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Wow. And Why I Love Country Men

Wow. I’ll say it again. Wow.

It’s hard to have two blogs, ya’ll. I’m like crazy busy. Plus I have a full time job I sort of need to go to. And I sort of have lots of work there so I can’t write these bloggy posties when I used to, which was at work, natch. Yeesh. Anyway. Let’s just admit that these posts will be less frequent and less regular and that until I can get some Blog Pepto that’s the way it’s going to be. But hey. Got internet at my new apartment, listening to some country music while thinking about cleaning my kitchen and got all inspired-like. So here we are again. Sorry for the delay, and blah blah blah. Go read what I’ve been doing over here in the meantime.

So. Why I Love Country Men. Why do I love country men? Why does anyone love a country man? Well, I venture to guess there are probably lots of reasons. Toby Keith. Marlboro Man. Brad Paisley. Keith Urban. JK Keith doesn’t count because he’s Australian. Sorry Keith. Foxy-Pants liked them back in the day because of their cute accents. Her fam is from Yank-town so she thought people who said “ya’ll” was like, so quaint.

Because it is. Duh.

Some gals like country men because they are typically big and strong. Duh. Some gals like country men because these gals are country themselves. I guess typically country men and women go together better than like, a country man an a city girl. But this is Amurica and anything can happen.

For me personally, the thing about country men is the way they talk. Not just the accent, but the way they say things and the words they choose to use. Plus the accent. But not the hillbilly kind. Or the redneck kind, though that kind is still amusing, I wouldn’t call it sexy. It’s only for a well-trained ear to distinguish between the three, but in general a country accent still includes smarts and good grammar whereas hillbillies and rednecks mostly don’t include these things. Generalization alert.

Let’s have some examples, shall we?

My number one ultimate country man of the moment is Josh Turner. Is he not just the cutest thing you ever saw! Other than my man the Bear obviously. My favorite song of Josh’s at the moment is All Over Me. Obviously his voice is just killer and anything he sings I would love. I’d probably love a recording of him saying, “today I ate pigs feet,” because seriously that voice. Little Scotty McCreery might have a Josh Turner copycat voice, but he still sounds like a small child compared to this man. Sigh.

Digression. Must focus. So All Over Me. Here are some choice awesome quotes from this song, which I have personally witnessed real live country men saying in real life situations, though not necessarily to me (though wouldn’t it be nice and probs make me faint or at least flutter my eyelashes). I have done my best to spell the pronunciations:

  • “Baby, I’m on my way to come and getcha”
  • “Gurl, lemme lookitchu”
  • “We kin build us a fyre”

I can’t explain why I like this so much. Just something about grown men calling their ladies “girl” even when they’re old and wrinkly that makes me giggle. I was at the outlet mall a while back in Mebane (pronounced “MEH-bin” but almost like one syllable…don’t make the mistake I did and pronounce it like it looks: “me-BANE” …it was awkward) and walked by an old man as he called out to his wife. Man was at the VERY least 70 or 75 years old, wife of the same age. He turned right around and yelled (lovingly of course), “Hey gurl! Getcha goin!” 

I died. Nearly didn’t contain my giggle in time, though I’m not sure it would have mattered. I wasn’t close enough to hear her response but it was a mumbled something and it was probably sassy. These hollerin’ country men obviously find their best match in a girl with some sass.

Not that I’m suggesting anything in particular, just seems to be the case is all.

Other common phrasology which I enjoy includes the following:

  • “I gotchu” – relating to making sure you don’t fall.
  • Not to be confused with “I getchu” which is confirming an understanding of what you are communicating.
  • He cain’t even bait a hook” …do I need to elaborate…(pronounced “huk”)
  • He cain’t even skin a buck” …no, I don’t think I do.
  • Using “truck” in a sentence. Any sentence. Somehow country men saying the word “truck” is much sexier than any other kind of man saying it. Something about the “uuh” part I guess. Or something.
  • “Tires” or more accurately, “tyres” …I don’t know. Talk to me about “tyres” and I’ll probably giggle.
  • “Yes ma’am” …again, no explanation necessary. I wouldn’t mind being called “ma’am” by country men everywhere for the remainder of my days. I would even offer to cook and clean if it was answered by a “yes ma’am” with a sideways grin and wink.

