Saturday, October 14, 2017

42. Foster a kitten/cat (and don't keep it)

This is my first dream-fail, but it's an adorable one so I'm going to share it anyway. Maybe someday I'll be able to cross this one off, but it won't be today... 

Last October, my sister sent me a picture of a fluffy orange kitten and said, "This is Walter. Will you foster him for me until my lease is up and I move to a place that allows pets?" My very first response was, "When is that?" and her reply was, "July."

I didn't love the idea. We had two cats already, and they were a handful by themselves. But earlier that year, my sister had put her cat Zoey down, so I knew she wanted a companion again. Against my better judgment, I eventually said yes. 

Fast forward a year. Walter is now a full-fledged member of my household. Exactly as I anticipated. Here is Walter with his brother Jack (the white one) and his sister Sophie (the gray one): 

So how did we get here? 

Last November, my sister and I picked Walter up from the foster he was with. He was so sweet. Tiny, fluffy, and incredibly friendly, he loved getting into his carrier to head home with us. When we got home, he wasn't scared or nervous at all. He was ready to explore his new home. Jack and Sophie were not as excited... but Walter didn't care in the least. Here he is on his first day in our home: 

Over the next few days, we realized that our new house-mate was having some tummy troubles. His trips to the litter box weren't as... solid... as we liked. We decided to see if his stomach settled down after he got used to his new environment and food, but a few weeks later he was still having trouble. We ended up taking him to our vet, and she treated him for worms. We thought everything would clear up and we'd be on our way, but we were SO WRONG. 

Turns out the medication that treats worms makes the kitty stomach sooo much worse before it gets better. We're talking pure liquid. It was a rough few days in our household. There were lots of baths and cleaning of walls and carpet going on... 

Finally, after a couple of months of new foods, meds, and vet visits, Walter's tummy settled down. Once his digestion was back to normal, we realized that he liked to eat - a lot. From the time we got him last November to his vet visit a couple weeks ago, he doubled in size. He's only about 18 months old, and he is way bigger than his brother and sister. And he's not even done growing! We think he has some Maine Coon in him; his head is nearly as big as Rich's!: 

I made it a point not to bond with Walter during the time he was here, because I didn't want it to hurt too badly when my sister finally took him. That doesn't mean I was mean to him, or cold, or anything... I just refrained from falling head over heels in love with him. The time finally came in July for my sister to take him, and despite my not having bonded with him, I was incredibly sad when he was gone. I mean, look at this face!!!

Almost immediately, my sister realized how much work it is to have a kitten in her house. She and my parents didn't get Zoey until she was an adult, so she had no idea how much work they are. It only took her six days before she brought him back to live with us permanently. 

I was conflicted about this. I still am. I love Walter. He is so cute and funny and lovable. But he and Sophie don't get along particularly well, and I feel terrible for her. Rather, Sophie doesn't get along with Walter well; he likes her just fine. Sophie has been having some medical issues of her own for the past few months, and we can't help but wonder if Walter being here is causing her stress and preventing her from healing like she should... We are working through that right now.

Here is one last picture of Walter; I took this one this morning, right before he tore through our brand new duvet cover with his teeth:

Kittens are fun... 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

1. Read all the books on the list of Goodreads 100 Books You Should Read In A Lifetime Pt. 2

I'm getting through this list faster than I expected! Here are some more mini-reviews for the next handful of books I've read:

To Kill a Mockingbird - I remember starting this book in high school, but I'm pretty sure I didn't finish it. I say that because I feel like I would remember how it ended, which I did not. All that to say, I LOVED THIS BOOK. I couldn't put it down. It only took me two days to read it because I was completely engrossed in it.

Charlotte's Web - I read this book in elementary school, and as I was reading it this time I was surprised at how much of the story I remembered. My fourth grade teacher was smart in having us read it. It's a chapter book with pictures, which I feel is perfect for children in that age range who maybe still aren't super comfortable with reading. Plus it's adorable.

Animal Farm - This book was about as political as they come. It was a quick read though, which was nice, but that also means the plot escalated super quickly. I liked the message, but I can't help but relate this book to our current political climate, and that makes me sad/scared.

The Grapes of Wrath - Okay, I loved this book so much right until the end. I always think that every dystopian novel I read is going to have a happy ending for whatever reason, and I'm always wrong. This book was extremely well-written but also very depressing... Same as with 1984, I was hoping the people would come together to overthrow those in charge, but they just... didn't. Life just went on as depressing as it was before.

The Kite Runner - Again, this book was very well-written but was also depressing. Overall I liked this book, especially the historical parts, but the fate of Hassan was really sad. Actually, the fate of most of the characters was really sad. I understand that authors are trying to make a point when they write sad stories, typically about the world in which they live, but I'm learning that these types of books are not my favorite. Give me back my Charlotte's Web...

Macbeth - All I have to say is thank goodness for footnotes. I'm pretty sure I would have NO clue what this was about without them. I always have good intentions to understand Shakespeare without footnotes or Cliffs notes, but my brain gets so focused on the rhyming that I forget to pay attention to the plot. I'm just glad this one was short...

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - This was a slow-moving book, but it was an easy read regardless. I feel that there are a lot of parts to this book that don't advance the Injun Joe plot line at all and could easily be left out. Maybe I'm missing some bigger picture though. Reading reviews on this book, however, has made me very excited to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, because it angered enough people politically that it was banned from schools for a bit (though I'm pretty sure I read it in high school, or at least started it...).

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass - I feel like Lewis Carroll was eating some magic mushrooms of his own when he wrote these books... They were entertaining to be sure, but if I had read them as a little kid I feel like my mind would have swirled and I wouldn't have understood a lot of it. Also, I'm glad I'd already seen the animated Disney version of this movie, because it helped me visualize things in my head I'm not sure I would have been able to otherwise.

