[Resolution] #31 Visit an Abandoned Place

Abandoned House

There’s just something about these places, abandoned places. Forgotten, left alone for years yet still standing, frozen in time and simultaneously being eroded by it. It’s tragic and beautiful, frightening yet alluring. So, when I found out about an abandoned victorian mansion in a small town nearby, I couldn’t resist; I had to see it for myself.

Three friends and I piled into a car in the dead of night and traveled an hour and a half into the middle of a small Texas town (omitting the name for the hope of protecting the house from vandals or the like), and there, right on one of the main roads stood this amazing old home.  (A special shout-out to my beautiful friend Jasmine who found it and orchestrated the whole trip.) It’s something straight out of a horror movie, I tell you, which, in the case of us four lovers of horror movies and all things dark and macabre, is something more along the lines of a giant work of art.

I don’t know about them, but as we came up on this property my mind exploded with thoughts of beautifully aged rooms filled with history, a tribute to a lifetime that had long passed still standing and ready to be explored by those willing to step inside and find it. Something like this…?

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But, unfortunately the world does not have the same reverence for abandoned history as some. Some people, say, people who simply need shelter, or a dumping ground, will stumble upon places like these and use them for what they are…an empty space to occupy.

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Originally I didn’t expect to see anything but the outside of this house, maybe get a peek inside a window if I was lucky. But, our luck ended up being that nothing really stood between us and the inside of this house. We were expecting some sort of protection. A locked gate? Boards over the entry-way? There wasn’t even a “No Trespassing” sign to be found.

This meant that it was extraordinarily easy for us to get inside for a look around (which is good, because I chicken out really easily with things like this), but it also meant it was extraordinarily easy for squaters to occupy the place for the many years it was abandoned.

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Luckily, although the house has been used as a dumping ground and many of the belongings of the previous owners had been scattered about, it seemed that much was still left there to explore.

It was not a glamorous task. We had to trudge through thousands of empty soda bottles, cases worth of crushed beer cans, various food containers and even stumbled upon an open suitcase that had been used as a ‘toilet’ for quite some time. But, when you looked past all of the trash and possibly hazardous material, what stood before us was a snapshot of someone else’s life, left behind long after they were gone. I’d love to know who these people were and what happened to them, honestly, but I didn’t think to find anything to help me trace them.

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Bedrooms with draperies and clothes still hanging on racks.

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Books still on shelves,

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and tons of beautiful old architecture, still intact, like the skylight in the upstairs living area.

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After the adrenaline finally wore off, we had a wonderful time looking through the things that were still there. Books that had been published all the way back in 1910. Newspapers, still readable, from 1975 (the front page story was about a woman being promoted to Cashier. Woo!). Old records. Racks and racks of now vintage clothing. Hat boxes and trunks. We even found old suitcases filled with hand written letters and a collection of old valentines (chocolate boxes with the wrappers still inside).

It was truly fascinating. I found myself feeling, in a way, privileged, to be able to look into someone’s life like this after they were gone. I was reluctant to remove anything from the home, but part of me kind of wants to go back and ask permission to clean it out. There is so much history inside, so many things that were probably once cherished. Don’t they deserve to be cherished again, put on display somewhere rather than be surrounded by garbage and human filth?

Question of the Day: Would you rescue history from an old abandoned home, or should it be left where it is despite its former owners being gone?

It was an eye opening experience, and a perfect first big adventure for the year. 🙂 We even got this inspiring shot of this defiant little plant managing to grow in the dark sub-floor of this forgotten place.

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I think this plant will be my role model for the year. I’m really impressed with its gusto.

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Photography by the aforementioned beautiful friend Jasmine. 

Well…The World Didn’t End, Bring on 2013

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Here we are 5 days into the new year and here I am without a complete resolution list! Shame on me.  This year hardly felt like it started with a clean slate. Heck, even my new year’s eve outing ended in a bit of chaos, including getting bitten by a dog and searching for a lost cat in the cold at 4 a.m., but I’d like to believe that that’s setting the tone for a year full of excitement (but not as intense as the ‘excitement’ that we all got a fist full of in 2012, please).