Ok I guess that’s all. Bottom line seems to be that I like country accents. I know you do, too. Even you people who say you “hate country music,” which is sort of like saying you “hate America” (haha…JK) (but seriously, come on, not even at a bonfire or on July 4th?), you know things are just nicer with a country accent. 

Guess I’ll see ya’ll back here (oh btw: “ya’ll” is totally a given, obviously) eventually. No guarantees really. Check me out on my other blog though! Yay!

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Yayyyyy DMV Offices and Bad Drivers!

News flash: North Carolina drivers are the PITS. Like, insanely TURRIBLE drivers. It’s hard to express just how turrible. So many times I see so many things that make me go, “OMG WHAT are you DOING!!!” and other times, “SWEET LORD HOW ARE YOU ALIVE RIGHT NOW!!!” and sometimes just simply, “wow you’re so dumb.” I mean, it’s serious.

A few weeks ago I began the annoying process of changing residencies and becoming an official voting and registered citizen of Raleigh, North Carolina in Wake County. Woowoo! No one likes going to the DMV, and everyone here complains just like in good ol’ VA. Only here it seems more warranted. Because they have a billion different offices. I’m not sure if VA is the same way but I certainly never encountered it. Here’s the deal. If you want a license plate, you go to the license plate office. If you want a license, you go to the “regular” office. If you want some other jank concerning permits, there is yet another kind of office you go to. And I think there was even a 4th category of office which I don’t even remember.

Before you go an argue with me, I have to admit that this SORT of makes sense in SOME cases. Like, if I just need to renew my registration or perhaps do something that will take 5 seconds, I don’t really want to wait in line with the rest of the population of people who have major problems at the “regular” office. BUT in my case, at least at first, it was annoying. Because obviously I went to the wrong office first, and by the time I got to the right one, the line was 90 people long. No thanks. Dumb.

So I waited a few more days and then attempted once again to be at the DMV office (the “regular” one, which I was assured was the correct one) before it opens so as to secure a decent spot in line. At 8am. Typically I don’t even get up for work until at least 8am, so this is kind of a big deal for me. I do it regardless. I get there at 7:45 and am approximately 15th in line. Not terrible. I wait. I read my Kindle which I had wisely brought with me to pass the time.

Then this grouchy little man comes outside to announce they will be opening momentarily, and begins going through a list of directions. You know, “if you’re an immigrant you must have such and such documents, bladiblah blah.” I am secretly proud of myself because I have brought every possible piece of documentation I could possibly or even probably or even remotely need to obtain citizenship in this state. I don’t want to do this twice. But I still listen because you just never know, and I want confirmation.

And then I hear this: “…and if you’re obtaining an NC license for the first time you must have proof of identification and a social security card. If you do NOT have your social security card, we can NOT help you.”

Guess what I forgot?

I stuff all my documentation, minus my social security card obviously, into my bag and go to my car. Thankfully I live only about 7 minutes from this office and if I hurry I could be back in 14 minutes. As I’m leaving the parking lot, I call my mother to lament my mistake (obviously), and I pass an old man in a mini van before she picks up. He shakes his head at me and I see him say “get off the phone.” I stare him down and tell him to “shut up” because a) I’m mad at myself and b) I know he’ll get my place in line and c) that makes me madder and d) stop judging me for being on the phone because I am e) extraordinarily adept at pulling out of a parking spot quite quickly even WHILE being on the phone so you can f) SHOVE IT.

Heavy sigh.

I make it back in 14.5 minutes and I am pleased to see the line is not ridiculously long so I am optimistic. I get my number and wait and see a lady and then I have to take a test on the computerz. I was sort of nervous. I passed. But…I figured out why all NC drivers are so terrible.

Before I continue, let’s clear something up. Never have I been on roads in which more people press their brakes for zero reason whatsoever than in this state. Seriously. On the interstate with no one in front of you, going 2 over the speed limit: braking. There is the glint of a red light from an airplane flying overhead: braking. Green light: braking. Radio is too loud and it scared you: braking. Someone passes you in the left lane: braking. Abandoned car way off to the side of the road (more common than you might think): abrupt braking.

