and I snuggled and confirmed how straight we are. Definitely straight. Molly and I had such a great trip together.

 

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They’re best friends, and we’re best friends, and they’re best friends, and we’re best friends!  We called ourselves Team First Try because that’s when we were hoping the engine would start. We were Team (engine will start on the) on the First Try!

Once we actually got on the boat (which was pretty rickety as demonstrated by the story I’m about to tell), the motor caught on fire twice. But both the boys looked really calm, so we didn’t freak out. “I don’t look like a guy who’s boat engine just caught on fire — just for a little while.”  – Kyle

 

The second time, it caught on fire a little bit more, and the motor cover actually fell off and just sank, and the guys were incredulous. They looked sunken like a motor cover themselves. It was hilarious; we tried not to be so giddy, we were laughing so hard.  

But this gave way to our next chant — the one that would follow our best friend song. And it goes a little somethin’ like this:

Who don’t need no motor cover??? We don’t need no motor cover!!

“It’s hell when the motor catches on fire, eh?”, cruising on Lake Medina.

 

We chanted that all during our swim sesh. Right as we started the chant, the umbrella that was protecting us from the absolutely ruthless sun somehow blew off, landed in the water, and started to sink. Zane yelled to grab it, and I swam for it. I grabbed it, and it was terribly heavy as it sank, but all of a sudden, I received superhuman strength and was able to pull it up. Only, it wasn’t superhuman strength. The umbrella had just detached from the pole, and I only pulled up the staff. Molly was laughing so hard she was having trouble swimming. She tried to get to the boat to hang out and when she finally got there she let out the loudest laughs. Was this the sun’s revenge for the coffee stunt we pulled earlier that weekend? Well played, sun.

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“I thought you had to die to go to heaven.”  – Molly

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All hat and no cattle type of cow girl.

On the boat we had a cooler, but somehow we still ended up drinking a couple of hot mic ultras, which were extra bubbly.  Served hot was fun too. We were just happy about everything.

After swimming, Molly and I had to say fare-thee-well to our cowboys and head to a dude ranch where we booked a night to stay. At the dude ranch, we ate a dinner of cold meatloaf, lots of smores, drank gross tasting water, saw a donkey with goiters, met a French au pair “couple” where I was attracted to the man in a cowboy hat at night but by day, sans cowboy hat, I thought the lady was more of a beauty. We also had our first shower of the trip (this was going to be a no hair washing and one shower type of vacation for us), we slept for 8 hours (unheard of!), and in the morning we rode horses.

 

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A horse is a horse, of course, of course.

Before going on the trip, Molly and I had pretty much agreed that we were going pantless for this trip. But when we got to the dude ranch…it was the first time we thought we might have made a mistake.  Did we have to wear pants to ride the horses?? We used a towel tied around our legs instead, which got vetoed, and we realized that it was fine, we don’t need pants to ride horses. A no-pants trip was the right idea!

 

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The horseback riding was cool — and it was hilarious (and relatable) how much the horses loved eating from the oatbags — but it was a bit long. My horse, Shorty, did not want to follow the directions. I assume it’s because I’d just turned 31 and this was an angsty teen horse who wasn’t into authority. Shorty even tried to buck me off; he could tell it was my first rodeo. I did get that birthday buck after all (wink).  But luckily, a more experienced rider decided to switch with me, and it was smooth horse riding after that.

 

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Bandana outside of Bandera.

So after the dude ranch, we headed back to the airport. Molly liked driving these big open roads, and we searched for a place to get a wine opener because we wanted to try that great Texas wine that we had bought and assumed we would love. But before we made it, we stopped to get our last bbq of the trip.

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Long live Texas BBQ!

 

I got some to go, and let me tell you, airport security was really suspicious of my pulled pork and jalapeno sausage from Randy’s (but really, they probably wanted to confiscate it so they could have a snack during their work break).  It was sooooo good! At Randy’s, they had greeted us with a cheer and free samples including sweet, creamy corn, which we subsequently ordered and banana pudding for dessert). It was also at the airport when Team Show on the Road struck again! We were able to squeeze in enough time for a drink before our flight. The last thing we had in the car that was useful were those empty water bottles. We felt like asterisk humans, except for that healer who wouldn’t take no for an answer. But that was on him; we were fine.