I did a lot of reflecting on my resolution list from last year. I thought about how it affected my year, the good and the bad things I got out of it, and most of all…how everything I learned should affect this year’s resolutions. This year already feels like its going to be one of spiritual growth.  People have heard me say “I need to do some soul-searching” a lot lately, but I don’t really know if I’m indulging that need or desire quite yet.  So this year I’m kind of categorizing my resolutions into the big buckets that are important to me this year:

  • Making habits of the things I love to do
  • Accomplishing the things I wanted to in 2012 that I didn’t
  • Keep on having new experience and big adventures
  • Take steps toward making my life dreams and goals a reality
  • Focus more on my health/wellness
  • Make a conscious effort to do that “soul-searching” I keep talking about
  • Do more good things for other people

So, with that in mind, I’m whittling my list down about and aspiring toward the completion of 60 resolutions this year.

The Shiny New 2013 Resolution List

Creating Habits:

Do something “just for me” once a week
Make a blog post 3 times a week
Exercise at least 3 times a week
Take a self-portrait once a month
Read a new book every month

2012 Resolutions Revisited:

Go on a road trip
Volunteer
Add an unnatural color to my hair
Create something I can wear
Write a short story
Participate in an activity that is only for women
Get a concealed handgun license
Take myself on a date
Submit a design to Threadless
Host a dinner party

New Experiences:

Go to Burning Man/Flipside
Go paintballing
Learn how to ride a motorcycle
Do something completely out of my comfort zone
Visit a new US State
Join a club or group
Learn to make something that I usually get pre-made/store-bought
Attempt a new form of art
Enter a competition
Do a DIY project
Stop in somewhere that I pass on the road just because it seems interesting
Create a secret recipe
Hack something into something cooler
Try acro yoga
Guerrilla anything (I’m thinking christmas decorations?)
Learn or create a new craft
Buy a groupon for something I’ve never done, and do it.
Take a cooking class
Learn to make sushi at home
Travel somewhere by train

Making my Dreams Come True:

Submit a short story to literary magazine
Get an article published by YCN
Get a consultation at Write by Night
Get certified to teach english as a second language
Pay off at least one credit card
Make an investment
Find a creative (and fulfilling) way to make extra money
Toss/donate/sell at LEAST 25 things that I do not need
Visit somewhere awe-inspiring
Learn more about astrology (you know, signs other than my own ;))

Self-Discovery:

Go camping alone
Make a change that I’ve always wanted but was afraid of what other people would think
Do the 21-day meditation challenge
Make one improvement that makes me more self-confident
Work on intuition/psychic development

Health and Wellness:

Try the Paleo diet
Get a check-up
Shop at the farmer’s market once a month
Attempt a tough mudder (or similar) challenge
Find something new and interesting to do for fitness

Good Things for Good People:

Do 10 random acts of kindness in one day
Help make someone else’s dream come true
Send an anonymous gift to someone for a holiday/birthday
Visit a friend in another state
Get involved with a charity or non-profit

Exactly What I Wanted, In None of the Ways I Planned

Today is December 20, 2012. There are currently 11 days left in the year, and I almost can’t believe that it’s so close to coming to an end. I started this blog on December 31, 2011 with all sorts of intentions. In all honesty, I was feeling bored more than anything. Bored with myself, with life. It was a good life, a GREAT life in fact. I had accomplished all I wanted to so far, had a lot of great things going on with relationships, friendships and family. I was happy–but something felt like it was missing. I saw this massive global awakening happening: people discovering things about themselves, taking action on things they were passionate about, really growing and living while I sat at home and kept going with my day-to-day routine like I had for years. I decided to go, do, see, and be anything and everything. After all, how easy is it to really grow and learn about the universe around you when you’re always looking at it through the same window?

It began simply. A list. 112 things that I would like to experience in a year’s time. I feel much more accomplished when I can check things off a list. But, and I can not even put into words the pure and raw emotion behind this statement: This year is ending exactly as I’d hoped, but in none of the ways that I planned.

I know many of you noticed that my posts started dwindling in frequency near the middle of the year. While I still held hope for completing my list, my world was changing dramatically all around me. I made one decision, one that does not appear anywhere on my list, that ended up–albeit indirectly–sparking that awakening that I was so longing for when 2012 started.

This may not be the most pleasant story, but stick with me here. This one, single decision catapulted me into a place that I did not know existed for me. While I have had my dark moments in life, I can say with confidence that I have always felt like my life has been relatively easy. I’ve been very very lucky. I had friends that loved me, no enemies to speak of, a solid support system, and very little uncertainty about my future and where I was going in my life.

Suddenly, this all changed.

