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Over the summer, I received a message from a guy on OK Cupid. He referenced my taste in music, which was enough to pique my interest. We exchanged emails and I learned that he lived in my neighborhood. I’m always on the fence about that. Plus side, super convenient! Down side, could end terribly! Against my better judgement, I agree to a date. (He had really good taste in music!)
We agree to meet at a local bar within walking distance on a Saturday afternoon at 2:30pm for day drinking. I arrived to the bar around 2:20pm, knowing I was there early. I ordered a pint and began reading my book. For the first 5-10 mins I was there, I kept looking at the door when someone came in. But didn’t see my date. The bar was pretty empty (since it was Saturday afternoon).
At 2:30pm, he texted that he was just leaving his apartment and would be here soon. Okay? That’s the time we were supposed to meet. But I didn’t have anywhere to be. So I sat there reading my book, enjoying my beer. I didn’t text him to let him know that I was there (for no reason in particular).
Close to 3pm, I’m getting to the end of my beer when someone sits down next to me. The guy doesn’t say anything to me but I still look over. It’s a guy that looks older than the date I was expecting. We made eye contact, and he still didn’t say anything. So I assumed it wasn’t my date. He didn’t really look like my date. And he didn’t say anything to me.
When the guy gets up to get a beer, I check my phone for texts from the date. None. Now I’m convinced that random guy isn’t my date. Then he sits down next to me again. And now I receive a text, “Sitting at the bar”. At this point, he still hasn’t said anything to me.
I’d been sitting at the bar for half an hour, already finished a beer, and was feeling really awkward. My brain started going: Why hadn’t he said anything? Why didn’t he look like his photo? We do have same taste in music. I bet he’s an interesting person. But this will be a really awkward date. And now I just want to go home. Should I just leave the bar? I never confirmed I was here.
While I was contemplating my entire life, I feel a tap on the shoulder. The date, who hadn’t said a word to me for the 5 minutes he was sitting next to me, touched me on the shoulder to get my attention. He didn’t say my name. Or start making small-talk. He just poked me in the shoulder blade. It was the most awkward behavior I can think of!
Go ahead and hate my guts but after the poking I just got up from my seat and walked out. I didn’t make any acknowledgement that it was me. I never texted back. Sorry guy. Learn some social manners.
To folks new in the dating world, all of this is exactly what not to do on a first date.
I had a low-key Thanksgiving with some friends in Washington Heights. We (well, they) watched Archer. I did a lesson on MTG, which probably only confused friend more. We gorged on food. Some nerds took out their DS to have a poke battle. We gorged on more food. Chatted. Ate more food again. Then I got sleepy and headed home.
Since the neighborhood they live in is over an hour from my apartment, me and my full belly promptly fell asleep on the train. When I woke up in Brooklyn, I was surrounded by shopping bags! Seriously, every other person on that train had been out shopping, it then being past midnight. Good for them!
Instead of doing all that crazy shopping on black friday, I put up my Christmas tree! This is the first year I’ve had both cats and a tree so I was looking forward to how they would react. Yes, I had heard all the stories. And I knew to not have any ornaments on the lower branches.
As you see in the photo above, my little cat Scarface took the tree well. Usually he’s the hellraiser but this time he decided to just hang out all cozy-like under the tree. There he is just lying on the little blanket I’m using in stead of a tree skirt.
Unfortunately, my bigger cat Franklin hates the tree and is set on DESTROYING it. Every single morning I have woken up to an avalanche of ornaments falling off the tree. Of course he runs and hides when I come out to the living room and grab the spray bottle. But, having a fake tree, there is definite proof that a cat was traipsing around inside the branches. Some of the branches are so bent it clearly looks like a cat bed!
I love my cat. And I love my Christmas tree. But this is really driving me nuts!
I saw Dean Wareham (Luna, Galaxie 500) play at Bellhouse last weekend. This is my third time seeing him perform. It’s always great. They played for two hours including encore. It’s fun hearing songs from three different bands all in the same performance.
He seemed to have more stage presence this time than earlier in the year when I saw him perform at LPR. There was plenty of stage banter and he was very happy drinking a hot toddy. The music was top-notch too, but that was expected.
I also took a bunch of photos with my real camera. Enjoy below!
The movie Bloodfreak is a heart-warming Thanksgiving story with a lesson! After eating contaminated turkey, a young man turns into a turkey monster! See picture above. That is Turkey Monster Man! Amazing that he is a blood-craving turkey yet still has human hands, feet, torso, etc.