Anna Karenina - This book took me several months to get through, not because it was particularly difficult to understand, but because there was an insane amount of information that had nothing to do with the story at all. Basic premise - Anna is a slut and feels so guilty she chucks herself under a train at the end. Not sure why it took nearly a thousand pages to get to that conclusion. WHO CARES ABOUT LEVIN?!

The Things They Carried - This book was incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I gushed on and on about it to the person who let me borrow it and he ended up buying me my own copy. This book and its stories about the Vietnam War reminded me just how hard people in the military have it - I wish more people would read this book, honestly.

The Road - This was a really, really good book, another one I couldn't put down, but it just has one flaw in my opinion - WHAT IN THE HELL HAPPENED?! I understand that this book takes place in a post-apocalyptic time, but I want to know how they got to that point. The author touches on it just enough for me to want to know more, but he never fully explains what happened. I guess that's not the point, but I'm too curious to let it go.

Crime and Punishment - After my months-long experience with Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, I was terrified to read anything by Dostoyevsky. But since it was on the list, I had to read it, and I was pleasantly surprised. I just assumed all Russian novels would be as convoluted and ridiculously wordy as Tolstoy's, which I now understand is a silly notion. Either way, this book was way better than I expected it to be, though I'm still not sure what made Raskolnikov kill the woman in the first place...

I'm currently working on Little Women, and it's slow-going (bordering on boring) for sure. We'll see if it gets better. Next is Don Quixote, and it's terrifyingly thick and heavy. Also, it was written many centuries ago, and I'm afraid it's going to take me all summer like Anna Karenina did last year. Let's hope I'm wrong. =/

Monday, February 27, 2017

51. Hustle a random at a bar game (Buck Hunter is preferred)

I had no idea how soon I'd be crossing this dream off the list, but I did have a feeling it wouldn't be planned. And I was right!

On Saturday, Rich and I went to KC for a beer festival. About 15 beer samples and a nap later, we were starving. We met my friend Sara and her boyfriend at a great little Mexican restaurant for dinner and drinks, and then afterward we all went to this bar that had a bunch of arcade games at it. The very first thing I spotted, of course, was a super old Big Buck Hunter Pro, and I eventually made my way over to it to play a round. No one wanted to play with me, though, so I got bored and moved on.

Later on in the night, however, the four of us were sitting at a table next to the Buck Hunter machine and a mostly drunk guy asked us for change for a $5 so he could play it. I asked Rich to make him change, then when I handed it to him I told him I wanted to play with him. He was excited to have competition, and I was excited to show off my skills (which he knew nothing about yet).

During the first round he said, "Okay, you're good at this..." Then I proceeded to crush him in every subsequent round. During another round, he muttered, "This girl is so fast..." I was elated! He had no idea what he was getting into, and he totally misjudged me based on the fact I was a girl. I ended up pummeling him, and he thought it was hilarious. He was such a good sport about the whole thing that it completely made my night.

After it was all over, I ended up telling him that I'm a world championship competitor at the game, and he replied with, "I knew that. Right away." He said he travels the country looking for Buck Hunter in truck stops and such because he loves playing it so much. He was so impressed with me, and I had such a good time. Even though I've already technically crossed this dream off now, I plan to continue doing this. It's a huge rush to get people to think I'm some dumb girl who doesn't know what I'm getting myself into then systematically demolish them at it. I can't wait to do it again and again and again!

Monday, June 27, 2016

98. Drink Starbucks in Seattle

Rich and I just returned from Seattle to visit my best friend from high school, Allyssa, and her boyfriend, Vince (a friend of mine from college). I did three different things while I was there that are on this dreams list, so I don't even know where to start with this blog post! I guess I'll start with the easiest one - drinking Starbucks.

After Rich's and my plane landed on Thursday morning, we met Allyssa at her office building to drop off our suitcases, and then we were off to explore a bit before she got off work. The very first thing we did? Go to Starbucks, of course. Not that it was difficult to find one, because it was on the first floor of her building. Here is a picture of my drink:

Anti-climactic, I know. And we ended up having Starbucks about 85 more times while we were there. But whatever... I love Starbucks, so I was pleased with it.

Another thing we did while we were in Seattle was go to the Cardinals/Mariners game on Friday night. It was a really good game, except the Cardinals lost due to a walk-off home run. Safeco Field wasn't terribly impressive. It was nice enough, but nothing very memorable. My favorite park I've been to so far is still Wrigley... But here are a couple pictures I took while we were at the game:

Our view from our seats. Notice all the fans in red.

A view of the Safeco Field sign. This shot shows that the roof had been closed for that night's game.

Of course, just being in Seattle at all helped me get closer to another dream on the list - visiting all 50 states. Washington makes 24. I'm almost halfway there! I don't have any plans to visit any new states currently, but I'm always searching for that next travel adventure. I'm sure I'll think of something soon.