Every cell inside of me that had felt restricted by the life I’d been living before burst forth from within me, pushing me to be wild, completely unpredictable, even to myself, and in many ways a little self-destructive. I no longer had any idea what I was doing, where I was going, and worse–I had no idea what I even wanted out of life anymore. I was, in every sense of the word, lost. The way I see it, though, is that while the path you are walking on may be comfortable and familiar, sometimes you have to divert and get a little bit lost in order to find another path that you may not have known existed, but could be better for you than you could have imagined.

Lucky enough for me, there were a few people who, despite recognizing that I was flailing uncontrollably, were willing to hold my hand, literally and figuratively while I went through all the stages of destruction and regrowth. (Is a phoenix rising from the ashes a cliché?  Because it’s appropriate here.) They stayed up with me at all hours because all I needed was someone to sit with me because I just needed to–cry. Or talk. Or just…simply sit in the company of someone else and do nothing at all. Some of these people had known me a long time, some people met me just as this all began, but regardless of how long they had known me, or how well, they had faith in me and recognized that though people sometimes have moments of darkness, that they do indeed rise out of it again.

Truly, I find myself thankful for this gift, these people, more than anything else, this holiday season.

Very slowly I started looking inside again, at what I needed as a person, at flaws, fears and insecurities I needed to resolve. I talked myself blue in the face, to myself or anyone else who would listen. I started to meditate again. I picked my pen back up and started to write again. And of course, pushed myself to complete as many more resolutions as I could.

I can’t say that it was prompted by any one particular event, but eventually it started to feel like the fog was lifting. I heard myself speaking with confidence again about what I wanted and needed on a soul level–not just a materialistic one. As this year begins to draw to a close, and on the eve of this milestone date 12/21/12, I can honestly say that I feel like I am on the right track again.

I am well aware that I still have many things to work through, to figure out.  I will probably spend the rest of my life feeling this way, because life IS evolution and growth, but it;s a relief to realize that when I sit down and allow myself to be very quiet, that I feel calm. I feel as though I have the people in my life that are meant to be in it, though some are playing roles that I didn’t expect. I feel as though I recognize what is important to me, not because someone told me it should be important, but because it actually means something to me. And most of all, I feel as though I can release my fear. I finally recognize that although things can get bad, although you can get lost in a way that you don’t think you’ll find your way back again, you do, and when that happens you may find yourself in a completely different but far more beautiful place.

I am working on a brand-new resolution list for 2013, with a new focus based on all I’ve discovered this year. I can’t wait to share it with all of you and keep this adventure going for another crazy year. It’s been so fantastic to hear from the friends and the strangers who have followed my journey so far, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for going along for the ride with me.

And of course, I don’t want to forget!  There were a few resolutions that I completed and sadly never had the chance to write about so I want to at least list and give recognition here that I didn’t quite complete the whole list, but I got a few more things done and want to say a public thanks to everyone who was involved because I didn’t do a single one of these alone:

Resolution #4: Spend a Night on the 3rd floor of the Driskill: This came SO close to happening but fell through at the last minute.  But, I did get to hang out at the Driskill on Halloween of all days and had a blast while it lasted.

Resolution #5: Learn to Play and Sing a Song on Guitar: I got pretty close but did not perfect Hurt by Johnny Cash. I also almost got “The Only Exception” by Paramore under my belt.  I really need to practice more.

Resolution #7: Learn to Deep Fry. I ate so much fried food this day I made myself sick. Including an entire fried snickers bar, Oreos and a plethora of meat and veggies. …That snickers one is going to have to happen again sometime.

Resolution #16: Start a Balcony Garden: I moved into a house so we no longer have a balcony, but my roommate and I started a mason jar window sill garden with herbs. My cilantro was the only one out of four plants that sprouted…and then I forgot to water it… 😦

Resolution #18: Run a 5k: I actually did this one better and ran the 5 MILE Turkey Trot race with my family on Thanksgiving Day.  I managed to finish the 5 miles in just over an hour, and I am so proud of my mom, she worked hard on her fitness all year and completed this as her big coupe de grace this year.

Resolution #25: Learn More About Buddhism: I wanted to do more with this, but did actually seek out more info on Buddhism.  I read a great book called Dharma Punx by Noah Levine that taught me quite a bit, and visited a Buddhist Zendo here in Austin called the Austin Meditation Center and learned about tradition Buddhist Zen Meditation. I want to look more into this next year.

Resolution #38: Have Matching Couples Halloween Costume: Dru and I hand-made, and pulled off quite nicely if I do say so myself, costumes for Amber Sweet and The Graverobber from Repo! The Genetic Opera. And bonus, I now own a custom tailored cage skirt (thanks Dru!) and a rhinestone bra.

