Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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My 19 Not-So-Strange Addictions

The Wilds of Illinois, Travel Blogs, Humor Blogs

Taking photos. One of my many addictions.

Remember that show, “My Strange Addictions?” I do. It’s where crazy people talk about their “strange addictions,” like eating paper towel or snorting baby powder or swallowing rocks. The producers should change the show’s name to “Really Gross Addictions That Are Hard to Watch.”

I did a mini-psych eval on myself. Turns out, my addictions aren’t so strange.

My not-so-strange addictions:

  1. Coffee. I drink coffee by the pot and in one of those metal commuter mugs construction workers use. If I don’t drink coffee, I feel like an anvil was dropped on my head and I can’t even make words. Dental hygienists hate me.
  2. Flavored creamer. I am a healthy eater who can’t help but to pour or squirt corn-syrup-and-sugar sludge into my coffee. Every morning. Milk just won’t do.
  3. Refreshing my email and social media in 10-second intervals. Now that I finally have a smartphone I do this from the comfort of my bed.
  4. Buying URLs. The minute I have an idea for a URL, the credit card is out and I’m searching for .COMS while wearing a visor, sunglasses, and sweats. I’m a regular day-trader-gone-nerd.
  5. Reuse. Recycle. Hoard.  I see a very-used piece of foil and go through a considerable crisis before I can toss it. I have more in common with hoarders and depression-era grandmothers than any of my young, thirty-something friends. I’ve cut my hands tearing apart those six-pack rings. I have a pile of plastic ice cream containers for The Leaning Tower of Cherry Pistachio, an ambitious art project I will never complete.
  6. British Comedy. I can sit through season after season of “Peep Show,” four episodes at a time. During the “IT Crowd”-era, I barely left the house. If a show comes out and Matt Berry’s in it, don’t expect me to leave the apartment until I’ve seen every episode.
  7. Cleaning out my ears. Every morning. Even if there’s nothing to clean out. This actually is one of the “strange addictions,” but I’ve never put anything in my ear but a Q-tip.
  8. Sweeping. When I am stressed, I go into sweeping overload. I also forget to eat so my floors are cleaned and I lose weight.
  9. Books. I have to avoid bookstores because if I go in, I am walking out with a poetry anthology at the very least.
  10. Taking photos.  I am not a person who snaps photos of every painting in a museum, but I am that person who schleps her tri-pod and camera to sunsets, beach trips, parties, hikes, etc.
  11. Moving. In the past four years, I have had three different addresses. I can’t seem to settle.
  12. Movie-theater popcorn. I could eat a four-course meal before the movie and I will still order overflowing movie theater popcorn, with that impossibly yellow liquid “butter.”
  13. Looking up offices on GoogleMaps. Me > apply for job > look up company on the Glassdoor > assess how glamorous the office is with the Satellite images of Google Maps > forget to actually prepare for job interview.
  14. Squeezing avocados.
  15. Reading “Missed Connections” on Craigslist. So many great stories from lonely people who think the girl that smiled at them on the bus might just be the one. It’s riveting stuff.
  16. Moisturizing. When I was 22 and unafraid of the sun, some gracefully-aged individual (an ex-boss) told me to start wearing sunscreen. I apply it everyday and feel my skin withering in the sun if I forget. Fortify that skin!
  17. Flossing. 
  18. Twirling the ring on my right hand around and around.
  19. Smelling shower gel in the grocery store.

What are your addictions? Confess below. No judgement here. 

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12 Things I’ve Learned from ‘Things I’ve Learned’ Lists

Things-I've-Learned

That’s an old pic of younger me. Things I’ve Learned: Be a fearless badass.

It was last Saturday, noonish. I sat in my Juicy Couture sweats from waay back and did the same thing I always do. Checked the same travel blogs, the same Twitter. And what to my eyes should appear?

Lists! Fascinating lists filled with profound revelations and advice. I got lost in a Things I’ve Learned labyrinth starting with Dave Berry ‘s 25 Things List I Learned in 50 Years and ending with this Things I Learned from Closing a Bookstore.

