My Life

Does the vague name make it sound more edgy?

About My Closet

I own a lot of jackets.

I realize this is ridiculous because I live in Southern California where our four seasons are spring, summer, subtler summer, and summer feat. wind and occasional rain, but alas, I’m a baby, I’m always cold, and so I continue to buy jackets.

I continue to buy jackets and yet I constantly stand helpless in front of my closet convinced I don’t have the right jacket for anywhere and everywhere I might be going that needs a jacket.

While getting dressed, the internal monologue usually goes a little something like this:

Is this warm enough?

What if the wind blows and I need something thicker?

What if it rains and I need something waterproof?

Is this fancy enough?

Is this too fancy?

What kind of jacket am I supposed to wear with a dress?

Will this be too warm once we’re inside?

What if we go outside?

I mean, how cold is it?

Should I bring two jackets?

Can I layer these?

Does layering these make me look pathetic?

How worried am I about looking pathetic?

Would I rather be pathetic or warm?

Why can’t I ever be warm and cool?

Why are all the cool jackets thin and terrible?

Also, why can some people wear said thin, terrible jackets, look cool and not be popsicles?

Does this match?

Has this jacket ever matched anything?

Will anyone notice or care if I just wear the same jacket I always wear?

Screw it, I’m doing that.

For next time though, I need a new jacket.

 

And so the cycle goes continues.

A Celebratory Massage (Adventures at the Spa: Part 4)

My sister just passed her comprehensive exams for grad school, making her a certified Speech-Language Pathologist.

*pause for much deserved applause*

To celebrate her accomplishment and combat the years of hard work leading up to it, as well as the weeks and weeks of stress she went through studying for the exam, I booked massage appointments for her, my mom and I.

If you’ve been around this blog for a little while, you might know that I have had an aversion/borderline fear of massages in the past, which is why on our previous trip to the spa I opted for being swaddled in a cocoon—which you can read about here. This time around however, I was determined to go all in.

Seeing as this year has been chockFULL of calendar events, and I had been sipping on secondhand stress for my sister, I was actually in a place where a massage sounded useful. Necessary, even. So as we sat at the spa that afternoon, clad in our luxurious white robes, and already relaxed after having spent a couple hours checking out the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, I was only slightly nervous. And when my name was called and I was led back to the room and asked to disrobe by my very nice masseuse, Rochelle, I only awkwardly giggled once.

Then it began.

After lying on my stomach and tucking myself under the sheet, Rochelle walked back into the room and promptly pulled the sheet all the way over my head. This immediately made me feel like a corpse, which wasn’t exactly relaxing, but then I thought, is there anything more relaxing than being dead? So I went full rigor mortis and let her go to work.

Looking back at my first massage, I compared the work of the masseuse to that of a baker kneading bread. I remembered this as Rochelle started massaging my back, and I had a sudden realization that I was the bread. And when I accepted that, I realized the true key to surviving and thriving your way through a massage.

Be dead. Be bread. Get read.

That is: allow yourself to melt into the table and, for lack of a better word, DIE. Then embrace your temporary identity as a batch of dough needing…kneading. And then let the masseuse read you, i.e. go hunting for everywhere you’ve been hiding and holding stress, anxiety, and those cringy, awkward moments you’ve been trying to forget about.

Be dead. Be bread. Get read.

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Following this mantra, it was no time at all before Rochelle was telling me our 50 minutes were up. As a testament to her work, when I stood up, my legs felt like jello and my hair was sticking out in seemingly every direction. And since I was still naked, I realized I was the perfect embodiment of a troll doll.

But alas, with a smile on my face, my rubber band back in my hair, and my robe securely fastened, I walked back into the waiting room a new woman. I was relaxed, I was moisturized, and I was now a massage person.

10 Things I Can’t Live Without

After watching this video on GQ’s YouTube channel, which asks famous personalities to list “10 things they can’t live without”, my sister and I decided to sit down and figure out what our 10 would be.

