We Were Stupid AF

“Um. Dude. You might want to leave work…” 

“Uh…why?”

“Well, we have to be out of the apartment by five tonight, or they’ll be calling the police to escort us out…”

At some point in everyone’s lives they’ve had a stupid-af-era. If you’ve never had one of those, you’re the exception, not the rule. Count yourself lucky, too, because you probably have minimal debt, own an appliance larger than a blender, and you know what an annuity is, and you likely have one. 

So, none of the above is me. I’ve had my stupid-af-era, and to be quite honest, I’m not sure I ever left said time in my life. 

Back when I moved out of my parents’ for the first time, I lived with two of my best friends. 

We were all almost 21, and so idiotic it was a wonder anyone was brave enough to give us our own apartment. 

We apartment hunted for a long time, wanting a cheap apartment in a not cheap neighborhood. Finally, we had to settle on a two bed, one bath. Best Friend #1 and I had to share a room, but it was worth not being woken up by my dad banging on my door, looking for the crusted-over bowls hiding under my bed. 

Living on our own was better than I had ever dreamed it would be. On the first night, I overflowed the toilet. The second night, our secondhand dryer broke. On the third night, we spilled Sour Apple Pucker on the carpet. Really, we should have stopped while we were ahead. Yet, every moment was magic, because independence was a beautiful thing. 

It was simply glorious being footloose and anal-retentive-parent-free. 

We stayed up till all hours, drinking Bartles & Jaymes Wine Coolers and watching Santa Clause 2. 

No one (Mom) ever yelled at me for hogging up the phone line so I could change my AIM away message twenty times in one day.

If all we wanted in the fridge was a jar of questionable pickles and eight varieties of Boones Farm, so be it. 

We were independent ladies, forging our way in the world. 

Along with the wild 8-and-up card game nights, we also had nights when we fought. 

My two best friends, while being my good friends, didn’t exactly love each other. 

One was too over-bearing and motherly. The other left her thongs, crotch up, in the bathroom. 

Some nights, we’d throw keyboards, curling irons, or said thongs at each other. 

Other nights, we’d drown each other out with loud mariachi music. 

During the six months that we lived in the apartment, we never once got a complaint from a neighbor. I’m not really sure how that was even possible. Maybe our downstairs neighbors were as loud and obnoxious as us? Or, they were stone-deaf. 

This gorgeous chaos soon came to a head after Best Friend #2 brought home a cat, which was against our lease agreement (it also didn’t help that the little fucker’s favorite thing to do was hide under the couch or behind the bedskirt and then attach itself to our flesh when we least expected it). 

Best Friend #1 and I were a lot of annoying, juvenile things, and one of those things was we were big rule followers (I guess that didn’t apply to underage drinking, though). As soon as we could, we returned the cat to the humane society.

Obviously, hijaking someone’s cat and taking it back to the cat store doesn’t sit well with some people (most people). 

This single act started an epic war between three extremely petty, passive-aggressive bimbos.

Because living at the apartment was becoming awkward as fuck, Best Friend #1 went back home and I sought refuge at the new boyfriend’s house.

When the portion of the power bill owed by Best Friend #2 wasn’t paid, we snuck into the apartment and removed every single lightbulb. Our not-quite-fully-developed brains figured this was the obvious solution to an issue that could have been handled by simple communication.

Best Friend (or Enemy, at this point) #2, went to management and told them all about our drama. 

Turns out, shady apartment managers don’t like dealing with dumb college girl drama. 

They didn’t even want to hear it and told us we all had to be moved out before 5 PM that same day. 

After quite a few years under my belt, and some serious renting experience, I realize now that what they did was likely illegal. 

Well, after the phone call from Best Friend #1, suggesting I maybe come home to completely vacate in less than 5 hours, I called my mom. 

(Shamefully, I’m pretty certain that every gray hair and wrinkle on my mother’s body is thanks to my brother and I.) 

Her response was: “Well, that’s just fabulous. You better call every Goddamn person you know to help you. You also better call your father, because I’m not. Good luck with that and goodbye.” 

At some point during the Great Pack Up, Best Friend #1’s mom was on her hands and knees, in the kitchen, frantically throwing kitchen items into a box while simultaneously yelling about how disgusting we were. 

My brother was vacuuming for the first time in his life, going over and over every square inch of carpet like his life depended on it.

My aunt was asking what she thought we should do about the moldy towels in our 6-months-broken dryer. 

My mom was yelling orders at all of our family and friends, and even some random people she caught walking down the street. 

My cousins were hauling loose items like lamps, throw pillows and towels to our cars, while cursing us under their breath. 

Best Friend # 1 and I were throwing belongings into boxes, not caring whose crap it was. I think there’s still some random storage shed somewhere with our priceless Anne Geddes art and plastic blow up lounge chairs. 

And, Best Friend #2? What was she doing? At precisely T-Minus two hours, she was still crying in her room. 

After attempts by my mom and Best Friend #1’s mom, my dad had to finally pound on her door and threaten her with his dad voice. Eventually, she appeared with 85 garbage bags, filled to the brim with her stuff, ready to be hauled out.

Somehow, we all (Mom, Dad, Brother, Best Friend #1’s mom, dad, and brother, Best Friend #2, a handful of friends, my cousins, and random passerby) managed to leave the place looking spotless (not even a random hanger or a half-used roll of TP was left) with only two minutes to spare. 

I learned a lot of lessons from my first time living on my own. Namely, don’t live with friends and don’t leave bitchy notes for your roommates that read, “I love waking up to your bowel movements everyday. Can you please run the fan and courtesy flush? Also, the phone bill is due. K thanks.” 

I’m still learning. 

I just learned the other day that disposals aren’t made to mash up large quantities of food. They are just for those odd bits. Who woulda thunk? 

Also, don’t prop up your feet that have been in your sweaty shoes all day on the coffee table within five feet of someone. Especially when they’re eating. 

