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The Scullery Maid Who Went To Belize….

December 3, 2013

“Come to Belize,” he said. “It’ll be fun!”  he said.

As much as I love and adore my friend Steve (Shteeeeeve!) who travels all over the world meeting his many sponsor children and going to exotic tropical locations…a place like Belize was waaaaaaaay out of my league.

Me: a scullery maid and mother who doesn’t know big words and who escapes reality by daydreaming of fairies and castles and talking to squirrels and birds, actually going to a place like Belize? HA!

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Luckily, I have an amazingly open-minded husband who allows me the freedom to be the flittery-adventure-seeking-fae-girl that I am and have my own little getaways from life on occasion (but never have I gone anywhere like this!)….he simply said, “Sure. Go.”

I nearly shat myself.

I got online and messaged Steve and, with my butterflies in my stomach, told him my plane ticket was purchased and my passport had been applied for.

Next thing I know, on November 27th, I’m at the airport on the shuttle bus heading to my terminal!! I thought I was going to vomit from anxiety. It’s a good thing I was paying half-attention to my luggage, as a woman mistakenly grabbed my carry-on bag and began walking off with it like no big deal. I had to flag her down and let her know she had mine while hers was still on the shuttle bus. I then realized I had zero identification on my carry-on bag, and it was black just like everyone else’s. But everyone else had some sort of ribbon or string or brightly colored tag, I had nothing, nor did I have any strings or straps or tags to come up with in a pinch. Savvy traveler, I am not.

What to do?

I looked down at my shoes (a pair of TOMS desert botas) and thought for a split second: Yes! I unthreaded the shoestrings out of them and tied them around the handle of my bag, and that was a good thing, too, as it turned out I was the last group to be loaded onto the plane and my carry-on had to be checked anyway.

Nervously, I boarded my plane to Dallas/Ft. Worth. It had been yeeeeears since I had been on a plane, so I felt like a newborn. I was so terrified while everyone else was so perfectly calm. We taxied down the runway and the big engines revved up and….

..I nearly shat myself.

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Two flights and a 47 degree increase later I was standing in line at the Belize City airport trembling internally at the thought of boarding the little putt-putt Tropic Air island hopper to San Pedro, but that’s when I heard a familiar voice shout out, “Rachael!!”

It was my Shteeeeeve!! I jumped the line and gave me him one gigantic huge hug which held three meanings: adoration, relief, and fear.

From there on out, I followed him around like a little lost puppy dog as he nonchalantly got us both through check-in and security. We then headed to the little terminal as I peeked out the window to see a comfortable-sized aircraft waiting for us….that is…until Steve said “look left”. Next to the big plane was a dust cropper. THAT was OUR plane.

I nearly shat myself.

I pleaded to Steve that we should take the boat, that it would be scenic and fun! But he was not to be convinced; his feet were planted calmly yet firmly in line. He wasn’t budging. Which meant I was getting on that plane whether I shat myself or not.

Blood pressure: 180 over call-an-ambulance.

That itty plane was packed with people. Climbing in was a trick, a 5’11 Amazon woman trying to squeeze into a tin can was quite the challenge. I got a seat next to Steve, thank goodness, because I was stuck to him like glue at this point and any sort of forced separation would have done me in.

We taxied down the runway, made lift off, and it was the scariest ride of my life! I was absolutely ridiculous. Palms sweaty, heart pounding, knees to my chest, too scared to peek down at the view, I really needed to be punched in the face. And then there was Steve who was just sitting there like, “Meh.”

Once we landed, grabbed our luggage and taxi and drove through town towards Pelican Reef Villas, it was AMAZING!

The island life! People everywhere, locals and tourists alike! On bicycles, golf carts, scooters, the hustle and bustle! Dogs wandering about, kids running to and fro, tourists browsing the shops and corner vendors, little restaurants dotted here and there with the most delicious smells of spices wafting into the streets! Flatbed trucks filled with everything from stacks of fresh brown eggs and huge bags of rice to crates of Coca Cola and even bicycle wheels! It was fantastic! I was still jittery from the plane ride, but this was exciting!!

We arrived to our final destination: Pelican Reef Villas, where Steve owns a condo. Once through the outdoor entrance, it opened up to an absolute paradise! Palm trees, the most gorgeous pool I’ve ever seen, and the beach was right there. Right. There.

Our housemates, Debbie and Milton, had arrived several hours before us and had settled themselves in a bit by cooking a much deserved meal from their grueling 14 hour bus ride from Guatemala (wow!). I couldn’t wait to throw my arms around Debbie, I had been waiting to meet her for months! One hug and I was instantly in love! And Milton, what a genuine, sweet soul as well! They made such a cute couple!

While they tidied up the kitchen from dinner, Steve and I went back outside to the bar where he introduced me to the friendliest staff ever at Pelican Reef Villas! These ladies and gentlemen were the most genuinely happy, down-to-earth souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting! I truly believe they weren’t doing it for “show”, either, they were real to the heart. We ordered drinks (Helloooooo Rumpunch!) and then Steve showed me the beach. It was so incredibly beautiful, words cannot express how overjoyed I was to walk along the pier and look down and see the fishies and little swimmy things!