We did tons of other stuff too while we were on vacation, but nothing else helped me cross of any dreams. However, in case you're interested:

  • We went to Pike Place Market and had gyros on the street - they were delicious. 
  • We had great Thai food. 
  • We went to the Space Needle. 
  • We convinced a stoned girl on the bus that all four of us had flown in Friday afternoon for the Cardinals game only and were leaving early the next morning heading back to Missouri - she was mind-blown. 
  • We went to the EMP Museum, where they have a really awesome Kurt Cobain exhibit. 
  • We spent 2+ hours trying to decide where to go for dinner one night, then we bailed on the whole thing and got delivery. 
  • We had an amazing brunch on the water. 
  • We saw Mt. Rainier a bunch of times from the car and bus windows, and it was impressive every time. 
  • I stood at the edge of the Puget Sound and let it lap at my feet. 
  • We visited a cat cafe where we got to hang out with random cats and drink coffee for an hour. I tried to make Allyssa put one in her backpack, but she wouldn't - what a bad friend.
  • We went to Fremont Brewing and had some delicious beers and good conversation. 
  • We hung out at Vince and Allyssa's place and they got us hooked on a new show - Billions on Showtime. 
Our trip was a lot of fun, but I'm glad to be home. The weather here is a big pile of poop compared to what we left back in Seattle, but sleeping in our own cozy bed tonight will (almost) make up for that. 

57. Visit 20 different amusement parks and ride at least one roller coaster at each

A few weeks ago, Rich and I took a road trip to Pennsylvania to visit his parents, and on our way back, we stopped at King's Island in Mason, OH. We spent the day riding roller coasters and other rides, and I figured this was a good opportunity to write about my progress on this dream!

I haven't always been into amusement parks and thrill rides... When I was young - like 3 or 4 - my dad and uncle smashed me between them on the Tilt-A-Whirl at a school carnival. My dad is not a small guy, so I could barely even see out from between the two of them. It made me violently ill, and I begged my dad and uncle to "make it stop". I was pretty much petrified to ride anything ever again from then on. So when my best friend in elementary school invited me to go to Six Flags with her, I was excited to go but not excited to ride anything. I unfortunately don't remember what my very first roller coaster ever was, but I do remember being forced (almost literally) to ride rides that day. I ended up enjoying myself very much though, and from then on I was totally hooked. (It took me until I was 14, however, to gather up the courage to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl again at a carnival...)

Until 2008, the only amusement park I had been to was Six Flags St. Louis. I used to ask for a Season Pass for my birthday every year so I could go all summer. The house we grew up in was only about 25 minutes away from the park, so my parents would drop my friends and me off in the morning, we'd spend all day riding rides, and then they'd come pick us up again later in the evening. I can't even count the number of times I've been to that park. It makes me wonder how many hours of my life have been spent waiting in those lines for the same rides over and over!

In 2008, my family took its first-ever family vacation (that wasn't to visit other family members). We went to Myrtle Beach, SC for a week in June that year. My boyfriend at the time, David, came with us. While we were there, we visited my second amusement park - Hard Rock Park. The park was rock & roll themed, and it was a ton of fun. The park wasn't crowded (foreshadowing...), and it was very clean. The rides were awesome, and they all had fun rock themes. All of the roller coasters were unique in their own ways. I wish we had spent more time there, but my mom isn't into riding thrill rides at all, so she was pretty bored for most of the day. We ended up leaving around sunset.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to go to this park at all, because at the end of 2008 (its opening season!), it filed bankruptcy and was subsequently sold before the 2009 season. If you're following, that means we managed to go to the park during the one season it was open, by complete accident. I have a few souvenirs from the park that I plan on keeping a hold of for a long time to come - who knows? They might be worth some money some day!

In August 2010, David and I had a trip planned to go to Cedar Point, in Sandusky, OH. Our plan was to drive to Sandusky on a Monday, spend Tuesday and Wednesday at the park, and drive back to Missouri on Thursday. We planned to spend two days in the park because there are so many rides we wanted to ride that we figured it would take more than one day. We spent the first day riding about half the rides and roller coasters in the park, including Top Thrill Dragster, which we waited in line about two and a half hours for - it was rainy that morning, so they kept shutting the ride down. It was worth the wait though to experience a ride like that. It goes from 0 to 120 mph in less than 4 seconds, and it's one of only two roller coasters in the world over 400 feet tall. By dusk, we were tired and sore, so we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before our second day of roller coasters.

However, when I woke up the next day, something was wrong with me. Like, seriously wrong. As we were waiting in line for our first ride, I got very dizzy and felt as though I was going to throw up or faint (or both?). I thought I might just be dehydrated, so we got out of line, I drank a bottle of water, and hoped to feel better. But instead, I just felt worse and worse. David finally got the park employees to call First Aid, and they came and got me in an ambulance and took me to the First Aid building. They also figured I was dehydrated, so they gave me crackers and Gatorade and sent me on my way. But I just keep feeling worse. Finally, we ended up leaving the park without riding a single ride. We went back to the hotel, where I tossed and turned in bed all day, filling myself with water and Gatorade, thinking I was just severely dehydrated. But I never ended up feeling better. The following day, the day we were supposed to drive back to Missouri, I ended up asking David to take me to the ER, because I somehow felt even worse then the day before. They also said I was likely dehydrated, so they sent me off with no treatment or tests, telling me to eat bananas and drink Gatorade... This was the beginning of a long few months of misdiagnosis before I was finally diagnosed with something called POTS the following January. I have now been struggling with this syndrome for 6 years, and, while it's mostly controlled by the three medications I take daily, I still don't feel "normal". And I'm not saying Cedar Point gave me POTS, but... if it quacks like a duck... Anywho, that is another story for another blog.

After the Cedar Point incident, I was convinced I was never going to be able to ride any rides or roller coasters ever again. For about a year after I first got sick, I could barely be in a moving car without wanting to pass out or hurl. I was pretty upset, because riding roller coasters is one of my most favorite things. Eventually, I made peace with the fact that amusement parks were part of my "former life" and were just going to be fond memories. I just wasn't going to be able to be one of those people who could ride them anymore.

