Friday, August 30, 2013

Azores Day 19: The Fernando Island Tour

Blog, tonight was the "Fernando Island Tour". Basically, I rode in a Suburban with quote: "Portugal's only redneck". That would be Fernando:

This is Fernando.
It is 4:30 in the morning here. An ungodly hour that is begging me to sleep, so I will give you this short rundown of the Fernando Island Tour.

Fernando has this Suburban that he got when he was living in the States, but brought back with him to the Azores. So now he'll pile his American Air Force friends into it and drive them around the island to little dive bars that you'd never think to go to otherwise all while blasting stand up by Larry the Cable Guy. I wish I were kidding about the choice of comedian there, but it's true. Thick southern redneck humor blared out the windows as we maneuvered our way to Angra for dinner. I drank Azorian honey flavored moonshine and ate a fish that still had its eyes attached to it. All in all, it's been a good night. One of those where you stop and ask yourself how you got into this particular situation.

For instance, why are we fake-eating bad taxidermy in a fluorescent-lit bar?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Azores Day 18: I Think I Got Used to Europe Being Weird

Well Blog, I just got off a Skype call with my favorite brother. And by favorite brother, I mean only brother. He certainly wasn't my favorite brother when we were growing up, but he's alright people these days. He doesn't go through my stuff and put my belongings in the toilet anymore, so I'll accept him for who he is.

Beyond that, today I got a pedicure and immediately went to the beach afterward to fulfill the one thing I do when I travel to anywhere with a beach:

I kept up tradition by writing Kerin's name in the sand at the beachfront in Praia.
And then it was time to see some sights!

"Ready to see some sights?!" Carly excitedly proclaimed.
Too bad we have terrible timing when it comes to venturing up mountainous hills to catch a glimpse of the island from above. Just as we parked the car at the top of Serra de Cume a pesky cloud came in to wreck the magical view; just like it did the last time I was here.

But right before it ruined my island vacation forever, I snapped this shot of a patchwork of fields.
Blog, have you ever had it where you're in one place and you're suddenly reminded of another place that is certainly not the place you are currently in? Like that one time my mom compared Venice to Fargo when she connected that both "had a flooding problem"?

Though she did embrace Italian culture by wearing a hot pink windbreaker on an 80 degree day.
Today that happened for but a brief moment when the road down the mountain was just narrow and drizzly enough to remind both Carly and I of England.


Not England.
When this sort of thing happens, Europe no longer seems like this exotic, novel place. Maybe it's because I've been here for three weeks. Maybe it's because I've consistently been visiting for the past four years. I still love me some Europe, but it's not weird anymore. I mean, it's Europe weird and will always be Europe weird (i.e. why would eggs go in a refrigerator?), but it's not like "OMG every little thing about this place is unfathomably weird and strange and I can't comprehend it." It's just "Oh that's right. This is the place where people walk in the middle of the road with 40 mile an hour traffic. Also, refrigerated dairy? Not a thing."

Anyway, just an observation on my part Blog. It was a nice thing to realize I guess.

After some failed sight seeing and a failed attempt to attend Thirsty Thursday on base (also a place that I find strange but have gotten used to; as in "Oh, you want to go into this grocery store--err--commissary? Passport please. Also, you can't buy anything.", Carly and Casey and I played a nerdy zombie board game THAT WAS AWESOME!!! Of course I don't remember what it was called and I'm too tired to go into the living room to see what it's called, but it involved little action figures and dice and hero cards and a CD soundtrack. Play it, Blog. It's super fun.

With that, the Skype call with my brother (and adorable niece) drained most of my battery, so I'm signing off Blog. Only three more days left before I leave. Where has the time gone? Actually, I feel like I've been here for a long time. Probably because I'm on a tiny island that is full of grocery stores that card you and highways with pedestrians on them. Yay for overseas military!

