throwback thursday

So Much “Back”

You know those trains of thought that you come across on long drives that take on a life of their own?

The ones that, when you get to where you’re going and start to tell whoever your with about them, they tend to lose steam, but since you’ve been ruminating on them for so long you have to tell someone, if only to get the damn things out of your head?

That’s where I’m at with this.

So bear with me. And maybe join me if you feel so inclined.

Here it is: Have you ever noticed how many English phrases use the word “back”?

I’m sorry, what? – You, probably.

Allow me to elaborate:

1) Throwback – as in “throwback Thursday” or any basic caption for old photos or memories.

2) Out back – as in “Where’s dad?” “Out back.” Or, “do you have anymore ice cream out back?” “No, you ate it all.” (Not to mention “the Outback” which refers to the western region of Australia)

3) Step back – as in the literal, physical motion of moving backward or the figurative action of regrouping and retracing.

4) Kick back – as in kick back and relax, or I’m having a kickback at my house.

5) Jump back – as in, hold on, rewind, say whatever you just said again. (Note: I’ve only ever heard this used in the movie Footloose, but I’m still counting it.)

6) Circle back – as in, “I forgot my wallet at home, circle back so I can grab it.” Or, “I think I saw a parking spot around the corner, let’s circle back.”

7) Call back – as in, “I got a call back!” (mostly used the acting/casting world)


I just…

Isn’t that funny?


The tiniest bit interesting maybe?

*smiles politely* – you, undoubtedly.

I’ll go now.

TBTS (Throwback Thursday Stories): The 40 Penises of Freshman Year

Today we are throwing it back in a few different ways to a few different places.

Throwback Thursday Stories is a segment I used to do on my blog which, as the name suggests, included a “throwback” story that I posted on Thursdays. (We like to keep it literal over here.)

On top of that, the story I’m posting today was one of the very first I ever had published. The website, In the Powder Room—which unfortunately is no longer active ☹—was actually responsible for both of my first ever publications (the other was about the first time I did a juice cleanse which you can read here) and the friendly editors that helped me prepare my post were the first people to ever make me feel like a real writer.

And on top of that, I figured since school has started back up for a lot of people, why not re-share one of the most—uh, unexpected first days I ever had?

It’s a win win win as far as I’m concerned.

(Except for past Kim, she’s still a little shaken up.)

There I was on the first day of my second semester art class. While completely ashamed of my lack of artistic ability, I was just as determined to improve as I was the previous semester. I walked into room 68 and found a spot near the front just as my teacher clapped her hands together to get our attention.

“We’re going to dive right in this morning. No use wasting any of this precious time. Let’s just keep it loose and have fun today.”

I nodded, smiled, and quickly began to search my bag for my pencil box, silently pondering what we’d be drawing.

As I propped up my drawing pad, a man took the stage my teacher had vacated and I saw him nod to the class before I flipped open the front cover to reveal my first blank page.

Now, the actual fall time of the front cover behind my seat was probably around a second or two, if that, but due to its likeness to a curtain on Broadway, the descent seemed to last a lifetime.

Beginning with its peak height—which completely blocked my view of the stage—the cover fell slowly, carefully revealing what I was sketching inch by inch. First I saw the man’s head. His eyes were gazing away from me, towards the door in the back left corner of the room. Then I saw his chest, now bare, and his arms laden with goosebumps. Then I saw his…WAIT, WHAT?! The cover hit the back of the chair and I sat, stunned and still amongst my classmates, unaware of what to do. I started again with his head, sure I’d had some kind of pornographic stroke. I again moved down his chest and arms until I again found his…


I looked around, desperate to find someone in the same amount of shock. And while I saw a few of my classmates wincing as they sketched, making a conscious effort to keep their eyes up, no one seemed to completely object to our subject.

“If you are uncomfortable, or feel it will use too much of your time, please feel free to draw fig leaves in the place of genitalia. And if the time comes that you do feel comfortable, challenge yourself to complete full body sketches.”

I’m a modest person. I knew the day would never come when I’d find myself adding drop shadows to a stranger’s anaconda, so after class I assigned myself five hours hard research on the anatomy of a fig leaf.

Much to my surprise however, intricate knowledge of this greenery would do me no favors as the parade of peckers continued throughout the semester. I failed to take into account the variety of sizes and shapes that would take the stage, and I neglected to consider the impact the model’s pose would have on the angle at which gravity would…umm…pull.

Not to mention, despite my thorough research, there were times my fig leaves failed to appear, well, leaf-ish. For example, one afternoon I sketched a man that appeared to be squatting on a burning bush, and later that week, I drew a gentleman whose crotch had seemingly sprouted a snowflake.

To make up for the blunders down under, I decided to start drawing the models’ facial features.  I reasoned that if I was forcing my teacher to grade a drawing of a man giving birth to a pineapple, the least I could do was give her a face to sympathize with.

This however, did not go well.

Turns out, if you are as tremendously terrible as I am, a butt chin can look a lot like what is hidden behind a fig leaf, and facial hair can look a lot like what keeps it warm in the winter.

As the semester drew on, it was clear that I was never going improve; however, I did grow more comfortable with being told to stare at a man I’d never met as he pointed both up and down at the same time. I even went back and forth on the idea of taking that next step with my colored pencils, and attempting a schlong sketch. What did I have to lose?