To let the conversation flow, I hit record on my phone and we just talked freely—which, listening back, was both the greatest and worst decision I ever made. It’s hard listening to your own voice. So hard at times that you are forced to wonder, people listen to me on a daily basis? But it was also hilarious to hear us go from on topic, to sitting in complete silence, to discussing something completely random, to getting back on track seamlessly. I think we’re practically podcasters now.

Before I get into the answers we came up with, Natalee wanted me to include the following disclaimer: If it was appropriate, my dog would be #1-10.”

Shout out to Laycee, who made her debut as a writer in this post.

Now, onto the answers.

*recording starts with me making a passionate statement about why I can’t delete a particular app on my iPhone* 

“Yeah,” Natalee says right before both of us start eating chips, making the recording sound like an accidental dive into ASMR.  

“Okay,” I say, “what do you think your essentials would be?”

 

10 Things Natalee Can’t Live Without

1) Salt & vinegar chips

They’re just the perfect snack. You can overeat them but you won’t hate yourself unless you burn your mouth, and you can find them in other countries. For example, it was my snack of choice and I ate it for many meals when we were in Europe.

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2) My planner

This is for two reasons: 1) I would never remember anything because there are way too many things in my brain all the time, and 2) There is nothing better than crossing something off when you’ve done it.

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3) Glasses/Sunglasses

I mean, I’m a blind bitch without them.

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4) An extra large crewneck sweatshirt.

Simple answer. You gotta have something that lets you live in it.

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5) Gum

One minty flavor and one fruity flavor for—depending on what you need at the moment. Is it fresh breath or pretending you’re not starving?

 

6) Chapstick

I put that shit on all day, every day.

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7) Chipotle (with Cholula)

How can I even explain this bond? I just…no one feels the way I feel about Chipotle, and almost nothing can’t be made better by Cholula. So when they come together it’s hard to have a bad day.

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8) White Converse

Me: You have those slip-on kind, I’ve never seen anyone else wear those.

Natalee: (smugly) I’m different.

Me: (singing) I’m different, yeah, I’m different.

Natalee: Let’s talk about my shoe journey, though. It started with white shoes, the color changing ones that turned baby blue in the sun—wow, the sun could be one of my essentials.

Me: The sun is everyone’s essential, it keeps all of us alive.

Natalee: Not more than me…but anyway back to the shoe journey. After those shoes I wore Vans slip-ons that Ad drew on. (Check out our friend Ad Allegretti’s art) and then I got to high school, found white converse and never went back.

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9) A scrunchie

You need your hair out of your face 99% of the time, and there’s no better way to do it than looking like Cher from Clueless.

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10) Coffee

It’s the Lord’s drink. He gave it to us, so we can survive our time on Earth before we join Him in Heaven.

10 Things I Can’t Live Without

1) My Hydroflask

Me: I’m trying to think if there’s a snack for me. The only thing I can think of is…water.

Natalee: Yeah, one of yours would be your Hydroflask.

Me: (and this killed me to listen back to) Yeah, cuz like it’s like literally on my hip all the time.

Me while editing: We get it, Kim. You’re from the valley.

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2) My notebook (with a good pen)

This is where I take down all my notes, ideas, lyrics I like, things I want to try, or basically anything I want to remember.

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3) Headphones

Me: (being minorly dramatic) I honestly don’t think I’d survive the workday, a workout, or any kind of traveling without headphones.

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4) A jacket

Me: I mean, I guess I could technically say this jacket (which was a maroon zip up hoodie that I wear almost everyday at work) but it would really just be a jacket of any kind.

Natalee: Yeah, mine is specifically a giant sweatshirt.

Me: Mine is whatever I can find, even if it’s not mine.

Me while editing: Wow, fellow jacket owners beware.

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5) Google

Me: (laughs with a little bit of shame) I mean…I need to know stuff.

Natalee: I can’t even address how many windows you have open all the time.

