Monday, May 28, 2012

It began with a red eye flight... and ended with perspective

This week I returned from vacation to NYC and Washington DC. I'm always curious why people choose certain places for vacations; if it's a matter of convenience, accessibility, affordability, sentimentality, "I-have-to-get-out-of-here-now-and-I-don'" and/or perhaps a combination of all of the above. I decided to visit NYC and DC for my Spring vacation for two big reasons...

1. I've been to Bangkok, London, Paris, Edinburgh, Phenom Phen, and Hanoi - all amazing capitol cities on this good earth, but I'd never visited my own countries great capitol. It just didn't make sense! In fact, other than my trip to Charleston, SC last Spring, I'd never been to the East Coast here in my own USofA. It seemed somehow... not right. There are so many amazing places right here in our own backyard... our very very very... large backyard.

2. Free places to stay... and that really is the crux of it, let's be honest. Last summer I also took an amazing week long road trip through Oregon and Washington, two rather accessible places I had never been and always had an interest in. The trip was awesome. The major expense, even with a hotel discount in a few cities, was naturally a bed to sleep in and once in awhile, a semi-stale bagel to consume. Painful I tell you. Painful. Thus, friends in cities I want to visit are the most obvious cities to visit. I also like most of those friends too; so that's a win win.

THEREFORE, I am happy to say that my trip to NYC and DC was a resounding success for many reasons; food, free accommodations, food, checking most things off the old "I-must-do-this-because-I've-never-been-here-before" list and of course, interacting with some of the most famously recognizable all-American sites and sounds... even one that swaggers around in tasteful blazers and aviator sunglasses (foreshadowing!).

But lets not get ahead of ourselves...

Because this trip started with a red eye flight. Which I hated.

Nothing particular happened that created such disdain for the red eye flight; it was merely the fact it was a red eye flight. Here's a little something about moi... I don't DO well without sleep. Sure, during the dark days of Masters degree acquisition, particularly during those horrendous two weeks known as "finals", my sleep was reduced. And by reduced I mean from 8 hours to 6 hours. That's about what I can muster and still maintain my cool, calm exterior. In fact, this "must get my sleeps" thang has always been. In high school, nay, even Jr. High, when groups of pubescent teens would exclaim "All nighter!!", my eye would start to twitch and I'd search the excuse catalogue of my mind for a way out of these peer pressured torturous situation. All nighters have never appealed to me and some years ago, I stopped going to movies past 9:00pm. My last midnight showing? Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Though, I will tell you I have planned a rebellious act of wakefulness come December when the Hobbit is released... which will be bookended with a great deal of Diet Coke and possibly a "sick day" for recovery. I have a few months to mentally prepare...

I digress.

I hate red eye flights because I hate not sleeping and hate even more... restless sleeping. So when we left at midnight and arrived at 6:30am in NYC (note: 4:30am Utah time) I was surprised that my motor functions were happily intact as was... prepare for word play... my tact. I'm also a notorious grouch as a sleepy head and combine that with hunger, and full grown grizzly bears will cower before my wrath. Perhaps it was the thrill of NYC combating my grouchiness or the nausea I was soldiering through ALSO caused by my sleeplessness, but when we arrived at our gracious host's abode in Queens, my travel companion and I promptly passed out for 2 hours. We had to. We ain't what we was at 21... or like I was ever.

After a bit of a nap and some fluffing, we were ready to hit the streets of NYC! And here's how it went:

FOOD! Breakfast at this fabulous Ukrainian joint supplemented by a large Diet Coke. I should probably know the name of this place, but we all know my blogging is wanting when it comes to such useful and interesting information. So just know, Ukranian omelets in NYC are good... I"m sure it doesn't matter where you go to get one. I give you my stamp of approval for that one. Go forth.

We then proceeded to wind like rats in a maze through the World Trade Center Memorial line which was a very somber and worthwhile experience... the World Trade Center Memorial... not the feeling like a rat in a maze.  Here are ma thoughts.

I loved that this was my first experience in NYC. As I wandered around the memorial site, I listened to the hushed conversations of fellow tourists and observers discussing "where were you when it happened?" We were all there as both Americans and other countrymen reminiscing with incredible clarity the emotions and thoughts being experienced by the world on September 11th, 2001. What we were wearing, what we had for breakfast, if we even had breakfast, who we were with, and always the question "how could this happen, here?"

As for myself, I remembered getting ready for school. I had just started my Senior year and as per usual, set my 9 inch TV/VCR to wake me up set to the morning news. When it clicked on, I didn't even notice the story on TV, rather, stumbled bleary eyed to my bathroom to shower and begin readying myself for presentation to the high school crowd that was my world... that was all our very small worlds... that seemed so extremely important at the time... and stopped being so important that very morning. When I went back to my room for my backpack and shoes, I noticed the burning building on TV... the fear in the persons voice being interviewed. Something caught in my heart and I sat down to try and understand the who, what, and where of what was going on. I gathered quickly that it was New York, that it was the World Trade Center... and as I watched wondering what went wrong with all the technology and abilities we have that a plane could crash into a building, I saw a second plane blast through the second building. I gasped audibly and a hand went to my mouth. Twice? What was happening? The woman being interviewed broke into gasps and tears. Something caught in my heart again... I went upstairs to the kitchen.

