Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Report: The candy is for the kids

Halloween. I found a skimpy little number at a costume shop in Pittsboro called Beggars and Choosers. Go Cowboys.

I wore it dancing on Thursday Night at Loafers.

There was a costume contest. I lost to a chicken.

Wore the costume to work the next day. Wore a G rated version for most of the day.

But I whipped out the skimpy bit for the contest (the prize was a free day of PTO).

But, I lost to a Christmas Tree.

Then, went do Dirty South Improv and did another contest. Lost to a dragon. I'm indignant.

After DSI, went to a dance event and did the contest there (like the pageants - I was on a circuit). I entered the sexy costume contest. In one of the rounds, I almost lost to a sheep. Even though I danced with the sheep.

I even tried to work it with the judge. I also said to him "Chris, I've lost costume contests to a chicken, a Christmas Tree and a dragon. Please, please, I can't lose to a sheep. Especially not in the sexy costume category. I didn't win the contest, but I beat that damn sheep.

There was one contest I won during the Halloween Season. Sort of. Pumpkin carving. See the masterpiece below. The reason I say "sort of" is because I was more an apprentice than the master of this one. It's called "David & Goliath."

I really thought skimpy would win me something. Oh well.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sipping on Sangria

Celebrated Lisa's 40th in style.
First, at the Red Room in Raleigh.

Sipping on Sangria.

And then, to the stretch hummer limo. Woo-hoo.

Look at the photo above. This is the picture I was taking with my camera.

Well, how else do we get to the driver?

I'm such a popular girl, double booked! I can't stay for the whole night. I've got dancing and cheerleading to do at Loafers tonight. Based on the pictures, this night only got crazier. Happy Day Lisa (and it was).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

These are a few of my (least) favorite things

Sticking my hand in a pumpkin to get out all the mushy stuff is still one my least favorite things.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

T-shirt with a passport

On Mt. Kilimanjaro, I passed someone with a "Carolina" t-shirt and of course I was like "I'm from there!"

When I was in Africa I noticed several of the locals wearing t-shirts that clearly came from the United States (by "came from", I mean mostly likely purchased and worn in the US, I'm not talking about raw materials or manufacturing, necessarily).

If you've ever wondered how a Carolina t-shirt gets from a shop in Chapel Hill to Mt. Kilimanjaro, or, if you've ever wondered how the shirt gets to the shop in Chapel Hill in the first place, go read "Travels of A T-Shirt in a Global Economy."

This book was the common reading at Carleton College this year and the North Carolina Carleton College Book Club read discussed it tonight.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I would've felt like Elle in Legally Blond.

For all the books I read in Africa, I forgot to bring my book club book, so I spent much of today reading. Book Club meets on Tuesday. I organized this thing and will likely be moderating so I think it's best to, you know, read the book.

There's also a dance in Durham tonight - "Hot Club of Durham." I can practically see the venue from my house so it makes sense to go. If I can remember how to dance. I'm supposed to dress up so I put on a weird dress that I haven't had the opportunity to wear since my goodbye party in NYC. Adam wears some eyeliner.

Most people took "dress up" to mean "go vintage." As in, dress up like a Swing Dancer. Oops. At least I left the Halloween costume at home. I wouldn've felt like Elle in Legally Blond.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The truth is, I fall asleep like that all the time.

Head to Pittsboro to acquire a Halloween Costume at a Vintage shop called "Beggars & Choosers."

On the way stop in Chapel Hill, hang out at a hair salon and then have lunch at "Buns" (apparently, this place is famous, how have I never heard of it?)

Meet up with friends that night for Thai food in some strip mall on Route 55.

While we're waiting for said friends wander into a Big Lots. I've never been in such a store but I walk out with an inexpensive bottle of toothpaste and a box of 90 calorie snack bars. I still don't really understand the theme or organization of the store, tho. Cheap stuff that's maybe defective but safe enough to sell?

Dinner was delicious. So much tastier than my Africa diet of Clif Bars.

After dinner, we head back to watch "The Nightmare Before Christmas." A Halloween and Christmas movie all rolled into one. I love it. For the first five minutes. Then I fall asleep. I'm in the presence of friends so I blame it on the jet lag but the truth is, I fall asleep like that all the time.

Pumpkins were supposed to be carved this night. Well, that'll have to wait. There's a Pumpkin carving contest I want to win. It's for my building. I'm hoping nobody else will enter.