Me: Yeah, I looked today and even I was a little bit alarmed.

Natalee: There are too many. There is such thing as too many.

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6) My rings

Unless I am at work, I am always wearing two rings. One on my left middle finger with my birthstone that my mom gave me, and one on my right ring finger that used to belong to my Aunt Evelyn (who I wrote about here.)

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7) My necklace

Me: Does this count though? I hardly ever take it off so it’s not like I’m choosing to wear it.

Natalee: Well you choose not to take it off.

Me: True…

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8) Oil wipes

Low key embarrassing but true.

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9) “Mary Poppins” purse

I make it a habit to always fill my purse with things that could help out anyone in (almost) any situation. Thus, I’m always packing hand lotion, Chapstick, Advil, a first aid kid, etc.

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10) Flavor of the month

Me: (at the beginning of this whole conversation) Do I have a go-to snack?

Me: (10 minutes in) What is a snack that I can’t live without?!

Me: (20 minutes in) Oh my gosh, I don’t have a go-to snack. What is my go-to snack? This is a part of my identity that I need to know.

Natalee: I feel like you’re a snack cycler.

Me: (floored by this) Oh my gosh, I-I go through snack phases.

*Natalee lists four of my recent snack phases*

Me: Yeah, wow, yeah.

Natalee: Honestly, this part of you could be a whole other blog post.

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So, there you have it.

If you ever wanted to know me and my sister on a survival level, this is us.

I encourage you to think about what your 10 would be. It’s actually harder than you might think.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find my new snack phase.

From One to Ninety (And Beyond)

It was 12:30 p.m. and I was sitting at a table, breaking a cookie into a bite-sized pieces as I sang happy birthday to the man of the hour. With big eyes, he looked out at all of us, not sure what to think or what to do. His mom held a candle in her hand, the small flame flickering in the afternoon breeze, and she and his dad stood in front of him, encouraging him with puffed cheeks to blow. Instead he reached for the candle, noticing when we laughed, and again when his mom blew out the candle for him and we clapped. Then his eyes shifted to the cake before him and he dug in.

At 4:30 p.m. I was sitting on a couch, spooning my way through a hot fudge sundae as I talked baseball with the man of the hour. He donned a Dodger hat, and the rest of us wore jerseys, shirts, and hats to match as we all watched our favorite team play their final game of the regular season. A cool breeze snuck in the back door, making it easy for us to sit close to one another as we whispered stories or shared them with the whole room, the light and easy conversation the kind that Sunday dreams are made of. Then, with timers set and everyone in their place, we took a group picture to commemorate the day.

It was a one-year-old birthday party and a 90-year-old birthday party, back to back. My sister and I attended both, with a minor costume change in between.

As we celebrated Berkley, we watched as he pointed at balloons and curiously poked his bare feet into the grass in the backyard. We told him all the reasons there were to celebrate and looked into his beautiful eyes, excited for all that they were destined to see.

As we celebrated our grandpa, we barbequed Dodger dogs and passed around Cracker Jacks, recreating one home inside another. We glanced from cousin to aunt to sister to parent, thankful for all that my grandma and grandpa have built, and hopeful that it will only continue to grow. We hugged my grandpa, knowing 90 is not nearly as easy as one or 20 or 40 or even 89, and we looked into his beautiful eyes knowing that they’d seen so much.

I myself have had 29 birthday parties. Some have been small, some have been slightly bigger than small. Some years I feel pressure to do something special, something exciting, while other years I’m perfectly content doing absolutely nothing. All that I hope for, all that we can ever hope for, is exactly what I found at both of these birthday parties: love.

For birthdays mark both an end and a beginning, and we want that transition to be shared with people, in places, surrounded by all that we love. Over time, those people, places and things may change, but if we’re lucky, we’ll always have that love. From the time we’re only one year old and we aren’t even sure what love is, to when we’re 90 years old and we know that love is all there is.