Resolution #43: Learn a Magic Trick: Dane taught me a couple of pretty great card tricks and then gifted me the deck so that I could practice. 🙂 I’m going to have to bust them out at a party sometime.

Resolution #57: Go to an Austin Music Festival: This was going to be Part Two of my most recent post (recent being October) but I never wrote it out. I managed to get a wristband for a day of ACL and had a BLAST with my friend Nicole getting to see as many bands as humanly possible in one day’s time. Even got a see a few great late night shows as well.

Resolution #61: Go Stargazing in the Middle of Nowhere: One of the coolest things about meeting new people is getting to know their favorite secret spots. I got to spend a really great night, in great company, out in the middle of a green belt with two bottles of wine, a waterfall and a sky full of stars. What’s better?

Resolution #70: Go to a Bar by Myself: This happened a couple of times but i never checked it off because I never had the courage to actually sit at the actual bar alone. I always found a book to hide in or a table to occupy. Seems I still have issues being alone in public.

Resolution #97: Go to an Alamo Drafthouse Event: I took my cousin, who was visiting from overseas, to Terror Tuesday featuring the 80’s disgust-o-flick The Blob. We did it up right with the comfy balcony seats at the Ritz, local brews, and lots of snacks.  And its only $3 or something for regular admission?! I’m going again sometime!

Resolution #99: Support a Cause I Believe In: I donated a lot of money this year to different causes. Hurricane Sandy relief most recently, I supported entrepreneurship in Kenya, bought a mosquito net for an area that had problems with Malaria, but I still feel like I need to be more proactive before I can really check this off my list.

Resolution #109: Do Hot Yoga: Let me just say, this is TOUGH, but a great experience and a perfect winter-weather exercise bit. A cold front just came in tonight, maybe I should dust off the yoga mat again.

Thanks again for a wonderful year and I’ll see you in 2013!

[Resolution(s)] 3, 55 & 100: Tourism, original art, and one BIG burrito. Part Two.

You’ve all heard about my friend Jake by now.  He is, sincerely, one of the best people that I’ve ever met. This is why it breaks my heart to say that as of last Saturday morning he is now not 5.3 miles away, but 1093 miles away (yep, I google mapped it) in Indianapolis, IN.

As his gift to me before he left, however, he vowed to fulfill one of my resolutions with me.  And, what better way to bid farewell to your fair city than to explore it as a tourist?  The rules were simple, if it came recommended by any local, we would do it, as long as it fit into our budget. And thus began…

Resolution 3: Be a Tourist in (Our) Own City

Even as a seasoned Austinite, I’d never heard of Franklin Barbeque, but evidently it’s kind of a big deal.  And, by “kind of” I mean its a really big deal.  Its gotten publicity all over the city, state, and even the nation and anyone who HAS heard of it will tell you that its well worth getting in line at 9:30 a.m. and waiting the two and a half hours to get in for lunch.  You heard that right.

I couldn’t figure out why we needed to leave at 10 a.m. to get lunch, but when we arrived at 10:30, we were greeted by a line that already looked like this:

But after finally getting inside the door (and narrowly missing a torrential downpour of rain!) the smell of dry rub, cracked pepper and pounds and pounds of smoked meat whisked any question of this place’s worth straight out the door behind us.

At the front of the line, we piled our trays with pulled pork, turkey, brisket, sausage and the very last 3 ribs in existence for the day, since they close when they sell out.  Lucky us.

Let me just say, that the brisket here is legendary.  I mean, I’m no expert, but I’ve had a lot of barbecue in Texas, and this stuff nearly knocked me off my bench.  Especially paired with ESPRESSO BARBECUE SAUCE. Also, I usually preach that a barbecue joint is no place for white meat, but the turkey here ended up being my favorite part. Don’t knock the white meats at this place.

So, with full bellies and warm barbecue smoked hearts, we set off for more tourism.

And where do tourists start but the Austin Visitor’s Center?

We perused the pamphlets and rifled with knick knacks, finally finding ourselves at the counter where a cheerful gentleman recommended a 90 minute sightseeing tour with Austin Overtures.