Then, in December 2012 (which was about 6 or so months after the meds had finally stabilized my dizziness and nausea), I flew to Houston to visit my friend Jenn. During that trip, we took a day trip to Galveston to hang out on the beach, but it was rainy and only about 70 degrees, so we sat shivering on beach towels and watching the one other person on the beach using his metal detector. When we could no longer take it, we packed up our things and headed back to the car. We had seen an amusement park on our way in, and I brought up to Jenn that maybe we should go to it. She knew that I hadn't been on a roller coaster since I'd gotten sick, so I think she was nervous that I was going to become a hot mess if we went, but I convinced her I'd be fine. I wanted to try it so badly. I was finally feeling better, and I wanted to see if I could get back into something I really missed.

We ended up going to the park, called Pleasure Pier, and it was really fun. We rode the roller coaster there, Iron Shark, and aside from it being painful and something I never wanted to do again, I wasn't dizzy at all from it. I was beyond thrilled by this. This was one of the best things that happened after I was diagnosed with POTS; it made me feel like a normal person again. The funny thing about that day though? Jenn was the one who ended up feeling sick after a spinning ride we went on!

After going to Pleasure Pier and not getting sick, I felt like I was definitely able to go to amusement parks again. The following June, my sister, David, and I went to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, about two hours from here. Friends from work told me that it wasn't as fun as Six Flags St. Louis, so I was pleasantly surprised when it actually was a lot of fun. One of the rides there, Mamba, reminds me a lot of Millennium Force at Cedar Point. I could ride it over and over again! I have been to Worlds of Fun a few times since then, and in my opinion, its way better than Six Flags! Or maybe it's just better because I haven't been there a thousand times.

In July 2014, I decided to try something I never thought I'd be able to do again - go to Cedar Point. Rich moved from New York to Missouri that summer, so while we were driving his car from there to here, we stopped in Sandusky. I was incredibly nervous, but it turned out to be an amazing time. I didn't feel sick at all, and because we paid for the Fast Pass to jump the lines, we got to ride everything lots of times. At the end of the afternoon, however, a tornado warning was issued and everyone was forced to leave the park. I suppose that's what happens when you build things in the Midwest...

In the last year, I have ridden record-breaking coasters at three new parks. In August 2015, I rode El Toro and Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. El Toro is the U.S.'s tallest wooden coaster, and Kindga Ka is the world's tallest steel coaster (and the U.S.'s fastest). Kingda Ka is a slightly larger, faster version of Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. Everyone raves and raves about these rides, but in my opinion, they're not that great. The launching from 0 to 120 is super thrilling, but the rest of the ride makes my head ache... El Toro, on the other hand, is incredible. I could literally ride it over and over again. It's amazingly smooth for a wooden coaster, and it's so fast. There is a ton of air-time too!

Then in September 2015, my sister and I went to Silver Dollar City. Say what you will about Branson, MO... Silver Dollar City was an awesome time. It was super crowded, but the lines for the rides weren't long at all. All the baby boomers in the park were there to buy apple butter and take antique photos. I think the longest we waited for a ride might have been 20 minutes. And we loved every single ride there. Outlaw Run was one of our favorites - it currently holds the world record for highest number of inversions on a wooden roller coaster with three. And it is insane. I am trying to plan a trip to go back this summer.

I started this post by talking about Rich's and my trip to Pennsylvania last month, and I'll end it there as well. On our drive up there, we stopped at Cedar Point (my third time there, his second), and we had a blast, as always. It's seriously one of my favorite places on earth. We rode the newest coaster they have, Valravn, which is a dive coaster. It was fun, but it wasn't as thrilling as I expected it to be. Rich really liked it though!

And finally we went to King's Island on our way home. There were two rides there we kept riding over and over again - Diamondback and The Beast. Diamondback is a steel coaster with tons of airtime, and The Beast is the world's longest wooden coaster. It was built in the 1970s, and I can't believe how smooth of a ride it is. And it is really fast! I have never been on a ride like it, and I'm not sure I ever will again.

So there you have it - a way too long description of all the amusement parks I've ever been to where I've ridden roller coasters. I haven't even reached 50% of my goal yet, but I can't wait to keep working on it. I have a list going of the other parks I want to go to, and I keep adding more and more parks to it. If I have kids, they better like roller coasters...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

75. See a game in all the MLB ballparks

This dream is a lot harder than I had anticipated, because apparently baseball games aren't free, which makes it all the more exciting. Until about a month ago, I had only been to three parks - Busch Stadium, Citi Field, and Wrigley Field. I clearly have a lot more to go, and it's going to take me a while. However, I did add another to the list on Opening Day this year (and I'll add a fifth in June!).

Rich is a huge Mets fan (being from New York and all...), so when I found out that they were playing the Royals for Opening Day, I decided to surprise him with tickets. Kauffman Stadium is only about two hours from here, so even though the game was on a Sunday night, I went for it. He was thrilled when I gave him the tickets, and it was really fun to surprise him!

The weather was beautiful as we headed to Kauffman on Opening Day, and we got there pretty early. I'm used to games at Busch Stadium - no parking, walking a ways to get to the venue, etc., but Kauffman shares a HUGE parking lot with Arrowhead, and parking was a breeze. We got inside the stadium well before the game started, but we didn't take our seats until after the National Anthem. We explored a bit, got some drinks, and waited until the Royals' World Series celebration was over. (You may remember who they beat in the World Series last year? Yeah... the Mets...)

When I go to Cardinals away games, I swear it feels like at least 40% of the fans there are in Cardinals gear. Not so at this game. There were like 10 Mets fans there total. It was crazy! But the Royals fans we sat next to were very pleasant and friendly. So mid-western. The wife did, at one point, tell Rich, "At least you're not a Cardinals fan!" then proceeded to talk about how awful we all are. It was really funny, because she had no idea I was actually a Cardinals fan. I ended up telling her that I'm a die hard Cards fan, but then I apologized for any rude ones she'd encountered and all seemed to be well.

