Thursday, May 30, 2002

Happy Birthday to the person who:
(A few additions to the Greg Birthday Tribute)
•"Can quote 'Spaceballs' in its entirety from beginning to end with no prompting
whatsoever" (from Gwen) My personal favorite= "Or else PIZZA'S gonna send
out... for YOU!"
• Had a not-so-secret penchant for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, which he
would let me play every time I was in his car, always in the same order. First,
"Old Time Rock'n'Roll," then "Against the Wind"
• Opened his sun roof on a really, really foggy Augusy night and let me stand on
the passenger seat while he drove about 90 mph down State Road.
• Doesn't have a real belly button
• Says ga-zay-bo instead of ga-zee-bo
• Took me to my junior prom
• Thinks inflicting minor amounts of pain on his friends is funny
• Colored his eyelids blue with cue chalk and let me take a lot of pictures of it
• Once took a cigarette out of my mouth and said, "What the hell are you doing?"
• Once vacuumed Alissa's head, apparently
• Accidentally broke Gwen's wrist
• Helped my family out of a scary situation, just because I asked him to, even
though we hadn't been in touch for a few months
• Is going to be a wonderful doctor
• Always greets me with a warm hug when we see each other, sometimes months or
years between visits

Happy Birthday to Greg! Don't know if you ever read this, but I'm thinking of you, and I just went swimming, at night, to look at the stars and think celebratory thoughts about of your life. Take care of yourself! :)

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I have mentioned before that I am trying to do one new, fun or adventurous thing every day so I can learn my way around, because honestly, sitting in this air-conditioned apartment is quite lovely when it's 95 degress with 80% humidity. These adventurous things include checking out beaches, going to art shows, etc. I really want to check some wildlife preserves and other stuff that are supposed to be very nice.

However.... I never seem to get around to doing the "fun" stuff....

So much of my day, though, is spent trying to run errands, which end up taking forever due to traffic, incompetent people, and well, my own stupidity, which keeps getting me lost. :) Literally it took me five hours today to FedEx a photo album, find and buy ink cartridges for my printer, try (again) to pick up some pictures, and buy some some fruit and laundry detergent. That's all I needed- FedEx, ink cartridges, my pictures, a bottle of bleach, and some bananas. I spent five (FIVE!) hours doing this due to traffic (okay, no one can help that), incompetent people running the Photo Lab at Eckerds (they lost a roll of film, permenantly gone, of me, Liss and Steve hiking. Triple BOO! HATE!), and an extremely scary woman named Dee who works at the grocery store.

Dee is very interesting- she's very, very old, with many, many wrinkles, and she slathers on makeup: hot pink cheeks, raccoon eyes, bright blue eye shadow, blacker than black eyebrows, v. white hair. (I would really like to make a portrait of her some time, but anyway....) If she were checking people out ANY slower, God bless her, she would seriously be taking the groceries back to the damn shelves. OH. MY. GOD. And- when you're finally paid and bagged, she takes a blue highlighter and highlights each of the items on your receipt that were "Publix Discount Items of the Day" to point out "how much you saved today by shopping at Publix." AAAAAAAAAHHHHH! That's very sweet of her; seriously, but I was only buying produce and bleach!

Sigh.... And then, I got lost. I keep doing that, and I am sort of doing it on purpose. Like, I'll be driving somewhere, and I know relatively where I am going, but I see that this road connects with a highway that I know goes near my apartment, so I figure I might as well take that and see where it goes, since I need to learn my way around, and I don't have many other committments besides playing with my dog and making long distance phone calls, so why not?

So tonight I found myself on I-75, which is called "Alligator Alley." It's basically an interstate that cuts South-East and North-West across Florida. Anyway, the entrance I got on only gave you one choice of direction, Northwest, so I had to get on Alligator Alley for about 5 miles before I could turn around and head back toward the part of Miami where I live.

