Sunday, May 31, 2015

Massage Mishap

What I'm about to tell you may end our cyber friendship. I'm aware of the risks. But I feel like it's my civic duty to let you know about the incredibly disgusting thing I caused to happen this weekend. Because I'm incredibly disgusting. And practically banned from the entire state of Idaho.

I was invited to an overnight outing at a place called Lava Hot Springs. I said yes without realizing that I was going to have to cross state borders to get there. I had heard people talk about this town before but I never realized it was in Idaho, which might as well be NORTHERN ALASKA because I felt like we drove far enough to nearly reach the northernmost tip of the Earth. (Hi Lee! I have no idea where you actually are. I just always imagine that everyone who lives in Canada can walk to the North Pole.)

We arrived. It was a wonderful time. We floated in the Hot Springs. We wandered the town. We stayed at the creepiest bed and breakfast this side of the Mississippi. I think it may have been a Bate's Motel situation because I kept hearing Ms. Thang who ran the place talking to some man out in the hallway but when I would walk out there she was always alone.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

10 Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Over the last few years I've received a lot of emails from people asking how I have been able to travel as much as I have and whether I have any tips for traveling on a budget. I decided finally to post on this topic and share with you ten tricks I use for traveling abroad as inexpensively as possible.

Throughout my 20s I was able to see a lot of the world. This was not because I had a lot of money. I was able to do this, in part, because rather than buy things I bought experiences. I never had nice stuff and usually lived pretty basically. I also worked a lot while going to school and every time I could scrape together some money, I would do what I could to see how far it could take me in the world, which got me to be pretty creative in my traveling.

Now that I'm no longer a poor college student, my lifestyle has changed, but I still generally travel on a pretty tight budget. Because CHEAP. Below are the main ways I save big bucks while out and about:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sometimes They Go

Rebecca: Do you want my bed?

Eli: Your twin sized child bed? No. No I do not.

Rebecca: Well I don't know what to do with it.

Eli: Are you getting a new bed finally?

Rebecca: No.

Eli: Um?

Rebecca: Are you sure you don't want it?

Eli: Why are you trying to get rid of it if you aren't getting a new bed? What are you planning on sleeping on? Please tell me you've thought that far ahead.

Rebecca: I don't need a bed anymore. Because I'm moving.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Today after I left the office I went to the gym to swim. As I often do, when I exited the pool, I entered the steam room for some light stretching. The steam room has two rows of tiled benches, so I went to the top row, extended my legs, and started doing the good ol' fashioned sit and reach. Then, while still sitting in such a position, I turned my upper body to stretch out my lower back. Imagine sitting on the ground and trying to turn to look behind you. That's what I was doing. Just that. A very simple thing to do.

I don't know if it was because I was still dizzy from swimming or if I'm really just this uncoordinated, but when I turned my body this way and tried to put one of my arms behind me for support, I completely lost balance. And I fell. I fell off of the top row and slid, while spinning, through the middle row, and landed on my back and on the floor.

There were four other people in the steam room.

And now, your Pictures and Distractions:
Roses from my yard.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Surprise Birthday Party

My birthday was on Monday and I turned 31 which means that I am now in my 30s. It was sort of a state of limbo for a while because when you're 30 it means you're not in your 20s anymore but it also doesn't feel like you're in your 30s either. You're just 30. The only thing you know for sure is that you're very much closer to being barren.

But now. You guys. I am in my 30s. This is the first grownup decade. I have eye wrinkles. I know people from high school who have children in middle school. My hip hurts when it rains. Bob and Cathie are no longer playing games with the whole "WHERE THE HELL ARE OUR GRANDCHILDREN?!" thing. I could impregnate a terrorist out of wedlock right now and Cathie's joy would still be so big you could see it from space.

Bob and Cathie asked me to meet them for dinner on Monday evening. I assumed this was a trap so they could corner me about the above-mentioned offspring issue. And I was kind of hopeful that this would finally be the formal intervention with the reading of letters and the cameras and the tears because I'm getting tired of all of the informal interventions that feel so unplanned and don't involve cameras so all the time I spent on my hair is a complete waste.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Famous for all the Wrong Reasons

You guys. A strange thing happened this weekend.

I woke up to some messages from a friend I made in Bosnia. The first message said: "I wonna send you a link that one of the online magazins sherd your story with people here." Then he sent me this.

I pulled it open and saw that the link led to an article that was posted on what appears to be a pretty popular Bosnian site. When I clicked on it, I saw this:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Falling in Amsterdam

My flight left Belgrade, Serbia at an ungodly hour in the morning. Having stayed out until far too late in the night, the alarm clock went off only an hour or two after my head hit the pillow. Somehow I manipulated Tyler into taking me to the airport. If he ever talks to me again, I will consider him inhuman.

