My darling sunshine!

Never in a million years would I imagine I could learn so much from and have so much fun with a seven-year-old girl. Behold the magic of being seven- and a bad-ass girl to boot. That’s the one I have had the pleasure of sharing the last few weeks with. Wow!

To start, this girl’s first language is NOT English. Yes, she has been leaning English for several years- but, as she told me, she dreams and thinks in Portuguese most of the time. Her ability to ask questions and play in English is astounding. She’s a bit of a jokester and a ham as well.

E is the third child of four – 11 (girl), 9 (boy), E (almost 8, going on 18) and 4 (boy). To describe this child/ family dynamic in one word – competition. It is ongoing, and permeates EVERY aspect of their lives. This competition is most fierce between E and her older brother. While I’ve only had a taste of this battle, it’s obvious that they’re well-matched on many levels. My money is on E.

E is a bright, charming, shy at times (esp. around strangers), funny, athletic, independent, pudgy little girl. As much as she might try to be “grown up,” she is a little girl. “Tell me a story about….” is our ongoing chairlift conversation. I started to make up stories when I ran out, mainly to make sure she was still listening. When I told her that my cat, Kaya, had gone AWOL with her own wheelie suitcase because we didn’t feed her; had taken a Greyhound bus to Cali, then realized her folly and called me and Tom from the cell phone we gave her, she asked “What it sound like?” “Meow, meow, mow meeeeeow,” I said. “You lie!” she proclaimed. “That is NOT a true story!!!!!!” BUSTED!!!

E is more of an athlete than I could imagine, and WAY better than she or anyone around her knows. She was supposed to ski this year as she has for the last three, but the peer pressure of her elder siblings snowboarding very well hooked her into the idea that she might trade the two boards in for one. I only had a few days off to give her at first. Her family is at Beaver Creek for six weeks, and I was an “add on” instructor when she thought she might try to board. I’ve been working with her every day since.

On the first run of our first day I could tell that this little fireball was going to be a snowboarder. It was just too easy, especially for a child her age. She was “linking turns” with a little assistance by the end of the day- unheard of for a child of seven – or any age, for that matter, on day one.

Twelve or so days later and she’s following her siblings through most runs they do, not quite with the same finesse and style, but riding quite well. Trees, bumps, no problem. Does she still ask me for help getting off the chair lift? Does she still stop to make snow angels or “butt slide” down the hill? Of course- she’s seven.

E has taught me to look ay the world in a fun-filled, magical way; to NEVER underestimate the potential of a child; to laugh, joke, and play daily; and that life is much too short to get bogged down in trivia and details.

We have at least another week on the slopes together, and I’m wracking my brain to come up with more Sadie, Puck, and Kaya stories to tell her. Her snowboarding will continue to improve, and I will continue to be entertained daily. While my body and mind might be exhausted, I feel privileged and inspired to spend this time with this little girl.

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Spit, scream, hate!!!!

This is my sequel to “Eat, Pray, Love.”  Just you wait.  This is gonna be good:)

Okay, so my first apology is for this hateful title.  I was just looking for antonyms and found them.

But when I looked deeper, and knowing the LOVE I have for E. Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and the inspiration that book had in my own personal journey, I couldn’t help make parallels beyond hyperbole to fuel my own life-changing story.  I know you understand….

June, 2010.  I’m sitting in my living room in Denver.  No need to work during the summer for many reasons.  1)  Tom – my #1, base camp, true love, lifelong partner – and I have chosen for many years to be child-less and debt-free.  2)  I don’t have an appetite for “higher living.”  So the middle class hurts – and when the middle class turned off their spending mechanism, mine turned off as well.  3)  I HAVE to go to Asia.   4)  Tom has NO motivation to go to Asia.  I’m BORED and scared of what “staying in Denver” for the summer looks like.

I started Googling ways to use my ridiculous credentials to get me to Asia as a PAID ESL teacher.  I would have been better off pursuing this career on a whim with no training and not knowing better.   That will be a pervading theme of this journey…. but I digress…..