So, even though I’m doing slightly better than I was when I first lived on my own, somedays, I think I’m still firmly planted in the stupid-af-era. And, some days, I change the batteries in the smoke detector all on my own. 

These days, Best Friend #1 is winning at life. She owns her own home and seems to always be jetting off on some trip. The bitch. 

Best Friend #2 is married with two beautiful children. I don’t think she owns a cat. 


For some reason, this is the only picture I could find of our first apartment. Notice the message board, where super friendly (bitchy) messages were written. I have no idea who the half-naked guy is, but a poster of a wet/greased up/sweaty guy in the kitchen is always a good idea. Also, WTF is happening with my “bangs”? 

Autumn-Loving and Basic AF

Whenever summer starts to loosen its death grip on the weather, and crisper mornings start to require a little more clothing, I feel my heart become lighter, brighter. 

Surely, we all know, since I’m Fatty McCupcakes, that part of why I love autumn so much is because it means no more exposed chub. Hands down, autumn and winter fashion is my favorite, not only because more of my body is covered, but because I love what I get to cover my body in-cardigans galore, plaid scarves, and every type of boot imaginable.

Pumpkin-flavored-everything starts to be available, and my inner, wannabe-baker starts to stockpile sprinkles, sugar skull cupcake liners, and bags of baking sugar. And, sometimes, I actually get around to baking something delicious. 

Warm, rich stews appear in the dinner rotation, and suddenly, homemade hot apple cider sounds like a good idea. 

I start to purchase huge bags of candy for trick or treaters (no, these never get busted into before Halloween), and I start creating my next, too-involved Halloween costume for school.

So, essentially, I’m just like every other basic, white bitch, dusting off her Uggs. 

And, so-fucking-what? 

If it’s basic to love a season so much that you go hog wild on doing positively everything that makes said season fun as shit, then label me Basic AF, with a capital Chambray and Chevron. 

I don’t even care. 

But, if you love autumn and all that comes with it with every fiber of your being like I do, it’s likely due to something deeper than PSLs and artsy wet leaf Instagram shots. 

You probably had loving, involved parents  who pointed out the changing leaves and talked to you about why the seasons change. 

You likely had a family who took you to pumpkin patches to pick the *perfect* pumpkin to carve. And then you went home to make hot apple cider. 

Maybe your mom took you on Sunday drives in the rain, so that you could witness, first hand, the changing season in all its resplendent glory.

So, it’s settled. I’m a basic, but Canva-graphic-deep, autumn-obsessed bitch. 

I’ve said in earlier posts that when the seasons change, I think of Elko. I don’t know what it is about that place. Especially since I positively hated living there the better part of the first year. 

Still, after so many years, when autumn arrives, it reminds me of the beauty that is Elko. 


Ready for the deep, artsy wet-leaf-Canva-graphic part? 

Here’s what really sings in my heart when autumn rolls in with the dry leaves and fireplace smell: 

Muddy roads and slanted rain on dusty windows.
The smell of rich earth, wet leaves. An old heater. Burning wood. 

Heavy, low-lying clouds, blanketing brown sagebrushed hills. Wet, dark, slate.

The blue-tinged sunshine. Crisp blue skies. Orange, brown, red. 

The taste of cinnamon and cloves. Pumpkin. Yeast. 
Enveloping darkness and lighted windows projecting warmth and a story. 

This is autumn. 

This is autumn, bitch. 


Travel Tuesday- The Point Reyes National Seashore 

I was inspired by An Historian’s post on the Aran Islands, and by my continual wanderlust to write about my recent trip to the Point Reyes National Seashore in California. 

Now, it’s not Ireland or anywhere near as exotic as Croatia (read The Wandering Flamingo’s post about her holiday on Šipan Island), but if you’re on the west coast of the United States, and anywhere near San Francisco, it’s a must-do! 

My good friend, Holly and I had originally wanted to drive a piece of the Oregon Coast during our summer vacation girls’ getaway. When we realized that our busy schedules and dwindling teacher bank accounts wouldn’t support such a venture, we looked into checking out the redwoods. I’ve been through the Redwood National Park a couple of times, but not Holly. But, again, we were faced with time constraints. 

Before packing it in, and putting off our trip for another time (Don’t do this, ya’ll. Time is fleeting, and you never know if you’ll get around to seeing everything you want to in one lifetime), Holly suggested we head just north of the Bay Area to the Point Reyes National Seashore. 

Being in Reno means quick access to the San Francisco Bay Area. On a good day, with minimal traffic, one can find themselves perusing the funky shops in Chinatown in 3.5 hours. 

Finding our way to the Point Reyes National Seashore took about the same amount of time, and bonus: no crazy city traffic and hobo street sprinters.

Our first stop along the national seashore was the famous shipwreck in Inverness, California. (I loved being in Inverness *again*!) Often described as “Instagrammable”, it was a fun place to stop and take pictures we, of course, posted on Insta. 

Everything looks better after filters. Amiright?

The strange shipwreck was cool to see, but what was most beautiful was the drastic drop in temperature. It was so nice to leave the 100-degree temperatures behind, even if the humidity gave me an insta-perm. 

The first major stop we made was to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. If you plan on checking out the lighthouse, make sure you visit the National Park Service website for operating hours, as the lighthouse is closed after 4 PM Monday through Friday. Also, if the wind is too strong, the steps leading to the lighthouse will be closed.


It’s important to be aware that the climb to and from the lighthouse is incredibly challenging. Not only will you be climbing the equivalence of 30 floors, the wind is intense. On more than one occasion I felt like I could easily be carried off the cliff by the wind.

Read more about my epic climb in my Trail Fails post. 


Be prepared with extra water, walking shoes, wet wipes and a full tank of gas, as amenities are lacking. Speaking of amenities, the bathrooms are not fabulous and there is no running water to wash your hands. 

All that said, the views of the shoreline, surrounding landscape, and ocean are breathtaking. 