Ultimately however, I talked myself out of it. I concluded that any attempt I made would not only be pitiful, but also insulting. Picture a kid trying to explain a drawing of their family to their teacher in preschool. Now picture me explaining why I’ve added a pre-explosion Hindenburg blimp between the legs of Bob from Torrance to my college professor.

On the upside, I did eventually perfect that fig leaf.

TBTS (Throwback Thursday Stories): Flu Season

In honor of the impending flu season, today I bring you an unpublished blog I wrote a couple years ago when I had fallen victim to its clutches. I had spent days on the couch and was going a little insane and wanted to make myself laugh.

I hope you can all escape the snot and chills that come a threatenin’ this time of year, but if you do find yourself swaddled in a blanket for multiple days at a time, stay strong!


I have the flu and I’ve been sitting in my dad’s recliner since Monday afternoon.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m someone that doesn’t like to go to the doctor and will try to avoid it at all costs. Some might say it’s because I hate the doctor, others might say it’s because I have severe commitment issues and will only go unless I completely trust them, which is rare.

A few years back, I found a good one. She was funny, smart, and talked about kayaking when she gave me my first pap. It was true love. Then she left me. Something about “wanting to start a family.” I call it selfishness, and I’m still not over it. COME BACK TO ME, ALICIA.

Wednesday evening, after I had successfully spent two straight days in the aforementioned recliner, I decided that I might as well go to the doctor. A 102 fever, a nasty cough, waterfalls of snot, and a splitting headache. I was the picture of glamour and sex appeal.

My mom and I strolled into Urgent Care at precisely 8:45 pm. It closed at 9, so we were met with more than a few annoyed glances but a helping hand nonetheless. I walked up to the counter, signed in, and turned to find the closest seat. I was exhausted. I had after all, just walked 100 feet from the car.

“Miss Koehn, will you be able to provide us with some samples for this test. It’s an annual test and it appears as though it’s been 2 years since you last completed it.”

I couldn’t breathe, I looked like shit, and a raindrop of snot was working its way through my nose and onto my face; could there be a better time to test me for Chlamydia?

“I guess.”

I was then escorted to a room where a nurse asked me to list my symptoms.

“Persistent fever, wheezing, a cough, and sinus congestion.”

I said this, realizing that 1) both my ears had popped, a phenomenon I had not experienced for 72 straight hours and, 2) I hadn’t coughed or wheezed since I’d been there.

She took my temperature.


Well, damnit.

“Listen lady, I. AM. SICK. I promise you. I’m not being dramatic, I’m not faking it to get out of work, and contrary to what your coworker might think, I didn’t drive all the way down here just to get tested for an STD.” I told her all of this with my mind of course. Speaking would involve a lot of breathing, and that was exhausting.

Luckily, a doctor still came. He looked me in the eye and shook my hand, my germ ridden hand, skin to skin. (Respect, man.) He reviewed my vitals and listened to me breathe deeply in and out, roughly 1000 times.

Since my fever had reached 102, he ordered a chest X-ray to check for pneumonia. A nurse escorted me through three doors and led me down a hallway to Radiology. There I found a man sitting behind a desk watching Survivor, his waiting room completely empty. He led me through two more doors and directed me down another hallway to the women’s changing room. After stripping down and then robing up, I waited patiently on a cold seat until an elderly Hispanic man took me to the X-ray room.

After snapping a few pictures, he led me back to the changing room and told me to go back the way I came to the doctor. I waved to Survivor man and then found the Chlamydia nurse who led me back to my original room where the doctor was waiting.

He prescribed me the good stuff, saying it wasn’t pneumonia, but it had potential. So, I hopped in the elevator, made my way to the pharmacy and took a seat in a squeaky leather chair, waiting for my name to pop up on the marquee.

There was a janitor sweeping the hallway, and every few seconds I heard a door shut and lock. That’s when I realized I had no idea where my mom was. And maybe it was the snot or all the walking, but suddenly I imagined the worst. My mom, a notoriously good napper, had obviously drifted off in one of the waiting rooms while reading her Kindle. She had left her phone in the car so she didn’t hear me calling and the only janitor with a key to the room she slept in had left for the day. We would spend the night here, me in this chair in the pharmacy that smelled like Pepto Bismol, and my mom unknowingly trapped behind one of the seemingly hundreds of forest green doors.

I wouldn’t go down without a fight.

I glanced down the hallway and decided a door looked familiar. After knocking a few times to no response, the janitor sauntered over to me and pointed to the next door over. Then, in a Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams esque tone, he said: “If you knock, someone will come.” Chills ran down my spine, either from awe or the second wind of my fever.  I nodded in thanks and then he vanished into thin air. (Just kidding, though he did move fast.)

In the end, my mom was saved, I got a goodie bag of drugs, and I didn’t have Chlamydia. I’ll take the wins where I can get ’em.

TBTS (Throwback Thursday Stories): Zoom!

When I was in middle school my family lived in a house behind my grandparents’. Some days my sister and I would walk over to their house after school, to eat marshmallows and watch Kids WB. We’d watch Animaniacs, Captain Planet and Scooby Doo, and then we’d switch it to PBS and watch Wishbone and my favorite, Zoom!

