Best Things of 2011

Another year, another Nuns Having Fun calendar, and another chance to look back and ask, “What was I thinking?”  Welcome to 2011: The Year That Was.

January: Best Month I Forgot About Entirely

Seriously, I had to turn to the new-fangled Facebook Timeline to help me remember January 2011.  And here’s what I found out:

1. I made these cookies with Manolo.

Cookies, Kind of

On the left, either me or Velma from Scooby Doo; on the right, Manolo with a tan or Medusa.

2. We also ate them.

3. I finished what wound up being the best book I read all year: The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop by Dan Charnas. I could tell you how well-written, informative, and crazy-interesting it is, but if you’re not already on board from the title, this might not be the book for you.

4. And I found out my name would be featured on “millions of cups” at Caribou Coffees everywhere. This would be the peak of my fame in 2011.

February: Best Second Month of the Year

Another one I don’t remember! Apparently: I went to a couple of concerts (favorite: Pete Yorn at First Ave), and I continued one of my favorite traditions of watching the Oscars with my bro.

In my defense there was a lot of snow on the ground last year. I didn’t get out that much.

March: Best Month To Start New Friendships

At some point in March, Lacy invited me out for brunch with one of her old friends who had just moved down the road from me.  Going against my usual winter attitude of “people are the worst,” I agreed to go.

That friend was the Ginger.

Also joining us that day was the Ginger’s roommate, another guy I vaguely knew years ago. And because I feel confident he will never read this, I don’t mind telling you he totally ignored my presence for the first half hour or so of our brunch and I wasn’t thinking we’d ever hang out again. Then I mentioned Battlestar Galactica. And now I can’t get rid of him.

****JOKE! THAT PART IS A JOKE.****

But really, our friendship formed because of BSG, found its footing in football, further developed over beer, and continues despite the amount of hell I give him.  He would probably like to make some jokes about getting rid of me, too, but is too nice to do so.

Easily the best brunch of my life.

April: Best Month to Get Older

I turned 26 by being sick on my couch and having a Die Hard marathon.  Later I convinced some coworkers to buy me an ice cream cake if I picked it up; this is what I chose to put on it.

Die Hard Cake

"Live Free or Die Hard" PG-13 version; the DQ employee had no idea who John McClane was. KIDS TODAY.

April was also when I saw Chuck Klosterman at the Fitzgerald, and went to my first of several Twins games of the year.  Spring is better than winter, you guys.

May: Best Month To Be Named Daughter of the Year

I took my mom to see Paul Simon at First Ave.

Paul Simon at First Ave

Therefore, I win.

And I took Lacy to see Donald Glover/Childish Gambino at The Varsity.

Donald Glover

Therefore, I need a new camera.

I also got a tan-line from a candy necklace while at the Lyn-Lake Festival. I regret nothing.

June: Best Month To Start A Blog

I started this blog in June for a class, but at first I tried to keep it homework-centric. Some adventures that happened in that time that haven’t yet been shared with the internet:

1. I took a tour of the Liberty Belle, a WWII bomber like the one my grandfather was in as a gunner.

Inside the Liberty Belle

How happy do I look to be holding that gun?

2. I rode a mechanical bull at Grand Old Day.

Rachel and the Bull

And you thought I looked happy with the gun.

3. I broke my bowling record (133 and it still stands! I’m not very good at bowling!).

4. And I officially became an Irish citizen (oh, have I mentioned that a time or two before?).

July – December: Best Things I’ve Already Written About So Just Read the Archives, Particularly Anything About Traveling With The Ginger, Visiting Virginia in July, Screaming at The New Kids On The Block, Being Thankful For Things, And Being Disappointed By The Vikings Live and In Person.

(We may be on memory lane here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take shortcuts.)

So that was 2011: New friendships, new adventures, and a new passion for volunteering. Things were constantly ridiculous. Some ideas were bad. Mistakes were made on a daily basis. But overall, I think I nailed it in one take.

Bring it, 2012.

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Best Things of the Month!

Actually it’s been over 2 months since my last “Best Things” post, but if I had more time to write these things I’d have less to write about, right?  So let’s just sum up October:

First there was the ZPC wherein I ruined the childhoods of many with my Zombie Princess pals, and then there was Halloween.  For that, I was Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for obvious reasons.

Two Charlies

The resemblance is uncanny.

