Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mushy Christmas thoughts.

I'm currently sitting at my parents' house, in my old-bedroom-now-converted-into-a-spare-room. I can hear Christmas music wafting in from the kitchen, as well as the clanging of metal and glass as my parents put away the last of the fancy Christmas dishes. We just finished a delicious brunch of blueberry waffles and mini quiches. I made the quiches. I love quiche.

Somehow I got out of dishes by saying "I think I'm going to write a Christmas blog." I have no idea how that worked. Apparently if I say things like that with enough authority, they actually sound legit. So with my mother's approval ("blog away, Tina"), I am going to try to wrap up the feelings stirring in me from the holidays going on and the end of the year so closely on the horizon.

This year has been a shaky one. I know that in the grand scheme of things, I have a wonderful life and I am very fortunate in pretty much every aspect of my existence. I am thankful every single day that I have a caring, fun family, amazing friends in all parts of the world, and I get to do the things I love for a living. But that doesn't mean I can't have difficult stuff going on sometimes. At the start of this year, I wasn't in a very good place. I don't need to dwell on the specifics - instead, today, as I look back on everything that's happened since this time last year - I want to climb up on my roof and scream as loud as I can about how much better things are.

I really am truly happy right now. I've made a lot of life changes.. from deciding to stay in Seattle and getting involved in things here, to making a bunch of new friends in my town, to letting go of some people who were holding me back. From all the little changes I've had to make to take care of my vocal nodes, to trying to jump back into writing, to starting to learn to cook a bit so I can eat more healthily, I'm feeling so great about the direction I'm going. Everything bad that happens to us in life will get better with time and healing, and I feel so relieved to be able to revel in really feeling whole right now.

I'm excited for what the new year will bring - ever since I got involved in the amazing Internet communities I'm a part of, I have been blown away year after year that each one seems even more incredible than the last. I have a good feeling that 2012 is going to follow that trend.

Christmas at home had been nice. I know many families go to their grandparent's house or share the day with a whole slew of aunts and uncles and cousins, but my extended family all lives quite far away. While we do make it a point to see them in the summer, Christmas has always been a time just for my Mom, Dad, brother and myself. Each year is fairly similar to the one before it, but that's why it's special. We only have each other out here when it comes to family, so I cherish the moments we have together, opening gifts, making/eating food, going to church (despite my own beliefs) and playing cards.

I got a lovely pile of gifts including a Kindle Touch, the game Catch Phrase, a bunch of candles, an Urban Decay eyeshadow palette, Kermit footy pajamas and a gorgeous jade necklace my Mom bought me in China (among other things). It's kind of nice to be a bit older and more mature around Christmastime.. it was always so stressful when I was younger, always getting hung up on the gifts. I remember fretting over my wish list, worrying my friends would get better presents or things I didn't think of - that all seems so silly now. I almost prefer giving gifts to receiving them now; seeing the looks on people's faces when I manage to get them exactly what they wanted is seriously the best.

My favorite gift I gave this year was a Jayne hat (from Firefly) to my dad. We really bonded over that show a few years back, and he loved the episode when Jayne's mom sent him the dorky orange hat. I've been waiting to see my dad crack up when he opened that gift for months. My favorite gift I received was from my brother Nick - he installed a stereo in my car all by himself. He's been working on it out in the garage all weekend. It means a lot that he'd put that much labor into a gift for me. :)

The necklace from my mom, as well, is very special. She picked it out for me at the Jade factory in China, and it's supposed to bring happiness and love into my life. I'm a little worried this means she's wishing for some grandkids, haha, but unfortunately for her it's going to be a good long while before that's on the table. Like, after I meet a boy, specifically. #foreveralone

I know a lot of my blog posts recently have been sort of mushy I-love-my-life type ramblings, but I'm just so, so happy with how things have changed for me. It wasn't that long ago when I felt like it was going to be impossible to turn things around, and I'm just amazed with how easy it ended up being. I think the obstacles and choices in our life really do happen for a reason, and I'm glad to be right here, exactly where I am.

This might be my last blog post of the year (maybe not though, I might need to do one of those stereotypical go-through-the-months posts) but at the very least, I'm positive I'm not flying anywhere else in 2011.

So for the last time...

Flights taken: 26 (not bad for one year!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December funtimes and parties.

Life is so exciting right now. December in general is always a total blast, but this year seems even more excitingly off the wall, probably because I am more involved in my own city than I ever have been before.

Thursday I went to the Child's Play Charity Auction -- this was a big fancy event for local nerds to come together and try to raise money for Penny Arcade's awesome charity that gets games and toys for bed-ridden and sick kids in hospitals nation-wide. I wont say a ton, because this is actually going to be the topic of my Project4Awesome video this year, but I am so glad I went to the event. Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade ran the live auction, which was hilarious, and I met a lot of really great people. Plus, seeing that many nerds dressed in their fanciest clothes is always a neat experience.

Yesterday Liz and I watched the special holiday episode of Community, and it was so good that once it ended, we literally just went back and watched it a second time. This is a big deal for me to say, as a huge fan of music episodes of non-musical shows... but it might have stolen first place for best musical episode of a show ever. At the very least it's tied for first with Buffy.
It could just be that I'm emotional about it being the last episode they're airing for awhile, as we've now entered the much despised Community hiatus. NBC wouldn't know a good thing if it aired weekly on Thursdays on their own channel. ...wait.

Last night I went to the Cheezburger Network Holiday party with the rest of the Know Your Meme team. There were free drinks and free food and I discovered this amazing beer that was red and fruity and called Lindemans Framboise. It didn't even taste like beer at all, which instantly makes it my favorite kind of beer.

The party was at the Tap House down in Seattle, which is this incredible bar with something like 160 beers on tap. The funny thing is, the after-party for the Child's Play Auction was also at the Tap House (though the Bellevue branch) so it's been a beer-filled week for me. Good thing I know my tricks, like the Framboise and various ciders, since I'm not really a beer person at all.

Then we had a little game's night at my house after the Cheezburger party, where we played a lot of games that actually only ended up being fun once we revised the rules ourselves. There will be a video about this, but using the cards from Dixit, we created an epic tale about a powerful sorcerer, a bearded child, the search for a key, an illegitimate baby, the betrayal of a divisive mistress and the death of a poor heroic slum kid. I don't even know.

I'm actually very, very glad I don't have any plans today, because it's the first time in a long time that I get to just catch up on my TV shows and play some WoW. I can't wait. :D

Flights taken: 26

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Post NaNoWriMo wrap-up.

It's funny to me that the day after I finish NaNoWriMo, the first thing I think is, "Ooh! I should write a blog post!"

But here I am. I guess if there's one thing to be said about my life, it's that I never really tired of writing. Oh sure, I get sick of writing certain THINGS, but never of writing itself.

So, the last three days were spent in a sort of NaNo-psychosis. I hit 50,000 words on Monday. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday, I proceeded to write 16,000 more words on top of that, because I am a crazy person, and I knew I would hate myself if I didn't finish my story and get to write the neat little "the end" before calling it a month and saying goodbye to NaNoWriMo for another year. Ended with 66,360, which is my longest novel yet, in 6 years.

So Liz and I stocked up on energy drinks and fast food (I'm not proud) and we converted our living room into a sort of crazy-person's den. And we wrote. So much.

Last night when we finished around 9:30PM, our friends caught wind and they barely even gave us a choice - they tweeted immediately, "we're coming over". It was partially so they could take us out to celebrate, but partially because Liz and I have both been so anti-social lately and they were just as thrilled as we were that it was over.

Anyway, we were both so unshowered and crazy and cave-person-like that we BOLTED to our rooms to make ourselves presentable to the outside world. Once our friends got here we walked down to a local bar and had a lovely, lovely carefree evening celebrating our novelly accomplishments. My friend Molly took this picture of Liz and I to commemorate the occasion.

It's nice, being done. NaNoWriMo is an event I would never skip out on, because the experience is so character building and you learn so much about yourself and your limits, but man is it hard. It's nice to know I have 11 more months until I need to think about it again, though I do plan on going back and doing a little editing on this one, unlike most previous years.

It's also nice having such awesome friends to celebrate these kinds of accomplishments with. I'm really looking forward to December; there's always so many great parties and events and get-togethers, and I really need that this month. I spent a LOT of time alone writing during the last 30 days, guys. A lot.

I got a new laptop on Black Friday and I am currently playing around with it and setting everything up, so I think this will be the end of this blog post. Happy December, everyone!

Flights taken: 26

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Things I am thankful for.

I really should be hopping in the shower, packing my bag, and heading down to my parents house right now, but before I set the gears in motion for my day, I wanted to stop, take a moment, and think about what I am actually thankful for this year.

Thanksgiving is kind of a silly holiday if you actually think about it. You have to eat the exact same foods every single year, there's the whole madness with Christmas shopping starting the next morning, and really - we should be thankful for the things we have YEAR ROUND. But there's something special and beautiful about tradition. It's because we eat the same food each year that makes it that much more delicious. It's getting caught up in ridiculous Black Friday shopping and parades put on by corporations that reminds us that we're human. It's taking a day or a weekend to slow down and spend time with the people we love that really reminds us that we have things to be thankful for.

So I love Thanksgiving, I love my family, and I love the friends I have in my life that have become my second family since I moved out of my parents' house.

