Throwing Punches

Having a brother who is only 18 months younger ended up being a built-in best friend. But like every other sister-brother duo, we inevitably had our disagreements over the years. Brett quickly learned that I always fight back, and sometimes it isn’t pretty. One of the earliest fights I remember was a disagreement which took place in our backyard. Instead of thrown words in my face, he threw dog poop. I retaliated with a handful of rocks.

Another memorable scuffle took place early one morning when Brett decided he would try to scare me (which isn’t an easy feat). This was in the late 90’s, shortly after Scream was released. Brett thought it would be hilarious to mask himself as Ghostface and wake me up  by hovering over my sleeping self. I woke up and promptly punched him in the face.

The takeaway from all of this is that whenever I feel threatened I usually throw things; rocks, punches, basically whatever is convenient.

With this in mind, while I desperately wanted to experience Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood. I was, understandably, hesitant as to what my reaction to being scared might be. Having zero idea what to expect, last October I finally found out. I clutched my Mom’s arm and found comfort in my bulky hoodie, wearing it like a protection shield. We quickly discovered, I find scare zones and horror mazes absolutely hilarious.

**Outside The Exorcist Maze**

The first maze we went through was Halloween : Hell Comes to Haddonfield. I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face by the time we got through to the other side. It was wonderfully scary and ridiculously satisfying (please don’t ask me to explain why, because I truly don’t think I would be able to explain my reasoning).

We wandered through the scare zones, met Norman Bates (who so kindly complied when I excitedly asked to take a selfie with him!), and braved all six mazes. It was incredible! Each maze had unique elements that forced all of your senses to connect to the space you were in and really become a part of the experience. When we first walked into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre maze we were greeted by carnage and a BBQ. The air was heavy with the scent of charcoal and sickeningly sweet BBQ sauce. A man in a filthy uniform thrust a hand dripping with BBQ sauce into my face yelling for me to ‘open up’. It was disgusting and so beautifully crafted; every horror-loving bone in my body vibrated with satisfaction.

**Selfie Norman Bates**

We hadn’t even left the park yet and all I could talk about was coming back again another year. If you like horror movies and all things scary, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios is absolutely worth every single penny. We splurged and purchased the ‘Front of Line’ passes and again, a very smart purchase and one I personally feel is almost necessary if you’re only there for one night.

I’ll definitely be back!

  **Blurry, grainy, selfie with one of the scare actors in the scare zone**

25 books behind schedule

Every year, I set a new reading goal through Goodreads. I’ve increased the total number of books I aim to read each year, and this year had it set to 80 novels. As of December 13th I am at 50 novels read. Which, according to Goodreads is specifically 63% of my goal, and exactly 25 books behind schedule.

In previous years it wasn’t uncommon to see me scrambling with a few weeks left before the end of the year and a few novels short of my end goal, but 30 books in 2.5 weeks might be pushing it…

So, how exactly does one get 25 books behind schedule? Well, let me tell you one really good hypothesis. First, you have very full-time self-employment. Then, in late June, right in the prime of your busy season, you decide it would be an incredible idea to return to University to take your Masters… which starts in September, your truly busiest season. Then, when September comes, you spend the next four months with your nose buried in Anthropological theory and research, while editing photos until 3am and shooting six days a week and before you know it, it’s December 13th and Goodreads is reminding you you’re 25 books behind schedule.

I’m a planner though, so that couldn’t possibly be the reason for my reading goal being so far out of reach.

99% of my life is thought about, planned out, and neatly scheduled in both a digital calendar as well as a paper copy, you know, just in case. Just ask my husband, it kind of drives him nuts. Every once in a while though, I get a crazy idea (such as applying to University without telling anyone) and then things just kind of happen. I had VERY different plans for myself in 2016. I had intended to write, and read, and work on personal projects. And I definitely did do the first two on that list, but it all went in a very different direction than I thought it would. Instead of writing fiction, I was writing about the language used by shamans in the Amazon and researching Fraz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Emile Durkheim, instead of voodoo, black magic, and witchcraft.

2016 was a tough year. I did a lot of soul searching, trying to decide what I want from my life, and what I’m meant to do and as scary as it is to say it out loud, I think I’ve found it.

