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Posts Tagged ‘travel

I went to Hilton Head this past weekend with the girls for a little beach getaway.  It was perfect for what we needed – some pool time, some beach time, some drinking time and some catching-up time.

So one night we went out drinking in “The Triangle” (which is more like an octagon)….  guys…. I found the birthplace of frat boys. Everywhere you looked, it was a sea of button down shirts, khakhi pants (or shorts), and loafers. It’s like they’re hatched from the same egg and then become the same person, all variations of Brian, Bryan, Ryan, Rian. ALL THE SAME, except for the vowels.

There was this one guy, at the bar for a long time, already close to drunk when we got there.  He got to talking to my friend (who’s married and the world’s best wing-woman) and then got to talking to me. He was SUPER cute. Big gold cross necklace but I chose to ignore that for the evening. He was in jeans, and as I told him, he was just one khakhi pant away from being like everyone else there. He was slightly offended.

He asked my name, told me his (Brian), grabbed my hand and winked at me. Good god. I’m such a fucking sucker. I had a smile on my face as wide as the Grand Canyon. And then he got up, said he was going for a smoke and said I should go outside with him… I moved a little in front of him, he smacked my ass, and I may have smiled a little wider. (Side note: This is why I’m single. Because I fucking love douche bags.)

SO THEN! I stopped at my friends’ table to just let them know I was headed outside, AND HE LEFT! HE JUST WALKED OUT! WITHOUT TELLING ME WHERE HE WAS GOING!

I didn’t want to go search for him and look desperate, so I hung out with my girls.

Fast forward to a couple of hours later, I assumed he’d left for the night.  I was talking to this guy who looked Bruce Banner and his friend, Sleazy Ryan. SOMEHOW… Bruce Banner went to smoke, found my original guy, Sleazy Brian, and brought him over and says to me: “DUDE!! THIS GUY IS SUPER IN TO YOU!!!”   Yes, yes… just like all the guys that are super in to me and disappear. Awesome effect I have on them.

But at the exact same time, Bruce Banner’s friend, Sleazy Ryan, was trying to get us to go home with them and saying to me: “You guys should come over! We can drink wine! Wanna come sailing with us tomorrow? Give me your number!”

So, I gave him my number for the fuck of it, because what was I supposed to do??  Sleazy Brian sees me giving my number to Sleazy Ryan and says the following, while shaking his head at me: “It could’ve been something.”

WHAT?? IT COULD HAVE BEEN WHAT?!?!?!?! A ONE NIGHT STAND – AT MOST!  Jeez… I do love me some dumb assholes.

So then, we have this conversation. I’m pretty sure the sober bouncer right behind us hated us so much:

Sleazy Brian: “We could’ve been good, but you gave him your number.”

Me: “But… you left. And didn’t tell me where you where.”

Honestly, repeat those two sentences for about 5 minutes.  It was this endless loop of stupidity. That’s what happens when two drunk people talk.

Finally, we get up to go and he follows us out, and we kissed for a bit. He put his hand on my tummy and I pulled away. One – I haven’t worked out in 6 weeks and am not thrilled with the current shape. Two – we’d had Olive Garden for dinner and been drinking for hours. I had to poo so badly, I was worried any pressure would end the night abruptly.  Issues.

Anyway, we kissed briefly, he was super cute and I was super happy and I gave him my number. Never heard from him again.  Surprise. 😉

Oh!! BUT!!! The best part of the whole weekend? Apparently, Hilton Head is some magical land where white boys are unable to tell anyone’s age.  We were definitely the oldest in “The Triangle” by a good bit, and I’m pretty sure all the khakhi-clad boys were mid-20s. Thankfully, they thought we were too!

My friend was chatting with this guy (Sweaty Bryan, with a “Y” as he told us) – he noticed she is married and asked how old she was, she responded with the truth: “34.”   He looked SO HORRIFIED that she quickly laughed it off and said, “Ha ha!! Just kidding! I’m only 26! AND I AM THE OLDEST OF ALL THE GIRLS!”

LOL!! Gotta love her 🙂

And then when we went paddle boarding the next morning (completely hung over), our instructor, who’s in college himself, asks: “So are you girls in school?”