How this Book Works or

My ADHD

When you’re traveling through an “ordinary” life in the US, you will see a lot of people who make NO sense to you.   America is a world of contradictions – contrasts, cultures, downright lies and deceptions.  As an American you will get used to this and even embrace it.  While loving thy brother is the golden rule in the US – hating thy neighbor is more the reality.  Get used to it.  Embrace it.  And fight it.  Please?!?

You will discover from reading this book I am not a liar.  I couldn’t make up a better story than my life.  Life is material, and I have learned in my short time on this earth that if I don’t learn anything from my experiences here, I am a waste of space and time.

Having said that, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t try to make the most of every moment, whether it was a mistake or a great step forward.  While I’d like to think that there are more people in this world who love me than despise me, that is a naive assumption.  I know that I’ve pissed off as many people as I’ve enticed to love me.  C-‘est la vie.  I have peace with that.

But that is this journey – that of an ordinary, privileged, white woman who has chosen to live life; reject the ordinary; embrace the extraordinary; and forge her own way.

As I wrote my dissertation largely in one short period of time, I write my autobiography.  I only hope that I can write this journey with the compassion and wisdom of those who inspired the last volume.  I am so thankful, yet haven’t the words.  Simply, thank you.  I hope I will make you proud.

Chapter One:  WHY?

I have no idea.   Honestly, I can’t remember a day that I didn’t search for a “why”?  Once my best friend’s daughter can speak (she was born in March of 2009), we will explore the “why” of life together.  I don’t know why Grace – the irony of that name!- and I are asking the same question, or why she and I are asking it of the world at the same time.  But we are.

I have been adrift for years.  Not that I didn’t have a family that embraced and loved me – I most certainly did.  I was adopted unconditionally into the Moody familly in March of 1969.  Born of teenage parents, did I really even have a choice?  Ironically, January 22, 1974, my 5th birthday, Roe V. Wade was passed.  I have always believed in a woman’s right to choose….

I went to kindergarten, thanks to Meg and Amy Venecek, “ready to read” which, having been “pupil” for years, meant I could, and did, read “Cinderella” to my classmates.  Shortly after my arrival in kindergarten I was “tested” into first grade. When asked by my parents if I wanted to go, how could I, at 5 years old, understand the decision I was about to influence?

I will never forget the day, a week later, that my mother walked me into first grade.  It was not as if life stopped because a new kindergartener was going to permanently join first grade.  I was there to stay – new gym bag full of new gym clothes- delivered into the  new challenges of Mrs. Kahn’s first grade classroom.  Thank God for Brigitte Baur and Sandee Karas – the other small-ish, friendly first grade girls.  I will never forget the affect they had on my first and many more days in elementary school

Grade school was remotely interesting.  I remember that Sharon G. puked a lot; Brigitte was teased for being a “Nazi;” my parents were the few who openly supported Jimmy Carter; and that grade school – especially gym class – SUCKED!!!  I have never been more defeated in life than when I stood on the knot at the bottom of the hemp rope whose summit was the asbestos gym ceiling. Though I would later become an adept rock climber in Boulder in 1995 (maybe in retaliation for this experience), in 1974 climbing that rope was impossible, and my lack of ability to climb it was defining.  I was a wimp, a nobody; someone who would undoubtedly fail “the President’s Fitness test”; a liability.

In retrospect this was a defining moment in my personal history; a time when I decided I would make a difference.  I can’t ever remember looking at a person, animal, character, struggling or suffering and NOT feel I had the responsibility to make a positive influence to affect change for the betterment of all (or most) involved.

When I decided to write this story in a kind of absurd parallel to “Eat, Pray, Love” (which  I adore and which has changed my life SO much for the better) I wanted to parody both the structure and the content of the work.  Now that I am into writing it, my lack of worthiness to do either is profound.

This is my story.  Love it or leave it.  I will not sugar-coat my digressions, as I will not attempt to not elevate my achievements.  We are all, at the core, human – with human triumphs and tragedies; accomplishments and accolades; and failures.  How we can share those with others is our ultimate gift.

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Change is Good…

Returning from Asia ten pounds lighter, exhausted, having slain mental dragons for three months gave me a good foundation from which to re-examine and re-build some old habits of body and mind.