I’ve been dreaming of doing this kind of work since I was a little girl, but I had no idea at that time it was Anthropology that I was looking for. I have had this crazy dream of working for National Geographic, of travelling, writing, and doing photography, and Anthropology will take me right in that direction. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time, but I made it through my first semester without any major meltdowns so I’m taking that as a hint I’m on the right track.

Stephen King

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved horror everything. Movies, books, basically anything I could get my hands on. As such, my love for Stephen King started at a very young age.

I can’t remember how old I was, but I’m guessing it was around 8 or 9 and tucked into mine and my brother’s Easter baskets were paperback copies of Christine and Carrie. We tore through them, traded, and did it all over again. Since that day, I rarely go for more than a few months without reading something by Mr. King.

Seeing him, hearing him speak, has always been something I knew I needed to do. As my husband put it, he’s my Elvis. It has been on my ‘life’ list for well over twenty years now. He has gone on book tours over the years, but between University, work, and life I’ve never been able to make it happen. Finally, dates aligned and and I was one of 650 lucky people to get tickets to an event which sold out in less than 15 minutes. I bought a plane ticket to the middle of nowhere (says the girl from Saskatchewan) and I was on my way to Omaha, Nebraska.

The event was general seating so I knew I would need to wait in line for the better part of a day if I wanted to get in anywhere near the front. So, six hours before my idol was set to take the stage, I lined up outside of the venue. There were seven people in line already, four others who showed up shortly after me, and we all made quick friends. We spent the afternoon looking at pictures of baby animals, taking photos for ‘the’ Facebook, and talking about all things Stephen King. We bonded quickly over our shared love of Mr. King and their company made the long wait an enjoyable one.

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The afternoon sun was harsh. It was a humid 43C and unfortunately for us, there wasn’t a patch of shade anywhere in sight. A few hours into our wait, just as we were all beginning to feel delirious from the heat, the sky dropped buckets of rain. It was coming down sideways and in a matter of seconds we were drenched. I had puddles in my shoes and the only thing we could do was laugh. The clouds parted after a few minutes and we compared sunburns as the hours flew by. Before we knew it, we were finally invited inside the building.

When those doors opened I felt the same feeling I do walking up to the ticket takers at Disneyland. Actually, that’s a lie, because I was more than Disneyland excited. I had reached a new level of excitement I didn’t even know existed. Me and my new crew claimed the front row as we had claimed the front of the line and fidgeted through the final hour countdown.

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Finally, (and I even have goosebumps typing this) Stephen King was announced and walked out from behind the black curtain wearing a red Nebraska Huskers t-shirt, jeans, black runners, and three pens in the right front pocket of his pants. The second he rounded the corner, the tears began to fall from my eyes (I’m tearing up again, ugh). I couldn’t help it. That moment, was something I had dreamed about for my entire life. I don’t even think I realized just how badly I wanted to see him until he was right there, six feet from my face.

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Naturally, he made fun of people who say seeing him is on their ‘bucket’ list. I call mine a ‘life’ list though, so I’ve decided it’s different, and surely he would agree if he heard my story.

His talk was casual and about his genuine intrigue with Nebraska. He walked the stage, telling stories about driving through Nebraska and the things its never-ending expanse inspired. He talked about his Mom, his childhood, and Bruce Springsteen (great story, if you’re interested to hear the funny details, let me know and I’ll fill you in!). About how he found a horror novel atop a box of his father’s possessions and it ‘opened a box’ within him. He expressed his lifelong love of horror movies and novels and laughed about dragging his kids to the type movies where you aren’t cheering for the characters to live, but rather for the “fucked up ways they’re slaughtered”. He opened up about some of his novels, his favorite fan encounters including numerous cases of mistaken identity, and the three very different ‘Steve’s’. He instilled a fear of back seats, shower curtains, and poor cell reception in the audience, and after every macabre statement, he would finish with “but of course I would say that”.

Toward the end of the night he sat on the front of the stage, quite literally four feet in front of my nose, and answered questions from the crowd. He told stories and took a few side-streets with his answers, exactly like one would expect from Stephen King. He thanked the crowd for putting his children through college, smiled for his fans one last time, and disappeared behind the black curtain again.

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I laughed and cried and my entire body tingled with a numb happiness throughout his entire talk. It was everything I could have hoped for and then some.

