Well That Was Fast

First of all, I’d just like to add to the title – That’s what she said.

Ok, now that that’s out (that’s also what she said), I was just lamenting yesterday how I had no birthday plans, and now I’ve got THREE parties in the works!! That’s one for every decade! I love it. So what appears to be forming is a weekend-long progressive party road trip with an Asheville party on Friday, a Raleigh party on Saturday and a Wilmington party on Sunday! And just like that, I’m happy to be without a day job (for now) because I can come back into town on Monday and not have to rush any of my birthday festivities and visits.

Hooray!!!! (She might have said that too.)

T-Minus 19 Days and Counting

So…my birthday is in less than three weeks. And it’s not just any birthday. It’s my THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY, and I don’t have any plans. That is either the biggest relief or the most depressing thought ever. On the up-side, I don’t have to bake a million cupcakes or clean my room or take a shower in preparation for people coming over. But on the other hand, no one is coming over. Frown.

And since I’m giving up facebook for Lent, that means I won’t get to have my self-esteem bolstered by the 500 birthday well-wishes that will be left on my wall (by people I never talk to) until after Easter. I think I need to make some plans.

So my birthday is on March 6. Any ideas?

Dreamy Thoughts

I’ve had some really weird dreams lately, which, you’ll know if you’ve been reading Onward Hoe! for a while, is not at all abnormal for me. I can’t remember what they’ve been exactly. I know a couple of nights ago, I was at some sort of performance camp for all ages. We were all learning music, drama, musical theater, dance, and maybe even Rock Band, and I had to leave to go somewhere for a little while, and when I got back, I had to make sure I signed back in properly so my hours of attendance were correct.

Another night maybe a week or two ago, I dreamed that someone told me that people were only nice to me because I intimidated them. Now. My Just Dance skills might frighten you, but I don’t think of myself as intimidating. Maybe I am. I don’t know. But also in that dream, my parents lived just off of some sort of boardwalk/courtyard where there was a reception desk that would give you money as though it were an ATM. You just had to fill out a withdrawal slip. But it wasn’t a bank. I don’t really know what it was, but I’m pretty sure I met a cute boy when I was withdrawing money.

And then just the other night, I don’t know what I was dreaming, but it was playing like a movie, and when it was over, I woke up. Like in my dream state, I sort of turned off the TV in my mind and decided I was finished watching, and I woke myself up.

Upon waking, I was suddenly thinking about good and evil, and if one makes the other what it is, or if we just need both to understand what they are – what they would be whether the other existed or not. And then about James Bond and how he’s a really bad, lopsided Christ figure – the kind that beats the bad guys but doesn’t have to sacrifice to do so, the kind that takes what he wants all along the way and rarely faces any consequences. I feel like I sometimes wish Jesus was like that so I wouldn’t have such an impossible time being like him. But then I remember that James Bond is at many times a total douche, and I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with a Jesus like that.

And also cookies. I’m thinking about baking some shortbread thumbprint cookies with some kind of jam in the middle.

Movies You Should See (if you haven’t already)

I missed a lot while I was gone: new TV shows, popular Halloween costumes, Adam Lambert being awful (well, I wouldn’t say I missed that, but that I was spared, thank goodness), and the death of John Hughes. I’m catching up slowly, though, and I hope that by my birthday (March 6, start shopping now), I’ll be fully re-Americanized.

When I went to the $1.50 movie theater for the first time, though, upon my return, I experienced a little bit of reverse culture shock. If you are not aware of how cheap movie theaters work, you have probably been out of the country for much longer than I was, so let me enlighten you. A movie comes out in the theater. It’s costs $10. For ONE person. If you wait a few months, though, that same film will play in the $1.50 (or in some places, $1 or $2) theater, and you can save $8-10, depending on where you live.

So I went to the $1.50 theater in Raleigh, and since these movies are older, the previews are also for older movies – movies that probably came out months ago as well, movies I should have heard of, but hadn’t. I was so out of the loop, and I probably still am, but just in case you’ve been living in a different country, under a rock or with a child under the age of  eight, I wanted to tell you about two movies that came out this fall that you need to go see.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

It’s sort of weird, and the animation takes some getting used to, but the story is good (thanks, Roald Dahl), the cast is superb, the voice acting is excellent, the soundtrack is pretty cussin’ great, and there are lots of unexpected hilarious parts. Like how they just say “cuss” instead of any cuss word they might have chosen. “I’m going to ignore your advice.” “The cuss you are.”