I had a layover in Amsterdam where they made us go through a separate round of security checks that involved far and away the most intrusive frisking I have ever experienced in my entire life. I've had colonoscopies that felt less intimate. NOT THAT I KNOW WHAT COLONOSCOPIES ARE, CATHIE.

I stood in line behind an elderly American couple who were also awaiting their friskings. I was holding an exceptionally heavy amount of garbage at the time. Stuff I had collected in Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Serbia without ever thinking about how on Earth I would get it home. My arms were tired and I was trying very hard to make the amount of items look as minimal as possible so nobody would stop me from carrying them onto the plane.

And then I saw the elderly man in front of me begin to wobble. It seemed odd. But I recognized the symptoms from having had similar experiences in the past.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Emergency Bosnian Stop

She was so polite when she asked for it.

"Can you please pass me a tissue?"

It came from four-year-old Liv's mouth from the back seat--the bench seat on which I was also sitting in the European-style minivan.

Liv is a character. Sassy at all the right times. Brighter than most four-year-olds. More imaginative than any person I've ever met. She collects every receipt, every bottle cap, every piece of "trash" any of us encounter and demands that these objects not be thrown away. When we ask her what she wants them for, she tells us that she needs them for her "creations."

She calls her parents by their first names. Kimberly asked her once why she doesn't call them "mom and dad." Liv responded, innocently, "why don't you call me 'daughter?'"

Sunday, May 10, 2015


This trip was sort of a spur of the moment deal for me. Well, only sort of. I ran into Kimberly and Tyler a few weeks ago after having not seen them in over a year. They told me they were going to Eastern Europe soon and invited me to join them.

This was probably one of those things where they were just being enthusiastic and polite but I took them seriously, marked my calendar, and bought a plane ticket that night during a stress work session. And then I texted them a picture of the Travelocity confirmation page with an excessive amount of emoticons.

I met Kimberly exactly six years ago. We lived in Moscow at the same time and worked down the hall from one another. We instantly became best friends. The kind of best friends who make terrible decisions together and almost get one another killed on a daily basis. Because of Kimberly, I climbed into many unmarked vehicles, followed strangers down dark alleys, and got stuck more than once in incredibly dangerous neighborhoods at 3:00 in the morning without a way to get home. Also, I think she's responsible for my parasite, Lohan, that I picked up that year.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Climbing a Croatian Hill

It occurred to me, just has it has many times in many similar circumstances, that I might be murdered as we climbed the old stone steps into the darkness. My new Croatian friend I had met that day excitedly told me that he was going to show me a spot that most tourists don't see.

We had talked for a few hours prior to this inside the stone walls of the old Dubrovnik town. He told me about his life and his dreams. I listened, and noticed, unsurprised but still curious, that those experiences were largely different than my own.

He told me about how boring his town becomes when tourist season ends. The sleepy folks hibernate and await a new onslaught of foreign travelers, many months away from reappearing. He explained the deeply ingrained desire for connection with other people that only feels fed when that onslaught begins anew. These feelings and longings were familiar to me. Relatable, somehow.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Massaging For Good

About 12 seconds after crossing the finish line of the Half Ironman, Rebecca and I frantically raced the four hours to Salt Lake City so I could pack my things and make it to the airport for my 24 hours of scheduled flying.

As it turned out, all four legs of my travel were delayed substantially and by the time I made it to my final destination, and including the drive from St. George to Salt Lake City, I had been on the move for nearly 48 hours. Add to that that I didn't get a wink of sleep anywhere during those 48 hours because I WAS SCREAMING THROUGH THE AIR IN A METAL TUBE AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT OVER THE SAME OCEAN THAT SUNK THE TITANIC.

You guys. I don't have a problem. People who can sleep on planes have the problem.

I rolled into Dubrovnik Croatia in the middle of the night on . . . Monday? Tuesday? February 2070? I'm not totally sure what time or day it is anymore. All I know is that every time I get near wifi I have 2,000 new emails from people at work that start with "WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?!" So I think that means it's a week day right now.

Monday, May 4, 2015

St. George 70.3

I write to you now from somewhere over the Atlantic because, in a foolish daze a few weeks ago and at 2:00 AM from my office, I decided it would be a good idea to schedule an exhausting international trip for the day after the St. George Half Ironman. I'll touch base as I travel, assuming that I'm not locked up abroad or kidnapped and forced to work in a factory because according to Chase Bank, who refused to place a travel alert on my debit card minutes before I left for the airport, at least two of the countries I'm going to are on the "unsafe list." 


But about that race . . .

Rebecca and I made our way south to the St. George Half Ironman on Friday morning quite early, at a time when, according to Rebecca, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL TO BE AWAKE RIGHT NOW!”

Contrary to my expectations, she was not cranky on the drive. But she did talk at me in one continuous breath, including a four-hour run-on sentence, until we pulled into the hot but beautiful southern Utah desert city.