Is this not extreme? I get being a cautious driver. But seriously. Lay off the brakes, people. It’s going to be ok.

Back to the test.

The test contained 25 questions. Most of them are stupid easy. Like “You are approaching your exit on the interstate. What should you do?” A) Put on your blinker and move into the exit lane.” I mean, I typically don’t even need to read the other answers. And for 90% of the questions, the answer was B. For about 23 out of 25 of the questions (that’s 92%), one of the answer choices was “Press the brakes often.”

Light bulbs go off in my head. Multiple bright ones. Not a single time on any of the questions was this the correct answer. Never. In fact, I’d venture to guess that there is no question regarding correct driving procedure in which this would be a correct or even close to correct answer. Unless the question read something like, “What should you do if you are stopped or crawling in extremely heavy traffic due to an accident or road work?” And even in this case, I can think of much more logical answer choices other than “Press the brake often.”

But this explains a lot. Even though anyone who passes the driving test MUST know that “Press brake often” is not correct for anything, it must be subliminal. Like, well I saw “press brake often” a lot on that test so maybe I should do it a lot just to be sure I’m driving correctly! Or something. If I were a driving instructor, I would probably teach that drivers should avoid using the brake unless it’s extremely necessary. I might even say something like, “you should never use the brake unless you think you might hit something in a second.” Yeesh.

Anyway, it clears things up at least. I feel clarity in my understanding of this species of bad drivers. Now I just hope that by becoming a citizen of the great state of North Carolina that I don’t inadvertently and by accident become one of them. Yikes.

One bonus: I got to smile in my license photo and get rid of my scowling-I’m-a-felon looking picture from VA. That thing was stank.

Kit-Kats and Popcorn, it’s What’s for Dinner

Holy moly it has been a billion hot seconds since we had some new jank out of this jank. And by hot seconds, I truly mean hot. Like, insanely warm and humid. Totally over it. Today is actually quite pleasant in R-town, making me want to leave work early. Too bads.

You know what is the perfect candy treat? A kit-kat. I SUPER love kit-kat bars, though their most recent commercials are insanely annoying, making their little jingle out of the sound of people crunching on kit-kat bars. I mean it’s clever obviously but I can’t stand listening to it. Despite this, I always have an intense craving for one afterwards. That’s effective marketing right there.

Last week I snatched a kit-kat at the checkout counter at Food Lion. Right after I had gone to pilates and been for a run. That’s how I operate. I saved it until after I had my awesomely delicious veggie dinner, and then I only ate half of it. Definitely gave myself a high five after that. So I put the other half of it in the fridge for later. Later turned out to be a whole week later, and if you know me, this is a huge deal because I don’t let candy just sit around. I buy it, it gets eaten pronto. So the other day I got it out after dinner and had half of the leftover half. Strange for me. But I just wasn’t in the mood to finish the whole thing.

Today I picked up the measly little leftover half of the half of it and brought it to work. I rewarded myself just an hour ago with this little kit, and it was SO good. There is nothing better than chocolate and whatever that crunchy bar stuff is they put in those things. It is crunchy but not nutty and the chocolate is delicious. It’s perf. But then I was sad because one tiny little kit (it can hardly be called a kit-kat if there is only one bar instead of at least 2 connecting bars) just didn’t do it for me.

And now I’m sort of sad and wanting the kat to my kit.

You ever have that problem? It’s like, I get so excited for it and then it’s not enough. So then typically I’ll get more of that something and then when I finish stuffing my face I am regretful of not being a little healthier and feel like a heifer. Especially with popcorn.

OMG, popcorn.

It’s totally the worst for me. When I was in high school and working at the neighborhood pool behind my house, I would sometimes run home to get a bag of popcorn and eat it for lunch at the front desk. [I was the check-in desk girl. Not strenuous.] And no, it wasn’t as a side to a healthy turkey sandwich on wheat. It was as my meal. Many times I would have more than one bag a day. But back in those days I was a skinny little metabolism-crazed toothpick so it didn’t matter how I gorged myself.