I am happy to be home. Even in the rain.

Friday, October 24, 2008


First day back at work. Disoriented. What did I do here before I left? Are some of the projects I left behind still outstanding? Really? People mostly leave me alone with my tired eyes glazed at my computer. I'm so tired I leave in the afternoon. I go home to catch up on TV, but I fall asleep. I have no idea what I did on my first Friday night back. Sleep, most likely. Maybe DSI? I might have needed some comedy after a full day back at work after my long hiatus. But that time period is so foggy. foggy. foggy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Voting and a movie.

I really wanted to go to Loafers tonight, but sleep gets the better of zzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day Eighteen "This is where the credits roll"

By the time the end of the trip arrives, we're ready for it. Teri got really sick just as we started the journey home and her first stop in Seattle was her doctor. In the spirit of the theme of the trip, we did a few videos in the Amsterdam airport.

Then I got on my flight to Detroit, and Teri to Seattle.
I'm greeted in Raleigh Durham with Chicken Parm from Bella Monica. Needless to say, I'm happy to be home.

This story of this trip (much like the Asia story) might make it sound like it was also mishap upon mishap.

Was it? No. That's just the funny stuff.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen & Seventeen

Ah, Shooting Star. This is where the days really all run together because it all pretty much consisted of the same things.

Jamie: Eat, read, nap, swim, walk and write.
Teri: Eat, read, nap, swim, walk and scuba.

So this entry will cover day fourteen, fifteen, sixteen and seventeen of our adventure in Africa.

It was a very romantic resort. There were flowers on our honeymoon bed. Everyone thought Teri and I were lesbians.

All things considered (spending every waking moment with each other) Teri and I got along quite well. There were a few fights here and there (surprisingly most about clothes).

On our last day, we took a romantic walk on the beach to celebrate our sister-ship.

Now, to the important adventures of the trip. Like looking for our laundry. The funniest thing in this clip is when my face goes from bitchy to friendly.

Teri attempts to do a video tour of the resort. I don't think what she shows below is a "typical African hut" - rather, it's a "typical hut at a resort in Africa." There's a difference.

Am I always this rude to Teri?

We pretend to be models on the beach
I read a lot. I quickly went through all the books I had brought and was pleased when I found a bookshelf of novels left behind. I noticed "DaVinci" on the spine of one of the books and thought to myself "Ok, maybe it's time to read the DaVinci code." When I pulled the book out, I realized I was out of luck. It was The DaVinci Kodden.

Right book, wrong language.

Some shots of our paradise

Goodbye Shooting Star.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Day Fourteen Morning in Stonetown

Breakfast on the roof of our hotel,

I am awoken to the sound of praying. If it isn’t roosters or cows, it’s the Muslims. And just about everyone in this town is Muslim.

And everyone is voting for Obama. If they could vote. There is, in fact, a tree in Stonetown called the Obama tree.
And the usual bumper stickers. I feel so at home.

We hit one more museum and we’re off to Shooting Star.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Day Thirteen Trip

We’re woken up to the sounds of a cow moo-ing. And a rooster (how classic). This same cow has greeted us every morning and I wonder how much it would cost to buy the cow so he could be turned into hamburger and quieted. At first Teri and I found it funny but it starts really early – in concert with the rooster – and it’s not even consistent so there’s no habituating.

Seriously, the next things that wakes me up in the morning, I'm going to have for lunch.

While we like some of the comforts of our hotel, we don’t love the staff and we’re happy to get out of there. At the airport we find ourselves a little bummed out about the hotel but I make a list of grievances and I feel better (lists solve everything, don’t they).

And we’re off to Zanzibar. I just love the sound of it. Zanzibar. Durham just doesn’t roll off the tongue like that.

Our first stop in Zanzibar is Stonetown. Our hotel room is so unusual, I love it.

And then we head to the streets to explore. But first things first. Teri needs a bikini wax.

The streets of Stonetown feel like the streets of Venice. Narrow and confusing.

Stonetown vendors take the cake in terms of aggressiveness. We try to be polite, returning “Jambo” with “Jambo” – but eventually we realize that if we want to get anywhere we’re going to have to be rude.

I am interested in getting a tray and I look at a few at a storefront right by the hotel. It’s my first stop so I don’t buy anything.

