Rainbow Brite & the Red Dress- a Short Story

I’ve been working on a short story based on a writing prompt I found on Pinterest. This is where I find most of my writing prompts and this one struck me so hard, that I actually came up with an idea of a collection of short stories based on it. I have all the ideas for each story and am in the middle of writing them. The goal is to self-publish on Amazon Kindle when it is completed.

The prompt that started it all is: a red dress, a tattoo gun and 2 pals. I saw it, opened my notebook to a new page, wrote the prompt down and immediately started writing what fell out of my head. The following is a work in progress…

RAINBOW BRITE AND THE RED DRESS

It was the red dress…the red dress made me do it. This is something that I wouldn’t have done in a million years, but here we are, all because of the damned red dress. I am in massive pain with a Rainbow Brite tattoo on my ass cursing at my own stupidity as my two best friends, Zack and Abrey just sit there laughing, telling me it is cool AF.

This mess started hours ago when we decided to go out for the night. They came over and went through my closet with me. Nothing looked right and I was just about to suggest we stay in with a pizza, beer and a movie when Zack pulled a bag out of the back of the closet. He told me to put it on and let’s go already. I have never worn it; it used to be my mothers, but I knew it fit perfectly, like a glove. But it wasn’t my style or taste. I was quieter and more reserved, my mother on the other hand was quirky and eclectic and fun, always the life of the party. She has been gone for years and this perfect dress has been in the back of the closet as a remembrance of her.

I start to protest but am quickly silenced as Zack holds up his hand to dismiss my weak point. Abrey is already pulling off my sweater as Zack hands me the dress and walks into the living room to make us all a pre night out cocktail. Abrey heads out too as she tells me to do a dark eye and red lip combo.

Sitting on the edge of the bed holding the dress, I hear a small laugh…her laugh. I sit and listen, and I hear a small whisper float through my mind–“Go, be free”, she says, “Live the life you were always afraid to.” UUUGGGHHH, fine, you can’t argue with that voice. Her way was always THE way, until I was old enough to make my own decisions and I rebelled by becoming an assistant in a large corporation wearing sensible shoes. A stark contrast to her running around barefoot in large paint splattered oxford shirts and inked stained cargo pants.

We always got along, even after I went my own way. She just never understood the reason I was so bottled up and neither did I really. I guess I thought that’s what being a grownup was all about, not the Peter Pan life my mother lived. But tonight, I would be different, tonight I would wear the red dress and the bold makeup and have an adventure like my mother, Tess, had every day of her life. Tonight, I would honor my mother.

Dressing quickly, I went to work on my hair and face. It didn’t take too long. Just because I never made up like this doesn’t mean I didn’t know how. Tess had been giving me makeup lessons since I was 12. Looking in the mirror, I actually liked what I saw; it looked good, and I felt free. One night only though, tomorrow it’s back to corporate tweeds and natural makeup. The sexy, just got out of bed hair would be replaced with my signature low bun.

Walking out of the bedroom to catcalls and whistles I laughed as Zack handed me a drink. Looking me dead in the eye he said, “Honey, if I were straight, I’d bang you right now.”

“Thanks for the compliment, Zack. Ok Abrey, what do you think?”

She looks me up and down, throws her shot back and said, “Beth, if I wasn’t straight, I would bang you right now.”

You can’t beat that kind of approval. I downed my drink and we headed out the door…

That is just a little taste of what I am working on. Stay tuned.

***Question for the comments…Do you have a tattoo? Have you ever thought about getting one? If you have one, does it have any meaning to it?

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A Few Things I’ve Learned

I have lived in Hawaii for almost 10 years!!! Wow, I can’t believe that sometimes. There are days when it feels like I have been here my whole life and days that I look around and still giggle like a schoolgirl about the fact that I live here. Some days I feel like I am fresh off the plane seeing Waikiki for the first time.