Us: “Yes… yes we are.”  We did confess eventually, but damn, you guys. Cute fratty white boys who think I’m still in college, or at the oldest, mid-20s? I may be in Hilton Head every weekend.

Black may not crack, but Brown don’t get tore-down.

I feel like the young lady, but look like the old hag. Sigh.  http://www.planetperplex.com/en/item/my-wife-and-my-mother-in-law/

I feel like the young lady, but look like the old hag. Sigh.
http://www.planetperplex.com/en/item/my-wife-and-my-mother-in-law/

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I’m in Dar es Salaam for work – the last time I was here, it was in the throes of things ending with British. I was miserable, crying all the time when I was outside of work hours and had no f’ing idea of what was going on with him. I was a wreck.

I’ve always hated that he/us/it was what I thought of every time I thought of Tanzania. It had left such a bitter feeling in me towards this city, and I’ve wanted to make new memories here ever since.

This time, it’s kind of awesome — the trip has been far better than I expected and I have helped “develop capacity” more so in this last week than in 6 years of international work. It’s been rewarding and gratifying and I’ve loved every exhausting second of it. For the first time in a long time, I might actually help make a difference. But in any case…

Tonight, I took a taxi home after dinner with a friend (who moved out here) and the taxi driver and I were just chatting – he asked if I was married and had kids, and I said no to both. He’s 32 and has a 3 year old daughter, but not married.

He asks how old I am, I tell him the truth and he says:

“Ay! You are 35! You must make a plan! It’s too hard at 35/40 to do it. You must do it now. Before it’s too late.”

What the hell. Did he talk to my mom before I got in the cab??? Does she have spies the world over?!?!?!?! 

It was cute though, how he was so insistent. I explained that I have to be married before I have kids, and he explained how it’s important to prove fertility – then “you are STRONG” and women like that.

Seriously though, how am I getting lectured by random taxi drivers who are younger than me?  How is that possible? Where on my face does it say I want to hear this stuff???

Also, one of my coworkers who’s here on this trip is an older Indian male, a lot like my Dad. And he asked if I was married/had kids, and when I said no, he said,

“It’s really hard past a certain age. People are too picky. It’s just going to get harder.”

The thing is, whether I want to hear it or not, it’s the truth. I need to make a plan, stop being picky and make it happen. I did it for work (just got what I wanted) and now I need to do it for my personal life. It’d be so nice to know that I had someone at home waiting for me to get back, someone who loved and wanted me. Hopefully one day.

In the meantime, I’ll be using this soap daily in hopes of attracting the right person. He’ll be “satisfied with the results!”  😉

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Saturday morning I woke up with diarrhea. I’ve mentioned in this blog before that I have diarrheal IBS – have had it for 20 years and it’s a condition I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

It started after a trip to India when I was 15. We’d been there for the whole summer and on the last day, I shit myself.  I couldn’t even get to the bathroom in time. We’re packing for the plane ride home, mom’s yelling at me (like I did it on purpose) and the whole f’ing family knows. I was SO embarrassed.

And after that, my stomach was never the same (before there had ever been any studies, I KNEW that what happened on that trip was what caused my subsequent IBS.) I have to be incredibly careful when I eat, I’m never sure what’ll set it off  — I can eat pizza one day and be fine, have the same pizza the next day and be sick to my stomach – and have spent more time in my bathroom, cramping and crying and feeling like I’m dying, than I care to admit.

It’s hard to explain to people who don’t understand or have never dealt with it. It’s not just “an upset tummy.” It’s an upset tummy on steroids. It makes me want to die, and half the time I feel like I am – and then I start to pray that I don’t die sitting on my toilet cause that’s not how I want the cops to find me.

It feels like I’m shitting out my insides, and when I’m done, there is nothing in my body. I have no energy and no nutrients and am physically exhausted. All I want to do is lay in bed and sleep until I feel like I can eat again without my body trying to expel everything, but that’s no way to live life, so I push through and do the daily things I would if I wasn’t sick, just usually at a slower pace.

(So… imagine how I felt Saturday night – after the diarrhea, after the workout, after the hike and it’s 7pm and we still hadn’t eaten. I was starving and trying not to be cranky and just H.U.N.G.R.Y.. I mentioned to “the Bod” after the hike that I was tired, and he said, “Maybe you should’ve eaten lunch.” As I said to him, “Yeah, well, I didn’t want to have to shit in the woods so I thought that was a bad idea.”)

