Sunday, August 3, 2014

My trip to Seattle

So, yes... if you read my previous blog entry from last month, you know that I went to Seattle alone. I wasn't supposed to go alone, but, you know... s#$% happens. Or should I say, drunk happens.

Anyhoo... even though I went by myself, I made the most of my trip and enjoyed spending time in a city that I had always wanted to go visit. Seattle is very much a lovely city. The weather is especially nice in the summertime - it was in the 70's and 80's when I was there, and I very much enjoyed the fact that there is very little humidity out there. It was nice to get away to a place where you didn't have to take 3 showers in one day just to enjoy the day (humidity in DC sucks in the summer time).

And... it only rained once the whole time I was there. For an hour. Whoo-hoo! I couldn't have picked a better time of year to go visit. I highly recommend going to Seattle in the summer time if you ever want to go.

People wise? The crazies tend to come out in the summer time. Eerily enough, there are a lot of people roaming around in the streets randomly talking to themselves (and it's a bit scary). Also, Seattle has a very large homeless population, one that I think rivals San Francisco's. I was amazed at how many people I saw out on the street asking for change. But I guess if there is ever a place to be homeless, it's on the West Coast.

And... don't get me started on how everybody out there (white, black, you name it) still thinks we live in the 90's. Most of the people I saw on the street literally looked like they just stepped out of a Pearl Jam video. Grunge rock wear in Seattle is very much the norm. And! A lot of people out there had dreadlocks in their hair! WTF. Seriously... who knew that the 90's was still alive and well in Seattle? I was taken aback. But I can't complain or anything... some of the best music EVER and some of the coolest fashions came out of that decade (babydoll dresses with knee socks spring to mind).

I will say that even though everyone looks like a hobo out there, everyone is actually very super friendly. And polite. People will come up and talk to you just about anything. And no one honks at anyone! And! People actually stop their cars when they come to a crosswalk and wait for pedestrians to cross the street! I couldn't believe it. I mean, people will try and run you over when you are crossing the street here in DC! Hell, I might even try to run you over if you are in the street in DC! I swear, people out in Seattle are uber-friendly. Perhaps us East Coasters should take a page out of their books and be more courteous to each other.


Back to the trip! Anyways... below, I decided to highlight the cool parts of my trip/experience in picture form. I thought that would be cooler than writing out a bunch of boring paragraphs, lol. Here we go:

Did I mention that I flew Virgin America over to Seattle? This was one of the best airplanes/flights I've ever been on. Mood lighting, leather seats, free TV, remote controls in the seats... in short - this flight was AWESOME! I highly recommend flying on this airline if you get a chance. It's well worth the money.

Top Pot Doughnuts... I was told that I had to make a stop here and pick up some for my friends back in DC. I must say, these doughnuts were very good. I think they are made fresh right in the store. 

The only downside to going here was that this shop was at the BOTTOM of a major hill. Did I also forget to mention how many HILLS there are in Seattle?!?!?!? About a thousand. That whole city is on one giant hill. Hills that are similar to the ones in San Francisco. My calves hurt so bad from walking up and down hills, it wasn't even funny. But I will say that the trek down this massive hill to get to this doughnut shop was well worth it.

This is a pic of the Great Wheel, which has only been out on the water for about two years. It was about $20 to ride it. I passed. But it was nice to look at!

I got to visit the Pike Place Market a couple of times when I was here. If you ever decide to visit here, do not go on a weekend. There were so many people there when I went on Saturday, I almost drowned in people. I did get to go really early in the morning on Thursday, the second day I was in Seattle (I went again on Saturday since I was nearby). I got to walk around the market and see the Gum Wall (it was gross), some fish get thrown (they sing songs and cheer loudly in the fish area!) and the first ever Starbucks. The line for Starbucks was wrapped around the corner. So I passed on going inside. 

I went to the Space Needle on the third day I was in Seattle. It's really nice. And I hopped into the elevator and rode to the top, and... yeah. I looked around. That was about it. Honestly, it's not much different than visiting the Empire State Building. Same view, same scary height far up from the ground... so I wasn't too enthused. But I did enjoy the fact that I got to visit it.

Did I tell you that I went on a boat cruise around Puget Sound? It was really nice. The cruise lasted about an hour, and a tour guide gave us a brief history of the area surrounding the Sound. The sun was out, there was a nice breeze, and I also made friends with a girl who just happened to be by herself on the cruise. And... she came with me to the...