And the reason I-75 is called Alligator Alley is because it cuts through a swamp area, and- this totally cracks me up- when you get on it, you pass through a toll booth (annoying when I just need to turn around and go the other way. Grrrr...) and they give you an Alligator Alley Info Pamphlet, which basically says, keep your high beams on when there are no cars going in the other direction, and SLOW DOWN before you hit an alligator, if one happens to be in the middle of the highway, because they feel like big speed bumps. And then it STRONGLY encourages you, if you do hit one, NOT to get out and check if it's okay, because "if it's not dead, you are in real danger."

Hahahahahaha. That totally cracks me up. Where AM I?!?! Why am I HERE?!?! WHAT??!?! I'm sorry, I know being a subsitute teacher was surreal and occasionally life-threatening :), but NOW I am in a place that warns you of the mortal danger of roadkill?!?!?! Please. This still begs the question, "WHAT IS MY LIFE?" :)

Ah... who wants to bet I will hit an alligator before my internship is over? :)
So today I called into the bureau and told them that I am here and able to do any freelance work that they might have available until my official start date, and they were like, “Oh... Can you be at the courthouse in an hour?” and so I did my first Miami assignment with Big International Newswire (don’t want my name and the actual name of Big International Newswire to pop up in google searches with this site as one of the first hits... you understand, right?:) today!!! Yay!

It was really interesting, actually, to be at a press conference in a bilingual market. They did it all in English first, and then they had an interpreter repeat it all in Spanish for the three Spanish networks based out of Miami. And Univision, (which is the main Spanish channel that we get in Lancaster and most other people get when they are referring to “the Spanish Channel”) is actually like, a reputable news network. I always sort of breezed past it at home to kind of laugh at the Spanish soap operas and that Horrible Cristina Show (like Rikki Lake, with a lot of blonde hair dye), but Primer Impacto, the main news show, is a very respected news show, like 60 Minutes or Dateline. So that was kind of interesting...

And I got a library card today so I can listen to books on tape during my morning commute! I haven’t actually gone to a library and applied for a library card since I was 10. HHS and SU just used the regular Ids, and I always have my Lancaster card from when I was, well, 10, I guess.

The night before I left to come down here, I went to Barnes and Noble to find a good new book to read, and I started looking at books on tape, thinking maybe I would listen to the Harry Potter books or something on the long drive. As you all know, I love those books, so owning the set would be kind of fun. NO. No, no, no. One Harry Potter book on tape- ONE, mind you- costs 35 freakin’ dollars. Not just regular dollars- freakin’ dollars, which, you know, are worth a lot more. :)

But the library in my neighborhood is really great. I was there at 6 o’clock in the evening, and it was completely packed. There were kids everywhere, walking up to the desk with so many books that they had to hold them in place with their chins. Entire families were there, getting on the Internet, reading out loud in more languages than I can accurately place. There were signs everywhere: “Now open Fridays until 9 p.m.!” It made me so happy. :)

Monday, May 27, 2002

Happy Memorial Day or something. :) This is the first year in a long time that I haven't gone to some kind of actual service where taps is played, etc. From 1993 on, I always did marching band/Salunga Fire Hall type stuff, with the exception of my senior year of high school when I got tickets to see the Indigo girls in Philly, and I blatantly told Mr. Powers the Semi-Evil Band Director that I wasn't going to be at the Mountville Parade because I had concert tickets (Mr. Powers: Well, which did you know about first? Me: You and I both know very well that I knew about the band engagement first; however, I have made the decision to skip it, but I wanted to be honest with you about that choice")

AND THEN... I got the Killer Flu and had to skip the concert anyway. That sucked. I should have lied and said I was sick because I really, really was. Oh well. Every year since then I have been interning for newspapers and covering Salunga Fire Hall type events for them. So yeah... This year I slept late and went to the beach like the rest of America who is 1.) not a senior citizen 2.) not a veteran or 3.) not in a marching band. Highly enjoyable, I must confess. :)

I am trying to do one, new adventurous thing every day so I learn my way around and do fun things. (Especially now that my face is completely back to normal! YAY! I never thought it would be completely healed this fast! Neosporin really isn't kidding when they say you heal up to five times faster with regular use. Just a little plug there for Neosporin) So anyway...

