I never feel more like a Floridian than when…

I never feel more like a Floridian than when I’m not here. I find myself defending my state, and being proud of all of the weird crap that happens here. And believe you me, there is a LOT of weird stuff that occurs in this phallic-shaped state of mine. Don’t take my word for it? Here are just a couple articles Buzzfeed has written about us: The 40 Most Insane Things That Happened in Florida in 2012 and 52 Examples Why Florida Is Still the Craziest State. I could spend a lot of time telling you about my parents’ antics (dancing in public, general shennanigans) but I don’t have the time. Here’s a quiz you can take to see if you’re from Florida (to be fair, I answered no to all of these questions, but maybe that’s because I was born in California). And while I could go on and on about how there are about a bajillion alligators that live here, I’d actually like to draw your attention to some other of our megafauna: AFRICAN LAND SNAILS. As in, SNAILS AS BIG AS RATS THAT CAN EAT THROUGH WALLS. LOOK AT THESE SUCKERS:

A SNAIL BIGGER THAN A HAND

Ridiculous, right? Thanks to Buzzfeed for this other great picture (and the article about them in general):

A snail the size of Florida…

Right? Pretty ridiculous. BUT, my point is, I kind of love my bizarre state. I don’t spend a lot of time here anymore, and haven’t lived here full time in about seven years. The longer I’m away from it the more I forget the terrible heat and the even worse humidity. Disney World becomes a place of joy and laughter, where dreams really do come true, as opposed to that terribly overpriced place where all you really do is stand in line and sweat out buckets and buckets. At least you get rid of some of your body’s toxins? The only perfume here is sunscreen and it is completely permissible to go to a fancy restaurant wearing flip flops. (I’m sitting in a café right now and literally everyone is wearing some type of sandal. To be fair, I’m about 300 feet from the beach.) It’s one of the only places where people spend more time inside when it’s a sunny day, because if you don’t stay in the air conditioning you will immediately die of heatstroke. Cold for us is 60F and you’ll find people wearing long pants and sweaters because they can’t take it. And there are poisonous spiders and snakes, fire ants, crab grass, crabs, RAT SNAILS, and the ubiquitous gator. All the land is really either swamp or beach, and it is completely acceptable for large large people to wear hardly any clothing. It is a dangerous, dangerous place. I’m so glad I’m home.

Halfway to Half of a Century: Katy Day Day

OH MAN! IT IS KATY DAY DAY! And no, you did not read that incorrectly. It’s a bonus for having the last name day–every birthday becomes your day…day….you know what I mean.

For people who know me, they know I have weird issues with birthdays. I had a vague Peter Pan syndrome for a while, and have both looked forward to and dreaded birthdays since I turned 18. Some part of me must’ve thought that I had to grow up. Clearly that is not the case. Because even though I found my first gray hair last week, I am far FAR from being an adult. In most ways. In that I love my narwhal stuffed animal but pay my rent on-time. See? And, for the first time in 8 years, I’m genuinely happy to have had a birthday. My office celebrated with champagne, I got delicious Pinkberry frozen yogurt with some friends, and I go to Scotland tomorrow! But know what the best part is about birthdays??

EATING CAKE WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY!!! And my mom sent secret cake to me from my absolute favorite (favourite?) London bakery, Gail’s. I think their box sums it up:


    
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Punched in the Face

I’ve always heard that it’s healthy to exercise. Good for your body, good for your mind, and so on. And usually I agree with that. I quite like working out. Except for today. Today, I got punched in the face because of exercise.

Let me explain.

I use these workout bands that have handles you can slip over your feet. I did that today, laying on the floor with my feet in the air. Looks pretty ridiculous, but it’s a fun exercise. Except when the hard plastic handle slips off your foot and hits you in the lip.

I screamed.

A lot.

I’ll  be the first to admit I have a low tolerance for pain. And this hurt. More than hurting, though, it felt like the left top of my lip had broken open and was spilling out of my face. Kind of like a sausage had split it’s lining and all the meaty, sausage-y bits had fallen out. My younger sister came rushing up the stairs and saw me on the floor, blood pouring into my hands, mouth a grotesque shape. She screamed. Not as much as me, but still. She then ran to get me an ice-pack covered in my mother’s potholder (I’m home for winter break, by the by) and I pressed it to my lip. Sorry about the bloodstains, Mom.

Many ice-packs later, my lip is less painful and less bulge-y. I can’t eat like a regular person and the bleeding hasn’t entirely stopped. It’s a pretty impressive gash in my lip–I’ll post a picture below, but it’s really not that attractive. Though my dad did say I look like a Hollywood star after she gets botox. He’s called me Angelina Jolie twice now. I think I look more like a lopsided duck.

I guess it was a good experience. Sort of. You know, except for the blood and pain and potential scarring. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on how it’d feel to get punched in the face. I’ve just got to figure out how to channel that into my writing, right? I’m sure I can have one of my characters get socked in the lip. Definitely.

But now that it’s happened once, never again. I didn’t look at myself in the mirror for a couple hours because I could open my mouth and still feel my top lip against the bottom one. Needless to say, I’m going to be more careful with that exercise in the future.

