Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Snapshot of my weekend. I am still on the mends from a break up (OE…more on that in a separate post), but I have decided to get out there and meet people… single men…who can hold a conversation…without me wishing I was chugging Drano instead of talking to them. My core group of friends is awesome. Unfortunately we have all been hanging out close to 10 years, so new people are introduced very seldom. Also, we are all in our 30’s and frankly Rock Band, pizza and beer at someone’s apartment is preferred over some crowded bar full of douche bags.
This past Friday night, a friend’s former roommate’s band (follow that) was playing at a bar in Lincoln Park. This neighborhood is young, hip, and usually packed with 25 year old frat guys who still think visors are in. Game on! I’ve seen the band play several times before and even made out with the lead guitar player (while I had a crush on the drummer…sadly I have so done worse than that before to a band). I couldn’t convince my guy friends to attend since they already had a full evening of Rock Band scheduled. I did plan on meeting the girlfriend of a guy friend and possibly her two girl friends. Confused yet? They are historically late, so I figured they would show around 9pm for the 8:30pm show. At first, I drank my beer and chatted with the band members explaining I was waiting on three girls (which made me the hero of the hour). When they got on stage, I was left alone to stand in the crowd that was surprisingly very coupled up. I continued to drink my beer (or beers as I tend to do) and tried to play it cool while wondering in my head where those damn girls were (nearing 10pm). The music is awesome and I soon forget my situation. That is until the best friend of my ex walks in.
We catch glimpses of each other and do that awkward moment of hesitation of “do I pretend I don’t see you or give the half wave and ignore you”. I soon realized EXACTLY how I looked to him…drinking alone at a bar. Shit! I bit the bullet and called his name and waved him over. We chatted a bit and I was surprised our social circles overlapped. Turns out, his friend was in the band that went on before my familiar band. Small world huh. After a few more songs, I had to leave because I promised the boys I would meet up with them after the show (just as they were wrapping up their own Rock Band set). Outside, I shook my fist at the sky and asked God why he toys with me so.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mediterranean Adventures - Part 5 (Napels Italy)

Reading about Napels is nothing like actually being in Napels. All the travel books warned me about pick pockets, knifing in the streets, thieves around every corner, etc. I was expecting to be assaulted straight off the boat. Well we did have to go through a gauntlet of taxi drives at the port entrance, but that was about as much hassle we experienced the whole day. The town was gorgeous. A real beautiful coastal down. Our first stop was Castel dell’ Ovo. This 12th century fortress was built by the ancient Romans and has the most spectacular view of the harbor. Granted, getting to that view involved walking uphill in 90 degree temperatures…at 8:30am!
While at the Castle, we acquired two friends…dogs. These were strays that apparently would follow anyone for no particular reason at all. Seriously, we didn’t acknowledge the dogs, pet them, give them food…we just walked by and they decided to follow us for almost the entire day. We would walk, they would pace behind us. We stop, they would stop. You get the picture. Our little buddies. The funny thing is when we entered buildings, the dogs would wait for us until we exited. One time we tried to give them the slip through a side door, but they smelled us out…dogs, go figure. They were in heaven when we reached the Piazza del Plebiscito because it was filled with pigeons. Hundreds of them! It gave the dogs no greater joy to run into a flock of sitting birds over and over and over again. I actually enjoyed watching them live it up.

On one side of the Piazza was the Royal Palace of the Bourbon and Savoy Kings. The cost of admission was 6 Euros and we got serious attitude from the ticket taker by handing her a 10 Euro bill. She asked Dana in a condescending voice if she had anything smaller than a 10E but then a 5E wouldn’t even cover the admission. The palace rooms had painted ornate ceilings and a grand staircase out of some MGM movie.

There were artifacts of Pompeii on loan from the Archeology Museum. I took a ton of pictures and later as I was assigning captions to them, I found the most hilarious picture. At first glance I thought “vase with horse”, on second glance I was like “wait, is that a bucket hanging from his…wiener?” Ah ha ha ha. I heard stories about Pompeii being the Las Vegas of ancient Rome…but now I am starting to think it was more like Tijuana.