Today, I drove Bella to Boynton Beach, about 45 minutes north of here, where they have a half-mile strip of beach that allows off-leash dogs. We had a ball. Belle is so funny. She hates water (I threw her in a friend's pool last summer thinking she would like it if she just tried it out, like a human toddler- Um... Very. Bad. Idea. It was a flailing, yelping fury of fur, paws and teeth. I got her out and she hid behind a bush for an hour), and so she would run down to the water's edge, and then when a wave came in she would run away really fast, kind of like the opening sequence of the old TV sitcom about The Monkees. Heh. My dog is Davy Jones.

So we had fun meeting other dogs and their people and running up and down the beach. The water was really rough; I wouldn't have wanted to swim in it, but it looked really cool- huge, turquoise waves and huge pink clouds (from the sunset on the other side- this beach was on the Eastern coast) and pelicans! Big pelicans swooping down catching fish! I had never seen pelicans in the wild until I came down here.

Arg... Listening to Trading Spaces in the background and listening to the host Paige, aka MPDP, shouting at one of the homeowners to "Get up! GET UP!" Apparently he's sleeping or something... I didn't realize how annoying she was until Television Without Pity started pointing it out.

BUT! GUESS WHAT?!?!?! I have been taping the Trading Spaces marathon for Gwen today, and I GOT THE CRYING PAM EPISODE!!!! Hee! It's not that dramatic, but I finally got to see it!

For those of you out there who are NOT currently nursing an addiction to cable TV,Trading Spaces is a home-decorating show where two sets of homeowners each get two days, $1000, the help of an interior designer and the shared use of a carpentar and redo a room in each other's homes. They have no say in what happens in their own home. It's a surprise.

The Trading Spaces people pretend that the neighbors have a say in what happens in their friends' home, but they don't. The designers have it all figured out beforehand, and friends literally end up lying, crying and trying to physically block designers from (not making this up) dyeing their friends' white carpets orange or painting their fireplaces brown. Which is sort of what's fun about the show. But some of the rooms really end up looking awesome. Someday, when I choose a MUCH more lucrative career, win the lottery or end up marrying someone who wins the lottery or makes a lot of money, I want to hire Vern to do my entire house. :)

And I want him to use this special furniture that Alissa and I are slightly obsessed with... :)

Friday, May 24, 2002

Curse you, lime green dinosaur!

Arg. I wrote this very long blog earlier today, (of course I didn’t save it) and lost it just as I was hitting “Post and Publish.” I hate, hate, hate that. Sigh... But it’s been a few hours, and I feel ready to start over. :)

Anyway, I am here in Miami! I made it! Yay! The trip down was relatively uneventful (note the word “relatively”- more on that in a moment), and I think this has been the easiest moving in experience I have had yet. That’s really saying something, as I have moved an average of every 8 months for the last five years. But I am officially unpacked, connected to the Internet, new phone line works, cable all set, pictures hung on walls, etc.

But anyway, yeah- my dad, Bella and I drove down here; my dad with a van full of my bed and some furniture (couldn’t afford a furnished place) and I drove down with Bella the Wonderdog. She did very well, by the way. As soon as I got on a major highway like I-95, she conked out and didn’t wake up until I pulled off for food, gas or bathroom breaks.

This is actually quite remarkable, considering Bella used to throw up like Linda Blair every 7 exits or so, even with cutting off her food for 36 hours beforehand and sedatives, etc. One time, (WARNING: DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU ARE EATING), and I sort of only mention this because it falls under the category of one of the “Worst Things I’ve Ever Done,” which Alissa asked about on her page.