"Mom, are you watching what's on TV?" knowing that the news was on each morning at the breakfast table as well...but it wasn't on this morning.

"No..." she said absently..."Why?"

"I think something is happening in New York... I just saw a plane crash into a building..."

My mom turned on the TV as I stood nibbling a strawberry Pop Tart. We watched together in silence for 5 minutes and then I heard the honk of my best friends Acura. It was time to leave...

I left my mom sitting there with the remote in her hand..."bye Mom..."

"Hmmmm...buh..." she mumbled.

I got in the car, "Did you see what's happening?" I asked Ashlee.

"Yeah... I saw it this morning... I don't get what's happening. Was it on purpose?"

"I don't know. Why would that happen on purpose?"

Of course, when we arrived at school every TV was on and for the ensuing 2 days, every class, every conversation, every thought was consumed with the largest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. I remembered it all as clearly as ever standing there where the two towers had once stood, now over 10 years later. We were all collectively remembering. One day, my children will ask me, "Mom... where were you?" and I will be able to tell them... right down to the strawberry pop tart. Naturally, looking back on that moment also allowed me to look forward and create hope from the rubble. We remember so we can press forward. We remember to remind the world that we are not beaten... that we will carry on. We remember and we rebuild. We remember that time heals all wounds but it does not erase the memories.

Visiting this site began a rather surprisingly inspiring week in two of the greatest cities in America. I've always been proud to be an American, but after that week, I felt that pride more deeply. I felt an abiding gratitude for everyone who has faced such oppression and terror and found hope. I felt the spirit of my founding fathers speaking to me of dreams and freedom and principle and that American fervor I think we sometimes lose sight of in the clutter and chaos of modern day consumerism and political rhetoric.

Thus even after a sleepless night, my first day in NYC was more than a memorable experience, it was a change in perspective. It was a resurgence of my American dream... a dream that begins with hope.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why have I not blogged...

Because I've had nothing to blog about...


NEXT WEEK!!! AH HAHAHAHAH! Hint below. I leave tomorrow night on the Red Eye... and will return with mucho postings and picturing and likely because I cannot avoid them, a few ridiculous stories of frivolity and bad luck. That's the spirit!

Oh wait I do have a story. This is a good one.


This week, I went to St George for work. By this week I mean yesterday. Te he. I was presenting some awards at a High School, so lucky me I got to fly down (that's right! See 55 minutes in a plane vs 4 HOURS in a car... suckers) and spent the night in sunny St. Geezy. After the ceremony, there was still plenty of light in the sky for me to get in a nice run. By nice I mean leisurely... by leisurely I mean not strenuous. It is important for you to understand this so that later in the story, you acutely feel as I felt. Betrayed and pissed off.

On my way up to my hotel room to ready myself for said leisurely run, I asked the hotel matron (is that even the term? I don't even know where that came from).... or the hotel front desk lady, if she knew any close running trails I could partake of. Observe the dialogue that follows:

Matron (I like the word now): Well, yes. How long do you want to go? Distance I mean.
Me: Mmmm... like 4-5 miles. Nothing particularly strenuous (as in leisurely)
Matron: Ah! Well go down this road, turn right here, and you will see a trail head for to enjoy said leisurely 4-5 mile run. As in not streneous. It's a loop!
Me: Oh! I love loops!
Matron: Yes...

(at this point I imagine she went back to her matron room and rubbed her hands together cackling under her breath "that fool! That fool! Mwahahahaha!" Then proceeded to eat a bag of Cheetos waiting for the Bachelorette to come on... stupid)

I quickly changed into my running threads as daylight was a-wasting, bought a water (thank goodness) and ventured to said trail. It's just where she said it was, not 5 minutes from my hotel. Excellent. She speaks truth! At this point it's about 7:30pm and I feel my leisurely 4-5 mile run will get me back to my car a little after 8:00pm. Perfect considering the sun will set closer to 8:45ish and also, I hadn't eaten anything since 12:30pm that day. Me want foods.

So I begin this so-called loop.

And I run.

And I run.

And yes, I noticed some mile markers but many of them didn't make sense... and seemed to be measuring a variety of trails that must intersect this particular trail, though I could not see from where or how. It's a small two lane asphault trail winding through the desert of St George.

So I continue to run.

And run.

And have yet to crest the loop.. as in loop around and start heading back to the direction of my car.

After well over 3 miles, I start to question this whole "loop" business as I've not seen many runners on said trail, but have indeed witnessed some bikers. At this point, and because I'm proud, I don't want to turn around, but am intent to keep on attempting to loop. I opt to cross a bridge to the other side of the watery desert ravine I've been running alongside for over the a fore mentioned 3 miles and not continue NOT looping as the road would have me do. This proves to be the best decision I can possibly make. For I continue to run... and run... and though I am now finally facing "back" the direction I came... it doesn't seem to want to close said loop anytime soon. I am encouraged after seeing to rather stout older women power walking opposite me and feel that this loop can't possibly last much longer... ya know... considering.