It was so surreal to me, I could not believe I was actually here!

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It was getting late though. The day for everyone had been a long one, and Steve and I were ready for some food and (another) drink. Steve, Debbie, Milton and I walked up the road to a local little restaurant which was totally adorable little shack of a place with little cantina lights at the bar and around the outside! Very relaxed and definitely my cup’o tea! Steve ordered fajitas and he suggested a taco salad for me which was delicious! But the drinks were even better! *giggle*

Drinks, food, relaxing getting-to-know-you conversations: a perfect ending to settle my nerves.

Blood pressure: 116 over “Bartender, una mas, please!”

 

DAY TWO: Rachael Jones, Chicken of the Sea….

I awoke before anyone else, around 6:15-ish. I wanted to see the sunrise so I slipped out secretly to the end of the pier and sat alone with my thoughts. Although the sun was up, it was still incredible, albeit windy! I watched boats go by, and the little fishies swimming below, and a variety of sea birds flying above. I was so giddy!

Milton and Debbie slept in reeeally late (and they deserved it!), but Steve came out to the pier and joined me for a little bit, then we ordered breakfast and just relaxed beachside for most of the morning and afternoon.

I climbed into a hammock for the first time ever and now I am obsessed with hammocks! I seriously thought I would flip right out of it like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, but it was sooo easy and comfy! I lounged for hours, then took a walk barefoot and buried my feet in the sand. White sand! I had never experienced white sand before! It was like fairy dust! So powdery and fluffy! I couldn’t believe it!

Debbie and Milton got up and wanted to go for a swim at the end of the pier. I was nervous, I have never been more than ankle deep in the sea, but I didn’t want to be a total chicken shit, either. So…..I let them go in first, and then I let Steve go in, because I’m nice like that (and chicken), HA!

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It was soooooooo cooooold!!!!!!!!

Steve assured me the weather was the coldest he had felt it this year, which to me, being from the Midwest, felt like summer! It must have been true, as all of the local staff members were bundled up in hoodies and long sleeved shirts as if it were 40 degrees out. Pfffftttttt.

We didn’t swim long, like I said, it was very cold in the water. But also, we needed to catch our boat for snorkeling soon.

OMG. Snorkeling.

I made a very half-assed attempt at it back in the 90’s, but chickened out and climbed back in the boat. I was pretty confident today’s snorkeling trip would be another repeat of 17 years ago.

But….here we go…..

Veteran adventurer Steve had his own snorkeling gear, of course, and I was pleased to know Debbie and Milton were first timers, too! Whew!

Our snorkeling instructor picked us up on the pier in his boat, “Searious”, and whisked us away to a prime spot among a half dozen other anchored boats. There were dozens of snorkelers already in the water, which made me feel a bit better, because…you know…safety in numbers and all that. But I did have quite the giggle at all of the floating bodies butts-up and face-planted in the water.

After Ivor, our instructor, demonstrated how to use the gear for us newbies and outfitted each of us with flippers and masks, he let us drop into the water one-by-one. Except me…I stayed on the boat…terrified. I couldn’t do it. It was like I was sacrificing myself as an offering to the sea. I mean, OMG, there are bitey and stingy things down there!!

But…peer pressure finally got the best of me….so in I went. SPLOOOSH!!!

I was much too scared to stick my head in the water. You see, not only do I have a deep phobia of large bodies of water, I also have a phobia of sticking my head under water. Yes, it’s true. I can take a shower just fine, but I suck at swimming in general and I hate going under water. Hate it. All of that combined with the stuff in the ocean….

I nearly shat myself.

So for quite a while I just floated along, and Steve came up to harass me a bit, so I flipped him off under the water so he could see it nice and clear. Then…curiosity got the best of me, and I stuck my head under water just very quickly. Very, very quickly.

Wait…that was actually kind of neat! I mustered up the courage to try it again…..while also trying to get the hang of breathing through the tube apparatus thingy (yeah, I just said “tube apparatus thingy”, deal with it).

WOW!!! It….was….BREATHTAKING!! It was so clear! And stunning! The fishies! Big ones, little ones, stripy ones and scary as hell looking ones!

The instructor was pointing out a moray eel, and then we saw a sea turtle! I could have died completely happy right then and there! We actually weren’t there for very long, and we climbed back on the boat to go a bit deeper where the rays and sharks were, when I actually thought we were done for the day. NoOoOoOoOoooo……we hadn’t seen the sharks yet!

So our little boat parks itself with more boats, and Ivor takes a bucket and dumps the contents overboard while countless nurse sharks start mauling the water for the chum, flipping over each other like a pitbull fight.

And that’s when he told us all to jump in.

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After everyone was already happily snorkeling along, I sat on the boat, terrified. Again. Steve motioned me to jump, I shook my head no (but say that like “F*ck you!!”). Then the cheering began. Come on, Rachael!!

