Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to navigate the KC metro area.

Gentleman Friend and I recently took a weekend trip to Kansas City so that we could stand in the rain to watch an outdoor concert. During our short stay, we relied heavily on Uncle Google’s Sassy Map Lady Friend to help us navigate around town. We learned quite a lot about the overall layout of the city during our short stay – so much so that by the time we left, we were “old pros” at getting around. So comfortable and un-irritated with the city were we that we never screeched at each other in frustration as we missed our turn for the twelfth time!

For those thinking about planning a trip to this land of barbecue and…other things, I’ve put together a Cheat Sheet for you to study so that you are fluent in the area byways and highways before your trip even begins!

  1. Take a look at a map of the region. You’ll see a town laid out in a straightforward grid pattern. Interspersed with your north-south and east-west thoroughfares are a few random swirly routes, created to maximize the flow of vehicles and make turning left across traffic so you can get to the Price Chopper nearly impossible.
  2. Take a closer look at a map of the region and zoom in to the downtown area. Like with any major metropolis, this is where the major interstates come together and branch off so that you can get to where you need to be. For guests arriving to KC via Interstate 70, the city has made your next step extraordinarily easy! Regardless of where you are coming from or where you are going, the exit number you are looking for is 2. Exit 2 is then subdivided 20 ways and labelled with a letter of the alphabet. Simply look for your exit letter in the correct order. For instance, exit 2T is after exit 2R, because in the English alphabet, R stands for Rocky, which is a superior movie franchise to Transformers, which begins with T.
    1. PRO TIP. It helps to have multiple passengers in the vehicle to help you find your exit. Is it a left hand exit? A right hand exit? No exit at all? Whatever you do, be sure to continue travelling at 85 miles per hour. Except in that one section east of downtown itself where the speed limit drops to 17 miles per hour.
  3. There are many parkways. If you are staying south of the downtown area, a few with which to acquaint yourself are: Swope Parkway. Ward Parkway. Blue Parkway. Brush Creek Parkway. Volker Boulevard. When trying to remember which is which, remember the following: They are all the same.
    1. PLOT TWIST. It becomes Shawnee Mission Parkway as soon as you cross into Kansas. How will you know you’ve made it to Kansas, an entirely different state? You passed through a stoplight.
  4. It is not uncommon for several major roadways to intersect at the same point, multiple points, or just slightly adjacent to each other approximately 50 yards apart so that the rookie traveller is not 100% sure he is making the correct turn. Please see the images below for examples.
  5. Do not be alarmed if you find yourself driving and gradually realize it appears you are now traveling on a one-way road because traffic in the opposite direction is now separated from you by a median approximately 3 football fields wide but then you see that traffic on the other side of you seems to be going in both directions because they are actually on a road with a completely different name, but it runs parallel to where you are driving and then you realize that’s the road you need to be on but how do you get over there?
  6. Roundabouts! Hooray!
  7. Lastly: for an overall mental picture of the area, imagine a beautiful Gaelic knot, intricately woven with care using rope that’s become slightly unraveled and also it’s been submerged underwater for a bit and possibly there is some glue in that water. That’s a good start.

 

 

 

 

 

Freewriting about toes and stuff.

It’s cute when a cat has extra toes, it’s weird when a human does.

It’s all about perspective!

I amaze myself each time I realize how much I (hell, all of us) have become set in my ways: ways of doing things, ways of thinking, ways of speaking or expressing myself. Humans are creatures of habit, and habits have an irritating way of dying an agonizingly   will-it-or-won’t-it, soap opera-style death: Just when you think it’s gone, it pops back up again.

Existing is hard work sometimes!

I knew someone who, at one time, stored her t-shirts in her kitchen cabinets. Her justification was a simple “why not?” I guess, within the way her particular life was laid out, this just made sense. Good for her, I say. Because why not?

In the course of my new-ish job, I talk a lot about how “perception is reality.” If I’m speaking to someone for whom my employer provides services, it’s pointless to argue when they say they are not satisfied with us. “How can we better satisfy this person?” is the million dollar question. And sometimes the answer is “We just can’t.” And that’s the end of the story.

For those who are wondering, I don’t have a point here. I’m actually just free writing. I kinda-sorta hoped that in the course of my keyboard-clacking I’d end up with a nifty way to tie these thoughts together and a perfect little bow would suddenly appear from my fingertips and I’d be able to tie everything together oh-so-neatly. But so far I haven’t, and it’d be in all of our best interests if I quit while I was semi-ahead.