Anyway, turkey-man isn’t really a monster though. He only craves the blood of drug-addicts. So Turkey Monster Man goes around killing and sucking the blood of young kids at parties doing drugs. I guess this makes him Turkey Monster Vampire Man. Let this be a lesson to you folks, if you go around to parties shooting up, the Turkey Monster Vampire Man is coming after you!
After killing hundreds of drug-using hippies (it was filmed in the 1970′s) he take a little stroll through the woods. All of a sudden, he sees a man! Then Turkey Monster Vampire starts shaking and collapses! Oh no! And amazingly, when he stands up, he is back to normal! The end.
I’m not kidding. That is how it ended.
For no real reason, I read Stephen King’s Carrie this week. I saw the movie a few years ago and wasn’t all that impressed. Older scary movies are difficult to watch. How can anything shock me after I’ve seen four Saw movies? The books was even less creepy because it switched between multiple characters’ narratives and court proceedings/reports.
To me, nothing takes the scare out of a scary movie like a court room report. I did enjoy the different narratives. Also the foreshadowing the reports allowed. And while I’m not a huge King fan, his writing is always fun to read. I definitely wouldn’t consider this book scary by any means, but it was enjoyable quick read.
I need a downstairs haircut.
— geekymath (@geekymath) December 3, 2013
Does the storm have a name? We can't panic unless the storm has a name.
— Nerd York City (@nerdyorkcity) November 27, 2013
I wish I could get paid to eat ice cream. And I wish I would get paid in ice cream.
— Jenny Trout (@Jenny_Trout) November 23, 2013
Christmas Cats TV – Live stream 8 hours a day
Homemade Eggnog – Buttered Side Up
Online “Best of 2013″ Book Lists – Largehearted Boy
Let’s just start this by saying I went to Ikea this month. And bought things on Amazon. Two things I rarely do. But since I rarely buy anything, it just means bigger shopping trips.
The main theme of the month is: I hate my cats (i love my cats)
The cats have taken to peeing on towels and clothes that are on the floor. And when I went to Tennessee for four days, they let me know just how unhappy they were.
So I bought two new towel sets, a new sheet sets, new cat bowls, an eggcercizer, a small cat toy; then misc things I need for the house but never actually purchased like a bunch of kitchen towels, a bucket, a mop, floor cleaner, tall lamp, vases, tumblers. Real boring grown-up stuff. But I was able to thoroughly mop the apartment (all hardwood floors) and that greatly improved everything!
I also took Scarface to the vet for the first time and learned he needs some full dental work. Poor kitty! Expensive kitty! I plan to do this in January. But this appointment, including a check-up & vaccinations, was $100. I need to take Franklin in soon but he’s in much better shape so I might hold off. I will budget for these expected vet appointments but in reality, I don’t care how much the cats end up costing me. I’ll spend everything to make sure these annoying little critters aren’t in any pain. I love them soooo much.
My fixed expenses have been remaining the same. I rarely need to adjust my budgeted allotment for them.
Even though I spent a ton more on House and Cat items than I usually do, I still didn’t go over my Variable budget. Yay! Surprisingly I spent the same amount on groceries as eating out. And thankfully (for my health and well-being) bought more groceries than booze. Let’s hope I can keep this up.
I am no longer carrying a balance on my credit card. I have began using it, for small amounts, each month. Then paying it off immediately like you’re supposed to. Since I had gotten myself into cc debt twice before, I was a bit nervous if I could use it regularly. But it’s been working out so far. As far as budget goes, I just put these expenditures in their normal categories then pay the cc bill at the end of the month.
Still doing hand-made charts and still looking for opinions. Does it look too childish? Are they difficult to read? I want to show that budgeting can be fun. And doesn’t require advanced excel knowledge.
I have been writing on this blog about money issues with my father since 2010. That was the first time he directly asked me for money.
I’ve been giving him money and helping him out since graduating high school. Sending him phone cards and small amounts of money every now and then. You know, what parents are usually doing for their children, but it was the other way around.
He never asked and was grateful. I could afford to help him and did it because I loved him. I knew that he had his basic needs covered and could pay for them himself (an apartment, food, etc).
Three years ago, his ancient car needed car repairs. He directly asked me for money for the car as soon as possible. He needed a car. His was not reliable. He was quoted at $600 for repairs.
