the nature of the beast

the past few weeks seemed like they were out of a movie. i was overwhelmed with lasts—taking in as much as i possibly could. i was amelie with her hand in the barrel of dried beans at the market. i spent my nights sharing time with all of my favorite people. eating at all of my favorite restaurants for the last time. katie and i sat awkwardly in the kitchen one night surrounded by boxes and cleaning supplies. our chairs were pulled up to a folding tv dinner table covered with our orders from india palace, one of our favorite lawrence spots. in the middle of the mess of boxes sat her record player and we listened to suzannah johannes as we scrubbed the floor we’d all walked on. i have no doubt her haunting voice will bring me back to lawrence in my dreams as i lay on my palette in the deserts of afrika. other nights it will be rusty’s voice, and i’ll be standing back in the replay or the jackpot surrounded by my favorites people drinking boulevard wheat. i’ll probably miss that..

my going away party at harbour was wonderful. all my favorite people filled the tables and i bounced around talking to everyone and giving the tightest hugs i could. i only cried once. lindsey, my old roommate and a best friend, arrived with her gaggle of architects. earlier she had given her final presentation of the project that kept her from going to my goodbye dinner. i got the chance to see the presentation and i had never been so proud of her. i watched the architects drool from speechless open mouths as she revealed more and more research and work she had done. it was amazing. as she began to tear up in the bar i could see she thought she needed me. we had supported each other these past years. talking late on the couch for hours some nights helping sort through each others’ lives. i teared up because i knew she didn’t need me anymore. i had seen her hard work and passion work out—anyone’s dream.

i drove off the next day. my last drive through the flint hills. i had a stack of mixtapes from katie and lindsey to soundtrack the journey.

i slept in my childhood room on the floor for the last time. laying in the position of the bed that once existed. my parents drove off the next day in the uhaul. i’ve been staying with my sister taking dallas by storm. one more day of saying goodbyes in texas.

this is an exhausting business..

nashville weddin

my roommate when i lived in nashville got married the other weekend and i flew out to see it all happen. it was the most beautiful and classic nashville wedding that ever occurred. pretty sure. they had the ceremony on the pedestrian bridge that crosses the cumberland river. the reception was on the rooftop of a building on broadway overlooking all the honky-tonks and bright lights that make up the quintessential nashville. her photographer took some rad pics. i got featured on her blog! maybe she’ll remember me when i ask her to take my wedding pictures.. just kidding.

i am my mother’s daughter

i’m being my mom for halloween. i just received a package with her old glasses in it. i asked her to mail them to me and i’m so glad she still had them. i always remember running into her room after nightmares or because i had an “accident” and she would reach over and put on her glasses. thick red translucent red frames. the lenses are about a 1/2″ thick. it feels like i’m wearing those drunk goggles they have you try on in high school and make you do obstacles in. after this next episode of 30 rock im off to go find some good mom jeans from the salvation army. i looove halloweeeeeeeeen

culture flog. culture blog.

aside from my 9 1/2 hour shift at work, today was awesome. my friend ife* invited me and my friend galo** over for dinner. we’ve been on rotation for these dinners. galo is from ecuador and started us off a month ago with a traditional ecuadorian meal. so authentic his mother probably talked him through the recipe from skype. tonight ife and his wife shanxi*** cooked a nigerian dish. the dish was a colorful plate of pounded yams that looked closer to mashed potatoes—the yams in nigeria are white apparently. the yams were topped with an okra soup with little shrimps and then on top of that was a spicy red tomato sauce which had been tamed down for our ecuadorian friends sensitive taste to any hint of spice. the meal was wonderful. we ate with our hands and washed it down with apple cider and chocolate ice cream. for this we used a spoon. afterwards, shanxi pulled out her accordion and gave us a recital fit for a stage rather than a guest bedroom with an air mattress and folding chairs. i was blown away. her control over each hand playing completely different things left my mouth on the ground and a self deprecating response of how i had just recently mastered rubbing my belly and patting my head at the same time. i was blown away.