The Royals ended up winning the game, and until the eighth inning it was pretty boring. The Mets staged a comeback, but it wasn't enough to win. Even though the team we were there to cheer for lost, it was really fun to see the hometown fans get a win on Opening Day. And we didn't get home as late as we had expected, so that was nice too.

The reason I wanted to do this - visit all the parks - was mostly to see what other teams' fans get to see when they go to games. Each park is different, and I love comparing them to Busch Stadium and also seeing what makes each one unique. Kauffman has a huge crown over the main scoreboard, and I thought it was really fun to look at.

Stay tuned - we are going to a Mariners game in June, so I'll be adding Safeco Field to my (very short) list of parks visited.

Until then, here is a picture from our seats at the Mets/Royals game:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

1. Read all the books on the list of Goodreads 100 Books You Should Read In A Lifetime Pt. 1

Before I started with this whole "100 Dreams" idea, I had already read a handful of books on this list. I am no where near having read them all, but I figured I should update the ol' blog with my thoughts on the ones I have read. To prevent this from getting way out of control, I'm going to give my thoughts in one or two sentences about each book. As a warning, THERE ARE GOING TO BE SPOILERS IN HERE!! So here we go...

1984 - I loved this book, but its premise was haunting. But I was really hoping the protagonist would overthrow the  Party, and when he didn't I was pretty mad.

The Catcher in the Rye - No. Just no. I made it all the way to the end of this book and was like, "Seriously?" Maybe I'm just too dumb for this book.

The Help - You know that heart-eye emoji? That is me, every time I talk about this book. I resisted reading it, because it was so mainstream, but I'm so glad I did. And the movie did it justice, which is hard to do.

The Book Thief - I read this book in preparation for a book club that never ended up happening, but I really liked it. I think I liked it most because of the (perhaps un-intentional) history lesson. The movie, however, upset me. If I hadn't read the book, I think I would have been confused about the story.

Of Mice and Men - My little sister raved and raved about this book, so I borrowed her copy. I had never seen the movie, so when it ended abruptly with George just blowing Lennie away I was absolutely crushed. I'm still mad at her for not warning me.

Brave New World - I just finished this one, and I am mad, mostly because of all the time I wasted. For the first three quarters of the book, I didn't even know who the main character was. I will, however, say that the ending almost made up for it. Almost.

Wuthering Heights - What was this book about? Can anyone tell me? Supposedly someone was a ghost? I have no idea.

Frankenstein - I read this book in college for an English class called "Monsters in British Lit", but I re-read it last year. I loved this book the second time just as much as I did the first time. I want to adopt Frankenstein's monster and love him despite his hideousness.

The Count of Monte Cristo - My ex-boyfriend went on and on about how good this movie was, but I always refused to watch it, mostly to be a jerk. I bought the book before we broke up, as a sort of peace offering I guess, but I didn't read it until well after we were no longer together. I actually loved it. Like a lot. But don't tell him.

Catch-22 - This was another one that I read with big question marks for eyes the entire time. I think I understand that it's supposed to be satire about war, but... I'm not entirely sure. Maybe I'm too literal.

Ender's Game - a friend suggested I read this, and then I watched a snippet of the movie once by accident and I was like, "Wait, he wants me to read a kid's book??" But I loved it. Really loved it.

The Time Traveler's Wife - So many feels!! I just loved this one so much. Just like Henry loves Clare.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir - I feel like I'm supposed to like this one better than I did. It was basically just depressing. I feel bad for this girl.

Gone Girl - I had been avoiding this movie like the plague since the moment I knew it was also a book, which was not an easy feat because it's on TV all the freakin' time. I finally read the book, and I really, really liked it until the very end. He... he just... stays with her?? She out-crazied him and then she won?! What kind of message does that send??

So that's all the books on the list I've read so far. I obviously still have a long way to go. So far, I'm not overly impressed with this list. There are a couple on there that I'm confused as to why they're considered classics at all. Like I said before... maybe I'm just too literal. Maybe I'm not deep enough to understand the meaning behind some of them... Either way, I'm really enjoying working my way through the list!

Monday, December 21, 2015

18. Sing karaoke and do it semi-well

I never intended to cross this dream off my list so soon - actually, Rich and I were talking about me doing karaoke for the first time at Cat's Meow in New Orleans next year. But things happen, and here we are. I actually had a really good time doing it, and it was super low-key and non-threatening, so it was probably good for me to lose my karaoke virginity that way. 

Jenn's boss had a little Christmas get-together at this Korean karaoke bar in St. Louis on Saturday, and she invited Rich and me to go since we were already going to be in town Christmas shopping. When we got to the place I was so confused. It was dive-y, and no one was singing - no music was even playing! But there was an open bar, and I hadn't seen Jenn and Corey in a while, so I was like, "What the hell," and Rich and I decided to stay. 

Eventually, people started singing, but I was too nervous to be anywhere near a mic. I hate the sound of my own voice more than just about anything in the whole world, so I was not trying to hear it booming out of the speakers in this little room. But as I had a few more drinks, I got braver and braver, and eventually I was singing all over the place. I imagine it like a movie scene - me being shy and refusing to sing into a mic then cut to an hour and a half later and I'm pretending I'm Joan Jett. 

Rich knew exactly which songs to play to make me sing, so he picked out three or four of them in the hopes that I just couldn't resist. And he was right. I even sang "my" song, the song I always said I'd sing at karaoke if I ever did it. It's "One Way or Another" by Blondie, and it's the most stalker-y song I have ever heard. So of course I love it. 