First, the obvious one:  the weight issue.  The night I arrived in the U.S., sitting with Tom at a bar in San Francisco, I lifted the sleeve of my thermal shirt to reveal an arm I didn’t recognize.  While I walked and walked and walked my way around Asia, my arms suffered the atrophy of lack of use, dwindling into mere sticks.  Shocking but a good wake-up call.

Within 24 hours of returning home to Colorado, I was at the nearest gym (Bodies by Perseverance) meeting with owner Courtney Samuel to set up a nutrition and workout plan that would jolt my body into readiness for snowboard season a mere month later. Light-headed from altitude but motivated, I embarked upon a workout plan that miraculously included “rest and gaining weight.”  Seriously – after my first workout I asked Courtney what to do on my days off.  He replied, “Rest and gain weight.  Don’t burn any calories.”  Music to my jet-lagged, altitude-ringing ears.

Courtney’s workout plan is tough.  On the first day in the gym he had me leg pressing more than twice my body weight as he told me, “In my workouts, you are pushed to failure.” Amen, brother.  Failing has never felt so good or had such a quick, remarkable effect. Within the first week I gained 6 lean lbs. and started feeling like a human being again.   On a high-calorie whole foods diet, bolstered by a liquid vitamin supplement that I know has changed my life, and with Courtney’s help (which, when I “fail,” means either catching a falling weight bar or peeling me off the ground) I have been able to push my physical limits more in this last month than ever.  I am proud to say that it took until today, after a full workout and nine reps with 340 lbs. of free weights on the leg press machine, to yell “uncle,” and that was because my knees were shaking and my legs simply would not straighten. Failure, you are my friend!  When I mused about how much my legs shook while stretching, Courtney yelled, “Good!”  Home and a protein shake later, and I was on my way out the door to work.   Thankfully I could still push the clutch in my car – I wasn’t so sure that would be possible!

The idea of eating whole foods has always appealed to me, but then so have macaroni and cheese, frozen fried chicken dinners, and Twinkies. Having eaten pretty much whatever I wanted for my whole life except for during the 12 years I starved my body as a vegetarian (no offense to my veggie friends, but my little furnace requires animal protein), this transition was not as difficult as I imagined it would be.  Courtney gave me a diet to follow and I followed it pretty faithfully.  I felt better every day, which was motivation in itself.  And I could basically eat whatever I wanted, provided it wasn’t processed and that it was high in protein and calories.  Not a difficult diet.

This last week before moving up to Beaver Creek for the winter, Courtney has “pushed it up a notch” which means failure is inevitable.  I’m doing things in the gym I never imagined, and getting results I never thought possible.  Bodies by Perseverance -what a great metaphor.

Last weekend at Opening Ceremonies at Beaver Creek instructors were treated to a guest speaker who co-authored the book, “Younger Next Year:  Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You’re 80 and Beyond.”  What a title, huh?  If that doesn’t make you sit up and listen, you might as well just keep sitting on the couch and watch yourself get old!

Dr. Henry Lodge is a great speaker, and his material hits close to home to people who use their bodies for work like we do on the hill.  His premise – that regular exercise does more to prevent “the normal problems of aging” than anything else you can do for your body – is not only relevant, it is backed by science and presented in an entertaining, compelling manner.  His audience was hooked, and thrilled by the Oprah moment: “And there’s a free copy of my book under your chair!!!!!”  Dr. Lodge’s message was a timely and personal for me.  At 41, I’m not getting any younger – or could I?!?!?!  Yee-haw!!!

One of many remarkable side-effects of making changes of body, is that doing so makes changes of mind that much easier.  When the body is moving, well-fueled, and healthy, the mind can focus more effectively, make better decisions, and create more productive thought patterns.   Mine certainly has, and that might even feel better than physical health.  While I can’t proclaim total victory over my mental demons, they are certainly on notice.

Next week I will complete the transition to Beaver Creek for the winter.  While I still face a lot of physical challenges in the upcoming weeks and months, those challenges don’t feel as daunting as they have in past winter seasons.  I have an arsenal of physical and mental tools I didn’t have before, and I’m ready to use them.

