A Blogyear Timesuck

As of today, I have been blogging for a whole year.  365 days. Twelve months.  A dozen menstrual cycles, phases of the moon, psychotic breaks with reality.  Ok, so there were actually a baker’s dozen psychotic episodes…mmm, baked goods…

This blogyear has probably been one of the best years of my life, and I owe it all to blogging.  Didn’t you know that typing meaningless stories and feelings and bodily fluids bring great things?  I think Oprah said that one time.

I’d like to recap all the amazing things that have happened and were made legitimate by the fact that I wrote about them and then broadcasted them for hoards of perfect strangers to like and comment on:

Brian earned his master’s degree and I ceased to be the suffering partner of a grad student!

I turned 29 for the first time!

I blogged publicly about having cancer that one time, and I celebrated being cancer-free for 9 fucktastic years!  Plus, I get all the joke-rights to having only one ladyball.  Half the ball, twice the crazy.

I learned how to shoot a gun and no one got hurt except Ben Affleck’s left ear.

I passed two (count em: one and two) Marriage and Family Therapist licensing exams after having studied for them procrastinated by reading other people’s blogs.  Surprisingly, some very important people in the state of California think I can actually help people.  My goal is to prove them right.

I hadn’t even taken a deep breath or a post-licensing-exam-nap before I GOT ENGAGED THIS YEAR to the boyman of my dreams!!!

As if I hadn’t had enough joy this year, I also got a promotion at work managing our therapy department.  So many amazing changes, that I summoned the Trololo Guy to help me celebrate.

In July, Brian and I took an awesome Pre-weddingmoon trip to Puerto Rico and returned barely alive.  But that’s ok, because what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger and more equipped to survive The End Times.

For the remainder of the blogyear, I’ve basically been planning a wedding, blogging about planning a wedding, and eating potato chips.

Not a bad year if I do say so myself.

I’ve found two main benefits to blogging during this past year.  One of them is getting to meet and read about so many interesting, eloquent, and funny people out there!  If I have ever liked or commented on your blog, then I include you in the above description.  And if you have ever read, liked, commented, followed, or given me an award on my blog – thank you.  Thank you for trading jokes, thank you for your encouragement, thank you for the community – because that’s what I was looking for when I started this whole thing.

The second benefit is that I’ve been able to discover who I am as a writer and who I might like to become as a writer.  This blog is basically one big experiment and I basically feel like I’ve been winging it this whole time, but when I look back on my posts I am sometimes surprised to find myself thinking that I actually churned out some stuff that I am proud of.  Who knew that I am funny?!  Who knew that I have shit to say that people might actually care about?!  Who knew that I had so much to say about zombies?!

Don’t worry- I’m not even close to being done blogging about zombies.

Here’s to another year that’s simply blogtastic!

Puerto Rico – los animales

Welcome to the third post (or fourth if you count the post on the conspiracy against our secret super powers) about my trip to Puerto Rico last July.

Click here if you missed the one about all the mouth watering and not-so-mouth-watering food we consumed while on the Isla del Encanto.

For this post, I will recap all the wonderful creatures we came across on our journey.  There was quite an array, complete with mongeese and a lizard we lovingly named Chupagente.

Me gustaria caca de gato

Remember before I left, I was hoping to barter for a great price on cat poop?  Well, I found some bonafide Puerto Rican cats trolling the streets of San Juan, and just like Ace Ventura, I let them swarm around me carrying all their fleas and disease.  It was kind of awesome.

Godzirra!

We found several giant iguanas that are slowly eroding away the precious, historical fortresses by literally digging holes in the rock walls so they can come out and sunbathe whenever they want.  And don’t let their lazy demeanor fool you- they can move right quick when they want to (meaning, when I am trying to take a picture of them).  Lazy bastards.  But maybe not-so-lazy since it takes a badass to dig a hole into a rock wall.  Badass bastards.