But it does...

And I start to panic.

The sun is definitely going down. The loop is a freaking sham, and I'm out in the middle of nowhere with cotton tail bunnies and baby lizards and rapists and zombies and desert ravine monsters! At this point, a series of desperate prayers ensues and I am hoping beyond hope that I've not struck out on some ridiculous 15 mile trail of death. Also, I have no water with me. What?!??! It's supposed to be "oh 4-5 leisurely miles!" Death is before me... I feel his icy hand on my rasping lungs... or rather... sticky heated fist of running mouth goo.

And then....

Sweet sweet major highway connection. Yet one more bridge I cross to get OVER said ravine (though yes of course I considered striking out into the unknown, bushwhacking my way back to the building I THINK indicates where my car MAY be parked in sheer desperation) and feel that perhaps I won't die this night after all. I'm exhausted, but as time is not on my side, the option to walk is not an option at all! So instead I cry a little.  This road is so winding that you can't even see what horrible distance may or may not lay before you... you go around one curve to find another curve curving evilly away from the direction you want it so desperately to curve. Why! WHY!!

Finally... FINALLY... 8.5 freaking miles and over an HOUR later, I make it to my parked car dry mouthed, tear streaked, and full of heartfelt gratitude that I live to see another morning. What the hell hotel Ma-tron? 4-5 leisurely miles and you send my on an over 8 mile race against time?? Come to find, had I truly run the loop I was on (sans bridges)... one Mayor's Loop... I would've run... (are you ready for this?).. 15. Miles. Fifteen!! Wha... who... gah... and likely ended up fodder for saber toothed rabbit demons. Me and the maggots.

I suckled the water I had thankfully purchased at the hotel completely dry while recuperating in my car and THEN and spent the next few hours eating brazen beef tortellini from Olive Garden and soaking in this:

At my hotel. I also watched the Bachelorette. Oh like you don't have vices.

Needless to say, the hammys are feeling a little stiff today. Psh. 4-5 leisurely miles. I let little Miss "it's a loop" know that in FACT, it is NOT 4-5 miles but indeed would have been 15 damn miles if I had not opted to cut the corners with said ethereal bridges from a merciful God.

On a positive note - I ran 8.5 miles, bitches! YAY!!! Fist pump!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A brief update...

#1 - Mormon Matchmaker - nothing. But it took them awhile to call me for the in-person interview so I'm not worried. Truth  be told - really do forget about it until someone else asks. So keep askin! Maybe one day you'll get lucky.
#2 - Peace Corps - submitting requested documents and tests such as fingerprints and urine samples. Okay, not urine samples because... ew... but fingerprints yes.
#3 - Um.... I saw the Avengers and it was good... real good.

The End.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

And, why would anyone really need this option?

Why do I feel like this new Google Chrome option of opening an "incognito window" was possibly invented and paid for by your friendly Internet Porn site pushers, sexual predators, and rebellious tweens who have found their 32 year old "Edward" on this like, totally legit chat room? I'm just askin... I don't think it was a PTA project.

"You've gone incognito. Pages you view in this window won't appear in your browser history or search history, and they won't leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you closeall open incognito windows. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved, however. "

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How the Other Half Lives

As part of my J-O-B, I get to travel to Jr High and Middle Schools and give presentations on college readiness, scholarships, and how students can make their life better through higher education. Noble stuff I tell you.

Today, I went to one such Middle School in an area I've never visited. It was south of Salt Lake, and only slightly south point of the mountain and very very very East. That's all you're getting from me as to location. I'm not a fool... I also enjoy being employed.

THAT said, it was an absolutely gorgeous drive this yonder early morning - and as I drew nearer my destination - I saw a lot of the following and was struck with awe. I'm pretty sure I could have been pulled over for distracted driving as I gawked at my surroundings. What do these people DO?!?!

I wish I could say I greatly exaggerate with those pictures - but I only slightly exaggerate for effect. Honestly, the houses in this area were immaculate. The yards pristine! I vocally "ooo'ed" and "aww'ed" at every turn. I have never imagined myself in an incredibly verbose house - but after driving through these neighborhoods, I must admit I wondered how it would be to live like the other half.

There was also a lot of this...

Talk about horse power. Ba dum chi!

And unfortunately, I also noticed that any of this:

Were doing this.

And that jolted me back to my own reality of wanting my kids to grow up in a diverse community with different backgrounds, understandings, and cultures. No castle on a hill is worth a monochromatic upbringing in my mind. And of course, the commentary as to WHY this blatant social discrepancy exists is yet another conversation for another time. Can't there be diversity and castles on a hill? Why do only certain populations own the overwhelming majority of castles in this area? I guess I forgot my blinders on this journey. Then again, I was there for a total of 3 hours so I could have missed something (shaking head no).

That is all.