Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

A year ago on October 14, a friend of mine from high school died of metastatic colon cancer. I just donated my hair to women with cancer for the fourth time, so in honor of Erika, I’d like to tell you about my first time donating. Also, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and fittingly, October 7 and October 14 are “Bald and Free” days. – Sarah

Me, five weeks old and well before I needed my first haircut. I think I look pretty good bald. Bald and free. Maybe this is why people say I look like my dad?

Me, five weeks old and well before I needed my first haircut. I think I look pretty good bald. Bald and free. Maybe this is why people say I look like my dad?

When I was fairly young, maybe four or five, I asked for short hair. I loved throwing my long locks back into a ponytail, so perhaps I wanted the ease of an above-the-ear coif. After the cut, however, I cried. I thought I looked like a boy, and even though I was what would be considered a tomboy, I didn’t want to look like a boy. I didn’t cut it again (aside from trims here and there courtesy of my mom) until I was in middle school. Even though I didn’t go very short that time, I saw how fun a haircut could be and started a cycle of growing it out and chopping it off that lasted through college. I kept going shorter and shorter, including a brief pixie phase my sophomore year, so growing it out became more of a challenge. But, somehow, the year I graduated from college I managed to start growing it long. And it got really long.

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Peru, Part 6: Travel Woes and Whoas

This is the last of my posts about Peru. I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences with you! I’ll be returning to my regular, random posts next time. -Sarah

It seems there’s one in every group.* You know, the person who thinks s/he’s the most important person, not only in the group, but in the world. In our group, it was Becca.** Becca would consistently be the last person back on the bus, forcing the rest of us to wait for her to buy something or take one last photo, often making us late or limiting our time at the next place. Not only that, but when we were at a site, she was consistently the last person in an area, always lagging behind (again, to take photos), which wouldn’t have been so bad if, when she rejoined the group, she stayed at the back, knowing she’d be near the rear when we’d move to the next area.

This is at the base of the Sillustani Tombs, a pre-Inca site.

This is at the base of the Sillustani Tombs, a pre-Inca site.

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Peru, Part 5: Dos Sara(h)s, Con Gas OR I’ve Got a New Altitude

Not to toot my own horn, but I not only published my 125th blog post last time, but I also hit over 17,000 all-time views! Thank you so much for reading, following, and passing along my blog. I appreciate you! In case the title and my intro didn’t give it away, I’m going to talk about, um, tooting, so if that’s not what you’re into, feel free to skip this post and please accept my apologies and this photo as a consolation. -Sarah

Snow-Cap-ped Mountains

Snow-Cap-ped Mountains

As you read in previous posts, I was in Peru for ten days and spent a lot of time up and down the Andes at various altitudes. In Peru, as in other Spanish-speaking countries (I’d imagine), when ordering water in a restaurant, they would ask “Con or sin gas?” meaning with or without carbonation. Carbonated or flat? Sparkling* or tap? Regular or fizzy? I learned to request “Dos aguas, sin gas” when Sara and I were out,*** after which they would bring us a bottle of regular water or a glass from the tap.

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Peru, Part 4: Machu Picchu! or Baby Llama Drama

This is the fourth part of my multi-part post about Peru. To see Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here; and for Part 3, click here. Enjoy! – Sarah

Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge

Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge

Machu Picchu means “old peak” in Quechua (kay-CHWAH). It’s pronounced “MAH-choo PEEK-choo” but most people miss the k-sound in the second word.

 

I never connected the Andes mints with the Andes mountains until this trip...

I never connected the Andes mints with the Andes mountains until this trip…

Machu Picchu* sits at roughly 8,000 feet in elevation in a valley surrounded by four peaks in a mountain ridge near the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It was built in the 15th Century and remained standing after the Incas fled and the Spanish conquistadors arrived, which is remarkable because the Spanish destroyed or damaged most of the Inca sites throughout Peru. They didn’t know about Machu Picchu, though, and neither did much of the world for most of the next four centuries.

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Peru, Part 3: I Ate The Whole (Guinea) Pig!*

This is the next installment of the multi-part posting about my trip to Peru. To read Part 1, click here; for Part 2, click here. Enjoy! – Sarah

Peru offered many experiences that differ from my usual activities in the United States. In addition to dusting off my Spanish, I tried local culinary delights that aren’t available–or aren’t acceptable–in the U.S. At the same location where we stopped for the weaving demonstration, we feasted on a lunch prepared by the family who hosted us for the afternoon. They made delicious bean and quinoa dishes, cooked corn with kernels the size of a nickel, and, of course, the local crop: potatoes. There were dishes upon dishes, brought out steaming fresh that we feasted upon. The main course consisted of chicken and a small slice of guinea pig. Yes, you read that right: guinea pig.