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Bifocals, biopsies, and biology

These last two months since I came home from Asia have been full of doctor appointments that were overdue to varying degrees.  Coming home to discover two very sick, very dear friends did wonders to influence my voluntary yearly meccas to the medical angels charged with maintaining and monitoring my good health.

In scheduling these appointments I made the same mistake twice:  yearly wellness appointment and mammogram on the same day in late October; dentist and dermatologist on the same day in early December.  Eye doctor was squeezed in there somewhere.  At the time I made these appointments I was thinking about minimizing waste of time and worry; looking back I think spreading the stress over a couple more days or weeks during my hiatus from snowboarding might have been a better plan.

My main reason for sharing this with a semi-public audience is decidedly NOT because I think others are interested in MY health.  Clearly, you have more pressing things to concern yourself with.  But I hope that after reading my story, if you are over-due for any health screenings you will get yourself to a doctor PRONTO.  Life is too short to let treatable, screen-able illness take it from us prematurely.

A week after my first appointments, test results started to arrive.  All was well but, surprisingly, my thyroid levels were SLIGHTLY low.  Hmmmm.  Luckily a subsequent test proved that issue had resolved itself.

The eye doctor was a different story.  I knew that while in Asia my eyes had taken a turn for the worse.  My glasses were woefully inadequate in helping read the TINY print on tourist maps, and my eyes were very tired all the time.  I had LASIC surgery about six years ago and was told that the “old age reading” problem would be mine one day regardless. Was I prepared to need bifocals at my last appointment?  Not at all.  They’re not just a little stronger than my previous reading glasses, either.  I’m glad to have them and can honestly say that they make seeing a whole lot easier.  Ironically I have to wear them less and my eyes are less tired.  But bifocals?!?!

Somewhere along the road in Asia I cracked a tooth as well.  The verdict last week?  Try to fill the crack with the hope that that’s enough to take care of the massive sensitivity I experience with hot and cold things; eventually root canal and a crown will be inevitable. Yeeeeee-haw!!!!

And then the dermatologist.  Who dug a mole out of the bottom of my foot and one off of my back.  Fun times, I tell ya.  She doesn’t like the looks of the one from the bottom of my foot – the one we have been “watching” for years.  So now I’m gimping around with a large hole in my foot, hoping the biopsies alleviate our fears.  The hole in my foot is (predictably) infected, which has given me enough down time to Google and fret about why the doctor was so worried about it.  Gulp.  Updates will follow.

Now, please don’t mistake this post as one that is self-pitying or meant to elicit the “feel sorry for me” reaction.  I am as healthy as ever and am taking better care of myself than I have in years.  I merely want to encourage those of you out there who might be avoiding these yearly annoyances to face them head on.  So many of the diseases that end up cutting our lives short are detectable and treatable at early stages; less so when left to their own devices.  Your loved ones are counting on you to be here for them for many, many years.

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Thanksgiving for every wrong move….

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for years.  As many of you know, I don’t particularly like or engage in holidays. But I can put my all into this one, and especially this year, I will.

I have always felt thankful for so many things.  But never have I felt more thankful than today.  I feel so thankful to be here, doing what I do now, being who I am.  I never could have said that with so much emphasis before….

But let’s get into specifics….

1.  I am thankful for my good health.  At 41 I have no business being as strong and healthy, free of so many ailments, as I am.  I have used and abused my body to the nth degree, and yet here I can sit and thank God for my health.  Hallelujia.

2.  I am thankful for my family.  I was adopted by people who loved me unconditionally, and found the love of my life who accepted me, warts and all (oh, and I accepted him, warts and all, BTW).  Chance brought us all together; love keeps us together.  Is it complicated at times?  Of course.  But what more could I ask for than to have an extended family that cares about me so much?

3.  I am thankful for my smarts.  Now, this is a tricky one, because I was far smarter in kindergarten than I am now.  But my intellect has taken me far, and has offered me choices that many can only dream of.  The mere fact that I can have a PhD and choose to be a snowboard instructor is kind of silly.  That Metro calls me in a bind is insane.  I might not be famous (yet – JJ) but I am SO thankful for having my wits about me. Hopefully Alzheimer’s will leave me alone for a while….