Aye, sea turtles

When we got to Luquillo on the eastern side of the island, we saw signs up about baby sea turtles hatching, and I immediately started quoting Pirates of the Caribbean (“…with human hair, from my back“).  They had protected sea turtle nests roped off on the beaches, and as we were walking back from dinner one night, I tried to give the unborn babies some moral support so maybe they’d hatch for me like in Jurassic Park but no dice.  I also made a mental note to lay off the booze at this point.

Beware the Mongoose!

So, as we were eating trying to choke down our melted cheese logs before hiking into the tropical rainforest, we notice this sign:

Turns out, at some point people got sick of how many snakes there were on this godforsaken island, and so someone decided to bring in a bunch of mongeese because, hey, they eat snakes!  Sweet deal!  You know what they also do? They also are great at carrying rabies and then munching on human ankles.  Greaaaat.  Not only that, but once they ate all the snakes, there was nothing left to eat the rats.  Somebody figured the mongooses(es) would eat the rats, too, cuz hey, they’ll eat anything, right?  Well…not if they’re le tired.  Someone had forgotten their thinking cap on that day since it turns out that rats are nocturnal and mongeeses are not.  Awesome job, you guys.

Stop, now, what’s that sound?

When we got to the smaller island of Vieques, we found a cute little cicada in the bathroom of our open-air hotel room.  How cute!  I just left him be, since he seemed to get a kick out of watching me pee.

Sadly, it seemed this little guy had come into our bathroom to die.  Either that, or I blame the horribly stinky, toxic fumes that get released inside our bathroom.  Sad face.  We said a few words.

Chupa my balls!

Still fragile from the lovely impromptu cicada funeral, we found a cute lizard intent on crawling in amongst my toiletries and refused to leave the now cursed bathroom area.  “This place is doomed, all ye who enter here!” I screamed at him, trying to save him from meeting the same bitter end as his cicada friend.  I guess he just loved us too much and stayed for quite a while, and so we called him Chupagente (after the famously named chupacabra, of course).

Horsey, horsey, horsey!

The island of Vieques is swarming with semi-wild horses, and I adored them ever so much!  I think they appealed to my inner 7 year old girl.  They also often blocked traffic and didn’t give a flying mongoose’s ass about it.  That appealed to my inner 75 year old man.

Stay tuned for more adventures from PR!

Puerto Rico – La comida (y las bebidas adultos)

Welcome to a series of posts on my trip to Puerto Rico: Isla del Encanto!  And by encanto, they mean haunted by mosquitoes and rabid mongoose (mongeese?), but I’ll save that for my post on animals.

For today: comida.  For food is the first thing I start to think of when I travel to another country unincorporated territory of the United States.  When I travel, I take pictures of the stuff on my plate I am about to consume, especially if it looks pretty.  Friends and family make fun of me for this (and you know who you are), but I have finally emerged triumphant, because I have found a realm where not only is taking and sharing pictures of food acceptable, it’s encouraged.  So thank you, blogging world.  May your mouth water along with mine.

For the most part, the food I encountered on my trip was a combination of American, Spanish, and Mexican/Central American.  Mmm-mm.

Day 1 – San Juan

We had some amazing tapas at Hotel El Convento, but since I also imbibed a certain quantity of sangria along with my meal, my camera was sadly (but, in hindsight, appropriately) neglected.  It was delicious.  I remember shrimp of some kind.

Day 2 – San Juan

For brunch (translated, brunch in MelissaSpeak means I am so fucking hungry because we have now officially missed breakfast) I had this delicious waffle at Cafe Berlin just next door to our hotel.  Strawberries and bananas drizzled with creamy nuetella.  It was promptly devoured.

Remember how I look when I am hungry/tired?

Melissa the Attack Marmot

Imagine that eating this:

Oh, sweet, sweet Hazelnut Heaven.

For dinner that night, Brian made it a priority to go find some local food off the beaten path.  That basically means we got lost in a rather sketchy neighborhood.