Anyway, we ended up having a really good time, I think mostly because the place and the people there were so low-key. As for the "do it semi-well" part of my dream... did I accomplish that? Well, I'd like to think I did. No one laughed (that I saw). No one threw tomatoes (and there were cherry tomatoes there to be thrown!). And when I heard my own dreaded voice, it wasn't, like, awful or anything. So I chalk that up as at least "semi-well". 
Karaoke isn't something I'd want to do every weekend or anything, but now that I've gotten my first time out of the way it's definitely not as daunting as it was before. Look at me - I'm becoming so well-rounded!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

52. Have my fortune read in New Orleans

I crossed off one of the items on my List of 100 Dreams last weekend, and aside from being a lot of fun, it made me feel really accomplished. I wasn’t aware how crossing even the smallest item off my list would make me feel, but it turned out to make me feel like I’m moving toward an end goal, and that is always an awesome feeling. When I graduated college I felt pretty lost, and this has given me something new to work toward in my life. It’s a pretty cool feeling. 

Anyway, back to crossing off my first dream. Rich and I went on our annual trip to New Orleans last weekend, and he suggested that we have lunch in Jackson Square on Sunday and then find a fortune teller after we were done eating. I thought it sounded like a great idea!

After we had lunch at Stanley, which was delicious, by the way, we went out to the Square to find the perfect psychic for my purposes. We cruised up and down the sidewalk trying to find her. What I was really looking for was someone who actually looked like they believed in what they were telling people, not someone who was just there for easy money. After walking up and down the row of fortune tellers three or four times, I had disqualified some of them. One looked promising - she was speaking very seriously to the people that were sitting at her table; it looked like she really might believe what she was telling them. But then when we walked by her a second time, she was playing on her phone, looking bored. That wasn’t going to work for me.

I ended up choosing a woman who was sitting at her table happily awaiting her next customer rather than looking bored and distracted. She was wearing a red tank top and had a handful of teeth missing. She was perfect! She did a palm-reading on me, and then she coerced Rich into having his palm read as well. She was really funny and polite - Rich and I both ended up liking her a lot.

She said she could tell I have problems with authority and that I need to be the boss. Seems right.

The things she “divined” about us could have been guessed by anyone or just plain made up. They could have fit a large subset of the population, but she was entertaining, and it was fun. We weren't sure how much she was going to charge us for the readings, but when she was done, she just opened up this little treasure chest she had on her table and told us to leave whatever we could. We ended up giving her all the cash we had on us, which was $25, and I’m really happy we did. It looked like she only had a few dollars in her chest, so it felt good to give her more money than she probably gets from a lot of her customers. 

This was one of the easier dreams to cross off my list, but it feels good to get things started! I can’t wait to accomplish more of my goals and tell the world about them! 

Friday, September 25, 2015

The List

So this whole thing started because I have a fear of flying. Well, not a fear of flying, per se... I have a fear of turbulence. A pretty severe fear of it. Rich and I were on a flight earlier this year, and it was getting a bit bumpy, so when he looked over and saw me trembling and white-knuckling the armrests he tried to distract me by handing over his iPad. He said, "Here. Read this."

What he handed me was a digital copy of Laura Vanderkam's What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend. More specifically, when he handed me the iPad, it was turned to the pages of her book discussing her 100 Dreams philosophy. Loosely, the idea is that a person should have specific goals he or she wants to accomplish in life, and weekends should be spent trying to complete or work toward those goals. Some dreams on the author's list included "Pick apples or strawberries with the kids," and, "Get my husband to grill a steak for me." I thought this sounded like fun, and almost immediately I began thinking of what might be on my own list of 100 dreams and how easy some of them might be able to accomplish.

Below is the list I came up with. Let me start by saying this - creating my list was really, really hard. It took me a couple months, actually. It started out pretty easy; I flew through the first 45 or so. Once I began slowing down, I started asking Rich, my friends, and some coworkers what might be on their lists of 100 dreams. I was looking to steal their dreams, basically. That idea helped a little bit. I had made it to around 60 dreams, but I was still struggling.

My next idea for inspiration was to Google "bucket list" and "things to do before I die", and this helped me add a few more dreams to my list. I was starting to see trends, too, on others' bucket lists and lists of dreams. Most people focused heavily on travel and seeing the world, and when I looked over my list, I saw that mine was the same way. I needed to expand my horizons.

Once I'd reached the dreaded second page of Google search results for all the keywords I could think of, I turned to Twitter. I typed "#bucketlist" into the search bar and pressed Enter. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of tweets this produced. While I was scrolling through the list, more were being added by the minute. This was obviously a good idea to see what the world at large values as life goals, but would it help?

It turned out to help immensely. Not a lot of the ideas others had for their bucket lists actually ended up on my list of 100 dreams, but it definitely got my creative juices flowing. Also, I realized just how many people dream of seeing Garth Brooks or Ed Sheeran in concert. (Spoiler alert: a lot of people.)

Long story short, I finally finished my list, and I've decided to make a blog out of it. I want to share my experiences with the masses, because, if I accomplish them all, I'll have lived a pretty awesome life. At first I was going to make the first post just the list of 100 dreams and nothing else. But I can't leave well enough alone, so instead I'm going to write a short sentence or two about each dream; why is it on the list? How close am I to accomplishing it? Fears/anxiety about it? Etc.

One more thing: I tried to make each item on the list something that is feasible for me to achieve in my lifetime. That is, I didn't put anything on there that is downright impossible. As much as I'd like to circle the sun in a flying saucer, I didn't want to set myself up for failure by adding things that I know wouldn't happen. That's not to say I didn't add difficult tasks - just not impossible ones.

