Sunday, November 1, 2009

pronounced Mob-EEL not Mobile

It was a nice little 8 hr drive from Tampa, FL to Mobile.  We got in a good night’s rest the day before, so we were in good spirits when we left (as well as had a route 44 sized Lemon Berry Slush from Sonic).  We made it up in time for the Halloween festivities where we joined Tommy and his girlfriend Monica for some downtown fun.  Now initially, I thought it would be a grand idea if Toph dressed up as the Travelocity gnome and we’d take pictures of him along the way at certain landmarks.  He laughed...but didn’t take me seriously….little did he know that’s not how I roll!  We went to Walmart and bought red posterboard for his cone hat and 3 yards of blue fabric.  I quickly just fashioned a oversized t-shirt for him (cutting a hole in the middle of the fabric and some safety pins), stuffed a pillow under his shirt, and tied a belt on.  We bought a wig and beard and glued some cotton onto his eyebrows with some eyelash glue.  We were pleasantly surprised with the results from only 1 hr of tinkering in a parking garage...Voila!  The lifesized roaming gnome!  

Everyone wanted to take a picture with him, and Toph was a good sport despite his usual anti-social self.  He liked the anonymity of the outfit and the fact that he didn’t have to smile in the pictures.  Everyone thought he was David the Gnome, and if you are a born in the early to mid 80s child you will know of this show.  It was a cartoon that appeared on Nickelodean during my childhood that taught lessons in virtues.  It was such wonderful childhood memory for myself, and apparently for others (especially when inebriated).  Toph got a laugh from people who thought he was the Travelocity Gnome, but the emotional response illicited from those thinking he was David the Gnome was incredible.  They usually felt compelled to touch him (especially his big pillow belly) and exclaim with such heartfelt sincerity “Daaavid the Gnooomeee, I loooved that show”.  Naturally, my anti-"forced interaction" man’s response was a monotonous “I’m not David.” Shattering so many individual’s childhood memories (imagine if Santa Clause told you “F*** Off”).  Oh well.

The next morning, we had Panera Bread with Charlie Higgenbotham, one of my favorite football players from Alabama that now plays for South Alabama.  It was great catching up with him and seeing him in a better place in his life!  We had a great time hanging out with Tommy and his woman and hope to make a trip out to Mobile/Alabama sometime soon! 

Toph, Me, Monica, and Tommy
Gnome Kisses

Saturday, October 31, 2009

On the road again....

We’ve hit the road!  So we spent the week after our “Southern Trip” packing up the apartment he’s inhabited for the past 5 years.  He thought that he could pack everything up in his 2 bedroom (1 bedroom really) apartment in 2 days, I thought he was crazy…and was right.  I’m notorious for living in 5 different states in less than 18 months, so believe me; I know a thing or two about packing.  We ended up staying an extra 3 or 4 days because of how long it took us to pack up everything.  Granted, things took awhile longer than planned since he went about the right way in packing.  He saved everything (things like old shower curtain rods that I would have thrown away, or the 3rd set of bathmats that were outdated and slightly ragged) as well as took the time to label everything, wrap up everything and place them in appropriate boxes.  There were some moments of tension while moving, but I guess it comes in hand when two people deal with a stressful situation differently and going off of 4 hours of sleep a night!  I think it was a testimony to our relationship on how well we were able to communicate and talk through our disagreements. 

Toph had gotten a climate controlled storage space that was 10x10 feet.  He had measured his big furniture and estimated that we would only need a 7 ½ x10 feet space, but his mom encouraged us to get a 10x10.  Boy, is she a smart lady because is was quite the crowded place when we were through!  I guess I will be very grateful for all the hard work we put in to carefully keeping, storing, and labeling everything when we come back in a couple of years broke, but ready to own a home.

I think it was really surreal for Toph to see the apartment he’s called “home” for the past 5 years completely empty.  I know he’s determined to find his way back to Tampa within the next year, so I guess it’ll be a race to see who gets the better job by then ;).
Once we had everything packed away we finally began our journey, 3 days behind schedule, and on Halloween.  We plan on staying overnight in 4 cities; Mobile, AL, San Antonio, TX, and Carlsbad/White Sands, NM.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Status Update Part Deux!