The show started with the jam, “Come on and zoom!” and then at some point over the next half hour, would move into the craft sent in by a “zoomer at home.” Soup can telephones, paper plate tambourines, 2 liter bottle tornadoes, you name it. I was hooked.

At the end of each episode, they would splash the mailing address across the screen and say, “Send us your ideas!” The graphic would flash colors and sounds, evoking a longing and desperation from my 12 year old heart. How badly I wanted to be the featured “zoomer at home.” How frustrated I was for my lack of ideas.

One afternoon I was sitting at the kitchen table eating an Eskimo pie, when I saw my Grammie set a jar of leaves on the table. It was a nice jar, much more decorative than the ones in the refrigerator that held blackberry jam. The leaves were dark, almost dead looking but more purple. Pretty in a way I’d never seen before.

“Potpourri,” she explained and offered the open top for me to smell.

Inexplicably, the jar of dead foliage smelled like heaven. My wheels started turning.

I went home that night and sifted through every cupboard in our creaky tiled kitchen. Mugs and pans and plates and silverware. Pots and baking sheets and bowls and cheese graters. Nothing was good enough.

In the dining room was my mom’s china cabinet. The bottom cupboards were child locked, but I had long mastered the art of the push and click combination. I spotted a vase, not too skinny, not too tall. Jar-ish and decorative. It was perfect. So, being the rebel I remain today, I asked for permission to use the jar.

The next day after school, I sloshed around in the autumn leaves, crunching them in the fingers as I stuffed them into the jar. They weren’t purple, but they were dead, so it counted.

Once the jar was full, I retreated to my Grammie’s bathroom and sat at her vanity mirror to graze over my options. I decided on a square bottle with a hat that looked like an ice cube. The liquid inside looked like a beer my dad drank and the name was familiar from a song.

I then proceeded to squirt 5 doses of my Grammie’s Chanel No. 5 into the jar of damp leaves, seal the lid and write my letter to Zoom.

Hello Zoomers!

My name is Kimberlee with 2 e’s instead of one. I have an idea for a craft and I hope you like it because I would love to be a zoomer at home that you talk about on your show. I watch Zoom every day at my Grammie and Papa’s house and I love it. Here is was you need for my craft: a jar, some leaves, some good smelling stuff. Here is how you do my craft: collect leaves in the jar, the more colorful the better, but they have to be crunchy. Fill your jar to the top and then spray the good smelling stuff on top and put the lid on to keep the smell in. When you want to let the smell out, take off the lid. It’s called Poporry.

Sincerely, Kimberlee the zoomer at home.

Shockingly, the Zoomers never showcased my idea on the show. I waited for weeks, assuming they were saving it for a special episode, or that maybe they were going to fly me out to demonstrate the ground breaking creativity live on air. But for whatever reason, trapping perfume in a confined space with moldy leaves didn’t interest them. Their loss.

TBTS (Throwback Thursday Stories): The Superhero Who Inspired Me to Write.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table swiveling my butt in the desk chair I dragged out of my brother’s room. My tongue is a delicious shade of grape Popsicle and the sweat has just begun to pool up at my hairline again. Another 100 degree day in July.

I’ve been looking up job opportunities online for an hour now, with my only noteworthy accomplishment being the Nevada shaped pit stain I’ve sweat into my T-shirt.

“What is your superhero name?” my brother asks bluntly as he walks by to me to the refrigerator.

I shrug at him nonchalantly.

An ad for an Administrative Assistant position catches my eye on the screen. I click its hyperlinked blue lettering, opening up a new window that describes the job at length. I skim the page, skipping down to the qualifications, ready to find a reason why they wouldn’t hire me.

“Come on, think about it, if you were a superhero, what would your name be?” he asks with a mouth full of Goldfish.

I look away from the screen, having convinced myself not to apply for the job, and I look at my brother, 6’2”, slouched in one of the wooden chairs I hate. His green eyes look back at me, waiting for me to take the bait of his question and discuss the possibilities.

When he was in preschool, his teachers went around the room asking all of the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up.




When the time came for my brother to speak, he answered with a very confident, “Superhero.” The teachers smiled sympathetically, wondering how long it would take him to realize that it wasn’t possible, and my brother smiled back, sure that it was.

When my brother started playing sports in grade school, I could still see the desire for greatness in his eyes.

First it was soccer. My brother had seen my cousins play for years, so when the time came for him to suit up, he immediately began to strive for the high caliber level at which they played. After one season, he decided that he would train to become good enough to receive a scholarship to college and eventually continue on to the MLS.  His coach smiled sympathetically in response, all too aware that my brother spent more time talking to other players than he did chasing the ball. He began placing my brother on the guard of specific players, hoping he would distract them with his banter and imagination, which he did, flawlessly. And eventually my brother came to realize that he didn’t want the dream he had created, he knew it wasn’t right, it wasn’t him, so he moved on.