After nearly being blown clear off the coast at the lighthouse, we continued along the seashore. As we drove winding roads that cut through tall fields of grasses being whipped around by the relentless wind, the contrast between the wheat-colored grass and the ever-changing aegean and teal blue water was striking. 


I don’t know why, but this view evoked an Eastern European or Middle Eastern feeling in me. I’ve never been to either, so…I dunno?
 

After a brisk hike along an expanse of the seashore that seemed entirely untouched, we continued on to another location that was eerily desolate. 



Maybe it was because it was late in the afternoon, or it was due to the fact that there was no one else around, but the Marconi radio facilities building felt so incredibly creepy to me. I think, maybe, it was also the long, tree-canopied lane that leads to the decades-old building. I envisioned myself alone in that building, at night, watching as my untimely demise came slowly, but assuredly down the road. 

*shudders*


On the second day of our girl getaway we hung out in some huge trees:


Ate a picnic lunch on Stinson Beach:

 


And, got a killer view of San Francisco from reeeeeally far away:


I’ve seen the otherworldly Scottish Highlands, the impossible green that is Ireland, and the patchwork perfection that is the English countryside, but the Point Reyes National Seashore is another kind of beautiful. 
Really, there is no comparing one beautiful place with another. There are so many kinds of beautiful, that no matter how hard you try, you’ll never see them all in one lifetime. 

Point Reyes is a rugged kind of beautiful, and despite the tourists, remains, somehow, wild and untouched. 

Have you ever been somewhere that reminded you of someplace else, even if you’ve never been to that someplace else? Ever been to a beautiful place that feels undiscovered and wild? Let me know in the comments! 

Namast’ay Fat

As I was standing in the line at the grocery store, wearing my “Namaste In Shape” tank, I pondered how bad it looked that I was buying two pieces of cake, a bottle of Moscato and a bag of Cheetos. 

I mean, I know people were judging the chubby chick buying, at least, 4,000 calories worth of junk, in a shirt that proclaims she’d rather stay in shape. 

I’d be judging me too. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional. I know this tank doesn’t magically make me look like a yoga-obsessed health freak. As much as I’d like it to camouflage all of my lumps and bumps, and be the fat person’s version of the magical Cloak of Invisibility, I know it’s not. 

Apparently, my fake look-like-I’m-working-out-with-my-vices-joke pose is the same as my poopin’ face. For shame. Utter fail.

I just like the color and the fit. It doesn’t cling to my stomach and it doesn’t get wedged between my back fat rolls. 

It’s the perfect compliment to my fat pants. 

It just so happens to make a false statement.  Extremely false. A bold-faced lie. 

I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ll just lift my beer and the remotes a few times and count that as my fitness for the day. BTW, WHAT’S WITH MY FACE?

I’ve never been fit. Literally never. I’ve gone from baby fat to teenager fat to adult fat. 

So, as I stood, balancing my evening of fuck-it-I-had-a-bad-week, I got to thinking about all of the ridiculous things I’ve done in my favorite tank o’ lies:

1. Walked to 7-11 to purchase chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes. At least I walked. (If you’ve never had these cupcakes and you like peanut butter, you’ve been majorly missing out.)

2. Stood in line outside at our neighborhood burger and wing stand. Drool stains. No bra. Zero fucks. 

3. Sat on the couch with a paper towel bib as I balanced half a watermelon on my lap.

4. Made a tray of no-bake Reese’s diabetes bars that I hid in my sock drawer and inhaled over the next two days. 

5. Rode the elevator up two flights of stairs to the gym, where I just used the bathroom. 

6. Laid on the couch with Netflix and three beers, not getting up to do the dinner dishes  or even to get first dessert. 

7. Drove, not even two blocks, to mail a letter- a letter officially cancelling the gym membership I had for a year but never used. 

It’s been super fun going over all the fun I’ve had in my trusty tank. Maybe, at some point, before it becomes more chocolate syrup stain than cotton, I’ll wear it to exercise. 

Nah. 

If y’all ever see a shirt that says “Namast’ay Fat”, let me know ASAP. 

Some Teaching Truths

In honor of Back to School, I decided to drop some fun teaching truth bombs (Also, I’m swamped this week and list posts are the easiest #sorrynotsorry). Even if you’re not a teacher, you’ll likely relate. If your job is high stress, but also high reward, you’ll for sure relate. Because I really should be labeling all the things instead of writing a blog post, let’s just begin:

1. Unless you’re crazily devoted to a fitness plan or you have a superhero’s will and control, you will eat every carb in your house after a bad day. 

2. Forget about the college “Freshmen Fifteen”. There’s such as a thing as the “Teacher Twenty”. Or, sometimes, the “Educator Eighty”. Also, this can happen during year one or year ten. 

3. You will eat your weight in mini-size chocolate candy. Sometimes in one day. 

#goals

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4. If the day after Valentine’s/Christmas/Easter clearance candy has been cleaned out, you can thank a teacher. 

5. You will get fat. So fat.

6. If food isn’t your happy place (congratulations on not being “pregnant” every year), you will drink copious amounts of wine and at some point in your career, consider rehab, but only the facilities that are more like spas and only because it would be the best sanity-saving vacation ever. 

7. If it comes down to toilet paper or a shiny new pack of Expo markers at the end of the month, markers win-hands down. 


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8. You save straws, bits of fabric, tissue boxes, and one 3 inch piece of string, because it all just may come in handy at some point. 

9. They never come in handy. 

10. Your teacher cabinet/closet/cupboard is a portal to Narnia or another dimension, because it’s where all of your supplies go to never be found again. 

I Googled “messy teacher cabinet” and this popped up. Two things: 1. Ya’ll lyin’ and 2. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Maybe someday I’ll be brave and share my Closet o’ Shame.

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11. No matter how poor you are, you always find a way to buy $80 worth of crap from the Target Dollar Spot. 

12. No matter how frustrating your students can be sometimes, you’re fiercely protective of them when they’re criticized by another teacher who doesn’t know them as well as you. 