We actually tried to break into the other wing that was closed off, but our efforts were fruitless and we were in danger of landing in an Italian jail. Across from the palace was the Church of San Francesco di Paola. Although it was a huge church, it wasn’t on the map. Actually a lot of things weren’t labeled on the map…like the streets. Napels is a typical rustic old town with streets going every which way. A regular labyrinth. It also has a lot of historic places tucked in the most hidden places. We had two maps, and even combined, only knew half the streets. This made it very interesting since some places were listed with two different addresses.
Near the Piazza was Napels version of 5th Avenue. Well actually, it was their main shopping street, and instead of high end designers, it was like the Italian versions of Strawberry or Deb. After we viewed all the shops on the main street, we picked a random side street to see if we could stumble across a place to eat. The side street made a turn and then started going up…straight up. This hill rivaled the best in San Francisco. I think we ventured into the area locals call home because clothing and trinket shops turned into tiny grocery and hardware stores. It also turned infinitely shadier. I read plenty of warnings in travel books about venturing off the main paths. We telling each other we would get off the street ASAP, but every street offshoot looked scarier than the one we were on. After walking for 15 minutes and seeing some graffiti telling us where to suck it, we decided to turn around and walk all the way back.
We made our way to Via Toledo (we think…no street signs) which is one main artery of the town. I was ready to gnaw my arm off I was so hungry, so we stopped at some alley café near the Spanish Quarter. It was literally two folding tables and those cheap plastic chairs. Napels I am told is home to fabulous pizza, so naturally we ordered some for lunch. We unknowingly ordered a pizza each for 3E. For that price, we figured it would be just a giant slice. Nope, an entire pizza. That would explain why the proprietor gave us funny looks when we ordered. I also ordered a Lemonchello (lemon based liquor Napels is also known for) and Italy’s version of Gatorade (because walking straight uphill for four hours in 90+ temp kicked my ass). Although the liquor was more like sugary rubbing alcohol, the pizzas were amazing! Seriously, the best pizza I have ever had. I felt bad not eating all three square feet of it.

After lunch, we hoped back on to Via Toledo, which turned into Via Roma, which turned into Teresa Pessina (all the same street). We were busy looking for the side street that would take us to our next planned destination. Of course our maps were not labeled, or even to scale, so we had no idea which street was right, so we kept walking. Walking uphill (everything was uphill) sweating like beasts. The cool thing is we stumbled across some really interesting places…not shown on the map. Dana accidently flashed a crowd in Dante’s Piazza when a gust of wind blew up her skirt and it took her a while to wrestle it back down.
We kept walking, and eventually ended at the National Archaeological Museum which was not our intended stop. Our poor legs. We overshot the unmarked turn by about a mile…uphill. Normally finding the Museum would be serendipitous but we had already seen artifacts at the Palace. Turning around we finally found our way into the Santa Chiara district which is basically the church area. Every other building was a church..and an old one at that. Sometimes there were churches on top of churches. Sometimes a church was in the process of being torn down to make room for a new church. The narrow alley-like streets were full of nuns, pious old ladies, and men with mustaches selling crucifixes. Some of the streets passed through buildings like abbeys and under windows with giant shutters and ancient women beating rugs. Trust me, it is hard to describe…something out of a movie, like the Godfather.
We were on a mission to find the Cathedral of San Gennaro which houses vials of the Saint’s blood. Of course the map shows it as a giant blob that could intersect a number of unnamed streets. We saw 50 odd churches before attempting to get directions. Dana would try Spanish with the locals (hey it worked well enough in Rome) and they would just wave us off like gnats (DENIED!). Finally we found a British couple who had a kick ass map with every street labeled (and to scale, whooo hooo). Thirty minutes later, we finally found St. Gennaro’s church. Too bad it was closed. I know, God was mocking us.
Exhausted, we got back to the ship. While waiting for our dinner appointment, we watched one of the movies on demand, Nick and Nora’s adventure thing. The movie as a whole was meh, but the drunk girl totally stole the show. If you have seen the movie, you know who I am talking about. She was seriously hilarious. I mean she said “hi” to a sandwich and claimed “this tree is drunk”. The whole gum running joke thing and hitting her head while being carried, almost made me pee my pants.
Overall, Napels was a beast of a walking workout. It is much more laid back than Rome and has the most awesome pizza. Unless you are a total idiot who flashes giant wads of cash, I wouldn’t worry one bit about pick pockets or thieves. Not once were we even remotely encroached on (in fact the locals were more likely to avoid us than approach us).
Next stop…Greece.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Niece update

Any trip home wouldn't be complete without a thousand pictures of my niece.
She loves little dogs. She also just learned about the hug. Now all she wants to do is put small dogs into a choke hold. Totally cute, but I am starting to wonder how the dog is taking it.

Bath time. When did we stop bringing toys into the bath with us?

Yes...the snow is taller than her. Easily.

Reading with Grandma...and the dog.

Ready to get into something.

Wearing the Ferrari t-shirt I picked up for her in Rome. Cracks me up every time.

With her mom, my little sister. They grow up so fast.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let it snow...some other holiday

While I was home in Nebraska over Christmas, the entire state experienced a huge blizzard. This was equivalent to what the East Coast is experiencing right now, except it isn’t a big news story for the Midwest to get snowed in. We had drifts taller than 6’-2” (aka my brother-in-law). The snow started December 23rd and didn’t end until after Christmas. Only a few things were willing to open Christmas Eve (only one service for the church…and they normally have four) and EVERYTHING (even churches…and Walmart) was cancelled/closed on Christmas. Want to celebrate the birth of Jesus…do it from your own living room okay. My father’s side Christmas was cancelled, so thankfully this year I got a reprieve from being followed around by nosey aunts asking why I am not married yet (you like boys right dear…well what is wrong…do you have leprosy).