College Roommate and Road Trip Buddy Jo and I drove (with Bella) to Lancaster to see Kel on her birthday and see Jo’s ex Draegn (Yup, that’s spelled right) who was a lead in the PA Ren Faire at the time. Bella (whom we only found like a month before) was a Puke Machine on the way down, so we didn’t feed her much in anticipation of the trip back. Well, Belle was really hungry, I guess, and on her morning walk before we left (YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED), she ate a piece of dog poop, which was really nasty. But then, even worse- Jo and I made it as far as Turkey Hill before Bella threw up. I said, you know, you go buy the Requisite Snapple, Kit Kat Chunky Bars, an Turkey Hill Iced Tea (Jo and I have a whole established Road Trip Menu), and I will clean up. But as I was cleaning up the puke, I discovered the poop Bella had eaten. I am famous for my strong gag reflex, and I ended up throwing, too. Like, a lot. So Jo had to clean up after me and the dog, and the Turkey Hill Guy (who was a Hempfield grad and used to be in gifted classes, actually, but dropped out of HACC to work at Turkey Hill) who brought out the kitty litter to soak up the puke, began hitting on her in a Very Inappropriate Way. So, yeah- that was probably one of the worst things I have ever done. (Love you, Jo! :)


But I digress....

So, anyway, the trip down here was fine. No dog mishaps, fender benders, wrong turns, or sketchy hotels, etc. However, I had a little, um, “accident” (NO, not a “Pirates of Penzance” moment, thank you very much. :) on the way down. More like a “Running into the Sliding Glass Door/Falling out of the Raft” type thing. This is such a Typical Angie Story, I can hardly believe it. I am not a real person. I am a cartoon character, I am convinced.

This next part is going sound like I am unhappy and whining. I am not. I am very happy to be here, but in order to express the full comic potential of this story, I sort of have to set the scene, as it were.... :)

Anyway, a little background... When Amanda and I were 14 and 12 respectively, we took a Gaul Family Vacation to Florida. It took us five days to get there, mostly because my dad wanted to stop at every single Civil War battlefield along the way. (They are all the same- green, quiet, clean, big field, statue of a solider on a horse, obelisk, historical marker, restrooms). On the border of North and South Carolina is this incredibly tacky, horrible Tourist Trap To Beat All Tourist Traps called “South of the Border.” There are fluorescent signs located every five miles hyping this place up beginning in Central Virginia. There are a lot of giant statues of “Pedro-” a Not-So-Subtly-Offensive caricature of a person of Hispanic heritage, mini-golf, overpriced restaurants, etc. Understandably, my parents refused to stop there.

So I decide that my dad and I HAVE to stop there this time. So we’re there, it’s awful, I am taking all these pictures of Bella and my dad in front of horrible, tacky statues, etc.

There is this big statue of this lime-green dinosaur wearing a banana-yellow sombrero, and I decide that it would be really fun to climb on top of it and have my picture taken. Of course, I am too uncoordinated to get myself on it, so I am trying to jump from trash can, and my dad is laughing this wonderful, deep belly laugh that he gets going sometimes. He decides to give me a boost, but I was sort of flopped on this thing on my stomach, and he pushes me as I am trying to reach around to grab the dinosaur’s neck.

Well, of course I fall off, but here’s the thing. I, literally, broke the 4-foot fall WITH MY HEAD, as my arms were behind me, trying to clutch the dinosaur statue’s neck. I actually heard my neck crack, which was scary. But then I realized that I could move everything, and I wasn’t paralyzed ( I had been trying to get this crick out of my neck for days, it sort of felt good actually), and I started to laugh. Well, my dad comes running over to help me. And... well... he screamed when he saw my face. You know, it is never good, when you are injured, for someone- especially someone who watched you being born via Cesarean section- to scream when they see you.

I am a mess. One half of my face is a disaster. I have three long lacerations extending from my eyebrow to near the lower part of my cheek. I have a bunch of brush burns on my forehead and cheek. My left eye was intermittently swollen shut for three days. It’s open now, but it’s puffy and purple.

I have named the wound “Barney,” because no one talks to me. They talk to The Wound. I keep thinking people are trying to make eye contact with me to start a conversation or get my attention for some reason. Nope. They are staring. I thought someone was trying to hit on me. Uh, no.