Here are the things I am thankful for this year:
  • Candles that smell like pumpkin and cinnamon rolls and cupcakes.
  • Our web series Kickstarter doing so well and getting such great reception.
  • Deciding not to move to LA so things like this web series can happen.
  • Being glad every single day I decided not to move to LA.
  • Knowing some of my best friends live down there but that they'll always be there for me, regardless of how often we see each other.
  • NaNoWriMo being a constant driving motivator in my life.
  • NaNoWriMo almost being over.
  • Colin coming home for Thanksgiving and getting to spend time with him.
  • Liz and I getting to live together after 4 years in different cities.
  • My mom getting to travel and swapping stories with her about foreign countries.
  • My brother getting an awesome job and starting his post high-school education.
  • My dad and I always having the exact same taste in TV and always having a new show to talk about.
  • No matter how busy our lives get, Eia always being the best best friend a girl could ask for.
  • All the stuffing leftovers I'm going to get to eat this weekend.
I hope you guys all have a great Thanksgiving, or if you're not from America, then a great.. you know, whatever. Have a great week. Haha. I'm heading home now to see my lovely family. :)

Flights taken: 26

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two new very exciting projects!

Bet you didn't think you'd get TWO blog posts from me this month, did you?

While I have been fraught with a month-long condition of constant non-negotiable guilt with NaNoWriMo on my shoulders (literally every moment I spend not writing is spent at least partially in guilt), I have also been bursting at the seams with the preparation of exciting projects I couldn't talk about publicly yet. And if you know anything abut me, you know how much I love talking about exciting projects.

Anyway, this blog post is in honor of the fact that I can now openly speak about not one but TWO of the secrets I've been stealthily keeping from you guys. One being the new channel "Answerly" I'm a part of with Hayley Hoover and Joseph Birdsong (we'll be answering your questions and giving our tips and advice weekly about various topics; mine is nerd and gaming). This is awesome and exciting and not in the slightest any sort of replacement for previous collab channels we may have been part of. This is an entirely new project, one I am incredibly pumped about. I'll be posting every Friday. :)

The second exciting secret, however, is a bit more relevant to you guys, as you're a part of what inspired it in the first place. It's no secret that Hayley and I are both absolutely in love with our blog readers and favor you above all other people on the Internet, haha. I am happy to announce that my second secret project also involves her, and that we are launching a website today that hosts information about the NEW BOOK WE WERE GOING TO WRITE THAT ALSO INCLUDES YOU.

The book is going to be called Less Than Three: Stories about Love, Like, and the Internet. You can find out more of the details on our website, but the main exciting part is that it's going to be a compilation of short stories and we're hoping at least a few of you out there (if not lots of you) consider yourself writers enough to want to submit a short story of your own to the collection. We haven't announced this on YouTube or twitter or anything yet, so know that as our faithful and loyal blog readers, we made sure YOU were the first to know about this project. Because we like you and stuff. We'll be taking submissions until the end of January and releasing the book during the summer of 2012. I'm so nervous and excited to be announcing this. :D

Anyway, I have another 2,000 or so words to write today for NaNoWriMo, so that's all for now. But please, if you're interested, check out Answerly and check out the Less Than Three website; we're very excited about both these new projects and we hope you guys like them too!

Flights taken: 26

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Playing "Dread".

I've been avoiding this blog like the plague so I have enough energy to hit my word count goals each day for NaNoWriMo, and I am happy to announce that I am currently exactly on track, hovering around 15,000 words on day 9. Today I am feeling a little bit burnt out on my novel though, so even though I've only written about a thousand words today, I am taking some time off to work on.... other writing projects, all evening. I hate myself.

I wanted to write up a little review of the game I played last night with my friends Tara, Alexander, Forest, Justin and Liz. The game was called "Dread", and was run by our other friend Michael. It was essentially a tabletop role-playing game, but instead of using dice to determine our actions, we used a Jenga set. Depending on what your character wanted to do, you had to pull Jenga pieces. If the tower collapsed while you were up, your character died. It definitely made for a much more intense, pressure-filled game.

Before we played, Michael sent out a series of different questions to each of us to help us build our characters. He made sure to add that instead of creating characters designed to win, we should just create really interesting, dynamic characters. This is how I ended up on a survival based camping trip as a spoiled, rich sorority girl who hates mud. I went into the game thinking my character was going to be the absolute least likely to survive, regardless of where the campaign led us.

The funny thing about role-playing games, though, is that you really never can predict where it's going to go. Despite my character's lack of survival skills, the fact that she slept with their guide (which pissed off a lot of the other campers), and her main concern being that she get home in time for a big frat party, somehow she managed to be the one who pulled off a majority of the most badass things that happened.

She was the one who doused the woods in moonshine to start a forest fire to make a signal to try and contact nearby planes. She was the one who thought to get the crazy werewolf conspiracy theorist to fashion one of her gaudy silver rings into a makeshift knuckle-knife. She was the one who noticed the oncoming wolf in the first place, having to flash everyone (in game) to get their attention (because they were all fighting over some stupid drama). She was the one who ended up mostly defenseless, on the opposite side of the wolf as everyone else, deciding to run forward and stab the wolf in the eye to try and catch it off guard. And in the end, she was one of the only three characters who survived, having killed the wolf and proven better in Jenga than the three losing players.

In the end, it doesn't really matter if you live or die, because everyone got to experience the whole game and it was fun either way. There's something extremely satisfying, though, being a relatively "stupid" character and proving to be the most useful, despite what people assumed by stereotyping at the beginning of the game.

Some highlights from the game include:
-Alexander playing a character that spent most of the game drinking the moonshine that had been smuggled along by Justin's character, and after awhile starting to hallucinate. At one point, he thought he was killing the wolf in a valiant act to save everyone, but in fact was repeatedly stabbing a tree.

-Liz playing a socially awkward character who had met our camping guide online and had lied about her appearance, saying she was tall and blonde. When we got on the trip, the guide mistook his online lover for MY character, since her fake description fit what my character looked like, which is why she in turn ended up sleeping with the guide.

-The body of the guide mysteriously disappearing in the night, and Tara and Liz's characters being upset that the boy's characters weren't keeping good enough watch. Finding out later the boys were the ones who actually dumped the body in the river, for fear of him turning into a werewolf.

We had such a blast playing Dread; I am super lucky that my friends are all such creative and fun people as well, or else a game like this wouldn't be nearly as exciting. Not to mention we went all out, eating hot dogs and making microwave s'mores to really get in the camping mindset. I can't wait to play again. :)

Flights taken: 26

Saturday, October 29, 2011

HALLOWEEN!! The best.

I am the happiest girl. :D

And that's saying something, because I have a headache on top of being sick. But last night was our infamous Halloween party and it didn't disappoint. A bunch of people came over earlier to help set up, but as usual (and as it should be) the boys ended up setting up while the girls got into our My Little Pony costumes. I know we already did this at BlizzCon, but it was really fun to have another group of ponies together, this time including Twilight Sparkle, Big Macintosh and Apple Bloom (as well as our Pinkie Pie, Spike and Apple Jack).

Oh, speaking of Apple Jack - Ariana SURPRISED US AND SHOWED UP AT OUR PARTY. So, a few weeks ago we made the Facebook invite for the party and added Ariana on principle since she was a large part of last year's epic Mammoth Caves party. She obviously lives in LA now but we gave her a lot of crap about making a trip up for it; we spent a good week or two collectively trying to peer pressure her into doing it. She brushed us off and eventually we gave up trying (it is a long way to travel for a party I guess).

But then last night (man the timing was perfect) Liz and Eia and I headed out to the store to buy some more party snacks and drink mixers and in the mean time, Ariana showed up at our house (sufficiently surprising Justin). Then when we got back, I had a nose blowing emergency and ran upstairs, leaving Eia and Liz to have their own discovering-of-Ariana experience. The funniest part is, before coming back downstairs, I had tweeted "Mammoth Caves Halloween Party COMMENCE!"

I walked in the living room and took in all the awesome lights and decorations (the boys did a great job), then wandered into the dining room where everyone else was standing. I saw the boys finishing up with the table cloths and then I saw all the girls huddled in the corner and then I did this sort of double take because even though after BlizzCon I am pretty used to seeing Ariana in her Apple Jack costume, I suddenly realized she was IN MY DINING ROOM and not in LA where I thought she was and I definitely let out an expletive or two when I put it all together. Her mom's birthday was also this week, so it made the trip easy for her to justify taking. I was so happy. I can't believe she kept that a secret from all of us. Incredible.

There was lots of hugging and jumping around and incredulous-ness and then it was a REAL Mammoth Caves Party. The whole night was so fun and perfect. Our old roommate Tyler who moved to San Francisco whom we all adored happened to be in town as well so he came to the party too, which was just the icing on the cake. We had so many great people there, and good music to dance to and jello in the shape of a brain to eat and spoons to balance on our noses... every ache and pain in my head and sinus region is totally worth it because last night was so great.

Halloween is already my favorite holiday, but when you're surrounded by that many amazing friends (and my little brother came too!) it just makes you realized what a great place you're at in life. I'm really glad I have managed to find the best of both worlds -- good friends and amazing times here at home, and indescribable and life-changing experiences and people all over the world.