Luckily, my friend are all awesome and understand that if I’m gone for 30 minutes at a time, I’m probably sick and it’s best to leave me alone. I’m super open about my bowel issues because I have to be – what’s the most common first date? Dinner and drinks. And I never know if dinner will upset my stomach or not, so I tend to give my dates a warning. It’s not the most romantic discussion to have, but a necessary one when you’re dating me.  I carry Immodium everywhere I go. I’m never without it.

So Saturday, after I’d finished being sick all morning, I decided to still go in for my training session and just ask him to go easy. I found out a few sessions ago that my trainer has Crohn’s Disease, so we’ve discussed our various stomach issues since then.

When I got there, he asked, as he always does: “Hey! How are you??”

And all I had to say was, “My IBS flared up this morning. I can’t do abs today and need to take it easy.”

Him: “Sure, no problem. We’ll skip the endurance stuff, do some easy legs and still get you worked out.”

Awesome. Just awesome.

So then we’re just chatting about weight, how it fluctuates and how we feel about it. I told him that this 10 lb weight gain I’ve had is because, for about 2 years now, my IBS hasn’t been as bad as it was. My body actually is holding on to food and nutrition and although it’s annoying I’ve gained the weight, it’s the first time in 20 years I feel healthy. I’m not starving all the time. I can eat and although I still worry and it still flares up, it’s been far less of an issue than it has been before. I pray it stays this way.

He told me how when he gets his Crohn’s flare ups, he loses a lot of weight and his 6-pack shows even more – which some people find attractive and he hates, because it means he’s sick:

“If my abs are showing that much, it means I’m not doing well.”

And I understood completely because 2 years ago, I came back from a trip to Kenya.  I was sick while there and for MONTHS afterwards, couldn’t keep anything in my body. I would literally eat and shit it out within 10 minutes (and for those who think that’s impossible…it’s not). There was nothing in my system and there was nothing the doctors could do for me.

It was July and bathing suit season and all I heard from everyone was:

“Wow. You look great! Your stomach is so flat!!!”

And there’s nothing I could say but “Thanks” when really what I wanted to say was:

“FUCK. YOU. I CANNOT EAT ANYTHING. I AM TIRED AND HUNGRY ALL THE DAMN TIME. STOP TELLING ME I LOOK GOOD.”

Cause, sure, I may have looked hot – but I was completely unhealthy and not able to keep anything in and tired all the time and not digesting. And  there’s no way to understand how it feels to look ‘hot’ but feel awful, unless you’ve been through it… and he has.

So when he told me how he felt when his abs show, I knew exactly what he meant, and he knew how I felt that even though I may have looked amazing, I wasn’t happy.

And to be able to discuss that with someone who actually understands is rare (thankfully) – but the fact that he’s my trainer makes me even more grateful, because he gets it. He gets my body and he gets my worries and he gets the issues, without being grossed out about it.

The weird part of this is, after those months and months of being sick, something happened and I could almost feel a literal change in my body – whatever was causing my IBS  – it wasn’t/isn’t gone, but it definitely wasn’t the same as it was. I can’t explain it. But I knew when that bout of “traveler’s induced IBS” was finished, there was something different. I knock on wood daily that it stays this way and doesn’t come back the way it used to be.

But the best part of this whole downer of a story is, while we’re talking about this and I’m doing my squats is he looks me up and down, with the ‘extra’ weight on me, and says:

“Yeah. You’re definitely fine. You’ve got nothing to worry about. 80% of the people in this gym would love to look like you.”

Damn. I am pretty sure a few drinks and we could get this thing done. And by ‘this thing’ I totally mean sex. With me. I wouldn’t even comment on how hot his abs are. 😉

 

I was home for two weeks for my brother’s wedding (possible post coming up later… I haven’t decided if I’m going to write about it yet) and on the way down, my sister and the kids came to my place and we drove home together.

8.5 hours with 2 kids aged 6 and 4. It wasn’t that bad actually. They were awake till the Florida border, and then both passed out till we got home. For the first half of the ride though, we chatted, we played “I spy” games and told the WORST knock knock jokes ever:

Knock Knock?
Who’s there?
Atch.
Atch-who?
Bless you!