Now, I did eventually jump in, but not because of a second round of peer pressure. I actually had to pee like all get out, and there was no way I could leave a puddle of yellow in the boat. I had to go in. HAD TO. So in I went.

It was quick, I don’t remember much, but I did look down for a little bit, and saw the rays, and the sharks rolling a big tube of food on the ocean floor. It truly was fascinating, and heart pounding. I was quite relieved to know we weren’t staying there long! Steve brought an underwater camera with him, so he got plenty of photos, even a video! He took photos of my adorable sea turtle, too! YAY!

Snorkeling, for a newbie like me, was exhausting work. I think Debbie and Milton were tired, too. So, after showers and clean clothes, we were ready for dinner and drinks.

The staff at Pelican Reef had prepared a huge Thanksgiving meal for us, and it was delicious!

We ended the evening relaxing in the condo with drinks and a movie, then off to bed we went. I was exhausted!

Day 3: Away to town and sunset sailing!

After breakfast and more relaxing on the beach, we rode the golf cart into town to see the sights and sounds and smell the smells!

First let me just say, the road into town was quite the experience! It is not paved. Not even slightly. After recovering from weeks of rain prior to our arrival, it was muddy and potholey and full of fun! Sure, we had bumpy roads when we used to live on the farm, and I’ve seen some roads similar on Native American reservations before, but those were paved compared to this road!

Steve driving the golf cart was hilarious, and Debbie and I were laughing in between screaming for our lives, then laughing some more. We weren’t just dodging pot-holes, we were also dodging other golf carts, people on bicycles, trucks carrying goods, and taxis.

Holy Jeezus.

We met Steve’s friend, Steve (hey!) for lunch at a quaint little restaurant called Blue Gill..? Blue Cove? Blue something or other, I forget. What a colorful character, he was! He was a real estate agent for much of the island and knew his job well. He also knew a lot of other things well, like how to tell the best stories of things he’s seen and done. It was a very interesting lunch!

We then casually strolled the streets and browsed the vendors, all of the little homemade jewelry and bracelets and handicrafts were so beautiful and interesting! And lo! I spied the cutest little anklet that I just had to have! For 5 dollars, the artist clasped my anklet around me and off I went, I loved it! I was so happy! Steve found himself a necklace, finished up some business at the real estate office, then we headed back to the condo.

Our evening began with a 2 hour absolutely gorgeous sunset sail, complete with drinks and salsa! I chose not to eat the salsa because I was afraid I would vomit all over the side of the boat. With a good fifteen or so people on board, I didn’t want to take that chance. But drinks, oh YES!

I looked up into the stars, the great wide beyond. It was indescribable, and I wondered if my friend Nick was up there (Nick, my online best friend, had passed away just a week and a half before. I had been feeling a little lost since his passing, so I secretly sent up some wishes and kisses to him). It was perfect.

I kept looking up at the sail against the stars, thinking how I had never been on a sailboat before, and now.. here I was. Sailing. And then the scene from “What About Bob” came to mind, and I was doing all I could not to laugh out loud like a total idiot in front of a boat full of total strangers…

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Debbie and Milton were the cutest little lovebirds there ever was in the history of lovebirds, they were cuddling and giggling during the entire sail, and it was just so cute to watch them. It made my heart happy!

The sailboat docked in town instead of at the pier where it picked us up from, which was right by where we had reservations for dinner, so it was very convenient. After we all clawed and fought our way into the bathrooms (we had to pee, BAD!), we sat at the bar to wait for a table (since we found out we didn’t have reservations after all, which was fine, gave us time to drink).

Steve and I ordered “The Best Damn Margarita” while we waited for our other, and I thought it would be no big deal. Just another margarita. But one tiny sip of that sucker and Debbie and Steve almost had to pick my ass up off the floor.

I have never had anything like it before, ever.

I was in love. In love with a drink. Why walk when you can stagger?

And after I finished that drink, I was in love with everyone in the place. So much so that I ordered another, because why stagger when you can crawl?

Debbie and Milton were giggling as we were strolling through town after dinner, and I was swaying from left, to right, then over there, and over here. Surely I didn’t look that ridiculous? (yes, yes I did). Steve had a margarita and a glass of red wine, and he was just fine. But then, he’s Irish.

We searched for a place to partake in some dancing and merriment, perhaps a club-type scene. One of the locals mentioned the dancing scene doesn’t start going until after midnight, and we had to get up and get ready for departure in the morning, so we ended up taking the taxi back to the condo and hung out while Milton mixed us up some drinks. There was no way I could drink another drop, I was about to pass out as it was.

Eventually, my pillow was calling my name, and I retreated to one last night of slumber in Belize.

Belize. I still couldn’t believe it, and it was almost over. *sniff*

 

Day 4: Goodbyes and more laughter…

Debbie and Milton’s taxi arrived to pick them up around 9:15.

Much hugging, a few more group photos, and gifts were exchanged before they left. Debbie bestowed me with gifts! A beautiful skirt and purse from Guatemala!  I nearly cried. Such a beautiful gesture!