With clouds that threatened to soak us at any moment and no idea where to start, an enclosed van that promised to show us Austin as we’ve never seen it before sounded like a brilliant starting point. So, we picked up our boarding passes and headed out to the van with our tour guide Chris…5 other inconsequential tourists…and, much to Jake’s delight, 2 model-worthy Australian chicks. Who says sightseeing is for fuddy-duddy tourists only? Certainly not these guys:

Our timing turned out to be perfect, because as soon as we took off the rain started falling, and while you’d think that it would kind of put a damper on things it was actually quite nice.  Driving in the rain is already pleasant, but to have someone else driving in the rain while you see some of the most beautiful sights in Austin is even nicer.

The tour was impressive.  We went all the way out to the hill country, which is arguably one of my favorite parts of Austin.  Rolling hills, giant mansions, and some of the best nature views in the city. Then came back through UT Campus to learn about the school, the stadium, and the sculptures and art around campus. Back around downtown we checked out 6th street and the warehouse district.

I’ve been in Austin almost all my life and learned things about our fair city that I’d have never known. Some history, some sites I’ll have to come back to later (since the van didn’t stop anywhere), and most importantly some amazing little dives that came recommended by our guide. Turns out the east side, which I have vehemently avoided since–well, forever–has some of the best food and margaritas in the city.

Back at the visitors center we had to take a short break for some of Jake’s work business but came right back up to make a visit to the Museum of the Weird, which came recommended by Jake’s mother Holly.

The Museum of the Weird sits right on 6th street inside the Lucky Lizard gift shop, which is a pretty fantastic site on its own, but if you shell out the extra $8 you get access to shrunken heads, real human skeletons, large lizards, mutated animals, mummies, an apartment that used to be inhabited by Johnny Depp (who knew?) and a side show.

The sideshow was worth the $8 just by itself.  This guy…well, he makes any and all of my masochistic friends look like pansies. He got straight down to business by thrusting his entire hand into a raccoon trap, having audience members tug and pull at it to prove it was real.  Then, after a gruesome tale of tongues turning to something resembling hamburger meat, he wasted no time snapping his tongue into a mouse trap. THEN…as if it wasn’t enough that we could see him bleeding onto his shirt, he managed to hammer a large metal spike into his nasal cavity, and finished off the day by hanging a large crab from his eyelids by two fish hooks and having each and every one of us come up for a photo op (seen above).

It was slightly nauseating, but purely incredible, especially to that little creature in me that has a soft spot for the weird and messed up.

Next up, a trip down South Congress to check out the recommendation from our sightseeing tour guide: trying on some cowboy boots at Allen’s.  Because, you know, it’s Texas

Here were mine…

I swear I would have bought them if I’d had any money left at all when we got there.

And what boots wouldn’t be complete without trying on some hats to match?

I truly feel like I won’t be a real Texan until I go back and purchase those boots.  I don’t know how I’ve held out on the cowboy boot thing for so long, but I’ve never even owned a pair..

Post boot-shopping we just had one more stop to make.  The local-famous Big Top Candy Shop where we picked up bulk candy and an egg creme for the ride home.

There are so many fantastic shops on South Congress, but after a long day of tourism, the candy shop was our number one priority and the one where you can really get the Austin flavor.  Ha!  See what I did there…?

There are so many more things to see and do in Austin, but we were touristed out by the time our candy was paid for. It’s really amazing how much of your city you don’t see, even when you live there. People always take for granted the things that have always been there, and the things that always will be, but playing tourist showed me that there’s always something you haven’t seen, and always something you haven’t learned.

So never stop seeking out something new, even when you think you’ve seen it all. Everyone thinks about how big the world is, how much there is to do and experience, but it’s easy to forget that even without going outside of the city limits there’s a whole world to see just within arm’s reach.

[Resolution] #81 Do Something I’ve Always Been Afraid to Do (Roller Coaster Edition)

Ready for a profound metaphor?  Life is a roller coaster. Specifically this one.

I find it just a little poetic and a lot hilarious that the biggest roller coaster ride of my life would involve actual roller coasters. And, at the age of 23, thanks to a couple of amazing and unrelenting friends, I boarded, rode and survived my very first roller coaster ride. Ever.

On the metaphorical roller coaster: Life has absolutely done a 180 on me. I know I mentioned in my last post that there were big things going on…and then disappeared for a while.  It’s a long story and a short one all at the same time, but the short version is that Nick, my boyfriend of almost 3 years, and I have broken up.  I don’t necessarily want to go in to the nitty gritty, but it was such a life changer that I know is worth mentioning.