we went around talking about our individual short-lived music careers. ife explained the abrupt end of his music career as being the result of a mean music teacher back in nigeria. galo’s mother had signed him up to take a violin class at the conservatory in their hometown in ecuador, but a broken arm from soccer kept him from reaching his full potential and his also-mean music teacher made him play through the pain. my mother had signed me up for violin lessons starting at age 4. at age 8 i told her to quit trying to live her life through me, because i didn’t want to go to practice (and because i watched way too much television, obviously)

ife went on to explain that his music teacher was the reason for everyone in his 8th grade class quitting the music program. the teacher had warned them that if they didn’t pass the big test at the end of the program then they would be flogged. 7 students passed out of all the kids taking music that semester. luckily ife was one of them. apparently flogging was not out of the norm in nigeria. ife further explained girls would typically get hit on their hands. boys on their bum or their calves. galo told stories about how his school had a giant pile of rocks in the schoolyard and when a student got in trouble they had to go outside and count out one thousand rocks before they could come back in.

i come from a family that does belt spankings and mouth washes with soap. none of which i ever got because i was perfect, but also because my dad just told me to cry and pretend when we walked out of my room together after my apparent spanking. oh, yelling was a big one, too.

little did i know that around the world kids were being forced to get caned on the legs, count giant piles of rock, stand in front of the classroom holding their ears and jumping up and down, cutting the long grass in a giant unused field behind the school with a machete, stand with arms out knees bent and tiptoes until their legs feel like jello. and not just for doing bad things, but also for not getting a good enough grade.

if this is still how things are i’m going to have to get creative when i start teaching in africa..

pronunciation guide:




when a weekend is a weekend

my cousin carroll came to visit me this weekend. she’s thinking about going to KU after taking a year off after high school traveling around europe with a performing arts group that does community service works, too. the group is called Up with People. our uncle david did it in the 70’s and apparently still knows people on the board. what a cool experience. i don’t think i could have ever done that—take a year off. maybe for the same reason i dont like to take naps..

anyway, i think i converted her. KU has become a random tradition for my family it seems. my sister came to lawrence because her best friend in college got a full ride track scholarship. following was me, then my little brother. now my cousin. and probably and hopefully her little sisters after. legacy!

i tried to giver her an authentic lawrence/KU experience, whatever that is. we went to rudy’s for pizza and then home for some dawson’s creek on my new projector/surround sound set-up! (new jayhawk and a new dawson’s creek fan, what can i say? i do good work). friday she took the campus tour while i was at work. it was final fridays so we watched another episode of dc and then we went gallery hopping on mass until we had built up an appetite and ate at the new gourmet taco place called esquina. soo good! we got the el jefe. a veggie burrito that has eaten a chipotle burrito. or two. more galleries. more dawsons creek. then at night i took her to the jackpot to see ad astra arkestra.

yesterday was the ku game. my brother’s girlfriend got us a couple tickets so we could get into the game and we used my two ID cards from school and successfully snuck in. mist-rain aside, it was fun explaining the cheers and traditions and rules of football. i haven’t been to a game in years. it all came back like riding a bike. i excitedly pointed out scott on the field playing with the drumline to carroll and my friend we went with. then he dropped his stick. it was my fault i think.

last night we chilled on my porch with sweatpants, long socks and cereal welcoming the cooler fall weather and hanging out with my roommate and our upstairs neighbor. today we had a family lunch with my brother, carroll, my brother’s girlfriend and me. zen zero. yum.

she’s on a plane now back to denver. i hope she loved lawrence like i did when i first visited. man that was such a long time ago..
clif notes

the trip consisted of ten days sailing around the bahamas with my parents following a well known boat race around the abacos islands. at the end of the ten days my parents dropped cresson and i off at one of the main islands where we headed to the airport and hopped on a plane to port au prince, haiti. we were picked up at the airport and taken to st. joseph’s where cress and i planned to help with a reconstruction project for what prior to the earthquake had been a boys home. we ended up getting transferred to their sister organization, wings of hope, in a town outside of the city and into the mountains called fermathe. at wings of hope we worked with kids with mental and physical disabilities helping with classes, feeding meals, maintenance, making faces and speaking broken creole. after breaking all the boys hearts we left with teary eyes to the bus station in port au prince. on the second level front row, we pretended to drive the bus and its passengers across the island to santo domingo. here we said howdy to a fellow tennessean running a hostel in the old town and had dinner at a lonely planet “sure bet” and tasted the national beer, presidente, for the first time. yum!