Being the first ones into the event, meant we were also the last ones to get out. As the line slowly moved forward, we heard excited screams from lucky fans who received a signed copy of his new novel, End of Watch. 400 books were signed prior to the event to be distributed at random as we were all leaving. I was the last person out of the event. They cut my wristband, handed me a book, but I was terrified to open it. The security guards watched over my shoulder as I cracked the spine. I looked at the first page, then the second, third… nothing. The security guard took it from my hands and pointed to the title page. “That’s where he signed them”, his finger on autograph-free paper. My heart sank. Ultimately, I got what I came for, to see Stephen King, but I wanted that signed book SO badly!

Aside from staff, security, and volunteers, I was the lone fan standing among the piles of clipped wrist bands. There were two more, possibly signed, books sitting on the table. I asked if it might be possible to purchase those two books in the hopes that one of them might be signed. Understandably, they weren’t unable to do that. I dropped my head and shuffled out of the building.

My new friends were all waiting for me outside, a few of which were lucky enough to get a signed copy! They asked if I ended up with an autographed one and I nearly burst into tears again, telling them that I wasn’t one of the lucky ones. Just as I’m saying this, Rob, a man who met me that afternoon in the lineup handed me his book. His signed book. I looked at the book, up at him, back at the book, and started sobbing. He gave me his signed Stephen King book. Seriously people, this restored my faith in humanity; there truly are still wonderful people out there. That morning we were complete strangers, and here he was, handing me a signed Stephen King novel. It was the most kind and generous gesture and my emotional self collapsed into a puddle of tears and ‘thank you’s. I looked around our group and half of them were crying too!

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Fast forward to the morning after the event; I wake up to a private message from The Bookworm, the independent bookstore who hosted the event. They said they had heard through the grapevine I might have walked away with a signed book after all, but if I hadn’t, to please give them a call, they wanted to talk. I told them the entire story about Rob’s kind gesture and thanked them profusely for thinking of me! I don’t think I’ve ever met a store with such exceptional customer service and kind hearts. It made me cry, again. I stopped by their store again before leaving town and when I walked in, the staff recognized me right away and made me feel like a regular loyal customer, it was amazing. For anyone in the Omaha area reading this, PLEASE shop at The Bookworm for all of your bookish needs, they treat their customers like royalty.

I went to this event, expecting to see Stephen King speak. What I actually got was so much more. These are the type of life experience I live for. This entire trip was a life highlight for me and I’ve made some incredible new friends who I know I’ll still be talking to for many years to come.

I’m currently on my final flight home after a whirlwind three days and my eyes are brimming with tears again. I’m just exploding with happiness; I’m so grateful this entire experience and feel incredibly fortunate for everything that has happened to me in the last few days, but of course I would say that.

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Truck got stuck

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Well it was truck after truck, we all got stuck

‘cept the big old four by Hutterite truck

We all thought lord are we in luck!

But he wouldn’t come anywhere near us,

Mighty neighbourly, mighty neighbourly. – Corb Lund

 

I don’t know, Aaron. This road looks like it might be kind of squishy.

We have 4-wheel drive!

No, we have all-wheel… (Sorento starts to fishtail and slowly slide into the ditch)

We rocked, pushed, and pulled, but she was stuck.

Up the road we could see an older couple walking toward us. We were in luck, someone to help us out! They were within earshot but instead of extending a hand, the gentleman raised his eyebrow and bluntly asked us if we were blind.

I wanted to tell him that, yes, clinically, I’m pretty near to blind, but I don’t think he would have found it funny. And, in our defence, the road truly didn’t look that bad. But, a peaked gravel road and a patch of slippery mud didn’t work in our favour.

The couple kept walking, offering us nothing more than disapproving glares. Mighty neighbourly.

The harder we tried to get ourselves unstuck, the more stuck we became so we figured it was time to call in the professionals.

One thing I’ll never understand is why people choose to own businesses but then act as though you’re inconveniencing them to provide the service they’ve chosen to provide. Anyway, long story short the tow truck finally showed up and Dave was a lot happier in person than on the phone. A lot happier until…

Well it was truck after truck we all got stuck. – Corb Lund

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Processed with VSCOcam with wwf presetDave sure knows how to cuss. I’ve never heard profanities yelled as loudly or with as much gusto as I did when his first tow truck also got stuck. Personally, I was impressed that our Kia Sorento managed to make it much further into the mess than his tow truck. I didn’t bring this up though, I was scared about how Dave might respond.