So here is the 2nd installment of the Recap saga.  This post will cover our trip to Tuscaloosa, AL for Topher’s first Bama football game!  Once again, some of the links are pictures just to keep the blog looking less cluttered!  The next recap will cover our cross country trip. 
So once we got our little rental car we made the drive down to Tuscaloosa to have lunch with one of my teachers and program director.  Usually the drive takes me 45 minutes…but….Topher is a model citizen and drives at the speed limit (even if we’re in a construction zone….with no construction going on).  It took us a little bit longer but we made it to my college stomping grounds!  I was more nervous introducing Toph to Deidre and Jeri than to my own parents!  Part of the reason was because he’s an athlete, and we all know it’s quite the conflict of interest from a professional standpoint for an athletic trainer to date an athlete.  I was frantically telling him while we were ordering our food to emphasize the fact that he has an MBA and has plans to pursue a career outside of being a professional baseball player in the near future.  Needless to say, there was no need, because they liked him and spent most of the time catching up with me and all my shenanigans (Cape Cod League, Miss Taiwanese American Pageant, Swine Flu, etc….maybe one day I’ll get to those on the blog).

Afterwards we made our way over to the athletic facilities where Toph had a chance to “ooo and ahhh” over the multi-million dollar football facility.  It was great to see all the people I worked with when I worked with the team in 2006 (sadly, I was only there for the spring of “two-thousand-Saban”).  He marveled at our training room and the storage room (it’s even larger than the Angels!), and the abundance of free Gatorade products strategically placed around the complex just in case anyone got thirsty again for a couple of bottles in the 40 yards between the bins.  We made a stop by the equipment room where I got to say hi to Tank and my beloved Bear.  Bear was “my” equipment guy when I worked with the linebackers.  I swear, that gig is so good at Alabama (full scholarship, tons and tons of Nike shoes and clothing, sideline passes to top 5 football year after year) that a lot of them stay and get their masters AND doctorates!  Well, Bear was so excited to see me and show Topher around (to the automated sliding 20 foot shelves) that he hooked us up with warm-ups and Topher with several dri-fit shirts to work out in and wear around.  Needless to say, I think that experience helped to make Toph a bonafide football fan.  I showed Topher around the practice fields, and up to the Trophy Hall, where he got to marvel over the 12 national championships and then we wandered over to see the basketball facilities.

We grabbed dinner with my freshman roomie Elizabeth at Dreamland BBQ, which is a must for any person visiting Alabama (my parents used to have me bring some back on the plane when I came home for the holidays), and then caught a late night dinner with Tommy (my man of honor and former senior yr. roomie) and his girlfriend and childhood friend Drew.  It was great that Topher got to meet them, because now he’s met so many of the important people in my life.   We stayed at Todd’s place this whole time, and learned how to sleep in 3 different positions on a L-shaped couch!

Gameday finally arrived the next morning, and Topher got to experience the mayhem of Crimson Tide tailgating!  We headed on out about 4 hours before kickoff, and Topher’s first experience was something I like to call “curb parking”.  Basically, it gets so crowded on campus that you just have to pop a curb and park somewhere on the grass or dirt!  We passed by our famous million dollar tricked out RVs (where they have customized mini-Alabama cars), and Topher couldn’t believe that practically every tailgate had at least one (large flatscreen HD mind you) TV hooked up to satellite so you could watch multiple games throughout the day.  It was a great mix of families with little boys running around in jerseys throwing the pigskin, to young sorority girls in cocktail dresses and high heels (the Greeks dress up for games down here!), and old old men tossing the football with random strangers (one of them got Topher by surprise while crossing the crosswalk, Topher gave him the Northerner awkwardness and that game of impromptu toss ended pretty quickly).  