we headed out the next day to santiago where we met up with our first couch surfer, juliana. we stayed out until 5 am attending a huge annual concert for presidente beer in the VIP section and dancing at clubs afterwards. the next day we took a concho (small van taxi) to jarabacoa. where the hotel we reserved turned out to be closed and our motoconcho drivers (motorbike taxis) decided to take us to a cheap hotel they knew of in the city. bad choice. we pretended to settle in, but instead brainstormed how to sneak out to find another safer, cleaner place to stay the night where we wouldn’t fear for our lives. saved by the iphone we splurged on the tiny hotel 4 blocks down with the most stars and positive reviews. it was the ritz, compared. we told the concierge he was an angel and he blushed and helped us book a rafting trip for the morning. at 9 we were picked up for white water rafting down the yaque del norte river with a group of big hairy russians (minus the tiny blonde model with them). santo domingo followed, our final destination. we couch surfed again with jorge and his awesome family in a perfect spot in the middle of the city. we walked to the art museum and across the city to all the sights, finally seeing white tourists for the first time in weeks. i couldn’t help but stare. we spent the rest of our budgeted money on good meals and souvenirs, ice cream, an independent film and midday drinks in big city cafe’s. we said goodbye to jorge’s family at night and early the next morning we drove through the rain in a taxi to the airport. the entire ride i couldn’t believe the trip was ending.

it had been the longest trip in the world at times, like a rubber band being stretched slow and popping back in an instant. we had been stretched thin physically and mentally. getting kicked out of hostels and the transit of travel had exhausted us, but it had also become our life for the past month. we had snapped to the end of our slingshot adventure. some days had felt like forever—waking up at 6 to work or staying out till 5 to dance. some were filled with tanning oil and 5 hour book reading stints while others were filled with bus rides, kid drool, hammer bruises and last minute changes to the plan. but through every situation we looked at each other and through smirks or smiles we reminded each other,

another day in paradise..


there was a single moment in high school where i knew i was the most happy i would ever be

long overdue

i’m not sure where along this road i started getting so lucky with friends. upon going to high school i had to split from almost every friend i had because of zoning. at this new school i remember being told about how freshman were considered “wall huggers” which i thought was silly until the first week of school happened, and i meekly walked from class to class with my shoulder grazing the red tiles of the hallway walls. everyone seemed huge. like how kids picture medieval times before they go back all grown up. the halls were huge. the kids were huge. and i had no friends.

just as summer was starting after sophomore year, i had a lucky break. i had been the kid who could hang out with every group. i could jump from table to table in the lunchroom and sit at a new desk in each class and be able to joke with the person next to me, but after volleyball practice i headed home and hung out with my parents every night, all night. everything happened on one night. twist of fate. i was hanging out with two friends from class and they got invited to see a movie and said i could tag along if i wanted. of course i said yes. i had nothing else to do. it was time to go to the movie and they both backed out. boy trouble i think. i decided to still go because i knew i would know one girl. when i showed up, the entire row of twenty something seats were filled with the group i would be friends with for the next 7 years. i still love all of them. i really don’t know how i would have turned out without them.

in college it is more like my early years of high school. i have friends in all different groups and interests. through work, school, being around lawrence for too long. it’s amazing how people can be so different whereas in high school you all want to be the same. or at least not stand out too much. in college, standing out it seems is what everyone is aiming for. not necessarily for the attention of others, but subsequent to trying to become who you want to become. unabashed drive to do things.

there’s a forward motion to it. it’s exciting. adventurous even.

a few days ago i went to a going away party for my good friend stu. he has a plan to canoe down the Mississippi river to raise money for his uncle with cancer. he’s been fixing up his boat for months just for this trip, and has been working on relations with the american cancer society. his party was also part photography gallery, too. 60 self portraits. he’s been working on this project for 2 years now. he went around his house explaining each picture, listening to the stories behind them. i had even been present in some of the stories. there’s a picture of stu sitting in a small dark tunnel. one night my sophomore year of college, stu broke his wrist falling 20 feet into a sewer opening. we had been trying to get into allen field house through the underground tunnels. what a crazy night. matt and i stayed up until morning with him eating pizza while the drugs wore off, laughing about his unconscious flirtations with the nurses.

i have the best friends.


unpacking the car

still unpacking the car

walking from the car to the airport

speeding through the airport to get a bagel

getting the bagel