I left this trip feeling very validated in choosing Texas as my birthday destination. It was the absolute best place to go with my best friend who makes my life better. SO GLAD WE DID THAT! It was also amazing to go somewhere that you thought you’d like, but come away loving it even more than you thought you would. We felt like we were doing a victory lap (with lots of slow claps) on the way from Bandera driving back to Austin. This was such a rejuvenating, idyllic, heavenly, euphoric, out-of-body experience sort of trip, and I will cherish this one ALWAYS. Texas forever!

‘mi, the yankee 🤠

 

 

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Wow-ed girl and cowboy.

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Tipping my hat to you, little lady!

 

 

Yee-Haw(ttest yankees in town)

23 Jun

For my birthday, Molly and I had a girls trip —  just the two of us — to South Central Texas. We landed in Austin (which I saw first hand has an international feel) and learned about all of the Californians who have moved to Austin, Texas (I can see why; it’s a really cool city).

 

“I’M SO HAPPY FOR OUR FUN,” read Molly’s text message.

 

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As I got off the plane and read her message, I couldn’t help but look down at my really dramatic fake cowboy boots. Me too, girl. I thought. Me too! I couldn’t wait to meet her at the terminal and get the party started, but unfortunately budget travel wasn’t as “happy for our fun” as we were, and it took me over 30 minutes to get to her. HOWEVER, I was keeping in touch through text and also by checking her Instagram account for hilarious updates.

When we finally met up, my cowboy boots and her beer signaled that the party had, indeed, started, so we picked up our rental car and went straight on the Broken Spoke, a country western bar in Austin that has a live band, Lone Star beer, cowboy hats, belt buckles, and a ton of dancing.

Austin is so cool. I mean hot.  We were sweating and my hair wouldn’t stay straight.

 

We left after an hour because later in our trip we were planning to head into what I call the heart of Texas. And so we wanted to enjoy other unique things that Austin had to offer including food trucks and a bar called Academia (recommended by Spencer). In classic Team Show on the Road style (we’re back!), we changed in the car.  

In Austin, they have this amazing rule where you can park overnight, and if you get a ticket in the morning when the meters start again, the fine gets waived as long as you show proof that you got home in some other way besides driving (i.e., uber receipt, bus ticket). It’s an incredible initiative that encourages Austinites (and tourists) to both go downtown and to get home safely. We were very impressed with Austin.

Fraternizing with the owner, Russell Davis.

While we were at Academia, we were served delicious crab cakes (hot ‘n fresh out the kitchen) and rung in my actual birthday with some peanut butter onions (which were Hemingway’s favorite snack apparently). Right after midnight, we headed out and walked briskly along 6th street towards Rainey Street, which was food truck heaven. That night, we got food everywhere, as if the birthday party was catered. We fantasized about being back into Austin early enough on Sunday to enjoy brunch on this chic street. We heard Sundays are the best.

Walking back, to check into the hotel, we saw our very first Texas horse in the form of a (very hot) policeman riding cavalry. Molly asked if we could pet it (the horse…not the policeman), AND WE COULD. With huge smiles, we got back to the hotel at 4am.

Being invited over to pet the horse.  

 

——————————

Saturday, June 23rd, my actual birthday.

Could we have slept in? No, it was not possible. We had somewhere to be. There was a literal ICE CREAM FESTIVAL on my birthday. It was kind of fate, the way that it happened. Thank you, universe! I had known about the ice cream festival in advance and bought us VIP passes, which allowed us to enter at 9AM–a full hour before everyone else–giving us a leg up on all the ice cream tasting. Not that it’s a competition. OH WAIT. YES IT IS.

But first, as we were RUSHING out the door, we grabbed breakfast to go from the buffet at the hotel — 2 hard boiled eggs each — “and thank god for them.” – Molly said later, after all of the cream had settled in our bellies.

 

8:45am

We were in the front of the line. Waiting. WHEN WOULD THEY OPEN THE GATES!!!!!
Molly and I were one of the first 20 people to get in and as soon as we did, we headed straight for the ice cream eating competition sign-ups because we were completely certain that the contests were going to fill up as soon as the festival doors opened. Right then, we committed to two contests: the hands-free ice cream sandwich eating competition and the half-gallon ice cream eating contest.

 

The stuff birthday dreams are made of…

 

While we were waiting for the competition to start, we took our ice cream sample passbook around, which allowed us to try 26 sample cups of ice cream. We were at a Texas-sized ICE CREAM FESTIVAL!!!