I think I have said this before, but I read up on Hawaii before I came here. I wanted to know about the culture a little bit before I landed. I studied maps, so I wouldn’t look lost all the time, I learned a few places to go eat and I learned a little bit about the local lingo, “pidgin”, so I could kind of understand what people were saying. Other than that, I was just open for whatever came my way. Here are a few things I have learned by my time spent on the island.

  • 1. If you give Aloha, you will get Aloha…I had read that Hawaii was a very friendly place, but I also read to watch your back, because locals do not like the haoles. I didn’t know what to think, but I respected Hawaii for the beautiful land and the culture, and I showed it. I have never been treated with anything other than kindness. I can’t say the same for some of my friends. I don’t know why they always seem to have problems here…actually, I know exactly why, they don’t give Aloha.
  • 2. Rice goes with EVERYTHING…I grew up with rice being a side dish you had every so often with butter on it. Maybe it became a larger portion of dinner when you put chili on top, but that was about it. Here in Hawaii, rice is a staple at every meal. I didn’t know what to think the first time I ordered eggs for breakfast, and it came with a side of rice. But trust me, put over easy eggs on top and break the yoke…delicious. You will see it at every picnic or BBQ you go to. You will see rice as a side to a cheeseburger, before you see a side of potato chips.
  • 3. Hawaii did Not invent pineapple on pizza…the “Hawaiian” pizza is one of those things you either love or hate. I actually like it on occasion. (Don’t tell anyone, or they may take my Italian card away) Of course they call it Hawaiian pizza because of the pineapple, but…it was actually created in Canada by a Greek immigrant in 1962.
  • 4. If a sign says stay out of water and you don’t even see any locals in the ocean, DO NOT GO IN THE WATER…I have heard about this and seen it time and time again. Do not think you are a better swimmer than you really are. If the lifeguard tells you, it’s too rough to go in, don’t go in. I am a pretty good swimmer; I spent my summers in the Atlantic Ocean and I have held my own around some of the beaches here, but I will never forget my first time at Waimea Bay. It was a normal day, not rough at all, but Neil told me to watch out because the undertow might catch me off guard. Well, you know me…I told him I would be fine, I’m from the East Coast, I could handle. Well, damn, I got in up to my ankles and it kicked my butt. I was laying there trying to get up, looking like a beached whale, but the little, tiny “waves” wouldn’t let me. It was totally embarrassing, but also really funny too.
  • 5. Do not go overboard trying to speak “Pidgin”…Hawaiian Pidgin was first spoken on the sugarcane plantations days back in 1835. People from all over the world came to Hawaii to work, so this was how they communicated with each other, and it stuck as a language that people still use today. My first week at The Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki, I met a young waiter from Indiana. Every other word out of his mouth was pidgin. I could tell that it was forced, and it sounded so unnatural. It was really painful to hear. At that moment, I decided I would not speak pidgin at all. I did not want to sound like that. But I fell in with a local crowd right away and over time picked up on some words and the manner of speaking. I had been living here about a year when a couple of bussers asked me if I hung out with locals. I told them that my whole crew was local. They said they could tell, because I used pidgin in the right way. That’s cool.

These are just a few things I have learned while living in Hawaii. The best decision I ever made was to move here. Actually, the best decision I ever made was to read about the place before I moved here. I do that wherever I go. I never want to be the person that looks totally out of place. If you ever make it to Hawaii, remember what I said. Aloha!!!

***Question for the comments…Do you read up on a place before you visit? Did you try to blend in with the locals of the area you visited? What is the best piece of advice you ever got about travelling?

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What Fruits Are You Producing?

Have you ever gotten an idea that was really good, and you thought about it and made a game plan for it and then never saw it through? But then it kept coming back to you over and over again and you finally decided to come back to it and see if you could really get it off the ground? I have; let me tell you the story.