Karate was something I never expected to attract my brother. Docile and sweet by nature, my brother is not a physical fighter. Any concerns he has are expressed with eloquent arguments and eye rolls. One day however, my mom found herself in line at the rec center, waiting to write his name on the sign-up sheet. Like all new students, my brother started at the bottom of the ladder with a white belt and was initially discouraged by his lack of skill. But upon receiving his first advanced belt, he immediately decided that he would become a black belt. We smiled, just like those teachers and just like that coach, wondering if he knew how much time and commitment it would take to get there. He smiled back, as confident in this decision as he was in all of them.

“So…what would it be?” he asks me again, now accessorized with a milk moustache.

“I just…I don’t know,” I reply, slightly annoyed by his pestering, but more so with my lack of a creative response.

“Well if you had one superpower, what would it be?”

I shut my laptop, officially conceding to his questions, and think for a few minutes.


“Why?” His eyes spark with curiosity.

“Because then I could always go new places and meet new people and do new things”

He thought for a second.

“We all already have that power in a way. We just tend to collect kryptonites to keep us from using it.”

I sit, speechless. At first unable to grasp the depth of what he has so casually stated. I look back up at him, the same little boy I’ve always known, though he now stands almost a foot taller than me. He smiles, unaware of what he’s done for me, as he begins to tie his karate belt around his waist. It is now two tone, half brown, half black, the last one received before a first degree black belt.

I reopen my computer and clear the search history of all of the jobs I had previously been looking at, realizing I had become one of the other kids on the rug. I start to think of what I really want, avoiding the answer I can sense on my tongue, afraid to speak it aloud.

I turn my chair towards him once more, curious.

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Troy?”

“Physical therapist,” he replies with ease.


“Because I want to help people.”

I turn back to my computer screen, completely aware of what I want to do, unafraid of what it will take to get there, a single tear rolling down my left cheek.  For after all these years of growing up in a cynical world, full of doubters and limitations, he still wanted to be a superhero.

TBTS (Throwback Thursday Stories): The Terrorist

This is a story about a terrorist.

Rather, a suspected terrorist.

Let’s start from the beginning.

My family and I were in Wyoming for a national softball tournament my sister was participating in. We had driven our Honda Odyssey all the way to beautiful Cheyenne, but not before making a few key stops:

The Bottle Forest. Home to Elmer, his beard, and his collection of glass bottle sculptures.

Zion National Park. Home to red dirt and breathtaking landscapes.

The Cedar City Holiday Inn’s breakfast buffet. Home to a lot of waffles and my happy belly.

And Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Home to the Iron Mountain Burger, the mechanical bull ride made to embarrass you, the Alpine Rush rollercoaster that will make you question how long your little brother can scream, the corn maze that gives you 6 minutes to escape for a full refund but fails to mention the masked humans hiding in the wings to scare the mountain burger out of you, and the caverns, which consist of cavey things, like stalagmites and stalactites that look like bacon and Santa Claus.

Once in Cheyenne, happily unpacked and sitting on our side by side queen sized beds, my family began to wonder what one does in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Once the tournament started, we had an unbelievably busy schedule, however most of the next day was unplanned.

My dad and sister met up with some members of her team and visited a state park while my mom, brother and I decided to do a similar study of this new city by spending all of the morning hours in our pajamas, exploring every comfortable area of our Wyoming hotel room.

That afternoon at 2 o’clock marked the start of Opening Ceremonies and after a parade, some smoke machines, and some disco music, we were sent home to get some sleep and prepare for the week ahead.

The next six days remain a blur of softball and sunflower seeds. I don’t remember a lot, but I remember the day we lost. It was rough. We were in contention to play for the title but instead wound up in 3rd. The depression however, was soon replaced by celebration, after the accomplishment had time to set in. The celebration was then replaced by sadness, as we all realized our break from reality was coming to a close. We had been away from home for a solid 9 days and aside from the drive home, our vacation was essentially over.

Or so we thought.

The morning after we lost, my family got an early start to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. After a self-guided tour of the premises, we listened to a woman tell us that Crazy Horse would not be finished in the lifetime of my great grandchildren’s great grandchildren, which both infuriated me and impressed me. Can you imagine the intricacy of every movement? The number of workers who never got to see Mt. Rushmore finished? I was just in awe of their perseverance.  I hate leaving projects unfinished, but when I do, it’s because of a lack of time or motivation, not death. I can’t imagine starting a project knowing that I would see the inside of a coffin before I saw the final product. Let’s all take a moment to send some major kudos their way.

Okay, moving on.

As we pulled out of the parking lot of Mount Rushmore National Park, I immediately went into road trip mode. Pillow in hand, headphones in and ready to provide an array of songs I can emotionally look out the window to, and a nap constantly in the works. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I noticed my parents start to talk a little sharper, a little more panicked. Long story short, we had spent more time than we intended hanging out with our stoney forefathers and we were not going to be able to make it to our planned hotel destination. With no streetlights, and the threat of a gallivanting deer seeking a game of chicken, my parents wanted to get off the road and began calling every hotel in the surrounding area to find a vacant room. In conclusion, we slept in a barn and witnessed the rebirth of the Messiah and are now writing to you within the gates of Heaven.

Just kidding.