I'm kind of partied out though, even though it's only the 29th. The rest of my Halloween weekend might consist of watching movies like Halloweentown and Hocus Pocus on my couch.

Flights taken: 26

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BLIZZCON and Disneyland.

I feel like this is way too much to try to cram into one blog post about BlizzCon, but here I go attempting to do so anyway.

Thursday: I flew down to LA with Justin, Ariana picked us up at the airport, and then we headed to EchoBase briefly to pick up Erinn and Aaron. The plan was to go immediately down to Anaheim to check into our hotel, pick up our BlizzCon registration, and hit up the WoWHead pre-party.

The line for registration was out-the-door long, but chatting in line and feeling the building anticipation made the time go quickly. This was where the joke "Black Shirt Con" started, I believe, on account of 80% of the people in attendance wearing black shirts. I think that gives a pretty good picture of what this convention was like. We met a guy in line who was wearing a My Little Pony shirt; he definitely approved of the costumes we told him we were wearing the next day.

The swag bags were awesome. The main gift was a model Tyrael from Diablo, a WoW authenticator, and an assortment of other little fun things I can't be bothered to go rifle through my bag to remember. After we go our bags we stuffed them in a friends' car and headed out to the party. Almost immediately Jason and I recognized TradeChat and said hi to her; I was surprised she recognized me as well and would not stop telling me how much she wished she could have my voice. Guess she hasn't heard about the nodes, har har (that was a terrible joke, I'm crying inwardly). We wandered around a bit more, saw Felicia Day sitting at a table surrounded by weird creepo lurking fans (I really did want to try to say hi to her, but not under those circumstances) and then chose to leave the party early in favor of hanging out with Hank Green (who also happened to be in Anaheim at the same time as us).

We kind of made it an early night (well, if you can consider 1-2am "early"; this was a convention) because we wanted to get up early to put on our costumes and see the opening ceremony.

Friday: The morning was a hurricane of tights, makeup, wigs, costume pieces and fighting over the bathroom mirror. We have a guild on the WoW servers called "Friendship is Magic" and all of our characters have My Little Pony related names, so we decided to dress accordingly for the first day of BlizzCon. In the order pictured down below, Aaron was Soarin' from the Wonderbolts, Justin was Spike, I was Pinkie Pie, Ariana was Applejack and Erinn was Rainbow Dash.

For the most part, everyone really loved our costumes. We even met a little girl dressed as Twilight Sparkle, which was just about the cutest thing I have ever seen. We had one or two hardcore BlizzCon attendees give us a little attitude about dressing in non Blizzard attire, but I didn't really care at all. It's called imagination, Black-Shirt. Get some.

Anyway, the first day of BlizzCon was totally awesome. We got to watch a bunch of panels on the new WoW expansion "Mists of Pandaria" (which, as cheesy as martial arts pandas is, sounds really cool). We played the demo (super fun even though we only got 20 minutes - I tried out the new race/class combo Pandaren Monk), we tried to open the prize chests at this one booth with the "epic loot keys" that came in our swag bags, and we attempted to play this bean bag throwing game at the Jinx booth but failed miserably (aside from Justin and Austin who won TEN TIME IN A ROW and won 50% off coupons at Jinx!). We got our pictures taken at the green screen photo booth (ponies in Azeroth!) and Erinn and I got a picture with Tink and Clara from the guild and we found this big mountain thing that looked like the Aggro Crag and we took pictures there too.

Having been to PAX Prime and Emerald City Comic Con, I was a little more prepared for a convention of this magnitude, but the whole thing was still just so incredible to take in. There were rows and rows of computers out on the floor for demo-playing, people milling about everywhere, and booths bigger than anything I've ever seen at previous conventions. Not to mention the attendance level was somewhere in the twenty thousands. WoW feels like such a solitary game when you're alone in your bedroom -- it was amazing to me to be walking around this convention hall seeing the THOUSANDS of people I probably pass in-game as well that only appear to be computers there.

That night we partied in our hotel room a bit but found ourselves pretty exhausted after our first day at the con. I can't even tell you how awesome it felt to take our costumes off as well... eight hours of wearing a long curly wig while walking up and down a gigantic room all day is enough to make anyone crazy.

Saturday: I will admit, we slept in really late the second day of the con. We made our way back to convention center at our leisure, knowing we had plenty of time to hit up all the things we'd missed the day before. We waited in line a while to spin the NVIDIA wheel to try to win prizes (we didn't get anything good) and played the demo again (this time I switched it up and went Pandaren Mage) but spent most of the day just wandering around trying to make sure we didn't miss anything. We finally ran into other friends we knew there and saw their amazing cosplay (Joey and Meghan looked awesome in their tabards and armor, Katers17 had a seriously mind-blowing Priest costume, Jimmy was rocking a murloc suit) and managed to snag pictures with both Bladezz (from the Guild) and Felicia Day. Pretty pumped about that.

The con ended with a Foo Fighters concert, which was great, despite not being able to get in the main room and having to watch it from an overflow stage on the big monitors. I didn't really mind though, because it meant we got to sit down and relax for the concert rather than being jostled around in the crowded see of black-shirts.

Also, some crazy WoW-themed death metal band opened for the Foo Fighters, so we had a grand old time head banging and making fun of their lyrics (example: "it's time to raise some hell" followed by some head banging). Their closing song was called "I AM MURLOC" and consisted of basically all screaming. Pretty great. And by great I mean.. well, you know. Something different.

That night we went and hung in Hank's "Governor's Suite" again, which was a nice way to end the event. He was there scoping things out for VidCon (which is being held in the same space as BlizzCon was) and was given a room much too big for just him, so we were happy to come take up space in it for awhile. When your friends live all over the country, you get to see each other so little -- it's really nice when these freak coincidences happen where you randomly end up in the same city with free time and get to hang out. :)

Later on, we spent our last night in our crappy hotel with our crappy pillows. This group of people has spent so much of the last few years together in hotels though, it's hard to complain. Hotels just feel a little like home, crappy or not.

Sunday: We went to Disneyland. There isn't a ton to report, as it was a pretty standard Disneyland day. Haunted Mansion was The Nightmare Before Christmas themed, which is my favorite, and Justin, Aaron and Erinn got to see World of Color for the first time. They added a little section to World of Color to promote the fourth Pirates movie, and it includes that bit with the mermaid who apparently looks like me. I have to admit, with the image being projected on water like that, it DID kind of look like me. So. That was kind of fun.

I also got to ride the new Little Mermaid ride in DCA as well as the new Star Tours which was incredible. The day was a success, in short.

After Disney we said our goodbyes and only Justin and I continued on to Ariana's apartment. Tyler came to hang out with us, which was nice as it's always a pleasure to see him. The next morning literally all we did was watch the My Little Pony Halloween special, eat breakfast and watch Ariana play WoW (we didn't bring our laptops). It was really nice to have a day to just... relax. Three days of a convention, flying, and a day at Disneyland is taxing on the body, haha.

Since coming home from BlizzCon I've played a lot of WoW, but that's to be expected I suppose. Blizzard knows how to get people excited about their games. I'm so glad we were all able to go, not only because it was a total blast because it really did break up the terrifyingly large span of time we may have to go between seeing each other again. I actually don't know when my next trip is to see my friends, and that always makes me a little uneasy. At least we can run dugeons together. :)

Flights taken: 26

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Emma Stone and Dungeoning.

It's been a fun couple of days.

First of all, yesterday we discovered a bar within walking distance to my house house called "Booze and Burritos". I don't think it get better than that, really. Then last night I ran a dungeon (on WoW) with Justin, Liz, Ariana and Erinn, which was so much fun and really took me back to early last year when the Echo Base boys and I would run dungeons together nearly every night. That's definitely one of my favorite aspects of the game, and it was so nice to have a group of friends together (over skype and in person) working together to accomplish an end.

It got me even more pumped for BLIZZCON, which is this weekend. I've been making plans with Ariana, Justin, Erinn, Aaron, Jason; all my WoW friends will be together this weekend and it's going to be such a blast and I just can't wait. On top of all that, it'll be the first time I've been to LA since JULY, which is kind of strange for me. I was in LA almost every month for awhile there, so it is going to feel really nice to be back with all of my friends for the weekend.

After our dungeoning last night I ended up chatting with Ariana one skype for a good hour or so, and it really made me realize how much I miss a lot of the people down there. I still know I made the right decision to stay in Seattle, but man will it be nice to visit again.

Yesterday I went to this Seattle Blogger Luncheon with Tara and met a lot of really nice local bloggers as well as some great people from New York City who'd flown in for the event. I got there extremely early so I just went inside and decided to make friends with whoever had also arrived early. I ended up chatting with the three ladies hosting the lunch, and one of them said to me, "You know who you remind me of, even though I only met you thirty seconds ago?"
I shook my head no; she continued, "Emma Stone. You have her same energy and kind of a similar face."
At this, I cracked up and told them, "You know, I got that a little after Superbad and Zombieland just based on our looks, but I got it a TON more after Easy A because I'm actually a video blogger too."

The didn't know that I made videos (as it was a blogger lunch and most people were there representing written blogs); so the whole thing was pretty funny. But being compared to Emma Stone is a huge compliment, so I have to say it was a good first impression. Especially since I went to this semi-professional event with pink hair.

Anyway, today I need to film a video and finish packing and try desperately to get my main WoW character at least to level 70 so I don't feel like a TOTAL n00b at BlizzCon, so I should go.