We’d pull one truck out and get another stuck in

And motors would roar and tires would spin

We’d sink right down, down to the diff, and we’d all take turns and do it again

Till no one could move, we’d call one more friend,

Come on out here, we need you, bring your truck – Corb Lund

As Dave hooked up the chains from his second tow truck to arrive at the scene, he laughed and told us he hoped we won the 649 last night. I told him that we didn’t, but we did have snacks with us! He wasn’t impressed.

Spilled antifreeze, mud trenches nearly waist deep, $15 in change at the car wash, a few ticks, and two and a half hours later, we were out of the ditch and back on the road.Processed with VSCOcam with wwf preset

What started as a geocaching day date turned into a hilariously fun grand-adventure. We couldn’t help but laugh about the entire situation and both agreed it’s one of the best dates we’ve had in our eight years together.

The geocaching website warns that, like all outdoor adventures, it can be dangerous. So please follow Dave’s advice and stay on the pavement kids!

You get what you pay for

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In nearly every aspect of life, you get what you pay for. Nose-bleed-section hockey tickets are no exception.

We’ve purchased seats up against the back walls of many rinks and the energy up there is always unique and unsurprisingly, much different than next to the glass. If you aren’t close enough to see the blood dripping from the fights on the ice, then you’re usually in the middle of an entirely different kind of chaos. It’s prime real estate for eavesdropping and people watching.

As the neon lights above center ice wind down, the number of beers consumed increased. I watched as my section companions stumble up and down the stairs for beer runs and bathroom trips. By end of the game I’m sure I completed my daily 100 squats simply from rising to allow the drunk frat boys in and out of the aisle.

One of the groups of college kids brought a responsible adult with them. However, I think they wound up babysitting their chaperone at the end of the night. By the beginning of the third period he was screaming for the players to fight, or the refs, or the men shoveling the ice. He didn’t care who fought, he just wanted blood shed. Beer and spit flew from his mouth as he cursed at everyone on the ice for doing their job, not doing their job, and anything else he could think to yell at them. Half his beer ended up down the back of the woman sitting in front of him and he was much more quiet from that point on.

Around that same time, the action picked up on the ice and across the aisle from us. Tequila mini bottles were scattered across the cement floor and as the height of the plastic beer glasses grew, so did the volume of chants coming from a fan. It began harmlessly, but ended up with him calling everyone in our section pussies because we weren’t humoring him enthusiastically enough. Most in attendance would rather have watched the game than his antics, vulgarities were thrown, individuals were restrained and, I’m sure you’ve all seen these scenes play themselves out before.

I feel we got our money’s worth, a hockey game and an episode of Game of Thrones really was worth the price of tickets. The Bruins lost this one, but we were thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

After the game, we hopped the T to get back to our hotel. A few stops before ours, an immaculately dressed couple, both sporting grey hair, boarded the packed train. Aaron and I rose from our seats to let them have our spot for their ride. They expressed their gratitude, but the man refused to sit while I, a woman, stood. He admitted he knew most people would want to “punch him in the nose” for insisting a woman, completely capable of standing, sit, while he stood, but I told him I respected him for being a gentleman. We had a great chat with the couple. The husband noticed our Bruins apparel and told us stories about going to Bruins and Red Sox paying $3.25 to see games as a kid. He recalled watching Milt Schmidt play, who just recently celebrated his 98th birthday. We left the T, smiles plastered on our faces, having ended our day on a wonderful note.

New York, No Thanks

I already wrote about my time in New York, I know. However, I wanted to expand on it a little in more of a story form, hence the second post! I’ve also included a handful of images from my trip that I haven’t shared before now.  I hope you enjoy!

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I’ve visited my fair share of over-populated cities. However, being the type of person who prefers company with four legs opposed to two, my opinion of these crowded centres isn’t typically one which will sell travel guides. So, when my husband Aaron and I told our families the next trip we were planning would include half a week in New York the look on their faces was nothing short of confused.

“Ok…” my mother said hesitantly, “but, why?” Our response, “Well, why not?” We figured, while we’re ‘in the neighbourhood’ we might as well see what the city has to offer. Plus, there was a sandwich shop that Aaron promised me would be worth the trip. What I didn’t tell him was that I was just as excited to see a location where a scene from National Treasure was filmed. We both had a mixture of good intentions, ulterior motives, and a sense of adventure.