Have a good day / night / morning / afternoon / whenever you end up reading this, y’all.

 

 

 

The title is at the end.

Once upon a time there was a girl a woman who lived to write. sometimes she wrote poems, sometimes she wrote stories, sometimes she wrote long descriptions of imaginary people doing imaginary things. Sometimes she just wrote – the physical act of writing. Words. Lists. Names of imaginary people. she wrote thank you notes and just-saying-hello notes and birthday cards and silly messages on dry erase boards and scraps of paper and Post-it notes. She was never far from pen and paper.

as she got older and technology evolved and her access to said technology increased, her formerly written words became typed words. She wrote emails, message board posts, long-winded AIM profiles; she type, type, typed to her heart’s content.

She also blogged. She started some and ended some, but one day she started one that she didn’t end. It became a treasure trove of her random musings, daily observations, stories and anecdotes – both real and fiction. while she certainly wasn’t well-followed, several of her close friends were kind enough to read it and offer comment. Adding a portion of her writing to this blog slowly became part of who she was and how she identified herself.

One day, she stopped. At first, she told herself it was because she wanted to take a break, figure out how she wanted to proceed, organize her thoughts just a little more to make the whole thing more palatable to others. She had ideas of how she could intentionally create a following. But none of this ever happened.

A year went by. Still: radio silence. Nothing new was posted. Hardly anything was even written during that time. Almost two years went by. Not writing became as strong a habit as writing had been.

Gradually though, she began to miss all of the writing. The ideas backed up in her brain and begged to be let loose. Some days she almost couldn’t concentrate – the ideas would flow past her regular, daily thoughts and sweep them away until all she could do was close her eyes and see a story though.

The writing began again. first, in spurts. then, in more organized chunks. She rediscovered how damn much she loved writing and blogging in the first place. She slowly let go of some of the insecurities that had caused her to stop blogging – did it matter that her content didn’t have a theme? did it matter that there was no organized schedule of posts? No.

What mattered is that it made her happy. It was something that she managed to forget how much she enjoyed. It even brought her peace, sometimes. And she was rediscovering all that she had been missing, for almost two years. With glee she cried out:

I’M BACK, BITCHES.

Finding the good brains among the bad brains (or, Finding the Hans Delbrucks among the Abby Normals).

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credit: Internet, somewhere

 

Brains – my brain, your brain, Chris Kattan’s brain – fascinate me. How, why and when they are able to do all that they do – it overwhelms my own brain just thinking about it.

I often joke that I have “bad brains,” using that term superficially and lightheartedly and in no way trying to make light of others’ mental health issues. I’m just poking fun at my own.

The picture above illustrates one of my personal manifestations of Bad Brains: the ability to block myself into incredible mental corners and behind tremendous imagined obstacles.

I bet you’ve got this too, maybe not constantly, maybe not even regularly – but I’d put money on the fact that your brain has bent itself out of shape in these sorts of ways from time to time.

But we of the Bad Brains forget the flip side of this – the Very Important First Part of the quote above: We have the ability to think ourselves out of these corners and around these obstacles. Is it usually harder to un-think our thinking? You bet your sweet shiny ass it is. But can it be done? Oh fuck yes.

Here’s a reminder, written as much for myself as it is for others, on how to find the exits in the unproductive mazes that our brains get lost in:

  1. Speak. Use your words. Out loud. Even if you don’t have words yet. Just keep spitting out words until you find some. Eventually, you’ll even find the right ones. Just talk. Even if no one is listening (the universe is listening, by the way. And it’s not as weird as it sounds). When thoughts sit inside your brain, they just rot inside of your head-holes. Let them flow out of your mouth.
  2. Go somewhere else. Physically remove yourself from the space you are in. Go in another room. Concentrate on your steps to the other place. When you get there, observe the new place. Ah, these ceiling tiles are a slightly less-depressing shade of beige! The carpet tiles have a perpendicular pattern! Ideally, though, go outside and get some fresh goddamned air. Just five minutes. Fuck, even less than that can work sometimes. Unless you’re adjacent to, I don’t know, a large coal-fed fire – breathe deeply. Open your eyes wide. Look at nature-things, not people-things.
  3. Make human contact. Oh no she didn’t! Listen, y’all. I’m a High-Grade, Super-Octane, Level 34, Double Platinum People Avoider. So I KNOW this ain’t for everybody. But – and you’re gonna have to take my word for it here, I know – make human contact. Like, when you’re standing outside and breathing fresh air, look at another human being (uh, maybe don’t stare). That’s the bare minimum that your innate social human nature requires. Depending on your emotional circumstances, feel free to step it up a notch or two: Maybe make eye contact, maybe smile, maybe nod, maybe say hello. If the out-loud talking and the fresh air have taken hold, maybe  – gasp! – call someone. But human contact guys. It’s hard sometimes but it’s worth it. that’swhatshesaidthat’swhatshesaid.
  4. Take care of yourself. I’m one of those people who cringe at the overuse of the term “self care.” To me, it’s not to be taken lightly. It’s not “hey girls! Let’s go shopping and get frappe manis!” I’m talking basic. human. needs. Are you cold? Put on warm socks. Are you warm? Roll up your sleeves. Have you showered yet today? How about a quick teeth brushing? Maybe run some floss between them pearly off-whites! I know, I know. These are some pretty basic-sounding things. I’m not even implying that you’ve reached the point where hygiene becomes an afterthought. I’m just saying – regardless of your circumstances, you can’t help but feel a bit better when your body temperature is regulated and you’ve run a comb through your hair or re-tied your ponytail.

