Tuesday, July 27

my summer in youtube videos.

the summer has been about learning and joining new things.
here they are in the form of youtube videos (and no, the last one does not mean i have been learning to grow a mustache):

Sunday, May 16

the birth of inner cow

*a paper from my nonfiction class

“Does this suit make me look fat?” I jokingly asked, striking a Marilyn Monroe-esque pose.

“The cow is not supposed to talk,” Jeanie whispered. “And you’re a cow, so yes you look fat.” I turned to look at my reflection in the restaurant window. Instead of my usual frizzy brown-haired and high school senior self staring back at me, there was a cow—a seven-foot Chick-Fil-A cow, sporting an XXXL t-shirt with the words “Eat Mor Chikin” on the front and back.

Jeanie took me by my cow-mittened hand and walked me out to the dining area—a little mingling with the customers was customary before heading out to the street corner. I always found close encounters with the customers to be the most stressful part of being a Chick-Fil-A cow. Not all kids run with open arms to embrace the large fuzzy cow; a healthy number bury their faces in mom’s shirts, crying and screaming as if I would pass on mad cow disease. There must be a risk for lawsuit in relation to those issues becaus my boss would always stress caution among children.

When kids weren’t running away screaming, they pulled on my tail, hugged my leg, held my hand—parents love to take pictures of their kids with the cow. Everyone crowds around the cow, and the camera goes up. The photographer instructs, “Cheeeeese.” The first night I wore the cow suit, it wasn’t until about the fifth picture I realized: they can’t see me smile.

Four components made up the cow suit. The cow head was rather large—the size of, well, an actual cow’s head—and it was fixed on a base looking and intending to be worn like football shoulder pads. The wearer’s eyelevel came at the cow’s snout level, where there was mesh to allow for limited viewing of the world outside the suit. I could tilt my head back a little bit and look up into the cow head. There dangled a mini fan, much like the handheld ones you’d see moms holding at soccer games. You get used to the constant whirr of it after about 5 minutes.

Next came the body suit. Akin to a fleece footy pajama—but much heavier and more suffocating—this was pulled on with the help of a partner because of a back zipper and the limited range of motion caused by the shoulder pads. Us first shift-ers were coveted because second shift cows had to endure a suit dampened by the sweat of the first. You don’t even want to think about third shift.

Fuzzy cow gloves and furry over-sized cow slip-on shoes finished off the look. The gloves only had four fingers. I never understood this, and my five-fingered hands didn’t appreciate it.

Due to potential health hazards in the cow suit—mostly dehydration and claustrophobia-induced insanity common in amateurs—shifts in the suit were limited to thirty minutes. On the 355 particularly warm days out of the year in Southern California, an ice vest was added to the get-up. This keeps the body’s core temp at a non-lethal level and reduces the amount of sweat released from two gallons to one. And the cow always travels with a partner. That first day, mine was Jeanie.

“Hi cow! Hi cow!” Typically an insult, “Hi cow!’ was the standard greeting from six- to ten-year-olds, and it quickly melted my soul. As did the little girl who pressed my paw to her face and looked up into my eyes: “I love you cow.” When she released my paw, I moved quickly to wipe a tear from my eye. The tear fell untouched, the cow head preventing my actual hand from making contact with my actual face. I must have looked as if I were saluting my audience.

My time in the restaurant ended quickly, and Jeanie led me out to the street corner—Gridley and South, one of the busier corners in Cerritos. As I fumbled in my cow shoes and alternated my entire body from side to side in order to manage the limited peripherals, I realized why partners were important. If a cow fell, there would be no getting up without help.

“Do your thing,” Jeanie spoke under her breath. She seemed embarrassed, but I think she was jealous. I was the one with the hidden identity, and it’s amazing what one can do with a hidden identity. At that moment, I discovered what I like to call my inner cow.

Inner cow was capable of dance moves that I, my bovine-less self, was not: line dancing, thriller, break dancing, disco. They honked—I’d do the moonwalk. They waved—I’d give them the chicken dance. Then it was interpretive dance, ballet, Macarena, can-can. If you can think of it, I probably tried it in that 30-minute time span.

I like to believe that my dancing was awakening the desire for chicken sandwiches in those driving by. Half of me expected to see cars slamming on their breaks, making a quick u-turn and heading in to the restaurant. I could picture a “Cow of the Month” award because I was boosting sales.