Getting lost was worth it, though, for we found Jibaritos.  We attempted to order in Spanish, and as per usual, the response was met with a smile and rather perfect English.  I ordered a plantain pork tamale with Mexican rice and a salad.  Brian ordered monfongo (mashed plantain) and beef in a creole sauce.  All was very good, and if you ever have the chance to try some monfongo, I highly recommend it.

Day 3 – Arecibo

We had to get going a bit early to grab the rental car so we could go see the largest radio telescope in the world (nerdgasm!!), but first we needed bellies filled with fat and sugar.  We walked down the street to a bakery and cafe where they spoke minimal English, which I took as another chance to embarrass myself, so I dove in headfirst.  After pointing and grunting, we got ourselves some pastries, sweetbread, and coffee and headed back to the hotel to stuff our faces.  On the way back, we saw some real live streetwalkers taking really hilarious walks of shamelessness!  Too bad I didn’t have my camera with me.

We ate on the breezy 6th floor balcony overlooking Old San Juan.

After Arecibo, we were led on a wildly entertaining drive through the twisting country roads to the village of Lares, where a friend of a coworker of mine (whom we had just met up with that day) introduced us to the most exotic flavors of ice cream I had ever encountered.  Corn, Sweet Corn, Plantains, Sweet Plantains, Garlic, Rice, etc.

I tried a taste of the Ajo (garlic), because hey- I love garlic on one hand and I love ice cream on the other, so as Joey on Friends would say, put your hands together.  And it was gross.  I almost died.

I went with Sweet Corn and Cherry and I was not disappointed!

 

Day 4 – El Yunque

This day the plan was to hike to the top of a mountain in the tropical rainforest (which we did with gusto…until I got tired and cranky), so we went to get some sandwiches to pack with us for eating on the trail.  We went to a little corner market run by locals.  Now these weren’t just any locals, they were morbidly obese locals.  Like, so obese that all three of them sat on rolly chairs and wheeled themselves around the store in order to do their jobs.  This should have been a red flag for us, but we needed us some sandwiches, so we ordered some in Spanish and went on our way.

It took us a while to drive into the rainforest, and we stopped at the visitor’s center before getting to the trailhead.  By that time, we sat down to eat our sandwiches before beginning the hike.  I tried so hard to choke down what turned out to be hot, melted plastic cheese logs because I needed my strength for this hike (and because I just hate wasting food), but I just couldn’t.  I am sorry, Puerto Ricans, but these are NOT sandwiches.

sorry this is so blurry but I was shaking from all the diabetes.

Now I know exactly how those store owners got to be so friggin obese.

After successfully sumitting the mountain, we went in search of a highly recommended local food joint, which, you guessed it, required that we walk through a really sketchy ‘hood after dark.  Maybe the danger is supposed to make the food taste better once you get there.  I had rice and beans with shrimp in creole sauce.


Against our better judgement, we decided to stop for ice cream on the way back.  To emphasize just how sketch this neighborhood was, we had to be buzzed in AND out of this little shop by the lone woman (who was very sweet) running the joint.  Let me tell you, this ice cream was worth the danger, like whoa.  I don’t have a picture of it for two reasons: one, it was still so hot and humid out that it began to melt immediately, and two, I was too busy running my cute butt out of the danger zone.

Day 5 – to Vieques

We flew to the small island of Vieques on this day and the very helping front desk lady at our hotel asked us what kind of food we’d be looking for, and we said paella, bitch.  Well, the lady was so nice that she dismissed being called a bitch and told us that it just so happened to be paella night at Bellybuttons in town, sweetness!

It was sooo delicious, and we had an awesome talk with the cook about his travels as a poor college student through Southern California.

and that’s a strawberry daiquiri there. it helps fend off the mosquitoes.