No, we ended up finding a room in Caspar, Wyoming at a hotel that will not be named because it scared the friendly ghost out of me and I still feel dirty for sleeping there. There was an overabundance of color and childish décor that was trying too hard to be kid friendly. My sister and I slept on a red, blue, green, and yellow bunk bed that had a light up telephone and a creeky floor. I was 99% sure the room was haunted. To make matters worse, our room was directly next door to the sexed out honeymoon suite my parents and brother stayed in that came complete with a hot tub in the middle of the kitchen. How these two rooms were built right next to each other, I’ll never know. How these two rooms were constantly vacant for tourists seeking shelter, I’ll never have trouble figuring out.

The next morning at breakfast we were greeted by a waitress with one giant front tooth and self-cut bangs. She had as much kindness as she did teeth, and we were happy to eat quickly, grab the check and get out of there.

From the hotel, we made 2 successful right turns. Toothy had given us directions to the freeway and after turning out of the parking lot and on to the main street, we found ourselves at a red light, blinking our blinker, waiting to make our final turn en route to our onramp. My dad looked left and saw a red car approaching the intersection in the middle lane, he looked right and saw no pedestrians waiting to cross, he then looked left again and he started his right turn.

At the last moment, the red car moved to the right lane, and three events occurred in the following order. A Scowl. A Stop. And a Smash. The scowl was given to my dad by the blonde driving the little red car. The stop was made by our Honda Odyssey, filled to the brim with our luggage. And the smash was noticeably caused by the Suburban obliterating our trunk door and back window.

The woman that hit us was surprisingly pleasant. She was well aware of the fact that the accident was entirely her fault. She had looked down, assumed we started our turn, only to find that we had not in fact went, and then introduced the hood of her car to our trunk. She spent a solid half hour with us, chattering apologies and grief. She was as worried about how we would get home as we were.

We spent a solid 2 hours at the mechanic before we were led to an insurance agency. An hour after that we were given keys to our rental car, a sexy Suburu Outback, and directions to our hotel for the night. After the previous night’s lodging, our expectations were very low. Much to our delight however, the room the insurance agency put us up in was located in what could only be described as a haven. When I think of it now I remember a lot of wooden accents, and fountains of positivity.

The next morning was an early one. It had to be. Some might later refer to this day as a local leg of the Amazing Race, others may see it as a 19 hour episode of Punk’d, either way it started with a waffle.

The plan was this: we would pack our rental car to the brim with as much of our stuff as we could. We would drive it all the way back to Cheyenne. We would then board a plane and fly to Denver, switch planes and fly home. Seems relatively simple, right?

After the waffles, we packed up the car. With some strategy and the forfeit of all personal space, we were able fit almost all of our belongings. I won’t say the 3 hour drive was miserable, but I don’t think I’ll sign up to have a rolling suitcase cut off the circulation in my legs again anytime soon.

We arrived at the airport about 2 hours before our 5:10 flight and after taking a quick glance around the place, we realized that our family of 5, plug our luggage, out populated the entire place.

We pushed, kicked, nudged, and shuffled our bags up to the counter and told the attendant we were ready to check in. He started with my dad, asked for his name and ID, then moved to my mom, myself, my sister and my bro—this is where he stopped.

“Repeat your name please”

My mom answered, “His name is Troy Koehn.”

“I need to hear it from him ma’am”

After exchanging a few looks back and forth, the man informed us that my brother was on the no fly list. In other words, someone somewhere named Troy Koehn was a terrorist and was no longer qualified to board a plane and now my 10 year old brother was paying for it.

“Please state your name and birthdate”

You would have thought the man was asking my brother to solve a trigonometric equation.

Let me jump back to the fact that my brother was 10. He was 4 feet tall, 10 years old, with big blue eyes and an innocence that radiated from every pore of his body.

The attendant felt bad. He knew my brother was not the Troy Koehn they were meant to be wary of, but he had a protocol to follow, and it’s not the kind of protocol you overlook.

After my brother was finally able to spit out the right combination of numbers, the man typed a few notes on his computer and gave the now green faced 10 year old his boarding pass.

We were a significantly smaller group without our luggage, so the walk up to TSA was much less of a struggle than it was to the check in counter. There were only 2 officers working security, a male guard and a female guard. They smiled, mostly, I think, because we were giving them something to do in this little hut the Wyomingans called an airport. The man’s smile faded when he saw me. At first I thought I was giving off some musty luggage Cheyenne sweat sort of odor, but it turned out he just felt bad because, being 18, I was required to be searched on my way through security. The guy was visibly sorry before I even handed the woman my backpack. I tried to look unphased and sympathetic for as long as I could, but when he accidentally touched my belly button I almost threw up.

When we got through security we were in a room about the size of a household kitchen, and took a seat at 5 of the 20 chairs that were available.  There were 2 other people in the terminal, both were asleep.

Once we got settled, I realized 3 things.

  • I had to pee.
  • The bathroom was on the other side of security.
  • I would have to go back through security.

This was unfortunate for all parties involved.

I took my seat after being patted down again, this time with a more “sorry your dog died” type of vibe and vowed I wouldn’t get up again.

We were stuck in that terminal for 4 hours due to weather. In that time I had to pee two more times and my family ate dinner at the airport restaurant which, you guessed it, was on the other side of security.