Years ago, I was just sitting there minding my own business and a thought popped into my head out of nowhere. To make a yoga course, but instead of using the 8 Limbs of Yoga it would be based on The Fruits of the Spirit. I was like, whoa, where did that come from? First of all, I had never really tried yoga before, although I always wanted to, and secondly, I didn’t know how well that would go over. I know there is a lot of different theories out there about Christians doing yoga, but I figured, if it popped into my mind, then there must be something to it.

I dug into the concept, made a name, came up with a logo and let the idea sit there for years. I told myself I didn’t have what it takes to make it happen. I wasn’t limber enough; I didn’t know if people would be interested; I wasn’t certified…blah, blah, blah. So, I let it go and moved on to other things, in typical Tracie fashion. But then, I was hit with the Fruit of the Spirit over and over and over again. I couldn’t get away from it.

It showed up in my social media feed, my pastor would mention it, even if it seemed unrelated to the sermon of the day, it somehow clicked and it showed up in devotional material I was reading. The Fruit of the Spirit has been hitting me over the head for at least 6 years. I think it’s time to take another look at it.

My pastor mentioned it again yesterday, but instead of looking at it in the yoga sense, as I mentioned, it hit me as a daily way of life. So, what exactly are the Fruits? They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 9 pretty incredible attributes to strive for. And let’s face it, whatever you believe in…God, The Universe, etc., etc., etc., these are things we should all look to for living life.

I struggle with them on a daily basis, and I am sure a lot of people do too. Am I always joyful? Am I always generous? Am I always kind? The answer is a big no! But I would like to be. I want to be. So, I am taking another look at The Fruits and how I may bring them into the world in my own way. Maybe it will be the yoga class, maybe a written course or maybe something else altogether. All I know is that I am not going to put it on a back burner again.

The 9 Fruits are a guideline to living, and I am going to ask God how I can help myself and other people bring them into daily life. After 6 years, I think I finally got the message. So, stay tuned.

***Question for the comments…Is this something you are interested in? What is your favorite Fruit of the Spirit? What fruit do you think you need to work on?

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What Does Your Sleep Look Like?

How do you sleep at night? Are you 8 hours a night or else? Is 4 hours and a bunch of caffeine more your speed? Could you sleep 20 hours a day just because you like to sleep? Do you sleep on your back, side, or stomach? Is it a peaceful night or are you up a million times? Can you fall right to sleep, or do you need some help in that department?

I have always been interested in sleep patterns. Maybe because I am one of the worst sleepers around. I toss and turn; have bouts of insomnia and I wake up 10 times a night and look at the clock. I have had on a rare occasion, a perfect night sleep. It is heavenly. To actually go to bed around 10 or 11, fall right to sleep and wake up well rested at 6???? Like I said, few and far between, but perfect.

Ever since I was a kid, I had problems sleeping. I once spent the weekend at my Aunt Gladys’ house. I was really young, so I slept in her bed. Apparently, I tossed and turned all night and kept kicking her. I don’t think I ever spent the weekend there again, until I was old enough to camp it on the floor in a sleeping bag. Oh, and sleeping bags on the floor…nope, can’t do it. I mean I can, and I have, but I am not sleeping through the night.

I don’t know why I have this problem. My sister says it runs in the family on my father’s side. None of us ever get what is considered a true decent night sleep. None of us need a full 8 hours. I can function normally with about 5-6 hours of sleep a night. I wake up bright eyed and cheerful and ready for the day. I drink caffeine in the morning because I love it. Go back and read the earlier post “Caffeine is Life…” If I didn’t drink the java or soda or energy drink in the morning, I could probably go full steam until about 11 a.m. then I would need a little slug out of the mug.

I actually love a good afternoon nap. In my mind, if I take a nap, I am catching up on my missed sleep. I have heard that is not true, that you can’t make up sleep once you lose it, but I don’t believe it. I only like to nap for about an hour to an hour and a half at the most. Anything over that I get groggy, and I have a hard time waking up fully for the rest of the day.