I think he knows what's for lunch...

I think he knows what’s for lunch…

I’m a mild meat-eater, favoring vegetarian dishes at home because of the ease and expense, and because it’s easy to make a vegetarian meal for one person; most of my meat-heavy recipes are better suited for two or more, and, although I love leftovers, it’s a lot of work cooking, and there’s no one there to appreciate your effort. While I don’t consciously avoid meat for any reason, I do try to be a responsible meat-eater whenever possible. But, when in Rome, as they say…

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Peru, Part 2: Gatos in Gardens, Drowsy Dogs in Doorways

This is Part 2 of my series on Peru. For Part 1, click here. Enjoy! – Sarah

As we made our way into Lima, where we spent the first two nights in Peru, Sara pointed out to me that there were several cats loitering in a park we passed.

“We have to find that park,” she said, in true cat lover fashion. I’m a dog person, so I understand loving animals. But I like cats the way cats like people: very discriminately. And I’m wary of strays of any kind, especially in large groups. Sara and I were nearly mauled by a pack of wild dogs in Costa Rica three years ago, so I think I’ve earned that wariness. But this is all fodder for different posts. Since it was dark and we drove for a while to get to our hotel after passing the park, I didn’t think we’d come anywhere near the cats.

The next day, we had a morning tour of the city: saw a cathedral with catacombs*, went to the square near the president’s house (Lima is the capitol of Peru), and visited a few other historical sites, including ruins that only recently have been excavated. They left most of what they uncovered as they found it, but restored part so visitors can see what the ruins looked like in their heyday. We had the afternoon free before we met for a pre-dinner de-briefing and meet-and-greet.

These were the first ruins we saw, right in the middle of Lima. The line between restored and untouched is just to the left of the tree.

These were the first ruins we saw, right in the middle of Lima. The line between restored and untouched is just to the left of the tree.

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Sara y Sarah en Peru: Part 1- I Can Peru, Can You?

Greetings! I usually post on Thursdays, but I did Wednesday this week because I just got back last week from ten days in Peru and I couldn’t wait to start sharing with you. It was amazing. My next few posts will be a breakdown of the trip, along with photos and some random jokes and observations thrown in. Enjoy! -Sarah

My friend Stacia went to Machu Picchu in April, and after viewing her photos I thought, When will I ever go to Machu Picchu? I’m never going to be able to go. So when my friend SaraH* emailed me mid-June with a link to the Groupon deal showing a llama with Machu Picchu in the background, asking, “Any interest?” I wrote her back within the hour “YES!” We did a similar trip through Living Social to Costa Rica in 2011 and it was wonderful, and we make good travel buddies (which is important), so we’ve been looking for our next adventure** since then.

Self-portrait: San Jose, Costa Rica.

Self-portrait: San Jose, Costa Rica.

Sara y Sarah. The volcano behind us is Arenal.

Sara y Sarah. The volcano behind us is Arenal.

Because it’s Groupon and the deals don’t last, we had to act fast. I had to check with work to make sure I could take that much time off and what dates would work best, so by the time we booked some of the better dates had been snatched up. It’s winter there now, heading toward spring and a rainy season, so we didn’t want to travel past the end of August, but since it was already mid-June we didn’t have much time to plan, prepare, or even peruse Peru’s travel destinations.

“I haven’t prepared for this trip at all,” I told SaraH on our flight from Miami to Lima. “Me either,” she said. “It’ll be a surprise each day!” Okay, so we were on a guided tour and they told us every evening what we were doing the next day, plus we had copies of our itinerary, so it wasn’t a total surprise, but we did lose track of the days. We packed so much in from the time we landed on Sunday that by Tuesday I told SaraH, “It’s only the third day of our trip.” We couldn’t believe it.

Good luck followed me from the beginning, though, because I got to go through expedited security checks in both airports (Minneapolis and Miami), which meant not having to take off my shoes/jacket or pull out my liquids (I must not appear to be a threat), and on one of our flights during the trip (we flew from Lima to Cuzco and from Juliaca to Lima) I was upgraded to First Class!*** And we won a hotel room lottery our last night.