A visual of our passbook as we were trying samples, getting stamps, and filling it up.

 

Keep in mind, this is Texas, and everything is bigger here so the sample cups were like a Baskin Robbins medium.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!! (I loved that charcoal lavender.)  

 

You’ll notice two different types of samples in that picture. The foreground AND the background.  We couldn’t get enough (or could we…?). Also, that spoon changes colors, adorable and delicious!

 

At the “make your own snow cone” station.

 

The green one of these had kale in it… which was the only vegetable we saw at the festival.

 

#notsickyet TRENDING

Motivational mantras as the day went on.

 

We contemplated but couldn’t figure out: How does this festival make any money, they are giving so much ice cream away for free??

The Coconut Ash was my favorite of all of the flavors. Better than the Vanilla Pine at Scoopy’s in Jamaica.

 

10:40am

Initially, when I had seen that we only got 26 samples, I was pretty confident that I wasn’t going to get enough ice cream to eat. But with only 20 minutes before the ice cream eating competition was to begin Molly and I looked at each other. We needed an ice cream break. We had already gotten enough ice cream, and the first (of 2) competitions hadn’t even started yet.  We sat for 20 minutes and reviewed, revisited, and categorized all the samples we had had up to this point. To clear our heads and mentally prepare for the competition, we ranked all of the samples a scale of 1-5 based on both taste and presentation.

 

11:00am

Because it was my actual birthday, I felt like I was (literally) born to do this ice cream eating competition.

 

Moments before the competition.

 

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 The competitors.   Are we getting warmer or colder to winning? (Those ice cream tubs are empty and just for show.)

 

At the beginning of the hands free ice cream sandwich eating competition, Molly and I were pretty sure we had this. I mean, as I mentioned earlier, I was literally born to do this.

 

(not competitive at all.)

 

I could do — and probably have done– this in MY SLEEP.

 

On your marks, get set, EAT!

 

Haha, we lost so hard. But really, did we lose? Can anyone who enters an ice cream eating competition lose?

 

The winner looked like she deserved to win– if you know what I mean. 😉

And there are no losers if you get lucky enough to enter an ice cream sandwich eating competition. Because whenever you’re in an ice cream eating competition, you can only win. [Unless maybe it’s who could eat the most (because oh man you’d want to win but you’d also get sick)].   

By the end of that first competition, when we were so full of ice cream we could burst but still had more samples to try, Molly and I crawled over to that second ice cream competition sign up sheet and….just… drew a line through our names. Because even we, ice cream fiends, realized that without that half-gallon eating competition, we were STILL going to have gotten much too much ice cream for one day.  

 

11:15 am

It was scorching, the festival was packed, and we still had 9 more samples to try. Molly and I — rather than hanging out with each other during the rest of the festival — had our priorities straight. We would divide and conquer the lines. One of us would wait with both passbooks, get our two samples, and meet the other girl in her longer line while we ate them.  Then we would split up again. WE WERE COMMITTED. We tried ALL the possible things including buying a bonus $1 cookie that looked too good to skip. I had brought the right girl with me to this festival. Molly did NOT let me give up. She insisted that we try everything available to us, and that smart girl wasn’t wrong. We were in heaven (and also a little bit of hell. BUT MOSTLY HEAVEN).

 

12:00pm

The final sample.  And our completely full stamped passport. Those sprinkles in the background were also given away as a bonus.  #birthdaylyfe

 

After three hours of nonstop ice cream devouring, Molly and I had tried every. single. sample that we could, entered and lost one ice cream eating competition, and were so hot and full of cream and sugar that we had to sit in the shade and regroup.   

No clouds in clouds in sight.

 

We contemplated our next meal. Should we eat something healthy or just not eat at all?  What would help us feel better? We rolled out of the gate back to our car.

 


 

 

Obviously, we weren’t going to choose not to eat. We went to Curma — a vegan, ayurveda food truck with mostly non-cooked food that Tara had recommended.  

BTW. We’re vegan now.

 

Plant-Based Food, will you please combat all the milk and sugar in our tummies?

 

We got back into the car so sticky and sweaty (Texas is hot in June), blasted the AC (it would not get cold enough), and headed out of Austin. The first place I had marked on my map–about an hour away–was a barbeque place called SaltLick, which also had come to me on a recommendation this time via a former NFL player who had said this about it…. “ it is my favorite BBQ of all time, not just in Texas.”