Day 6 – Our 9th Anniversary

The concrete, open air hotel we were staying at supplied us with a kitchen fully stocked with breakfast makings each morning – thank heaven for fresh fruit, bread, and eggs!  We made a feast of fresh Puerto Rican coffee, slices of nectarine, and french toast with the leftover cooked egg.  My mouth is watering as I remember eating this.

om nom nom

For our anniversary dinner, we went to the very posh Blue Horizon and I treated myself to a (very punchy) rum punch.

I also got the most melt-in-your-mouth seabass ever.  I ordered the ill-tempered variety with friggin laser beams attached to their heads, but the waiter just looked at me funny and then confiscated my punch.  Arse.

I believe that every creature deserves a warm meal.

Day 7 – more Vieques

After a long day at the beach, we came back to the hotel and Brian made us a scrumptious afternoon tea complete with milk and honey, toast and jam. I made sure to stick out my little pinky.

That night for dinner I was craving something fried, and so I got chicken strippy-things (I forget what the Puerto Ricans called them, but they were essentially chicken strips).

Day 8 – more Vieques beach

We pigged out this day because swimming in the ocean and getting slammed into Mother Earth by crashing waves works up an appetite.  Behold: deluxe nachos and Brian got a huge burger.

I ordered a Coke, but was served a Pepsi because the entire island was out of Coke (no joke).  I wonder how often shortages like that happen…?

Day 9 – last full day of vacation

More delicious breakfast cooked by us!  I became obsessed with jugo de pina on this trip.  Sooo sweet and refreshing!

I forgot to take a picture before I ate it.

We waited forever for this shrimp pizza for dinner at Lazy Jack’s.  At least they give you fair warning.

Day 10 – travel day

I will wrap up this post with the only picture I took of the magnificent mango we were given every morning!

Out of respect, I didn’t take a picture of its namesake, the magnificent mango poo.  You’re welcome.

Stay tuned for more exciting stories from our Puerto Rican adventure!

Revolutionary Flight

I have so much to say about my trip to Puerto Rico.  Seriously.  I just don’t have the time and it kills me, for I am about to embark on an epic 4 day backpacking trip with 7 people and a dog.  And I am also currently very sleep deprived because I’ve had no time to pack, work, blog, sleep and watch the Olympics at the same time.  This time, I’ve chosen to forgo work and sleep and see what happens.

First things first re: this trip.  You see, I’ve learned a valuable secret.  A conspiracy, even.  I shouldn’t even be here talking to you about this, but I love you and so I’m going out on a limb here.  That’s right, this just got real and has absolutely nothing to do with my Olympics-and-sleep-deprivation-induced-euphoric-paranoia.

The TSA and the airline companies don’t want us to know our real histories, our true abilities, or our amazing destinies.

They do their best to hold us back and keep us in check.  Make em take off their shoes so they can’t run.  Put em through this poly-laser turbo machine so we can see their naked weaknesses.  Buckle your seatbelt and SIT DOWN while the seatbelt sign is lit OR ELSE!
But, while they thought they had us complacent, throwing up into tiny paper bags and breathing oxygen laced with meth through plastic bags hanging from the ceiling, I know their secret.

Hidden in the seatback pocket in front of each one of you is a laminated, vomit-proof illustrated safety card that holds the key to your destiny.

Before flying with my pilot partner, I only glanced at it on my way to the SkyMall (which is not a magazine, it’s a street term for getting high on meth at 30,000 feet) and never really realized what it was.  But Brian actually reads this thing, this rebel pamphlet, and he was the one who enlightened me, and now I pass on the secret to all of you:

We all were born with super powers beyond our wildest dreams.

That’s right, my friends.  Observe:

Please levitate out the door. And don’t take your cardboard squares.

 

Use your laser vision to open the door and fly to safety.

You’d never think this mom-jeans wearing simpleton could blast through metal with one cold stare…that is, unless you were her partner.

 

 

Levitate down the slide. Don’t hide your true super powers. X-men Unite!

And now you know the truth.

You can thank me later, as long as I am not mauled by a bear this weekend.  In that case, you can thank me at my embarrassingly expensive and public memorial service.