When the time came to finally board the plane, the sky was a deep, ominous grey, and our plane looked like a hot wheel. The plane ride will forever go down as an hour of my life I thought would be my last. As the turbulence used our plane as a tambourine for its jam session in the sky, my dad cried, assuming he’d boarded us all on a plane to our death, I curled over a barf bag, and my brother slept as soundly as one would in a meadow of pillowy happiness.

Once in Denver, the pilot told us we had 15 minutes until our flight to LA was set to take off. He also informed us that the gate for said plane was approximately 12 minutes away from us.

If you’ve ever watched the Amazing Race, you’ve seen the teams, armed with their backpacks, barreling through airports and side streets alike to get to their next clue. For us, there was no clue waiting for us at Gate 12, just a chance to go home.

By this time it was 10’clock in Denver and most of the flights were grounded due to weather. As a result, there were mounds of people leaned up against the walls, sleeping their layovers off until morning. That is, until our group of five came charging down the halls, carry-on bags in tow, panting.

My sister took it upon herself to run ahead. She was by the far the fastest, least airsick, and most energetic of the bunch and she was our best hope at announcing our last minute arrival to the gate attendant. My mom, dad, brother and I all followed with some sort of miscellaneous, seemed necessary at the time, carry-on item. (I was carrying a Jansport backpack with some gum and the souvenir coffee mugs my parents had picked up in Cheyenne, pre-van obliteration.)

When we caught up to Natalee, a flight attendant stood next to her with a jaw that was as close to touching the floor as I’d ever seen. She stuttered as she asked for our boarding passes, taking in the rain soaked, sweat smelling bunch that we were. We thanked her, barely noticing the awed look in her eyes and made our way through the tunnel to the plane.

At the entrance of the aircraft, another flight attendant, jaw dropped look intact, pointed us to our seats and a man in first class stood up to shake my dad’s hand.

“Are you the group from Wyoming? I can’t believe you guys made it!”

We sat down in our seats, exhausted, relieved, and undeniably accomplished.

I looked at my brother, who smiled sweetly at me and said, “I wonder what Troy the terrorist is doing right now.”


TBTS (Throwback Thursday Stories): Vegas

Vegas. An infamous Nevadan city that does not need any sort of introduction. If you haven’t been there, you’ve heard of it; if you haven’t heard of it….how?

First off, the term “Vegas” can be used in a multitude of ways.


Proper Noun- Let’s go to Vegas.

Adjective- That is so Vegas.

Almost verb- That’s how I do Vegas.

If you are ever in Vegas, you will probably hear, and eventually utilize, all of these.

A few months back, my friends and I went to Vegas.

Now, before you start automatically guessing the end of this story—barf, sex, and a regrettable tattoo—you should probably know that I do Vegas a little differently than most.

(If you’re keeping track, I’ve already used 2 of the 3 aforementioned uses of “Vegas”.)

My friends and I aren’t really the Vegas frequenting type. We’re not huge partiers, so the 4 1/2 hour drive through the desert is never really at the top of our list.

I’ve had friends that are the, “WOOOOHHH VEGAS BABY”, type, and I hold nothing against them. If you can find something that makes you spell “Wooh” with 4 o’s and 3 h’s, you should do it as much as possible.

For me though, a visit here and there is nice. Not WOOOOHHH, but nice.

This past trip was only my second trip without my parents, and my first trip both without them and being of legal drinking age. The last time I went without them, my friends Geri, Alleeson, & I went for a mini weekend getaway. We stayed with Alleeson’s Bubby—her grandmother—who lives in North Las Vegas which is far enough from the strip that it looks like a regular neighborhood, but close enough that taking a day trip to downtown Vegas isn’t an inconvenience. For me, that was the best Vegas had ever been. The other times I had gone, it had always been for my sister’s softball tournaments, and it involved a lot of long days sitting in the sun, and a lot of boring evenings sitting in a smoky hotel room. With Bubby, it was different; she showed us her side of Vegas. The strip, the casinos, Blue Man Group. Bubby spoiled us rotten that weekend, and to this day I am thankful. She made us feel so special.

Packing for this second parentless trip was a little daunting. I was 20 when we went with Bubby and I didn’t have to worry about getting judged for not drinking or partying. At the time, none of my friends had stepped into that world at all, but this weekend was sure to be different, we had all entered the world of alcohol and were quite fond of it, we had just never done it in Vegas.

We were driving up Saturday morning in hopes of avoiding some of the Friday night traffic. If you’ve ever tried to drive to Vegas on a Friday, you’ll know which traffic I’m referring to. To make matters worse, Sunday was the Super Bowl, and we expected the WOOOHH BABY football fans to be coming in by the thousands, so we left Saturday morning at 9.

Lucky for us, the plan worked, we got there in right over 4 1/2 hours. There was no sitting on the desert highway crying or dehydrating or peeing our pants for us.

While spending an hour in line waiting to check into our hotel we took some long hard looks at the crowds going in and out. This is where outfits, hairstyles, and accessory drinks begin to be validated by the phrase, “That is so Vegas”.

A few examples:

-A Man with an 8 inch high mohawk that has been spray painted to match the neon “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign

-Two girls in bedazzled bras holding 2 foot long tubes of what look like pink slushies from 7 Eleven. (They are not, and just in case you are wondering, she’s not drunk, seriously guys she’s not, no one saw those steps coming, it was an honest mistake)

-Also, Barney, the Avengers, and Chewbacca eating subway sandwiches.

