Tag Archives: travel

Sleep forever and a day *

For my entire adult life, I have experienced sleep paralysis, usually with hallucinations – and not just a random bout, but frequently, often occurring during afternoon naps. I thought this was normal, that everyone had it, and I’d always request that my dating partners awaken me immediately if they heard me make a noise in my sleep, as that would mean I was feeling trapped. Sleep paralysis is as terrifying as it sounds – I have “seen” figures in my room, pulling the sheets off of my bed while I was unable to move.

I’m tired 100% of the time. I can sleep anywhere, anytime, and have fallen asleep during movies, at school, at jobs, and very nearly while driving. Chalked it up to side effects from depression or Gaucher’s.

While we were in LA this summer, we drove down to Redondo to visit my Boston Terrier friend, Tammy and her wife. Through the course of conversation (and a few local beers!), I learned that Tammy used to be a sleep specialist, and it was she who told me that what I was experiencing was definitely not normal. Tammy urged me to get a sleep study done with an MSLT, which I did last month and I was legitimately happy to have a diagnosis. I just started medication and already feel less lethargic and more alert, less cranky & more positive. It’s also nice to be able to say “fuck you” to the ex-boyfriends who thought I was “lazy” because I needed to sleep. 😉

Throughout these past few months, Tammy texted me information, explained the process of the tests, and looked up medications for me. I am so grateful for her knowledge and support, and so lucky to know her. What’s wild about this is that we met through our dogs’ Instagram accounts several years ago – you never know what kind of amazing people will come into your life via the world of social media!

I’m sharing a cool article about sleep paralysis for you to read here, but I’m also going to encourage you do something else. The whole time Tammy was helping me, she was also kicking ovarian cancer’s ass – a fight that’s not quite finished.

Sometimes it’s the kindness of people you may not know super well, or who you’ve only known a short amount of time that can make the greatest impact. Tammy took the time to not just listen, but engage, and support. She didn’t have to do that – we live on opposite coasts and it would have been easy to say good luck and forget all about it. But she didn’t. She stayed present and is the very epitome of present – documenting her experiences through her photos on Instagram, showing us the beauty in everyday life – a cat eating fish on a street in Italy, dragon kites flown at the beach, shadows of palm trees on Union Station. In this way, she forces you to be present. To view what we may feel are our ordinary lives as extraordinary. For me, this is street photography at its finest.

So here’s the thing: Tammy literally gave me free medical advice without having her own medical insurance. It was terminated – without warning – January of this year. While battling stage IV ovarian cancer, and the multitude of repercussions as a result from that – physical, emotional, financial. This is where my ask comes in – a request to join me in showing gratitude for kindness. Gratitude for keeping us present. Gratitude for her joy.

Just click on Tammy, and you’ll know what to do from there. 💙

why yes, I am sunburnt to hell and back

*title taken from the song ‘Night Nurse’ by Dean & Britta.

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This is What Democracy Looks Like

What a wild two and a half months. In January, some friends and I attended the Women’s March on Washington, which was, for lack of a better word, surreal. We were so fortunate so be apart of “herstory,” and hear from many of the people who have stood up for women’s rights throughout the past 40+ years. Here’s a brief rundown of that weekend:

The night before the march, I visited with my dear friend and fellow activist, Christin, and stood in line for three hours  – yes, you read that right – to pick up some souvenirs from a special pop-up shop. The camaraderie in line was incredible – we shared pizza and stories, and drivers honked and cheered in support of us. I was interviewed by a Danish journalist for Jyllands-Posten, and it was pretty cool to hear his perspective. Jorgen had spent some time in Georgia at Jimmy Carter’s home, and was eager to talk about his experiences with the former President. img_0523

After the pop-up, I stopped in a bookstore whose name I now forget, and picked up a copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves from 1972 – hand stapled and everything! The record cafe nearby, Songbyrd, was pretty cool, too, but I resisted the urge to buy any vinyl, due to difficulties getting it back home.

My friend, Bridget, hosted me at her house with her sweet corgi puppers, Pebbles and Skylar, and has the most comfortable bed EVER. She also spoiled me rotten with her amazing cooking! I had to get up pretty early Saturday morning to take the Metro into the city to meet Liz, her daughter, Abby, and their friend, Aleia, and it was none too easy get out of that comfy bed. Nevertheless, I did, and with a bit of trepidation for what the day might bring. The Metro ride was eerily quiet, with us marchers gearing ourselves for the day. Once we hit our stop, however, it was mind-blowing to see the amount of other people getting off with their signs, hats, and jubilance.