We walked around the quad and to the bookstore (where he incredulously exclaimed that we brand everything and ANYTHING with Alabama) and then to the front of the stadium where he got to see the walk of champions (aka, the police escort bus of the team to the front of the stadium, where they walk in through the front).  He was impressed by the huge following of fans who come for that and he could see how these guys think they’re Gods….they’re treated like ones down here.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at Rama Jamas, but I was pretty bummed to see that they didn’t have their milkshakes!  It was so packed that we ate on the curb outside of the restaurant, while I shared tales with Topher of how I would sneak back into the stadium after I graduated.  Needless to say, Toph was pretty jazzed by kickoff, and he was not let down.  He got to see a great game (that came down to a field goal block by Terrence Cody with 14 seconds left to keep Alabama’s lead) and sing along to Roll Tide renditions of Sweet Home Alabama and Dixieland Delight with 96,000 of his closest friends. 

We saw Natalie for a little bit, then we had an impromptu trip to the Burke cafeteria (ohhhh hoooooowww muuuucccchh I love that place).  We went and hung out in Barnes in Nobles reading (and being old people) til the traffic died down, and then headed home to a raging black light party at Todd’s (aka club rave Hackberry) where everyone was barefoot and plastered drunk.  We didn’t get a chance to go to bed/"couch" until 4am, and just took Sunday off catching up on rest and correspondances before heading back to Tampa.  I was so proud to show off my school and see what my undergrad experience was like.  It was so much fun and a great opportunity for Toph to meet all the important people in my life.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Status Update Part 1!

Some of the pictures are linked so it doesn't get too cluttered looking on my blog!

So I left for Atlanta a couple days before Topher did, just so I can spend some alone time with my best friend Sarah (aka Bailes).  It was great to do some catching up as well as see what she does in Atlanta.  It has been since May since I’ve seen her, and on top of that she has two new cute little kitties! The day before Topher was to get into town, I helped Sarah babysit a dozen kids ages 2-4.  Only thing I’m going to say about that was that it was the LONGEST 3 hours of my life!  After that we went to the highschool where she works and babysat a football team =).  One thing it helped me decide was that I will never work at the highschool level!  For dinner we met up with her friends and the two girls I went to UVa (and worked at VMI) with who are now located in Atlanta.  It was so great to catch up with all of them and find out what has been happening in our lives since we’ve last seen each other a year ago. 

Topher flew in early the next morning and we rested up before having lunch with Ray Bear who is the strength coach for the Thrashers, the NHL team in Atlanta.  Now Topher is a huge hockey fan, and he was lucky that I had worked with the Thrashers a year and a half ago.  Ray Bear was kind enough to get us tickets to the game as well as a pregame tour of Philips Arena, training room and the locker room.  Not only that, Ray Bear used his connections to get into the Georgia Aquarium for free!  The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world, and it was wonderful to stroll around and stare at the huge Whale Sharks lazily swimming above and around us.  We saw huge groupers that totally reminded me of Topher, which he adamantly denied until I showed him this candid picture that a Quakes Booster had taken of him during a signing session.  Then he had to laughingly admit that I was right, you guys decide for yourself!  

We then strolled around Centennial Park (built during the 1996 Olympics), and lazed about on a park bench next to the Olympic Rings fountain.  We wandered around this sculpture that was apparently supposed to still have remnants of the bombing, but alas we couldn’t find any.  Ray Bear was kind enough to leave us 4 tickets, and since my friends couldn’t make it out, we decided to play Santa and surprise two people with 90 dollar tickets.  Our goal was to find a father taking his young son to a game, but even better, we found this hardcore Thrashers dad who was taking his young 6 or 7 year old daughter to the game!  He was decked out in Thrashers gear, and she was wearing an oversized jersey, hat and Thrashers stickers on her face.  Needless to say, his expression was priceless, and I feel like we made the right choice. 

The Flame Spouting Thrashers was a fav of mine!

We had a fabulous time at the game, even if the Thrashers couldn’t pull out a win versus the Capitols, but it was great to learn hockey from Topher from great seats and soak in the Philips Arena atmosphere.  After the game, we went and watched Paranormal Activity with Sarah, which was scary enough that that night we all slept in a puppy pile in the living room!  Sarah’s kittens were so feisty throughout the night and apparently had clawed Topher’s back so deep that he thought a claw was still stuck in it (couldn’t even find a mark).  I woke up to the sounds of one of the kittens standing on Topher’s chest and batting him on the cheek and nose, to ensure the sleeping giant was indeed dead, and proceeded to curl up on his chest to nap.  It made me fall in love with Toper all over again =)  Aww.