That night, after getting a bite to eat, we came back to our hotel to get ready for the main event, Britney Spears!

Defining “we”:


-Geri, my best friend, nicknames range anywhere between Geristopher and Little Guppy.

-Natallee, my sister, actual name = “Natalee” but I call her Na-Tall-ee

-Kristine, Natallee’s best friend, we call her Teeny.

Our primary reason for this Vegas trip was the Britney Spears concert. It was our gift to Natallee for Christmas. She’s a diehard Britney fan. Upon receiving the gift, she promptly concluded that she had reached the peak of her life. While we were flattered, we also hoped that her assumption was incorrect.

One thing that Vegas will do to you, no matter how hard you try, is release your inhibitions, even if only slightly. There just something about it that makes you feel like you can be different, be a little be crazier, a little bit…more. Then again, there is also a heightened amount of alcohol around you, so your courage is most likely stemming from a very obvious source. Regardless, it’s a good feeling.

Some people take this good feeling to a new level. Their courage, at times, results in an “I’m going to say whatever I’m thinking, regardless of how it might come off” attitude.

Things actually said to me while walking around Vegas:

“Hey Ladieeessss…..HAIL SATAN” –said by man with ponytail

“Whenever you’re ready, we have a superhero sandwich waiting for you” –said by 3 members of the Justice League

“I think you’d like what my web could do to you” –said by Spiderman

“Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” –Chewbacca

My friends and I picked out a vodka called “Loopy” on our way in. We heard that it tasted like Fruit Loops.

A review of “Loopy”

-Smells like Lemon Pledge

-Tastes like Lemon Pledge

(Bright side: if there was any wood paneling in my stomach or esophagus, it was shined to perfection that night.)

We tried mixing it. We tried chilling it. Still hated it. But we nearly finished the bottle…so, go figure.

3 drinks in, I was VERY ready for Britney.  I felt an overwhelmingly NEED to dance, and there was a middle school girl inside of me dying to sing “Baby One More Time” as loud as humanly possible.

Ultimately, that is exactly what happened. Britney delivered like no other. I danced my little heart out.

Small note to the girls behind me: I know that in between dance moves I kept touching the back of my leg. To clear things up, I was wearing tights and after 3 vodka drinks, I was convinced that I had never felt something so soft in my life.

The concert was over at 11 pm and by that time, I was beat. My buzz had worn off, and nothing sounded better to me than curling up in the mostly-likely-stained-with-horrific-stains-but-you-could-never-tell-because-their-bleach-game-is-strong hotel sheets. My friends had other plans however.

“Let’s go out and do something!”

“Let’s go make some friends!”

The two sentences I wanted to hear least in the entire world at 11:30. (I forgot to mention that inside, I’m an 82 year old party pooper.)

My replies to the comments were mostly grunts. I tried to feign a sudden onset of narcolepsy but no one seemed to notice.

“Kim, get your shoes on”


By the time we actually got out into the world, it was 12:30, and the streets of Vegas were very quiet.

The lazy, tired part of me took this stillness as a sign that everyone else in all of Nevada was in bed, comfortable and warm, and I was out here, feet aching, wandering aimlessly. But the rest of me knew that the streets were quiet because people were either packed inside clubs or bars, waiting outside clubs or bars, passed out at black jack tables, or if you were the Spiderman I met earlier, enjoying another Subway sandwich.

As we wandered down the infamous Vegas strip it was kind of beautiful. Vegas at night is like the beach at sunset. That’s when it reaches its prime. The buildings that the daylight hours portrayed as cheap, plastic, knockoffs of historic cities, come alive with lights and music. Even some of the people of Vegas glow at night. (I once saw a man with a glow in the dark septum piercing, true story. From a distance, I thought he was snorting a glow worm.)

We walked with no direction at all, going up and down stairs, in and out of hotels, until we finally decided to call it a night.

Confession: I did not make it back to my hotel room without stopping for munchies. For some reason, I stood in line a shelled out $4.75 for an ice cream sandwich. It was worth it.

At 2 a.m. I got in bed, telling everyone that I planned on sleeping forever. (I got up 2 hours later to go pee and eat Ritz crackers.)

The next morning, we checked out at 11 a.m. and started out on our quest for breakfast.

Waffles, Waffles, Waffles. All I wanted was a pile of waffles.

As we walked I dreamt of these waffles. Would they be soft? Would they be crunchy? Would there be fruit on top?  I didn’t care. I just wanted them In. My. Belly.

Our first attempt at breakfast was a place called, “I’m not going to tell you because the next part of the story insults them and I don’t want to piss anyone off”

We heard that it had a good breakfast spread, and the hotel it was located in was just a few blocks from us. So, we trotted down the street, people watching the whole way.

Vegas patrons on Sunday mornings are far less energetic than their Saturday night counterparts. Guys aren’t yelling things at you, girls aren’t giggling. Overall everyone has a much slower pace, which you can use to your advantage if you’re not suffering from the same hangover. We weaved in and out of people hoping to beat some of the crowd. (We didn’t.)