I look like the Phantom of the Opera. See, it doesn’t really hurt anymore, so I forget about it, and I don’t understand why people are looking at me. Anyway, for now I am just hanging out in my nice, air-conditioned apartment. Sigh... Perhaps I will don my cape and compose a rock opera. :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2002


Yes, life is chaos. I am leaving for Miami this coming Sunday. I know, I can't believe it. I may not be on the blog for a few days (what else is new?) as i get settled in and connected to the Internet down there. I am leaving for Boston in a few minutes (should have left two hours ago) to see Stephen one last time and go to Episode Two with him and his wonderful, eccentric Star Wars-addicted friends.

I hope to see some of you before I go- Jo, come anytime Friday or Saturday! Alissa, if you come this way, I would love to get that toaster if the offer is still good! Jason, I left my teddy bear in your apartment, most likely wrapped up in the Aerobed. (OKAY, I admit it, I sleep with a teddy bear, especially when I flee my parents' house in the middle of the night) so I may come get him, or I'll give you the money to ship him back here. )

Thanks to the lovely Lancaster friends who came to sit on my couch and watch TV together one. more. time. until I move South. It feels like going to college again, but it's not the "End of the Summer" (Thanks, Dar.) She should write a new song called "The Beginning of the Summer," you know, just for me, because I talk to her, just like I talk to J. K. Rowling and Maya Angelou. ;)

Alright, campers, I'm off to Boston and "May the Force be with you!"

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Wow. Hi. Tired. TI-red.

In the past week, I turned 23. Go me. 23 was sort anti-climactic, actually. The best part of my birthday, I think, was the fact that my 8th period Spanish "Class for the Day" baked me a cake. I had them the day before, and whenever I teach Spanish, I warm the class up weith questions about- anything- sports teams, the musical, other teams/activities, the prom, whatever they currently care about.... It's muy Mrs. Minnich. :) And occasionally, they return the questions- which is good, because they're getting into actually conversing- and the most common questions I get are how old am I and do I have a boyfriend. :) And I said, I will be 23 tomorrow; his name is Stephen. And they asked if we could have a party. I said we could have a Cinco de Mayo party if they cleaned up really well and let me teach them about Cinco de Mayo for part of the period. So I took in some soda and snacks- nachos and salsa, etc- and -they baked me a cake. I almost cried. I was really, really touched. I couldn't believe it.

And then I went home and had a fight with my mom and cried a lot, so really, that was the highlight of my birthday. It's fine, though. :)

Alissa and Stephen and I went hiking at Mt. Mohonk on a Nature Girl AdventuresTM, Inc. We had a blast. I got to see a little bit more of the town of New Paltz, and no one died. :) Tee hee. No one even came close to dying. Stephen (not exactly world-renowned for his coordination, having broken his back in two places falling off some scenery in 10th grade- ask him any time to see the video tape of this terrifying incident, complete with him bouncing as he hits the stage and screaming "HELPMEHELPMEHELPME" in this unearthly inhuman voice; really, it's highly amusing, fun at parties, and only in good taste because he recovered completely, thank goddess) managed to do the ENTIRE THING, including the "Lemom Squeeze"- where you scale up a 500ft crevice on a very, very thin ladder- while carrying a walking stick he named "Happy Noodle Boy." Considering that Alissa and I often had to take our time with full use of both of our hands, and in my case, mutter "Okay. OKay. Okay okay okay" to myself fairly often, we were highly impressed with his ability to get himself AND Happy Noodle Boy to the summit.

Alissa also got to visit her uncle, aunt and cousins, and Stephen and I stayed in a charming bed and breakfast, the Whispering Pines B&B. I highly recommend it. I also picked up pamphlets for a horseback riding place that takes you on Winter tours through the snow, so perhaps, there is a Succulent Wild Woman Weekend a la this past year's Vagina (Monologues) Weekend in DC, anyone? We won't climb Mohonk in the ice and snow, but we could go horseback riding and stay in a B&B and walk about the town, perhaps? :) Just a thought. Who knows where I will be by then?