But there wasn’t a lot of that. There was more honking. And little kids with their faces pressed against the car windows or sticking their hands out the window to wave.

The suit fit me well. It awakened something in me that didn’t care what people saw. Having a hidden identity was thrilling. If I could arrange it, I would make sure that every person could spend 30 minutes in a cow suit on a street corner.

I wasn’t ready to go in, and I wasn’t overheating just yet, but my shift was up. Jeanie took my hand and led me back to the restaurant. Again I was smiling, and though Jeanie couldn’t see my face, I think she knew: “You enjoy this too much.”

Saturday, May 8

fifth third river bank run

Over 21,100 gathered in downtown Grand Rapids today to partake in a 5k, 10k or 25k. Naturally, there were additional thousands there to spectate--meaning an all in all busy city. Lindsey and I were among the racing thousands, more specifically among those treading a non-metric distance of 6.2 miles. Cold and spitty weather left runners dancing in the minutes before the horn resounded. And even once it did, all of us poised to run were forced walk--shuffle at the most--in the crammed mass of bodies that didn't spread out for at least half a minute. At the first turn we were off, Lindsey jesting, "It's like the running of the bulls!" We quickly found the pace we'd keep as we ran a weave through the city, to the zoo, around some residential zones, across the river--not dropping the steady cadence until we crossed the finish line.

Another one down, and as usual, another one planned--this one a half marathon in South Bend, Indiana.

Friday, May 7

habitat for sanity

After a week of learning light-switch locations, mapping out cupboards and unpacking the final details, I think it is safe to say we are settling in. New neighbors, new commute, new walls, floors and doors--it all came just in time. Monotony (among other things in our last house) was threatening my sanity, and I think this move shook things up a bit.
I've changed my address with the important people (my bank and netflix), and if you don't ever hear from me with a new address notification, well, take that as a hint. Just kidding.

Three days of classes and two papers are all that stand between me and summer. No exams, no studying... I like being a Rhetoric major. As far as this summer goes, though, who knows. Naturally I'd like to go a few new places, but we'll have to see about that. Why is airfare so stinkin' expensive? Aside from a summer course and working at the climbing wall, not too much is planned. Maybe that leaves room for some spur of the moment trips? I think it's about time I visit the Upper Peninsula, or even our northern neighbor, or the east coast, or the northwest.

So if you're in michigan, stop by for a visit and see the new place--it's quite fantastic if I may say so myself.

Wednesday, April 21

climb time

red river gorge, kentucky

click on slideshow to the right to see all the pics

Sunday, April 11

a few pics for a few missed days

sickness, homework and travel kept me from getting a few pics up these past few days--but worry not, for new pictures are here.
these are pictures from a marathon relay some of us did on saturday morning. yes, on the morning of my 21st birthday, i woke up at 5:30am and ran my part (5 miles) in a marathon relay. While many might cringe at such an unorthodox way to celebrate, I loved it--it was a blast. The race was followed by a trip to Ikea--another favorite place of mine that isn't close to grand rapids but was close to our race in dearborn, mi (detroit area). All in all, a fantastic (and tiring) birthday.
lots of martians on the course.
roomies. the runner's high didn't last too long--we are fairly sore today
the team
just under 4 hours!

Tuesday, April 6

today: beginning with 2:35 AM thunderstorm :)

gotta click on it to see it biggerand this is hail--not a bunch of mothballs.
animal crackers from my pops to make me feel better!

Sunday, April 4

april is for adventure

It has been a little quiet in the outdoor adventure area of my life lately. This month, though, I do have a few trips planned.
Next weekend marks a step in to another level of adulthood--my 21st birthday. I will be running in a marathon relay with Lindsey and four others. I find running a race to be one of my top ways to celebrate--tshirts, medals, free sport drinks, competition, buzz, commotion. Love it.
Five days of marching through classes and dutifully showing up to work after race-weekend puts me in a car for an extended amount of time on my way to Kentucky Trip #1. Only 3 days long, the trip is focused on trad leading (climbing). It'll be my first trip to Red River Gorge (a premier climbing spot), so I am stoked.
Surviving another 5 days of routine after that lands me back in the car and on my way to the Red for Kentucky Trip #2... this time a solid 5-6 day trip, it'll be climbing, chilling, camping, and climbing.
The trick is, midst all these trips, i've got articles to work on, papers to write, tests to take, and boxes to pack--May 1st is the big move in day for Lindsey and me. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. A little pre-packing this weekend got me set to just make the move already.
Did I mention the weather has been unnaturally pleasant?
And that I think I am getting sick?