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As part of our trip, we decided to take the train from Boston to New York. Watching the coastal views breeze by our window above the rails would be romantic. In reality, the majority of the scenery conjured up images from 28 Days Later opposed to When Harry Met Sally. “It’s all part of the experience” I told myself; and it was.

We left Boston and a few hours later our train pulled into Penn Station. We quickly gathered our belongings and made our way above ground. The lights, traffic, and skyscrapers swallowed us. It took mere seconds to surmise what this city was all about. It screamed its intentions loud enough so that even the hard of hearing couldn’t mistake it for being quaint.

We claimed our precise three inches of personal space and joined the masses in the ever growing lineup for a taxi. Nearly all movement in New York is done in the form of lineups. Bodies of flesh and metal sardined together, shuffling and jolting like characters from The Living Dead. And for those who were wondering, hailing a taxi isn’t always as eloquent of an experience as it appears in Sex In The City. There are individuals who I’m pretty sure would gnaw off an appendage of anyone who dared to skip the line and try one of Carrie Bradshaw’s fancy moves.

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After a $40, eight block taxi ride, we were deposited at our hotel, the lights from Times Square glowing in the background. The first thing on the agenda was to check out the neighbourhood. Aaron and I are relatively well-travelled adults, but I don’t think it’s possible to prepare for Times Square in any other manner than to simply experience it. I’ve seen photos and videos, but I must say, it’s comparable to dressing a pig in a bowtie. No matter how colorful that bowtie is, it isn’t going to mask the foul-smelling mud the pig has been rolling in all day.

As Aaron predicted though, the sandwiches, beer, musicals, and shopping did indeed make up for the scent of hot, rotten spinach rising from every sewer grate our feet crossed. We combated the filth with copious amounts of hand sanitizer, and the crowds, we let them carry us, making the task of walking the hectic city just a tiny bit easier on our weary feet. We completed the obligatory boat ride out to Lady Liberty, ate our fill of cheesecake, and shopped the 5th avenue boutiques. After a warm afternoon in Central Park the city was starting to grow on me. It wasn’t until later that evening when we began to experience exactly why it has been giving the nickname of ‘the city that never sleeps’ did my opinion slide steeply downhill.

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I didn’t realize it was possible, but the number of shocking events that can happen while walking no more than two New York blocks is considerable higher than I thought. We witnessed an age-old transaction taking place with little concern for the very public corner they were standing on, an elderly man entering into both a verbal and physical altercation with the front of a city bus, and a trouble youth, assuring me that “It’s all happening again”, I was ready to return to the safety and slow pace of my small-town home. A quick glance toward Aaron and I knew he was thinking the same thing.

Hand-in-hand we quickened our pace back to our hotel, made our way through a lobby crowded with flight attendants and tourists, all seemingly stuck in a never ending checking in and checking out cycle, and pushed through to the elevators. We found sanctuary in the golden box and just as the doors were closing, separating us from the chaos, a woman’s voice yelled, “Stop! Hold the doors!” I should have known our escape wouldn’t come that easily. I rolled my eyes at Aaron and then pushed in the ‘open door’ button to hold the elevator for the passengers too desperate to wait for the next lift.

A teenage boy pushed his wheelchair-bound mother over the threshold and onto the elevator. I smiled at the pair and inquired which floor they were headed too. With an exasperated sigh the woman responded, “I don’t even care, as long as it’s away from all of… that” she flipped her hand toward the hoard of people outside of the elevator. “I tell ya,” she said to me and Aaron. “This city is beyond ridiculous.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” I replied with an empathetic smile.

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Dole Whip

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A few months ago I traveled to California for a workshop. When I found out I would be LA bound the only thing that came to mind was – Disneyland! How could I possible be that close to the Magic Kingdom and not go? I was hesitant though, who goes to Disneyland alone? Isn’t that kind of weird? Or sad? Turns out, it’s neither…or maybe both?

Admittedly, I was a little scared. I have never taken a solo vacation before, especially not to a destination which is best known as a ‘family’ getaway. I love travelling and spending time alone, but I was worried I would feel lonely watching everyone around me bonding with their loved ones. This is, however, not what I saw. Well, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but that was not the prevailing scene playing out at the park each day.