... Seattle Aquarium! AND THEY HAD OTTERS! I love love love otters. They are like, one of my favorite animals. And they looked so cute floating on their backs and playing with their toys. Oh, I wanted to jump in the tank and hang out with them (one can dream). Also at the aquarium, there were seals, birds and lots of fish. And they had a tank full of sea anemones, starfish and sea cucumbers that you could touch. It was really cool. And fun. I almost didn't go with the girl that I met (b/c I was tired), but once I saw the otters, I was really happy that I changed my mind and went in. And lastly...

I found Nemo! And Dory was at the aquarium too. They had lots of tropical fish. They were all so pretty. If you are ever in Seattle, I highly recommend making a pit stop at the aquarium. Surprisingly, it's really fun for adults!

So, that's my trip. Seattle is a pretty cool place to visit, and if you've never been, I recommend that you go check it out. Next up on my travels is.... THE U.K.! God, save the queen... I can hear that anthem in my head right now. Scotland, Wigan and London are on the itinerary of places to visit. So exciting! I can't wait to go!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Book review: Gone Girl

So last night, I stayed up until 3 o'clock in the morning, furiously finishing this wonderfully written book called Gone Girl, by author Gillian Flynn. Whoa. This book was simply in one word: crazy. Even though it was crazy, I did enjoy it very much, and I am interested in reading the other two books written by her, Dark Places and Sharp Objects.

So... on to my review of the book. The synopsis of the book is that Nick Dunne, an out of work writer comes home to find that his wife of 5 years, Amy, is missing. He doesn't know what happens to her, and after information starts to show up that he might have something to do with her disappearance, he becomes the prime suspect in the police's investigation.

I can't talk too much more about the plot of the book, because there are so many twists and turns in this novel that it would give away what happens. But I can say that this book - is good. Especially the writing. Gillian Flynn has a distinct writing style that flows very well and is a plus in the slow burn of how this book unfolds. I am a big fan of not only her writing style, but also of her sharp, snarky wit that comes through in her writing. My absolute favorite line of the book is said by Margo, Nick's sister in the book, whom while sitting on her couch watching a baseball game with Nick while eating, declares "If I had a dick, I would f--- this peanut butter." You will have to read the book for more context into Margo's character... but I just had to put that line in my review. Too. Damn. Funny.

Other things I liked about the book: I did enjoy the character development. I thought that she fleshed her characters out very well. I also enjoyed the pace of the book. Usually, I don't like plots that burn slow, but it serves in making this book a page turner. Also, I enjoyed the plot twists. Just when you think you know what's going on, a surprise lurks around the corner. This kind of writing makes for a great read, and I enjoy reading books by authors who can effectively deliver on good twists and turns in their novels.

Dislikes? I have a few. While I do complement the fact that this book had a slow burn of a plot, I felt as though there wasn't much action in the first 100 or so pages of the book. I felt that although well written, the book had too many descriptions of the character's thoughts and not enough of action and things going on around them. The good thing is, if you can make it through to the second part of the book, the book really does pick up pace and pulls you into the story. I wish she could have sucked in the reader a little earlier on in the first part of the book. That would have made me more inclined to finish it a lot quicker than I did (it took me a day or so to get to the good part of the book).

Another dislike? I thought that Flynn could have delved more into the psyche of Amy's character and wrote more about her background. Without giving anything away, you come to know her a certain way in the book, but Flynn leaves out how she ended up that way. To me, if you are going to write about a character that has, let's say, "certain issues", you really need to explain how they became that way at some point in time in the narrative. Maybe I'm being a little hard on her b/c I was a Psychology major in college, but I think if you want your audience to really understand your character's motives (trying to say this without spoiling anything), you really do need to explain how they became who they are in the present day. In this specific case, Flynn really does leave that out, and I think it was a big misstep in writing about Amy and how she functioned.

My last dislike was about how the book ended. Now, I wasn't as mad about the ending as most people were. I actually welcome reading books don't have a "Hollywood" ending. I find books like that refreshing and truly reflective of human life. Not all good people win in the end, and not all bad people get what they deserve. And such is life. The problem in how she wrote the ending wasn't that it didn't have a happy ending, but was how the story came together in the end. It just didn't quite work. You could poke some serious holes in the way everything played out, and the reader ends up having some serious questions about how Nick ended up choosing the path he chose to take and how the police decided to handle the case when everything was said and done.