mail time

Thursday, April 1

80s today. and part 2

grand river, downtown grand rapids (one block from where i work).
this is at 12:30pm on a weekday... lunch hour.
grand rapids was voted 6th best fishing city in the nation.


what did we see?
spaceship acorn was inspiring
tiny town was empowering (and in someone's backyard)
giant coffee pot was humbling
paperweight museum was fragile
y-bridge was confusing
jean bonnett tavern was haunted
and hershey town was delicious.

i love these things--roadside attractions. though some of these took some finding. the acorn? randomest thing ever, way back in the farm hills of pennsylvania. it's just sitting on the side of a little road. apparently there was a gift shop, but we missed it.
jean bonnett tavern was an unplanned site. lindsey had picked it out of the hotel information magazine because the menu looked good. but it wasn't just a fabulous meal. it was a historic tavern/bed and breakfast--an old building filled with stories and ghosts. yes, ghosts. check it out here: http://www.jeanbonnettavern.com/ We explored the building after dinner, straining our eyes for supernatural sightings, trying to tap in to a sixth sense. No luck. It was one of my favorite stops though.
hershey, PA: the town that smells of chocolate. we rode the factory tour ride twice, ate the free samples, mingled among chocolate merchandise, and hung our jaws at the site of bowl-sized peanut butter cups and nearly coffee-table-sized hershey bars. life is not complete until you visit hershey town.

Wednesday, March 31

Friday, March 26

pic and part 1

bowling in versailles, ohio.


Road trips. I’m a fan of them.

I like the bump and sway caused by cracks and divots in the road. Occasional clicking of the blinker. A Constant, low roar of tires on pavement drowning out the radio. The radio forever plagued with static—a natural side effect of covering a lot of miles, constantly driving in and out of range of obscure stations.

This particular road trip was from Greenville, Ohio to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

In the back was our bag of fuel, something to the tune of peanut butter, jelly, bread, cookies and juice boxes. In the front, the driver and passenger. Miles of road could go by where the only words spoken were those sung along to familiar songs found on the radio. There was also the casual, “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” …AKA… “I have to go to the bathroom.”

I always like to figure out the tone of the car ride before too many miles go by. Some people like to chat chat chat their way to Chattanooga, others prefer a comfortable silence while snoozing is yet another choice. Asking a single “What if” question is how I tend to gauge what to expect. The chatters will take the question and turn it into a philosophical, soul-searching conversation, the silents respond with an indifferent “I dunno” and/or a shrug, and the snoozers are out before the question is even spoken.

I really don’t mind any of the various types and have myself dabbled in the practice of each of them. The thing is, you’ve gotta know what your dealing with—otherwise you chat up a silent and annoy the crap out of them, you ignore a chatter and scare them, or you wake a snoozer and—well, never wake a snoozer.

“Hey Lindsey. If you could live in any state, which would it be?”

With a tinge of obvious stress (she's not a big fan of these kinds of questions), “I don’t like to think about that. I don’t know.”

“Okay, you just have to live there a year?”


“A month?”


I laughed. I turned up the radio a notch, sat back and enjoyed the blur of farm fields and trees in a comfortable silence. The occasional cow or funny sign would spark a conversation here and there. It was a good car ride.

Thursday, March 25

Tuesday, March 23

acorn spaceship

kecksburg, pennsylvania

*this was only one of today's many exciting stops... stories to come soon.

Saturday, March 20

Monday, March 15

birthdays and barns

line dancing. have you ever tried it?
two weeks in a row now a group of us have gone to the farm museum in coopersville (or cooperstown, i can't quite remember). and yes, i said farm museum--complete with tractors, quilts, fake cows, and pie graphs about corn.
our group excluded, the average age of those who attend is probably around the upper 60s. they've been delighted to have such young'ins around. we've become known amidst the group--the college girls. we're the ones who are a bit more aerobic with our movements, aka we move our hips.
so line dancing. that's what it was until we showed up. the first night, it took a while to pick up on how it's all supposed to work, turning it in to more of "blob" dancing. but by the second week, these girls were old pros. we might not have shiny belt buckles, boots, or hats--but we do have enthusiasm.
. . . .
my buddy lindsey just had her birthday this past weekend. i tell ya, this kid is pretty cool, and it was a blast celebrating yet another year of life completed. i like celebrating the birthdays of other people. so much fun.
. . . .
the internship--not too much going on there, still a lot of the same stuff... writing, writing and more writing.
i'll tell you what... i am ready for spring break. a week of no classes, no work? yes please! hopefully it will still be warm like it has been for two weeks now. i think it's time to bring out the bike, and, maybe, the unicycle.
. . . .
question of the day:
you are eating m&ms one at a time. you get down to the last three. two are blue, and one is yellow. what color do you eat next?
i have a theory about this...