You do plan to have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour, right?

I survived Jurassic Park!!

Actually, I just got back from Puerto Rico, which [parts of it] looks a whole lot like Jurassic Park.  And we were in a Jeep.  On muddy roads.  With goat extremities flying about.

I was ready for giant roaring, spitting, flesh-tearing lizards at every turn.

I was also ready for all the crappy parts of what going to a tropical region entail – mainly mosquitoes, sunburn, mosquitoes, theft, mosquitoes, and humidity.  Also mosquitoes.

Don’t worry, I’ll go into great detail about all the things that were crappy about this vacation.   But first – a few things that were surprisingly awesome:

1. No migraines!

I live in Northern California.  It’s dry here, especially in the summer.  I tend to get migraines fairly often, and they are triggered mostly by dehydration and stress, and when we go hiking, they are exacerbated by the altitude.  In PR, we hiked to the top of El Yunque in the tropical rainforest, and no headache resulted.  Not even a little one.  Not one for the entire trip!  Sure, my sweat never freaking evaporated, but it felt sooooo nice to not have to pop Excedrin all the time.  Score one for the tropics.

2. No Breathe Right strips

When I go to bed, I look like a huge nerd.  I pop in my retainer from high school, and for the past year or so, I’ve been wearing Breathe Right strips to bed because I inherited my dad’s clogged, gross nasal passages apparently.  On this trip, I didn’t have to use a one.  The air was fresh and clean from all the rain, and it moistened my sinuses with gentle wetness and joy.  Squee!

3. Not having to moisturize after bathing

I developed eczema at the same time that my cancer symptoms were developing.  They took all the cancer out of me, but the eczema stayed.  This meant that I must moisturize like a madwoman after a hot shower or else my dry skin would get all itchy and scaly and I’d look like I belong in Jurassic Park.  I figured out the hard way that in a tropical climate, too much moisture gave me heat rash – yaaaayyyyy.  Sometimes I just hate my body.  But the upside was that I could just airdry with none of my normal head-to-toe goo rituals and it felt so freeing!

4. Awesomely ripe fruit + delicious Puerto Rican coffee = regular BMs for dayz!

I really don’t think this one requires an explanation, except that Brian and I call this phenomenon “mango poo.”
So I didn’t realize or intend for this post to turn into a list of my medical ailments, but it has.   I wrote an abbreviated journal while on the trip and it tended to read like a prison diary:  “Gone 4 days now. Heat rash is spreading. 15 mosquito bites so far.  I hope I have another mango poo.”

At this point, I don’t know which is the prison – PR or my desk at work; I’m actually developing a migraine as I write this.

Mi esposa y yo tomaremos nuestras margaritas en el yate.

I took 5 Spanish classes in high school.  My final Spanish class was AP Spanish, where all the cool kids hung out.  We even went to Spanish Camp that year, where for 5 straight days we were only allowed to speak Spanish (which meant that anyone caught whispering in a corner was actually speaking English).  Fun fact: I met my date to the Senior Prom at said Spanish Camp.  And yes, we did whisper in English in the corner.  I even got to a point where I was dreaming in Spanish.  How freaking cool is that?  I was well on my way to becoming bilingual.  Muy bilingue, muchachos.

And then college happened, and I took French.  And then I went to the Netherlands and took Dutch from a Dutch woman who learned English in Ireland, so she had the weirdest/awesomest accent ever.  As a result, when I try to speak another language, a garbled mix of Franish (Spanch?) slurs out.

And even though I live in an area filled with Spanish-speakers, and I work at an agency filled with Spanish speaking coworkers and clients, my Spanish skills have really slipped.

Estoy muy triste about that.

To prepare for our trip to Puerto Rico, Brian and I were boning up on key Spanish phrases using my handy google translate iphone app, where you can just speak your English phrase and hope it craps out some meaningful other language (and vice versa).

First I wanted to know how to say mosquito, because I plan to get bitten upwards of 50 times because I am so very deliciosa.