13. Your students are your family. Your tribe. You love them. Every year, your heart opens up to allow for 20 more spaces. 

14. You crop dust. It’s only fair. 

15. If you weren’t an emotional person or crier before becoming an educator, you can kiss your shyness/pride goodbye. 

16. You will cry over everything.

17. You will have to kindly remind your students that, “Maybe someone needs to go to the restroom” after toxic waste lunch bombs are dropped all afternoon. 

18. If your student’s book order money is short, you pay what they’re missing without a second thought. 

19. You only go to the bathroom during the day once a week, but during that exact time, admin will walk in. It’s basically a scientific fact. 

20. Your teacher look is such a work of art that an eyebrow raise, lip purse, and nose wrinkle can mean 875 different things and no matter the day, the kid, or the teacher friend, the message is always received loud and clear. 

Trainer at inservice day says, “Pick a partner”-Teacher Bestie and I look at each other like…

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Tell me, who was your favorite teacher and why? Or, make me laugh and tell me an hilarious school or teacher story. 

Comparison is a Bitch, Man

We’ve all heard the quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy” by Theodore Roosevelt. If you’ve never heard this one before, you’re welcome. 


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Ever since coming across this six word, seemingly inconspicuous sentence, my view on comparison has been utterly transformed. I think I’ve always known, we all know, that comparison kills the joy you possess for what you have in life. 

But, it’s just a subconscious understanding, only nibbling at your consciousness when you feel like poop after comparing your cracking pleather Target purse with your friend’s (still nice) pleather Coach bag.

So, I’ve always known on a deeper level that comparing myself with others never ends well, but it wasn’t until reading that quote did it marinate and sink in.

But, because I’m me, it was not a quick fix. I still compare myself, despite knowing it’s not helpful. This is akin to eating a donut everyday for breakfast. I know it’s not good for me, yet I still have chocolate cake donut in the corners of my mouth on a daily basis. 

I’m about to be real with ya’ll.

(I think by now you’ve probably gleaned that this isn’t my usual satire post. I hope I haven’t lost any of you from forehead-on-keyboard boredom.)

Lately, despite considering that quote on a regular basis, I’ve been comparing hardcore where I’m at in life, and with my blog with literally everything and everyone I deem “better” than me. 

Here are some examples:

So and so (x 10) bought a house, so now I feel like I’m failing at adulting. Some of my friends and acquaintances own more than one bed and the latest front-loading washer and dryer. The largest appliance I own is a fucking microwave. It’s easy to get down when you aren’t there yet, despite trying really hard to be. It’s especially fucky when you’re in your mid-30s and you’re still not quite sure how to become a real adult. 

So and so goes on luxurious vacations twice a year and I’m just over here like, “I went to IKEA in Sacramento…” It’s too easy to feel anxious and stir-crazy jealous when you witness endless world traveling on Facebook while you sit on your couch with a pint of ice cream and your only door, at the moment, to the rest of the world-Karl Pilkington and An Idiot Abroad. 

So and so can wear a tank top without fear of knocking over someone with their swinging turkey wings. This ones rough, because nice arms can be obtained, but it’s harder than all the effort needed to achieve everything else in this post combined. 

So and so has thousands of followers after less than a year and gets hundreds of likes on their posts in less than 24 hours. When I come across crazy successful bloggers, I wonder what I’m doing wrong. Why have my posts never gone viral? Why have I never been Freshly Pressed on WordPress (and what is that even)? It’s almost scary how easy it is to compare yourself with other bloggers. When I do this (all the fucking time), I instantly feel less than or worry I’ll be completely irrelevant tomorrow*. 

After many discussions with my blogging buddy, An Historian, I’ve decided enough is enough.


Not only is comparing myself to others depressing, it’s killing my inspiration to be creative in my own unique way. 

It’s time I re-read, more than usual, if necessary, my favorite quote. Here are some truths I’ve learned since my comparison-quote-awakening:

1. Apartment-living ain’t half bad. Not only do I never have to pull a single weed or replace window screens with my own money, when I plug up the toilet beyond basic plunger repair with my abundant toilet paper use, I can call the landlord, instead of the plumber. Also, some people live in squalor. I have granite counter tops in my bathroom. Basically, appreciate the shit you have. Also, if I’m ever destined to own my own house, it’ll happen when it’s meant to happen. 

2. So many other less fortunate people in the world would kill to have my TJ Maxx special, but they’d use it to carry food home to their starving family. Buck the fuck up, baby! 

3. Further, it’s not about the material. When you’re dead and gone, your more-than-my-rent-expensive handbag might find its way to a thrift store where some meth head might steal it to store their meth. Or, some careless person who gets pen marks all inside might own it after you. Shit, maybe it’ll find its way onto the giant ocean garbage mountain and some Humpback Anglerfish might use it as its home. Did your bag really matter that much in the grand scheme of things? The answer is “no”**. 

4. Travel is one of the most sought after things in life. It’s worth it to skip the Starbucks to save a few bucks that can quickly turn into a few hundred bucks. All of that can be used to go somewhere that can mean more than any material object (even an Ombré Pink Drink). 

5. My body isn’t perfect and never will be. Other than a few freak alien exceptions (Candice Swanepoel anyone?), we all have imperfect bodies. We all have body parts we wish were firmer, smaller, bigger, flatter, etc. Whenever I get to feeling really self-conscious around taught-skinned gorgeous women, I pretend they are hiding a huge skin flap on their butthole (I saw that on an episode of Embarassing Bodies, so that’s a thing now). Also, we can’t all be hilarious and gorgeous. 

6. Comparing myself with other writers, especially those in my same genre is the most detrimental comparing I do. I’ve decided that just because someone else is an exceptional writer and is genuinely funny, doesn’t negate the fact that I can be too. I have my own style and so does the next funny guy. We can all be funny. We can all support each other. Kumbaya and all that shit. 
 