Neil is one of these guys that can sleep 24 hours a day if you let him. Let him just wake up to eat and then he can go right back to sleep. I don’t get it. He can also drink a full can of an energy drink and fall right to sleep. It amazes me. I can’t drink a full soda after 6 p.m. or else I have a harder time falling asleep than I usually do.

I remember one time we went out for a late dinner with our friend James. They had these wonderful macarons available for a limited time. James and I both ordered a couple with a cup of coffee. James is also a lover of coffee. I ordered a decaf. James looked at me like I had committed the biggest sin out there and truth be told, I felt like I had. That was the first and last time I ever ordered a decaf. But it was 9 o’clock at night. If I had a cup of regular, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep. Oh, and for the record…the decaf was horrible.

Sleep is a beautiful thing and if you are one of those people that sleep through the night perfectly…I envy you. I don’t mind not sleeping more than 6 hours, but the tossing and turning all night is annoying. And there is nothing worse than waking up all night and looking at clock. If you still have a couple of hours left to sleep, then no problem. But when you wake up and look at the clock and realize your alarm is going off in 10 minutes??? That’s the worst.

***Question for the comments…How do you sleep at night? Do you sleep like a baby? Are you up and down all night? Do you toss and turn or stay in the same spot?

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My Fascination With The Sisters

I have always been fascinated with nuns. Growing up Catholic and going to Catholic School, they were everywhere. Some were strict, some were nice, and some were downright mean and nasty. I tried to stay away from the mean ones, but they have a weird radar about them. If you’re doing something wrong, they just materialize right there, even if they are on the other side of the school, they can sense it and come seek it out.

I can’t tell you why or how the fascination began, but it has stuck with me my whole life. They dedicated their lives to God, which is cool, and truth be told…I like the habit (uniform). You may find this funny, but at several different points in my life, I thought about joining a convent. The last time I had this thought I was in my 30’s. I remember sitting on my sister’s sofa and having a conversation about it. The conclusion we finally reached was that it was not for me. There are other ways to serve God without taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. I have a big problem with the last one. I don’t think I would have lasted very long. It would have been like a scene out of “The Sound of Music”. Mother Superior would have sent me away for talking too much during contemplation hour or for not following all the rules.

One of my favorite nun stories is about a teacher I had in the second grade. We were living in Scranton, Pennsylvania and my music teacher’s name was Sister Karen. She was a young nun, in her 20’s and a lot of fun. My best friend was Teddy and we used to cause a bit of a ruckus at times. We weren’t bad, just a little bit playful. My family moved away to California and eventually made our way to Baltimore, Maryland. I entered the sixth grade at St. Agnes and my music teacher was Sister Karen. I couldn’t believe it!! I know they get transferred, I learned that by watching Bing Crosby play Father O’Malley in “Going My Way”. But what were the odds I would ever see her again? After class I asked her if she used to teach in Scranton. When she said yes, I told her she had taught me 4 years ago. She looked at me and immediately said that she remembered me and my little friend Teddy. Small world.

Like I said, I love the habits the nun’s wear. There are so many varieties based on what order they belong to. What I don’t like is how modern they have become. They dress like everyone else in just a skirt and shirt and there is no tell-tale sign that they are nuns. Not every nun, a lot still wear the traditional habit. When I was 19, I worked at a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop. I was one of the main cake decorators. The local nuns would come in all the time to order their feast day cakes. A feast day for them is like their anniversary of becoming a nun. Anyway, one day, a group of 6 women walked in, 5 wearing the habit and the other one in just normal clothes with a pin on the collar. I greeted the sisters with a smile and a “Good Morning Sisters.” I looked at the other lady and said, “Good Morning Ma’am.” She looked at me surprised and told me that she was a nun also. Before I could even think about it (this happens a lot), I shot back, “I’m sorry, there is no way to know that by the way you are dressed.” I looked over at the other nuns and they were quietly giggling over my comment. I guess they felt the same.