4.  Friends.  While I can’t say I have been a stellar friend to everyone I have considered a friend, I was told today that “although we might not talk to each other all the time, I can always count on you.”  I am loyal to a fault; when I don’t call it’s more because of my own demons than something you have done.  I will err on the side of friendship more than I should, and I have borne the ugly side of my failure to speak up on my own behalf as a result.  Would I ever change the way I have cultivated friendships, or the friends I have chosen to nurture, and the ones I have neglected?  Sure.  I think that’s part of the ebb and flow of life, and a fluctuation we need to be prepared to weather.  I am not a perfect friend, nor would I pretend or even know how to be one – or to demand that of someone I call “friend.”  I give thanks for friends of all kinds.  From each other we have the possibility of learning more than we can possibly learn on our own.

5.  I am thankful that life keeps surprising me.  I know nothing; I need to be open to anything. Isn’t that the point?

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How am I “Lost and Found?”

That’s the best question I’ve asked myself in ages.  The many facets of myself and answers that I discovered on my three-month journey humble and inspire me every day.  I hope they at the very least entertain you,  and encourage further thought in all of us.

Lost:  my previous self.  Not that there was so much “wrong” with me, but there was some serious re-organization and mental clarification in order.  Also 10 lbs., in China.

Found: someone people appear to be finding SO much more palatable, friendly, engaging, positive, WOW WOW WOW!!!!   Someone I don’t recognize much, but am enjoying getting to know.

When I left on this trip I had some serious anxieties – some I’ve had from my youth (will this person like me?  How can I make myself likeable to others?!?!) and those I’ve invented in my adulthood (Why do people trust me?  Do people LIKE me?  Given this massive amount of education, what makes ME the expert?!?!?! Do I have the skills to keep myself safe and sound in places I know little about?)  Amazing how the anxieties of my youth pervaded… or not so amazing…..

There’s nothing like REALLY being COMPLETELY in charge of one’s self to understand one’s true knowledge, skills, integrity, and mental fortitude.

Example 1:  For 3 months I had no cell phone.  Did I call Tom via SKYPE three times in the first month (when I was MOST safe and sequestered in lovely Thailand) and ask him to look into “turning on” my phone – yes.  Did I investigate purchasing a “SIM card” in order to have cell phone access in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam?  Yes.  And what I found out was that there is little “overlap” between the systems in the three countries, and there is not much coverage in any of them.  AT&T, my beloved carrier (COUGH!) doesn’t even provide service in Cambodia or Vietnam, and buying a SIM card in each is a temporary solution to the problem of not having one’s own phone.  And how much do I talk on the phone?!?!?  And who needs a phone anyways?  Could I possibly memorize a new phone number, having not remembered even the most mundane calendar events for the past five years?  Certainly not…. In fact, I believe that the lack of a cell phone during my travels had very little negative effect on my experience and a lot of positive outcomes, not the least of which is that I learned that I can figure things out without one if I really use internal skills and resources.

Example 2:  What IS really important when traveling solo in a completely new country so far from home?  General safety, reliable transportation/ transfer, and a safe/ secure place to sleep once the sun goes down, which is quite early year-round in equatorial countries.  That’s it.  If you’re not used to working on these three conundrums daily, that’s your job when you’re in a country you don’t know or don’t know much about:  how can you be safe, where are you going to sleep, and how are you going to find that place and/ or get there?  $12 reliable transports, though they ate away at the small daily budget, were a bargain; walking around aimlessly looking for a place to stay was immensely expensive, psychically and physically, which eventually eats up valuable travel dollars and – more importantly – the psyche.

There are those who would challenge my need to “splurge” for a for-sure bus/ airport transfer and/ or hotel/ hostel WiFi connection (through which I let my family know I was alive). Would I take that critique again EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE ???  YES!!!!!!   Apparently, being homeless on a street in a completely unknown city in Asia with no communication device is something some people are completely comfortable with; by contrast, I was “neurotic” in my need to plan ahead and “be safe.”  This neurosis/ anxiety served me very well on this trip, and is one I don’t feel the need to abandon.