A lot of girls use Halloween as an excuse to wear underwear in public; I just went a different way with it.  I bullied a buddy into going as Mac (aka I lent him a t-shirt and drew fake tattoos on his arms), and Manolo was a cat, so we did our best to reenact this video:

Overall I give Halloween (and October) a solid A.

NOVEMBER!

First there was vacation with the Ginger.

Then there was my dad’s first Vikings game.

empty dome

This is what the Dome looks like when you're 2.5 hours early.

They lost, of course. And cousin Adrian had to be taken out of the game with an ankle injury. Really not great, but it was awesome to be there with Pops anyway.  It’s also great that he’s quit smoking, and a non-smoking Pops is a snacking Pops. We had popcorn and Twizzlers for lunch. Happy Thanksgiving!

Next, actual Thanksgiving happened, and was lovely.

And finally: the Ginger’s birthday! Three costume changes were involved and we hopped all over Lowertown St. Paul: we started out swimming at the Holiday Inn, then a dinner at Kincaid’s (I am not that restaurant’s target audience, but even the vegetarian side dishes were beyond delicious), and then dancing/drinks at Barrio and the Bulldog.  It absolutely destroyed MY last birthday, which was spent sick on my couch with a Die Hard marathon.

Die Hard poster

If I hadn't been sick, it might have been a tie.

A lot of great things have already happened so far in December, but you’ll just have to wait until mid-February or whenever I update this again to find out about that.

Choose your own adventure, bring your own ginger

Hello, neglected blog!  The last time I wrote in you it was about something important.  This is the opposite of that, but my mother has been asking for an update on the past month.  I can’t remember that far back, though, so here’s what happened last weekend, when Favorite Guy: Ginger Division and I went on a little adventure to the east coast.

Day 1: In which we are awake for 22 hours

The flight was at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, which meant nervous-flyer Rachel was awake at 4.  We got to the airport too late for my usual pre-flight Necessary Calming Beverage, and the Ginger decided to regale me mid-air with tales of bad flights he’s been on in the past.  Luckily this was the only point during our trip when I thought about destroying him.  We got off the plane and a few train rides later we parked it at our first destination: a margarita!

Brooklyneer bar sign

Sesame Street: Influencing my decisions for over 20 years.

Also, the margarita was in New York City.

During the course of the first day of the vacation, it went bar/food, five-minute nap, shopping, bar/food, shopping, walking the High Line, food, five-minute nap, bar/food.  We stayed with some friends in the Upper East Side and had a pretty excellent time; there wasn’t a lot of sight-seeing what with all the sitting and eating, but we did manage to see  a whole lot of the subway and stay awake for 22 solid hours.

supergrover

Some of the details of this evening are best kept between me and Super Grover.

Day 2: Crazy in Connecticut

We woke up, showered, brunched, and bused to Hartford to visit the wanderluster herself, Sabrina!  The Ginger has a thing for suburbs, so Sabrina took us by one of the oldest in the country before showing us a good time in West Hartford.  And really, it was a good time.  There are in fact things to do in Connecticut.  Who knew?

Day 3: Bean Town

Our planes, trains and automobiles adventure continued with a drive to Boston.  The three of us stopped at the Onyx Hotel (highly recommended, and not just for their animal-print bathrobes and faux-fur bedspreads) before hitting Quincy Market and the Harbor and catching a bit of the Freedom Trail.

Nice donkey

No, I don't know why there's a statue of a donkey on the Freedom Trail, but I do know it's important for every tourist to sit on it, preferably while a stranger stands just off-camera and says "nice ass."

A little bit of shopping and eating and we were on to the Haunted Boston tour!  This was a highlight of the trip for the two ghost-loving non-redheads among us.

Later, out to the Oldest Tavern In America (or so the sign says) – The Bell in Hand – for a bit of live music and dancing.  Sabrina and I each picked out our “boyfriends,” and it took all night for us to realize our boyfriends were actually each others’ boyfriends.  Yep; in a room full of burly Bruins fans, we gravitated towards the two waif-y hipsterish guys with excellent floppy hair.  I have been in the Twin Cities too long.

Day 4: Family, Fenway, and Farewell

A few of my Massachusetts family members met the gang and I for brunch at the Eastern Standard.  It was great, but too short for a once-in-a-decade visit.  They took us around the corner to a little place called Fenway for a photo op.

Fenway

Then it was goodbye family and Sabrina, hello Old Ironsides/excuse to make Anchorman references!

Old Ironsides

It really is an old, old wooden ship!

