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Beautiful Chaos in Charleston

Friday, January 31, 2014

Just the thought of the task of writing about last weekend has been a daunting one. Not for any other reason than I don't know how I can ever do it justice. Of all my travels, couchsurfing, meeting randoms, and partying, this trip was the most ridiculous, interesting, and unique experience I've had. Besides maybe milking cows in Switzerland. But in a very different way.

I decided to take a quick trip to Charleston when my travel bug returned. I was mainly debating between two hosts: One guy that mentioned a pot luck and other fun sounding events, and a girl in a very unique sounding house full of musicians, that was nude friendly, has chickens, a snake, and dog, and lives an alternative lifestyle.
In counting pros and cons with the Roomie, who of course, went with the safer sounding option, I, of course, went with the more intriguing one.

So, off I went last Sunday morning to meet my host. The trip started with a not so out of the ordinary afternoon meeting at the Boon Hall Plantation for an oyster festival. I tried steamed oysters which rectified my formerly bad opinion of them due to the raw type, and thoroughly enjoyed the delicious, southern goodness of shrimp, grits, and hush puppies.

From here, we headed to a trunk show where they had a friend selling jewelry. It was at a warehouse called Tivoli, that normally housed several art studios. Very cool. I felt I fit in more when I too, put on my raggedy beanie. Brianne, her pup and I sat and enjoyed this show in the back before heading to her house.

In her backyard, she housed 3 roosters, 9 hens, and 2 bunnies. Walking inside, I was even more amazed than I prepared myself for... All the walls were covered with awesome paintings, graffiti, quotes, and notes from other couchsurfers. Brianne said she's probably hosted over 150 surfers! Even the ceilings, windowsills, and cabinets had paintings on them. The window above the sink had a myriad of plant life hanging around. They had two cats and a snake named Wayne. The bed I slept on was in the kitchen, but that surprisingly wasn't a problem. Even the cleanliness of the place wasn't a problem. Though my roommate could attest to the fact I like my apartment with clean floors, the dishes done, and things generally in order, I adapted and dealt. It was kind of a "do as the Romans do" weekend... or as much as I could while still keeping my job.

The thing that made this weekend so unreal and what words basically can't describe was the people. My host had about 4 official roommates. Along with these roommates, they often have people crashing there, and friends that come in and out whenever. Their doors are always open. As are their couches on the porch.

Let me just tell you about the people. First, there's Brianne. She'll be graduating with 5 bachelors, worked at a grilled cheese restaurant, is bilingual and teaches Spanish, plays dulcimer and another instrument I can't even remember, and is just overall awesome.

Then there's Quill. The gypsy in the group. Grew up in Indiana, traveled all over the States, survived 2 weeks in the woods at 14years old, by himself, with next to nothing to kick a bad habit. He has a tattoo with his "squatter's rights" to a house, and his "gypsy rights" tattoo on his back. Five rings found on the rim of his hat stood for milestones in his life... Learning to Hunt, Survive, Squat, Fight, Hitchhike, and for getting his first $100 tip from busking. I learned that gypsies aren't too fond of medicine and hospitals, so they're often born in random places... Quill in the woods and his dad in a canyon.

Now... Monk, who I was about to write was one of my favorites but I don't think that's possible to distinguish in this group. My first impression of him was way off. Intimidating at first, I quickly saw the funny, interesting person he is. With his long hair, tattoo on his forehead, and bones in his shoes, he takes the cake for one of the most interesting I've met. He "liked sleeping under the kitchen table," and during one of the rare times music wasn't being played, said, "I think I need to be playing some kind of instrument right about now." It was like he was in withdrawal of music. All of their passions for music was inspiring. I also can't wait for him to publish his book. And his raps.  
Monk AKA Davie Bonefoot 
Monk's self portrait in the kitchen 
Next is John. A super friendly, philosophical, busking, history buff, "stoner" type. When at a pizza restaurant, him and the worker started talking about soda. Quill and I started talking about something else and like two minutes later, I overheard John and the worker now talking about some deep philosophical concept. It happened so quickly with him! One of the things I loved about him the most, was how sincerely he greeted both friends, neighbors, and strangers on the street. I've only met a few people with this same contagious spirit, Katie Fleming being one of them, and I love that about them. Also, his use of the term "sad boys," no matter what the gender or number of people he was referring to. 
"Don't be sad boys!"
His PDA for Jesus song (about the people shouting the gospel on the sidewalks and college campuses) was also quite entertaining. His girlfriend, Ellie was a sweetheart too.

Robby sported leather pants, an interesting hair-do I'd describe as a mix between a mohawk and mullet, and had sweet jewelry making talents. 
Dorothea was a more mysterious one, with awesome dreads and threads, coming in and out of the house, playing some music, and not talking much. She did need some assistance (and provided us with a laugh) when she couldn't figure out how to heat up some (dumpster dived) bread in the oven. Most of the people I met don't have typical jobs. One stocks shelves, one mans a parking lot, and almost all of them busk. 