So, to you on your birthday (whenever that may be) I wish you love. For your first birthday, Berkley, I offer you love. And for your 90th birthday, grandpa, I thank you for love. For you’ve given it to me, to all of us, and each and every year, we watch it grow.

5 Habits I Want to Implement into My Life

Last year around the end of September I had just finished reading Rachel Hollis’ book Girl, Wash Your Face and I was doing my usual round of Internet stalking. I wanted to learn all about the woman who got me so inspired and see if there was anything else I could immediately learn in order to jump start my way into badass-ery. In the process, I came across her “Last 90 Days Challenge” which encourages you to bring grit and determination to the last three months of the year so that when the New Year comes, you’re already in that motivated mindset. (You can check it out here.)

Personally, with my schedule, I couldn’t maintain the requirements of the challenge, but embraced the mindset as a whole. I am someone who, in looking at the last three months of the year, might want to just get them over with so I can get to that inspiring fresh start in January. So after reading about this challenge, I started last year and will continue this year to look at these last three months as equal opportunity months, that have as much potential as the first three months of a new year after that strike of midnight.

On top of that, I’ve made a list of five habits I’d like to implement into my routine for these last three months and thus carry with me into 2020. These are things that I’ve thrown around in my mind for a while as something I want to do, maybe that I finally want to put aside the time to finally, actually do.

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1) Drink 60-70 ounces of water per day

One of the cornerstones of the Last 90 Days Challenge is to drink half your body weight (in ounces) of water every day. I already do a pretty good job at drinking water, but I want to make it a habit to hit a goal every day (or as many days as possible). I usually carry around a 32 ounce Hydroflask with me, so I’m going to try and make it a habit to fill it up twice each day.

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2) Put lotion on every day

I keep a small bottle of hand lotion in my purse, but I have never been good at remembering to put on body lotion after a shower or before bed, or, you know, ever. I buy the lotion, and it sits on my bathroom counter like I’m some sort of consistent moisturizer, but I’m not. So, I’m trying to make a better effort. What can I say, I want to be smooth, y’all.

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3) Read before bed

This is something I’ve desperately been wanting to do in place of scrolling through my phone. Not only do I think it will help me fall asleep easier, but it will also help me fall asleep earlier. As hard as it is to admit, it’s way easier to close a book than it is to put down my phone. And since I’m trying to distance myself from my phone, I think this is a good place to start.

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4) DIY Projects

I probably have at least ten projects sitting around my room that I’m “going to get to eventually.” During the week, I’m too tired after work, and then on the weekends, I’m either busy or not wanting to do anything at all. So, I’m going to try and work my way through them one by one. I’m going to set one up on my desk, and maybe even pick one day a week to set aside time to work on it. This goal/habit is pretty vague, but I’m putting it on this list mostly as a commitment to finally start these bad boys. I know full well that I feel my best when I am being creative, so I want make more time to do that.

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5) Meditate a few times a week

I tried meditating for the very first time last year and while it was a little off-putting at first, I couldn’t deny that it was relaxing. Since then, I’ve downloaded the Headspace app to try to motivate myself to do it more, and while I don’t use it often, in the handful of times I’ve used it before bed, I slept like a baby. So I want to make it a habit a few times a week, either in the morning to start my day, or when I get home from work, or right before bed. Anytime I can just take five minutes to relax and block everything else out.

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Have any habits you’ve been wanting to add to your routine? Now’s the time to start! 🙂

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation September Challenge

Hello and Happy September!

Hopefully you are at home or on vacation or somewhere other than work right now, blissfully living out your three day weekend and pretending that it’s going to last forever. (Fingers crossed it does.)

Personally I think September is the best month of the year, not only because I was born in it, but because it marks the start of fall—or, in Southern California, the beginning of summer part 2.

In the past, I’ve done of a few things to commemorate my birthday, and this year I’ve found something really fun. I recently came across a charity called Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. It was started by a little girl named Alex who was diagnosed with childhood cancer just after her first birthday. When she was four, she setup a lemonade stand with the mission to raise money to find a cure. Now, her legacy lives on with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation or ALSF.