Good times.

These days I’m not so lucky. Fortunately, popcorn companies are geniuses and now make tiny little “personal” bags of popcorn. UNfortunately, these bags are vastly too small to satiate my cravings and I never buy them. Plus they’re more expensive and I have a roommate and like to share. I’m just trying to be nice. My mom says when I don’t share that my “only child is showing.”

Anyway.

Popcorn is the kind of snack that is mindless. I can put that bag of buttery salty little morsels into a big bowl and eat and eat and eat and not even think about it, until I get to the bottom where all the buttery seeds are and then I have to stop. SOMEtimes, if I’m sharing a bag, I’ll pop 2. Just to be sure we both have enough, you know. But then at the end I feel SO bad. Like UGH I just ate so much. And it’s so filling. And buttery. Yum.

I did read recently in the P-90X newsletter that “popped-corn” has lots of fiber, so woo-to-the-hoo on that one. However, something tells me they weren’t referencing Pop-Secret’s Movie Theater Butter version. Whatevs.

Now I’m going to the vending machine to get some M&Ms because my craving for the kat of my kit is too much to bear. Probs going to have popcorn for dinner too, since I’m thinking about it. Who’s with me!

Holy Rent Check Batman! It’s Louboutin!

I recently went to the most expensive mall in America. I know I exaggerate things a lot, but I’m fairly certain this is a fact, as Bal Harbour Shops have pretty much every designer I’ve ever heard of and some that I hadn’t in its directory. Seriously.

And can I tell you how many adorable couples I saw strolling through the shops, ladies attempting to be nonchalantly perusing the non-sale items, whilst their boyfriend or husband carried anywhere from 2 to 5 bags from previous stores. Or perhaps they actually were perusing nonchalantly and it was just me who was trying not to repeat this scenario too many times: “gosh, these are such cute sanda– HOLY CRAP THESE ARE 1500 DOLLARS!!! THAT’S THREE MONTHS OF LIVING EXPENSES!!!” It’s hard to fit in with the rich and privileged when you’re busing out the “OH MY GAHD”s every 5 seconds at prices and cute things which the lady next to you is wearing and looking to replace because hers are “so last year,” or some such nonsense. Sigh.

I guess technically things out-of-fashion could be called “so this year,” since new collections from anybody who’s anybody are for the Spring of 2015 or whatever. This is not something I comprehend.

I got excited in Saks when there was an extremely long row of shoe racks with bright red signs atop them saying something about “take an additional 40% OFF!” Wow! I thought, 40%! That’s pretty significant. Surely I could find something special for special occasions for myself and not break the bank or become homeless. Plus it is technically still my birthday month and therefore I must deserve a special treat. Surely. I find the size 6’s, as I am blessed with such a perfect shoe size as they always have it and it is always on display. I see an adorable pair of shoes with the red sole, and we all know what that means. Christian Louboutin said once that, “Black soles are for widows, beige soles are for the Milanese, but red soles are for those who flirt and still have time to dance.” Hello, does this not describe me? I am not a widow, not from Milan, and I dearly love to flirt and have often been caught dancing at my desk (since I endeavored to stand at it all day…more on this another time perhaps). Does this not qualify me for some precious red-sole action? I think so. I pick up this single red-soled beauty, knowing that I have only to raise my eyebrows at the help to retrieve its mate to complete my pair, and turn it over casually to glance at the price as I am in the process of bending over to slide my foot into this glass slipper.

Gasp.

I choke for air and think I might faint, while trying to maintain composure and pretend it says 50 cents like everyone else in the store seems to do. I know the average going rate for these things is $800. That means that many are over $800. Let’s review that $800 is over my monthly rent (I’m lucky) and if I lived in a more normal apartment with a normal rent-rate, it would probably and possibly still be at or above my rent (I love Raleigh). That means I’d have to live out of my car for at least a month if I were to trade these shoes for that expense. Could be worth it. I sigh again and put them back on the rack without putting my foot in it. I suddenly feel as if my feet aren’t $1250-clean-enough. Glancing through the rack to two elegantly, yet casually dressed Spanish women doing their best to help our economy, I decide we are not in the same league whatsoever and move on, leaving my dream shoes to some other perfect-foot-sized woman, who perhaps has a higher credit limit than I. I walked out of Saks, resolving to be happy with my trusty Rainbows and DSW sales.