I’ve seen Fantastic Mr. Fox twice now (for less than half the price of one regular movie ticket, thank you very much), and I’d seriously go again. I definitely want to own this movie and watch it repeatedly when it comes out on DVD.

Pirate Radio

Another $1.50 well-spent. When JBeau and I went to see this, our ticket stubs said, “PIRATE RAD.” Rad, indeed. I was apparently too conservative in my immediate review of Pirate Radio. W-Josh informs me that I grossly undersold it, and for that, I apologize. I just wasn’t sure if I liked it for the story and the acting and all that, or if I just liked all the incredible 60s rock it highlighted. I guess it turns out I liked both, and it would seem that this film appeals to a wider audience than just people like me who grew up on oldies and really like the ideas of sticking it to the man, coming of age, and unexpected but profound community.

I downloaded the soundtrack to this one as soon as I got home, and I will also purchase the DVD when it comes out. Whenever that is.

You Can Be A Winner!!

Get ready, kids, because I am here today to GIVE STUFF AWAY!! I don’t think I’ve ever really done this before, so I’m pretty excited about it, and if there are any companies out there that would like some free promotion, I’ll give your stuff away too. It makes me feel like a younger, thinner, prettier (yet just as jovial) Santa! Incidentally, I will also let you pay me to promote your products. You know, if you want. And if they’re not meat or porn.

Anyhoe, here we go!! There will be three contests. Here is the first one:

I have a pass that will admit two people to a sneak preview of the movie Legion at North Hills on Thursday, January 21 at 7:30 p.m. (but you should be able to get there early to make sure you get a seat). Here’s the trailer so you know what you’re playing for:

Okay! Now. This is a comment competition, and here’s how it works. This movie is about angels, but it’s not a musical, and y’all know how much I like a musical, so you’re going to think of as many songs as you can that have the words angel, angels or angelic in the lyrics.

  • You MUST post your comments here on the website (www.onwardhoe.com), NOT on facebook.
  • You may post as many comments as you want, but pace yourself. It’s sort of a last-one-standing kind of thing.
  • You may only post ONE song per comment.
  • You may not repeat a song that has already been posted, even if you post a different part of the song.
  • You must post the title of the song as well as the lyrics containing the key words. If you can post a link to the lyrics to prove that it is an established song, all the better.
  • Everyone, keep posting lyrics until no one can think of any more.
  • When everyone’s out of songs, the last one to have commented wins the tickets.


“Exploring” New Topics

I thought of something to write earlier. Something good, something deep, something vulnerable and reflective. But then I got distracted by the awesome playlist going on at Borders and an absolutely ridiculous conversation about how I should ask the cute guy next to me what song he’d choose to do a striptease to. I didn’t ask him, by the way. I just couldn’t. I can ask y’all, though. Don’t worry. I’m not going to envision it. That’s weird. I’m just curious because everyone seems to have a different idea about what makes a good strippin’ tune. So far, answers include:

  • “Wheel in the Sky” – Journey
  • “Meet Me in the Red Room” – Amiel
  • “Cherry Pie” – Warrant
  • “Working for the Weekend” – Loverboy
  • “Let’s Get It On” – Marvin Gaye
  • “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” – Chris Isaak (That one was Nicole Kidman’s choice in Eyes Wide Shut. I didn’t see it. I just heard her talk about it in an interview one time.)

Feel free to comment anonymously. We’ll protect everyone’s identity here. I really just think it’s interesting. Also, feel free to comment on what you think a person’s song choice says about him/her. For example, let’s say I want to break it down to “If I Had a Million Dollars” or perhaps the Captain and Tennille’s “Do That to Me One More Time” (I don’t, but just for example), what would that say about me? Would it change things if a dude wanted to get nekkid to “Cherry Pie?”

These are the things I think about, friends. It’s weird, I know. It’s a good thing y’all love me just the way I am.

On Falling in Love, Making Decisions and Not Pleasing Everyone

When I left Raleigh on Tuesday, I was 95% sure I was going to move to Wilmington, and that my trip to Asheville would just be a fun time to see John and Anne and Community (aka Jen), meet some cool girls (Lisa and Kendra) and hang out in the mountains for a few days. But as you’re driving up there on I-40, you’re going over hills that rise progressively higher, and as you come over the top of one of them, you see the mountains all spread out before you. When I got there, I think that’s when my mind changed. At the very least, I knew that Wilmington was going to get a run for its money.