After writing about this here and with a lot of deliberation, I gave him the money. I had credit card debt, student loans (still do) and barely $2K in my emergency fund at the time – so $600 was a considerable amount of money for me. But I was working full time and really felt I was obligated as a “good daughter” to help my father. It was a non-essential expense but I wanted him to be safe and have a reliable vehicle.
He thanked me and got the car fixed. Soon after, he came to me complaining that the mechanics did a terrible job and he needed more money to have it repaired correctly.
I told him no which he accepted and I never did hear again about additional car repairs. I can guess that they were made-up but I don’t really know.
From then on our relationship was a bit more strained. We still talked but I felt like he was using me. He was now quick to ask me for money all the time. Usually it was $50-$100. Money that wouldn’t hurt me so much to lose. I felt that it was helping and eventually he would stop asking.
Sometimes I wouldn’t give him money when he asked and it was never important enough for him to keep asking. He would ask for $100, I would say not right now, then he’d drop it. Clearly it was money that he did not need at all. Sure, I’d love to have a free $100 too!
On top of this, money became something I was aware of when talking to my father. I didn’t want to tell him about trips I took or events I did because he would immediately assume I have tons of money for these things. He always asks me about visiting him. Which I would love to do except plane tickets from NY to WY are $3-400. I just don’t have it.
Over the years, that car died and he did go some time without a car. He lives in town and this is possible. Sometimes he gets rides form neighbors. Or a shuttle. It’s not too much of a problem. He can walk to places as well.
Over the summer, dad asked me directly to send him $300 immediately. He bought a car and needs $300 more to purchase it. He already put all the money he has down on the car. I have no idea where he got the money ($1500). He said he is tired of being dependent on people (lololol) for rides and wants his own vehicle.
I was upset being asked again. I was upset that he bought something under the assumption I would give him money to cover it. I was frustrated that this was happening again.
I thought about this long and hard. I foresaw that this old car for under $2K would need repairs soon. Who was he going to ask for repair money? Me, of course. I even saw that the car wouldn’t last long and he would expect me to buy him another car. For the record, this wasn’t he first time he asked me to buy him a car. He asked for $3000 a few years ago for a car but I laughed over the phone (I did not have $3K in my savings at the time). He dropped it.
After gearing up some courage, I told him over the phone “I’m sorry, I love you, I am not giving you this money.” He said some hurtful things. Threw a tantrum and was mad. Then he got over it. And I felt a lot better.
Fast forward to a few months later. We are talking on the phone and he says that he got a ride to the store. I asked why, since he had a car now. And under his breath he said that he was disappointed in the car. I implored some details. The car made a strange knocking sound and he didn’t trust driving it far. The power windows stopped working. He wished he knew it was such a dud or he wouldn’t have bought it. Of course.
When hearing this from him, I was relieved! I was relieved that how the car turned out did not affect me! Because I know that if I had given him money for the car then heard this news, I would be pissed. I would be mad that he spent my money on a piece of shit car that I knew. I would be mad that he didn’t listen to me in not buying the car. I would be mad thinking he would ask me to give him more money for repairs.
But I didn’t have to get mad at all. He did not ask for money on this phone call. And I was relieved that I did not have to get upset about this.
I learned that, historically, my father has always asked people for money. And burned many bridges that way. Growing up, I would hear him say “so-and-so turned out to be a piece of work” or that someone “was being a bitch.” I now know that in some cases it was because he was wearing out his welcome. Because someone got tired of giving him things.
While it was extremely difficult to say no to my father, feeling family guilt, and I feared being a bad daughter. I knew that continuing to give him money was actually hurting him. It was not helping him in any way. Enabling this behavior and eschewing all responsibility from him was certainly more hurtful than helpful.
I’ve been asked to speak twice now on HuffPost Live about this issue. In the past it was something I never wanted to talk about. It’s embarrassing. And feels “wrong”. I still have friends borrowing money from their parents. It’s not supposed to happen the other way around. By writing about it here, I’ve realized many more people than I thought are dealing with similar issues. Being able to talk about it, while still a bit embarrassing, has really helped a lot.
Here is the most recent HuffPost Live segment I participated in on lending family members money:
Shampoo and conditioner do different things! You need to use them differently!
Massage shampoo into your scalp thoroughly, it doesn’t even need to lather (but some brilliant ad exec somewhere will be happy if you use enough that it does!) You really don’t need that much shampoo, even for long hair.