There was a long stretch of time where I didn’t see any nuns at all, only in the movies and television, until I moved to Hawaii. There is a catholic school near where I live and from time to time you see them out and about. One morning Neil and I went out to breakfast at one of our favorite places. We walked in to see a long table of about 10-15 nuns laughing and carrying on over breakfast and coffee. They were having a great time. I told Neil I wished I had more cash on me to buy them breakfast. The waitress overheard me and told me not to worry, 3 other people already offered to pay their tab. I also run into them at Sam’s Club.

Every Saturday morning, they go do their shopping and every so often we are there at the same time. I turn a corner to walk down an aisle and 5 of them will be milling around their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle. I always say, “Good morning sister and excuse me sister.” Neil always wants to know why I am so polite because they are in our way. Because I know better…you don’t mess with a nun. They have that sixth sense that they can look at you and know you went to catholic school. The look they give you can put you back into a classroom worrying if the ruler was going to come out and if they were going to use it.

But it doesn’t matter…nice or mean…the nuns will always have a place in my heart. I don’t remember a lot of the nuns that taught me, but I remember a few. Nice Sister Karen, Sister Dolores, who reminded me of Bea Arthur, Sister Wilma, who was old and mean…who am I kidding, she probably was mean her whole life and Sister Rosemarion, who I deliberately wrote down an old phone number for her because I didn’t want her to call the house on a Friday and ruin my weekend. (We had just changed our phone number, so I didn’t get into too much trouble) I will always remember them fondly and I will always smile and greet a nun when I see her.

***Question for the comments…If you grew up catholic or went to catholic school, what are your feelings about the nuns? Even if you’re not catholic, do have any feeling about the sisters?

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Don’t Forget About Gen X

I keep seeing a mistake that is repeated over and over again across all kinds of platforms. I see it on television, hear it on the radio and of course, it is on every social media app. I have let it slide every time I come across it, except for a few muttered comments under my breathe, but now I am sick of it, and it must be addressed. There is a generation smack dab between the Boomers and the Millennials, and we are known as Generation X.

Born between 1965-1980, Gen X has experienced a lot of things before anyone else did. We were the original latch key kids, because both parents worked…o.k., not my mom, but a lot of moms. We were the ones right there for the beginning of the computer age. We grew up using a card catalog in the library to find books and we know how to read an actual map without the help of a cell phone. But we were right there to learn how to use the cell phone as the smart phone became the end all be all of how we live our lives. Yes, it might take us a little longer, but not as long as it takes our parents…the actual Baby Boomers.

And there is part of the problem…people are using the word “boomer” as an insult and as a defining term but throwing it at the wrong group. Have you seen this? It’s everywhere. I was on IG the other day and came across a post about how women of different ages would wear exercise clothing. It was cute, but it went right from Boomer to Millennial…happens all the time…Gen X forgotten again.

I might get some shade from my fellow Xer’s, because our generation is really all about not caring about what people think. All you have to do is watch our movies and listen to our music to know that. “Reality Bites” with Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder is a perfect example. But I had to let you know we are still here.

I don’t know when the term boomer started to apply to any older generation in general, but it’s time to knock it off. Why? Because 1. everyone should learn about the generations and their characteristics and 2. dude…we are not that old.

I guess we are the in-between generation. Old enough to have kids and probably grandkids, to be able to start thinking about retirement and our joints are starting to hurt more than they used to, but young enough to still play video games, use Venmo and know how to make a Tik-Tok video. I guess you can say we are the seen it all generation, the gap between old and new. So as the Simple Minds sing so perfectly in “The Breakfast Club”…”Don’t you, forget about me.”

***Question for the comments…which generation to you fall into? Do you think the general characteristics of your generation apply to you?

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It’s Graduation Day!!

After seeing all the prom pictures on social, you know what comes next…graduation day. Everyone is getting fitted for their caps and gowns, there is excitement in the air to finally be done with school…or are you done?