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Liz and I had to meet a reporter from my station’s DC Bureau for an interview and in a sea of hundreds of thousands of people all gathering in the same place, this was no easy feat! We found each other and ultimately landed in a prime location for the event.

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Liz being interviewed by Gray Reporter, Peter Zampa

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Gloria Steinem

 

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Angela Davis

Again, we stood for hours. But it was so worth it. We shared snacks and helped each other see better, and supported each other in general. Mid afternoon, we finally began to march. Onlookers cheered from the promenade of the Newseum, and people came from every direction. I cannot stress how many people were there – they took up every.single.street. We opted to stop at the Washington Monument, rather than continue to the White House, as it was already so late and we were pretty much starving at that point. Marchers left their signs on the lawn, and it was a sight to see.

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Exhausted, but fulfilled, we went on the hunt for food and ended up in a Greek restaurant in Alexandria. Every. single.place was PACKED.

I spent the rest of the weekend visiting the US Botanic Garden, the National Women’s Party Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and a brief stop at the National Gallery. I also had the pleasure of meeting my mom’s old college friend and art historian, Peter Lukehart, and had the most delicious lavender hot chocolate ever. My bff, Crystal, and her other bff, Catherine, had come into town and we spent a weird night at an underground goth dance party, because why not? Photos from the rest of the weekend will be saved for another post.

Just when I thought things would be back to normal, a month later, Liz and I found ourselves with Maxine Waters, Jehmu Greene, Tom Perez, Bob Bland, and Howard Dean at the DNC Winter Reception. Saving that story for another blog post, as well!

summer wine

July was wild. It’s my favorite month because we make our annual trip to Hilton Head, the days are rife with summer storms, the gardens are overflowing, and there are many celebrations. This July was particularly full, as we enjoyed the beach, drove into Savannah, toasted a friend’s engagement, and then I flew off to Philadelphia and New York for the DNC and to see two of my best friends. Now that I have a month off from the 2nd of my 4(!) jobs, I will have some time to catch up and actually write! While I get everything in order, here’s a sneak peek through photos of what is to come.

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sunsets at Hilton Head

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sunday morning tea blending

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trespassing through a nearly demolished recording studio in Savannah

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vegan blueberry banana bread

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twilight hour engagement parties

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the shakespeare garden in central park

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celebrating the success of nominating HRC as the first female candidate of a major party

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thrift store finds & birthday surprises

Fingers crossed I can get on a regular schedule here! 😉

 

Food, Glorious Food

I really love food. I mean I really, REALLY love it. While eating lunch, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner. It should come as no surprise, then, that when visiting other cities, meal planning is high on my list of priorities.

While I had some favorites to hit up in Olympia & Portland (hello, Big Tom’s!), I was eager to explore other restaurants. To be honest, I would have been fine with fries and goop from Big Tom’s the entire time, but I think that my traveling companion might have bickered!

We actually spent a good bit of time at the Olympia Farmers Market, sampling all the goodies that vendors were selling. We tried homemade macarons (passion fruit for Travis & me, peanut butter for Peter & Nicole), the delicious homemade sauerkraut, freshly picked cherries, and tayberry & marionberry jams. We got up early one morning to get breakfast there so Peter could try the Cap’n Crunch shake, and I had an enormous vegan breakfast sandwich.

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breakfast of champions

I wish we could have taken home all of the plants, fruits, and veggies at the market. I am going to order some of the tayberry jam from Johnson Berry Farm because it’s just so good! The tayberry is a cross between a Scottish raspberry and an Aurora blackberry, and it’s a perfect blend of sweet and tangy.

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nothing like fresh washington cherries

Once in Portland, I had to take Peter to Sushi Ichiban, where my friend, Ainsley, of Palate Polish, hipped me to their “Eliza” roll last year. I could go on and on about the amount of premium quality sushi that you get for next to nothing, but I won’t since I think I already did that on a post from last year. 😉