That morning we took a train from Atlanta to Birmingham where we picked up a rental car (since we were flying out of Birmingham).  Now I’ve never really travelled on a train in the States before, but I gotta tell you, it was an experience I’d def do again.  We got to take a nice nap, and enjoy the scenery as it ambled by.  There were also outlets for us to plug in our laptops (or a curling iron!) so we were able to watch episodes of Top Chef and Dexter.  Finally we picked up our Rental Car and made our way down to Alabama!  I’m going to post my Alabama post in a different installment just to break up the post, so stay tuned!
The only penguin in the aquarium!  Blurry.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And the South shall rise again....

It's been about a week since I've written so I'm doing a quick update for the time being.  Pictures will be posted once we get back to Tampa. We're currently in Tuscaloosa, Al recuperating from the festivities of a football game.  We've been to a NHL game as well and the aquarium.  We head back to Tampa tomorrow morning for Monday Moes (of course, naturally).  It's been great seeing so many people and showing Topher my friends and my college experience.  I think he had a great time and is secretly (or not so secretly) jealous of my connections and memories from the University of Alabama.  I promise the next post will be more indepth of all my travels!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tampa Shenanigans

So I've been in Tampa for almost a week and we've been having a lovely time.  Friday night we went to Howl-o-scream, which is a Halloween themed "fright night" that Busch Gardens hosts every year.  Toph and I went with his lil' sister and her friend, and I must say, it was a lot more fun then Knott's Scary Farm!  I had no idea that Busch Gardens was a mix of a "safari zoo" and six flags...they even had Clydesdale horses which are my favorite things at Sea World!  They had 7 houses to walk through and I must say, they did a phenomenal job of scaring us...granted, they had 3 girls to choose from!  We also went on all the roller coasters, and I forgot how exhilarating they are, I loved the adrenaline rush and realize that it's one more thing I was fearless about (like stage fright!).  It was a long night, we didn't get back until 2am, but it was such a fun experience and we can check off another theme park under our belts.  

Saturday we slept in and watched a ton of College Football...I wish Florida had gotten upset by Arkansas, but I did have to root for Riley Cooper, my little Cape Cod baseball player.  He looks so much more badass in a football uni.  Then we headed to Hooters (my former place of work) and watched the Alabama vs South Carolina game.  Needless to say, we won and were in control the whole game.  We went to a bar/bowling alley called Splitsville (was much more high end then it sounds) where we met up with several of his old teammates from Tampa.  It was fun and was really nice to be introduced to his friends.  

Today we went to Mass today (Toph is 1/2 Catholic and 1/2 does that happen??) and I must say, I really really really enjoyed it.  It may have just been because it was a new experience, but it was completely unlike what I had expected.  For some reason, I had expected it to be a very somber, long, and "traditional" ritual, but it was very much like any Christian service I have attended (whether it was Presbyterian, Evangelical, or Southern Baptist).  In fact, it was refreshing because the homily was more to the point and concise then Christian sermons.  Everything seemed much more light-hearted then I expected.  As Tommy understands, there was a lot more Jesus then I had expected! 

After Mass we drove an hour south to Bradenton where another of his former teammate now lives.  Apparently Topher hasn't seen Kurt and Kami in almost two years, and so he was excited to see them, and I was excited to meet them.  They had two adorable Pitbulls and Kami is expecting a mini-Bax in May!  She is a graphic designer and it was great to see her creativity translated into the design and color of their house.  They used a lot of vibrant colors, and while I am usually not a "loud" color person, I absolutely loved it!!  We played Cornhole (ohhhh what a traditional tail-gating game), and then headed off to Bonefish Grill for dinner (gee, I wonder who decided that and was craving Bang Bang shrimp?? ;) ).  It has been a relaxing weekend, and we're probably going to do what we usually do at night, which are surveys, watch sports, and Dexter or Top Chef.  Man we're such old people.  