I drove straight to Lisa and Kendra’s house to meet them. I found them on craigslist. They were looking for a third roommate for their house, which is in a great neighborhood, next to a park, just up the hill from an amphitheater where they do Shakespeare plays in the summer, and within EASY walking distance to downtown. I got there around 2:30, met them, saw the house, and hung out talking for a while. I looked at the clock a bit later, and, thinking that it said 3:00, I thought, Wow, that went by fast. I should go call Anne and see where she is. But when I got in the car, I realized it was 4:00, not 3, and then I thought, Holy crap, that went by REALLY fast.

I spent the next two days falling in love with Asheville, with its quirky antique shops, street musicians, vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants, Urban Outfitters under construction and surrounding natural beauty, and by the time I got ready to leave on Thursday, I just knew it was the place for me.

Now, y’all, I have spent MONTHS thinking and praying and debating and analyzing every aspect of this decision, but when it came down to it, I knew I just needed to make it and start moving forward with it, and once I did that, I knew it was right. So I emailed Lisa and told her I’d like to move in, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be living in the same house with all my stuff again! I was over at the ACES* house (where most of my stuff is) looking for my air mattress (which I never found), and I came across my teapot, and I was all, “TEEEEAAAAPOT!!! OH how I’ve MISSED YOU!!! CRAAAAFFFT STUUUFFF!!! OH I want to make CRAFTS with you!!!! BOOOOOKS!!!” Etc., etc. I’m just ready to not be in such a state of limbo. I’m ready to be in one place – a place that feels like home, where I make more sense. I make more sense in the mountains.

So then I had to tell my Wilmington peeps the news, which made me sad, but they were all cool with it and excited that they now have an excuse to come to Asheville and a place to stay when they do, so that worked out.

And then I wore an ugly sweater. But that is a different post.

*ACES = Amaris, Crystal, Erin, Seanette

Zurich – Washington, D.C.

I arrived in Zurich rather late and realized immediately that I’d forgotten that I don’t speak German. Not a bit. I don’t know how to say “train station” or “airport” or “hostel” or “help.” And yet there I was trying to figure out how to get from the airport to the main station so I could take the #7 tram to my hostel.

After much confusion and bewildered staring at the train ticket machine, a woman offered to help me. In English. I got a 24 hour ticket, which I didn’t really need, but it wasn’t that expensive. Shoot, it was probably cheaper than the one-way ticket from the Rome train station to the airport there, and I got to use it to get from the airport to the main station to the hostel, and then from the hostel back to the main station and to the airport again the next morning. That’s what I call a deal.

The hostel turned out to be super-nice. Probably the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in. It was clean, had good breakfast AND sheets included, and I had cute lil roommates – Pia, a German cook and Alice, an Australian wanderer who sounded exactly like Yosemite Sam when she talked in her sleep. About Paris Hilton. Good times. I didn’t sleep very well, but I figured that would actually work out in my favor. I’d be sleepy the next day, I’d nap on the plane, and then the jet lag wouldn’t be so bad.

On my way to the main station, I stopped off at one of the THREE H&Ms within about two blocks. I would have gone to all of them if I’d had time, but I was kind of pushing it as it was, so I just went to one.

I made it to the plane just in the nick of time and took my seat next to a bald girl who was listening to some world music with a very strong drum beat. Turns out, she was this chick, Gemini Award winner, Christine Ghawi. We hit it off immediately with a conversation about environmental responsibility. Then we realized that was a really serious conversation for two people who didn’t know each other’s names, so we introduced ourselves, and then we started flirting with this older gentleman flight attendant, who would later give us each a free cup of Chardonnay. I wish I could say he gave us glasses of Chardonnay, but he didn’t. We got plastic airplane cups, but the wine was good.

I didn’t sleep at all on the NINE-AND-A-HALF-HOUR FLIGHT to Washington. Not a wink. I yawned a lot. I felt tired. But I couldn’t sleep. So there went my master plan for beating jet lag. I did, however, get to watch 500 Days of Summer, The Time Traveler’s Wife and the tail end of Inglourious Basterds. I hadn’t seen the first two yet, so that was good, and the third is just good, so that was good too. I still can’t get over how amazing that guy was. I really hope he wins something.

Anyhoe, I got to DC, and after a ridiculously long customs line and a MAD HOUSE at baggage claim, I finally made it out of the airport, where Rachel had just arrived to pick me up. We spent a lovely weekend together, playing Legos with Annabelle and watching the new Disney movie (I liked it), and now I’m back in the airport. Ugh.