Teri is looking for some local rum for her boyfriend, Nate. She’s got the “I’m looking for something” look on her face when she’s approached by a man who says “I saw you at the hotel this morning. Yes, my brother works at the hotel.” Thinking that she’s found someone whose help might be a little more genuine Teri proceeds to follow the man to half a dozen liquor stores. All of which are closed. His last stop is a bar. We follow him inside. It’s dark and smokey and it feels uncomfortable for us to be there so we leave. The guy meets us outside. Teri attempts to graciously tell him that she’s OK and no longer wants the liquor. Then the guy whips out a CD and asks her if she will buy it. He’s got 2 sets of twins and the CD is usually $20 but he will sell it to her for $4. I’m standing by shaking my head that we just need to leave. And finally we do.

We return to the hotel. The nearby vendor remembers my interest in the tray. We stop at the hotel briefly and decide to venture out towards the waterfront.

We visit a museum and learn about a real Princess - Sayyida Salme.

We have dinner by the water. For me, dinner is a piece of cake since this town is big on the seafood, being an island and all.

We head back towards our hotel, but not without finding the internet first. We see a sign for “Internet CafĂ©” which is really just a few computers in the back of the pharmacy but that will do.

I’m chatting with Andrea, a co-worker through g-mail. While we’re chatting the shop owner tells us he needs to go leave to pray. But, we just got here, and we’ve paid for 30 minutes online. So, the shop owner leaves the store. And locks us in. I write to Andrea “I’m in a Muslim country and I’ve just been locked in a store. Don’t log off until I’ve told you the store has been unlocked and start looking up the phone numbers for the American Embassy.” Truth be told, I know that I’m in no real danger, but I’m quite amused by the situation.

After internet, we wander to a coffee shop and play scrabble. I love that we’ve traveled to the other side of the world and here we are having a hot drink playing a board game. We’re joined by a family from Ohio and enjoy talking to them.

The couple has two girls (woo-hoo, sistas in Africa) and I wonder about bringing children to this country and just think about travel with children and families in general. I appreciate the travel adventures my parents provided to me as a child but I wonder what would have crossed the adventure line for me as a child, and my parents, as parents.

After a rousing game of Scrabble (I would like to think I won, but in the end I think Teri beat me) we head to a concert in a nearby outdoor amphitheater. I have to be honest, I really didn’t want to go. Something about the day made my “safety” radar go off and I much as I thought the concert would be fun I didn’t like the idea of walking through the winding, dark narrow streets at night. Teri told me she was going regardless which pretty much meant that I would go no matter what (our mom would kill me if something happened to Teri, so either way, I’m dead, right?)

The first show was good. I think my favorite part was a cat who just walked across the roofs behind the ampitheater.

Rock on, kitty.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day Twelve Trip

Teri and I are back in the comforts of our luxurious hotel.

Don’t we look all Spa-licous in our robes and white clothes? At the very end of the video I mention a certificate. Teri actually did get a certificate for completing the climb. At this point, however, the certificate is still blank (our guide will fill it out later) and I wonder how mad Teri would be if I filled it out with my name. He He. I don’t, of course.

Later that day, our guide, Nicky comes by our hotel and takes us around Arusha for a few hours.

I didn’t realize it, but there is public transportation in Arusha. You stand on the side of the road and maybe one of the mini buses (which doesn’t look any different than the private mini buses) picks you up. And maybe it doesn’t. But should you get on, there is a route. And it’s very cheap. Cool.

No matter where I travel, taking public transportation contributes to my sense of being and experiencing the place.

We wander around Arusha. We head to the market and Teri gets some fresh ground coffee. I haven’t really sparked to souvenirs this trip – in part it’s because the vendors are so aggressive. I think about going to Starbucks, pouring the coffee grains in plastic bags and passing it off as a souvenir. Certainly would be easier than traveling with the coffee for the rest of the trip (and getting it through customs).

Nicky takes us to what is pretty much a diner for lunch. I love getting Pepsi in a glass bottle.

How far is NC from Arusha? Which way?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Day Eleven Trip, Day Six Trek

So fast forward a bit. Teri made the summit this morning. I did not. I turned around early and headed back to Arusha.

I’m writing this blog about two months after I’ve been back (12.19.08) I kind of waffle in terms of my feelings about not making the summit. As I hiked down I felt a sense of relief getting off the mountain. And then I was just enjoying the rest of the trip. When I came home I had to tell everyone that I didn’t make it. But I gave myself a lot of credit for just stepping foot on Mt. Kili.