In a couple days we're headed off to Atlanta and Alabama!   I can't wait to see everyone and show him around and meet my friends!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Land of Citrus and Sand

So it's 5:30 in the morning Pacific Time, but really 8:30 over here in...Tampa!  So much for finally settling down and not moving here and there eh?  But never fear everyone, I'm only out on the East Coast for 3 weeks, and I'm only visiting 3 states (as long as you don't count driving across country).  

I got out here to Tampa on Tuesday, and I must say it HAS been awhile since I've been out here, more than 2 years.  I forgot how disgustingly humid it is.  

It's been nice to see his side of life.  We've had the opportunity to check out his school and meet the important people in his life like his coaches and his beloved Business Advisor.  She's been great in supporting him through a lot of changes and hard times, I understand now why she's such a big part of his life.  We also invited his lil' sister over for a homecooked meal...she was amazed he cooks (me too!).  He made his famous one pot pasta that he got from his momma, and I was in charge of the dessert.  I hoped she had a good time, and tomorrow we're all headed to Hallowscream so that should be exciting.  

I loved seeing where Toph went to school, and it makes me very excited to show him where I went to school, and have him meet all the important people in my life.  We have plans of going to Atlanta and down to Tuscaloosa.  We have so much to fit's so obviously apparant I haven't gotten the traveling bug out yet huh?  Sigh..oh well

In front of "my" sign in Ybor

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It's 9 in the morning on Saturday, and we all know what that entails....College Gameday!  Today is Alabama vs Ole Miss, and I'm ready for the showdown at the Grove.  I miss college football in the South, watching the boys in their blazers and the girls in the cocktail dresses.  I miss singing Sweet Home Alabama and Dixieland Delight with 96,000 of my closest friends.  Now anybody who has known me for more than 4 years can vouch that I had absolutely no interest in Alabama football (let alone college football), and probably went to 4 games total the first 3 years of college.  Then I was assigned to work with them my senior year and was submersed into the world of SEC football.  As grueling as the hours and travel was, I was with my best friends and was a part of something that thousands of people would kill to experience.  I had the best seat in the house (sideline) in sold out stadiums that hold 100,000 people.  I worked with people on a daily basis that were considered Gods by sorority girls and old men alike.  I was privy to a culture that I never knew was so fervent and diehard.  However, I did have to sacrifice a lot of things for it, I never had a weekend off for a whole semester, I spent Christmas in Shreveport, AL (in the ER with an IV due to a stomach flu).  I graduated that following May appreciating what I had experienced, but assuming that I wouldn't care come next fall.  Boy was I wrong.  I sorely missed Alabama football for all it's worth, and I was stuck up at University of Virginia counting down the days til kickoff.  I realized I didn't appreciate what I had til it was gone.  However, I am grateful for the memories created, the people I met, and my nickname "Junebug" will forever be a reminder of two-a-days and gatorlites.


My roomie Tommy and his shenanigans on the busride home from Arkansas
Getting off the bus and making the legends walk, one of the most memorable things 

Just a regular Sat. game

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Straight out of the Movies.......

I know that I've said numerous times that I feel like sometimes the moments in my life feel like a scene straight out of a movie.  It's hilarious to look back on so many moments in my life that make people go "that shouldn't happen in real life".  Since having my most recent "movie moment", I figured I'd share some of the moments from the different genres that encompass my epic movie. 

Setting: {Unlit parking lot of Minor league baseball Stadium in Birmingham, AL; May 2007}
Characters: Me, midget version of Santa Clause wearing a cargo fishing vest w/tin buttons saying "Stop War" and "Fight Racism" (aka MVoSC)

MVoSC: Have you heard of the charity "Locks of Love?" 
Me: Yes... 
MVoSC: Well I'm part of a sister charity called "Little Locks of Love", for the kids know...don't make it.  And so what we do is make little replica dolls of the kids for the parents and we take the donated hair to make the doll's{Takes out a pair of scissors from pocket} all I need is just a couple inches of your beautiful hair.

Me: Uhm, I would love to, but I just got my haircut...but if you have a website I could go to to find participating salons the next time I decide to get my hair cut...