Then, Alissa gave me some furniture- I will have to smudge it with incense to purge it of its residual Disloyalty Vibes clinging to it from its Previous Owner before Her- but trying to move a desk and a dresser silently out of Alissa's apartment at 11 p.m. was hilariously funny. At least for me. I collapsed with laughter against the desk, which, unfortunately, was already pinning Liss against a wall at the time. But we survived. AND I didn't pee myself, which, as anyone who knows me knows, is a major bonus in such a situation.

Oh, by the way, before I forget- I am at the Diverse Visions AP workshop all week this week, and my cell phone is very, very, very dead. My wall charger is in Miami somewhere, and my car charger is in Lancaster. Helpful, as you can imagine. I am trying to check my voice mail from time to time, but this is sporadic at best as I am working and shooting like crazy. More on that in a minute. If you need me, email me- not going to post it here, you all know it anyway, I think. If you need me fast, call the Sheraton Hotel on Miss America Way in Atlantic City, and ask for my room from the front desk. I will get back to you as fast as possible, but it may not be all that fast in reality. :) Please, no dying until I get my favorite appendage (my cell phone) back up and running. :)

So...the Diverse Visions workshop. I think, ultimately, this week will be a pivotal point in my life, career, visual style. It is absolutely transformative, which is a heady and exhausting, but exhilarating experience as you go through it. I think it will take me a while to wrap my head around all that I have learned here, and all that this has meant to me. I think I am making some friends for life here. I am flexing every muscle I have in every sense of the word- I have been pushing myself physically, mentally, visually, ethically and spiritually. I am scared, because I know what the impact that making my mark here could possibly mean for me, my future, my career. I have am holding my breath, my head high and my camera close. This sounds incredibly dramatic. It's not. Not really. It's a workshop. A conference. But it's highly, highly possible that nothing will ever be the same again.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Okay, so here is the long-awaited white-water rafting story. So, Alissa, a.k.a. Nature Girl, often dreams up these plans for hikes, rafting, etc., which are always fun, always challenging, and always a ver fond and funny memory.

When they're over.

The thing is, Nature Girl tends to wait until you're already four hours into a hike up a big mountain to mention that the last bit requires you to scale up a 500 ft ladder in the crevice between two gigundo rocks or already in the boat and 11.75 miles into the rafting trip before she mentions that the last rapids are called Snaggletooth, and that last time she and her fellow rafters were marooned on a scary rock, clinging to a tree trunk for 45 minutes before the Friendly Lehigh River Kayak Guys could rescue them.

Now, Alissa did tell me that she fell out of her raft before, so I was prepared for this possibility. They tell you three things to do in the event that you fall out. 1.) Keep your toes up out of the water. The majority of rafting deaths occur when people’s feet get stuck under rocks or in crevices and then the current pulls their head down even though they have a lifejacket on. This is called “Foot entrapment,” which is as scary as it sounds 2.) Try not to fall out of the front of the boat. (Okay, I was already sitting in the front, so naturally that is where I fell from) and 3.) DO NOT get between the boat and a rock, because it hurts. A lot.

So we come to the first set of rapids, and I guess I didn’t have my feet tucked in properly, and I fall out. This is in the FIRST TWO MINUTES of the trip. Now, I was wearing a (rented, “pre-moistened for my rafting pleasure”- EW) wetsuit, but that river was, pardon my French, f*cking cold. It was 40 degrees. It was a tremendous jolt. As I said, I was sitting up front, so I fell out of the front (See Rule #2), and promptly got wedged between the boat and a rock (See Rule #3). The scariest part was that I was hanging onto the boat, but my feet (which I was trying desperately to get OUT of the water, what with the entrapment fear), but they got sucked UNDER the boat, at which point I starting screaming like a fool. “GET ME OUT! GET ME OUT!” were my exact words, I think, as my spinal chord was being bashed against some big, f*cking rocks and I was getting sucked under the boat, feet just begging for entrapment. I manage to get to the side of the boat and turn around so that Alissa and Darren can yank me back in. At this point, I am screaming “GET ME IN! GET ME IN!”