Two months later, I wonder if I had might have had more in me. I don’t know that physically I could have made it to the top (and Teri, in the nicest way, confirmed that) but I also think that mentally, I could have gone farther.

I’m asking Teri to write a guest post about the summit. In the meantime, I’ll post a few videos and pictures of her up there.

She looks a little goofy. I think it’s the altitude. I am still so proud of her.

Teri actually breezed down the mountain, after she summit so that she could re-unite with me. Here she is, reminding me how hard core and awesome and fast she is.

And here she is. Done.

So, while Teri is still on Kili, I’m back in Arusha at The Impala Hotel. I pretty much spend the whole day reading, listening to a book on tape on my iPod, going online, then rinse, wash, and repeat. It’s great.

I'm sitting by the pool reading. It's not as relaxing as it sounds because it's kind of chilly and there's a lot of street noise. I see a rat like animal on the other side of the pool. Then I see a hotel staff person crush it with his shoe. Ewww.

I might have spent a bit too much time in my head. And, a little bit of uncharacteristic negativity surrounds me.

I also copied down a passage from a book I was reading that I think spoke to how distance can affect things.

“It had to be one of her spells. Until they got together there was nothing he could do. The best you could do on the telephone was contain the fire. Keep a fear or anxiety from escalating. You could not stamp it out. Only touch did that. They had never been separated so long.”

Around 6:00pm I’m at the computer when a very dirty and smelly Teri surprises me. I’m thrilled to see her. And, I was a little scared of my hotel room so I’m glad I won’t have to stay in it alone tonight.

Before Teri totally crashes, we have dinner at the Italian restaurant. I order Pasta Arrabiata. It takes forever to arrive and when it does it’s so gross. I eat one noodle and am done. It is so bad, I crave the Kili soup (well, not really). The waitress comes over and I tell her I’m done. She take the plate and there is about ten minutes of conversation between her, the cook, and other staff before she comes back and asks me if I would like something else. I get the pizza. It tastes like cardboard. It’s delicious.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Day Nine Trip, Day Four Trek

I wake up convinced I’ve grown a third nostril. I was out in the sun too long yesterday talking to the French lady and the sunburn is on my nose. Teri feels a little crappy too. So, in order to lift our spirits, we make a video.

During the hike, Teri takes some riveting video.

We loose a ton of altitude today but all the up and down is deliberate.

We make a stop and I show everyone a swing dance video from Bull City Stompede that was still on my camera. They like Nina’s swivels. Yes, I am going to bring Lindy Hop to Mt. Kili. Oh yes I am.

Zebra stone we saw along the way.

We arrive at the Horombo Camp which is along the path of the Machame Route. The guides refer to this route as the “Coca-Cola” path. It’s the easier, most traveled route and has more amenities on the way than coach class on Delta airlines (I’m writing this blog from coach class on Delta airlines, by the way).

Cabins? C'mon.

Once again, we’ve got time chill out. Much to Teri’s disappointment, I whip out a book. One of the lines that I read in the book strikes me as funny and it becomes a recurring rejoinder for our trip.

“Breakthroughs begin with breakdowns”

Before dinner Charles-moto brings us hot water to wash our hands. I think the only way for me to describe how dirty we are is to share the somewhat nasty fact that our snot was black.

I am determined to get rid of my “dirt manicure” and devote a lot of time and energy to getting clean hands. I have clean hands. Hooray. Well, you be the judge.

At dinner, Charles-moto bring us soup. This time it’s pumpkin soup. Truth be told, I think we have been served the same soup the whole trip though and they just call it something different each day. I guess that’s what we get for our not so aggressive appetites.

For folks reading this post via Facebook, please visit to see the videos.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day Eight, Day Three Trek

We wake up in the clouds. Teri is outside in photography heaven. People are singing church music. I drown it out with Louisiana Fairytale on my iPod. I’m trying to make the battery last as long as possible but I end up making it “tradition” (can something really become a tradition after a few days?) to listen to that song in the morning. It’s uplifting.

This is also the day we start to do our “Real World” confessionals using the video function on my camera. These videos tell the story of the trip much better than this blog, so when available, I will post them.

Sunday morning on the mountain. This is not the most flattering camera angle but the video is funny enough to post.