In our ascent up the escalator we saw the crowd waiting outside the restaurant. We all exchanged a knowing glace. “We can’t wait this long

Natallee took charge, “We might as well ask what the wait time is, just in case it moves really fast”

While Natallee and Teeny walked up to the counter to get the goods on the wait time, Geri and I were approached by a woman. This was not your average 70 year old woman. This was a sunglasses on indoors, I’m going to spend the rest of my afternoon playing slots with a scotch, type of woman. She stopped in front of us, interrupting our conversation, and lightly grabbed onto my arm to get my attention.

“Ladies..” she started.

“Do not eat here. This place rips you off like no other. Those people in there are nothing but dirty crooked bastards. I’ve always been one to graciously pay for what I order, but I did not come here to buy the whole goddamned chicken coup.”

Then she was gone.

Geri and I stood there, mouths open, speechless. Do we say thank you? Do we follow her?

What. Just. Happened?

That is so Vegas.

In the end, we left. The wait time was 2 hours and I was not about to wait that long, only to be greeted by some dirty crooked bastards. We drove down the street to IHOP and as I sat there, waiting for my plate of goodness to arrive, I looked around the table at my friends. Took in each of their faces, taking note of the people we were at that moment.

Then my pancakes came.

I know, I know, I was dreaming about waffles earlier, but I tend to have a wandering eye when it comes to breakfast food. One minute I’m on waffles, another I’m on pancakes, and another I’m full throttle on crepes. There’s not one stich of morning meal monogamy in me. And that’s the way breakfast should be.

Every bite of my whole grain banana pancakes—on which I doused with both strawberry and blueberry syrup—tasted like I was being born again. I ate all three of my pancakes, my hash-browns, my bowl of fruit, and drank 2 glasses of water.

After paying the lovely lady at the register, we walked back out to my car, and started making our way back towards the strip.

A small note about where IHOP was:

Due to the overwhelmingly crowded nature of every breakfast/brunch restaurant on the strip, we had ventured to the outskirts a bit to find this IHOP. Some points of interest near our IHOP include a man standing on the corner taking pictures of the IHOP, a family of six standing the middle of the parking lot pointing at the sky, and a hotel that doesn’t maybe have meth dealers living inside, it 100% houses the top 10 meth dealers in Las Vegas, Nevada.

By the time we were back on the strip it was about 1 pm and we had 2 1/2 hours to kill before the Super Bowl started at 3:30. We perused a few stores, I bought a few T-shirts, Natallee bought a yoga mat, and Teeny bought some underwear. All essential things to have on your person before a football game.

At 3:00 we walked to the closest sports bar we could find, assuming—stupidly—that there would magically be a table, with 4 chairs, in close proximity to a television, waiting for us inside. There wasn’t.

We walked to the next bar we saw. The line wrapped around the casino.

This is when we started to panic. Why didn’t we think this through? HOW DID I NOT FORMULATE A PLAN FOR THIS?

We contemplated hopping in the car and making a quick break for Primm, a city about 40 minutes from us that sits right on the Nevada/California border. We contemplated flirting our way into one of the tables with a group of guys. We contemplated settling for standing room only spots inside of the nearest hotel’s sports book.

Then we had a better idea. Why not try an average restaurant, not known for its bar or sports memorabilia.  A place that people might not think to go to watch the biggest sports event of the year.

I grabbed my phone and dialed up the number.

“Hello, do you by chance have any tables available for 4?”

“Were you looking to watch the game, or just eat?”

“We were hoping to watch the game”

“We do have a few tables left actually, come on over.”

“Oh my gosh! Can I put my name in?”

“I’m sorry we only take walk ins on a first come first serve basis, but if you hurry you can make it”

Time: 3:10

Distance to Destination: 1.1 miles.

With the overwhelming influx of cars, and the complex searching system involved with finding a parking spot, we knew our only option was to go by foot.

So we started walking. Fast.

We weaved in and out of people and waved off a number of guys trying to convince us that they had “exclusive access to the hottest club in Vegas”. How our current looks suggested that we would look good in their clubs, I don’t know. The air was cold so our noses had Rudolph-esque qualities about them, Natallee and Teeny both had minor colds so they were adding snot to the mix, and all of us were panting. I mean maybe the population of snotty, frizzy girls was running low in the clubs these days. Maybe they were just looking to add some diversity and we were the token snot heads. Regardless, we kept walking.

At 3:28 we made it to our destination. A place that screams football and manliness. A place that anyone thinks of when they are looking for a night out with some brewskies. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co: a seafood restaurant chain inspired by the film Forest Gump.

If you haven’t been, go.

The nice man at the door pointed us up a staircase where another employee was waiting. She pointed to a yellow smiley face sticker on the ground. Perhaps it was where the Walmart Roll Back Smiley retired.

“Follow the path of smiley faces,” she said.

Once we reached the 11th and final smiley face, another nice woman informed us that we had 2 choices of tables, one in the back corner and one in the middle. Miraculously, both had a view of not one, but two television sets. We sat down at the table in corner, wiped the sweat off our brows, and let out a communal sigh. We couldn’t believe that we made it, and on time no less.

After getting situated at our kick-ass table, we ordered a round of drinks. They were all pink and orange and yellow and bright. Mine and Teeny’s came in cups that had flashing lights built into the base, which is so Vegas.