In the past few years, I have seen the regular college graduations, high school graduations and even middle school graduations, but when did they start having graduation ceremonies for pre-school and kindergarten? I mean, don’t get me wrong, the kids look adorable in little caps and gowns holding their little certificates, but when did this become a thing?

Maybe this was always a thing, but since I went to Catholic School, I only had an 8th. grade ceremony before moving on to high school. I didn’t even go to my graduation, because I had to go to summer school for math. My parents let me go to Kings Dominion Amusement Park with my youth group instead. I figured I wasn’t getting an actual diploma that day, so why go? I can’t believe my parents actually went for it and let me go. Maybe they just didn’t want to be bothered having a party for the occasion, LOL.

My high school graduation was also a little bleh. Yes, I did graduate on time, just barely though. It was Biology that almost kept me from my diploma. I took it in 10th. grade and failed. Then, instead of doing summer school, I took it again my senior year. I was failing, again. I just hated it and the teacher was a real “winner” (insert sarcastic tone). He finally pulled me aside sometime near the end and told me he was going to pass me with the lowest passing grade possible. He told me if he didn’t pass me, he was afraid I would come back next year to bother him and chuckled a little. I guess he had a little bit of a sense of humor after all.

My parents were also on the verge of splitting up my senior year, so they didn’t even make it to the pre graduation ceremony the night before. It was a religious ceremony and remember, my graduating class only had about 88 people in it, so my missing parents were noticed. The graduation ceremony was a little better, because family came down, but it wasn’t really a highlight. I just wanted to be out of there, but I digress.

I just looked up Pre-K and Kindergarten graduations on Google and learned they have been around for a while, who knew? Maybe because I don’t have any kids of my own, it stayed under the radar. There is a big debate about whether they should have a ceremony or not. Some people claim that leaving these grades is no big deal, because it’s not even required to go to pre-school, so why make a big thing about it. Others say it’s good for children to experience milestones throughout their school careers because it builds confidence early on and keeps them excited about school. It got pretty heated on one of the Reddit feeds I looked at. I guess this will forever be a debate.

My conclusion on the subject after I did a little research? It’s cute and something fun for both the parents and the kids, so why not? I wish they would have done it for my kindergarten class, because I would have looked adorable in a cap and gown when I was six.

***Question for the comments…Did you or your kids have a Pre-School or Kindergarten graduation? Do you have an opinion on the subject either way? Let me know.

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Glued To That Late Night Television

I was sitting around yesterday thinking of a topic for this morning’s post. I have a loose outline for the month but didn’t like the idea that was slotted for today. I was just catching up on IG and I saw something about milk, which led my mind to the “Got Milk?” ads from a long time ago and other milk related commercials. My mind finally landed on the episode of “Friends” where Joey does the infomercial for the milk-master and the tag line was about him being able to drink milk every day. This all happened in about 5 seconds and here we are, with the topic at hand.

O.k., let’s be honest…has anyone ever bought anything off of an infomercial or home shopping channel or in the as seen on T.V. section of the store? I actually think a lot of the stuff sold is cool and really works today. They have really gotten better with the advertising and promotion of these products, but back when I was growing up, it was so bad. The last thing you wanted to admit to was buying something off the television at 3:30 in the morning.

First of all, how is the Chia Pet still a thing? I can’t believe this weird thing is still on the market. It first came out in 1977 with an annoying little theme song that is going through my head as I type, and it is still here. It used to only be available through the television and it was a big Christmas seller, but now you can own one whenever you want, although, I don’t know why anyone would want to.

Anybody ever buy Time Life books or Columbia Tapes and Records? 12 tapes for one penny…we all did it multiple times. We thought it was great…until they started sending you other tapes you didn’t want, and you forgot to send it back. Then they charged you a price so high, it was crazy. If there was a credit score record available from when I first started shopping, no doubt Columbia Tapes and Records would be at the top of the list still trying to collect 10 dollars from me.