We have a very short hike to Mawenzi Camp. En route, Teri captures me rocking it out to Louisiana Fairytale.

I feel a little bit like an asshole with my iPod but I’m over it after eight counts.

In the afternoon we are meant to take an acclimatization hike. Teri and I are a little disoriented when we arrive

We hang out in the tent. I have a book. Teri can’t stand that I’m reading and not interacting with her. She is acting very silly – the altitude must be getting to her. I mean, she’s silly all the time, but this is extra silly. Even though I act all annoyed when she tries to give me wet willies and distract me from reading it’s kind of funny and some of her tactics are very clever, some very juvenile.

And here comes the funniest moment of the trip, hands down (funnier than heels or the guy in jean shorts). I’m reading, and all of a sudden these there earphones, that look a lot like eyes hovering above my book to the tune of Michael Jackson’s beat it. This gets me to stop reading. And, the earphones make an encore presentation.

We take the acclimatization hike. I love my sister dearly, but I do feel the need to be in just my own company for an hour or so and I decide to come down the ridge with a guide. When I get to the bottom of the mountain who do I see but midlife crisis group. I enjoy talking to them for a bit but I find it funny that when they ask me “Why did you come down separately” and I say “I just wanted a little solitude” that they keep talking to me. I didn’t even realize I was dropping a hint until I said it.

Teri comes back. We talk to French lady for a bit as well as Team Midlife Crisis, are told to "Eat" and then to sleep.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day Seven, Day Two Trek

I wake up and remember that it just takes a day or two, or three, to get used to sleeping on the ground. It’s colder than I imagine but after breakfast we’re off towards First Caves for lunch and then Kikelewa for camp.

Here I am, packing up. Yes, the pack is hot pink.

I must tell this story honestly, even if at times I look foolish and there were more moments like that on this trip than I would care to admit but are inextricably part of this experience. I’m writing this blog almost a month after returning so I have more perspective on how things transpired and I’ll save those for the postscript. Now, back to the story.

We’re hiking, we’re hiking. They keep slowing Teri down. I’m taking it easy and am delighted that the guides are pleased with my turtle pace. At home I trained at the gym and remember the encouraging and motivating words of “Kick it up a notch Jamie, you’re on Mt. Kili.” What should have been said was “Po-le, Po-le” but we didn’t know Swahili back then.

The happy campers. And guide.

We’ve been gone a week. I didn’t sleep well. And please don’t laugh at this one but I had also been without my connections to the rest of the world via the internet and my cell phone. I understand that vacation and travel is in some ways about being disconnected from these things and I hate that I struggle so much it but I just do. I miss the picture. It’s comforting, but doesn’t talk back.

Also, I’ve been on Malaria medication. I was not taking Larium. That drug has been known to send perfectly normal people into psychotic fits. I’m taking something else called Malarone and I wish I hadn’t tossed the pamphlet with all the side effects because I would love to use the drug to explain some of what I’m feeling.

I can’t really explain what, how or why it happened but at a certain point on the trail my breathing got very accelerated and I felt like my windpipe was twisting shut and I couldn’t breath.

And, oh yeah, I have a deviated septum, and that doesn’t make the issue of breathing much easier for me.

I freaked out a bit. I’m kind of a nervous person and dealing with anxiety is definitely on my “Things to Work On” list but this was a step above all that – too far of a departure from how I perceive myself. It really was a parasympathetic response which I was tempted to identify as a panic attack.

We pulled over from the trail. I started crying. I felt like such a wuss but the crying was cathartic. I tried to make a phone call but there was no service so I sent a text instead. Eventually I calmed down and we proceeded but I was concerned about how I was feeling given that it was only Day Two of a seven day voyage. Here's a picture of me post breakdown. I'm smiling, but my hair looks more like I felt.

I have to give my sister a lot of credit for her patience through this. After my, um, incident the day was kind of was all about me and am I OK and that’s no fun for Teri. Especially when she’s having some of the same feelings – but dealing with them in a much more rational and calm manner. She wanted to be sensitive, but she also wanted to tell me to “toughen up” and I think I needed her to do both.

I’ve often joked that while Teri is chronologically older than me, I’m the older sister. For much of this trip, however, Teri really was my older sister and we really both ended up taking care of each other. We’ve both changed as we’ve grown and we’re not as different as we used to be. Princess, Thank You.

I write so many cheesy things in my Travel Journal that night, it’s unbelievable.