You may be thinking Ha! I know you just kept on driving. You *had* to have been too full. And if you think that, you’re most definitely wrong…

BTW. We’re not vegan anymore.

 

We stopped at Salt Lick and had some of THE MOST INCREDIBLE BBQ. It was so good that, as full as we were, we considered ordering more of it. But that’s it. We only considered it, I promise.

It was a novice mistake to get any sides with that BBQ.

 

———–

We could not eat anymore.  Mercy! And we went to do look in some cute stores as we headed through beautiful scenery and into Wimberley, Texas. We shopped around a little, and Molly bought me these gold Texas earrings, which I love.   But other than that, exhaustion set in and it was way too hot to do anything. We lounged around a bit and cursed the sun. It was so hot. Too hot. Oppressively hot. What could we do besides talk about how hot it was?! Seriously.  It was So. Hot. But then, at 3pm, we had a brilliant idea. We beat the sun with coffee beans, the sun’s arch nemesis (which the sun ironically helps grow). WE GOT SOME COFFEE. COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE!!!!! Take that, son! ← hehe, get it?

This cat lookin’ how we felt.  

 

It was so hot, even these trees are sitting in a puddle of their own sweat.

 

 

 

Back on the road again, Molly and I had our sights set on Bandera, Texas. We ate some homegrown corn she had brought down with her from LA for a light dinner (thank you to Sophie for our delicious, locally imported birthday meal).

 

June 23rd —  Here’s a menu for the Team Show on the Road diet:

Breakfast:      Ice cream, and lots of it
Lunch:           Vegetables or anything vegan
2nd Lunch:   Ribs
Dinner:          Corn on the cob (from LA) and Beer

 

I think the moral of the story, for me, is this:  If you ever find yourself in Austin, try 26 ice cream samples — even if there’s no ice cream festival, eat from food trucks, try to make it back into town for a Sunday, pet a policeman’s horse (proceed with caution), drink COFFEE, and head towards Bandera.   

 

Happy birthday to ‘mi, y’all!!!

 

 

 

 

Furry HYPE

21 Jun

13 DAYS 17 HOURS 54 MINUTES and 10 SECONDS

(AND I WON’T BOTHER TO ASK WHO’S COUNTING because I know my entire herd is! They’re about to join me in Pittsfurgh from their respective farms, kennels, plains, jungles, and petting zoos  — YA HEARD?!)

 

Anthrocon 2018 is ALMOST HERE!!!!!!!!
AWOOOOOOOOOO
Oww Oww Owwww
AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Here’s art that Katie B. made ahead of this year’s convention:

 

Eyes, eyes, eyes, eyes, ears, ears, ears, ears, tails, tails, tails, tails!  —  also our official cheer.

 

This year’s crew can expect some new, happy bunnies.

 

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And some loyal safari animals.

 

Like a monkey grooming another monkey for bugs, I’ve (already) meticulously looked through this years schedule and picked out 43 events that I would deem as “CAN’T BE MISSED!”

Including…

 

So many great things about Rodents! So thankful they can share the screen without eating my Cricket 😉 YA HEARD?

 

 

 

 

Molly horsing around:

We’re excited for the convention to run as smoothly as the freshly cleaned and brushed fur of all of our favorite animals.

 

SO GIDDY TO PLAY, ROLL OVER, CHASE, PLAY, SNUGGLE, WAG, and DID-I-MENTION PLAY! !!!!!  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Bel and I saw a furry in downtown Pittsburgh at the PRIDE parade.  Not all gays are furry but we love it when they are  #PRIDE2018  #FURRIES2018 #PEACEFURALL

 

I’M SO EXCITED I COULD CHASE MY OWN TAIL!
I woof this weekend,
Furisky (a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever who is also an elephant and is also your human fur-iend, Sammi)

 

Links to a Hist-fury of Blog Posts:

2017:  https://sammitravis.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/anthrocon-2017/
2016: https://sammitravis.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/bow-wow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yay/
2015: https://sammitravis.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/riddled-with-glee/
2013: https://sammitravis.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/pitts-fur-gh-pa/
UPDATE: Since I’ve written this the ANTHROCOUNTDOWN IS NOW…

13 DAYS 17 HOURS 24 MINUTES and 19 SECONDS