Shampoo bars are my personal recommendation for shampoo. They are easy to travel with (no liquids). And they last a very long time. Since you never have to worry about using too much.
There are lots of frugal craziness when it comes to shampoo and treatments. I think I tried washing my hair with baking soda once. Fail. I think I went a while without washing my hair and only doing the hand-water-scrub. Fail. Learn your hair! Try all these crazy things but realize when it might just not work out for you.
Conditioner is not needed unless your hair is unruly without it. I know some people swear by it but I don’t regularly use it myself.
Condition your ends only. Rubbing too much into your scalp might make it oily. Either way, your scalp doesn’t need conditioning but the ends of your hair does. With long hair, I generally pull my hair into a ponytail with one hand then condition the ‘ponytail’ part with focus on the tips. This is better for your hair and will hopefully save you on conditioner.
A lot of people know this by now. Some people still feel grossed out about it. I wash my hair twice a week. On the off days, I still massage my scalp and run my fingers through my hair under the water. I’m not using actual shampoo but am at least loosening things up in there. Maybe it does nothing, I don’t know. Feels nice though.
When changing your hair cleaning routine, it might take up to 3 weeks to notice a difference in your hair. Especially if you wash your hair every day, there will be some build-up in your hair that takes time to get out. If you don’t like how your hair is after 3 weeks, then try something else. Just don’t get too discouraged too early.
In case you haven’t heard me talking about my cats yet, I have two cats. Franklin. And Scarface (pictured above). Both are brats and I love them so much.
I’ve been concerned lately about some behavioral issues with both of them. They fight a lot. And a month ago had taken to peeing on my clothes. I assumed it was territorial. But just to make sure it wasn’t actual bladder problems, I took Scarface to the vet. My first time taking him. I’m sure I was more scared for him than he was.
Even though he is a little-sized cat (for being 2 years old), the vet said he was healthy… except for his teeth! His cat teeth are starting to grow like vampire fangs because his gums are swollen and are pushing his teeth out. He’s always had stinky breath but I thought it was just catfood. Nope, he has gingivitis and tarter build-up. Poor kitty!
So on the vet agenda next year is to take him in for a full dental cleaning. This was estimated at $285 best case scenario or $575 worst case scenario. So we’ll see. As much as I want to say that’s a lot of money for a cat. I’ve decided there is no such thing as too much money for a cat. I love these two little critters with so much of my heart it’s ridiculous. Here, vet, I hand you all of my money. Just make sure these guys aren’t in any pain.
In the mean time, the vet recommended I try brushing Scarface’s teeth regularly. So, I tried. And failed. On the plus side, he loves the chicken-flavored toothpaste!
I spent my last vacation of the year in Tennessee a few weeks ago with my friend Katie! We ate BBQ, saw real-life black bears, hiked around the smoky mountains and got lost, ate more BBQ, saw a collection of 20K salt & pepper shakers, I tried chitterlings, went to a haunted corn maze, saw thousands and millions of stars in the sky, ate biscuits & gravy, played with puppies, and talked for hours.
Last weekend I went to Philadelphia, PA for a very quick overnight trip to cheer on my friend Cipriana as she ran the Philadelphia Marathon. She did great! We ate cheesesteaks, walked around the city, watched Ender’s Game, drove a car, and chatted a whole bunch. It was nice to get out of new york without it being a long trip.
Since I don’t go home for the holidays (which is fine by me), I’m excited to spend my Thanksgiving this year with friends. As long as I’m eating copious amounts of food, I don’t care who I’m with. Really, I’m more excited to finally put up my Christmas Tree! I plan to do that on black friday, since shopping is out of the question.
Yes, I realize that as soon as I put up the tree, the cats will immediately knock it down. It’s cool. I’ll keep the water bottle handy.
Saturday night in Philly, Cipriana and I decided to go see Ender’s Game. We both loved the book. Unfortunately, the movie just really didn’t hold up. It was choppy. There wasn’t any emotional sense of Ender. Scenes came and went with little explanation. Bean was barely mentioned. Petra’s role was greatly exaggerated.
Ideally, this should have been two movies. The first movie being Ender’s time in battle school. It would end when Ender quit and show him living at the house on the lake. The second movie would start right there. Then move onto his time in command school. And then the final battle.
It really could make such a good action movie but instead just came up stale.
My friend Nikki recommended The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer a while back. It was taking forever to come up at the library so I bought it on a whim at the Brooklyn Book Festival. Hm. Kinda wish I didn’t.