Seeing them leave was like taking a part of my heart. I had so fallen in love with them, and they were now driving away in a taxi, but I managed to hold it together.

The best part of leaving that day, for me, was knowing I wasn’t going to have to do it alone! The staff had arranged for Steve and I to fly back to Belize City together (did I tell you how awesome the staff is at Pelican Reef?), and as it turned out, we also had the same flight back to Dallas together! I was beyond thrilled I wouldn’t have to board that puddle jumper alone, or go through security alone, or do any of it alone!

We said our goodbyes to the amazing staff, loaded up in our taxi, arrived at Tropic Air, and began to file in line to board the puddle jumper.

The security lady collecting our boarding passes looked at me and said, “You. Back of the plane.”

What? Why?

Because I’m a freak of nature? Ok I get that but, sheesh.

Steve and I were able to sit together though, which calmed my nerves even thought the ride back was still just as dreadful and terrifying (Chicken of the sea AND of the air!)

Once in Belize City, we had a good hour and 45 minute layover before our flight back to Dallas, so we bellied up to the bar called Jet’s Bar.

And then…I saw him…..the cuuuuutest little dwarfish bartender I’ve ever seen!! And when Steve asked him “Do you have a menu?” his reply was a sharp “Hot dogs!” which sent an uproarious laughter from the bar patrons.

We didn’t order a hotdog, but we did order a few of his Rum Punches. After the third glass before our flight, I was good and buzzed. Steve seemed fine. Jet the adorable bartender wowed the crowd with some fancy moves of the hand with cocktail cups! He was quite the ladies man, too! Along came an older woman (upper 60’s at least) I had met at the condo, Kathy Quinn from North Carolina, who was possibly the coolest older lady I have EVER met. She was a wild adventurous thing, not afraid of anything. She came to Belize to laugh at fear (kayaking, zip-lining, anything she could get her hands on), her energy was strong and nearly zapped my off my bar stool. I hope to some day be more like her, she was quite the character! I gave her a hug, my kindred spirit.

It was time to board our plane to Dallas, a flight I almost didn’t get on because somehow they had put me on standby, but the nice ticket lady was able to squeeze me in on the flight anyway even though she put me back by the shitter.

What is it with putting me in the back of the plane? “Put this freak show in the back!”

Steve had first class seating, and I made sure to flip him off as I passed by his comfy leather chair before I went all the way back to the shitter with the rest of the riffraff. It felt like boarding the Titanic; there’s the 1st class passengers, then there’s……the peasants.

However, I did get the pleasure of meeting Calvin, a guy who actually builds airplanes. His aunt was seated next to him and she confirmed this. He was able to calm my nerves a bit,  except when he told me planes are capable of dropping 200 feet in severe turbulence.

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About a 45 minutes before the end of our flight, I heard someone call out my name. I looked up, it was my dear Steve. My first reaction was, “I thought you first class people had your own shitter?” But he was inviting me to come sit in first class, while he took my seat.

He must have been drunk. I mean, who gives up their fancy shmancy seat like that??

But he insisted, so I climbed out of my seat by the window (which felt weird because my knees had practically been in my chest for over an hour and I was pretty sure a blood clot was forming), and stumbled my way past Calvin, his aunt, and Steve, and made the (loooong) trek to the front of the plane while Steve took my seat by the shitter.

I sat down in his Steve’s seat and people looked at me like “How did she get up here?”

First class! Wow! I did not feel worthy. It was soooo different, and quieter, and roomier, and softer, and nicer, and just… everything. It was a completely different world!

In fact, when the plane landed, I barely even realized it, it felt so different compared to being in my usual 3rd class steerage of the Titanic (ha!). My fear had completely disappeared!!

Once we exited the plane, I waited patiently like a loyal puppy for Steve to get off, and since he would be the last, I was able to wave my goodbyes to several of the people I had made quick friends with, people from the condo to total random strangers from the airport who were also traveling home.

Finally, Steve and I headed to security and….what’s the word…customs? Yes, customs…where they check to make sure you’re not smuggling away parrots and monkeys and llamas and things. (<~~~heh, llamas).

While Steve made it through security just fine, I had inadvertently forgotten to place my credit cards in the bin thingies, so they blocked me and asked me if I had anything in my back pocket (holy crap! They can see that shit?!) I quickly declared, “Yes, my cards, oops!”

I had to have some sort of finger tip wipe down scan and get patted down by a large security guard. Then they let me go. It was all very strange and intimidating, but I survived.

This was it, it was time. Time for Steve and I to part ways and go to our own gates.

You’re not going to cry, Rach. You’re not going to cry, dammit.

The train was coming, so there was only time for a quick hug. That was probably for the best, because any longer of a farewell and maintenance would have had to of mopped my emotional cry baby girly ass off the floor. So, it literally was a hug and run, but I wanted to sing praises for everything I experienced the past 4 days. So many “firsts” I could not and still can not count them all.

