31 January 2012

she bang

I love Kansas to death. You know I do. I have literally celebrated the state's birthday by dancing on bars to 'Carry on, My Wayward Son.' While on an entirely different continent. [Kansas Day was Sunday, IN CASE anyone was wondering. Which you all should have been.] For me, there is simply no place in the world more beautiful or pure.

But I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't just a little bit bored here. I'm taking as many shifts as I can at work, telling myself that every dollar I make is another dollar towards my next transatlantic flight. [Although, in all honesty, about half of that is going towards the epic summer wardrobe I'm working on. Pics to come on my tumblr.]

On Friday, I finally saw 500 Days of Summer. I didn't think it was that great, but something about the movie did nag at me. It was Zooey Deschanel. I'm not even sure how to explain this, and I know some of you are probably way ahead of me already so I'm just going to say it: I needed Zooey Deschanel fringe. I don't even like Zooey Deschanel.

I've done things like this before. In fact, since I studied abroad in Spain and met my hair genius friend JaNae, I have been the only person permitted to trim my bangs. I found my limit though, when I tried to trim the rest of my hair, with disastrous results. The question was, were bold, heavy bangs beyond my expertise?

My friend Girl Kyle successfully talked me out of it for a couple of nights. "You want something low-maintenance," she told me over skype. "They'll stick to your forehead all summer in Italy."

"Now's the time to be bold!" I countered. "They'll grow out by June!"

By two a.m. last night, I could resist no longer. I loaded a picture of my ideal fringe on my laptop, dampened my hair, and started hacking away with a pair of dull nail scissors. The sight of my long, black hair in the sink was more than a little nauseating, so I ignored it and kept snipping away.

When the dust cleared, the full realization of what I'd just done bitch-slapped me across my newly framed cheekbones. I was hyperventilating juuuuuuust a little bit when I took the picture to the left.

Too anxious to clean the hair out of the sink, I gave up and went to bed.

Have you ever seen Arrested Development? One of the episodes where Michael says, "I've made a huge mistake?" I'm absolutely serious when I tell you that phrase was the first thought in my head when I opened my eyes the next morning. My stomach tied itself into a neat little knot. Of course, when I finally bit the bullet and looked in the mirror, there were some bumpy bits and some sticky-out bits from where I'd slept on it. This was going to be harder than I thought.

But you know what? I spent some quality time with the curling iron, went crazy with the makeup, and threw on a couple of the pieces from the aforementioned summer wardrobe. It was 65 degrees outside and I had a screen deck to myself. And I decided that I love this hair.
I swear I'm not an Oompa Loompa.

25 January 2012

i feel the earth move

Quick. Think of things Kansas is known for. Tornadoes. Dorothy. Wheat. And that's about it. It's a short list, and earthquakes isn't on it.

That's why, when I was sitting on my bed one evening in October and I felt a gentle trembling, seismic activity was the furthest thing from my mind.

"GRACIE!" I yelled, and my sister emerged from the bathroom and poked her bewildered head through my door. "Is the washing machine or the dishwasher on or something?"

"Uh. . . I just flushed the toilet. . ."

Clearly we weren't on the same page. "Never mind." I waved her away.

And that's when my Twitter and Facebook feeds began to blow up. Long story short, an earthquake that originated somewhere in Oklahoma had been felt all the way up here in Kansas, for the first time in memory. I had traveled all the way to Peru and Argentina and Italy only to feel the earth move under my feet for the first time (all apologies to Carole King) in the humble Midwest. The whole thing felt epic and triumphant and rugged, and if I ever have children, they'll hear all about it.

And you'd better believe they'll also hear about how their Aunt Grace missed the Great Quake of Oh-Eleven because she was on the toilet.

12 January 2012

2011 by the numbers

And now it's time for one of my favorite parts of blogging: summing up my last year's travels. This year was kind of a letdown after my South American adventures, but there was still plenty of good stuff. Observe:
  • Number of international flights taken: seven (I think)
  • Total number of flights: 11
  • Longest bus journey taken: 4-5 days between Buenos Aires and Cusco
  • Largest travel buddy: Lopez, the man sitting next to me/practically on top of me for my journey between Buenos Aires and Tacna, Peru (shoutout to this man for buying me dinner and actually talking to me when no one else on the bus could be bothered and when I looked disgusting from not showering for three days)
  • Cuddliest travel buddy: Loki/Cookie, the dog that walked with me from Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes
  • Best place to get a sunburn: Gotta be Cusco, where the sun's rays are supposed to be more powerful than anywhere in the world (I once got so sunburnt in 30 minutes on a 60 degree day that you could see a clear outline of my necklace)
  • Number of weeks spent teaching English in Italy: 12
  • Earthquakes survived: two, both in Kansas
  • Quotes of the summer: "That thing is gonna be inside of you!" "Singing that song in English instead of Italian would be like going to a hooker and asking for a hug!" "So. . . did you ride, ride, ride that pony?" "Can I go to the toilet please because the poo is now exits my bum?!" "The children are in the gym." "Can I have another bourbon??" "Is this your card?" "The only big spoon in this room is under Daniel's bed in a tub of Haagen Dazs!" "Release them!" "It's called Angel Piss because it taste like when a angel piss in your mouth." "Shower police! Did you take a shower yet?" "Wan, choo, fReeeee. . ." and so many more. . .
  • Number of airports slept in: only two (Orlando and Heathrow)
  • Favorite new place: Cusco, hands down.
  • Celebrity death I'm still mourning: Amy Winehouse
  • Food I can't get enough of: Indian food. Been addicted to it since London.
  • Foreign countries visited: 8 (Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Germany, Italy, England, Spain)
  • Songs I couldn't stop listening to: Ayo Technology (acoustic cover by Milow), Miami 2 Ibiza (Swedish House Mafia feat. Tinie Tempah), Bills Bills Bills (Glee cover), Airplanes (BoB feat. Hayley Williams), Paris (Kanye and Jay-Z), anything Amy Winehouse or Adele, Beth (Kiss), Let's Dance to Joy Division (Wombats)
  • Songs that wouldn't leave me alone: Danza Kuduro, Party Rock Anthem, anything Bruno Mars, Pumped Up Kicks, Super Bass
  • Song I remain conflicted about but which seems to come up a lot when I travel: Wonderwall (Oasis)
  • Number of friendship bracelets worn: four (two from Cusco, one from Baiardo, and one from Tirano)

steely resolve.

This time last year, I sat on my bed in my shed in Jose Ignacio and made three resolutions for the new year. (You can find the original post here.) They were:
  1. Learn to surf
  2. Learn to play guitar
  3. Become a better horseback rider
Obviously, I failed miserably at all of those.

This year, I'm going to set my sights a little lower, and make my resolutions both challenging and doable. Here goes:
  1. Run a 5k. I don't think I'll ever be capable of running a marathon, or even a half-marathon. Just look at me. But a 5k is something I can definitely do if I keep running regularly.
  2. Learn another language. This gets tougher for me every year because I'm lazy. The easiest way to do it would be to go to a new country and immerse myself, but I'll probably have to settle for downloading a CD. The next question is, which language should I choose?
  3. See three new countries and a new continent.
Here's to making 2012 the best year ever!