Flights taken: 24

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pink pink pink.

Geez. How has it already been a week since I last blogged. Time sure flies when it's not BEDA.

So, yesterday I dyed my hair pink. It's funny because first I was going to dye it for my Pinkie Pie Costume. Then I found this awesome wig so I decided not to. Then I started wishing I could dye it anyway, just for fun, for a little while, to say I had. Manic Panic dye isn't supposed to last very long (a month tops) so, on a whim Saturday, I bought their regular pink dye and went for it.

Liz helped me do it, and after the whole process, my hair was BARELY tinged pink. There were a few streaks where it was obvious, but overall the dye hadn't really taken. I was bummed.

Sunday I went back and bought Manic Panic's "hot hot pink", which is a bit more fuchsia. I did it again, this time leaving the dye on longer as well.

Oh my god.

My hair is PINK. Like really pink. And I think it looks awesome, but a lot of people have started warning me (despite everyone else's complaints that Manic Panic fades super quickly) that it also can sometimes stain hair and leave a tinge... for a very long time.

Soooo... we'll see. I like it right now; I think it's fun, it'll make the videos I post during the pink dye stage a little more exciting looking, and everyone should play around with dyeing their hair at least once. But now I have my fingers crossed that it fades and washes out normally (like half the people out there say it does) instead of leaving me slightly pink for months and months (like the other half insist it does). I can't really afford to have pink hair THAT long due to other obligations in my life, but I'll sort it out as the time comes. I'm sure there are other options for getting it out if I need to.

Right now I am just going to enjoy it. :D

I thought I'd give an update on further World of Warcraft DJing. Last night I played a bit with Liz and Justin, and these are the songs that came up:

-While questing, and since Liz is kind of new to WoW, she kept asking us to clarify which quest we were on so she could make sure she was tracking it on her screen. One of the quests was called "Bear Necessities", so obviously I played the song of the same name from Jungle Book.

-Liz plays a hunter which has the ability to tame beasts to become her new companion. Justin was explaining to her how to do it, reminding her she needs to make sure to "tame it, not kill the beast". Naturally, on came "Kill the Beast!" from Beauty and the Beast.

-When we were back in Azure Watch (turning in completed quests), we discovered that Liz and I both have the problem of accepting new ones without actually reading what they are. Earlier Liz accepted one that turned her into a female blood elf (as a disguise) for some specific quest and me and Justin both made fun of her for looking silly for 15 minutes. Later, the joke was on me when we BOTH accidentally accepted the quest (again) but my character was turned into a male blood elf. Fittingly, I played Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like a Woman".

Flights taken: 24

Monday, October 10, 2011

GeekGirlCon, Halloween, Disney on Ice.

Busy busy busy busy busy.

Last week was hectic because it was Justin's birthday, this weekend was hectic because it was GeekGirlCon, this week is going to be hectic because I have loads of meetings and things to do -- but I can't tell you how happy I am to see my life starting to fall back into its normal rhythm. Summer is amazing and fun and some of the best parts of the year, but I am such a project-oriented person that this is my favorite part of what I do, right here. Shoving all my little projects into the free crevices of each week.

Interesting things going on:

1. I bought tickets to Disney on Ice. This is funny to me for a few reasons. First of all, I haven't been to Disney on Ice since I was 6-7. Eia and I got to talking about it a few years ago, and it had sort of been this joke we've had, always mentioning to each other how much we wanted to go. We hadn't brought it up in awhile though, until the other day. Justin was asking me vague spoiler-y questions about the supposed Christmas present he's getting me, though all I can deduce is that it's some event in February of next year. Our conversation then went as such:

Justin: You'll never guess what it is.
‪Me: ‬ ‪Is it Disney on Ice?‬
Me: I hope it's Disney on Ice.
Justin: ‬ ‪It's not, but thanks, now anything I get you will be compared to Disney on Ice.
Justin: Now I cant get you anything‬.
Me: ‬ ‪hahahhahahhaa‬.

I then proceeded to see if Disney on Ice is even a thing anymore (it is) and if they are showing anywhere near me anytime soon (they are) and that explains how my friends and I will probably be the only people without children of our own with us at TOY STORY 3 DISNEY ON ICE next month. Life is awesome.

2. GeekGirlCon was amazing. I don't think I have the energy to do a full write-up (it was a long weekend) but I'll try to touch on the highlights.

There were so many amazing panels. I went to a lot of writing panels (YA Authors, Writing in Real Life [with a job, kids, other priorities, etc.], Writing Urban Fantasy), one on running your own geeky business, and a particularly awesome and relevant panel on Women in Web Series.

I also spoke on a panel called "Killing Cattiness and Creating Community" with such inspiring people as Bonnie Burton and Marian Call (along with a bunch of others). I met authors (large and small) and made friends with some guys at a vendor room booth who kept trying to convince Liz and I to join their DnD campaign; I bought new dice and painted my own pewter miniature and saw a lot of really, really awesome cosplay.

One of the highlights of my weekend was getting an @reply on twitter from Jane Espenson (TV writer who's worked on Buffy and Firefly [among many others] and is writing the new web series Husbands) which is hands down every geek writer's dream, haha.

I was a total nerd and took notes at the good panels, which I am really excited to go back and look over, since most of it is really inspiring stuff about freelancing and motivating yourself to write and pretty much all the things I am trying to do every single day already. I love seeing such a motivated and bustling geek community here in Seattle and I was thrilled to have been part of GeekGirlCon.

3. I'm working on redecorating my bedroom a bit. I don't know if anyone REALLY cares about this, but on YouTube I let you guys into my bedroom on a weekly basis so it feels like I am changing a much larger part of my identity than I really am.

I might write more about this process along the way, but it started last week when I exchanged my brightly colored rainbow bedspread of the last three years for a stylish black comforter with little curly-q designs on it. I also began organizing the plethora of "things" I have collected over the span of my life on the shelves that line the right side of my room. I want to do a great deal of "cleaning out" as well as acquiring some more grown-up furniture "investments", as well as updating my wall decor. It's going to be fun. I like this kind of stuff. :)

4. Halloween prep. My friends and I get way, way too into Halloween around here, so I've been working on my costume for the last two months already. Yesterday I went shopping with Liz and Tara to help them find some key pieces for their costumes, and overall I am just really excited for Halloween parties and pictures and the general spooky time of the year. It's just the best.

I have a long, long to-do list today, so I think this blog post ends here.

Flights taken: 24

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Travel DJ.

It's really, really nice to be home.

I've only been home less than a week but I already feel the comforting rhythm of my life falling back into place. Maybe I'm weird, but I love waking up early in the morning (earlier than most of my housemates), looking over my planner for the day, getting a bunch of work done in my room (I work the best between 8am-1pm, weirdly), planning out my videos, scheduling meetings and video shoots, etc. Obviously traveling is a much different kind of exciting, but this home-time stuff is fun in a way I can't really explain. I feel so fortunate to get to be doing what I love. :)

But! That's not what I meant to write about. I wanted to talk about World of Warcraft, today.

I played a lot of WoW last year; I used to stay up until 3 AM all the time running dungeons with my housemate Justin as well as a bunch of our LA friends (Jason, Alex, Luke; whoever was online really). However, we all got busy early in the year and my account has sat frozen since... January. Right after Cataclysm came out.

After the craziness of my summer died down though (and excitement for BlizzCon started to build), I found myself with a little bit more spare time than usual -- and I reactivated my account. I don't regret that decision. WoW is FUN, okay?

The whole point of this World of Warcraft narrative is to give a little back-story as to what I'm about to blog about.

So, for those who've never played WoW, one of the elements of the game is that you have to travel around Azeroth in real time. So, when moving from continent to continent, city to city, you have to use regular modes of transportation (unless you use portals or teleportation, but that's a whole different story). Basically you either have to take a train, or ride a boat, or run, or fly. And depending on where you're going, this can take a long time. Sometimes like 5-10 minutes, if you're traveling far enough.

The point is, when I play WoW, generally I am playing with my housemate Justin and he's usually in my room with me. I have double monitors on my computer (like a big 'ol nerd) and sometimes I really geek out over having a second screen to play around on while we're doing boring traveling stuff on my other screen. So lately I have taken to DJ-ing our travel time. Which obviously annoys the crap out of Justin.

My current songs are as thus:

When we are running, I play No Doubt's "Running":
"Running, running
As fast as we can
Do you think we'll make it?"

When Justin is flying in his bird form, I play Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle":
"I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I'm free"

When I am flying on my carpet mount, I play Aladdin's "A Whole New World":
"Over, sideways and under
On a magic carpet ride
A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we're only dreaming"

The reason this is so funny to me (and not funny to Justin) is that traveling happens quite often, so if I am feeling particularly clever, we hear these songs... all the time. Multiple times a day. In fact, I've taken to just queuing them up on YouTube before we even start playing, lately, hahaha. It just never gets old (to me). But then again, one of my life missions (and duty as a good housemate) is to annoy Justin as often as possible, so that works out.

Now I just need to think of a good song to play when we're flying on my two-seater rocket mount and I'll be set. Any good song suggestions about rocket ships?

Flights taken: 24

Friday, September 30, 2011

Afflicted with boring dreams.