For the month of September the ALSF is holding a fundraiser called the Million Mile Challenge where they are encouraging people to run, walk or bike as many miles as they can throughout the month while raising money and awareness for the charity.

I, along with some family and friends have put together a team and will be participating in the challenge. I think it will be such a fun and inspiring way to motivate us to get out and exercise while bringing awareness to such a great cause.

If you are interested in joining the challenge, you can register here.

Or, if you feel inspired to donate to our team, that would be amazing and you can do that here.

With all that being said, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your (hopefully) long weekend, pour yourself a glass of lemonade and take a nap. You’ve earned it.

As for me, I’ve got to get moving! I’ve got miles to log!

Notes I Found on My iPhone

Creativity and inspiration (to write, in my case) can sometimes be slippery fish. Sometimes you’ll put in all the effort to be productive—you’ll clear time, sit down at your computer, stretch your fingers and say, “okay! I’m ready! Bring me the words!” and then, nothing. That cursor will blink and blink and your document will stare it’s blinding white screen back at you until your eyes hurt but still: nothing.

This is why I almost never leave the house without a notebook. It’s my way of keeping track of ideas the moment they come (which too often is while I’m driving) so I can come back to them later—hopefully with the same enthusiasm I had while scribbling them down at a red light.

When I don’t have my notebook, I’ll type up notes on my phone. But more often than not, I forget these notes exist, so by the time I come back around to them, I’ve lost all connection to the random jumble of a thought, and it’s become far less inspirational or witty than it is strange and confusing.

Seeing as it has been a solid two years since I’d last gone through my notes, I thought there was a pretty good chance to find some of these lost souls and boy did I. Here are just a handful of the 60 notes that were sitting idly on my iPhone:

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This abandoned story idea that sounds like bad spin-off of The Hangover series:

“Story about someone finding a cash out receipt and the journey to cash it”

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This proposed menu my roommates and I made for a new holiday were going to celebrate:

Post Thanksgiving Friends-Giving

-Macaroni & Cheese + Hot Dogs

-Pigs in a blanket

-Hot Cheetos

-Tater Tots

-Pancakes

-Snowcones

-Rice Krispie Treats

-Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets

-Ring Pops

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These noted conversation points I took down during a bar crawl:

Can you slurp potatoes?

Bananas?

Doubtful.

Whose ears are bigger?

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This apparently important moment that took place at the International House of Pancakes:

Natallee: IHOP = the POPOT

The place of pancakes of truth

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This list of companies I wanted to give me money/free stuff:

People I wouldn’t mind sponsoring me

  • Target
  • Amazon
  • Popsicles
  • Boom chicka pop

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This, which I assume was supposed to be a list of fears I had regarding therapy:

Dumb questions I’d probably ask if I ever went to therapy

  1.  My left shoe always comes untied, do you think that means something?

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This recipe:

Paprika Chicken with Crispy Chickpeas & Tomatoes

12oz tomatoes

8 cloves garlic, smashed in their skins

1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed

3 tbsp olive oil, divided

Kosher salt & pepper

4 6oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tsp paprika

Heat oven to 425F. On rimmed baking sheet, toss tomatoes, garlic & chickpeas with 2 tbsp oil & 1/4 tsp each salt & pepper. Roast 10 min. Heat remaining tbsp oil in large skillet on medium. Season chicken with paprika & 1/2 tsp salt & pepper and cook until golden brown on one side 5-6 min. Flip and cook 1 min more. Transfer to baking sheet with tomatoes & chickpeas and roast until cooked through, 6 min more. Before serving, discard garlic skins.