The next few blog posts will be devoted to different excursions/highlights–llamas! alpacas! snow-capped mountains! almost falling off Machu Picchu! guinea pigs! and much, much more. Complete with pictures. The above photos are both from Costa Rica, but here are a few from Peru to picque**** your interest:

 

First live llama spotting. Very exciting.

First live llama spotting. Very exciting.

These bulls with crosses are on a lot of rooftops. They're supposed to bring good luck and fertility. I certainly had good luck on my trip. Can't speak to the other...

These bulls with crosses are on a lot of rooftops. They’re supposed to bring good luck and fertility. I certainly had good luck on my trip. Can’t speak to the other…

Potatoes originated from Peru. This photo was taken at the Mercado de Miercoles (Wednesday Market).

Potatoes originated from Peru. This photo was taken at the Mercado de Miercoles (Wednesday Market).

No, this isn't Machu Picchu, but it was my second favorite site. Las Ruinas de Pisaq. It was spectacular, and we felt like the only people there.

No, this isn’t Machu Picchu, but it was my second favorite site. Las Ruinas de Pisaq. It was spectacular, and we felt like the only people there.

Also Las Ruinas de Pisaq. It was so great to take photos without other people in them.

Also Las Ruinas de Pisaq. It was so great to take photos without other people in them.

Sneak Peak-chu! Machu Picchu.

Sneak Peek-chu! Machu Picchu.

It was this cathedral's patron saint's festival while we were in town. It was really fun to see.

It was this cathedral’s patron saint’s festival while we were in town. It was really fun to see.

Highest elevation I've been to: over 14,000. This was moving from the mountains to the high plateau.

Highest elevation I’ve been to: over 14,000. This was moving from the mountains to the high plateau.

We saw some floating islands (the Uros Islands) on Lake Titicaca. They're made entirely of reeds. And this little imp lived on the one we visited. She was quite the charmer!

We saw some floating islands (the Uros Islands) on Lake Titicaca. They’re made entirely of reeds. And this little imp lived on the one we visited. She was quite the charmer!

Llamas, alpacas, vicunas (pictured), and guanacos are the four camelids native in Peru. The first two are domesticated, the second two are wild. Vicunas (such as the one pictured) are very soft and are the national animal of Peru.

Llamas, alpacas, vicunas (pictured), and guanacos are the four camelids native in Peru. The first two are domesticated, the second two are wild. Vicunas (such as the one pictured) are very soft and are the national animal of Peru.

*You remember SaraH from “I Fought the Pontoon” and “Something to Blog About” (I went to the Cayman Islands with her and her parents).

**Remind me to tell you about our adventures in Costa Rica. They included almost getting bit by a shark and almost being mauled by a pack of wild dogs. And I went surfing!

***I was the only one from our trip (aside from the guide) to fly First Class. Which is now “Business Class” but we all know it’s all pleasure up there. You can call it whatever you like, but with hot towels, unlimited beverages, extra legroom, and real dinnerware, it’s not at all like “work.”

****Picque-chu your interest? Sorry, that was bad.

August: Ramsey County

Okay, so I borrowed the title from a play that was turned into an Oscar nominated film starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts that I never saw. I’ve become a broken record of posting about not posting, and not posting about not posting, but the worse part is, I haven’t been writing my manuscript in lieu of posting either.

But, the roughest rough draft first version of the full manuscript of my CYOA book will be done on Saturday, come hell or high water. So, look for more posts here soon!

I’ve been eating at the cafeteria of the hospital just up the road from my office. The food’s pretty good, not too pricey, and every once in a while they have “broasted chicken day” * or “Mexican haystack day” **, both of which everyone goes nuts over, from what I hear. I’ve been trying to eat less sodium lately, but I happened to glance at the salt packet basket*** (because, apparently, that is a thing) and I noticed that the salt packets had different colored dots on them: hot pink, yellow, green. Neat, I thought, taking a closer look. Bland,” the pink one read. That’s weird, I thought, picking up the green one. “Regular.” Okay, I thought, maybe one’s saltier than the other. I grabbed the yellow one: “Sugar Free.” So don’t worry, guys, I ate the sugar free salt. I reasoned it out (because they contain the exact same ingredients): I think they’re so people who have restricted diets know which ones they are allowed to have. I guess salt is okay for anything but a salt-free/low sodium diet.*****

I love sugar free salt!

I love sugar free salt!