Later I am reflecting on the outrageous prices of all of these boutiques and marveling at how they can stay in business. I look at price tags (if one can even be found) and am shocked and often scoff at the price. The question of “who would pay” such prices is really irrelevant, as the brands wouldn’t have the esteem or success that they do if people didn’t pull out the plastic to make the $1250 red-soled pretties their own. My question is, why? What is it about the red sole that makes them so amazing? Why are they more than my ridiculously comfortable black Also pumps (yes, with a widow-black-sole)? Why can’t I just break out the red nail polish like he did back in the day, and make mine look-alikes? Why do I feel weird at the prospect of buying a pair of hot-pink-soled heels from ShoeDazzle?

The answer is obviously in reverence. Or something. There’s a reason that only Upper East Side high school girls buy prom dresses from Oscar de la Renta, and that Christian Louboutin is known as the most extraordinary shoe designer of his time. If his shoes weren’t amaze-sauce, they wouldn’t be as special. Or something. My reaction to the red sole is evidence that whoever is in charge of marketing for these beauties is doing a good job. This is me giving a raspberry (I’m such a lady) to them for preventing normal gals like me from owning gorgeous footwear like that.

Happy last day of my birthday month!

A rrrrrrrubber biscuit?? And: Tribute to Poppa Pants

I wish once again that I had an audio clip to share with this post. Because the title really isn’t funny unless 1) you’re me, 2) you’ve seen the movie (which I can’t remember…Blues Brothers maybe) or possibly 3) you know Poppa Pants and have heard him say it. Hilarious. My favorite is this exchange: my mother, weary from a day of work or long to-do list around the house, inquires about dinner. “What do we want to have for dinner?” And my father’s enthusiastic response of “A rrrrrrrrrubber biscuit!?!” Giggles ensue.

Welcome, fathers of all shapes and sizes and a very Happy Father’s Day [belated] to everyone and especially my one and only Poppa Pants.

Dads are special people, especially to daughters. Mothers are there to help us grow, nourish us, give us bandaids, and talk about boys. Dads are there to lay down the law and show us how a real man treats women. They teach us how to play sports, in the hopes that we might like Barbies a little less, and play baseball with him more. Or how to properly use a power drill. If we’re lucky, they teach us what a loving marriage looks like. They are our guardians, doing the cleaning-the-shotgun routine at the door when the first boy comes calling. Dads are sort of indispensable. I’m super glad to have mine, because he taught me so much. And is still teaching, despite my new adult status as a 24-year-old. To the good dads out there, daughters are never really adults. We’re always learning, and always one or two or ten chapters behind them in the book of life lessons. And they are always more than glad to teach us, in the hopes that we can skip the painful chapters and get to the good parts. Again, if we’re lucky. And I am.

When I was three, my mother met a man who was really nice, got me awesome stuffed animals, and let me come on their dates. When I was 5, she married this man, and when I was 5 and a half, he became my daddy. I remember asking numerous times when I could officially start calling him “Daddy.” I was excited in that way that small kids get excited about things – purely and not jaded by past disappointments. When it became legally official and we three became a family, I inherited a last name that no one can pronounce or spell, an awesome dog, and a dad that loved me as his own – so much so that we never talk about it. And I don’t mean we don’t talk about it like, “we don’t discuss such things,” or, “ahem, we don’t talk about it.” It’s more like, we just don’t talk about it because it’s not important.

In my family, being a dad is not about sharing DNA, hairlines, or medical history. Though we both have to smile when people say I look just like him. It’s not about passing on the family name, and really it’s not about the name at all. No one can spell it anyway. It’s about love. Daddy has supported me in every single thing I’ve done that I can recall – except anything to do with boys, obviously. He attended swim meets, miserably taking place on weekends from dawn to dusk (looking back, I now hope my kids don’t want to swim…yikes). He attended my tennis matches even though I wasn’t ranked and only got to play fun doubles – but I think he was proud when I was awarded most spirited. Because attitude is everything to him. This is evident in how he embraced raising me as his own, and now as an adult I can say soundly that I am his. In more ways than we can both count.