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This list of movies I was told I HAD TO SEE (which I’ve made almost no progress on):

Primal Fear

Identity

5th Element

Snatch

The room

What If

Comet

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Overall, while these are funny, weird and slightly confusing, they’re not all that surprising, 1) because this is exactly what my brain sounds when it thinks it’s on to something and 2) because I have 5 moleskine notebooks full of thoughts exactly like this and I don’t foresee that ending anytime soon.

So if you happen to drive up next to me at a red light and see me scribbling something down in a notebook, just let it happen. Also, maybe say a prayer that that idea grows up into something great one day.

I Can’t Pee in the Ocean

You’ve read the title. You know what we’re here to talk about.

It’s an overshare, but we’re moving on.

I, Kim, cannot pee in the ocean. This is a fact of not only my adult life, but my life for as long as I can remember. Or at least since the day I figured out that the ocean is kind of scary and may or may not swallow you up if you aren’t careful.

The ocean just gives me a lot of anxiety.

The beach? Love it.

What’s not to love about a place where it’s not only encouraged to lie around without pants on, but to do so with snacks and a drink close by, AND to nap at least once while you’re there?

If you give me a book, some pretzels and a hoodie, you can do whatever you want in the ocean and I’ll be right there waiting for you hours later—most likely sunburned in a place I could have swore I put sunscreen on, and wondering if there’s a popup ice cream shop somewhere. All of this comes crashing down however, when there are no bathrooms.

Which was the case this past weekend.

It was a lovely Saturday afternoon. My sister and I had made the (only slightly) trafficky drive to the beach and were set to spend our afternoon there. Since it was later in the day, we hadn’t brought any snacks because we didn’t want anything to take away from the tacos we were planning on devouring that evening.

We were at what you might call a secret spot so there were no bathrooms in sight, which wouldn’t have been a problem if I didn’t realize I had to pee the moment we stepped onto the sand.

“It’s fine,” I said, “I’m fine.”

She was not fine, said the narrator.

For the next half hour or so, we lay in the sand, my sister studying for an upcoming test and me reading a chapter of a book I will definitely have to reread.

“Do you want to walk down to the water?” my sister said, faux casually.

I thought about saying, “yeah, sure, I just love the water,” but we both would have known I was full of garbage and we also both knew that my only thought for every single one of the last 30 minutes was: I have to pee I have to pee I have to pee I have to pee I have to pee.

Needless to say, we walked down to the water.

I was feeling roughly 0% confident, seeing as my record of peeing in the ocean in the last, say, 10 years of my life was 0. But I had to go, you know? And so I trailed behind her, wondering how many of our fellow beach patrons were pointing and saying, “she’s definitely going to pee in the ocean, let’s watch.”

If they were watching—which, gross­—they would have seen little more than me hopping around, quietly shrieking and gasping and unnecessarily cursing. At one point a wave came in higher than I thought and water splashed up into my eye. Another time I thought I might maybe kind of a little bit go pee, but then I saw a flock of birds and got distracted and so it went away.

Eventually, after thirty minutes of not being able to pee in ocean, I trudged up the beach, lay back down on my towel and re-opened my book.

The good news was that the exorbitant amount of anxiety the water had given me had essentially scared the pee into some back corner of my body. So for the next hour I was able to lie there and read without wondering if my bladder was going to explode, causing Shonda Rhymes to use my story on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The bad news was the breeze picked up and my pantsless, unable-to-retain-body-heat existence started to shiver the pee out of hibernation. Thus, around 6:00 p.m. we packed up our bags, made the walk back to our car and drove totally over the speed limit to the taco joint. #criminal #gottafleetofreethepee

In conclusion, I peed.

It wasn’t in the ocean and it probably won’t ever be, but I peed.

To everyone out there whose bladder has got no motion in the ocean, you’re not alone. And to everyone who can’t relate to this story in any way,  you know a lot about my bladder now and I apologize.

If You Have Time to Kill, Take These Personality Tests

This past weekend my sister and I dove into the world of personality tests.

While I like to think we know each other pretty well, and we know ourselves even better, you can never really know enough, you know?