I was not and I never will be – “lost” by choice – because I have discovered that the reality of having none of these niceties addressed can even rear its ugly head when one thinks s/he has considered all possible contingencies.  Reality: don’t count on anything in a foreign country, because the mere fact that you are a stranger in that land and don’t speak the local language might make all of your plans for naught.  If you can’t get to that “reasonably priced” (read: horrible) hotel/ hostel because the map you have is too small, or your cab driver can’t read, much less read a map, and is unlikely to even agree to take you ANYWHERE you are on your own.  Do you have some MASSIVE mental reserves to deal with this conundrum?  Yes?  Great.  No?  Well, unless you can find a really expensive hotel and a McDonald’s, you might just be homeless and  starve to death in China.

Don’t get me wrong:  I had an amazing time in China, and I don’t regret a second I spent there.  I learned more about persevering in adverse conditions than I possibly could have as a 23-year-old teacher in urban Cincinnati.  By contrast, ANY US city is easy, because I know the language; I know how to read a map; I have contacts; and I have coping skills that work in my “home” environment.  What’s amazing is how those coping skills must be adapted to the local environment, and when that local environment doesn’t give an inch, you might just walk a mile or ten.

Another great story:  Chengdu is a MUCH larger city than I expected – with its 5 million people, it’s about as cosmopolitan as Beijing, without a local transportation infrastructure a savvy but monolingual tourist might actually be able to decipher and use.

If you love pandas and “alternative” Chinese culture, Chengdu is for you.  It was an amazing place to end my Chinese and Asian travels, but when I left I was ready to go.  I had a great time in Chengdu which did nothing to soften my conclusion that China is a mightily ROUGH place for the on-a-budget, street-level, solo American tourist to hone her traveling skills.

Example:  There was an area of Chengdu that I wanted to visit, that was about five KM from the hostel were I was staying.  The lovely women at the desk of the hostel gave me VERY specific directions to this tourist area and were kind of giddy to recommend the brand new (extremely limited) subway system which would transport me for about 1/3 of this trip.

I walked to the subway station, figured out how to purchase a ticket and rode the subway to a stop that, while on the map it looked close to the temple I attempted to visit, was just far enough to allow me to get completely lost.  Given also that in China there is so much air pollution that I couldn’t use the sun to orient myself; and the fact that the streets of Chengdu are torn up while this subway system is built; and that my map was hopelessly small and inadequate, I got COMPLETELY turned around and lost.  It became evident quite quickly that not only would I NOT make it to this temple, but I would also be lucky to find my way back to the hostel before dark.  Did I panic?  A little.  But then I spotted three police men on one of the infamous torn up corners I couldn’t identify on my map, so I asked them for help.

Two of them rebuffed me completely, turning away as I approached.  The third attempted to figure out what I was asking, and pretty soon had my map in his hand – upside down. He turned the map this way and that, and then squinted at the tiny print.  I offered him my glasses, which he put on and, much to the entertainment of his two colleagues, wore until he was able to find and show me our exact location on the map.  It was a very funny sight – a Chinese cop with my girly little glasses on, his colleagues snickering while he attempted to orient us all on my stupid tourist map.  I wanted to take a picture, but figured that it might be pushing my luck to make light of a Chinese police officer who was attempting to help me.  I look back at being THIS lost (and found) and laugh heartily.

I’ve written before that this trip, and China in particular, required me to summon strength I hadn’t known I possessed.  Due to “successes” and the observation that when I’m positive, positive things and people open themselves to me, the anxieties of my youth and adulthood have subsided tremendously, and I have found a person who others and I like more; who is more focused, less edgy, more thankful, thoughtful,  and effective.  I am discovering people and opportunities that enrich and enlighten my life; setting better boundaries against those that don’t. I’m laughing more; talking less and listening more; opening myself to things and people who enrich me; and channeling my energy in a new way towards everyday and long-term goals.

Life is good.

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Halloween Scream!!!