Honestly? I think one of the most important things you can do it remember that it ain’t just you. You are not alone. Your brains really aren’t all bad. Hell, even if amoebas are chomping through your gray matter – there’s some good Swiss cheese left around the holes, right?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend some time thinking about just what the hell a frappe-mani would entail.

Sunshine Daydreams, or: I Do Not Thank the Lord For the Nighttime.

I am a light-craving person. I am happiest and most at ease in bright, well-lit rooms and on sunny days. When the sun goes down, so does my mood. I am the most anxious, emotional, depressed, etc; at dusk – and beyond.

This time of year is hard for me. And I cringe saying that, because I don’t like making myself sound like some Special Fucking Snowflake with outrageous Needs requiring Special Attention. Because I do feel that way, whenever I admit to myself that something is not quite right with me. I feel a pathological, desperate need to follow this up with a BUT OF COURSE SO MANY PEOPLE FEEL THIS WAY for fear that someone who feels worse than I will take offense to my statements.

I’ve been told by so many people for my entire life how lucky and blessed I am (and I heartily agree, don’t get me wrong). SOMEONE ELSE ALWAYS HAS IT WORSE is probably engraved into my dura mater at this point. And while that phrase has often brought me comfort, at times like this it makes me feel worse. To feel bad for feeling bad is just about the polar opposite of feeling comforted.

I feel like I owe everyone with whom I’ve interacted lately – work, home, in line at the grocery store – a big fat apology. I want to tell them that I am sorry, that I know that I could be so much better at being human. And that was the original intent of this post: I FEEL LIKE I’VE BEEN REALLY SHITTY LATELY AND I AM WRACKED WITH GUILT THINKING ABOUT IT I AM SO SORRY PLEASE DO NOT HATE ME, WORLD.

But in a flicker of normal brain activity, I decided to make this an explanation instead. Not an excuse, not some mea culpa, just a simple reason for why I’ve felt (and acted) off lately.

It’s dark outside a lot right now. And the chemistry that makes me a living, breathing person is calibrated in favor of light. So until it readjusts itself, I will not feel like myself 100% of the time. That is all. Thank you for putting up with me listening.

Things I’ve said to my cat this weekend.

I had a three-day weekend, and it has been full of productivity and adventure (not sarcasm!). Between scenic hikes and finally crossing a few items off the ol’ to-do list, though, there’s been some down time. Down time that I’ve spent with my orange, fuzzy roommate:

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When he’s not hiding from people, this sumbitch is one hell of a Chatty Cathy. Seriously, he won’t shut up. I’ve taken to responding to him like a crazy COMPLETELY SANE person would.

Cat: Meow?
Julie: No! Tortilla chips aren’t for kitty cats!

Cat: Mrrrrroooow?
Julie: Yes, the vacuuming is over. It’s safe to come out.

Cat: MOW!
Julie: IT’S 4 AM. IT IS NOT WAKEY TIME. IT IS SLEEPY TIME. GO AWAY.

Cat: Merp?
Julie: Oh, I’m sorry. I had to move your mouse while I vacuumed. Here it is.

Julie: Where’s my itty bitty kitty?
Cat: *silence*

the healing powers of intentional hypochondria.

I’m sick, I think. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be feeling miserable.

Maybe my throat is sore, or my nose is sniffly, or I feel a twinge of unusual exhaustion. Something leads my brain to think that illness is quickly setting in, and I despair.

But here’s the thing: it never happens. Every time I think to myself I think I’m getting sick, I just… don’t.

