Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


Hoofin’ It: Teenage Walks to Remember

Walking, Birds Flying
Walking: my version of flying. 

Before Wild and the blogger who walks the coast of Wales with a donkey, there was pre-teen and teenage me, who walked all over Chicago’s far South Side.

That’s right. I was way into extreme walking before it was cool.* Because I didn’t have a car until I was 19.

Walking is essential to my well-being. I’m not much of a hiker; I’m a city walker, a promenader and pontificator. Seattle is one of the best walking cities; there’s water everywhere, our gentle weather rarely interferes with a good stroll, and it’s only the most beautiful place on the planet.

But Chicago is where I learned to walk. First to our coffee table, then to the end of the driveway, then to my little brick school, and then to everywhere.

Ode to Travel on Foot

What’cha doin’ sittin’?

Sometimes, I didn’t walk, I ran down city streets, avoiding garbage cans, almost crashing into pedestrians. I ran so fast I thought my lungs would burst. I wish someone would have warned me that running would never feel That Good again. Sure, a run feels good and necessary, but it not like a teenage anything-can-happen run, a run where you’re laughing so hard tears stream down your face, a run where your only goal is to topple into your best friend or escape some kind of trouble.

I walked with friends, a big group of them. I walked to their houses miles away, in the next neighborhood. I walked in red Chuck Tailors or heavy black boots. Sometimes we’d meet at halfway points, usually a cemetery or a fast-food restaurant or a pizza place. We didn’t have enough money to do anything but walk. It led to the greatest teenage adventures. Screw the boring old scheduled parental drop-offs at the mall, we were wild and free. We strutted under star-sprinkled skies like we owned the world. We walked to train stations that would whisk us into downtown, where we’d walk some more.

I walked to Chicago’s South Side Irish parade, not the one where they dye the river green, the one where they start drinking at noon. It was one of those must-not-miss events where every.single.person you knew would be there and they would all be wearing Notre Dame sweatshirts, green wigs, and shamrock stickers. (Side note: this parade was cancelled because it got too rowdy.)

I walked before iPods, no Walkman, just me and a cracked sidewalk, sprinklers, sometimes yells from passing cars. I walked through my own perpetual inner dialogue, through corridors in my mind. I walked until I came to conclusions, epiphanies, inventions. All forgotten when I returned. (I wonder if Einstein was a walker?)

Chicago Travel Morton Arboretum
If you don’t notice this stuff, you’re doing it wrong.

I walked into characters; an old woman who fed about fifty cats in her yard everyday. Once she put down the food, they would come from all angles, mewing and rubbing against each other. Then there was the complete stranger who leaned over a fence and asked me if I wanted a job taking care of his bed-ridden wife. (I declined). Continue reading


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. 


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


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


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. 


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



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.



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


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