Us humans are complicated things, so it’s nice to gain some insight into why we might do the things we do, in the way we do them, at the time we do them. And while therapy is a necessary and wonderful thing, sometimes it’s nice to put entirely too much trust into tests on the Internet and then evaluate your entire life as you sit in your living room watching a baseball game.

So yeah, you could say we had a wild weekend.

If you are looking to learn a little bit more about yourself, or just have 20-30 minutes to kill, give these a try.

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1) Your Love Language

This will teach you about what you consider to be love and how you need it to be expressed/shown to you.

My Result: Quality Time

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Find the test here.

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2) Enneagram Test

This will tell you about your personality and where it fits in to the nine major types.

My result: Type 3, “The Achiever”

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Find the test here.

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3) Enneagram Test with Instinctual Variant

This is a shorter version of the enneagram test that asks you to rate yourself on specific personality traits.

My result: Type 3w2 with a Self Preservation Variant

Find the test here (just below the last one)

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4) The 16 Personalities Test

This is essentially an extension of the enneagram test that measures your personality against 16 different types.

My result: The Advocate (Type INFJ-T)

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Find the test here.

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5) Which Type of Potato are You?

Because, well, don’t you want to know?

My result:

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Find the test here.

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I cannot and will not claim any responsibility for any emotional confusion/identity crises that may result in the taking of these quizzes. I will, however, take full blame for anyone craving potatoes at work today. I’m looking at you, scalloped.

My Brother’s 21st Birthday in Vegas

Last Monday my little brother turned 21 years old. To celebrate, we did what many have done before us: go to Vegas. While the idea wasn’t necessarily original, we were determined to make the weekend one of a kind.

So, on Friday afternoon, as our navigation finally ticked down to those last final miles and we saw the strip come into view, we sat up in our seats and got ready to kick this thing off right. How, you might ask? By hurling axes.

Okay, technically throwing axes, but when you’re handed an axe and the freedom to launch it at a target, you dig deep and channel any dormant rage that might have been previously unaddressed, you take the recommended lunging step, and you hurl the damn thing.

After an hour of therapy axe throwing, we made our way to our hotel for the weekend: the Palazzo.

Three quick notes on the Palazzo

  • A beautiful hotel with luxurious suites that make you feel wealthy—and include buttons that make the curtains open and close so when you jump and clap you are reminded that you are not.
  • It’s located towards the end of one side of the strip so many of the other hotels are a bit of a walk, which can be good and bad. Good because you get your exercise in and walk your alcohol off, and bad because your bed is so far on your walk back at three in the morning.
  • Did I mention the curtain buttons?

Being his very first time in Vegas, we thought the best way to introduce Troy into its universe was to give him the chance to lose some money. So after dropping off our bags we headed down to the casino to teach him how to do just that.

He learned that slot machines are not something you understand, just buttons you push and cheer when they light up; he learned that sometimes machines speak to you and sometimes losing is inevitable; and he learned that drinks in the casino are free. (That last one really floored him)IMG_2471

That night, after a quick and easy dinner from the food court, the six of us freshened up and got dressed for our first evening out in Vegas. Troy’s outfit was the easiest, because it was assigned to him: a white t-shirt that said “It’s my 21st Birthday!” on one side, and “SIGN ME!” on the other.

Call back to what could have been a great joke: his outfit was asSIGNed to him.

Moving on.

If you ever go to Vegas for a birthday, bachelor/bachelorette party, or any other specific celebration, I highly recommend this T-shirt experience. Not only does it take away the responsibility of choosing what to wear, it also gives you the opportunity to meet and interact with a wide variety of people. Also, is there a better social experiment than seeing what people decide to write when handed a sharpie by a stranger? No. No there is not. By the end of the weekend, Troy’s shirt was adorned with advice, names, questionable drawings, and just plain incredible one-liners.

Troy’s 2nd assignment of the weekend was bingo.