All right - without further ado... my List of 100 Dreams:

1. Read all the books on this list - There are a handful of books on this list that I've already read, and there are a handful more I own and need to read. But I have a feeling reading the entire Bible is going to take me some time...

2. Have a semi-popular blog - I'm not entirely sure what "semi-popular" means yet, but I feel like I'll know when I get there.

3. Write a travel journal - One of my best friends already bought me a nice, leather-bound journal for this purpose, but I haven't started it yet. It's giving me anxiety.

4. Do an unassisted pull-up - This one is pretty close to circling the sun in a flying saucer.

5. Get a cat tattoo - Or as I lovingly refer to it, a cattoo.

6. Take more photos of Rich and me - We are starting to do this more. I'm not super comfortable with how I look at the moment, and I think that's having an impact on this one.

7. Build up a significant savings account ( >$20,000) - I'm not even remotely close to this, and a lot of things further down this list are going to make this one pretty hard.

8. Be debt free (except for a mortgage + car payment) - I wasn't going to add the car payment to this one, but Rich said that's not practical. Just know I'd really like to be debt free except for only a mortgage and nothing else.

9. Own my own home by 30 - Rich and I have been tossing this idea around a lot lately - this might happen in the next year or two.

10. Own a BMW - A white one, please.

11. Get a new piercing (and keep it) - My body is a butthole and rejected my last piercing, and I was forced to take it out before it grew out of my ear altogether. I miss it!

12. Pay for my own wedding - This one will feel like possibly the most incredible accomplishment on this whole list.

13. See all 50 states - I'm currently at 23. Last weekend my sister and I drove to Arkansas for the sole purpose of having lunch just to cross that state off.

14. Go back to Dublin - Dublin might be the most beautiful city in the world. I absolutely loved it when I was there last summer.

15. Volunteer at a no-kill animal shelter - This won't be too hard - there is one here in town.

16. Own a pair of Jimmy Choos or Louboutins - How awesome would it be to wear these at the wedding I paid for all by myself?!

17. Own a piano - Not a janky one that is constantly out of tune; I'm talking a nice one that I'm proud to own.

18. Sing karaoke and do it semi-well - I already know which song I'd sing.

19. Get Invisalign - I had braces when I was a kid, but I was irresponsible and didn't wear my retainer - it gave me a horrendous lisp. I would like to get at least my bottom teeth fixed again.

20. Pay off my student loans early - I'm not too far off from being able to do this!

21. Have a credit score over 800 - I have no idea how close I am to doing this!

22. Run a 5k in under 30 minutes - I am not a runner unless I'm being chased. Even then I want to give up. This one will be huge for me.

23. Sew something I wear regularly - I have a tank top that my friend Jenn and I made when we were in college, but the zipper isn't perfect so I never wear it... I want to make something I am proud to wear.

24. Audit a class and do well - My friend Justin and I have been tossing this idea around for a few years now. We just need to commit.

25. Stay at a hostel - Preferably in Europe, but not somewhere scary.

26. Eat a pot brownie - Legally, of course!

27. Go to Tomorrowland/world - My cousin got me totally hooked on Kygo, so it would be imperative to see him there.

28. Swim in a body of water so clear I can see the bottom - Preferably in Fiji. On my honeymoon.

29. Eat something I grow myself - Probably gonna be basil.

30. Throw a kickass party - An amazing wedding reception would count.

31. Ride in a gondola in Venice - Fabio is preferred but not required.

32. Go parasailing - My terrible fear of heights will make this one extremely nerve-wracking.

33. Go to a high school homecoming football game - I have not been back for a high school football game since right after I graduated. It's been over 10 years now. I think it's time. 

34. Go to an NCAA Final Four game - I'd love if Mizzou were playing, but it's not a requirement.

35. Go to a World Series game - Fingers crossed I can do this this season!!

36. Win a costume contest (best if it's a couple's contest) - In seventh grade I came in second place as a hula dancer. The winner was a mad doctor. I won't let that happen again!

37. Go white water rafting - I absolutely love water. I can't wait to do this one!

38. Complete a full cycle of P90X - The number of times I have started this and not finished is appalling...

39. Go sailing - My friend Don just got his sailing license. (Is that what it's even called?) I don't particularly want to sail around the Lake of the Ozarks, but it would do, I suppose.

40. Learn to French braid my own hair - I can do this on other people perfectly. But on myself it looks like I did it with mittens on.

41. See Phantom of the Opera on Broadway - This is my absolute favorite musical. I saw it at The Fox Theater when I was a freshman in high school, and I loved it. It would be amazing on Broadway.

42. Foster a kitten/cat (and don't keep it) - I once let a stray kitten in my house just because it was cold outside; I named her Abby. She was with us for less than 48 hours and she was already my best friend. This goal will be really, really hard.

43. Visit Cuba - Justin's sister got to visit Cuba a few years back because she is Canadian, and now that Americans are allowed to go there I want to go so badly. Mostly because I wasn't allowed, I think.

44. Go to a Presidential Library - Bill Clinton's would be best.

45. Visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls - I've heard it's way better than the American side.

46. Hike the Appalachian Trail for a day - Ever since I read A Walk in the Woods, I've wanted to do this.

47. Fly first class - Not that this will prevent turbulence, unfortunately...

48. Buy a writing prompt book and actually use it - I see these at Barnes & Noble all the time, and I always think they're a great idea, but I've never actually bought one.

49. Go to Meramec Caverns - I could literally do this one tomorrow if I wanted to; I had to put some easy ones on here...

50. Stay at a 5-star hotel - Rich and I stay in tons of hotels, so to stay in a five-star one would be a marked improvement over what we normally stay in.