We were housebound for three straight days and I developed a heavy case of cabin fever. My parents don’t believe in things like cable television, internet, or central heat, so we spent the majority of our time huddled on the couch watching every DVD they own. My Mom has the habit of buying movies that she hasn’t even seen if they are really cheap ($3 or less) at Walmart. She rationalizes this as a good investment since it is cheaper than rentals and if she watches it just once, then it has paid for itself already. Well some movies are sadly not even worth the $3. We started with action/adventure (my favorite) first. Then dramas. And finally the dreaded romantic comedies. Yeah I may be the only girl in the world who doesn’t like a predicable warm gooey heart story where boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy has breakthrough and then gets girl. You know the story. Anyway, first was The Proposal. Not bad…but I am biased because Ryan R. is such a goofy smoking HOT guy. Next, up was 27 Dresses. Okay, I see the appeal because those dresses are outrageous, but the movie was so not believable…I mean their apartment was huge and cabbie spoke English…so not NYC. I found myself throwing up my arms and shaking my head at every “Manhattan” experience they supposedly had. The movie that made me turn to board games was Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. That is 2 hours of my life that I won’t get back. I would rather get an STD from Tommy Lee than watch that movie again.

Although Christmas was cancelled, I still gave/received gifts. Friends laugh when they find out what I actually want for Christmas. Hey I am practical and live in a small apartment that cannot be filled with a lot of random junk. This year I got: toothbrushes, slippers, leg razors, athletic socks, a sweater, and a box of tampons. Last year it was bed pillows, laundry detergent, and a fuzzy robe. I know pathetic, but I adore these gifts.

A couple of days after Christmas, my parents drove me to the airport. Normally the Omaha airport is NEVER busy because it has six gates and only caters to small planes. I’ve never had a line before…for anything. In fact, I’ve timed it from the point of entering the airport to passing through security, and it has taken only ten minutes. That is even with face-to-face check in because they don’t believe in electronic kiosks there (too many people mistake them for ATMs). Imagine my surprise when the ticket lobby is PACKED. Seriously, line out the door packed. Looking at the crowd, I noticed two things…1) everyone was geriatric old & 2) everyone was wearing head to toe husker apparel. Turns out it was the designated day that all of the Husker fans were flying off to the bowl game. Apparently, this bus was for the UNL Alumni Association…class of 1932. Some little old ladies were hilarious in their bright red track suits with husker embroidered sweaters, pins, visors and two dozen Mardi Gras BEADS. Dare I imagine how they acquired those! I badly wanted to take pictures of all of them but figured it would be disrespectful (or they would trap me into a 30 minute long conversation about rush offense vs east coast style). One woman shouted out “Amen” or “Praise the Lord” every time Tom Osborne’s name was mentioned. Wish I was but I am totally NOT KIDDING. It was like being at a southern Baptist revival.

My flight was headed to Chicago. Apparently it was plane “B” for all bowl travelers who didn’t book the non-stop San Diego flight. If they would have played the fight song over the intercom, we would have crashed from all the stomping and clapping. I sat between two corn farmers. NOT KIDDING…real life corn farmers. They declared that only Husker football would make them leave during the planting season (or harvest, or plowing, whatever, I don’t know jack shit about corn farming).

Monday, February 08, 2010

Pictures of children to liven the mood (sorry no puppies)

I flew home to Nebraska over the Christmas holidays (yeah I know, I’m behind on my posts). I have a huge extended family, so I have at least three Christmases to attend. This means I am usually home for a week or more. I usually run out of things to do by the second day (and I am totally including the good 2 hours plus I spend roaming the aisles of Walmart). The good thing is that I get to spend time visiting high school friends and their families. First was Jacque and her son August. He was the most curious little boy and behaved beautifully in the restaurant.

Then there was Tina and her daughter Leah. Leah is hands down brilliant. I compared to her my beloved niece (who is two weeks older) and she totally kicks Ava’s ass. She can talk…not baby talk but full on annunciated word(s). I am completely smitten, plus how can you not adore those curls.

Lastly were Shannon and her girls Liliana & Isabel. Shannon took me to her gym which happens to be the most amazing gym on the planet. It had rock walls, a huge equipment selection, a spa like locker room, and in-house child care. This gym would totally motivate me to be buff because there was SO MUCH to do there. Her girls are right around the pre-school 1st grade ages, and their personalities are very much developed. Liliana is a momma’s girl, totally obedient, considerate & observant. Isabel is the wild child who is always looking for fun and/or mischief (I bet she turns into the creative sort actor of the family). They drew me pictures/portraits for my gift. Love Isabel's with the green boogers and all (she had a cold).

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I realize I haven't been posting much lately. My apologies. I've had a the equivalent of a emotional tsunami and it has been really hard to keep my shit together in public. First was a major career choice followed closely by the sudden death and funeral of a friend's father. Then I was dumped out of the blue. I am afraid about what I may write, what I may say, regret, or who I may hurt. Be patient because I will eventually come to terms with all of this. Most importantly, I will be me and I will live.