I’ve been to Disneyland before, and don’t remember any of these things happening. Some of my fondest memories were made in that park. Travelling there alone though, is an entirely different experience. Because I didn’t have someone by my side to share in the excitement as darkness fell over the park and the lights on the Haunted Mansion began to shine, I was left alone to observe. I had the time and freedom to sit back and soak it all in. The good, bad, and ugly. The magic in the park seems to be easily dusted off when you’re travelling solo. I saw cast members rolling their eyes the fairy dust obviously scratching at their retinas opposed to wrapping them in a glow of overwhelming joy, cleaning crews stealthily sneaking through hidden panels to clean up the lunch a child just lost after riding space mountain (unfortunately I had the pleasure of walking through this scene before mops had a chance to do their work), and children crying, everywhere. Long weaving lineups held masses of hot sticky families, lost in their conversations and excitement while they waited for the never-ending loops of boats, trains, and caterpillars. It’s evident this scene had grown increasingly monotonous for many of the cast members.
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Don’t get me wrong though, travelling to Disneyland solo definitely had its perks. I ate Dole whip for lunch, more than once. Gripping my single rider pass tight, I rode the Indian Jones ride four times in a row, every single day. I wandered in aimless loops around the park for hours at a time doing nothing more than soaking in the atmosphere. I browsed every single shop, even though most of them carry 90% of the same stock, and there wasn’t a single person moaning over my choices. I sat by myself and laughed at the electronic seagulls and went on the kiddie rides alone even though I felt everyone was staring at me. It was refreshing and somehow, liberating.

But, I think I’ve had my fill of Dole whip.

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Boston, You Had Me at Hello.

Shortly after posting about my less than desirable experience with New York City, I had many ask me about our time in Boston.  I have expressed, probably more times than necessary, that I loved every minute I spent walking the historic streets of Boston, but I never really articulated what, specifically, stole my heart.

Honestly, before going, I was absolutely terrified I wouldn’t like Boston.  I felt a sense of pressure because it is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years and had created this dreamy painting in my head.  Plus, being committed Bruins fans, to cheer for the team, but not for the city would surely be a shame.

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We arrived in town mid-afternoon and big beautiful snowflakes were softly falling from the sky.  As the cab drove us from the airport to our hotel I craned my neck to look out at the brownstone buildings as they blurred past the taxi cab’s windows.  Our first view was already promising.

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Knowing we were touring a walking city, we planned to explore much of it by foot.  We walked the Freedom Trail, soaking in the history throughout the cobble stone streets.  We wandered in and out of quaint little stores and planned our lunches around the sandwich shops close by.

Speaking of sandwiches, we’re big fans of a great sandwich and Boston takes the trophy on this one.  If you’re in the neighbourhood, grab lunch at Sam Lagrassa’s.  I’ll pay for your sandwich if it isn’t one of the best things you’ve ever tasted.  Trust me, it’s that good.

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This sequence of photos makes me nose-snort-laugh every time I view it!

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Ok, so after sandwiches, the next thing you need while in Boston, is beer.  My recommendation is to take the bus out to Harpoon Brewery, grab a seat at one of the long wooden tables, and order a pretzel and a flight.  Also, once the pretzel shows up you’ll quickly realize you won’t want to share, so don’t (aka – ensure everyone has one of their own).  Your relationship with your travel mates will be saved by this tip.

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Aside from delicious sandwiches and great local beer, Boston has many other incredible things to offer.

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The brownstone buildings filled the frames of many of the images I took and I loved getting lost among the headstones in the burial grounds behind nearly every church.  The organ music we were greeted with while touring Trinity Church still causes goose bumps to cluster on my arms when I think about it, and the boats gently swaying on the waves made me want to stay, never to return to my prairie home.  If they would have allowed it, I would have set up camp in the Boston Public Library, and offered to work for free for the remainder of my life in exchange for a permanent space under the green glass lamps.  The people were kind and helpful, the city inspiring, and the experience, unforgettable.  It is a vibrant old city with all of the big city highlights and small-town charm.  I’m still on a high from our time there and Boston has earned a well-deserved and permanent spot at the top of ‘favorite cities visited’ list!

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New York – I find you particularly mediocre.