I’ve changed a lot in 3 years. I’ve woken up to aspects of myself that I didn’t know existed and remembered aspects that I’d forgotten or let go of and shouldn’t have. In short, it was all of these things that banded together to drive a wedge between Nick and I.  While we never stopped getting along and certainly never stopped loving each other, as more time passed the more questionable our compatibility became. This was mostly based on the way we both looked at life. More importantly, it was about the way that we both saw our lives going.  We had different visions. And, while there are ways to sacrifice and ways to compromise, the foundation of any successful relationship, there are some points where it is better on both sides…to let go, and give both of us the chance to find someone we are truly happy and compatible with.

People either say “Good for you for being true to yourself.” or “What were you thinking?” but all I can say at this point is that the decision felt right then, and still does now.  While it breaks my heart to hurt anyone, and hurts even more to lose someone I was so close to for so long, I have to trust my instincts and intuition, and trust that it’s for the best.  If I don’t, what business did I have doing it in the first place?

It’s a journey that I don’t think anyone is ever particularly excited to take. Though, as more and more people talked to me and gave me their best advice the more stories came up that showed that even though it ALWAYS hurts to have a relationship end…it does get better. And when you eventually do find that person that you are unquestionably meant to be with, you can’t be upset that it happened.

Now, the roller coaster metaphor kind of applies to all that, but it applies even more to the aftermath of the whole thing.  As soon as all was said and done, I realized that I had thought through every word of the actual break-up and not even given a sliver of thought to what would happen after. The emotional.  The logistical (especially difficult since we lived together). Even the physical.

It’s amazing the things that happen when any part of your foundation gives way. Walls that you didn’t know you had fall and expose parts of you that may have otherwise been lost, both good and bad, light and dark.  But after those walls fall you are forced to rebuild, reinvent and grow.

Of course, right as I realized that was when (not so coincidentally) a lot new things started happening, a lot of old interests were reignited, and new people started walking into my life. Some people were acquaintances that suddenly became much closer and some people I didn’t know at all but got close to pretty damn fast.

Dru is one of the latter. We met…in a cage fight where he had to prove himself worthy of friendship by besting me in a no-holds-barred battle of bare fists and…

Okay..Cage fighting isn’t one of those new things. That’s a picture from a zombie bar crawl, but I wanted an excuse to use the picture. Epic battle or not, he became a close friend pretty fast and immediately jumped in to help cheer me up when things got difficult.

A week or so into the whole thing I finally caved and had to take a personal day from work.  …And on that day, instead of dimming the lights and eating Double Stuf Oreos, Dru and his beautiful friend Ajay who had come into town for the week brought me along with them…to Six Flags.  What better way to cheer up than scaring the shit out of yourself with giant roller coasters. Am I right?

Like I said, I had never stepped foot on a roller coaster in my life. I was a very strange, very scared little child and absolutely refused to take part in anything that I perceived as something that could potentially end my life.  This included, among other things, roller coasters, rope swings, and eating chicken wings at Chili’s, but that’s a story for another day.  Anyway, no roller coasters.

I don’t know what I was afraid of.  I half expected to get to the front of the line for the roller coaster and burst into tears…or vomit.  I guess it kind of helped that there was almost no line at all, so I didn’t even have much time to psyche myself out about it.  We hopped on, strapped in, and before I could say “This is a terrible idea” I was diving, spinning and flipping upside down 100 feet off the ground.

Whoa.

Roller coasters.

How did I possibly live so long without you?

I de-boarded that thing with an adrenaline rush like nothing I’ve ever felt.  Just enough adrenaline to spend the next 8 hours riding every. single. ride. in that park.  All the roller coasters.  Log rides. All the spinny, g-force, free fall, crazy rides.  We even went back and waited in the longer lines to sit in the front car to get maximum terror.

Seriously, I love them so much I’m almost willing to go give rope swings and Chili’s Chicken Wings another shot. 🙂

…We also paused to hang out with Bugs and Daffy and play with all the toys in the souvenir shop.

The night ended with fireworks and late night pancake puppies at Denny’s (seriously, if you haven’t had them before, go now).

While things certainly aren’t easy right now, and of course the difficult stuff never completely leaves the back of your mind, it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.  Perhaps the concoction of facing fears, adrenaline overload, new friends, and mild heat exhaustion is the magic combination? I don’t know, but it gave me the optimism I needed to get through the difficult times and excited to see what lies on the other side of it all.

Here’s to that “year of change” everyone was talking about.  And here’s to finally realizing that no matter what your plan is, you’re never ACTUALLY going to know what’s coming next.