Plus, the ending is kind of an open ending, which pissed a lot of people off. I didn't mind the ending so much as I did Nick's frame of mind and choice in the end. That I had beef with. I could think of one or two ways Nick could have gone in the end of this book, and path he chose would have been the LAST one I would have picked. Ugh. I wanted to slap him because of it. But overall, I did enjoy the book, and I do look forward to seeing the movie in October. It will be interesting to see how Flynn unfolds the plot and the story, since the book is told from Amy's and Nick's point of view, and that way of storytelling may not be plausible on screen.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. But I guess I would tell someone to read it with an open mind and try and suspend their disbelief to a certain extent. And also I would say "Keep in mind. People are crazy. And people are unlikable. And you are reading a book about two crazy, somewhat unlikable people. Don't get too invested or attached, b/c I think it'll upset you in the long run. Just enjoy the book for what it is... a well written, page turner."

Ha ha ha. On to the next novel.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting the crazy out of your life

I promise to blog about my trip to Seattle soon... but first, I just wanted to briefly talk about a friend that I have recently parted ways with after almost 10 years.

I titled my post "Getting the crazy out of your life", because that's exactly what I did.

Well, my former friend isn't exactly crazy... but she does have a serious drinking problem.

And it's sad. She's actually a very pretty, smart, kind and friendly person. At least when she's sober.

However, when she drinks and gets drunk, she turns into a MONSTER. And I don't use that word lightly.

I have tons and tons of stories that I could post on this site about her crazy drunken behavior. It's pretty sad. And the stories are a bit outlandish... but I guess they would be if you had a drinking problem. Drunk people do all kinds of crazy, weird things when they are inebriated. Inhibitions are lowered, tempers flare and people are out of control... if you've ever been insanely drunk before, you know the deal.

Anyways, this person and I were supposed to go on the trip I took to Seattle together, but instead of showing up, my former friend got drunk and blamed me for why she didn't come. We had been planning this trip for 6 months. I literally talked to her the day before we were supposed to go on the trip and everything was fine... we were friends, we were getting along... we were planning things... everything was cool.

Or so I thought.

And then... she just decided to not show up. And blamed it all on me (there's a whole backstory there... it would be too complicated and sad to write about... but I can assure you, I was NOT in the wrong).

One of the biggest problems with alcoholics (and drug addicts) is that they blame EVERYONE else for their problems. Nothing is ever their fault. They can cuss you out, throw things at you, and break down and scream and yell at you and tell you that "you don't understand what I'm going through" and still blame you for everything. It's your fault that they are sad. It's your fault b/c you don't understand them. It's your fault b/c no one likes them. And it's your fault for not being able to support them... even though they are miserable and refuse to seek help.

Since this all just recently happened, I am still very upset at the turn of events that have transpired. I inadvertently took my first ever vacation alone thanks to my former friend. It was a little weird and unsettling, but I was ok. I mean, I live alone, I take care of myself and support myself... so vacationing alone wasn't too big of a deal. And I met some nice people while I was out and about in Seattle. So I wasn't too lonely.

I can tell you this - I will probably never befriend anyone who has a drinking/drug/serious mental health problem in the future. It's too much of a burden to deal with. People who are afflicted with these issues do have my sympathy... and my former friend has a long road to recovery. Part of me is worried that she won't make it. But it's out of my hands now.

I'm too angry at this point in time to wish her luck... but I will wish her family luck in dealing with her addiction. It's the families of the addicts who really suffer in this whole ordeal. It's really difficult to love and support an addict when they are in the throes of addiction. Honestly, I don't know how families of addicts survive until the end. It must take a lot of effort and energy on their part. So her family has my sympathy. Good luck to them.

Anyways... I'll blog about my trip in the next week or so. But I do want to say that it's a relief not having to worry about my former friend any longer. I'm sad over all of the nasty, delusional things she has written to me through emails and texts in the last week, but I'm glad that nightmare of a friendship is now over.

Monday, June 30, 2014

LOL of the day

Check out this video of Dave Chappelle as "Black Bush" from his show back in 2003... too damn funny.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My trip to ATL

I meant to post about my trip to Atlanta a week ago... but I've been having a very lazy past two weeks. I've been falling asleep at random times in the afternoon, only to wake up at 12 or 1am, then continue to stay up until 5 or 6am, and then fall back asleep and then in turn go into work late.

Hopefully, today is the last day this will all happen for me. I'm tired of sleeping all of the time.

Anyhoo... back to my weekend in Atlanta... so! My friend Jeannine picked me up from a very busy airport on Friday, May 23 in the afternoon. I swear, everyone must have made ATL their destination of choice that weekend. I've never seen that many people in an airport in my life. Ever.

After she picked me up, we had a little girl time at the mall before she picked up her kids, and then we all went out with them, her husband Marcus and some friends for a chicken wing dinner. It was good. I love wings.