Neil loves to go look at the As Seen on Television section of stores. He never minds going to Bed, Bath and Beyond, because as I look at everything else, he is happy in that section. He has bought a few things and they work just fine. If only I could get Barnes and Noble and Sephora to add it to their stores…I could take my time and shop without worrying about him being bored, LOL.

Let’s talk about the shopping channels for a moment. I remember when The Home Shopping Club became a national thing in 1985. It was really bad and funny. It was a lot of junk you didn’t need but bought anyway. Why? Because it was on television looking fancy. I remember staying up late to watch the 12-3 slot because the host was really cute. He sold those ceramic figurines that I would never buy, but I would love to listen to him talk to all the ladies that called to order. Yes, I know it’s kind of pathetic, but give me a break, I was 15 at the time…we do dumb things when we crush hard on someone. I haven’t watched a home shopping channel in a long time, but I hear they have come a long way. Maybe I need to take a look.

I admit I love watching infomercials. They are so bad sometimes, but you can’t look away. And yes, a lot of that stuff is not worth the money, but occasionally, you get a winner. I have been debating about The Miracle Pillow in my head for years. I hear it’s awesome, but haven’t talked myself into the purchase yet, but I continue to stop and look at it whenever I see one in the store. If I ever get one, I will let you know.

***Question for the comments…Have you ever bought anything off of an informercial or home shopping channel? Did you like the purchase? Did you ever buy a Chia Pet? LOL

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Solo Travel…Yes or No?

I just finished reading this great book called “This Book Belongs To” by Nick Levy. It’s about a girl who needs a change, so she decides to go backpacking solo through South America for about 6 months. I love the idea of traveling around the world and I have written previous posts about my ultimate travel fantasy, but I don’t know if I could backpack solo…could you?

I would love to think I was adventurous enough to slap on a huge backpack, grab my passport and go explore, but I don’t know…I don’t think I could actually handle all the ins and outs of long-term on the road life. (Forgive me, Jack Kerouac, wherever you are.) Maybe 30 years ago, but even then, I don’t know. Have you ever thought about it?

When I was 19 years old a group from my church went on a two-week missions trip to Germany and Austria. It was my first time out of the country…it was my first time on an airplane. I was so excited! We were going there with a big group called Operation Mobilization and we were meeting thousands of people from all over the world who would be going all over Europe after a week of training in Germany. The program was set up for 1-5 weeks after the training, but my group could only go for the one, due to work schedules.

I borrowed a big duffle bag from a friend who had done a summer missions trip, grabbed my passport and was off for an adventure of a lifetime. We arrived in Germany and stayed at this big conference center in dorm like settings (read sleeping bags on the floor) I remember an older lady named Carol came with us and she actually brought an inflatable mattress. She said she was ready to rough it like the rest of us…but only to a point. So, there we were, bad dorm living and bad food…and I had a blast. I met people from every corner of the world and we became good friends. After the week of training we set off to Austria.

In Austria, my team from church was split up into different groups doing different projects. I ended up on the street ministry team performing skits and talking to people. Again, I met people from everywhere. A large part of my team was from England, and they taught me how to have a proper cup of tea. The tea at the mission house was really bad, but they insisted on having it the English way. I was so into this setting that I actually considered coming back with the program for a year of missions. But then I got back home, and life happened, and I never went back. I do regret it sometimes, but I think it was just the high of the moment; I don’t think I could have done it long term. I think the fact that I had friends from home there, even if I didn’t see them everyday, made it easier.

In this book, the girl went on hiking expeditions, signed up for excursions in the rain forest with only the guide she hired and got on buses in the middle of the night to cross the border into other countries…alone. It is great to read about and I love travel stories, but I don’t know. Ellie, the main character, was a typical city girl with a lot of issues and fears when she got on the plane but was totally transformed before coming back to the states. It was great to live vicariously as I read the book, but I don’t see any long-term backpacking journeys in my future.