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oh, eliza

While I follow a primarily vegan diet, I have a weakness for fancy ice cream. After seeing numerous friends posting about Salt & Straw, I knew we’d have to go. There are, fortunately, several Portland locations, because the first one we went to had a line that wrapped around the block. The second one had a line, as well, but we only ended up waiting about fifteen minutes and it was every bit worth the wait. I tried to convince Peter to get the Fish Sauce Caramel with Palm Sugar flavor off of their Fermentation Series, but he wasn’t having it. Instead, he chose the Freckled Woodblock Chocolate with Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, and I got Honey Lavender and the Sourdough with Chocolate and Cherries off of the June Fermentation menu. I’m looking at the July menu currently, and trying not to cry because the flavors of the Berry Series look amazing. Portland Creamery’s Goat Cheese Marionberry Habanero & Gin Spiced Blackberry Jam and Chocolate Chips? I’m dying. And now, thanks to Salt & Straw, I have been ruined. We got ice cream at Bluebird in Seattle, which was also good, but it just wasn’t the same. I am beyond tempted to join the “Pints Club” and have it shipped to my door…

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honey lavender & sourdough w/chocolate & cherries

While wandering around Portland, we had a light dinner at Maurice, a sweet French & Scandinavian luncheonette named after the owner’s rabbit! The airy, white interior, is filled with a mismatch of tables and chairs, vintage tins & flatware, marble counters, & a fully stocked bakery case of impeccable sweets. It’s the kind of place where you’d pop in for a quick fika break, have a first date, or a dinner party with all of your girlfriends. Peter enjoyed a vegetable risotto while I dined on a cool melon soup and beet & strawberry smorebrod.

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melon soup with crusty bread & tomatoes


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beet & strawberry smorebrod

Because we enjoy the art of dining so much, we drove into Seattle one evening simply to have dinner in Chinatown. Upon entering Ping’s Dumpling House, you feel like you have been transported to a rural Chinese home. The inside looks nothing like what you would expect from the outside – it’s far better. And then there are the dumplings. We were pretty hungry, so we ordered up a feast containing two types of dumplings (mixed vegetable and wood ear mushroom), a large bowl of “almost tofu,” and a giant vegetable steamed bun. All of this was served alongside a pot of hot tea and several sauces with which to dip your dumplings. I don’t think either of us really expected just how many dumplings would arrive – we ended up with about two dozen total! Much like at Sushi Ichiban, we left stuffed while at a bargain price. While I probably wouldn’t buy much from the adjoining market, I would highly recommend the restaurant section to anyone and everyone.

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dumplings for days

The best meal we had, however, came from Nicole. Being able to just sit at their home and eat pasta with our friends, Boston Terriers begging at our feet, was so nice. Nothing beats a bowl of noodles with fresh veggies from the market and a glass of wine!

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mmm gluten

I’m heading back to Philly and into NYC toward the end of the month and have already begun my food research. High on the list are Russ & Daughters, a snack of Peruvian Fries from VStreet, and 35 cent pretzels. If you have any recommendations, please send them my way!

A Song for You

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of the Carpenters. I’ve got most of their albums, am working towards collecting all of the 45s, and have gotten my hands on and read as many books as possible, not to mention seeing all the E! specials, the movies, etc. I have a low singing voice, so I think part of my love for them is due to the fact that I can actually sing along and hit those low notes – gone are the days of me being a 1st soprano!

When googling distances from where I was staying to other areas of California, I realized that I was only 45 minutes from the Carpenters’ house in Downey, and about an hour and a half away from the mausoleum at Pierce Brothers Memorial Park. Since that was pretty close to Malibu, I decided to make the pilgrimage to Karen’s grave and then drive down some of the PCH afterwards. I’m still not exactly sure how to describe the experience.  Their music, as silly as it may sound, has been there through all of my ups and downs, so it was a really meaningful experience to get to “visit” her.

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Karen and her parents are all here

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Pink drumsticks

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it was a super windy day!

One cannot go into the mausoleum, but can peek inside. The marble on Karen’s reads, “A star on earth, a star in heaven.”

While I’ll never get to experience seeing Karen Carpenter, being able to do this was just as worthwhile. Although windy, it was quiet and peaceful, and I sat for a little while, lost in my thoughts. Sure, the drive was a little out of the way, but it was absolutely worth it to be able to thank her for everything she’s meant to me.

And yes, Savanna, I cried.

 

Boston Beach Party

Friends and family asked me if I saw any celebrities in California, and my response was, “yes, the four-legged kind!” Rosie’s Instagram friends are pretty much legendary.

I met up with Jamie, whose pups are Peanut Girlfriday and Butters, and with her was also  Cricket Outlaw Moonshadow, who she was taking care of for the day. When we got to the beach, Coach was holding court, running around and keeping all of the Barktechtives in line. It was so nice to meet Jamie, Tammy, Lisa, and all of Rosie’s friends! Because it was Zoie’s birthday the following week, her momager brought treats for all the dogs, and was kind enough to send one home with me for Ro. It was an all-dog meet-up, but the Bostons definitely outnumbered all the others – about a dozen of them! I Facetimed with Rosie, so she could “attend” the meet-up, too, but she was unimpressed, having been awakened from her afternoon nap. I also Facetimed with Nicole and Travis, so that Lucille and Kumba could take part, as well. It was such a fun afternoon-I’ll let the photos speak for themselves!