The best part, other than getting back in and being SO HAPPY about it, was that all of this happened in front of the Friendly Pocono Whitewater Adventures Souvenir Photographer, so all of this is recorded for posterity. I have scanned the images, and as soon as I figure out how to upload them to, they will be available for your viewing and mocking pleasure.  They are pretty funny. In one, I am kind of smiling and hanging onto the side of the boat. In the next one, I am flailing my arms around, underwater camera attached to my wrist, with my head stuck under the boat. Ah…. This one may just finally top the Hairy Arm Story of 1994. Maybe. 

In other news, my chicken patty is done. Be right back. Yummy. Dinner.

Anyway, I taught Spanish today, which was fun. As I was leaving school, I approached a 2-way stop intersection in the 15mph School Zone of the nearby elementary school where I also teach. There is a crossing guard in the intersection waving his arms around. It is 3:15. There are kids, many of whom I have taught, absolutely everywhere. I slow down to 15 mph (being Reformed Speeder Woman that I am) and stop at the intersection. It’s a hot day; my windows are down. The crossing guard glowers and screams, really angrily, “You just drive through here any time you’re ready, for crying out loud!!!” Bewildered, I gesture to the scads of children and say, “But… there was a stop sign…?” And- no joke- he screams, “I’M in charge here, NOT that stop sign!!!” Hahahaha. That kills me. Power trip anyone?

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Hallo, campers! And we're back! From Miami, that is. :)

I see I haven't missed much on the blogs this past week. Nick, what's up? Frankly, I am relieved that the Reign of Terror has come to an end, but where have you been? It's been two weeks! What? Nothing to say about Robert Blake? And Shauna, why are you thinking about shutting down? "C'est moi" is enjoyable! I will miss it. :)

Let's see... Where to begin about the trip to Miami for the Whirlwind Find an Apartment Tour 2002? Alissa and I had a really good time, overall. I was thoroughly enchanted by some parts of Miami. The colors were so vibrant- the ocean, the architecture, the sky, the green palm trees, the dialects- it was such a sensory experience just walking through the streets. And the people were so diverse. All my life, I have lived in a place where pretty much everyone is the same, and/or the people who are different were all different in the same way. Syracuse was an extremely racially diverse campus, but pretty much everyone was a class-privileged college student (this is a Big Generalization, of course), but you catch my drift.

I am so excited to be going there. It definitely feels like a foreign country to me. English is the second or third choice linguistically, as far as I can tell. I held my own, though. I was having flashes of fluency where I didn't have to translate word for word throughout a conversation. I haven't had that in years. It was pretty cool. I met my co-workers, although not my boss, as she was out of town. They were so nice. I am especially excited to be working with The Photojournalist Who Shot The Elian Gonzalez Being Taken Out of the Closet At Gunpoint picture, although he is not the only Pulitzer winner on the 5-person staff. I was so excited; it was like the footage of the hysterical girls during the Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan Show inside my head. :) I have admired the work of these photojournalists for years, long before I knew that I would have this chance to learn from them. Before I left, they all made a point to hug me, which sounds weird, but it really wasn't. I was really surprised and touched by that. They said I have strong sports in my portfolio, but not pro sports (I have one pro sports picture), so they are really pushing for me to shoot Miami Dolphins games and WNBC stuff this summer. They have also started the lengthy process of submitting my name to NASA so that I can get press access to shoot a shuttle launch in August. (GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!) I. Am. So. Psyched. Apparently, I can also look forward to shooting "Alligator Mating Season" (I am so not making this up) and shark migration (it's a big deal after all the shark attacks last summer), as well as what is being forecast as a pretty severe hurricane season. I am like a little kid on Christmas morning. I can't even believe it.