One would think that I would have caught on to this mind trick by now, but I sure have not. Instead, whenever I actually do become ill, it seems to come from nowhere. BAM. SICK. GO TO BED NOW.

The last time I was truly ill (not counting miscellaneous tummy aches or runny noses), I was taken off-guard by how taken off-guard I was. One day, my eyes were super itchy. The next day, I could barely speak. I don’t know if the two are related – I doubt itchy eyes are a symptom of pneumonia, but I shudder to think that I somehow rubbed some germs into my eyes and that’s how I got sick. Ew.

Regardless, my point is this: I wondered this morning if I get into the habit of telling myself I have terrible diseases, if that would somehow ward them off from me entirely.

Though I suppose I think I’m getting cancer isn’t the best mantra, eh?

 

 

traveler’s mania.

Part of the allure of traveling – be it a day trip to a neighboring town or a cross-country adventure – is the ability to briefly assume the lifestyle of another. Walking or taking transit instead of driving everywhere (or vice versa, depending on what you’re used to), trying new types of restaurants or attractions, socializing with your friends’ friends – it’s all so wonderful.

I just got back from a quick 3-day trip to New England to visit my brother and his girlfriend. While there, I racked up monstrous daily step totals, ate the freshest, most delicious seafood, tried other new gastronomical delights, was crammed into a train and elbowed my way out (ok, so that’s very much an exaggeration) and just generally had a fantastic time.

Talk about refreshing. I’ve returned mentally energized and ready to basically take on the entire damn world.

That’s all I got for now!

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For your consideration: a picture of my baby brudder taking a picture of the foliage.

too blocked to think of a catchy title.

They – they who? – say that when you –  you who? – are faced with the dreaded Writer’s Block to just power through. Sit right damn down and just fucking write. Anything. Everything. Just scribble out what comes into your head. Remember that conversation you had with the lady in the grocery store line a few days ago? The bits and pieces of a dream you had last night? The snappy one-liner you shot off with ease the other day? Write it out, bitch.

They – seriously, who the hell are they? – make it sound oh-so-easy. Like you – wait, is that me? – have unlimited access to some sort of great Brain Tap of words and thoughts and ideas. Turn it on and let ‘er go, fellas, and be prepared for a deluge of brilliance! They – these people are starting to piss me off – play it off like you – quit talking about me! – will flood the page or screen with metric tons of words and will be able to easily pick out the salvageable bits and use them to create Epic Works. Cast a wider net, they – go to hell! – say! You – seriously, leave me out of this – are bound to catch hold of something great!

Well, they. I’ve got some news from me. I’m going through that particular pile of brain garbage and rusty scrap metal and all I’ve got to show for it are used ideas and mental tetanus. I was planning on sharing my haul with this wider audience but I’m afraid all I’ll do is spread disappointment like… [see below*]

 

*choose-your-own ending!
…like gonorrhea in Utah!
…like mayonnaise on a Subway sandwich!
…like news of Frank Sinatra’s imminent departure for New York, New York.
…wildfire (Seriously? This one? DUD ALERT)

 

Tagged

Grocerying is a word now.

Grocery shopping is very much a hit-or-miss kind of deal with me. My body must be just the right level of hungry; if I’ve just eaten or feel full then my purchases will include almost all non-food items. If I’m ravenously hungry my cart will be filled with Cheez-its of every variety and more chicken than my freezer can physically accommodate.

It’s a mental game, too: If I’m tired I rush through the aisles and forget important things, such as Everything On My List. If I’m cranky, minor setbacks send me spiraling off into an angry oblivion and I’m liable to storm out of the store with nothing while mumbling to myself. WHO THE FUCK PUTS POPCORN IN THE CEREAL AISLE? LIKE HELL I’M GOING BACK THERE TO GET IT NOW!

Ooh, ooh! Or! If I’ve just spent an inordinate amount of time on, say, Pinterest, then I end up with very specific ingredients to a half-dozen intricate meals and/or desserts that I have no time to prepare or bake and I’m asking myself six months later why the hell I bought lemon extract.

All this, and you’d think that I have some sort of elaborate mental ritual in order to prepare myself for a visit my local supermarket. Nah, fuck that. I just go and leave the rest to chance. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a good day: I’ll remember my list and my coupons and remember to actually give  my coupons to the cashier and I’ll come home and have food – real food! Not just Pop-Tarts and strawberry jelly!

Well maybe Pop-Tarts. Let’s not get crazy here.

Okay. Off to get my grocerying done! Suck it, Noah Webster!