Turns out it’s a cognate.  Go figure.  With English-Spanish, when in doubt, always assume it’s a cognate.  I wonder if the word cognate is an English-Spanish cognate?  Cognato.

My translation app sure knows me well, for when I clearly said, “I would like a pet cat please,” (because I just assume, along with all the other feral and rabid animals roaming PR, that there will also be piles of alley cats for the taking) the app gave me this:

Goes to show that pronunciation means the difference between a mangey, furry feline and its shit.

This is going to be an interesting trip.

Wish me bon voyage!  See y’all on the flipside.

 

Pre-wedding-moon!

Back up to about 6 months ago: I was super stressed out cuz I had to maybe start thinking about possibly eventually studying for my licensing exams, and Brian was all stressed to the max after writing his master’s thesis and defending it and then graduating.

At that time, we were thinking that we needed to plan a frickin vacation.  We knew we were gonna need it.  I think we thought right.

We have never been on a real vacation together before (“real” means longer than 5 days and for the sole reason of chillaxin and not some other event thingy going on), and so we decided let’s go balls-outLet’s do this thing right.

We began by doing some preliminary planning of a vacation to New Orleans/Charleston.  Neither of us has been to the south, and so we figured we could protect each other and I’d buy some expensive cover up for my O-shaped tattoo circling my navel as a tribute to Barry (backup plan: if the rain washes away the cover-up I’d just tell them it was for Oprah), and we’d be good.  But then we realized that the places we really wanted to see required a lot of driving in between.  We also realized that it would be hot as Satan’s butthole and humid to boot.  We also realized it was the south.

There’s not enough sweet tea and gravy to lure me down there (that’s what she said) for July (which is specifically when we were available to go).

Back to square one.

And so I thought, where’s somewhere tropical that would be easy and fun and with minimal drug cartel activity?

The answer: Puerto Rico.  No passports, no currency exchange, drug lords are really chill there (I hear they give out free samples!), American cell service, and yeah it’s hot and humid, but we trade that for awesome beaches and bio-luminescent organisms in the water that are gonna make me look radioactively attractive in pictures (think Avatar crossed with Playboy). 

Get ready for my next Christmas card, y’all.

 

Little did we know, as we were planning, how awesomely cool the timing of this vacation would be.  Sure, I had hoped to be licensed by now, but I am a horrible test-taker and it’s amazing I even made it through the tutorial.  At that time, the promotion I now have at work wasn’t even available yet, and was thus not yet in my sights.  And Brianboy hadn’t yet popped the question…who knows how long he had been master-minding this euphoric wave of events.

So, little did we (me?) know, but this is no longer just a vacation.  Oh no.  It’s a frickin pre-wedding-moon, bitches!  We get to get some sand between our toes and throw a few back before we enter the crazy, estrogen-fueled flurry of lace, satin, and an unnecessary number of cake tastings.

Pre-wedding-moons are gonna be a thing now.  You’ll see.  I better cash in on this shit; since I am about to make my contribution to the elaborate ponzi scheme operation that is wedding planning, then I might as well profit from it at the same time.   First stop, trademark office.  Actually, first stop – 31 Flavors.  Then trademark office.

PR is going to be an adventure for the books!  For several reasons!  First of all, I automatically assume this trip is doomed from the start since we’re leaving on Friday the 13th.  Also, from what I have read, the roads are crap, rendering maps and GPS useless.  Plus, they are filled with wild horses and chickens.  When we inevitably get lost and I bludgeon Brian to death with my umbrella (the only logical consequence), I plan to ride a wild horse off into the tropical sunset with a wild chicken under one arm as a snack for later.  Sounds entirely reasonable.

What’s even more awesome is that my idol, Jenny The Bloggess, *just* went to PRIt’s like we’re the same person.  I can’t wait to see all the zero-gravity penises!

Hopefully I can choke out one more post before I leave.  We’ll see.  Stay tuned.