Life’s been anything but bland, however. As you read this (well, if you’re reading this on Thursday morning) I’m in one of two training sessions at an overnight all-staff meeting/retreat (retreating?): Self-Defense or Medical Emergencies. Don’t worry, I’m taking both, I just don’t know which one will be first. Much of my work time has been devoted to various projects for this retreating: photocopying handouts, creating organizational charts, and putting together a PowerPoint–I now know how to create scrolling content! And embed YouTube videos!–which are things I enjoy doing (well, maybe not as much the photocopying, but I really don’t mind that). I love that I get to be creative at work, and it’s nice to have a finished product. There’s been a flurry of back-and-forth emails, though, because these projects are collaborative, and Monday and Tuesday this week have been busy.

As part of this, I got to sit in on a meeting for the planning committee for the all-staff meeting (and yes, I am one of those people who actually likes those kinds of meetings, both the planning and the all-staff stuff). The person in charge of the long-ago aforementioned training sessions had sent out an email from which we were supposed to pick two of three choices: Self-Defense, Medical Emergencies, and Workplace Bullying. When asked for an update on the sessions, the person said, “Self-Defense is all-set and ready to go, there was an issue with the Medical Emergencies, but it’s been taken care of. Most people signed up for those two, so if anyone signed up late or didn’t sign up, I just stuck them in Workplace Bullying and they can deal with it.” I think I’m the only one who found humor in that whole explanation.

And I’ve found someone who loves puns as much as I do, MF. Here are some pun-filled text-exchanges:

MF: I like wildebeests.

Me: I gnu you would.

MF: Okapi dokie! Can’t beat me when it comes to African ungulate puns.

Me: We’ll tsetse about that.

MF: That’s an insect. I’ll let you ruminant on it for a while so you can come up with a better one.

MF: If you don’t come up with a better one, you owe me a (water)buck.

Me: I’m rhinoceri about that. All this yakking has gotten me impala. I gazelle! The saiga continues.

Me: I’ll just put on my rheboks and make like an antelope. HAART(beast)!

Me: Can I get a hip(po) hip(po) hooray for that?

MF: Yaks are Asian. You can’t buffalo me with your extra-continental antics.

Me: Sorry that was takin me so long. I’m laughing so hard I’m crying.

MF: (Sent at the same time as my next one–see below) I don’t mean to be a dik dik about it, but you just aren’t in my league when it comes to African animal puns.

Me: Don’t be a dik dik.******

♦♦♦♦♦♦

MF: Do you realize that “feet” are a constant theme in your writing?

MF: Plus, you worked at a shoe store…You know, it’s okay if you have a foot fetish. I’m not here to judge.

Me: No, I didn’t notice. Weird. Well, it’s like they always say: Feet are the window to the sole.

MF: That’s a toeriffic pun.

MF: I’m glad feet aren’t your arch enemy.

Me: I’m glad you’re so supportive. You’re like the Dr. Scholls of pun-ions.

MF: Aww, don’t be so corny.

Me: Don’t be a heel; you love corny.

Me: Nailed it.

MF: This whole conversation is getting very meta-tarsus.

Me: I don’t know about you, but I’m having a ball.

MF: I can’t think of any more foot references. I’m in sort of a bind.

Me: Don’t worry, you just have to step up your game a bit. Kick it up a notch.

MF: Okay, I’ll try to pull myself out of this tench.

MF: Trench.

Me: It’s punnier when you put your foot in your mouth with typos.

Me: Pull yourself up…by your bootstraps?

MF: Now, I’m feeling loose.

Me: …and fancy-free?

MF: I wonder if we can keep this up until we’re six feet under.

Me: Probably not; I’ve just about run out.

MF: Maybe we should stubstitute a different body part.

Me: Like hands? They’re a shoe-in.

MF: I was kidding; I’m not ready to knuckle under quite yet.

Me: You toedally had me fooled. I’m kicking myself. Gullibility is my Achilles heel.

MF: You stomped me.

Me: I feel like I had a leg up on you. Foot fetish (feetish?) and all.

♣♣♣♣♣♣

MF is a photographer, among other things. You should check out his photography website.

I hope your day is full of puns and vigor!*******

 

*As far as I can tell, it is not broasted. But, it is delicious, and that’s all that matters.

**This is basically a giant pile of nachos, except the cheese isn’t melted, just piled on the top like a–you guessed it–haystack.

***Sasket? Sapket? Packset? Chicken in a Biscuit?****

****This is a real brand of crackers. It doesn’t contain real chicken, but it does contain soy protein. So. Yeah.

*****Blue? Orange? Purple? The sad thing is, I’ll never know because they will never make a salt packet for a salt-free/low sodium diet. Blergh.