7. Finally, there will always be someone who has better, looks better, and seems to always have all the luck. On the flip side, someone is probably looking at me, thinking, “Why, oh why, can’t I be like that magestic beast?” 

OK, that last one made me choke on my oatmeal cookie Halo Top. 

But, you never know.

Life is mysterious. Live your life in a way that makes your heart sing, your creativity blossom, and your belly feel happy and full without worrying about anyone else.

Fuck yo couch. 

*This in no way denotes that I do not appreciate the massive recognition my blog gets from my amazing supporters. I love you all times one million cupcakes. *muah*

**If you love material things, don’t be offended. I love the shit out of material things. Why else am I at Target every weekend scrounging through the discount bins for my 1,453rd cute pencil/magazine/flower/makeup/whatever holder? I feel you. 

Trail Fails

Historically, I have never been the one who is known for her athletic ability, nor have I ever been loved for my adventurous outdoorsmen spirit. Because I do not possess either of those. Never in my life have I been asked, “Hey, want to snowshoe across Siberia with me this winter?” (Who fucking does that anyway?)

Despite this, I have really been wanting to get into walking local trails for exercise. Well, if we are being completely honest, I just really want to marvel at the beauty of nature while I sit my fat ass on a comfortable rock. Doing this while eating something, like a dripping slice of watermelon heaven would really just be the cherry on top.

Because getting anyone I know to just sit in nature with me, without sounding like a total lazy loser, is a hard sell, I have been trying to be adventurous by engaging in hiking.

Well, I can most assuredly say that hiking don’t want my fat ass. Hiking wants me to just stay at home with my Halo Top ice cream and Netflix. Hiking does not play.

I’m going to detail three times I failed on the trails recently. Really, this could also qualify as a “This Is Why I’m Fat” post, because almost anyone would have given up after the first failed attempt. So, I hope the Trail Gods are listening. Ya’ll have some work to do…

A week or so ago (I’m a teacher on summer break, so I have no idea what day it is), a friend and I went on a much-needed girl getaway to the Point Reyes Seashore in California.

I stand or crouch behind all of my friends in pictures to appear smaller!
It was gorgeous, but strenuous. We did a lot of walking, trailing, and huffing and puffing.

1. The Stair Climb of Doom

Our first order of business was almost dying on the stairs to and from the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The climb is equivalent to 30.flights.of.stairs.

30 flights, ya’ll. 

I just thought I’d reiterate in case you missed it the first time.

It’s like the freaking Wall of China!
I’m 1000% sure my friend didn’t let on to that fact beforehand, because she knew for certain that it’d be a hard pass from me.

Despite the fact that an elderly man passed me on the hike up the stairs (do you see him in the picture?), and I had to stop at every rest point, it was actually totally worth the sweat-drenched pits and rat’s nest hair (it was so windy, that my phone almost blew away several times).

Fat Pro Tip: Stop to take a picture of literally anything every five minutes or so in order to catch your breath. They’ll have *no* idea!

2. Cataract Fall-Down-The-Hill-Trail

The day after almost needing to be airlifted from the lighthouse steps, we did some more adventurous trailing. I figured, “Why not? Might as well work on another bunion!”

The first few trails were quite easy, as there was no elevation or climb whatsoever. It was absolutely grand. Because we didn’t have to expend energy on moving our bodies up a steep hill, we had energy to climb trees and crawl into reproductions of Native American dwellings. I felt like an obese kid again (I was actually not obese as a child, strangely enough).

My legs were so sore from the previous day’s adventures, I almost didn’t make it out of that squat.
How I got up in that tree…I still don’t know!
 

It wasn’t until we thought it would be a good idea to try to find the Cataract Falls did we have problems. This is also the part in my story where I’m going to be putting All Trails on blast.

Not only was the following hike not “easy” as it was mistakenly rated, one of the lengths of the “loop” was not a trail at all. It was a grassy hill, and we almost broke our asses more times than I’d like to admit as we stepped/slid at a snail’s pace the whole entire way down. 

(I was also insanely afraid a mountain lion was going to come up behind me. Do you think that was irrational?)

Does this look like a trail to you??
This was a steep mother-effer!
When we made it to the bottom of the hill and the actual trail, we found that our pants, socks, and shoes were positively filled with foxtails and these terrible poky stickers that were absolute bitches to get off of our clothes and shoelaces.

We sat on the ground for a good 20 minutes, plucking shit out of everywhere!
If this wasn’t bad enough, when we got to our first trail marker, nowhere did it say “This way to the waterfall”, and the names of the available trails had nothing to do with the trail we thought we were on. We went the wrong way for 30 minutes before we got service on our phones and could see where we were on the trail.

When we finally found the waterfall, after a huge descent into what looked like middle earth, it was stunning and worth the trials we went through to get there. Well, it was a beautiful experience until I realized that’d I’d have to climb back to the car at some point.

Honestly, at one point during the hot, sweaty, and ugly hike back, I questioned how much it would cost for Search and Rescue to retrieve me from the trail.

It was so bad. And hard. 

The waterfall was a pretty anticlimactic affair, but the surrounding area was beautiful in an otherworldly-way.
3. Jones Creek Loop Trail AKA Call For Help

After being back home for a week or so, I decided that I would try hiking again (Why? Maybe I am a masochist, or I feel I deserve punishment for past transgressions?). So, the boyfriend and I looked up easy trails in the trees. Shade FTW!

We settled on the Jones Creek Loop Trail because it was rated as easy and only 1.5 miles.

We used the All Trails’ directions app, and it took us right to the trail head.

After a little trek that was almost all uphill, we came upon a sign. It said, “Jones Creek Loop”, and it had two arrows pointing to the right and to the left. Considering it was a loop, we figured it didn’t matter which way we went, as it would just bring us right back to where we started.

We seemed to be hiking quite awhile when the boyfriend remarked, “I think 1.5 miles seems longer when we are on a trail, because it’s not just a straight stretch?”

At least the scenery was gorgeous!