So the happenings...
A very entertaining bonfire the first night. At one point, I looked to my right to see a seemingly homeless guy walk down the steps to join us, wearing overalls, long hair, a nose ring, and his pup in tow. I wasn't sure if he was friends with the group, but come to find he was. Either way, I'm sure he would've been welcomed. One of the first things I heard from him was his excitement that a friend he'd presumed dead after 7 years of absence is in fact alive! Good news. Then, I learned that he recently came to Charleston to reconnect with his brother he hadn't seen in ten years. He was actually a drifter, came from California, jumps trains... the whole bit. Near the end of the night, he invited me to jump trains with him and live a drifter life. I think I was relatively close to at least trying it for a couple days, but I fortunately told him I had a job, loans, and a mom that would have a heart attack, so I couldn't join him.

Throughout this night, as with every moment of this trip, music was being played, were blessed with a "silly dance"/interpretive dance by the brother of the drifter... A theater dude who "joined theater to be somebody else."

Monday was the day for exploring the city. Quill, John, and I headed to town after getting some coffee at Wild Flour Cafe. We chilled at this cool cafe/bar, King Duskos for a little bit before hitting Marion Square, the battery, the Circular Church, Market Street, King Street, and Rainbow Row. This whole day of wandering was accompanied by Quill and John playing the guitar. 

They also provided me with many interesting facts about the city, history, politics, mythology, and more. I do remember the fact that the masons made this church circular because they believed the devil hides in corners. 

We ate some delicious pizza, experienced Charleston Chew (candy), did a couple Charleston Shuffles (tripping on the old sidewalks), and headed back home. 
King Duskos 
The patio in the back of Duskos 

Circular church 
That night was spent naming the chickens things like Beaky Smalls, Count Chickula, Beakasaurus Claws, and Benedict to accompany their already geniously named Chickovsky and other punny chicken names. Enjoyed more music, I attempted a crazy flute I couldn't even get to make a sound, and went to an open mic at Duskos. Monk and Quill attempted to play, and did good while it lasted, but both weren't quite feeling it this night. So we just hung out out back where I met several new people, including a girl that made music with a saw and a violin bow. I don't think there were any that didn't have some sort of artistic talent.

I was welcomed from the beginning into this group of loving, awesome characters. It was like a little family. Everyone had their talents and interests, and they were all completely accepted, encouraged, and supported.

I've just been in awe the last week, still trying to process everything. I've been so intrigued by the lifestyle they live. It doesn't really get more free-spirited than them. Playing music on the streets not only to survive, but for the pure joy of entertaining and sharing music. Their love and advocacy even for originality and creativity inspired me to challenge my creativity and musical talents. As Monk said, 
"If you don't pick up an instrument, you'll regret it. That's what I tell everybody." 
They've challenged me to rethink what I think is necessary, to live simpler, and share the loving, creative, simple, passionate spirit they have.

I hope to, and imagine I will see some of these characters again. If not before summer, I hope to be there for the "Spaghetti/Spalatte Festival."   
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Nighttime with Genevieve

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Remember that creative spirit, "Genevieve," I talked about here and here? One of my favorite times with her is our nighttime routine. (I say routine but it alternates a lot). These are a collection of some of our bedtime laughs.

The Doggy Bed
One night, while trying to get little hyper, reluctant-to-sleep Genevieve into bed, I patted on her bed and started to say "come on, get in your bed, come on sweet puppy..." obviously with the high pitched puppy voice. Her face just lit up, she dropped to all fours, started wiggling her tail, and ran to jump in the bed. 
Success. 
Now, there have been several nights where she's been the Busy Bee that she is, but stops and says "do the thing!" And drops to play her puppy role. 

Storytime Improv
Like I learned in a lot of education courses, one good thing to do while reading to kids is to ask them what they think might happen next. It gets their imagination going, gets them to pay attention, and helps them learn cause and effect. So with Genevieve, I did this a couple times, asking her what she thought was going to happen when Junie B. cut her slippers' hair or lost her mittens, or got on her stinky bus, for example.
All of a sudden though, Sometimes Abrasive Gen snatched the book from my hands, covered the page, and asked "what's gonna happen?!" 
-I started guessing something like "Junie B.  sat down next to that Grace and the bus started down the road again. All of a sudden, the bus driver takes a detour to an African safari! There were elephant trunks coming through their windows and lions roaming around!" 
I hear a "noooo. That's not what happens! Try again!"
-"They go through a tunnel that takes them under the sea?! And they see octopus and mermaids and all these crazy deep sea animals that look like aliens?! Is that what happened?!"
Then another "that's not it either! What else?!"
-And I continued with some other absurd guesses about space or invading monkeys. 
This is only somewhat unfortunate though, when we're trying to settle down and she always wants to do this because it gets her so riled up. So I sadly have to tell her we'll have to do the creative alternative seens during the daytime instead.