Okay, okay, not really. But the beginning was really dragging. Nikki did warn me that the beginning was terrible but she stands by it as a whole. I’m about 150 pages in and it has slightly improved. So we’ll see.
#solidarityisfortheablebodied when atheism is declared the root cause of your depression.
— it's all in my head (@BlameMyBrain) November 16, 2013
going to watch that movie "The Company Men" because fuck it the cats are asleep there's nothing to look at
— Bob Powers (@bobpowers1) November 22, 2013
Last night on Scribblenauts, Mr. Jen gave a barber a pair of "evil scissors" and they stabbed the barber to death.
— Jenny Trout (@Jenny_Trout) November 21, 2013
Don’t kill me! You might hate them. Or love them. They might be new. Or old. I don’t care. Here are my recent favorites.
Watch MST3K:Beginning of the End on Netflix Instant
The concept behind television show Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a good one. Take old, bad sci-fi movies and make fun of them. In this episode, Mike Nelson provides witty banter while being forced to watch this film flop.
The movie plot involves giant grasshoppers attacking the city of Chicago. What’s not to make fun of!
Leslie Rating: n/a
Summary: Giant grasshoppers are terrorizing chicago!
When I first realized this was a movie, I was curious how they played out the ending. As a game, the ending is always different. How could they pick just one ending for the movie? Well…. you’ll see! The ending is very clever.
Leslie Rating: 4/5
Summary: One of the best movies about a board game you’ll ever see (plus Tim Curry).
Watch Trading Places on Netflix Instant
Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy lead this strange satire about two men (one rich one poor, of course) ‘trading places’ in life. Eddie Murphy becomes rich and revered. Dan Aykroyd loses everything and wanders around homeless. Typical enough plot.
Their switch is predicated on a bet made by some of Aykroyd’s people. Well, Murphy & Aykroyd learn about the bet and decide to get the best of them. Ooooooh.
Lots of weird satirical things happen (like black face). I can’t say if it actually worked or not. It felt like the second half of the movie was completely different from the first.
Leslie Rating: 3/5
Summary: Rich Dan Aykroyd trades places with Eddie Murphy because, unbeknownst to them, two men made a bet to see if they could handle their new lives. The tables get turned in satire fashion.
Last weekend I took a short overnight trip to Philadelphia to support my friend Cipriana who ran the Philadelphia Marathon. It was her 7th marathon but first time running Philly. Cheering for races is a lot of fun even if you don’t know anyone running it. The runners need as much support as they can get.
We saw the Liberty Bell on Saturday and wandered around the city. Sunday was race day! I spent some time cheering for the race and a lot of time doing my own thing walking around Philly. Which was especially nice with all the deserted streets.
All pictures below are mine. You are free to use them as long as you link back to this post. Thank you.
I had planned to cheer at mile 1, 6, 13, and the finish. Unfortunately security was being crazy after mile 13 so I couldn’t get over there. But cheering was great earlier in the race! Watching the runners begin up the first mile was fun. No one is in pain yet. Everyone is excited.
I walked over to mile 6 where most still looked energetic. Some runners were doubting why they signed up for this race months ago. I stuck it out and cheered for everyone up to the walkers. I figure that when I run one, I’ll be in the 5 hour mark. So it always bothers me that people cheer for the fast ones then leave the slow ones sadly behind. They need your support the most!
Walking to different spectating spots is easy! No need for public transportation, thankfully.
I’m going to gripe here for a minute. The security for spectators was ridiculous. Sure, I understand why but wait, no I don’t. Because just two weeks ago I cheered for the NYC Marathon, was within 1/2 mile of the finish line, and had zero security to go through. In NYC! No offense to Philly, but the city and race are much much much smaller.
There really was no excuse for ego-tripping overzealous security not letting people get to the finish line to see their loved ones because a backpack was too big. Was this a hiking backpack? Nope. Just something I carried some signs, warm clothes, and snacks in. Didn’t know we couldn’t carry things to watch races now.
I am very glad I cheered at NYC and had a great time. Otherwise the Philadelphia Marathon would have put a very sour taste in my mouth for future marathon spectating.
After the fiasco with security, my days as a Philadelphia marathon spectator were over. I resigned to simply being a tourist. And spent two hours wandering around the city. The streets were still closed and most people were over at the finish line. This left the city with an apocalyptic feel.