Sometimes I do this thing where I just sort of dream about reality. I mean, I have cool dreams too, all the time, but sometimes my dreams just stupidly mimic reality.

Like when I first started playing World of Warcraft, I started having dreams about running through the woods and killing wolves. But not even in a sweet real life way; it was in a pixelated-computer-game sort of way. Or when I worked at the TNT fireworks stand, I had countless dreams where I was just working at a register, checking out Bottle Rocket after Climbing Panda, offering people extra punks and bagging pop-its. And don't even get me started on the types of dreams I have when I start playing too much Tetris. There are few dreams less interesting than a whole night-time expanse of falling geometric shapes. Let me tell you.

The worst reality-based dream I ever had happened at my grandma's house a few summers ago. I had just taken a red-eye flight to North Dakota, and exhausted upon arrival, I took a little nap in my grandma's bedroom before doing anything else. In my dream, I was just sleeping in my grandma's room. The only reason I knew that it was a dream and not just me never actually falling asleep was because in the dream, I got up and put a blanket over myself because I was cold. When I woke up for real a bit later, there was no blanket over me. And I was still cold. Stupidest dream ever.

So keeping with this annoying habit, last night I dreamt I was grocery shopping. Like - just grocery shopping. I was walking around my usual Safeway, picking all the items I actually need in real life (bread, deli-meat, cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.). I woke up and realized I didn't actually do any of that shopping, and now I'm annoyed because it just means I have to do it all over again. And I hate doing the exact same things more than once. That's why I am awful at side-scroller video games.

The worst part is that now, since I bought all the fixin's for sandwiches in my dream, all I really want right now is a sandwich. But I can't make myself a sandwich, because all I have is dream-bread. Dream-cheese. Dream-sliced-ham.

Guess I better go to the store. Sigh.

Flights taken: 24

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

East Coast Adventure: Part 3

I fell a little behind in blogging about my trip because I ended up correct in my assumption that I was going to be sick. I haven't been sick in about 7 months which has been really nice, but let me tell you, blog readers -- being sick on vacation is the WORST. There's no medicine anywhere, you can't lie around in bed all day, and flying with a cold is one of the most miserable experiences a person will ever have.

But. I braved it all for Lauren and Matt, and I am happy to report that their wedding was one of the most magical, beautiful events I have ever been to.

The soon-to-be-newlyweds picked Eia and I up on Friday morning and took us over to the hotel. It was kind of nice to get there a bit early; we got to have lunch with Lauren and Matt and chat with them for awhile before everyone else started showing up and things started getting really crazy. Eventually all the bridesmaids had shown up so we checked into our hotel room and got dressed up for the rehearsal dinner. That was a lovely event in itself; we heard embarrassing stories about Matt from his dad and then Nina and Sammy and I had an eating contest because the food was so good and there was so much of it.

Then we went back to the hotel and practiced all the wedding march walking in formalities, headed upstairs, and went to bed kind of early. Lauren stayed in our room since it's bad luck and all that for the bride and groom to see each other the morning of the wedding.

Sure as all hell, Saturday morning I woke up feeling like absolute crap. I dragged myself out of bed about ten minutes before we needed to head down for hair and makeup, and even though they did transform my sick face into a work of bridesmaid worthy art -- the makeup artist had to keep touching up around my nose every hour or so up until we did pictures.

Lauren looked completely stunning. I kind of wish other people got to see her transformation like we did... she was wearing this adorable little bridal robe while she got ready, and most of the morning her hair was up in these ridiculous rollers. We had a good laugh about the idea of her just walking down the aisle with her hair still up in them rather than finishing the hairstyle. But when the seven of us girls emerged from our dressing room, sure, the bridesmaids looked great, but Lauren was just drop dead gorgeous.

Pictures took awhile, as usual with weddings, and then the ceremony breezed by. We did start by marching out to an orchestral version of the Zelda theme, so as far as weddings go, it was off to a good start. Sammy and I teared up a bit when Melissa Anelli got onstage to do a reading from Harry Potter -- in turn we caught Matt's eye and made him start to sniffle. I don't think I've ever smiled as hard as when I stood up there behind two of my best friends and watched them marry each other. Really. For as sick as I was feeling, it was one of the best moments of my life.

The reception was amazing. Everyone looked so lovely -- Rosi, Eia, Sarah, Hayley, Alex, Mike, Sam -- all my best friends were there and we ate food and toasted to Matt and Lauren and danced the night away. It was like a conference, but classier, and somehow even more meaningful. The night was just perfect. Matt and Lauren ended the night by letting us all come up and hang out in their suite for a few hours (a hotel room party -- it really was a con) which was completely out of order for a normal wedding but fit so perfectly for this wedding.

I spent most of the evening just chatting with all my beautiful friends, and then we had a bit of a fiveawesomegirl snuggle on the couch. I can't believe one of the five of us is married. We were such little girls when we started that channel and now look at us! Marrying off Miss Tuesday. It makes me a little emotional even thinking about it.

We've all come so far in this whole internet lifestyle we've created. Watching Lauren and Matt get married to each other just made it feel all the more real, especially since they asked me to stand up there with them as a bridesmaid. It really is real for us. I would never trade this life in for anything.

The rest of the trip was rather uneventful, but still nice. We rode back to PA with Sam and her family, napped most of the afternoon, and then watched a terrible movie together called "Youth in Revolt". The next morning we slept in until at least noon and then watched another, better movie together called "Going The Distance" (Sam and I were wigging out the whole movie because it's about long distance relationships and it was a little too close to home for both of us, even though we thought it was a great movie) and then we went to the airport. The journey home was rather.. bad.. but I'm home now, so I survived, and that's all that matters.

It was a fantastic week. I'm still smiling. I love my friends so much and I feel so happy to know them. :)

Flights taken: 24

Friday, September 23, 2011

East Coast Adventure: Part 2

I haven't been sick in a long time and I've been really proud of myself for keeping up that streak, but I woke up this morning with one of those annoying pre-runny nose sniffles, and I am really nervous about it. I don't want to be a sniffly bridesmaid. I have to look pretty for Lauren ALL DAY tomorrow and nobody looks pretty with a red nose.

I'm going to try to happy-thoughts it away - that works, right? I'll mind over matter the crap out of this runny nose. In the mean time, let me tell you about yesterday.

Eia and I woke up kind of late again (don't judge us) and took the NJ Transit to what we thought was going to be Penn Station. Halfway there, however, they informed us that due to a power outage, no NJ lines were going into NYC and that we were going to Hoboken. Um. Okay. Hoboken. Cool. Luckily it was easy enough to transfer to a Path train back into the city, but it set us back at least another half an hour on our journey into the city.

When we finally got to the right station, Eia and I stepped out into the street and did that sort of spin-around-in-awe-now-we're-in-a-giant-city thing, taking in all the people and sights and buildings and smells. Not quite sure where we were exactly, we walked a few blocks before ducking into a little boutique and doing a bit of random shopping. I think clothes are the best souvenir, really, because then every time you wear them, you think about the good time you had there on that particular trip.

Anyway, shopping bags in hand, we continued to wander in the general direction of Time Square. Along the way we stopped in various other stores (including the Strand bookstore and a giant Forever 21) and we ate lunch in a "Goodburger (Home of the Goodburger)", which we couldn't figure out if it was affiliated with the Nickeldeon sketch/movie or not.

We ran into some interesting people as we ventured around too, including a bum on the street who asked me, "Can you help me get to Hawaii?" to which I replied saucily, "Can you help me get to Hawaii?" I quite enjoyed his retort, which was, "I asked you first!" We also saw a really frail old man on the subway who I'm fairly certain was blind singing for tips, and the whole situation was hilarious because he was singing, "If you want my body, and you think I'm sexy..." I can guarantee no one on that subway wanted his body. Haha.

We met up with Robyn a bit later and headed to Time Square (after doing the standard nerdy tourist picture in front of all the flashing lights) because it was time to see "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" ... with Dan Radcliffe! This was one of the things we were most excited to do on this trip, and I'm so glad we were able to get tickets. The show was incredible. The choreography was amazing, the sets were stunning, the costumes were perfect and all the actors were just fabulous. I was so blown away by Dan. He had so much character on that stage, his dancing was flawless, and he just played such a lovable leading man. I'm really happy for him and his broadway career, and I hope I get a chance to see him in more shows.

We went to the stage door after the show (come on, of course we did) and managed to get him to sign both our playbills; Eia got to touch his hand (lucky duck) but I was filming the whole thing, so I'm not too jealous. He was so sweet to his fans, which made me really happy. This was my first time ever meeting a big Potter star (aside from Scarlet and Evanna at Leaky) and it's just really nice to know that they haven't become jaded or anything.

Waiting to meet Dan after the show was pretty fun in itself -- I haven't ever really gotten the chance to wait in line and fangirl over meeting anyone like that before, so Eia and I just soaked the whole thing up. We made friends with another girl who was waiting with a Harry Potter book in hand -- after a few seconds, though, her eyes widened and she asked me if I was Kristina Horner, which was kind of cute. Then another girl behind us recognized me as well and even had ME sign her playbill, which just felt really, really wrong. I'm sure the people who were standing around us were thinking "who the crap is this person?" Embarrassing.