He taught me how to drive, and now our habits are identical to the annoyance of my mother. He taught me to want certain things, how to choose what I want, and how to fight for the short list and get it, instead of fighting for the long list and getting nothing. “It’s all in the want to,” he’d say, when I “couldn’t” remember things, or “couldn’t” do things. He was also famous for the “you’ll know when you’re older” line, which as we’ve discussed here before is just one of those things. Because it’s true – I am older, and I do know now. I look back and shake my head, laugh, cry, and call him and say, “UGH remember when I was so annoying and did this?!” And he’ll chuckle and not even need to say I-told-you-so. Because he knew that I’d know, and now he knows that I know, and we both know. You know?

As a grown-up I’ve met a few single moms who are out there looking for a man, the baggage of their child or children dragging them down, making them wonder if they’ll be alone forever and if their kids will ever know what it’s like to have a man who loves them proper. Those girls that grow up without dads sometimes come to be known as the girl who has “daddy issues,” the ones who are on Law & Order: SVU – you know what I’m talking about. The strippers, escorts, or girls who get worked over repeatedly by the same guy, or multiple guys. These are the girls who might’ve missed having the heavy and loving hand of a father growing up, teaching them to respect themselves, and how to demand respect from others. These moms should have faith. The Man sent my mother a man when she had a toddler (for crying out loud), and he decided to stick around. And since I had no say in those happenings, I have to say thanks to both of them. Thanks to my mother for being smart and picking him, and thanks to my daddy for picking her back since she came with me, and choosing to be my father and stick around for life. It’s pretty cool.

So on this week after Father’s Day (because I was too busy hanging with my Daddy to write this before), give your daddy an extra hug. Because in spite of what the DNA says, every dad chooses. Thanks to mine, for choosing to be a daddy.

Mother Daughter Cruise Extravaganza 2011 In Review

Last Saturday I returned from a 9 day hiatus vacation and cruise extravaganza with Momma Sassy. We had a FANTASTIC time, to put it simply. The cruise vacation really is one of the best vacations one can take as far as cost, food, quality of service, and fun for the money. Unless you go on a Carnival cruise, then I’d say there are no guarantees. My family is a big fan of Royal Caribbean, and after experiencing my second RC cruise, I’m super hooked as well. This is not an endorsement for RC nor is it a bashing on Carnival. To each his own. Just saying.

This 9 days of ridiculously radical relaxation gave me ample fodder for this publication, but in this first edition of my Mother Daughter Vacation 2011: Cruise In Review, we’ll talk about everything that is completely awesome about cruising and specifically our trip. It’s a long list and there were many laughs but here we go.

The first thing I super love about our cruise: having a suite room with a balcony. Everyone knows that cruise staterooms are ridiculously minute, hardly bigger than the cubicle I am writing this from, plus a bathroom that is basically the size of a port-o-john. Yes, including shower. Pleasant. Some say it’s cozy. Some say it doesn’t matter because you spend almost no time in the room. And some, like Momma and me, say it is totally worth the upgrade to get the couch and extra space and wonderful balcony. We took breakfast on the balcony, and it is the perfect spot to sit and read with a light breeze, giving respite from the searing Caribbean sun. It also provides an escape from all that comes with lounging on the upper decks by the pool, namely loud children, dudes walking around yelling “bar service!!!” far too loudly every 5 seconds (not conducive to napping), extremely large people in extremely small swim suits, and Bob Marley’s greatest hits on repeat (for 9 days…oy). Not complaining whatsoever. The balcony is wonderful. Also gives one a chance to take in the gorgeous sunrise (at 5:50am!) and/or gorgeous sunset from the comfort of your room in undies. Winning!