I met so many new people, made friends with so many random strangers, even dogs of the random strangers (like the two dogs named “Ala” and “Bama”), did things I never thought I would do, conquered some fears (some of those will still take a while to conquer completely), tasted new cuisine, and realized what a huge, huge world there is out there!!

A huge thank you to my Shteeeeeve for pulling me out of my comfort zone, and to Debbie and Milton and Greg and Lori and Ruth and so many others for putting up with my wild-eyed ridiculousness as I learned new things!

I am absolutely in love with Belize and the genuine sweet nature and simplicity of the people that reside there.

This 3rd class “scullery maid” is ready for another adventure somewhere out there, someday, somehow!!

 

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(photos courtesy of Shteeeeve, since I totally forgot my camera charger! D’oh!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m A Walking Contradiction….

October 10, 2013

Yesterday on Facebook I shared a link on how we should introduce more real woman heroes to our little girls instead of raising them to idolize Disney Princesses so much….today, I’m dying to watch Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid because I LOVED THEM when I was a teen!!!

 

I love Jane Austen and wish I could walk around in Regency era dresses all friggin’ day and talk proper and drink tea and have simple linens throughout my home….today I mismatched two different pairs of rainbow pajamas together because I have a head cold and I love rainbows!!! And I talk about poop. Jane Austen girls didn’t discuss such improprieties.

 

I push for organic and non GMO and sneer at processed food memes on my Facebook, then tell Darin to bring me home Taco Bell because I’m craving greasy non-authentic fast food nachos. I also let the kids have Fruity Pebbles for brekky in the mornings.

 

I am appalled and share memes about animal abuse then tell my dogs how utterly dumb they are. But in a cute way. But isn’t verbal abuse still abuse? Gawd, they’re sooo dumb. “Who’s a dumb doggy? Huh? HUH?  Whooooo’s a dumb doggy? You are! YOU are! That’s right!”

 

I’m an advocate of the Homemade Toy Alliance and Fair Trade and Etsy and Toms shoes and Children International to help support a great cause, then go straight to Zulily and buy that mass market Monchichi because OMG!!!! MONCHICHI!!! And it’s 50% off!!!!! AAAHHH!!!!! *sings Monchichi theme song* (I am also eyeing that Labyrinth plush worm, also. “‘E’llo!”)

 

I want to live in the 1800’s to early 1900’s and I am so romantic about candles and simplicity and garments and poetry and food from those eras, then I absolutely can’t wait for ‘It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown’ so I can pop popcorn and bake Nestle’ choccy chip cookies for The Cheeselings and hug my stuffed Snoopy because it’s what my mother did for me and my siblings in the 70’s and 80’s!! I LOVE THE 70’s and 80’S!!! But, I always have candles flickering no matter what mood I’m in *wink*

 

I think I’m soooo tough and then, “OMG!! Pain!! Ouch! Owie! Ouch! Kiss it for me!!”, or “Lightning!! I’m going to DIEEE!!”.

 

There’s so much more, but these are the ones that made me giggle the most.

 

 

The Dream of the Dolphin…

July 11, 2013

I had a dream last night about a dolphin being held captive in this big aquarium (like one of those you would buy at a pet store, but big enough to fit a dolphin inside of  it, yet only just enough room for it to turn around in).

This poor dolphin was being selfishly displayed in some person’s private collection within their large, expensive home where I was visiting (I think it was a party of some sort).

She was dying a slow death, and she was also pregnant. Panic stricken and heart pounding, I began running through this enormous maze-of-a-mansion trying to locate the owner and plead for the dolphin’s release back to the sea so she could have her baby and live free, but it was sort of a “Great Gatsby” type of thing where the owner lived there, but was never seen. I remember asking someone of the whereabouts of the homeowner, and the reply I received was “It’s ok, the man has a permit, so it’s perfectly legal”, then was given a “Cheer up, chum” pat on the back as if everything was acceptable now.

I woke up sad and heartbroken.

And then, today, in some sort of weird dream-synchronicity, one of my Facebook friends shared a photo from “The Cove”  in my newsfeed, with the caption “Captive is cruel”………

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As much as I would love to swim with dolphins someday (as I blogged about days ago), I would only attempt it with wild dolphins, not captive dolphins. I want them to choose to want to be near me, and NOT because it was a “forced” interaction.

*heart broken*

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLydf0V5S_o

A Little Jog Goes A Long Way….

July 11, 2013

I went for a jog this morning.

Why, you ask, is going for a jog so blog-worthy?

Because when you’re a mother 0f 5, any little break you receive is blog worthy!!!

When I was granted the opportunity for a 20 minute kid-free reprieve this morning……I RAN.

No heat, no humidity, absolutely quiet, a cool breeze coming off the lake, and a few early risers were seen watering their outdoor flora.

I cheerily waved and said “Hi” or “Good morning!” to any who glanced in my direction. A few seemed a little caught off guard that a human being actually spoke to them instead of staring straight ahead at the pavement as most of the joggers around here do. But, when you’re surrounded by children day in and day out as I am, speaking to an adult is a rare treat, even if it’s only in passing.