******The following are all African ungulates (hoofed animals): wildebeest, gnu, okapi, waterbuck, ruminant (classification), rhinoceros, impala, gazelle, saiga, rhebok, antelope, haartbeast, hippopotamus, takin, dik dik. Yaks are Asian. African buffalos are (obviously) African; water buffalos are Asian. There are so many more. Can you think of any?

*******Instead of piss and vinegar. Gross.

Video Killed the Radio Star

I have a face for radio and a voice for silent films. Just kidding.

But I’ve had a lot of video/radio experiences recently. And I got new iPod headphones yesterday. So exciting!

Hello! I’m sorry my posting has been so sporadic lately, but the book is still taking priority. I have a new deadline and even more reason to finish, so things will probably still be light here for a few more weeks. BUT, in keeping with the title, I thought I’d post links to some videos. I posted one of them here but I realized I didn’t post the other three so here they are:

Carl the Cat*

Nicknames***

Motion Sickness*****

Turning a Corner

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Still Alive

That’s the subject line on an email chain a group of friends of mine and I have going. I don’t remember who started it, but it feels applicable to all of us, and it feels applicable for me this week especially. I am still alive, even though my posting here has been fewer and farther between lately. My writing is still alive, even though most of it has been diverted elsewhere (though I do have 16 drafts on here in various stages of completion that someday I hope to finish). And, most importantly, my father is still alive this week, even though he had a health scare on Monday and has been in the hospital. I don’t want to go into it, except to say that he is doing well–really well–he should be going home today, and we are all very thankful that he is, indeed, still alive.

Dad as Super Chef

This week has just been one of those weeks, however.

It has rained so much on-and-off recently that I’d be curious to see the precipitation numbers for the country this year so far. I haven’t minded the rain; it’s easier to stay inside writing when it’s not appealing to go outside, but I, too, enjoy relaxing in the sun. I’m nearly nose-deep in the manuscript and am trying my darnedest to meet my [self-imposed] deadline on Monday, but all I want to do is anything else. All I wanted to do the past three days is be home with my dad.

I've worn a groove in the shape of a heart in my N-key. I feel like that means something.

I’ve worn a groove in the shape of a heart in my N-key. I feel like that means something.

Yesterday morning I woke* to the sounds of my neighbor (below, I think, though it sounded like it could have been from anywhere) pounding an entire gallery’s worth of nails into my skull the wall. I realize I’m not a morning person, but I think we can all agree that 7 AM is too early for home repairs and redecorating, especially if you share walls with strangers.**

I’ve been testing out a new commute: the Green Line light rail replaced my express bus, so it’s taking me longer to get into work, and I haven’t yet figured out the best bus-to-train situation. Sometimes the 7:40 bus gets me to the train as it’s pulling up, sometimes I miss it by that much, and sometimes I end up waiting for 15 minutes, which means I could have taken the next bus and still gotten to work at the same time (but slept for an extra 10 minutes), which is what happened on Monday.

Yesterday morning, I managed to catch the 7:40 bus (which used to come at 7:44 but now comes closer to 7:41), and I was all set to get to work early, make a cup of tea, and get going on the day when about a mile into the trip, a motorcycle turned left in front of the bus and clipped the front right part of the fender. The bus driver pulled over, hopped off to see if the cyclist–who was not knocked over and who did not stop–was okay. I ended up filling out a witness card and wishing I had taken the later bus, especially since the later bus pulled up to the stop where I transfer to the light rail at the same time as my bus.

But, the anthology in which an essay of mine was published came in the mail last week and it is thrilling to see my name in print.

My essay!

My essay!

Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland

Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland

In a fit of belated spring cleaning, I organized my closet, and it looks so much nicer.

Yes, I do organize by color.

Yes, I do organize by color.

My coworker gave me pesto she made with basil from her garden, and it made a delicious addition to my pasta this week, which is good because I haven’t bought groceries in a while.

Pesto Pasta

Pesto Pasta

And I’ve spoken to my parents every day this week, which doesn’t always happen, but it’s nice when it does. Today I get to do some role-playing at work, which should be fun, and I’ve got more improv shows on the horizon.

I’m still alive. And if you’re reading this, so are you. And sometimes, that’s all that matters.

 

*Technically, I had been “up” for about a half-hour, but I don’t really wake up until 10 AM. Perhaps he was retaliating for my late-night movie-watching of late.

**Walls With Strangers is the sequel to Strangers With Candy, which was the prequel to Perfect Strangers. Which is strange, because they have nothing to do with one another.

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