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My cousin Spenser made this card with tasks that Troy had to complete in order for each square to be crossed off and ultimately create bingos. In the event of a bingo, someone had to take a shot. Some of my personal favorites to witness were “do the Captain Morgan pose for 1 minute”, which resulted in some very confused looks from the passerby, “get a picture with a fellow ginger”, which was completed when we ran into a group of incredibly welcoming Irish people, and “get a blackjack”, which Troy managed to complete in three hands at the blackjack table.

While not included on the bingo card, we also made sure to get Troy a Fat Tuesday, just so he could say he’s had one, and he diligently carried it around for the remainder of the night.

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When Troy was in Kindergarten, his class had a stuffed animal named Ruby the Rhinoceros and each week one of the kids got a chance to take Ruby home. Throughout the week, the kids would document all the adventures they took with Ruby and then bring her back and show the class. As we walked around Vegas and I saw Troy carry that Fat Tuesday, I thought of Ruby. I thought about Troy taking his Fat Tuesday back to class on Monday and telling everyone about the hotels they toured together. About the casinos and showgirls and drunk guys yelling, “WOOO” for no reason. About O’Shea’s bar where we played beer pong. Or the slot machine where Troy won most of his money back and two strangers came up and high fived him. What a show and tell that would be, huh?

Anyways.

Around 4:00 a.m. we turned in for the night (morning?) and if I remember correctly, my last words before falling asleep were, “I can’t wait to eat tomorrow!” So clearly our priorities were still firmly in tact.

At 11:30 a.m. the next same morning, we sat down to eat at the MGM Grand Buffet. I for one felt like I could have eaten the table, but I didn’t because French toast was also an option. We hung out, ate, and talked about the comparative size of the human brain and the human heart while sipping mimosas, as you do, and then we made our way over to Top Golf.

Since it was almost 1:00 p.m. and a ripe 108 degrees, the wait for a bay at Top Golf was only 30 minutes, so we put our name in and walked over to the bar area, where we came across a beer pong table. Cut into a hexagonal shape, there were six beer pong pyramids that would allow three games of one-on-one beer pong to be played. We could have done that. However, being the true innovators we are, we invented what will now forever be known as Assassination Beer Pong, in which all six players compete at once. Look for it on shelves soon—and when you find it let us know so we can sue for copyright.

Once our bay was ready, we played an hour and a half of golf. And while we probably won’t be competing at The Masters anytime soon, the free birthday donuts Troy was comped were, dare I say, a hole in one. #golfjokes.

We spent the rest of the afternoon gambling and snacking, and then around 8:30 p.m. we sat down at Beer Park, a rooftop bar and grill where we ate burgers, played Uno and watched UFC Fight Night—a very strange yet fulfilling combination.

From there we headed to the minus5 Ice experience at the Venetian, where we were given parkas and gloves and led into a (literally) freezing room with tables, benches, and thrones all made of ice. We ordered drinks that came in cups made of ice, and Troy did a luge shot that involved him sucking the alcohol through a straw as it traversed down at block of ice. It is a small room, but the experience is what you make it. We had an absolute blast, and my cousin Amanda and I tried our hand at on site reporting, which we’re assuming will get us an audition for ABC.

That night, after a doing a few more rounds in the casino at our hotel, most of us were ready to turn in. But with only a handful of squares left on his bingo sheet, Troy and Spenser headed to Caesar’s Palace. When they arrived at our hotel room only a short while later, we were surprised, but not nearly as surprised as when we heard that Troy’s bingo sheet had gotten them kicked out of Caesar’s! In what appeared to be a case of a grumpy security guard, Troy was able to cross off a bingo square we didn’t even know he’d need.

As we loaded up the car the next day, we all had that familiar Sunday in Vegas feeling: tired, but chock full of new stories to tell. I can only hope we’re still telling them years from now—most likely arguing and embellishing and interrupting each other with finite details, but always in the end, being able to sum it up with five lasting words: it was a good weekend.