It was a nice little jog, and I think I’ll do it again this evening!

I’ve realized though, that I think I need one of them thar fancy little hand-held music boxes…IPods, I think they’re called (alright fine, I’m not completely Amish, I do know what they are at least, but I will admit that I don’t know how to work them.).

But I love music, and to have some of my favorite songs on an iPod so that I may “plug in” and escape whenever I like sounds dreamy!

Except I might keep on running and forget to come back… <~~~~OH!

I Ain’t As Smart As I Used To Was…..

July 8, 2013

“I ain’t as smart as I used to was”, my Great Aunt Geneva would declare with a pointed finger at me and my siblings as she leaned forward in her rocking chair.

It was her version of a pep-talk on growing older.

 

Aunt Geneva also used to believe that stars in the sky really did have five points all the way around……(Aunt Geneva was also from Arkansas)…

 

 

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But now, as I am approaching my 38th birthday, those simple words of wisdom (if you can call them that) are beginning to ring true.

 

I really ain’t as smart as I used to was.

And also the old adage, “if you don’t use it…. you lose it.”

 

My brain is mush.

Squishy and hollow.

Dust and cobwebs.

Vacant and void.

Crickets chirping, even.

There’s just nothing there.

“Helloooo??!!!… ‘elloooooooo….’ellooooooooooo….. ooooo??!!! Is anybody there? ….there….there….there..???

 

These past few years, but especially here in the past few days, I have been thinking deep and hard of how ignorant I truly have allowed myself to become.

Now, some of my dearest friends will be quick to shake their fingers at me and scold me with a tender loving but firm “You’re NOT ignorant!” Awww, you’re so sweet, dearest friends! I luffs you!

But no. Really. I am. I admit this.

 

I’ve let myself go, (education-wise) and now, I’m regretting it.

 

In high school, I became lazy. I was a top notch student until my mid-junior and senior year; National Honors Society, GATS (Gifted and Talented), Honors English, and I lived for creative writing, art class and theater class. No other classes allowed my “inner fae child” to be set freeeee!!!

And then…..there was math.

MATH.

MATH.

*dun dun dunnnnnn*

Math was my enemy. I loathed it with every fiber of my being.

 

Now, for most people, when it comes to math, they’re simply like this:

 

confused4

 

Or maybe like this:

 

confused

 

 

But for me, it’s first like this…..

 

 

the-screaming-skull-woman1

 

 

And then the stress of solving a problem settles in, which looks like this…..

 

imagesCA6196FD

 

And eventually and absolutely, this:

 

mind-blown

 

Followed by me being crumpled up on the floor in the fetal position, whimpering and trembling.

I got my first “D” in Algebra in high school, so I gave up entirely for the rest of the year. My record was forever blemished. No university or community college would want me now, so I threw my hands up and went out and started dating dumb boys instead.

 

I’m not even kidding that the fear of math has halted any and all further advancement into any kind of formal studies/college knowing that there’s something out there called…

 

College Algebra, and that I would have to take it.

 

AND PASS.

 

So, I skipped college strictly because of the math part of it (I am not even kidding), and I learned to groom dogs, and that was my career for 17 years.

 

But there’s more to me not getting any sort of college degree; aside from my deep seeded fear of math, there was the deep seeded fear of having any sort of self-confidence in myself to actually become anything in this world. I convinced myself that I was not good enough, that there was always someone out there who could do it better, say it better, write it better, present it better, be it better.

So I shut up, smiled, groomed my dogs, and made my adorable little money that put gas in my car and bought food and paid the bills.

 

Day in and day out, I made little dogs pretty. I trimmed them up and put little bows in their hair. And I took my money and I came home.

Deep down, there were so many other things that I wanted to learn to do, but I was too afraid to figure out how to learn to do them. Where to start. Who to ask for help to get me there. But iff I asked out loud, it would show my ignorance, and already having a lack of confidence shot down the idea of asking out loud.

So day in and day out, I made little dogs pretty. I trimmed them up and put little bows in their hair. And I took my money and I came home.

But now, I’m burned out dog grooming. My shoulders and back hurt from lifting, my wrists hurt from brushing through long haired dogs and supporting the full body weight of a dog who refuses to stay standing, and holding clippers all day in my hand, and the motion of scissoring and trimming, and feeling beat up and covered from head to toe in dog hair at the end of each day.

Kudos to my grooming friends who are still keeping at it! It’s just not for me anymore.

 

So what DO I want to do with myself now? I want to do SOMETHING!!! I still haven’t figured it out entirely, but a change is coming! I want it, I want it more than anything I have ever imagined before. I’m still scared, and I still lack the confidence, but I am at least in an “I think I can” mode.

What I do know is, college is on the horizon for my children. There was one thing I was always taught as a child by my mother and my Native American Grandmother:

GO. TO. COLLEGE.

But it’s expensive, and I need to save. NOW.  The only way I can save is if I, myself, have a well paying job. I need to lead by example, I believe. My mother graduated from college when she was 44. She knew the do’s and don’t’s of life by then. She married young, like I did, had babies, like I did, and realized when I was in high school that she forgot to go to make something of herself.

