I

Iowa is not a state that comes to mind as a top travel destination in America. Generally, we think about California, Florida, New York, Texas, Colorado…way before we even think about states like Iowa or West Virginia.

To be honest these states don’t have a lot in them. If you are one of those people like me who cross off each state you visit (and by visit I define it as doing something/eating somewhere local, driving through doesn’t count in my book) then like me you probably have hit most of the cool popular ones and like me you probably have a lot of the state’s left that it feels like no one has a reason to go to (I’ve got 20 left!).

But I’ve been to both Iowa and West Virginia. Two states I would never imagine myself wanting to pay to visit, but thanks to my job in college travelling with the football team I got to cross them off.

Not to put down the state of Iowa, which gave us Betty White and sliced bread, or West Virginia, which has some of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen in the fall, but there isn’t much going on.

But I have a few really fond memories of those places, and they are largely due to my coworkers.

In Iowa, we got an Uber and got a Santa Claus grandpa who was super cool and chill. We also rode a mechanical bull and played water pong (like beer pong but you know with water). And even crazier I filmed in the same room as a guy who a few years later I would be out drinking with in Alabama because we have a mutual friend.

DT Iowa w Marc and Carly

In West Virginia along with the most comfortable beds at the Sheraton, we thought we saw prostitutes on the corner of a street but it turned out they were just really skimpy dressed girls waiting for a ride, it became an inside joke.

What I’m most grateful for about those trips is that not only did I get to cross off two states off my list, I came out of it with really good memories!

Let me know what states y’all have visited that you thought were super lame but have great memories in the comments below!

 

Y’all It’s Not That Hard To Order Chinese

The other day I was asked if I was single or if I was dating someone. I said I wasn’t seeing anyone at the moment. To which they promptly asked how my skills in the kitchen are, because you know the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

And my jaw about hit the damn floor. Let’s keep my actual skills in the kitchen out of this conversation and talk about this stereotype that all women will win a guy over with her cooking skills.

Maybe in the 50s that was a legitament concern of the man of the house, seeing as how eating out wasn’t common and microwaves being scarce in homes.

But today we can get good food at our fingertips. And it’s not even as hard as it was five years ago. Uber eats will deliver all kinds of stuff to your door.

So what the hell does my or any other woman’s cooking skill have to do with getting a man? Is there some secret meeting once a week where all the single men go and try out all the single womens best casserole and wife them on the spot? Cause if there is count me as single.

Honestly I know a lot of men that can cook, and cook good. My dad is an excellent chef, he takes a basic dish and makes it extraordinary! Don’t tell my mom I said this but sometimes I think he’s a better cook then her (it has to do with that eggplant dish mom, you know the one I’m talking about).

Now hold up here, don’t get your boxer briefs in a twist just yet. Sometimes the opposite gender can do something better than the one that is “supposed to do it best”.

I have seen some drag queens who could walk the length of a bar in high heals better than I could walk two feet in them.

I’m not trying to put down women who like to cook either, for some women cooking is a great way to show they appreciate their man, or hell they just like to cook and share it with those they love and care about.

But for some of us, cooking doesn’t come naturally, we have other skill sets. Skill sets that extend outside the household.

For some women we want a career and life outside of staying at home. And for others we want to stay at home and take care of our families. I’ve got one aunt who’s a bad ass professor and another who’s a stay at home that makes her kids world a living adventure, and another who has worked so hard to become a home owner of an adorable place without the help of a second income.

Kick ass women come in all shapes, cooking abilitys, and life styles and we should celebrate the heck out of them.

And stop telling young women the best way to get a man is through his stomach, y’all its not that hard to order Chinese.

H

Happy birthday Barbies were a right of passage in our college apartment. Each of us got one for our 21st birthday.

As you can see from the missing shoe, messed up hair, and thrown up sprinkles it was a night that Barbie me would never forget. Or at least one she would sit in the shower the next morning trying to wash vomit sprinkles out of her hair. Don’t judge me, all of us have a Barbie alter ego who has had to wash thrown up sprinkles out of her hair at least once 😉.

Trust me birthday Barbie looks like she had a way crazier 21st then me. I feel asleep as at a bar during my crawl.

Birthday Barbie was always around as a reminder of how much fun we could be having on any regular night. And as you can see we had a lot of fun with drunk Barbie. It was one of those gifts that kept on giving.

We even got the gang back together for our 22nd birthdays.

And as you can tell Barbie us, while still a little bit of a mess, had really gotten their act together by year 22.

Birthday Barbies was probably the best gift I got for my 21st birthday. They always hung out together, spending holidays and all hours together.