Princess Has to Pee!
This is a good laugh to end this post with... So, we have to wake Sweet, Sleeping Genevieve from her slumber to use the bathroom in order to avoid bed wetting. This can cause for a Not-so Sweet Awake Genevieve and a very difficult one to get out of bed (totally understandable). After several nights of almost getting kicked in the face and frustratingly trying to awaken this child, I discussed the issue with her before she fell asleep. I told her I was going to be waking her up at 10:30 and would say, "Princess has to pee! Princess has to pee!" She got a huge kick out of that and now often asks, "are you gonna wake me up and say 'princess has to pee?!'" Granted, sometimes it still doesn't work, but it's better than before.
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Today's Gratitude

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lately I've been grateful for my new creative spirit at work. For future blogging purposes we'll call her Genevieve (her favorite name to be while playing). My favorite playtime ever, that resulted in a coworkers falling out of her chair from laughter is fully discussed here. 

Last week never got the glory it deserved so now it gets it's mention. 
I got to hang out with a friend from elementary school on Saturday. 
And had a lovely Sunday that began with a 14 mile bike cruise with The Roomie. 

This Sunday proceeded to a serendipitous night, running into Meryl and Chad in St. Augustine while admiring this moon scene. 
Which was the beginning to a great night seeing the Nights of Lights in this beautiful city... Even if my food decision was a bust, it did cause for a lot of funny conversation about bacon. Throughout the night, we convinced a bartender to change a tv from sports to the Golden Globes, picked out all our "dream pieces of artwork" that were conveniently at this strange studio, and warmed sneakers on heaters. 

So many lights!
Having a nice, relaxing Monday with Leslie Love and enjoying some delicious paleo apple muffins (recipe) and a lovely biking evening. 
And getting the excellent news that eggs aren't the heart attack devils they were once thought to be. 
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Cauliflower stir fry

Apparently it's another Food Friday! I made this way back when and finally got around to making it again and it was delicious
I used a whole head of cauliflower and let my super new/vintage refurbished blender do the shredding. Then put it all in a bowl, sprinkle a couple tablespoons of water on it, cover and put in the microwave for about a minute. 

Chop up your onion and throw it in a frying pan with a couple tablespoons of your oil of choice. I used coconut. Then put cauliflower on top and add about 1/4 cup of soy sauce and a Tbsp of white wine. I also sprinkled some ginger and sesame oil on it. Garlic would've been good but I just basically forgot. 

Cook chicken breast in a separate pan, then scramble three eggs and put them aside while preparing the rest. 

I cooked my favorite "Today's Harvest" broccoli in the microwave (sprinkle with water, cover, and zap it for like 2 minutes) and added it to the cauliflower. I cooked some zucchini and red pepper too before adding it in. Throw in your snowpeas, scallions, egg, and chicken and voila. Deliciousness. 
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Best. playtime. ever.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

So my new favorite playtime I've maybe ever experienced in the history of my child care happened the other day at work with my Special C that we're calling Genevieve.

It started with a classroom scene with my girl using teddy bears as babies and I was the teacher. Normal enough, right? But with this girl, the scenes quickly and drastically change. I guess it wasn't so normal though, even at this point, with me offering number puzzle pieces for lunch. "Threes were the best." Then came the fingers (from the hand) for our protein.
Then it was my turn to be the kid and she the teacher. Then she became my mom.

... Then she turned into a puppy and I was to walk around and find her and adopt her. (She likes to dictate what happens in our playtime. Like "say 'oh how I wish I could see a ballerina fairy princess!'" ... Then to my luck there's a ballerina fairy princess right in front of my eyes!) I try to push my own creativity in as much as possible though and challenge her dictations. 
So I pretended to drive around and stumbled across this dog... A pit bull chihuahua mix. After some discussion about whether I wanted to adopt a dog that growled at me, the puppy turned nice, and I called my "invisible mom" to see if I could keep her. 

Somewhere in there, we were both puppies, then I wanted to be a flamingo (so I wouldn't mess up my pants) but she wasn't having it. So we decide on cheetahs in AfricaThen I was the human and was going to keep the cheetah as a pet (as long as I didn't wind up one of those people on animal planet that thought they could trust a cheetah and wind up dead). Cheetah went missing at one point, so I searched all through the mountains (the couches) and eventually found her napping in a canyon (the beanbag).

I decided Cheetah and I were gonna move to Antarctica, so we started packing up and shopping for winter clothes. Then we found Cheetah's long lost mom! After discussing whether Cheetah would stay with her Mom or come with me to Antarctica, we decided to keep the whole fam together and bring Cheetah's mom along too! 