Philadelphia is an old city with narrow streets, beautiful architecture, and cobblestone. Being in the northeast, the fall season is ending which left some color on the trees but many bare.
As cheese-steak capital of the world, these sandwiches were everywhere. We indulged in one at Carmen’s in Reading Market. It was fine (maybe I only like non-philly cheesesteaks). But the market itself was enormous! And great! Not only are there tons of places to eat but there are also just a lot of stores in general. Spices, and home-made crafts, and cookbooks, and it was neat. Without being a pretentious flea market. There’s also lots of amish-ran restaurants – these are closed on Sundays.
Over Halloween weekend, I took a Tennessee vacation to Knoxville and visited my friend Katie. I had been to this area as a kid and was very excited to see it as an adult. Katie was an excellent tour guide! We drove around Knoxville, ate BBQ, walked around the University of Tennessee Campus, walked around Knoxville downtown areas, ate BBQ, visited Smoky Mountain National Park, went to a Haunted Corn Maze, ate BBQ, walked through the woods, were attacked by geese and puppies, ate Biscuits & Gravy, saw the World’s Only Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum and the World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube, walked around World’s Fair Park, ate BBQ, and talked for 72 hours straight.
All the photos below are from Flickr because professional photographers do a much better job at taking pictures than I ever could.
For the personal finance nerds out there, this was a very cheap trip. My lodging was covered by sleeping on Katie’s comfortable sectional and I scored a decent deal for airfare.
Excluding the plane ticket and factoring in that we ate every meal at a restaurant, I spent $144 on this trip.
Let me give you an example of a meal in Knoxville, TN:
BBQ Sandwich + 2 Sides + 1 Beer = $14.50 (incl. tip)
Needless to say, food did not contribute much to my spending. We walked around the University of Tennessee campus store where I spent $50 on some shorts and a hat (Go Vols!). Then I spent $18 on the cutest salt & pepper shaker at the World’s Only Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum. Had to!
My first day there, Katie and I walked along the Tenneessee river that flows through Knoxville. We were disappointed by not seeing any ducks to feed. So, by her husband’s suggestion, we drove down to this little pond with a loaf of bread.
We pull up and, I swear, at least 50 geese come charging at our car once they see we have food for them! I was terrified and hid in the car with my window opened just barely enough to throw the bread out of it. I’m a country girl at heart but damn, geese are scary!
We spent some time walking along the Tennessee River. I had BBQ at Calhoun’s which had a beautiful view of the river and two bridges. The weather was perfect. Low 70′s, not too humid. Much better than the 50 degrees I left behind in New York.
We walked through the Ijams Nature Center, which Katie had never been to. There is a small visitor’s area with trail maps. The closest trails are easy & short at less than half a mile. Some farther trails are steeper and longer. Guess which ones we hiked? Of course, we took to one of the steepest trails that looped around an old quarry. The views were great!
We also took a quieter river trail that went right along the Tennessee River. Relaxing and beautiful.
We spent some time walking around downtown/old city Knoxville. Including checking out Mast General Store. This place is like a cracker barrel store upstairs and a small ll bean downstairs. With bonus bulk candy!
I was embarrassed at how little I knew about Knoxville. I didn’t even know that the city hosted a World’s Fair in 1983. World’s Fair Park is highlighted by the Sunsphere built specifically for the fair. You can see the 24-karat gold dusted globe rising into the sky from anywhere nearby.
There is an observatory in the sphere that is free for public viewing. It is unattended (totally surprised me as a new yorker) with lots of history about the park and sphere. The view is beautiful though slightly vertigo inducing (being inside a sphere threw me off a little).
A giant Rubik’s Cube was built for the World’s Fair but was only put on display a few years ago. It is actually housed in the downstairs lobby area of the Holiday Inn hotel across the street from the park. There are no signs outside about it. You can either ask the front desk or, as I did, just wander around a bit until you see it. You can’t miss it! It was mechanically moving for the fair but since is just for display.
Knoxville is home of the main University of Tennessee campus. In sports, they are known as the Tennessee Volunteers.
Our visit to Smoky Mountain National Park was predominantly spent driving around the 11-mile loop of Cade’s Cove. We took breaks, hiked some small trails, got lost… typical national park stuff.
The day began wonderfully because as soon as we entered the cove we saw 3 bears right by the side of the road! A mama bear and two not-so-small cubs. They were just hanging out eating some grass. It was great (scary!).