After spending time in Boston and falling head over heels in love with everything the beautiful historic city has to offer, New York had a lot to live up to.  However, before boarding the train to the Empire State, I had a pretty good feeling that it may not be on the top of my ‘must return to’ list.  I tried with all I had, to give it a fair chance and approach the city with an open mind.  New York, had other plans.

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I understand the appeal; the bright lights, the shopping, the arts, the adventure.  I strive for a slower pace though.  So, when Mr. T. and I planned our short adventure out to New York, I feel I had a relatively accurate expectation formulated in my mind.  The shows were absolutely incredible, the streets felt safe(ok, this one I was a little surprised by), the cheesecake was decadent, and the shopping, expensive.  However, there were a few things that I didn’t anticipate.  The first being the smell.  I’m still lacking the vocabulary to describe this one to you.  Something hot, rotting, and absolutely vile.  Our first endeavor with the New York City subway tested our nostrils… and stomachs.  Fortunately, this seemed to be where the worst of the smell stemmed from, but it definitely wasn’t our last encounter with it.

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The second bit of New York trivia I was not informed of prior to our trip was just how dirty the city is.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not typically one to get my mind running crazy with thoughts of the number of germs crawling on every surface, by my goodness we went through a LOT of hand sanitizer while visiting the city.  Mind you, we earned our right to feel this way… a few days into our visit, we returned to our hotel room from a long day of walking and shopping and Mr. T. plopped down on the bed to take off his shoes and relax.  I glimpsed the bottom of his runners – normally florescent yellow, were now heavily smeared with bright red and accents of lumpy brown.  To this day we still have no idea what he stepped on and I’m not sure I want to know, but his shoes were immediately quarantined to a plastic bag and disinfecting showers were had by all.

2014-04-16_0002Maybe our mistake was ending this trip with New York opposed to starting it there.  Or possibly, I gave my whole heart to Boston and couldn’t handle the guilt of cheating on my new lover.

2014-04-16_0003In all honestly, I would love to return to take in a few more shows, buy cheap seats for a baseball game and gather the courage to try a street hotdog.  I just need some time to clear my nostrils and possibly update my tetanus shots.

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Harvard

As an academic, a book nerd, and a lover of history; the thought of a visit to the Harvard campus has always been something to quicken my pulse.  Knowing my GPA and bank account would never be the factors to walk me through the prestigious wooden doors, it was as a visitor and a tourist that I would have to plan my time at the Ivy League University around.

So, naturally, as my husband and I planned our most recent trip to The Bay State, a stop at a school I have forever dreamt about was at the top of my ‘must see’ list.  We set aside an entire day to tour Cambridge; to wander around the campus and soak in all the history behind the brownstones.

2014-03-18_0001We were greeting with buzzing conversations and students scurrying up and down the winding pathways, presumably to get to their next class.  We stopped to take pictures of the Harvard squirrels snacking on animal crackers, and then continued on to where our walking tour directions told us to begin our adventure.

2014-03-18_0002It is at this point that I feel I must add a few disclaimers to my story.  My husband and I are both well-educated, professional adults.  We have travelled quite extensively throughout our relationship, navigating busy cities, consistently finding our way when our GPS insisted we were driving through the middle of the ocean, and even managed to remain married after spending more than 100 hours in a vehicle together in a one week period.  Harvard however, had us stumped.  It felt as though we were being challenged to some secret initiation test in which we were failing horribly.  Every door we approached required us to prove our enrollment with, what appeared to be a student card made of gold.  Either that, or a first born to offer.  Unfortunately, we had neither.

2014-03-18_0003My toes were cold, my nose was running, and I was completely defeated.  The only thing I wanted was to run my fingertips down the rows of old books and breath in the scent of years of pages being studied by scholars, but my travel sized Kleenex was my sole consolation.  Dragging my feet we made our way back to the T station with a promise to drown our sorrows in Boston cream pie.  My husband nudged me gently with his elbow and nodded at a gentleman walking toward us.  He looked like an English professor – smudged glasses, worn leather patches on his cardigan to cover his elbows, and arms stretched to their full-length with a load of novels.  He looked like a nice man, who would understand my need to visit the library.  I was confident he would sneak us in.  The distance between us grew shorter and just as my lips parted to ask for his assistance he looked the opposite direction and let one rip.  My hopes had been high he would be my golden ticket and instead he answered my call for help by breaking wind.  And that, about sums up my visit to Cambridge.

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