On the flight to Antarctica, Cheetah started falling out of the plane! Luckily, I was able to save her with a rope and pull her back up. She tried to fall out of the plane again but I said it was impossible because the plane locked us in. 

Somehow, she switched to being a Princess Ballerina Fairy (a common occurrence). I did the "oh I've always dreamed of seeing a PBF!" bit and there she was! Lucky me. I was then dubbed as a mermaid (also common) and instructed that I was to be in danger in the water and a shark was attacking. There was a flaw in that plan though, with the fairy who couldn't swim trying to save the mermaid... So I wound up saving HER from the shark. But the "mermaid couldn't save her" for whatever reason, so naturally, I turned into a Super Savior Octopus and grabbed her from the shark's grasp. 

Then I had to hide from the evil princess and queen (who always show up in playtime.)
I told her I was ready to move to another land with no more mean queens and princesses. 

This was all within like 30 minutes too. By the end of that day, I had gotten into a little funk and not knowing why I was feeling down, but a coworker brought up this playtime, and I got to fully laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Another coworker even fell out of her chair from laughing so hard. 

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One Crazy Year: 2013

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

       It's time to get all nostalgic and review this whirlwind of a year. It's always so crazy looking back to see how much has happened in such a short time. This year seems more extreme than most. Here's a look at the highlights.
January
This year started off awesome, celebrating New Year's with some super cool Danes, chillin on my favorite bridge with fireworks, music and many "I'm just so happy" statements... and passing out looking way more peaceful than I would've ever imagined. The next weekend, I was so lucky to hit it off with this musician at a bar one night, leading to my favorite story (so far). Our adventures that month consisted of rambling, lots of coffee, music, and a great night learning a traditional Danish dance.
February
My travels this month were to England and Scotland where I saw Big Ben, Wicked, and Stonehenge, went to a Catholic mass in London, and met up with a guy I met in Jacksonville in his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.  We took a beautiful roadtrip across Scotland, did a traditional Scottish dance, and ate some crazy foods. Like blood. And guts! I think.
 March
Saw the Red Light District and beautiful canals, biked over potholes, passed hookers on houseboats, and laughed my way through "Nethergium" with my favorite English lady.  I also saw the most bizarre puppet show ever. 
April 
Witnessed pure joy in these dairy cows and met Sune's awesome family. Had many weekends filled with great friends, music, dancing, fleamarkets, and wine. And Fisk.
May 
Took a day trip to Sweden with Sune for Kristi Hemmelfart Day, had an amazing week with my best friends visiting me in Denmark where we "accomplished much and breathed often" and experienced Distortion where we saw people dancing in windows and chillin on bus stops.
                     June                       
June started off with a surreal adventure through the Italian mountains with my Mountain Man. Mom and dad came to visit and I showed em around this country I grew to love and explored Germany together. My time in Denmark came to a close, and I moved back to the US where I was a barista for a day, and celebrated Lindsay marrying her prince in her fairytale wedding. 
July 
Was a bridesmaid round dos for Amanda and Stephen's perfect union and wedding.
August
This month mainly consisted of crappy, unemployed stessing, but fortunately had good Mom, Dad and friends' time thrown in. 
September 
Unemployed job searching continued. Bummed off friends in Jax for a couple weeks while training for a job that I quit before starting. Went to my cousin's super fun lakeside wedding, started a nearly disastrous renovation project on my room, and nabbed some feisty scallops for the first time.  
October 
In the month I turned 24, I substitute taught at my old elementary school, celebrated a friend's baby on the way, got another job that I quit before starting, finally ended the job search when I got my dream job working with kids at Daniel, and made Jacksonville Beach home with a roommate I found on Craigslist. I also dressed like Prince George for Halloween... But no one got it. 
November 
One of the weirdest experiences I've had was going on a crazy internet/app dating adventure with a friend one Sunday afternoon. In less weird news, I hosted this very paleo Thanksgiving with great friends and got the news I'm gonna be an aunt! 
December 
After my last snowy Christmas, I fully enjoyed a Florida Christmas biking around to see decorated palm trees, the Zoo lights, Riverside Luminaries, and Christmas reading on the beach. I also got to go home for Christmas with Mom, Dad, Grandparents and Matt. Ending the month and year with a visit with The Bests was an excellent way to do it. Also officially getting asked to be a bridesmaid for Rubin. Can't wait for the Rubartaloma wedding! 

      For once, my future/plans/year ahead seem way too set than they've ever been. No crazy plans, changes, or adventures in mind at the moment. I guess I'll try out this whole "being settled and responsible" thing for a little bit until I can afford some bigger adventures. For now, I'll just enjoy my biking, beach, running, florist, working adult adventures. 

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