At this point, we were getting a little apprehensive. We also realized that our “loop” did not seem to be looping back to where we started whatsoever-we just kept heading further and further away.

We saw a man coming off of another trail (I will get to the myriad off shoots of unmarked trails in a minute…) and we asked him how to get back to the parking lot. He said we needed to go in the direction we were headed in, but for three or four more miles.

HOLD UP.

Somehow we got onto the wrong trail, but we had not taken any of the unmarked trails that veered off of the main trail.

At this point, my stress began causing my asthma to flare up, and I saw images of us, emaciated and half-eaten by mountain lions, in front of my eyes, like a mirage.

We decided to just keep walking and hope the guy didn’t know what he was talking about.

Ten minutes and almost all of our water later, we saw another guy coming off some other trail. I tried to stay calm when I asked him how we could get back to our car. While I was asking him, the boyfriend was off admiring some bark, pretending he didn’t belong to the sweaty girl who was in a near panic.

The guy said he was headed to the parking lot, and we could follow him.

A half mile later, we saw what looked like civilization and our spirits rose. We came upon a parking lot, but we quickly realized, stomachs sinking, it was not our parking lot.

As we were looking at the posted map and trying to look cool, like, “We meant that”, the guy waved us over.

He realized that he had led us to the wrong parking lot. He offered us a ride back to our car, three miles away.

We had somehow ended up on the 9 mile trail called the same damn thing as the 1.5 mile trail.

So, we ended that trail fail crammed into the cab of a tiny truck belonging to a very kind man. The whole way back to our car, I was trying not to reek of sweat and defeat.

We massively failed on the trails again only yesterday, and I was going to write about that fail too, but I have already gone on long enough.

The clouds were epic!

I will say, though, that the most recent fail is not entirely our fault. What in the actual eff is up with All Trails and their “easy” loop trails? Not only are they not easy, whoever is creating trails that feed off of the loop ought to be taken out back and given a stern talking to. In my mind, a loop is just that, A LOOP. Yet, every single trail we have tried is not really a loop, but a maze of deviating trails that go off in every fucking direction.

Really, it is no small miracle that more people do not get horribly lost in the woods on “easy” trails.

Or.

We are just utter idiots, and we need to take a “Trails For Dummies” course.

Tell me: Have you ever gotten lost on trails? Is it just me who can’t seem to find my way on “easy” trails? Help a fatty out! Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

Family Vacations: Road Trips

Sing it in an awfully-out-of-tune-voice with me now:

I’ve come back long ago

Long way down the Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Holiday Road…

I’ve been humming this song for days now, as I’ve been mentally preparing for this hum dinger of a post.

The National Lampoon Vacation movies have always been a staple in our family home, because somehow Chevy Chase and the gang got ahold of our vacation stories and made a movie about them.

Not really, and for legal purposes, I have to add that I’m joking.

But, for real, growing up, our family vacations were always very Vacation-esque ridiculous.

This is going to be a three-part series, because I’m attempting to not write novels every time I post. So, for the next three days, you will be positively inundated with family vacation stories straight from own personal National Lampoon series. 

So, care to take a ride? Make sure you pack a spare tire, some rat poison, and a life preserver, because it’s going to be a wild ride.

Literally Every Road Trip 

It didn’t matter where we were going-whether it was a trip up the Oregon coast or a day trip to some backwoods swimming hole, it was guaranteed that we would have car/boat trouble. I can’t count how many sketchy BFE car repair shops I’ve miserably waited at, while one of our hoopties was getting patched together. I’ve probably been to more car repair shops than to actual landmarks. 

Maybe we had trouble on road trips, because this was how we traveled?

I remember once, after days of packing and prepping for our 800-mile, two days of car hell up to our family’s lake cabin, we didn’t even make it five miles out of town before our vintage Winnebago pulled a big nope-I’m-not-going-fuck-you and we had to drive back home, defeated. I want to say we didn’t get to leave for real for almost a week.

One of my mom’s favorite family vacation horror stories is when she and my dad took my two cousins, my brother, and me to the Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park in Austin, Nevada in our ever-trusty Winnebago. She said we were coasting along, everything was going grand, and then, out of nowhere, the engine cover blew off. 

This all-important cover is what protects the engine and the inhabitants of the motorhome from the engine movements and the dust and debris from the road. 

My mom said that the second the cover flew off, everyone in the motorhome was covered in a thick layer of dirt. All she could see were the whites of our freaked-out eyes. 

For the entire rest of the drive to the park, she had to sit on the cover to keep it on. “It was only 80,000 million degrees hot. No big deal.” She said of her hot seat. 

Another Winnebago adventure happened after my mom thought it would be a great idea to take the behemoth beast camping without my dad. She wanted to meet my aunt and uncle at some campground in the middle of nowhere. All I remember is that she buckled my brother and I together in the front seat, and she kept saying over and over how everything was going to go great. 

Except, it was us and we were in the fucking Winnebago, so it didn’t go great. 

Somehow, we got a giant rock stuck between the rear tandem wheels and she had to call my dad to come rescue us. This was back in the early 90s, so I don’t know how she called him. Maybe they devised a bat signal, only it was a ‘bago signal, and was a giant “W” in the sky. 

My dad had to deflate a tire to get the rock out-all in the pitch black, in the middle of nowhere, in a freak torrential downpour. 

I would think they’d have just given up while they were ahead at this point, but no.

Back when I was about eight or nine, we went on a week-long trip up the Oregon coast. While we were inching along an especially harrowing stretch of the road along the coast, my dad’s axle broke off the driver’s side tire. He was in our old truck, and it was carrying the weight of our 70s-era camper shell and 8 tons of Shasta soda. That was actually pretty scary to watch from the trailing vehicle (we could never just bring one vehicle or one immediate family. No, it was the entire extended family and every moving vehicle we owned. It was straight-up carnival caravanning). 

Only a small fraction of our family. You would feel us coming long before we arrived.