If you’re going to visit the park, I have to recommend going in October/November. The fall leaves are absolutely incredible! I swear we went on a peak color weekend. Everywhere you looked was fire red, sun yellow, or flaming orange. Every leaf was vibrant with color. The mountains looked like the colors of a sunset. It was so beautiful! I know the mountains are beautiful all the time, but I was very grateful to be able to see them so alive with color.
I don’t regret not taking photos because the colors looked exactly like in the pictures below. The view was so picturesque I knew I’d find beautiful pictures of it.
We drove through Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. A pit stop was made at The Christmas Tree Shop (because, why not?).
We grabbed lunch at the Alamo Steakhouse where I chowed down on nuclear orange velveeta mac n cheese – haven’t had that stuff in years! After stuffing our bellies, we decided to walk around the WORLD’S ONLY Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum. Right there in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
What’s amazing about this museum (what isn’t amazing about it?) is that the 20,000 shakers on display, are just one woman’s collection!
The museum is looking for a new curator, so if you’re interested in kitschy gifts and good ole American tourist attractions, this might be the job for you.
Katie and her friend Amy were nice enough to take me a to a real Haunted Corn Maze! I grew up in a very rural area so, event aside, it was great driving through the countryside again. And not just “small city” countryside. But areas where there are few houses, fewer stores, lots of open space, and actual darkness.
The maze was spooky and fun. But the real highlight of the night for me was the 20 minutes I spent craning my neck to the sky just looking at all the stars. Living in NYC means I never get to see real stars in the sky! There are millions of star in the sky every night and I never get to see them! This is one of my favorite things to do on any trip out of the city – just stare at the sky looking into darkness.
I had the chance to meet Katie’s mom, Mary, who is absolutely wonderful! I enjoyed my visit with her family (mom, dad, the puppies). Katie’s parents made us a huge country comfort breakfast! Biscuits and gravy (the best I’ve had), sausage, bacon, and eggs. Everything was so delicious I couldn’t stop eating – no regrets.
A quick shout-out to Charlotte airport which was one of the nicest, most relaxed, airports I’ve ever been in. Their eating/atrium area has rocking chairs for public seating. Rocking chairs!
I had such a great time visiting with Katie and her family, visiting the Smoky Mountains, exploring Knoxville, and eating my weight in BBQ. I would recommend this area for anyone wanting to go on a cheap adventure vacation. I know the weather gets quite warm in the summer but October/November was absolutely perfect. Not too chilly, not too warm, beautiful colors on the trees, and just off season enough. I’m already getting ready for a visit next year to take better advantage of the river (and to eat more bbq).
Watch Skyfall on Netflix Instant
Bond movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. I plan to watch this one over the weekend since it’s finally available on Instant. I expect the plot to be thinly veiled, the explosions to be big, and the gadgets to be fancy. Let’s see if I’m disappointed.
Leslie Rating: n/a
Summary: Daniel Craig continues the James Bond tradition with explosions, treason, and the usual gadgets.
Watch The Addams Family on Netflix Instant
Sure Halloween’s over for most of us but not for The Addams Family. For a comedy remake of a tv show featuring a quirky family of goths, this movie holds up very well. The plot is loose but who cares? You’re watching this just to see the family interactions anyway.
Every line is as morbid as you’d expect. And fun + weird characters keep showing up. The parents may be morbid but are actually happy and passionately in love. Awww. Then the kids behave like normal children trying to kill each other (srsly). The scenes are predictable but induce more smiles than eye rolls. Sure, there’s probably some nostalgia involved in my favor of this movie.
Highlights include a sweet & lovable Christina Ricci.
Leslie Rating: 4/5
Summary: This remake recreates the family perfectly with enough humor that it holds up yet enough one-liners to remind you it’s a 90′s movie.
Watch Death Becomes Her on Netflix Instant
I was 10 when this movie came out and remember watching it probably a few years later on cable. At the time, I didn’t quite get satire or dark humor. I remember thinking the movie was goofy and stupid. As you probably would if you didn’t understand the concept of satire.
I’m sure I also had little appreciation for the make-up artists and special effects put into it. The plot is definitely goofy but the excellent cast pulls it off.
Highlights include well-dressed zombies, neat special effects, great make-up art and a whole lot of dark humor + satire.
Leslie Rating: 3/5
Summary: Meryl Streep & Goldie Hawn find the secret to eternal youth then try to have a fight to the death which doesn’t work so well.