I loved the whole experience, though. The musical, I mean. I had a difficult time convincing my brain that we were actually seeing Dan in person, the guy who played Harry Potter - that he was in the same room as us and playing a different character. But it was so amazing and fun and I'm so glad we could go. :D

After the show, we literally ran into Alex Carpenter on the street. I mean, he knew where we were, so it wasn't that huge of a coincidence, but it still felt pretty funny to be walking around a big foreign city where we know pretty much no-one, and then to just see our good friend standing on the corner. He was with some other friends of ours (Becca, Mary Beth and Nikki) and so we decided to hang out a bit longer in the city, rather than taking the early train back in. It's actually been kind of a long time since I got to hang with Alex, so we had a very fun evening. We ate food at Junior's (I tried a potato pancake! And ate strawberry shortcake cheesecake!) and had an appletini and we ran around and the whole evening was just a nice way to end a really lovely day.

Eia and I made friends with one of the ticket guys on the way back to New Jersey that night, so we spent most of our long train ride being silly with him. He was trying to teach us how to read the complicated pink ticket sheets but we weren't having it. I told him I thought the part that said "CENTS" meant you could add on a scratch-n-sniff option. He laughed at us.

I'm having so much fun here, and the wedding hasn't even started. Lauren and Matt are actually on their way right now to pick us up, so the good times are REALLY about to begin. :D

Flights taken: 23

Thursday, September 22, 2011

East Coast Adventure: Part 1

I'd actually almost forgotten how much easier it is to blog while you're traveling. It's so funny; while I was home these last couple of weeks, despite all the good times I was having, nothing seemed quite noteworthy enough to warrant a blog post. But as Eia and I have been running all around the East coast the past few days, my head has just been spinning trying to keep track of everything I want to write about. It's taken me right back to the BEDA mindset, in a really good way.

Anyway, our trip! We're currently in New Jersey, though we didn't begin here. Two days ago, the two of us hopped on a flight to Philly. As much as I was mentally resisting the idea of enjoying another flight whatsoever, it was pretty alright. We spent the first leg going through old pictures on my computer, and the second leg (after a layover in Chicago) was spent playing Peggle on my iPad with Eia watching and rooting me on over my shoulder. Peggle is my airplane game. I only ever play it when I'm flying, so it's kind of a little treat I give myself when I do have to take another obnoxious flight somewhere.

We landed in Philly around midnight and then took a cab to our friend Robyn's house. On the way there we realized we had no idea what Robyn's living situation was, and were pleasantly surprised to find out that she lives in the most adorable house of all time. Everything is ornately decorated with things like leather chairs and old books and antique knick-knacks. I especially enjoyed the pull string toilet and claw-footed bathtub. I was tickled by the European-ness of the house (separate spigots for hot and cold water is always a dead giveaway) since it's something I just never get to see except for when I'm IN European countries.

Even though it was incredibly later when we arrived, our girliness took over and we stayed up much, much later than would normally be acceptable, drinking tea out of a fancy tea-set, eating macarons and gelato, and generally girling out and chatting well into the night. So late that when we finally stumbled out of bed at 2pm the next day, I was only a little ashamed. I never do that! I'm always an early riser! I'm blaming the new timezone.

Robyn took us on the trolley (how adorable; I still can't get over it) and we headed into a more central part of Philly to go to the Reading Terminal Market. It was filled to the seams with all of these great little stands selling food, bakery items, books, jewelry; really anything you could think of. We marveled at the different options, wandering for at least thirty minutes before deciding on something(s) to buy. I ended up with a fried macaroni and cheese ball, a hunk of cornbread and half a turkey/stuffing/cranberry sandwich (not to mention a bunch of jams and pumpkin butter from the Amish stand to take home for later). And that's not even counting the red velvet and oatmeal whoopee pies I took to go, as well as the cookies that were given to me by a girl at one of the bakeries who recognized me from ALL CAPS, hehe. So, it was kind of a food day. You know. Know big deal.

The only negative part of the day was that I was carrying around my favorite black cardigan, and then suddenly I wasn't. The place was such a maze of vendors that I didn't know how to begin looking for it, so, defeated, I just sort of said a mental goodbye to it and went back slightly shivering in the autumn rain sans any sort of jacket.

Completely stuffed, we took the trolley back. I grabbed another jacket from my suitcase (this time with a hood) and we set off despite the drizzles to the big old Victorian graveyard behind Robyn's house. The three of us spent the next hour or so wandering aimlessly through the cracked and aging headstones, reading the names aloud to each other and wondering what the people were like, since many of them died back in the 1800s. We investigated particularly strange collections of graves in fenced off family plots and ones nearly hidden over the years from trees growing and overtaking their spots. The saddest ones were the graves so weathered you couldn't even read who they were for anymore, or the ones that had fallen over with time and age, now lying face-down for all eternity. Or the ones with crying baby angel statues atop the headstone, with etched in lifespans that couldn't have been more than a few years, or in the most tragic cases, a few weeks or days.

After sufficiently weirding ourselves out, we rushed back on to the trolley to go to a wine and cheese bar Robyn loves called Tria, where we indulged in various delicious bruschetta and cheese selections, referring to them as the "sexy pillow one" or the "dark and sultry red", going off the descriptions rather than attempting the pronunciation of the real names. We had the best girly time there, albeit having to cut it short to race back in time to meet with our friend Colin and his girlfriend Mel who were coming to pick us up.

We got back just in time (okay, maybe a few minutes late) and since our friends were hungry, Robyn showed us a bit around U Penn in a search of food. We ended up going to this cute old tavern of which the name has escaped me. Since we were kind of stuffed from all this cheese, we girls just ordered drinks (hot toddies, which I wasn't a particularly large fan of) and desserts (bread pudding and ice cream, which I was a HUGE fan of). It was nice catching up with Colin and meeting his girlfriend (since he moved away from us we never really get to experience his new life at all, since our only reunions are generally back home in Seattle) and she was lovely. Eventually it was time to go (as we still had kind of a long drive back to New Jersey that night) so we said our goodbyes to Robyn and hopped in the car.

That brings us to now, where Eia and I are being the world's laziest people sitting here in Colin's living room (he and all his roommates are at work). Eia's currently in the shower though, so we are attempting to get our day started. Colin left us the information for two train routes to get into NYC this morning, and when Eia's alarm went off at 10 AM this morning, we both made the executive decision to take the later train (no discussion was necessary). We are still kind of running on West Coast time, so I feel a little better about our extremely embarrassing sleep schedule while we've been here.

We have tickets to see Dan Radcliffe in How To Succeed in Business tonight, so I suppose it is time to get a move on if we want to get in any NYC shopping time as well. :)

Flights taken: 23

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Catching up on the end of Summer.

Well, I gave myself a nice long break of nearly two weeks from blogging, but it just doesn't feel right letting it sit unattended for as long as I have. So here I am. Catching up.

Things I have been up to since I last blogged:

1. Dropping everything and doing outrageously summer-related things. The weather was so, SO nice last week that while I was attempting to be good and start to get my regular life routine back on track here at home, it just wasn't happening. Wednesday Liz and I went out with her mom on their boat, Friday we grabbed our friend Colin as well and went out with my dad on my boat, and Sunday.. wait for it. Liz and Justin and I went to WILD WAVES.

For those of you who don't live around here, Wild Waves/Enchated Village is our themes park/water park duo, and it's amazing, but most people don't really go past middle school. Why this is, I couldn't tell you, because it is SO MUCH FUN, still, at age 23. It was the last day the park was open of the year and the temperature was somewhere around a high of 85 or something, which was just... glorious. We spent most of the day in the wave pool (naturally the best part) but we also waited in a 45 minute line to go down a water slide that lasted about 30 seconds (humans are bizarre) but it was kind of worth it because all three of us got to share one giant four-seater tube. We spent the rest of the day eating dippin' dots, riding roller coasters and lying out in the sun, saying our final farewells to the last warm day of summer.

2. Attempting to get back in the swing of things. It's been kind of tough, I'll be honest. Since I returned from North Dakota, one of my best friends (Liz) moved into one of the empty rooms in my house. Simply put, we've just been having a lot of fun. There have been card and game nights, TV-watching, video-game playing, general good-time-having and shopping/eating out/etc. I know things will start to settle down, but when you're constantly on the go all summer and then you come home and you're living with three of your good friends, life tends to stay pretty hectic.

3. Starting new projects. Come on, you know me. I can never let my life stay the same for too long. I can't really delve too deeply into any of the new things I am doing quite yet, but I'm in the planning stages for all of them and they're all pretty exciting.

4. Filming a music video. I spent all of yesterday filming with my roommate Gabe and friend David. This particular music video is a surprise, so I'm not going to spoil what it's about yet, but I'll tell you it's coming out in early November. Yesterday we filmed a lot of slow-mo running and yelling, hiked to the middle of a forest and out to a lighthouse on a beach, and got kicked out of a graveyard (who knew filming there would disrespect the dead? xD). We're about halfway done with filming and I am very excited about this video. I haven't gotten to do a lot of music-related stuff at all lately, so it's nice to sort of return to that briefly. And no, I promise, I didn't have to sing for this project. At least not recently.