Next super awesome thing: group dining. The family we sat with at dinner was super awesome. Nothing is worse than taking the risk of potluck dinner mates and end up with duds or bratty children for 9 whole days of dragging dinners. I mean. If you’re not a risk taker, invite your own friends and form your own dinner table. It’s like getting a random roommate at a large university. You never know what you end up with…best friends, or an enemy after 1 meal. Momma and I ended up with new friends, and thanks to Facebook we can keep in touch. How awesome is that. Where would we be without Facebook?? We’d have to exchange emails. Or phone numbers. Or, gasp, snail mail addresses! Then you know we’d never speak again. Good dinner mates always makes for an enjoyable cruise.

Speaking of dinner. And food. This is the other great thing about cruising. Everyone eats. For free (sorry Poppa Pants, I mean included). All the time. As in, 24 hours a day you can order food from any establishment that is open and be charged nothing. Except for room service between 1am and 5am, but something tells me that is not too much of a Debbie Downer. And the other great part about eating all the time? The food is always awesome. And if what you chose to eat isn’t completely the best thing you’ve ever had, they’ll bring you something else. And if that diamond ring don’t shine either, you get yet more food to choose from. One day for lunch I had a crazy craving for potato chips, one of the few items that wasn’t available on the lunch buffet. A server overheard me say it and brought me a plate of corn chips. Awesome. Gracias, Jorge.

And speaking of awesome service. That’s the other awesome thing about cruises, or at least RC. Everyone is SO nice. Our stateroom attendant, Moses (awesome), remembered my name seamlessly after asking only once when he introduced himself. Incredible. Same with our dining room staff. And when I say everyone is SO nice, I mean not a single grouchy worker was encountered. How many times can you say that for a regular hotel? Also it seems like the competency level of people working on the ship is exceedingly higher than other hotel-hospitality workers. How many times can you say you’ve had seamless service by competent workers who were not only nice, but seemed to be genuinely happy that you were there? If you’ve been on a cruise, you’re nodding your head. If you haven’t been on a cruise, then perhaps this is the opinion piece you need to change your mind.

Other highlights from my completely awesome 9 days with Momma: no alarm clock, but feeling so rested by 8:30am, thereby not missing out on all the gorgeous days. Learning to foxtrot with a bunch of newlyweds…I was the man, so that means I probably still can’t foxtrot with my own male partner, but what can I say? We were cute. Reading 7 books in 9 days. Working out 7 of 9 days to keep our girlish figures while consuming 2 to 3 desserts at dinner. Plus 1 or 2 ice cream cones per day. Momma Sassy wins the award for doing P90X 9 out of 9 days of our trip. High five. Finding fellow Hokies at our dinner table. Epic. Finding a whole bunch of fellow Hokies all over our ship. Loves. Getting a tan. Looking super cute for all of our pictures around the ship. Wearing matching dresses for our stroll around San Juan. Having a good hair day 9 days in a row (I know!). Breakfast room service. Cute George Clooney-esque assistant waiter. Rainbow Sherbert for dessert. Meeting the cute singers from the Unexpected Boys (don’t be jeal). Walking out of a horrible comedy/theatrics show in favor of an AMAZING steak dinner. Laughing at a great comedy show. Laughing until we cried at a Love and Marriage Gameshow (newlywed couple and a couple that had been married for 61 years…PRESH and hysterical). Being a little bit drunk after free drinks from a random old Scottish guy. And trying to play Canasta (fail). Thanks Jerry. Towel animals on our beds. Funny pictures with towel animals. Wine involved in many photos. Missing Poppa Pants even though we know he doesn’t really enjoy the heat (and was on his own epic 9 day golfing trip…to each his own). Mommy/daughter time = priceless.

In conclusion: cruising is awesome. 7 days is not enough, 9 is just right though I wouldn’t complain about more, and check back for more cruising hilarity. That’s all.

Raleigh To-Do List…because I love lists!