Nice hotels and walking tours in big cities like London and Rome are more my speed these days. Maybe an ocean view from a room at the Carleton Hotel in Cannes, France too. But I will always have the memories of sitting in a cramped van, stuck in a traffic jam on the Autobahn in Germany and visiting the Burgermeister’s (mayor) offices in Graz, Austria where we were fed the most delicious food and pastries. It was heavenly after a week of weak nasty tea and hard brown bread.

Broken down buses, cold showers, and sketchy surroundings will remain a lovely dream to pursue in books and when my head hits the pillow at night, but in real life…I will take extra towels and pillow mints at a nice hotel any day. How about you?

***Question for the comments…Do you think you could travel solo? Would you stay in nice places or hit the hostel backpacking trail?

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And They’re Always Glad You Came

So, the theme song to “Cheers” popped into my head the other day and it won’t go away. Sometimes I love it when that happens, sometimes I hate it and sometimes it sticks in there long enough to become a blog post…like it has today. Do you have a particular place you hang out at that when you show up people know you and call you by name?

I have always been one to frequent the same places over and over again. I know the menu; I am happy with the atmosphere, and I get friendly with the wait staff. I think this started in my youth group days. After our meetings we would hit the local diner or pizza place. We went so often that I would recognize the staff. Of course, they also recognized us and probably hated seeing a bunch of kids come take over the place. They didn’t know our names and they were glad when we left, lol. But as I got older and more respectful of the places I went; I took the time to be friendly and get to know the staff I saw on a regular basis.

Neil and I like to go out to eat a lot. We usually go to the same 6 or 7 places and we have gotten to know the staff well. They know our drink orders and they will ask if we are having the usual when it’s time to order. In fact, I need to tell them if I want to drink something different, because if I don’t, they will just bring me my usual. I have to admit it, I love the attention. I have gotten to know some people so well, that we follow each other on social media.

Because of certain restrictions that happened here in Hawaii through last fall and the beginning of this year (that’s all I will say about that), Neil and I didn’t eat out for like 7 months. We got takeout and went through the drive thru but didn’t actually sit down in a restaurant. When restrictions finally lifted, we hit up our favorite Saturday morning breakfast spot. It’s a small local place with a few locations around the island. We walked in as they opened at 8 a.m. and were greeted with such fanfare you would have thought we were celebrities. We got our normal booth; the coffee was brought right out, and every server came over to chat. The other customers must have been wondering who we were. The manager even came over to welcome us back. This happened a few more times at a few more places.

One of our favorite places closed in 2020 and it made me sad. It wasn’t actually because of what was happening around the world, it was a family run place that had been around for years, and the younger generation didn’t want to keep it going. It happens, they have their own path to follow. This place was awesome. I think they had the same menu from when they opened in 1953 and the waitresses were older and feisty. We would go eat here after church on Sundays with our friend James. One of the waitresses knew James from his playing music and would come over and give him grief all the time. It was hilarious. If we weren’t in her section she would stop over and ask why. One time James forgot to sign the credit card slip. She came back to the table with a pen in her hand and told him to sign it or else she doesn’t get the tip. She was just playing around…think of this place kind of like Mel’s Diner from “Alice” Their big sign is still up, and I miss the place every time we pass by.

As a former server I can tell you that I loved seeing regulars come into the restaurant. I would always stop over and say Hi and see how they’re doing. There is an older couple that goes to The Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki every Thursday for lunch. They live on the same street I used to live on. I would see them taking their morning walk and we would chat and then I would see them at the Cheesecake a few hours later and we would chat some more.

If you go out to eat a lot and go to the same places get to know the staff. Trust me when I say this…it’s always better when they know your name (in a good way, of course, LOL) and they’re always glad you came. And it’s even better if you know their name and a little bit about them too.

***Question for the comments…Do you go out to eat a lot? Do you go to the same places? Does the staff know you and do you know the staff?

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