What I remember most about that particular event was that while we were waiting for the axle to be repaired, I ate an entire can of pizza-flavored Pringles, and for the rest of the trip, I was shunned by the entire family for being such an unmannerly pig.

We made it to the Sea Lion Caves-a real feat! My brother was pitching a fit in this picture. My mom is probably threatening him with his life.

One summer, I think it might have been the same year as the Pringles Incident, we got majorly stranded out in our bay on Coeur d’Alene Lake in upstate Idaho.

Not only were we known for our hooptie cars, our boats weren’t much better. Actually, my Grandma’s Party Barge was brand new 30 years ago, and we’re still riding it, hoping the pontoons don’t fall off.

I think this was pre-Party Barge. But, look at those beauties!

So, this particular summer we had a speedboat at the lake. I can’t remember now if it was my grandpa’s old boat or my uncle’s. Either way, it wasn’t working for some time and after some extensive repairs, my uncle thought he had it up and running. So, the entire family piled in, other than Grams, because she was the only smart one of the lot.

We got precisely halfway across the bay and the engine just died. No sputtering, just gone and died dead.

One second we were cheering, the wind was whipping through our hair as the boat jumped the wakes left behind by other boats, and the next, we are at a dead stop and the entirety of the boat’s passengers are silent. No one said it, but we all were thinking it: “Typical!”

We spend the next 10 minutes trying to flag down Grandma, who is just a blob of a figure, sitting on the deck of the cabin, we can barely make out. She does not notice us sitting in the middle of the bay, and if she does, she probably really enjoyed her afternoon of silence.

My grandma next to her pride and joy. I’m surprised any of us crazies even got to see the inside of this thing!

We end up finding an old splintery oar to row, row, row the boat painfully, slowly to the closest shore, which happened to be the one opposite of the cabin. We tie up at a forgotten dock, and trek it, on foot, back to the cabin. We had to go all the way around the bay, on the tiny road that barely had room for two cars, taking turns carrying my brother who, despite being told multiple times by our mother to put on shoes, did not put on his effing shoes. I’m pretty sure he came into contact with poison ivy that trip. Kinda serves him right, the dweeb.

We call it the “*Smith Curse”. It started many decades ago. If more than five family members assemble for a trip, the trip will go to shit. But, those are the only ones worth remembering. 

The other night, as my mom and I were laugh-crying about these crazy memories, we hear my dad’s voice, from the TV room say, “Don’t mention that damn Winnebago!”

*Not our real family name 

Camping Capers 

I went camping for the 4th of July weekend. As with everything that I get myself into, it was definitely not uneventful. Oh, no. 

I’m going to surprise you all by saying I’m not a real tough-cowgirl-up kind of chick.

Shocking, I know. 

First, I really hate to be dirty. Especially my feet. OMG. My feet. During the summer, when flip flops and sandals are standard, I soak, scrub, pumice, and moisturize my feet to the point of obsession. 

I can’t get in bed knowing my feet have God-knows-what on them, and so help me if even the tiniest speck of dry skin catches on the sheets. 

Ya’ll might as well commit me now. 

I couldn’t even. It took everything in me to pretend this wasn’t bothersome!

Next, I positively hate being hot and sweaty. If I can avoid ever being overheated during the summer, I’ll do whatever needs to be done. If that means blasting my AC and having a fan directed at me 24/7, so be it. I’ll pay an exorbitant electric bill for the sake of comfort any day.

Eventually, though, I do have to venture outside and away from my comfortable 68 degrees. When this happens, swamp ass and underboob sweat is just inevitable. At some point during the summer, I just resign myself to the reality that I’m going to sweat from every crack and orifice, and I just have to deal. 

Also, if I know getting to the bathroom is going to be a pain (i.e. needing to get dressed first, finding shoes in the dark, walking half a mile to the campsite toilet, etc.), I’ll have to go the bathroom precisely eight times in the night. 

Lastly, I’m a germaphobe. If there isn’t running water wherever I find myself to wash my hands precisely every hour on the hour, forget it.

As I mentioned before, this past weekend we went camping. It was at a gorgeous campsite in California. 


While there, the worst.possible.thing that could happen to a germaphobe happened. 

My darling, one-of-kind, beloved boyfriend put the roll of toilet paper-the very roll he took into the Sani-Hut (and don’t even get me started on Porta Poops), and almost certainly set on the pee-soaked floor*- in my clothes bag. 

JUST BURN IT ALL. 

So, if you just ignore all of the above paranoias, I’m a real joy to be with out in the good ol’ outdoors. 

Really. 

I’m being serious. 

Once I procure/figure out a way to wash my hands with actual soap, and if I just accept the fact that my face will be so greasy the bright sun will reflect off it all day long, I’m actually a real camping star. 

I’m of the belief that if something unsavory (like cleaning toilets or setting up camp in 90-degree weather) needs to be done, it’s better to just do it right away and as quickly and efficiently as possible. I can set up a tent, cot, and camp stove in record time if it means I get to sit in the shade during the rest of the camping experience. 

Also, I don’t complain too much. As long as I have s’mores and a summer beer to look forward to later, you will only hear me complain about the heat and my dirty feet a minimal amount of times. 

Mmm. There ain’t anything better than a beer in the fresh mountain air!

This past weekend did not deviate from the norm. There was just a little bit of complaining, and a whole lot of loving-being-outside-of-the-city. 


The part of this camping adventure I was most looking forward to was a swim in the pond, because I bought a donut floaty, and I simply couldn’t wait to flail my gorgeous bod atop it. 


The float and swim was simply glorious. I’m a fat chick, but I also grew up going to a lake cabin every summer of my life. I can swim like a fucking majestic mermaid.

It wasn’t until exiting the water, that I questioned our decision to take a dip in a pretty questionable pond. 

The great debate is still on going, because my boyfriend positively swears that what was all over my legs were little worm things. 

No, I don’t care that he dual majored in biology and microbiology, those little effers were leeches.