I am not saying those who DIDN’T go to college never made anything of themselves, because there are MILLIONS of successful people out there who did not go to college and have a flourishing career (and are happy in those careers) and BONUS: they don’t have a gazillion dollars of student loans to pay off.

Gah, Student loans.

It takes all kinds to make this world go ’round, and NO ONE is less for whatever they do!

I’m just saying I’m ready to find happiness somewhere, happiness that also makes money to send my kids to college!

 

I have a dear online friend who is always saying to me “Carpe Diem, Rachael! Carpe Diem!”.. because I think he knows me enough by now to realize how much I love to daydream about things……

… yet I never do anything about it.

 

So, what I’m saying is…….thanks to my Mother, the echoes of my Grandmother, the support of my friends who believe in me, and “Carpe Diem”…I know I need to get a grip and just DO something with myself!

And that’s exactly what I’m planning on doing! I’m not sure what, but something!

 

(and you though this blog post would never end! And still, after all that, it really went nowhere.)

 

carpe_diem11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Time I Ate Spoonbill….

July 5, 2013

Did I ever tell you about the time I ate Spoonbill?

 

No?

 

Well, maybe it’s because I was waiting for the right time to tell you.

 

Let’s make that time right now, shall we?

 

Ok, here we go….

 

It was Summer of 1997, and after several years of “being on a break” with my high school sweetheart, we found ourselves reconnected again through a simple “How have you been?” several-hour-long phone call (and as you know, those “How have you been” phone calls are actually “So…..are you seeing anyone? And if so, are you happy?” phone calls), and several weeks later we were seeing each other again. Things had changed in those few years of not seeing each other, as during that time he had relocated further out west to a small and rather lonely little railroad town out in Herrington, KS to work for Union Pacific….

 

….but I was happy to make the two hour drive to visit him.

 

We were still in our “getting to know each other again” phase, so everything felt brand new again (you know, when you’re all “Disney Princess”-like and only order salads and then pick at it like a bird and are also too afraid to admit that you’re human and that you fart), and I was on my way to visit him! But first he needed me to stop by his parent’s house and pick up a television set and a key to his house. His parents were always the type of people to open their door and make you feel right at home; so welcoming and friendly and warm….. and giving.

It was in the evening, and before my arrival to pick up the tv, his mother Liz had been preparing a dinner of fried spoonbill for she and her husband (also called “paddlefish”, spoonbill is a type of fresh water fish common in the big lakes here in the Midwest). So when I walked in their house that night, they were so excited to let me sit down and eat with them before rushing off on my two hour trek.

 

I had never tried spoonbill before, but HEY! I was the biggest fan of fish of anyone I ever knew…it was and still is my favorite food. I mean, I could eat fish all day.

 

…..fried fish, baked fish, grilled fish, broiled fish, pan-seared fish, barbecued fish, fish kabobs, fish tacos, fish gumbo, fish sandwich…

 

ForrestListeningToBubba2

 

 

So, I hold up a piece of this spoonbill which had been seasoned in the perfect amount of cornmeal and spices and fried to an absolute golden perfection….and I take a bite.

It was…..interesting. It didn’t taste like any fish I had ever known (but my Midwest palate had been excruciatingly limited way back then, so I didn’t have much to go on).

It was…..a bit rubbery in texture, but not horrible.

I ate a few pieces and thanked them for the meal, then John carried the tv out to my car and secured it in the front seat. Hugs were exchanged and I was off for the two hour drive West as the sun was setting.

 

Did I ever tell you how much I LOVE long country drives? I do. I had the windows rolled down, my tunes cranked up, the summer evening’s fresh air whooshing past me and whipping my hair, and the smell of honeysuckle and wild onion emanating from the miles and miles of Kansas prairie.

It. Was. Perfect.

 

But then, about an hour and a half into my drive with about half hour left to go, I suddenly felt a section of my small intestine cramp. Just once, then it let go.

A few minutes later, a different section cramped up, then let go again. But this time, I actually felt it drop lower, then cramped again, but this time, it didn’t let go all the way.

My eyes got huge, I sat up straight, gripped the steering wheel, and looked something like this…..

 

beaker-oh-shit

 

I knew instantly what was happening.

 

I was going to have the shits.

 

Not just the “little shits”, I was gearing up to have explosive shits.

 

Half an hour to go. I can make it. I had to make it, there was NO PLACE to pull over, no small town “Dairy King” or run down Sinclair station circa 1985 to seek relief in. And I’d rather shat my pants in my car than climb through barbed wire to get to the side of Farmer Jed’s hay barn.

 

More cramps, along with a sweaty upper lip and clammy palms….

 

Sh*t just got real….

 

L_1109

 

The cramping, oh gawd, the cramping. The noises my stomach was making. The pain. The noises.