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Cricket, Peanut, & Butters

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Hi, Coach!

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Peanut and Butters having a drink

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Happy Birthday, Zoie!

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Ziggie & her momager

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Chunk of nocluelulu putting on his speedo

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Coach is ready for his close-up

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Boston moms unite! (s/o to Tiger’s Den Vintage for my Member’s Only jacket!)

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Jamie & sweet Peanut

So, Jamie is pretty much the best. We went to lunch after the meet-up and I, overwhelmed by so many amazing Bostons, lost my mind and managed to lock my keys in my car. She stayed with me the whole time while we waited for the company to send someone over to unlock it. I can’t wait to see her again and hit up Disneyland for some Dole Whip!

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Barktechtives group photo

Look at all of those beautiful squishy faces! We really are a cult of Boston Terrier owners who just want to hang out together and talk about our dogs – and it’s so much fun! These fur babies are so amazing – they do SUP, surf, ride in motorcycles, are detectives, and all-around sweethearts. Everyone was so welcoming (and tried to convince Rosie and I to move out there!), and I’d love to visit again this summer with Rosie, who, by the way, is also a member of Barktechtives! Newport Dog Beach is really great, and everyone has been working really hard to save it from becoming just another beach. You can help by signing the petition here!

So, did I convince you to get a Boston yet? 😉

West or Bust

Where to begin! I got really lucky in February and found an amazing price on tickets into LA, on which I just couldn’t pass. Double that luck when my parents’ best friends said I could stay with them during my visit! They live right around the corner from Mt. Baldy, which is a simply stunning mountain. Passion fruit smoothie in hand (assimilated quickly to the West Coast!), I headed up the mountain with Jim my first morning to take in some views. It’s pretty amazing to go from 70 degree weather to snow in just a matter of minutes. Aside from the natural amenities, the village of Mt. Baldy actually has a lot to offer, including a Zen lodge, a museum, and restaurant. It’s such a great escape that’s a mere 5 minutes away from the rest of civilization. I wouldn’t mind having that in my backyard!

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view from Mt. Baldy

I spent the rest of the afternoon in Sherman Oaks with my friend, Shannon, looking at pups up for adoption at the local animal shelter, and driving into LA. Shannon and I have been friends since our art department days in college, and it was so nice to get to catch up with her and hear about her plans for the future.

I was eager to find a cute little store I follow on Instagram called Pygmy Hippo Shoppe. It really is the most darling, tiniest shop ever! I picked up a few goodies for my pen pals, a Heinz pickle pin for my pickle-hating boyfriend, and found a pink vintage AKC rosette for my Rosie. This is the perfect shop for finding a unique, one-of-a-kind gift, and fortunately, they are online, too! I’m still eyeing their heart printed rain bonnets…

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just look at those adorable bonnets!

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souvenirs from Pygmy Hippo Shoppe

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mural by Chris Uphues

We drove through Beverly Hills and Laurel Canyon on the way back to Sherman Oaks,  hitting up Melrose, Sunset, and Mulholland Drive, among other notable streets. It had rained a bit that afternoon, and California drivers canNOT deal, haha. It’s like when we southerners get snow flurries and the city shuts down. Bree made the joke that instead of locals running to the store for bread and milk like they do here, they rush out for bread and soymilk. Ha! I will say, however, that California drivers are so great. As long as your blinker is on, they will let you over, and move out of the way to help. While rush hour traffic does suck, they just deal with it and are straight up nice about it.

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Shannon and I getting caught in the rain ❤

I closed out the day with dinner at Loving Hut with Beth, Bree, and the kids. Vegan cheeze sticks, steamed dumplings, & chocolate chip “cheese”cake! Yum! I always knew I’d be able to eat in California!

The next day there was to be a meet-up at the dog beach in Newport. Though it sounds like something I would do, I actually did NOT plan my trip around seeing a dozen Boston Terriers, hahaha. I just got lucky that the first meet-up of the year coincided with the weekend of my vacation, and I was absolutely going to take advantage of it to meet some of Rosie’s friends! Plus, I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to go to the beach and stick my toes in the Pacific Ocean! Get ready for an overload of BT photos….