51. Hustle a random at a bar game (Buck Hunter is preferred) - I'm working on this this weekend!

52. Have my fortune read in New Orleans - This one is specific for a reason. Rich and I met in New Orleans, and the weekend we met I saw so many palm readers. It would be something I feel like he and I share, even if he isn't there when I have this done.

53. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway - Because how gorgeous would that be!?

54. Go to Spring Training - Tickets are supposed to be stupid cheap, and who doesn't love watching baseball where American Horror Story: Freak Show was set?

55. Sew a quilt I'm not ashamed to show people - I can sew fine enough, but quilting is a whole different animal. I am a huge perfectionist, so if one square gets askew and sets the whole thing off, I'll probably have to throw it away and start over...

56. Go to the Baseball Hall of Fame - I have a baseball problem.

57. Visit 20 different amusement parks and ride at least one roller coaster at each - So far I think I've been to 6 different parks and ridden roller coasters at them. I have been on the world's tallest, fastest one just last month!

58. Take a (good) selfie with a celebrity - In 2009 I met Tucker Max, but the picture I have with him was neither good nor a selfie. I need to do better.

59. Take dancing lessons - Preferably before my wedding.

60. Learn to drive a stick shift - I feel like this is something women aren't supposed to know how to do, so I want to prove people wrong.

61. Bowl over 200 - I'm pretty sure my highest score ever was slightly over 100. This will take some practice.

62. Be in the audience of a late night comedy talk show - The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is my preference.

63. Get a post-grad degree - Law school? MBA? Until I commit to quitting my job or taking night classes, this one is on the back burner.

64. Be an executive for a company - I have been reading a lot of business books lately, and I have been inspired.

65. Have 500+ connections on LinkedIn that I have personally worked with or met - This number is arbitrary, and I'm no where near it right now, but I can get there.

66. Connect with old friends - I had several friends in mind when I set this goal.

67. Have my writing published - Even if I'm on page 15 of the Columbia Tribune, I would call it a success.

68. Marry my best friend - Rich??

69. Do 15 push-ups correctly and without stopping - "Correctly" is the key word here.

70. Buy (and use) a bicycle - One of the last times I rode a bicycle a bee flew in my sleeve and stung me on the armpit. That's how I feel about bikes.

71. Go backstage and meet the band after a concert - Last week I could have met/talked to Pete Loeffler, lead singer of Chevelle, but I had had a few too many drinks and didn't even see him as he was getting on his tour bus... next time I guess...

72. Take a cooking class - This is mostly so I don't embarrass Rich anymore with, "I'll make dinner! Do you want regular mac n cheese or spirals??"

73. Visit a South American country - Any will do, but a Spanish-speaking one would be best, as I have a little knowledge of the language.

74. Go to a shooting range - You know how gun-crazy Robin is on How I Met Your Mother and how excited she is at the shooting range? That will be me.

75. See a game in all the MLB ballparks - I have only been to three, and my third was last weekend. I have some work to do, but I'm very excited to do it!

76. Be a St. Louis Cardinals’ season ticket holder - You know, when I'm rich.

77. Eat at one of the restaurants on this list - Also when I'm rich.

78. Travel 5 countries in Europe in one trip (preferably ones I haven’t been to yet) - I've only been to four, so this should be pretty easy. 

79. Be someone’s maid of honor - I have two pretty good chances of this in my life - my sister, Amy and my best friend from high school, Allyssa.

80. Proofread something that eventually gets published - How does one even go about doing this??

81. Pay a stranger’s restaurant bill - This is a selfish one. I want to see the person's reaction. Is that bad?

82. Tutor a child or children in English or grammar - I've wanted to do this since I was in high school. I am the grammar police.

83. Have a personal trainer - Not the kind that stands there eating sushi while I'm on the elliptical, which I've seen happen.

84. Bake a pie from scratch - Why is this so hard?

85. Hold a koala - They look so soft. I want a koala hug.

86. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa - And yes, I'll probably take that picture where I'm pretending to hold it up.

87. See the Great Wall of China - Apparently you can't really see it from space, but I'm sure that doesn't make it any less daunting in person.

88. Complete a corn maze - This should really be, "Complete a corn maze without having a massive claustrophobic breakdown".

89. See a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater - Any concert will do.

90. Be on a kiss cam - Three times now Rich has been getting a beer when the kiss cam is going on at a baseball game and missed it. I am beginning to think he does this on purpose.

91. Attend a Mizzou game at Neyland Stadium - It's Rich's last name, and it's an SEC team. Need I say more?

92. Ride a roller coaster in a different country - Italy? Japan? They're supposed to be amazing over there.

93. See the Northern Lights - I kept debating on putting this one on here. Is this really possible? But three years ago I never would have expected to have been to Iceland, so I say yes, this is possible.

94. Play on a competitive sports team - Rich told me I'm not allowed to call this "intramural" because I'm not in college anymore.

95. Try surfing - A lot of people on twitter have "Learn to surf" on their bucket lists. I do not want to learn. I want to try, to fail, and to go back to the beach and drink mai tais.

96. Reach my goal weight - 135-140lbs. We'll see if this number changes.

97. Drink in a bar that is located in two different states at once - Per the travel channel, these really exist.

98. Drink Starbucks in Seattle - Allyssa is moving there later this month. I have this one in the bag. 

99. Attend a Pearl Jam concert wearing flannel - "Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay"

100. Complete at least half of this list by the age of 40 - This one is lofty. But I have 12 and a half years left to do it. I think I can, I think I can!

So there is it. My list of 100 dreams. Look out for updates to this blog. I'm going to post every time I get closer to crossing one of these off or actually accomplish one. Hopefully you enjoy this ride as much as I do!