MVoSC: Well here's my number {Scribbles on the back of a 1970's Seattle Pilot baseball card of Donny Murphy}, I'm just going to sit here and watch you from my car until your athletic trainer friend comes out.  

Setting: {Women's soccer home opener, soccer field, Lexington, VA; August 2007}
Characters: Me, fellow Graduate Student from Penn State (GSPSU), VMI Athletic Director (AD), VMI wrestling team

Me: Hey, let's just drive straight across the soccer field in this 14 passenger van loaded down with coolers and ice chests, we only have 30 minutes before pre-game.
GSPSU: Uhm...let's not...I don't even know if it's even a good thing that we're driving along this muddy part...I think you just got us stuck...
Me: problem...I will just get some infield gravel to throw under it for traction...why are the sprinklers on?
AD: Hey ladies, how are things going...NEVER drive on this side of the soccer field, it's in the shade so it's always muddy!  You must have run over the sprinkler system, I have to cut the main water valve here to stop it!  I'm gonna get the wrestling team to help push the van out... 
{Enter 10 VMI wrestlers to get behind the van while I get behind the wheel}
AD: Ok, I want you to slowly step on the gas while we push you out of the trench you created 
Me:  Step on the gas?  Ok {Steps on the gas full throttle}
{Sprays half the wrestling team with mud and gravel}
Wrestling team: "Ow!!"  "Ahh!  I can't see anymore!"  "Uggh!  It's in my mouth!"  "My foot!"
AD: Keep pushing!!  Keep pushing!!

Setting: {Guest bedroom in Diamond Bar, CA; one week ago}
Cast: Me, My Personal Penguin (PP)

{late morning, lying in bed facing each other}
PP: Sigh..what am I going to do with you?
Me: I dunno, what do you want to do?
PP: It's a long list...
Me: We have an hour before we have to leave for your flight...
Me (sarcastic): Wow...long list...well I can guarantee that we get all of that done
{More Silence, I get up to leave}

PP: I want to hold your hand...I want to make you feel better when you have a bad day, I want to congratulate you when you get a new job or a promotion, I want to wake up next to you in the morning, I want to live with you.  {Sigh}  I want to have THE awkward conversation with your parents, I want to propose to you...I want to marry you...{Cue tears}...I want to make you a mom...I want to watch our kids grow up and become successful, I want to grow old with you...and at the end of it all, I still want to be holding your hand.  

With each of these moments I wanted to look around and to see where the cameras and sound crew were hiding.  I loved each of those moments, and I love how varied each of these experiences were.  I realize how lucky I am for having all the opportunities I've been given and being blessed for seeing the humor in everything!  I love having my friends all be a part of all of this and I promise I'll keep letting them "live vicariously through me".  


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So it seems that everybody these days has a blog.  I used to keep one through late highschool and most of college, and it was always great to look back upon it and laugh and cry over all the memories and emotions I have felt and forgotten over the years.  I stopped sometime after I finished undergrad, and failed to continue with the trend.  So much has happened since and it disheartens me that I had stopped.  So this is my attempt to document all the crazy things that occur in my life as well as give my "commentary" and feelings.  Public diary?  To an extent ;)

Since my last post on my xanga blog approx. a year ago, I have been to 19 states and 7 countries, received a Master's degree, had my heart broken and broken hearts as well.  Have met people from all walks of life, changed my own path, have made lifelong friends, and have lost some along the way (R.I.P Nick Adenhart). I have cried with a friend, and laughed with an "enemy", lived on both coasts this year...TWICE, but have finally found a home (and it's a person not a place)

The goal of this blog is to chronicle the shenanigans that make up my life, as well as keep all my numerous friends spread out across the country up to date (a little more informational then a 150 word status update and pictures eh?).  Does anyone really care?  I'm not sure...but apparently my life is better than any season of "The Hills".  I'll probably also have "flashbacks" from the 2 missing years of my life just so I don't forget them as well, and hopefully people would enjoy to contribute to it as well (remember when....)  
I've lived a life I don't regret at all, and have experience multiple lifetimes of events (how does this stuff happen to you!?).  Thanks everyone for reading this....let's start the show...