5. Preparing for Halloween. I'm aware that it's only September, but my roommates and I get really overly excited for the holiday. We always throw a big awesome Halloween party at our house (fun fact: at least one decoration from each Halloween party gets left up each year, giving our house a slightly spooky vibe year round. This explains the black cat on the mantle and the red "spider webs" that adorn the painting above the couch), so naturally our costumes need to go above and beyond. A bunch of us are teaming up and dressing as ponies from MLP this year, so I've been feverishly working on my Pinkie Pie costume. It's gonna be great.

Next week is Lauren and Matt's wedding (!!!) in which I am a bridesmaid (!!!) so after getting a bunch of my other work done today that's going to become my primary focus. I can't wait. Not that I am in any particular rush to hop on another flight, but seriously. How often do you get to see two of your best friends marry each other?

Flights taken: 22

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On being a Hufflepuff.

As many of you probably know, I did my Pottermore sorting last week, and while I've boasted a proud Slytherin for the last 8 years or so, I was in fact sorted into Hufflepuff.

I know a lot of people are saying "It's just a test on a website it's not a big deal" but for one, this test was written by J.K. Rowling herself, and moreover, we'll be representing these houses for the next 2-3 years as more books are released and we play through the remainder of Pottermore. It's also been suggested to me that I start a new account when the beta is over and try to get Slytherin, but to me, that's very outside the spirit of Harry Potter and being sorted at all. Students at Hogwarts don't just get to defer their first year, come back the next year, and get sorted again. You get sorted once. And that's your house.

So I'm a Hufflepuff.

People used to ask me all the time why I thought I was a Slytherin at all. They said, "but you're so nice!" or "you're not evil at all!" But, just because a lot of evil does come out of Slytherin doesn't mean everyone who gets sorted there is inherently so. I was (and still am) a huge believer in the good that could come out of Slytherin house, with the right personality type. I think it's easy to fall into a more crooked lifestyle in Slytherin, but that the strong willed could avoid that.

I always thought I was a Slytherin because there's a certain level of narcissism you need to have to be a vlogger, an artist, a writer, or a creator in general. To be a successful artist, you need to truly believe you're worthy of creating things that deserve to be seen by others, or, in the case of a vlogger, you need to think you're awesome enough to justify basing your whole career around talking about yourself. All the time.

I assumed I had to be a Slytherin, because I definitely have a lot of those qualities. But as Dumbledore said, it's "our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities". A lot of the time, I use the online power I have to connect with people, to talk with fans about their lives, to entertain others, to help with charity -- I guess I had always seen myself as a Slytherin based on what I do because I didn't even notice the very innate Hufflepuff qualities I actually possess in how I act.

So, the whole sorting experience was very interesting for me. Secretly, I always felt kind of split between Slytherin and Hufflepuff (though I never made that common knowledge!) but - I thought the nature of my job and relatively narcissistic lifestyle condemned me to being a Slytherin. I know I have a lot of the cunning and ambition and drive-for-personal-success of a Slytherin, but at the end of the day I care about people way too much to step over them or use them to get what I want. I could never sit back in the Slytherin common room listening to my peers talking about how they cut corners and made things happen for themselves the easy way -- I would much rather be proud of the hard work I put in the honest way. That's something that's only really been made clear to me in the last couple years, though.

So while I loved playing a Slytherin onstage these past 7-8 years, and while I know the Sorting Hat would probably lean a bit toward Slytherin with me just like it did with Harry -- when I saw that Hufflepuff crest on my Pottermore quiz, I knew deep down it was time to embrace who I truly am. And now, I'm really okay with it.

Besides, for as much crap as Hufflepuff House gets, I am really proud to represent the group that's loyal and fair, patient and hardworking. Those are all the aspects of a human-being I think people should aspire to be. To be told that's where I actually belong is more of a compliment than most people realize. :)

Have you been sorted yet? Did you get the house you wanted? Did your sorting make you learn anything about yourself you maybe didn't know or see before?

Flights taken: 22

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Post-BEDA ND trip wrap-up.

On a plane... again. Thankfully after this flight I am not going anywhere for nearly three weeks. I couldn't be happier about that, though my next trip is for Lauren and Matt's wedding and that's worth coming out of flight hibernation.

Anyway, I said my goodbyes today and left the rest of my family in North Dakota. I wish I had more time there, but it's also going to be extremely nice to be home. Now, where did I leave off...

Tuesday we checked out of our hotel and went back to my Grandma's house. She had lunch waiting for us (as well as more delicious caramel rolls, I just can't get enough) and my mom and I helped her with her laundry. Between loads, my Grandma showed me the trail they have around their senior center for going on walks, and we took a few pictures by the gazebo and by this statue of a deer she particularly liked.

By the time we got back we had a surprise waiting for us -- Nick had shown up! My brother wanted to take his first big road trip so he actually drove his little pick-up to ND all by himself. It was nice to have him there with us; he showed up right in time to drive with us to the small town my other grandparents live in. I rode with Nick and we followed behind our parents, stopping a few times along the way to take pictures by the sunflower fields and the old falling-down houses.

It was so great to be at my Grandma and Grandpa Horner's house. I have so many good memories from being a kid and visiting them; playing down by the old tires with my cousins, sneaking a stray kitten into their shed and taking care of it, helping make all sorts of traditional German food. It's such a happy place, and I definitely don't get out there often enough anymore.

Grandma was singing that night in the senior choir out at the park, and my mom and I decided to join in. We grabbed the songbooks and joined all the old ladies up near the front, chiming in whether we knew the songs or not. Tis was especially funny when the songs we in German.. which at least 3-4 of them were. We sang one of my favorite old songs (Wooden Heart) and I discovered a new favorite song (Schnitzelbank). Oh we had a hoot talking to all the old German folks about what a schnitzelbank is.

My grandpa is getting older, and parts of this trip were kind of difficult for me (seeing him so much more frail than I am used to) but it was very, very cute to see him sitting at a picnic table out at that park, singing along to German songs to the accordion accompaniment. So much of North Dakota is still so rooted in German culture, but especially so in the small towns like where my grandparents live. I love still being able to experience that.

That evening my Grandma's friend Eva (who's this zany old Russian/German lady) came over and had me teach her how to use Facebook - it was her idea, not mine! It's such an interesting experience trying to explain to someone not only how Facebook works, but why they should want to use it. Older people always seem so concerned that everybody is going to come and try to add them; I can't even tell you how many times I assured her (and others on this trip) that "you can deny anyone you want on Facebook! You only add the people you want!"

We sat around visiting the rest of the evening before calling it a night.

The next day we got up and Grandma was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. She made us potato soup, blachenda (this baked pumpkin pastry I love) as well as home-made fleischkeikle. I told her I'd been eating it quite a bit on this trip and she insisted I try it the way it's meant to be eaten, haha. My grandpa ate most of the blachenda; I can see now where I get my appetite for dessert-foods.

After eating, we played cards. Card-playing is my favorite thing to do with my Grandpa Horner, because for some reason it really brings him completely back to earth. Talking with him and cracking jokes and keeping score while playing cards feels so much more like how it used to be with him, and it's amazing because his mental math and ability to make straights and keep score was even sharper than mine. One of our favorite card games is called "Golf" and a huge highlight of the trip was when my Grandpa went out early and left Nick with a 55 point round. That's a really, really bad score, haha.

Nick and I snuck away for a minute to head up the street to order a birthday cake for my Dad - his birthday is Saturday but I won't be there and I think Nick is heading south to visit some relatives before then as well, so we wanted to do something nice for him before we leave. We also stopped at the Honey Store (yes, in a town with so few shops I can count them on both hands, they have a whole store dedicated to honey!) so I could buy my favorite body wash I only get to restock when I visit there.

That night my Grandma outdid herself again with the German cooking and made us another old favorite, halupsie. That's rice and raisins wrapped in cabbage and cooked with cream, and while it may sound funky, it's absolutely delicious. We also had cucumber salad, which I also love. I don't know why I always forget how much I love cucumbers. It seems like people in North Dakota eat them with every meal, and with good reason.

Some family friends named Fefe and George stopped by to visit for a little while which was nice, and then my parents went out with them for awhile. I stayed in and watched TV with my grandparents (including Minute to Win It, which is just about the stupidest idea for a show I have ever seen, haha. At least shows like "Who Wants To Be A Mllionaire" require you to be SMART).

Then we watched "America's Got Talent", and another funny highlight of my night happened. Flow Rider and Nikki Minaj were performing, and my adorable little old German grandpa says in his very German accent, "Oh, that music's so nice." I could barely stifle my giggles before my Grandma AGREED with him and the proceeded to ask me what the song was called. I had to say to my grandma, "It's called 'Where Dem Girls At', Grandma." I had to say it with a straight face. She just smiled at me and said, "Oh," with a little chuckle.

After my Grandpa went to bed, I stayed up with Grandma and she showed me all the websites she likes to go to on her laptop. I am really impressed with how good she's gotten; granted she doesn't use a lot of websites but she can check her email and she reads my blog (:D) and she has is gaming site she loves to play on. She showed me how she picks her bingo card numbers each night, and the scratch cards she can tar her points in for, and we played a few rounds of mah jong together. Computers, to my friends and I, are such a necessary and commonplace part of every single day -- I really, really liked seeing one from the point of view of my grandma. It was a lot of fun.