Anyway, as for the logistical part of the trip- I have a very nice, clean, pretty, safe apartment with all kinds of nice stuff- pool, fitness center, I can have my dog!, balcony, car wash on premises, etc. I am definitely going to be paying for these amenities, but the only other option (honestly, the only one) was to rent this scary "cottage" from an even scarier "woman" named Jordan (Honest to Goddess, I thought she was a man until she opened the door. (I saved her talking on my voice mail to prove how much she sounds like a very effeminate man. You can call it if you want. Let me know.) The "cottage" was somewhere between a hole in the ground and a condemnable, leaky, rusty, smelly yurt currently populated by a dirty, boxer-wearing (When you know potential tenants are coming? Jigga-wha? DUDE. PUT. ON. SOME. PANTS.) mullet-sporting "musician" and an invisible (no matter, it was emanating odor waves visible to the naked eye) Smelly Cat. (Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat.... What are they feeding you?) Um, yeah, NO. No, thank you. Not to mention that the landperson (yeah, the jury is really still out on this one) was rude and weird. I was still considering taking it and mentally fixing it up myself and investing in a gross of Lysol when Alissa beat me with the Sensible Stick and told me it was okay to spend more money for a safe, squeaky clean apartment fifteen minutes from work. And, my credit was approved for it today, so it's officially mine! YAY!

I will say this for Florida drivers- I have finally found a state that can boast that its drivers are worse than the legendary Mass-holes of the Greater Boston Area, et al. Damn. Red lights are a highly disregarded suggestion, and turn signals are never, ever used. Ever. A police car cut us off without a turn signal, and believe me, he wasn't going to an emergency in a big hurry or anything useful like that. And the signage- Scott, I am thoroughly surprised that you found your way out of the state before the Turn of the Millenium when you co-opped there in '98. Each road has four names, only two of which are provided at any given time. So, for example, you may be on I-95 South, US Rt. 1, Dixie Highway and the North-South Expressway at any given time, as they are, in some parts of Miami, the same road. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless Mapquest only tells you to look for two of those names, which are not the two listed on the signs. It was the Vacation of Many U-turns. And, unfortunately, I could not help with the driving as it would have cost, literally, $2 billion a day for me to be a second driver on the rental car, which would have been charged on Alissa's credit card "as a precaution" if I even *thought* about driving. Oh well. Bitch, bitch, bitch.

I went jet-skiing for the first time when I was down there. It was so much fun. I felt like I was flying. It was incredible. Also, the guy who rents them was really busy hitting on this woman with breasts that were spilling all over South Beach and gave us an extra hour by accident. Very fun.

On the downside of the trip, there was a big blood stain on the floor of our hotel, hairs in the shower that were decidedly pubic, bugs scampering here and there, a very sketchy pool that had, at one point, a naked woman in it, and two men who were fighting and threatening each other outside our door at 6 a.m. which made us leap up and triple check the dead bolt and try not to listen so we couldn't be called in as witnesses in case somebody died. We also had a terrifying experience looking for an all-night pharmacy for some "soothing ointments" (Alissa needed aloe for her sunburn, and I really, really, really, really needed another type of soothing ointment- (Women, call me and I'll fill you in; Men, try not to think about it) and I was, at one point considering knocking on random doors begging for Diflucan. It was bad.

Well, dear reader, there is much more to tell you about a man in tightie-whities by the side of the road who had a piglet on a leash, unlimited amounts of Rold Gold Colossal Cheddar Snacks, and the Return to the Land of Pale, Lumpy People (My people! MAH PEOPLE!) during our layover in St. Louis. Also, I took my Very Much in Need of Soothing Ointment Self whitewater rafting in the Poconos the next day. (There is a certain part of my body that hates me, by the way, and it is now seeking a new owner :)- I think there is a monologue coming here: "The Little Cootchie Snorcher that Just Couldn't Anymore") I think I will have to wait to tell you the full story of my falling into the 40 degree Lehigh River tomorrow, as I am tired, and this is an oh-so-very long entry. Frankly, I am surprised you are still reading. We have some lovely parting gifts waiting for you on your way out. :)