Inspired, I penned my own.

The Ultimate ‘Things I Learned’ List

1. You’re never too young to create a Things I Learned List. The world’s youngest blogger, a 6-month old wrote Things I’ve Learned One Month Out of the Womb. He had a lot of advice about naps and teething rings.

2. Bloggers who should be creating Things I Learned lists aren’t.

25 Things I Learned After Fighting a Grizzly Bear
25 Things I Learned When I Discovered Popcorn
25 Things I Learned Working for Abraham Lincoln

3. The paragraph is endangered. Continue reading


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Is this what a nervous breakdown looks like?

A tree photo

Things money can’t buy

I just kind-of quit my job. Well, I ended a contract assignment at a major company. 

Still…

The people were perfectly nice, the hours were decent and they paid me a sic salary for a writer. They even had a cafe with a healthy take on the McMuffin: spinach, egg whites, whole-wheat english muffin. A McMuffin that is actually good for you. Freakin’ beautiful.

Pretty perfect right? You probably want to punch me in the nose. I almost want to punch myself in the nose. But the truth is, the job fit like a bad shoe. It felt ok when I tried it on. And then blisters started popping up everywhere. One day, it became unbearable. Continue reading


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You Can (And Should) Go Home Again

I am sitting on a plane; it’s my worst flight since the bumpy one to NYC and the one when I tried to get the TSA to strip search a guy in a Hawaiian tee-shirt.

The flight is full of clamouring teenage girls fresh from basketball camp. Loud doesn’t begin to describe it.  Most of them spend the first thirty minutes before take off discussing where they will sit, then bursting into unexplained fits of giggles.

The brunette doesn’t want to sit next to the stranger. The tall blonde is texting, (I suspect) about another girl on the same flight. We soar through the air, a sherbet sunset over Mt. Rainier. The chattering doesn’t subside.

“I can’t believe the lady didn’t let me carry-on my bag,” the girl behind me whines, for the fourth time as she kicks my seat. Another one plunges her seat all the way back, almost destroying a laptop.

“Sorry,” she turns around to the panicked passenger, a teenage boy traveling with his mom. “Sorry,” again. Well at least she apologized.

I am headed home to Chicago to watch my best friend from when we were their age (15? 16)  get married. Were we like this? Continue reading

Vegas-travel-neon-museum-Vegas-secrets-


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An open letter to the gay basher I met in Sin City

Dear Homophobe:

You would likely remember me as the girl at the craps table who kept accidentally bumping into you because you didn’t move over.

I remember you as the rude one who kept swishing her long, straggly black hair into me. You didn’t smile; you glared at me, like you owned the table.

You weren’t having a very good time.

Two women walked by behind you. The dealer pointed and said, “Oh my god, they’re holding hands,” like he saw a two-headed giant lumbering through the casino. We all turned. Two attractive older ladies blurred by, arm in arm, the way girls do when they’re just having fun.

You loudly exclaimed, “That’s nasty. God made Adam and Eve; not Eve and Eve.” No one laughed. The women just kept walking. I silently hoped they didn’t hear you. A few moments later, my friend and I grabbed our chips and left in a sort of stunned huff.

We could have been lesbians, what would you have done then? Would you have given us a speech about how we were ok and it was just the rest of the gays you were referring to? Would you have told us you thought we were perverts?

“I didn’t mean you…”

“Some gays are ok…”

I wanted to tell you that your joke is as stale as casino air.

I wanted to tell you about all the gay people I’ve gotten to know. Some are friends; some are family. They are all different.

Some put themselves out there on a regular basis; some are still in the closet because they face the most awful kind of rejection, rejection just for being different than the majority.

Imagine going to touch your partner on the arm and someone telling you you’re going to hell. That you weren’t created by God. Imagine everyone turning to stare at you from a craps table because you happened to link arms with someone of the same gender.

Imagine being kicked out of your house; imagine being torn away from your nieces or nephews. Imagine ridicule, torment, and abuse.