For those who want to see pictures, click on to see a couple.

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A puppy, a onesie and Christmas cupcakes

I’ve officially been back in sunny Florida for two days now, and ohmygoodness am I pumped. It was below freezing when I left Scotland but today, here in Orlando, it got up to about eighty degrees fahrenheit. People often ask me if I really feel like it’s Christmas when it’s so warm outside. I respond with another question–who’s going to be merrier, someone digging their car out of the snow for hours or someone who can walk outside in shorts and go out on our boat?

PLUS, my mother has gone all out this year and decorated the house to look like we live next door to Santa. There are snowmen and penguins and polar bears everywhere. And Santas. And reindeer. We went to get a beautiful tree today, along with cinnamon-scented pinecones. And not to forget, I made absolutely scrumptious cupcakes.

Oreo cupcakes and snowmen
Christmas cupcakes and snowmen!

They’re oreo cupcakes from My Baking Addiction. Along with the white frosting pictured above, I made some with red frosting to be even Christmas-ier. These are seriously some of the most delicious cupcakes I have ever made or eaten. And I got cupcakes liners that say “Let it snow!” on them. Because while I am happy to go outside without a jacket on, I do love the snow. I’d definitely be okay with it blizzarding on Christmas day…and melting away by Boxing day. That seems reasonable.

Know what’s not reasonable? Gavin’s Christmas present to me. It’s not reasonable–it’s splendiforous. It’s a bright-green, zip-up, adult onesie. I know what my writing outfit for the rest of forever is going to be. And it’s so big that I can fit my dog, Pirate, in it with me. Which is what I did immediately upon arriving home.

Pirate in my onesie with me
Pirate the puppy in my oneside with me

While I’m slightly too embarrassed to post a photo of just me in the onesie, let me assure you that it’s breathtaking. It’s warm and comfortable and has huge pockets just the right size for a couple good books. Perfection.

Even though it’s only been a couple days, I already feel so relaxed and like I haven’t been away at all. My family’s all merry and excited about Christmas. Tonight might include watching the Santa Claus while snacking on my nummy cupcakes. And maybe hot chocolate with a dash of Irish cream.

Nostalgia: Christmas and Kenyon

Today I went to a reading by poet Karen Solie. Well, sort of a reading. She talked about growing up in Saskatchewan and mentioned nostalgia. While she read a copule of her poems, she also read one about what she called the “quintessential nostalgic item: the Christmas tree.” This got me thinking about Christmas and nostalgia in general, things I’m missing and friends I’d like to see.

Last year for Christmas I was living in Seattle with my best friend Katie. We’d graduated college and were vaguely doing the adult life. I say vaguely. I couldn’t get enough time off from work so my family decided to fly from Orlando clear across the country to spend Christmas with me. And my kittens.

Ellabelle in the Christmas tree
My kitten, Ellabelle, in our Christmas tree

Both of my kittens liked to climb in the Christmas tree, but Ellabelle was particularly photogenic. She and Clementine were very good at tossing ornaments off the tree. I was just glad they never got electrocuted.

With Halloween, Christmas is my favorite holiday. I like the lights, the trees, the hokey music you can only listen to once a year (though check out Paul Simon’s new Christmas song–anything but hokey), the spontaneous happiness and the fact that my whole family lazes about the entire day, sleeping, eating and playing with our presents. It’s the one day a year where we not only manage to abstain from fighting–we actually enjoy spending the day together. Sometimes Parcheesi will break out and lots of hot chocolate and Oreo bundt cake is consumed. We smile, we thank each other and I can say at least on my part I’m happiest when I manage to get great presents for my other family members. They are surprisingly hard to shop for. But I try.

So though Karen Solie said Christmas is nostalgic, I don’t feel that way right now. I probably will on December 26th. But for now, I’m just looking forward to it. I’m listening to my Christmas 2011 playlist, getting jazzed to turn in final essays and fly home in twelve days to pry any of my family’s five cats out of the tree. (No matter how old they get, they still like to climb among the ornaments.) For now at least, Christmas is all about the future and the promise of awesomeness.

Something I am nostalgic about is Kenyon College. For one of the few times since I’ve graduated, I wanted to go back to Ohio today. St Andrews has a smattering of snow sprinkled on its streets, but usually at this time in Gambier the snow is at least above my ankles. Sometimes much more.

Snowy Kenyon
Snowy, wonderful Kenyon

Something Kenyon and St Andrews both have in common–they put up Christmas lights for the month of December. Something they don’t have in common–in St Andrews they’re called Christmas lights and at Kenyon they’re called Suicide Lights. They’re twinkle lights strung around the trees of Middle Path and are (supposedly) to keep students happy with their beauty. Happy enough to survive the Ohio winter and not get too depressed by the gray skies and constant cold. Seeing as I’m missing it right now, I guess it works.

I haven’t seen any of my Kenyon friends for months now, and while I’m having a great time making new friends and loving my course here, I find myself missing college. I don’t want to go back and relive it all, but I think I might be ready to look forward to my five year reunion. Which will be in three and a half years. So I’ve got a while to wait.

For now, I will look forward to Christmas and dream of Ohio.

Wow.

Who dreams of Ohio?