Saturday, March 6

why no post in a while?

i know, it's been forever since i last posted. why is that?
sorry, i've been busy wearing flip-flops and t-shirts, turning my face to the sun, and walking particularly slow. every single day of march so has been warm and sunny, and a glance at the forecast reveals the mercury will keep rising and the skies will continue to stay clear of clouds.
march came and the weather turned a corner--could it be, could winter be over? most shake their head--no, it cannot be. it is but march, and a typical winter brings snow through april sometimes.
i like to hope, though. not that i dread winter; i'm just ready to spend more time outside.

well the sun is only up for so many hours a day--why couldn't i have updated at night? well, i must confess that netflix instant play is to blame for that. more specifically, the bbc robin hood tv series. i shan't begin to go into it though. just know it is my favorite tv show ever (that's right--i used bold print) and i wish to drop out of college and become a common outlaw in robin's band of merry men. i have the sudden urge to learn archery as well. the middle school pe unit wasn't enough. middle school, or high school... i can't remember.

anyway, with only one season left of robin hood to go through, you will likely see a lot more of me on the blog again. and if this early spring turns out to be but a dormant winter, you can surely expect more updates.

Friday, February 26


a new semester, first publications, and a nephew--february was a fairly filled month. funny how that works out, what with it having the fewest days of all the months.

ray andrew galatioto, my nephew, was born today. actually, he was born in japan on february 27 (which was feb 26 here), so we kind of get to celebrate his birthday again tomorrow. he's the first of the next generation in my family, the start of another branch on the family tree. i can't wait to begin fulfilling the new role of aunt.

the march issue of grand rapids magazine went out this week, and it was the first issue my work showed up in. i have heard mixed stories about people's "first publishing" experiences. a week ago my supervisor had actually came to my desk and handed me the issue--she could tell I was fairly excited. my first publishing experience was definitely memorable. seeing my name in glossy print (a few times in this issue) made that spot right below my sternum well up with a kind of thrill. at the same time though, i experienced something i've heard in nearly every other "first publishing" story. looking at my articles, all i could think of was, "i want to do it again, and i want to do it better."

i like the periodical publishing industry--a lot. time to step it up.

Monday, February 15

writer's block

An honest pen is hard to come by. A block often wedges itself between mind and pen. It catches the raw and revealing insight mustered from the core of our being. Until I find a way through it, I am incapable of writing.

No, I am not at a loss for words. Moreover, a million words are wrestling in my conscience at any given moment. I think it’s more a matter of my words being lost—lost, or perhaps cowering in some obscure corner of my thoughts. Clearly, it’s a case of page fright. My reputation—my very identity—is being held up at ballpoint. No words want to be forged under such pressure.

Yet it is a writing exercise like this that reminds me there is no reason to be pun-shy—where there is a quill, there is a way.

Huzzah! I’ve found the gap in the block. It is time to write.

Tuesday, February 9

[live] animal sighting

When the coyote trotted up, all I could manage was a wide-eyed stare. It heard her. “Lindsey. Lindsey. Lindsey, look!” My roommate, who had jokingly howled not but ten minutes earlier, was still in the tent while I melted some snow for hot chocolate. I must have startled it as much as it me—he darted back the way he came. Part of me had wanted to lure him over for a game of fetch; another part of me wanted to run screaming into the tent for cover. Though the coyote was gone, I resorted to the latter, but with more a squeal of delight in the wild I just witnessed.

Wednesday, February 3

dinner time

After 8 o’clock, dinner options dwindle. The pot roast requires too much time, ratatouille takes too much work, and ordering yet another pizza costs too much money. Peanut butter and jelly is a quick fix; however, why have for dinner what was for breakfast and lunch? Most give up by now. Indecision will undoubtedly lead to starvation. That’s when the desperate raiding of the fridge happens; if it can be microwaved in a minute or less, it’s dinner.