I am not gay and I cannot comment on what it’s like to be gay.

However, as a human, I easily recognize hurt. I wanted to tell you that ignore and ignorant are almost the same word. And that as you sit on your throne of moral superiority, you’re missing out on some fantastic people.

What, exactly were you doing in Sin City?

I would have said all of this. And C*, my friend to the left would have said it too. But it was well after midnight. I was not at my most articulate and you weren’t at your most receptive.

We wouldn’t have changed your opinion. You wouldn’t have accepted the challenge on your beliefs. And I’m pretty sure if we “threw down” you might win. Might.

We collected our chips and walked away. But while the unsaid still whirls freshly in my mind, I thought I’d write you a letter. To let you know that you’re the one who came across as nasty.

Best,

Vegas-travel-neon-museum-tips

*Whenever I write about friends, I use their initials.


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So You’re an English Major

This is a picture of a painting of a painting.

What life looks like after graduation. (I don’t know who painted this.)

So you’re an English major. Welcome. It has been almost ten years since I graduated college and I prepared some advice, as well as responses to common questions. No other major has been so scrutinized, so deemed USELESS by the gainfully employed. Useless. What an awful word for a fantastic study.

If you’re reading this, it’s probably too late to change it. But you wouldn’t want to.

My “useless” degree in English taught me to examine the fabric of life. Everything is present in books. Everything. A writer observes and records. A writer makes his characters suffer so we know what it will be like when we get there.

I learned about love, death, desire, war, sex, passion, food, junk, poverty, disease, diplomacy, philosophy, social issues, activism, etc. I still don’t get commas though.

In short, an English degree is the universal degree. You just need to learn how to market it, how to make it work for you.

Let’s start with advice from one of my favorite writers: Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.~ Murakami. Continue reading


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I Would Like to Thank…

This album is dedicated to all the people who told me I’d never amount to nothin’ –Notorious

The 2013 guide to Montreal and Quebec that I helped author for Fodor’s Travel comes out in March and is available for pre-sale right now.

Some write fake Oscar speeches; I fantasize about crafting clever book dedications. I plan to dedicate future novel to my enormous family for well…everything, the Husband for his patience and encouragement and the Dog who keeps my feet warm as I write. And to my Grandma, for her endless advice.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to *actually* dedicate or thank anyone in the travel book because that would be unfair to the other writers, editors, and photographers who worked on it. Besides, I am a writing phantom taking the form of Eugene Fodor, a fascinating Hungarian wayfarer.

Miss Misery

cloud-painting-art-institute-chicago

This is one of the first paintings I ever connected to. I always thought it was icebergs, but it’s clouds. -Art Institute, Chicago

Should I ever write a novel, I would be tempted to throw it into the faces of those who spurned me early on when I was just a kid. I probably wouldn’t do it, because bitter ain’t the right shade for me, but it’s fun to think about.

One of my favorite writer bloggers  recently wrote an eloquent piece about a teacher who helped influence his writing career. I have a few of those too – wonderful people, who pulled me aside and told me that despite my horrific spelling, I had a knack with words.

I’ve also had the opposite. Miss Bruner, my 7th grade art teacher deserves a failing grade. A teacher should encourage, not manage expectations. Let kids’ dreams bounce above their heads like big red balloons. When the time comes, they’ll clutch some and let others fly. Give them that choice.

Miss Bruner hobbled up and down classroom aisles with a cane. She’d pull your drawing out from your hands, exam it from behind little glasses that sat at the end of her nose and snicker. When we had to sketch George Washington (impossible!), I erased entirely through his eye. I am no Manet. Did Miss Bruner encourage me to learn from this mistake and be more careful next time? No.  She put my rendition of George Washington over her own face and peeped through the hole as if it were a mask.

Ok, so maybe I screwed up the portrait. Maybe she was joking, maybe the George Washington incident was part of her teacher schtick.

But later that semester, when I expressed an interest in going to Venice to view art, she barked:

“How are YOU going to go to Venice? It costs a lot of MONEY, Am-an-da.”  Continue reading