After positively freaking out and making him run back over the rocks in his bare feet to inspect and remove the vile creatures that were sucking my life blood straight out of my pudgy, translucent legs, my first thought was, “Where else are they?”

Me: “Are these like ticks?”

Him: “Uh, no. These worms aren’t anything like ticks.”

Me: “No, like, would they possibly be elsewhere on my body?”

Him: “OMG. You had one worm on your leg. The other thing was a twig or some dirt!”

Me: “Are you blind?! They were all over my legs!” 

Him: *rolls eyes clear back into his skull* “OK. Sure. They were all over your legs…”

Me: “OK. So, could they possibly have found their way to other parts?”

Him: “No, babe. I highly doubt it.”

Me: “Are you sure? Because if water can go through my bathing suit, maybe tiny water monsters can go through my suit, too?”

Him: “OMFG.”

So, after I was reassured that the worms (leeches) almost certainly didn’t find themselves in my more delicate regions, I felt mentally stronger and more ready for the next camping obstacle I’d likely face (this time it was being eaten alive by mosquitos and the TP incident). 

No more worms (leeches)!

The struggle is real for an outdoors-loving germaphobe freak. 

*After making it clear my disgust with his dirty deed, he swore up and down that he nestled the TP roll in his underwear and that he most certainly did not put it on the poop-caked floor. I feel just a tiny bit better. 

Pure Gold 

My mom is a great storyteller. Family stories have been passed down, retold countless times, and loved since I can remember. On Sunday, my mom told us a story I had never heard before, and how it’s even possible she never told us this doozy, I do not know. 

Because it’s pure gold. 

Back in the time of Mom Jeans, VHS, and Kenny Loggins cassette tapes, my mom and her brother had a battle of epic proportions. 

It was Christmastime, and my uncle was visiting, as he did every year. My cousin and I were young, and likely we were the reason the whole fam bam was at the park in the middle of December. 

For some insane reason, the topic of who was faster on foot between my mom and my uncle came up in conversation. My uncle swore he’d literally beat the pants off of my mom. 

Well, that pretty much sealed the deal. 

My mom and uncle readied themselves for a foot race that would easily rival that of Usain Bolt…if he were middle aged, out of shape, and if he considered tight Lee jeans appropriate running attire. 

Quite handy for the two marathon runners was that the particular park where we were had parallel bridges, not too far away from each other. My grandmother, humoring her two always-picked-last-for-sports-children said she’d call “ready or not”. 

I guess now is a good time to paint the scene.

My good ol’ Uncle Gary, or, My Own Personal John Candy was one of the best parts of my childhood. If my mom was a good storyteller, it’s only because she learned the craft from the king of all storytellers-her older brother. 


He was round, and, just like Santa, when he laughed, his belly shook like a bowl full of jelly. (And he laughed a lot, because he always had a new, mildly inappropriate joke up his sleeve.)


In essence, he was pleasantly, perfectly plump (he wouldn’t have been Uncle Gary had he been any different). 

As for my mom, it was she who I inherited my overly curvaceous bod, cellulite, and body hair from, so…

I think the picture is fairly clear. 

They were 100% the kids who cheated on running the mile in PE class (or walked the entirety, coming in with a record time of 12 minutes). 

Basically, we had a pair of real marathon winners.

I don’t think my mom even took the race seriously. She probably figured she’d have to embarrass him by beating the pants off him in front of God and everybody, or that he had a cheat or a trick ready and waiting. 

This was why she was far more concerned with what he was doing at the starting line, instead of readying herself for moving more quickly than she had in years. 

She was staring him down, incredulity and an ounce of fear growing, as his Rocky-esque stance proved he was ready and actually serious. 

Suddenly, Grandma called, “Go!” and it was all just a blur of color block windbreaker and handlebar mustache. 

My mom was glued to her spot. Stunned. 

Pretty quickly, she couldn’t contain her laughter and broke down in hysterics. 

She said, “At the starting gate, I collapsed in laughter. I saw him there, this 300 pound man, with his 32 year-old shoes flapping, going like the wind.”

As my mom was dissolving into a puddle of tear-soaked Jordache, Grandma was yelling, “Go, Judy! Just go a little bit, Judy!” 

After listening to this story, it was only natural that I dared my brother to our own relay race. 

I was fairly certain I’d beat the crap out of him. I’d only been an aerial yogaist for five weeks straight, and all of my walks to 7-11 had to make me more capable of movement than him. 

The last time I was witness to him doing anything that resembled physical exertion was when we went on a family picnic five years ago, and I dragged him on a “hike” up to a lookout, barely half a mile away. It was not his favorite. 
I figured I’d finish and have time to bake a cake before he came across the finish line. 

As he confidently, unwaveringly got into his runner’s stance, I began to doubt myself as a shoe-in for first place. 

Maybe he runs during his time off? Had I somehow completely missed that aspect of his life? 

I said to my mom, “I think I’m kinda scared!” 

She replied, “Maybe you should be. Sometimes fat people surprise you and they run like the wind!”

Spoiler Alert: I lost miserably.

Not only did I lose, I came incredibly close to eating asphalt. 

You know when you are trying to go faster than your body can catch up and your head has literally a head start? Well, that was me the entire 20 or so feet we ran. 

Not only did he beat me by running a hell of a lot faster than me, he did so with bare feet. 

When my dad yelled, “Go!” (BTW, my dad was excited enough to watch this spectacle, that he actually paused the golf he was watching, and said, “Now, I gotta see this.” as he practically ran outside), I thought my body would be moving quicker than it did. It was like I was in slo-mo, shlepping through molasses. Before I could even start actually moving, he had propelled his body through the finish line with his Fred Flinstone feet. 

It wasn’t even a competition. 

The two expert sprinters

Moral of the story: Don’t underestimate people carrying around some extra weight, because they can move. With the exception of this fat chick. I can’t move quickly for anything. 
Also, family stories are better when you don’t try to reenact them. Don’t let history repeat itself, people!