Later on in the evening, everyone came back to Marcus and Jeannine's house for some drinks and Pictionary. Interestingly enough, Marcus had his own way of playing Pictionary. I called it "dysfunctional Pictionary". The rules for this game were quite different. It involved making up stories about popular movie and TV characters and having them do outlandish things to each other, things I can't even write on this blog, because it will make me blush. The game turned out to be fun, but I can tell you that I was embarrassed for most of the game. Here's a picture of the action posted below:

Um... yeah. This pic involved Freddy Krueger, Jason and Pinhead scaring someone, something to do with stealing a Leprachaun's gold and a bird crapping on it in the end. I kid you not.

On to the next day... the Smith family and I then headed out to Leesburg, GA to visit Marcus' parents on Saturday morning. They live on 30 acres of land, basically out in the middle of nowhere. It was very peaceful, however, but I'm from the city. I'm used to seeing my neighbors, walking around my neighborhood with them and hearing their street noise. Being in the country around nothing but trees, farmland and silence was weird, but when I closed my eyes and took a few breaths, the peacefulness was nice.

Above is a shot of Marcus' parents' house. It reminded me of all of those colorful homes one usually sees in the country. Their house was really big and beautiful, and it was really nice of them to let me stay here. Below is a pic of their backyard that I took from the room over their garage that I got to stay in:

Lots of land back here. And they had a lake. And jungle gyms for the kids. And SNAKES!

Now, I didn't see a snake, but at one point in time I was told that I had to keep an eye for them and if I was coming down from the garage to the house at night, that I had to make noise as I was walking towards it keep the snakes away. Or, I had to yell out "I'm coming, snakes!" so that the vibrating sound of my voice would scare them away. WTF. And just so everyone knows... I am not talking about little baby garter snakes running around the Smith compound here. I'm talking rattlesnakes and water moccasins running around the compound!


In addition to their being snakes, it was SO EFFING HOT outside I thought that I was going to DIE. We stayed in Leesburg for 2 1/2 days (Saturday through Monday morning)... and it was 90 degrees outside the whole time. My hair, got fried. I felt bloated and hot the whole time, and I had a permanent frown on my face every time I stepped outdoors during peak hours. 

Sidebar: I literally told Jeannine when she dropped me off at the MARTA station on Monday afternoon that the next time I came to visit her, it would be in the fall. F*** Atlanta in the summer time!

The best part of my trip was when I got to shoot some GUNS on Sunday evening. That's right, guns. I shot 8 different guns. Jeannine's brother in law, Mitch, is a bit of a gun enthusiast. I swear, every time he handed me a new gun, he had a smile on his face. It was quite funny.

Now, I hadn't shot a gun in about 10 years. I wasn't scared, but I was little nervous, especially since the first gun I shot was a 300 Blackout, which is basically a semi-automatic rifle (I was hoping to warm up on a handgun... but no such luck). It was huge! And heavy. When I shot the gun, the recoil was so hard core that when fired, it felt like my system got a quick jolt of electricity. It was a bit overwhelming, but I kept it together. I shot this gun from about 2 or 300 yards away, and I swear, I didn't hit the target once. Sad, but true. But I had fun.

It was on to the next gun after that, which was an AK-47. I've only seen these things in action in the movies. They are pretty cool up close. Scary, but cool. And again, after I fired it a few times, I'm pretty sure I didn't hit the target. But I can tell you that the tree behind it got messed up!

I'm just going to list the guns I shot instead of going through my experience with each one. Here it goes....
  • 300 Blackout
  • AK-47
  • A 223 sniper rifle (with a bi-pod and scope)
  • A double barrel shotgun (talk about a kick)
  • A pump action shotgun with a laser sight on it (it was green!)
  • 45 Colt (a revolver from the Old West)
  • 357 Magnum
  • Springfield 1911
 Here's a pic of all my shells. And two of the bullets.

Shooting guns was fun. Not that I would ever own a gun or anything, but it was fun. And not to mention, when one fires a shotgun, the kick on them can be so hard core (like with a pump action shotgun), that it can leave a bruise. Like this:

Yeah. Sometimes guns can hurt. My bruise is gone now, but because I had such a good experience shooting the shotgun, I didn't mind it so much. I also didn't mind the fact that I got eaten alive by mosquitos during my gun adventure. The mosquito bites I received were so bad that it took a week and a half for my legs to stop itching. Not cool.

So that was my trip. I came home Monday evening, exhausted and sweaty, but happy that I was able to get out of VA and go on a short vacay. Next up on my summer travels is Seattle, which I travel to on July 2. As long as it's not hot as hell out on the west coast, I should have a good time. 

Can't wait to hit up the Space Needle!