She’s 214 years old and she’s still afloat and still commissioned – it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Next up: Tavern on the Water for a nice view of the city and a little interaction with some real Massachusetts folks, who told us Happy Hours are illegal in Massachusetts but that they had danced on the bar we were sitting at before.  I should note these were two 60-ish couples.  I liked them.

Last stop before taking off: Giacomo’s, or as The Ginger keeps calling it, “Giergamo’s? Guillermo’s? Gargamel’s?”  We waited in line for about forty minutes outside, during which time I realized I needed to find a bathroom (bear with me, this story goes somewhere).  So I went to a pharmacy across the street and asked the employee if there was a bathroom.

“Not here, but at the fire station down the street.”

Naturally I left, assumed I heard her wrong, and went a few doors down to another store.

“Try the fire station next door.”

Sure enough, there was an actual fire station next door.  Full of not-unattractive firemen.  Who I had to ask to lead me to the bathroom (“It’s right back theah, sweetheaaaaht”).  My only regret is that I did not buy a t-shirt to commemorate my time at this fine establishment.  Or, you know, one of those calendars.  You know the ones I mean.

Firemen Calendar
You knew what I meant but I wanted to put this here anyway.

Anyway, back to the restaurant!  Or actually the line out in front, where we met another awesome local couple (the guy talked about his twenty years of working for Phil Collins and building a stage for Steven Tyler at Fenway) who pointed out when a local hero walked past us: Zdeno Chara, captain of the Stanley Cup-winning Bruins and tallest dude in the NHL.  Yes, I googled all of that.  I had no idea who he was.

Zdeno Chara

Although if he had been dressed like this even I might have recognized him.

Dinner, Necessary Calming Beverage and flight: our whirlwind tour of the East was over.   Now I’m back and it’s taken me the better part of a week to get this blog post together.  My goal is to have my next vacation planned before I completely unpack from this one; at the rate I’m going that shouldn’t be too difficult.

Best Things of the Week!

Today started with a trip to the dentist and concluded with a visit to the eye doctor because apparently it’s Rachel Maintenance Day.  There’s just about nothing I hate more than going to the dentist, except possibly someone poking me in the eye while talking about my “unusually large optic nerves.”  So let’s bring on some Best Things, I need cheering up.

1. Back to the basics: Dinner, Movie, Shoes

My Favorite Guy: Ginger Division took me out for a date with the mall on Thursday.  We enjoyed 1/2 price bottle of wine night and then went shoe shopping, which is the preferred order of things.  Then we went to see Contagion.

Contagion Poster

A.K.A. that movie where Gwyneth dies horribly and immediately. Fun for the whole family!

We didn’t love it: me, because I’m not really a fan of end-of-times movies that are in any way realistic (throw a Terminator in the mix, though, and I’m there). Him, because it doesn’t really have an ending.

Part of the movie takes place in Minneapolis, which was jarring.  Not so much because having the end of the world start in my backyard is scary, but because it was Movie Minnesota, which is: suburban Illinois with a thin, even layer of snow on it.  I found this…distracting, and it made me glad more movies aren’t based in Minnesota.

After all, this is the only movie we need to represent us accurately:

2. RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL!

I went to my first ever Ren Fest on Saturday!  I rode an elephant in a circle; I went to a Guinness tasting (I enjoy my Irish roots very much); I posed for a courtly photograph and looked ridiculous; and I paid an old Irish man a dollar to play “Ashoken Farewell” on the violin.  That was probably the highlight for me, though it made me a little weepy.

You’d think riding an elephant would be the highlight, wouldn’t you?  No, later Manolo gave me a piggy back ride across the parking lot, and she moves a lot faster than elephants and I do not have concerns about whether or not she is treated humanely.  So that was the other highlight.

There was then an unfortunate run-in between a head (mine) and an elbow (not mine) that wasn’t fun, but didn’t leave any lasting damage.  If the elbow reads this blog, the elbow should understand that all is well.  And I think it might have been my fault, anyway.

3. Love is in the Arb

Yesterday, I went back to the Arboretum for an event called Collegeville Colors.  I visited with my old Arb pals and wound up taking a walk with two environmental education enthusiasts.  You would think I’d be able to identify trees after working at an Arboretum for a year, but I really can’t.  Correction: I can identify when something IS a tree.  But beyond that I’m kind of lost.

Well!  Three years and one personalized walking tour later, I can now almost definitely tell you if the leaf you are holding is from a Red Oak, a White Oak, or Other.

tree at arboretum

Nature is a beautiful and confusing thing to some of us.