As an adult who has left behind her college apartment, life of writing papers and taking 2 hour naps everyday, having my birthday Barbie sit on my shelf as a reminder of that special friendship I had in college is enough to bring tears to this real girls eyes.

G

GMG was a common phrase heard around my college job on Saturdays during football season. I worked as a student videographer for the Mean Green Football team (the university of North Texas) doing coaches video.

As far as jobs goes this one gave me some of my greatest memories during college.

It has been almost a year since I graduated and what seems like a life time since I worked my last football game. Somedays I miss standing up on that tower in the pouring rain, blister heat and frigid wind filming each practice. It’s not the weather conditions I miss but the people I spent time working with.

Over the years many people came in and out of the job, some graduating and others it wasn’t the right fit for.

I met some of my favorite people and good friends during those long days, giving up weekends to work games, and waking up or in a few cases getting home at the crack of dawn.

The adulting life lesson I take away from that job is that sometimes you enter into a world and spend four years not expecting much out of it and walk away with good memories, friends and a whole bundle of life experiences. And as always Go Mean Green.

Pictured below is a group of us at my last home game. More blog post to come on the World of Football.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

It has been really hard for me to blog since last Wednesday. I’ve tried to pick another subject, I even had a Valentine’s day post on my mind. But then the world stopped when I heard about what happened in Parkland FL.

I came out on many different sides over the following few days. I cried over the thought that those kids would never get to the walk the stage as they graduated high school. I cried as I watched the video of Jamie Guttenberg’s dad speak about the fact that he couldn’t remember if he told her that he loved her that morning before she went to school, I cried thinking I couldn’t remember the last time I told my mom I loved her. I was enraged that people on Facebook were making fun of one of the victims parents because he had on a Trump shirt, he just lost his daughter. I was enraged at the thought of the kids who survived having something so pure taken away from them, their innocence. I was unnerved when I heard that a kid brought a gun to Marcus high school, my high schools rivalry. I was unnerved when I heard that four schools in Texas reported kids bring guns to school the next day. I spent a good two days trying to sort out my emotions.

And then I thought back to a movie I watched in a college film class, We Need To Talk About Kevin (WNTTAK). IT was one of those films that leave a scar on you, the kind you can never unsee. It’s not one I lightly recommend people to watch, but if you do watch it then clear your day. It’s a film that I am still two years later processing through. The film deals with a high school massacre, but on a deeper level, it deals with the idea of evil inside of a person. Is it our nature to be evil or are we nurtured to be that way? The film is constantly asking this question and then turning everything you think in every way possible.

I remember after the seeing film that I went home and told my mom, who loves romcoms and generally happy films only, about this movie. I felt that there had to be a way to talk about Kevin, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around how to talk about Kevin. And then it hit me today I think the thing we need to talk about when it comes to kids like Kevin is a combination of nature and nurture.

Each time we have a mass shooting the person holding the gun always seemed to be accused of being mentally ill. But the conversation always seems to steer towards guns. I hear the phrase ‘guns kill people’ and think no people kill people. Whether you believe in the Bible or not one of the oldest recorded acts of murder dates back to Cain killing Abel. People have used cars (July 2016 in Nice, France), knives (London Bridge attack June 2017), planes (9/11), homemade bombs (Oklahoma City bombing April 1995). The point is that evil will always find a way.

But on the flip side, I don’t think that anyone should be able to get an AR-whatever. I can see the practical reason behind having a handgun, shotguns, rifles, (my first blog on guns: Guns In America) but still, no one has been able to give me a reason that someone needs an AR-whatever as a necessity?

So while I think having access to an AR-whatever needs to be stricter and more controlled I don’t think banning all guns is the answer. Pick up a history book y’all.

Let us go back to the mental illness topic. If everyone one, or close to all, have been deemed mentally ill then it sounds like that’s a good place to start with preventing future mass shootings. Why is that we have turned our backs on helping those that are mentally ill? Is that we think we could be offending someone? Or that if just treat them like every other person on the street that is sane that they will just fall in line?

We as a country have turned our backs on those who need us, we have stopped looking out for the mentally ill and getting them help. We as a country have told every single person they are important and special. We as a country have done this to ourselves. We have handed out trophies to the kids who barely even tried. We have raised our kids on microwavable TV dinners in front of the television. We have let ipads and televisions become our babysitters.

I read somewhere that the average parent only spends 40 minutes with there kids at night. What happened to helping mom cook dinner, and washing dishes with dad? What happened to learning how to set the table properly and learning good conversational skills at the dinner table. What happened to bedtime stories with funny voices form mom and dad teaching us how to blow bubbles in our chocolate milk that we made with Hershey syrup.