 

I had to make it to my Tony’s house. HAD TO. The best part of making it to Tony’s house in time was that I knew he would be at work, since he worked the late shift on the railroad, I could go in and have my diarrhea and hopefully it would all be over and done with before he would even know! But still, I was down to a good ten minutes of drive time, and it was dark out now, the sun had set.

 

And then……

 

 

 

h6AB3372D

 

It was here. It was here. “IT”.

I felt the give, and I clenched as hard as I could to hold it back.

Lip sweating, blood gone from my face, palms cold and clammy, arms trembling, sitting on the edge of my seat.

Keep driving. You can make it.

 

Low and behold, I pulled into Tony’s driveway. I threw the car in park and flew to the front door and jammed that key into the deadbolt and turned…..

but it didn’t turn.

OMFG.

Ass clenching. Stomach cramping.  My intestines had already given up the fight, it was now a war between me and my muscle strength, and I was losing.

Panic stricken, I did the diarrhea strut to the back of the house to see if the key would work back there, but it was too late. I saw a bush behind the house and, underneath the glow of the porch light….I……

 

Stay-Away-From-Taco-Bells-New-Menu

 

What’s the worst part?

 

No toilet paper, and a key that didn’t work, and having to drive to the rail yard to get a different key to the house after I had shat all over the back yard and down my leg.

 

You want to know the worst part after that was? As I’m sitting in my car in the rail yard as my boyfriend, Tony, calls over to some of his co-worker buddies to come and meet me while I’m covered in my own spoonbill-induced feces and trying not to have to explain why I’m not getting out of the car to shake anyone’s hands.

 

I never told Tony or his parents about the night I had explosive diarrhea all over his back yard, and I’ve never eaten spoonbill again after that.

 

And before you point and laugh at my utterly embarrassing tale of intestinal upset, just ask yourself….

 

Diarrhea-Strikes-Again

 

Hmmmm??????

 

Rach

Because I’m Seven…

July 3, 2013

I love too many things.

And I fall head-over-heels in love soooo easily with these many things.

All I can say, it’s because I’m thirty seven.

Yeah, no…. just seven.

If it’s cute, pretty, adorable, makes me giggle, makes me dreamy (fairies, puppies, gnomes, llamas, rainbows, kittens, seashells, dolphins, seagulls, dresses, sandals, just to name a few)…….I am pretty much instantly in love. And when I fall in love with something, there’s little that can convince me that it’s a bad thing, and then if I can’t have enough of what I am in love with, I become pouty and whiny, just like a seven year old, and that’s a dangerous thing (but I know to make it cute and adorable, not hateful and nasty, because nobody needs a Veruca Salt, as seen below)

 

 

veruca-salt-now

 

 

No, my whiny girl pouting starts like this…..this is called “the stare down”.

 

11

 

 

 

Then if that doesn’t work, it might go to this…..”the distant sad face*

 

Sad_girl_by_gregbohn

 

 

Then if that doesn’t work, it goes to this….

 

h194CD554

 

 

Now, if all else fails, here’s where I remember that I am, in fact, a thirty-seven year old woman and not a seven year old little girl, and I do attempt this route at getting what I want if I’m dealing with convincing a certain someone of the opposite sex whom I live with and pays the bills…..

 

 

sexy-legs

I mean……..DUH.

Gawd, women. We’re such scheming, seducing, evil temptresses, and we know exactly what we’re doing. *wink*

So what it is that I am wanting now?

 

I WANT TO SWIM WITH DOLPHINS!!!

 

This is major, really. Because before going to the beach over this summer, I never really even thought much about dolphins or any type of sea creature, for that matter. But now, everything has changed!!! I am obsessed with the ocean, beach, marine life, seashells, EVERYTHING!!

And because we’re back in the Midwest and because I’m seven, I’ve been collecting little silly things to remind me of the ocean to tide me over until I can go back again….

Exhibit A: These adorable little teeny tiny glass blown marine animals, all of them together fit right in the palm of my hand. When I was little, I loved carrying little hard plastic animals around in my hand wherever I went. I bought these at Sharkheads souvenir shop in Biloxi!

 

 

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I also bought a cute and sexy little shell anklet that I recently found at our local Farmer’s Market, handcrafted! (I am on the lookout for more shell inspired jewelry that is fair trade/hand crafted and non-store bought, ideally!), and this adorable little (what I thought was a dolphin before I bought it) stuffed whale. EEEK!! So cute!! I am on the lookout for anything related to seagulls and sea lions as well!! I am desperately in love with sea lions, too!!!

 

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But back to dolphins….especially after having watched “Dolphin Tale” on DVD yesterday, I have put swimming with dolphins (even as cliche’ as it may seem) on my bucket list! I know and realize that no amount of pouting and kicking and flopping on the floor is going to make this happen any time soon, it is something I’m going to have to just dream about it for quite a long time. But it will happen!

Unless, of course, I die in a tragic accident as soon as I close my laptop and drive to the grocery store.

*panic attack*

 

Dear dolphins,

I am seven years old trapped in a middle aged body and I WANT TO SWIM WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

Sincerely,

Rachael.