I’m not over the jet lag yet, and I’ve learned now that even though you go to sleep and wake up at normal times, that doesn’t mean you’re over it. However, I’m hopeful (with fingers crossed) that because I’m so tired, I’ll be able to sleep on the flight to Portland and beat the jet lag down. This plan sounds fatally familiar. Time to board.

My New BFF

It’s funny how sometimes something (or someone) so great can be right under your nose, and you can just not ever notice it (them). I realized today whilst chatting with WhitneyJosh that I’ve had a soulmate here with me the whole time I’ve been in Italy, and I never noticed. Now, as you may know, I have lots of soulmates – old ones, young ones, male ones, female ones, even, perhaps, animal ones. But this one is a new variety I’ve never known before: a cartoon one.

Yes, friends, I’m talking about Dora the Explorer. If you don’t know, she’s a super-cool exploradora. She’s a little Costa Rican girl who lives in the jungle and goes on all kinds of adventures, and I’ve just realized how much we have in common. Behold:

  • We’re both (according to W.Josh) bilingual, and Carla agrees that we speak about the same amount of Spanish.
  • We both carry a backpack.
  • We both like to sing.
  • We both teach a second language.
  • We both relish a good adventure.
  • We both have a best friend who is a monkey wearing red boots.

Oh wait…

National Park Fail

Well, we tried to go to Mt. Vesuvius yesterday and failed (we = me + Tracy + Travis). We got close. Really close. But the GPS never quite got us there. There were about four or five different possibilities in the GPS system, so we just picked the closest one thinking that they were all just different entrances or parking lots for the same place. Well, then we missed an exit (my bad), and I don’t know if that threw the whole thing off or if it would have taken us to the Gold Lion anyway, but we ended up going through back alleys in this little town until GPS said, “Arriving at…destination.” Now, we had told her to take us to Vesuvius National Park, but she took us to a restaurant (?) called the Gold Lion. Yes, in English.

So we put in coordinates for another Vesuvius that was supposedly five kilometers away and followed her again, this time, down the shadiest one-lane street on earth. It was COVERED in trash, and we were pretty sure we were going to die either by a mugging, a head-on collision or a feral raccoon attack. But by the grace of God, we made it out alive and into the back alleys of yet another tiny town where we began to see signs for the Parco Nazionale Vesuvio.

“Success!” thought we, prematurely. We started following the signs, which quickly led us into areas with signs we were pretty sure were saying something about “Do Not Enter” and “Restricted Area” and the like, but we kept seeing signs for the park, so we figured we could just play dumb (“Non parliamo Italiano?”) if we got pulled over for being somewhere we shouldn’t have been.

And we were getting close. We could FEEL it. And then we hit a dead end.

Curses! We turned around and decided to try listening to the GPS ONE MORE TIME, but when it told us, “Make a U-turn. Then, make a U-turn,” well friends, that is when we gave up. We thought maybe we could just get back on the highway and follow signs from there, but that didn’t really work either, and by that time, it was about 3:30, and even if we’d found it right then, we wouldn’t have had enough time to do anything up there before it got dark, so we just went back to Lago Patria.

The B-plan was to go back to Tracy’s and bake brownies, but we didn’t have any eggs, so we went to the Maxi Piu, which is the little supermarket down the street. I’m not sure it’s legal to call it a “super”market or to have “Maxi” or “Piu” (which means ‘more’) in the name considering the fact that it is roughly the size of a Sheetz. The biggest differences are that it has a meat/cheese counter where Sheetz has its fast food service, Maxi Piu has a wine section instead of a coffee bar, and everything is in Italian. But there is nothing super, maxi or piu about it.

Anyhoe, we went in for eggs and came out with eggs and three bottles of wine. The most expensive bottle was €1.65 (about $2.44), and it was just a liter bottle with a metal pop top (like on a beer bottle). No label, no cork. Nothing. And you know, it was not bad at all. In fact, I’d buy it again. They could have made it in the back room of the Maxi Piu for all I know, but it was pretty tasty. So we drank our wine and baked our brownies, and Adam came over and cooked dinner for all of us, and we played Guitar Hero, and I was not on my A-game, but it was fun anyway.

I have pictures of the anonymous wine bottle, but they’re still on the camera. I’ll work on that for later. For now, however, I’m going to put all the Pompei(i) pictures on facebook for any interested parties who are lucky enough to be friends with me. Enjoy!