My grandma also gave me a gift on this trip, something I had asked for years ago but had forgotten about. She gave me a notebook filled with her memories she'd written down for me. Stories from her life, etc. I actually haven read it yet (saving it until I get home) so I'm not positive what she wrote about, but no matter what I know it's going to be incredible. My grandma had an amazing life, and living so far away from her, I don't actually know much about it. So this book is a very, very special present. Someday I will need to type it up and give it to the rest of my cousins, too.

This morning I ate some rhubarb kuchen for breakfast (another favorite) before saying goodbye to the Grandparents and hopping in the car with my mom. She was driving me back to Bismarck for my flight. We stopped in to spend a little bit more time with her mom (my other grandma) and she gave me the sweetest present! She's been collecting all the state quarters for years and years now, and she gave me a complete set of them that he's been doing for me. I collected state quarters for about a year and then gave up, so this was a lovely gift. She rode along with us to the airport, I kissed them both goodbye, and started my journey home.

I have been traveling so much this year, but this was a very different trip than the rest. I'm very glad I got to see so many of my relatives, since I was really only in ND for a short time. When I get home I have a pile of work to do to catch up on my regular schedule of things I have o accomplish each week, but regardless, I was glad I was able to take this time and just spend some time with some very, very important people in my life.

Flights taken: 22

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

BEDA 31: Fake babies.

Today is the last day of BEDA! My grandma (who reads my blog) actually asked me tonight, "have you blogged yet today? You'd better hop to it!" So here I am, on strict orders from Grandma Horner.

I will admit, I am a little sad this month of blogging is over. I've had a lot of fun writing every day this month - through all the craziness and traveling and tiredness and adventure, this blog is the one thing that's stayed constant and that was really nice. But, as usual, after BEDA is over I'll try my best to go back to a normal blogging schedule. I'll try not to let more than a week go by without an update, though I say that every time.

Anyway! Monday was kind of a slower day (basically it wasn't jam-packed with relatives, so it felt less eventful than the rest of the trip so far) but it was kind of relaxing to just "hang out" in North Dakota with my parents. We got up and went to Kroll's Diner for breakfast, and not a single one of us could help ordering a big bowl of Knoephla soup. It's so bizarre to me; foods like that are just 'those things my mom and grandmas make', you know? No one in Seattle knows what the heck Knoephla is. But in North Dakota, you can totally just find it on a menu in a diner and that is always strange to see. Anyway. The soup was good.

Then we stopped and visited with a family friend named Vern for a little while, and on our way back to the hotel we passed the old bar my dad use to own. Yeah. My dad owned a bar. You guys wonder why I have such a cool life all the time? I have a LOT to live up to, haha. Anyway, the bar is called the Midway Tavern, and it's still called that even though my dad hasn't owned it in over twenty years. I'd never been inside, so we stopped for a little while so my dad could show me around. We ordered beer and tomato juice (the only way I think beer is even tolerable to drink) and my dad chatted with the new owner while my mom and I played one of those electronic bar games. I think we tied. Then my dad told me all these crazy stories from his days of owning the place. I really love hearing new stories about when my parents were my age. Sometimes you forget that your parents ever WERE your age, so it's nice to be reminded. Especially when my parents were actually pretty cool in those days.

My mom and I stopped at the mall briefly (mostly to check out the few stores they have in Bismarck that we don't have back home) but then we went back to the hotel to get my dad and head out for BAR BINGO. I can't even tell you what a quintessential North Dakota pastime "Bar Bingo" feels like for me. We went to "Main Bar" (which is, wait for it, the bar on Main Street) and they told us they would only play bingo if at least twenty people bought in. My mom and I were on a mission then, going around to all the old bearded dudes sitting at the bar, convincing them they needed to play bingo with us. We finally got enough people, bought our cards, borrowed the bar's green bingo dabbers and settled in for a couple of action-packed games.

Guys, I freaking love bingo. Part of me cant wait to be old so I can just play bingo all the time without anyone judging me. When I get back to Seattle, I'm going to make it my mission to find a place that does bingo near where I live so I can drag my friends there and play all the time. I don't know why I didn't think of this before.

Anyway, I won! In the second game, I got straight bingo (half the fun is getting to yell out "BINGO!" especially in a dingy little dive bar) and I won four whole dollars. Pretty exciting. I was really close to blackout too, afterward, but I didn't quite win that one. I made friends with the bingo-caller; he went to the same college as me, weirdly. I have no idea how someone graduates from UW and ends up calling bingo numbers in Mandan, ND, but to each their own.

After bar bingo ended, my mom took my dad and I out to her favorite Mexican restaurant, "Fiesta Villa". I guess she used to go there with her girlfriends all the time when she was younger. We ordered a big plate of nachos and some margaritas, but the real highlight of the night was my parents being totally goofy and making me laugh so hard I couldn't even breathe. This might not be as funny to you guys as it was to me, but I am going to try to explain it.

So we're sitting out on the patio and this family walks in; one of them was a woman carrying a baby in a little baby holder on her stomach. The whole thing was covered with a blanket. As they walked by, my mom leaned over and whispered to me, "I bet that baby is fake." I rolled my eyes at her, but a moment later my dad (who hadn't been listening) leaned in across the table and said to us, "That's probably not even a real baby." At this, I almost spit my drink out, right over the table. "Why," I asked them exasperatedly, "are you both so convinced that woman has a fake baby? Why would anyone even bring a FAKE BABY to a restaurant?"

My parents were cracking up, and they both kept spouting nonsense about fake babies and how rude it is to bring a fake baby to a restaurant and how we weren't going to fall for it, and I said again, "GUYS. It's not like there's a BABY DISCOUNT at the Fiesta Villa! There is no benefit to having a baby here!" My mom just sat back in her chair, crossed her arms and said, "Well, there's no way I'm letting someone have a fake baby in here."

Then she got up out of her chair and waltzed over next to the family, pretending to be interested in the plants behind them but was obviously looking to see if the baby was real. Her eyes got wide and she came barreling back to my dad and I, saying, "It's real! It was definitely moving! It's a real baby!"

Needless to say, a few minutes later the family moved to a table inside. I overheard them say to the waiter that it was because of the bees flying around, but I think they were afraid my mom was going to steal their baby. Or something. Because I was afraid for them.

...though it would have served them right if it had been a fake baby.

I still need to write about all my time with my other grandparents, but I'll finish my North Dakota write-up in the next few days. I can't believe I am already flying home tomorrow. I definitely wish I had more time with my relatives right now... but I guess this just means I need to make sure I get out here again soon. It's so tough to plan a trip strictly for pleasure/family time when I travel so much the way it is, but being here reminded me very vividly how important it is. So I just need to make time, like I did with this trip. :)

Thanks for joining me for BEDA, guys! Have a great September and I'll talk to you all soon.

Flights taken: 21

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

BEDA 30: Cheating.

I am giving myself the night off.

The whole point of Blogging Every Day in August is basically just to encourage myself to write 1. more frequently and 2. about everything I have going on as a means of documenting little chunks of my life more closely than the rest of the time.

I have been having such a good time here in North Dakota and this trip is so important to me that I know I'll blog about it -- so I'm not going to force it tonight. I'm tired and a little blogged out after a whole month of crazy traveling. I don't think I've ever done this much during a previous BEDA - nor do I think I've ever done this much in a single month in my whole life.

So tonight, I will leave you with this adorable picture of my brother and I by an abandoned old farmhouse that was taken today:

Until tomorrow - our last day together for this particular rendition of BEDA! I promise that one will be a doozy.

Flights taken: 21

Monday, August 29, 2011

BEDA 29: Grasshoppers.

I might actually be too tired/burnt out to blog tonight. I was going so strong this month, too.

Here. I will just leave you with this short anecdote from last night at the musical that I forgot to put in yesterday's blog post, and then I will catch up on the rest of today... in tomorrow's blog post. What. I make the rules around here.

So, I was thinking about blogging this all night on the drive home last night, but then I got too caught up in my emotional musings about North Dakota to remember when it came to actually typing it up. It's a big deal, because last night I developed an irrational fear of grasshoppers.

We got to sit in the special handicap seating area during the show because of my grandma, but what that meant (aside from having pretty good seats) was that there was a lot of room on the side of me (unlike the other auditorium style seats). Mid way through the show I felt something hit my head and I smacked it away... when I looked down at the concrete floor to see what it was, I saw the largest effing grasshopper I have ever seen in my whole life. Like, past insect and into monster-status. Huge. Like 6 inches long.

For the next five to ten minutes, I honestly couldn't tell you what was happening during the musical because my eyes were locked on that dumb creature. It was inching closer and closer to my seat and I was too afraid to kick it away or anything because there was this tiny piece of me that feared it might go all Shocker on Shock Street on us. Finally, finally it crawled out of sight and I was able to relax enough to start enjoying the show again.

This was a false sense of security though, because not ten minutes later I looked over and there it was again, sitting on the ledge between our seats and the seats down a tier below us, just watching me. I kind of freaked out a little bit; I tugged my dad's sleeve and hissed, "get that thing away from me!"

Being a loving and courageous father, he flicked it in the opposite direction - which was great, until we realized the multitude of people's heads he'd just sent the volatile creature careening toward. Eyes wide; we glanced at each other guiltily, glanced down, then slouched in our seats as far as we could go. "Don't look over the edge," my dad told me, suppressing a laugh. "I think I just saw an old lady flailing at her hair."

So, yeah. We're bad people. Funny, yes, but bad people.

Flights taken: 21