Ha. Yeah, about 4 hours of that. It was awesome.

But after the wedding and the fun, my sister flew back to her house on Saturday, and I said goodbye (and my parents both cried) and drove back to Atlanta alone. Just me, my iPod on shuffle and 7 hours on the road (I could eliminate the extra stops needed with the kids).

I kinda loved it. I turned the volume up, sang my heart out and went through a race of memories that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. And then, when I heard a specific song, it all came flooding back like that instant had just happened  – the good and the not so good:

Adele’s “Don’t You Remember” made me think of British and how I would just bawl, even before we ended, because of never knowing what he was thinking. I didn’t cry when I heard it yesterday, but the pain was palpable still. It just transported me back to those feelings of uncertainty and heartache.

U2’s “Bad” reminded me of my first love – we had such an amazing time at a U2 concert, and I thought of a friend who sang/danced in the aisle when they played this song. It made me smile thinking about it.

I’ve always really liked The Kink’s “Come Dancing” but now it resonates even more as I get older and see the things I knew in childhood fade away.  I may have teared up a bit. Same with Dixie Chicks “Wide Open Spaces” – especially since I had just bid my parents goodbye.

Eye of the Tiger” (yes, I have that on my iPod and I’m proud of it) reminds me of jogathons at elementary school and this song blaring through the sound system as me and my friends ran around a field.

It’s no surprise that music and emotions are connected – there’s been enough research on that through the years. But it can still be jarring when there’s such a visceral reaction to a song, long after the initial moment ended. I didn’t expect to cry with certain songs, or laugh with others, or have such vivid memories of where I was, who I was with, what I was doing when I heard a song… but I did. And I liked it.

So the flight out of Johannesburg back to Atlanta is about 16 hours. And when you’re stuck in coach, as I always am, any extra room is welcome, especially when it comes from an empty middle seat.

Boarding doors were about to be closed when the flight attendant brought over the missing seatmate. I was annoyed. Not that I wanted him to miss his flight, but just a couple of more seconds and I would’ve been far more comfortable. And let’s face it. I’m all about me most of the time.

He had clearly run for the plane because he was all sweaty and out of breath. And strangely, he was a rather hipster black South African guy. Big green hat, big green glasses, big green jacket. Let’s call him Kermit.

Turned out it was Kermit’s first flight, and he didn’t realize he had to be at the gate on-time. Not an auspicious start to the journey.

In any case, we start chatting and he was heading to Florida to the Scientology center to start his ‘auditing‘. And then it turns out that THEY PAID FOR HIM.  FOR THREE YEARS.

Not only did they pay for his flight, but also his living expenses in FL (though that will just be at their creepy center) and any flights to go home to visit family during that time.

And because I can’t keep my mouth shut, I blurt out: “You know it’s a cult, right?”

And he said that wasn’t the first time he’d heard that.  SO THEN WHY WOULD YOU BE FLYING ACROSS THE WORLD TO CHECK IT OUT?!?!?

Just what the fuck. I’m sorry – and maybe I am super jaded – but I do not believe in the goodness of any religion that willingly pays for flights and housing and upkeep and expects nothing in return. People aren’t like that, especially not ones in cults.

And the thing was, he knew that! He said if anything seemed off, he would just leave. Um… from what I’ve read, I don’t think it works like that, but whatever. So then we chatted a bit and he was actually cracking me up. A few of my favorite quotes:

Kermit: “Do you know TI? He lives in Atlanta.”

Me: “I mean I know who he is, but I don’t know him”

K: “Oh, his wife is really ghetto. Is all of Atlanta like that?”

Me: “Um… well… it can be.” (sort of ashamedly)

Kermit: “Do Americans really think we have lions and shit in the cities in South Africa?”

Me: “Um… well… yes.” (super ashamedly)

Kermit: “You’re really nice. I can’t believe you’re single. I was worried Americans wouldn’t be nice but you’re super nice!”

And then, he says, “It’d be cool if you’d show me around your hood sometimes. Let me meet your girls. I bet their all as nice and pretty as you. How old are you, like 27?”