So, we did it. Tom and I dressed up for Halloween last night and went out among the masses for some self-indulgent fun.

Halloween has never been a big favorite of mine. Yes, I’ve dressed up, and I’m just as proud as the next person when I come up with a clever costume. But this year, after all I’ve seen and experienced in the last few months, Halloween just didn’t quite “fit” into my list of “want to dos.”  And “buying a costume” had no place on my massive “need to do” list.

I went back and forth about this decision more times than Tom would like to remember. My first inclination was to COMPLETELY get out of town for the weekend, knowing that our neighborhood fills up with Halloween revelers; those who choose NOT to get dressed up are pretty much brow-beaten until they leave our local restaurants and bars. So if we wanted to enjoy the local night life at all this weekend, costumes were in order.  I just didn’t feel up for all the fuss and the party atmosphere.

I explored some travel options close to home, including camping, and decided to stay here after all.  The thought of getting motivated to travel again so soon after coming home was too much.

So, we were back to square one:  costumes necessary.  Tom was actually enthused about dressing up, so he helped inspire me to quit pouting and join the fun.

Thursday, with NO idea of what to “be,” we and about ten thousand other Halloween wannabees went to our local thrift store.  We wandered around aimlessly – Tom was just looking for ideas, and I was just, um….. completely overwhelmed by the thrift store, the crowd, and the idea of dressing up.  My first inclination was to run out of the store when he wasn’t looking, but instead I chose to stick with it until we came up with some ideas.

Now, this idea evolved a lot between Thursday and last night.  The irony of that fact is that it evolved to the point that we dressed up as….. drumroll please…..

OURSELVES in 1987!

Remember me?

That’s right, folks – for a mere fifteen dollars I re-created myself, circa DePauw days.  This costume consisted of:  a plaid Pendleton skirt, size way too big, which had to be stapled shut to fit me; a crisp white blouse, found in closet; sweater vest (oh! how it hurts!!!); a fake leopard-print acrylic stole (probably the source of this morning’s pink-eye); and MY OWN HAIR.

The hair part is pretty funny for a number of reasons.  Those of you who know me well know that I have a TON of hair.  What you might not know if you haven’t seen me in a while is that I put Miracle-Grow on it every day in Asia, and it reproduced itself to even more massive proportions.  I had a haircut last week, after which it is officially almost down to my “natural” waist.  It took half a bottle of hair spray, an hour of work, and EIGHTEEN – yes, that’s right – EIGHTEEN hot rollers to re-create the hair of my youth.  Why does she still own hot rollers, you ask?  And how does she possibly have eighteen of them?  Well, let’s just say that I actually have twenty-four, and I use them ONLY for very special occasions such as Halloween.

We started slowly at a local restaurant that we actually go to quite often.  Lots of people were dressed up, but there were also people who weren’t (grrrrrrrrrrr).  A little food and liquid courage later, and we rolled into JR’s – a “gay bar” less than a block from our apartment.

Now, Tom and I have both been to JR’s before, and we had discussed going there on Halloween, knowing that there would be awesome costumes and great fun.  We could not have possibly imagined what an amazing time we would have, and how truly outrageous, wonderful, and hilarious the costume contest was.  This guy was the crowd favorite, winning the event:

Angels we have heard on high!

While I definitely appreciated his costume as well as his abs, he would not have been my pick to win.  There were some super-creative costumes in this crowd, and the levity and sense of humor that pervaded the atmosphere at JR’s was exactly what I needed on this Halloween night.

Another highlight of the evening was the “pick-up” line used to engage us in conversation: “Wow!  Is that your real hair?!?!”  I laughed so hard that Aaron and his partner became instant friends.

Tom looked great in his striped polo button-down, corduroy pleated trousers, suspenders, and slicked down hair.  He won’t let me publish his photo here, even though it’s on my Facebook page which gets far more action than my little old blog:)

We had a great time, and I’m so glad we dressed up and spent the evening among such a fun, enthusiastic crowd at JR’s.  Could I have stayed home and been all pouty-face the whole weekend?  No way.  This was the first Halloween of “the rest of my life” and an experience I don’t want to forget.

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