We as a country are broken, we have spent so much time trying to make everyone feel included and telling each individual that they are special that we are missing when someone isn’t doing okay. Somewhere along the line we stopped paying attention and started letting each other slip through the cracks.

As a country we are at a critical moment, thoughts and prayers are great, but policy and change is what we need. Congress needs to get up off there comfy little asses and put together a plan.

Our children, America’s children are precious, each one of there young lives shouldn’t be concerned less valuable than a stance on guns. Each one of their lives is worth fighting for. Children should be able to walk into a classroom and learn. They shouldn’t have to sit in a seat and wonder if that one kid that was acting kinda weird the other week is mentally stable enough to be in class with them.

Children should have the right to be children. We need to stop putting them in situations that force them to grow up quickly.

We as a people, we as a country can let the victims, most of who were just kids, become another face of the many victims that came before. Or we can start fighting for those who don’t get to have a voice anymore, we can start checking up on each other, and start by changing things in the home. Change rarely starts in a big way. Change usually starts in the small spaces filling up those cracks that have been letting so much slip through.

It is time we had an open and honest conversation about Kevin.

 

F

Food poisoning is like your body literally rejecting everything on the inside of your stomach through every possible method. Add on the fact that you feel like you have the flu, your head feels one million times heavier than it ever should, and you can’t stomach to keep a breath of air down without wanting to vomit back up the air. Didn’t I once say I was a dramatic child? Well, I can be a dramatic adult too.

If you have ever been so lucky to come down with food poisoning then you will know that I am only exaggerating a little.

I had spent the night before playing a Mario Kart racing game at a friends apartment before heading home to my dorm room. It was my freshman year and I was living it up. I had a mini fridge (source one of where it could all have gone wrong), I ate the food at the campus cafeterias (source two), and I had eaten banana pudding at the friend’s place (source three).

If you know anything about my dad then you know that he hates bananas, before this moment I only hated them in solidarity with my dad. Now I hate them because I spent hours throwing them back up.

I don’t really like Italian food, shocker I know, what is wrong with me! I am super picky about where I eat Italian food at. It has something to do with the tomato sauce if it’s not just right then I just ugh. Really unless I am sucking out the inside of cherry tomatoes or eating salsa then tomatoes are not my thing. But I used to be okay with chicken alfredo, well not anymore. I spent hours throwing alfredo sauce back up. Just picture in your mind that white creamy sauce mixed with stomach acid in a toilet bowl, barf.

The school cafeteria food always gave me funny poops so I wasn’t really suspicious about it.

Having food poisoning sucked. I felt miserable sitting in my dorm room bathroom reliving the meals of the day before.

Anyone have a good food poisoning story?

E

East of Eden, to simply put it, is a long damn book. It wasn’t one I read in a single sitting like Of Mice and Men or Tortilla Flat, but one that I read as fast as my eyes would let me.

I picked up the worn copy my dad had given me, the front paperback cover had all but fallen off, the pages felt used beneath my hands and I read the opening line. It wasn’t an overly impressive opening line, all Steinbeck was talking about was topography.

It’s strange to me how I cannot recall the time I read any other works of John Stienbeck, Of Mice and Men being the first. I know the stories and I’ve probably read at the least five of his novels with many more awaiting me.

But I do remember it being late in February of 2016. I had been dumped, that’s another story for another time, and I was feeling unaccomplsihed with myself. I was down about life and needing a win. So what better way then to hunker down with an epic?

I told myself if I could just sit down and finish the book then my life would back into place. Things would just make sense again.

It’s kinda ridiculous to think a book could make the world turn right again. But it did.

It all boils down to one word: Timshel.

Personally I don’t speak Hebrew and I cannot read it. My grandfather is the only person I know who can translate Hebrew. I’ll save you all sometime form having to track him down or find your own expert and go ahead and tell you what it means in english.

Thou mayest. The word Timshel is all about the ability to choose and the ability to triumph. Or at least that’s what the book says. Maybe my grandfather could give me a more intellectual understanding one day?

And while I’m probably straying a little of course with the book, I’m going to relate it back to the time I felt that if only I could make it through that book that my world would make sense.

I finished the book, the worn paperback cover had fallen off, and the used pages had soaked into my finger prints and I cried.

I understood why I was so drawn to that book, I have the ability to choose how I handle the hurt, the feelings of betrayal, and my life being turned upside down. I have the ability to triumph over the past and come out a better me.

Today I leave you with one word of advice to carry with you, Timshel.

Pictured: Me at the John Steinbeck museum. 6 weeks before I read East of Eden.