Me: “Why yes, that’s exactly the right age.”  (I ignored the other request)

And then he told me the funniest thing – he said that they “recruit” a lot in Zimbabwe and pay for the flight over, the visa, everything. But the Zims never show up – the take off from the airport and go into hiding! It’s kind of smart, actually – get everything for free, including a legitimate visa, and then not only not join the “church” but head off into the American sunset and don’t look back.

Good for them.

 

 

What a dumb saying. Riding a bike is SO NOT EASY.

To back up – I was in Swaziland for work the past few weeks. It is a beautiful country. Just beautiful. I had no idea how mountainous and gorgeous it really is (pics to follow).

We had Saturday afternoon free, so my coworker and I decided to climb the little mountain behind our hotel. Remember when I climbed Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh? Yeah… this was just like that. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. How can I go to the gym and kick ass there but when it comes to being one with nature, I feel like my lungs are going to explode?? It’s so embarrassing…

Anyway, we went on a walk/hike to a plateau where I followed behind and breathed so freaking hard, I thought he might have to carry me back down.

Let’s list the people who can climb things (including sand dunes, hills, and small mountains)  better than I can:

1) Children

2) Smokers

3) Pot-heads

4) Old people

5) People with no cartilage in their knees

6) Fat people

7) Everyone

ARGH! IT”S SO EMBARRASSING!!! WHY AM I SO OUT OF SHAPE?!?!!?!?

So then, because this weekend of athleticism was never going to end, we went to Hlane National Park on Sunday. The first thing we did there was take a 2 hour bike ride through the “Impala Section” of the park. The park is set up in parts- they use electric fencing to separate the animals from each other. So think of a bulls-eye – the outer most circle is the impala section, then there’s the rhino and elephant section, and then in the center of the bulls-eye, is the lion section. They swore that the animals didn’t get into the other areas of the park because of the fencing.

This is a country that suffers blackouts. W.T.F. I didn’t really believe them.

Anyway, it’s been at least 15 years since I’ve been on a bike. Possibly more. I have NO desire to ever get on a bike. But my coworker thought it’d be fun and I figured I should try something new, so I said I would do it.

I spent two hours trying not to fall of the stupid bike. I have bruises on my inner thighs cause the stupid seat was too big for me. The bike was also just slightly too tall, so I could only reach the ground on my very tippy toes, meaning I had to fall a bit before I could even catch myself.

Guys… I trip over my own feet. I run into things just walking. HOW CAN I STAY ON A BIKE?

Turns out I can’t, really. I only fell for real once, but that was enough. Just somehow leaned over to the left and down I went. I caught myself, but scratched up my legs, of course.

And do you know how dangerous it is to bike in the bush?!!? There’s fucking Impala poop EVERYWHERE. HUGE PILES. I rode through those and did not fall, thank god. Then, on the side of the dirt roads are thorny bushes. THORNY BUSHES.

I came dangerously close to falling in that. And then what? Airlift to South Africa? I totally pictured myself dying on this fucking bike ride.  And… all I could think of was this video. Seriously. Every damn herd of impala we passed (and monkeys) I thought one was just going to clip me. I couldn’t even look around because I was so busy concentrating on staying upright and out of poop, the bush, and embarrassment.

AND… what if there was a lion in the area?!!? I WAS LITERALLY MEALS ON WHEELS. Literally. Was I going to out-ride a lion? NO. I was not.

BUT! Miracle of miracles! I FINISHED IT! With only some bruises and scratches and SUPER SORE LEGS to show for it! Hell, that’s a win for me.

So we went and dropped our bikes at the front of the park and I asked the guide, “Did you think I was going to die?”

And he goes, with no hesitation, “Yeah.. I definitely did not think you would make it.”

Awesome.

Bikes of Doom

This weekend, while I was battling the animals in urban Atlanta (mainly in the form of a frog that hitched a ride with me to the recycling center, at which point I then spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get it off my plastic bag so it didn’t get thrown into the bin and at the same time, not jump on me because I would’ve screamed like a banshee…), I had friends who were off on safari.

So because I’m insanely jealous that all I saw was a frog, and they saw some of the Big Five, I’m posting safari pictures of my own from a 2010 trip to Kruger.  This was one of my most favorite vacations ever, because my family went with me as well — we had the BEST time 🙂

To this day, my mom, dad, brother and aunt will say, “We can’t believe we saw all that!”

Enjoy! (click the first picture to open the gallery)


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