You guys. I am still alive. I feel like my frequency of posting has sharply declined of late, and I’m here to tell you there is no solution in sight. My life is hunky-dory not super exciting, and I haven’t been to Jason’s Deli to get hit on lately …dude, total flashback to my very first post ever…good times. But I’ve been trying to make life interesting, I swear. Things with my man-friend are going well. Though if they weren’t going well / if we break up, you can be sure I will not be opining about the drama-dramz on this jank. BUT, much like when I moved to California for that brief moment in time, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish and I pretty much accomplished everything. In an effort to enjoy the place I am now calling home as much as the place I never intended to call home, I’ve compiled a list of things I would super love to accomplish maybe in the next year. The tricky part about this is that there isn’t really a deadline like my previous time since I am not moving away after a short 6 months. Very pleased about this, however with no deadline I find myself putting off things I really want to do. So here we go. And even though I’ve marked some things as “done,” you can be sure most of these will be repeat offenders, especially ones that involve food. Duh.

Go to the Raleigh Farmer’s Market (done). Wander the Raleigh Flea Market (done). Run a 5k downtown (June). Try as many Asian restaurants as possible (in progress). Party in Chapel Hill with one of my oldest friends (done). Get swanky and go to Solas (done). Play trivia at Flying Saucer on Tuesdays and lose weekly. Ride the R-Line at least once just because. Try everything at Sitti (in progress). Go to Raleigh First Fridays and watch Roomz kill it with the fire hoop (done). Check out as many galleries and live bands at First Fridays as possible. Hike through Umstead Park (done). Hike through Umstead Park numerous times since there are bunches of trails. Trail running near the Neuse River (done). Eat at Sono on Fayetteville Street. Find somewhere to go kayaking. Visit the museums near the Capitol (done). Get a tour of the Capitol. Walk through the gardens at the NC State Arboretum (done). Check out paintings and sculptures at the Raleigh Museum of Fine Art (done). Eat at Cookout (done, done, and done) . Bike First Fridays (tbd!). Volunteer at the Raleigh Food Bank (done…to be continued). Find the Raleigh Boys and Girls Club. Dine in downtown Apex (done). Tour NC State (done). Tour Duke. Fine Italian dining in Durham (done). Go to Durham Bulls game (done). Attend a play or musical at the Durham Performing Arts Center, or DPAC as the cool people call it. See Alison Krauss at the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary. See Ray LaMontagne and Brandi Carslile at the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary. Go to at least 3 country music concerts. Attend church at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart downtown (done…and yes, Ma, to be continued). Check off things from LivingSocial’s list of 365 things to do in Raleigh. Enjoy breakfast at Humble Pie (done – delish). Take in practically the only view of the downtown city-scape from Boylan Bridge Brewpub while enjoying a flight of their specialties (done). Tour the brewpub, but apparently on on a weekday. Drive the historic district of downtown Raleigh (done).  Eat fancy but extremely delicious BBQ at The Pit. Spend all day drinking Bud Light at the Triangle Beach Music Festival (done, sunburn to prove it).

In addition to all the great things there are to do in Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill, there are some fantastic little towns and cities in this state and I can’t wait to see them and buy some antiques or something. And here they are.

Weekend trip to Asheville. Visit my aunt in Boone. See if Pittsboro is nicer than its name. Explore Apex. Find out if Wake Forest University actually used to be in Wake Forest. Visit Graham, South Port, Sanford, and Smithfield…see if these places are as quaint as they sound. Try to have a celeb citing in Wilmington (are they even shooting One Tree Hill anymore?). Do as the locals do and spend the day at one of the beaches in Wilmington. Try to get to every little town on the Outer Banks, even though they are just as far away from here as they are from Richmond. Go figure. Visit Winston-Salem and Greensboro for more than a day. Taste the wines at all the local wineries…only one I’ve found so far is Iron Gate Farm in Mebane (pronounced MEH-bin, not Mee-BANE as it seems like it would be).

One additional goal I have for the next year is to get my own place of residence. I love living with Roomz and admittedly it is a pretty sweet arrangement at a pretty awesome price, and I love having Roomz as my roomz. She’s awesome. Also I love living 1.5 miles from my office. But in less than a year I would like to be the proud owner or renter of an apartment or condo downtown that I can call my very own. Can’t wait to make this a reality.

So I think I have a pretty decent list for my modest time frame of one year. Any locals please feel free to leave some suggestions in the comments! I’m always looking for new things to do and new ways to enjoy the Triangle. I love living here and can’t wait to cross more things off my list. Feel free to come visit and enjoy it with me!