Cat on purse. The only sensible thing that happened today.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Azores Day 17: The Day of the Migraine

Blog, I'm sick. Not flu sick or cold sick, but like migraine sick. Portugal is an evil place with cheap and delicious wine that taunts you from the shelves on which it sits. So you drink the wine with your girlfriends and have hilarious chats and then you're reminded that you really shouldn't be so irresponsible because you get a migraine that won't go away no matter how much you try to make it. Just when you think it's gone, you sneeze and it's back in full force. You numb it with painkillers and use sleep as the only form of relief. Still, the headache reigns on and you are forced to just ignore it. Fine. I'll live my life with a migraine then. So you go out and do social things like attend Wing Night on base and meet Colonels and shit. You play your guitar and put up with this dog:

Ugh. You're the worst.
You fill your stomach with medicine and stretch and eat and starve and meditate and hydrate and cry and still your head hurts. Then you decide to call it an early night by taking a benedryl and the last of your Excedrin. Please God let this thing be done by the morning.

Pedicures tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Azores Day 16: Military Lady Time

Well Blog, I'm drunk. Yep. I'm drunk and happy and nostalgic and excited and sad and thankful. The drunk brings out the emotions, doesn't it? I just feel so lucky, you know? Who would have thunk that ten years ago I would be forming friendships strong enough to carry me across the ocean to where I could have a terrific ladies night with wine and chats about how we all met our significant others?

By we, I mean they. I don't have a significant other. The married ones say they like to live vicariously through me. But I like to live vicariously through them. What's more romantic than wanting to be with someone to the point where you'd move a remote Azorian island to be with them? I don't know. Romance isn't something I'm too familiar with these days. It's ok Blog. I still have you right?

I don't talk about it too much here because I don't want to come off as a crazy single almost-thirty woman, but I am a single almost-thirty woman. Am I crazy? I'd like to think not, but society would probably dictate otherwise because I'm single and almost thirty. Isn't that the way? It's kind of tragic when you think about it.

Today I was walking to the store when I passed by what I like to call a man-bar. This is a bar that has an understood rule of only being for men. Think townie bar, then think Portuguese, then think men only. What you get is a bunch of dudes smoking and drinking in something that looks like a box made out of plywood because they have to protect themselves from the bull fights that happen from time to time in the street.

See, the bull will get angry and ram shit with its horns. The Portuguese respond with cheers and a feeling of superiority.
Anyway, I passed by this so-called man bar, and the men said stuff to me. I don't know what they said because I don't speak Portuguese. I don't know if what they said was pleasant or rude, so I did the only thing my single American lady self knows how to do and I hesitantly smiled at them. I figured this covers all my bases. If they were being pleasant, I was acknowledging their presence. If they were being rude, I was giving them a limited amount of attention.

Fuck it. I don't know how to be a woman in this country. I don't know how to be a woman anywhere.

I really don't want to sound like I'm on a feminist soap box here, but it's true about the objectification thing. It's what we ladies tend to be perceived as on so many levels and it does get annoying after awhile. Those man-bar dudes could have been saying "hello, nice day we have today" for all I know, but because of all the catcalling I get back home that I do understand, I default to assuming they are saying something about my physical appearance and how I can improve it for their enjoyment. (i.e. "why don't you give me a pretty smile?")

Whoa, Blog. I just got a little political. That doesn't happen often. All I opened with was the lovely evening of drinking I had with the Air Force ladies. But maybe that's it. There's an element of passion and romance to the whole marrying a guy in the military thing, but there's also a huge sacrifice on their part. I have to remember that in order to put myself in their position, I first have to find a guy I care enough about to where I would give up everything I've worked for in Minneapolis. I can't imagine that, Blog. And for some reason society tends to place a "oh you poor, single thing" on my single status as a nearly-thirty something woman because I haven't gone to those ends. Huh.

I'm not discounting the ladies I hung out with tonight as women who gave up everything and are only defined by the men they are married to. They are amazing women who know themselves better than I probably ever will. They are the ones who define their households and they have not lost sight on what they want and are getting out of this life. I am just in a completely different position relationship-wise than they are. And basically I can only surmise that on some level we all want what the other has.

Ok. I'm stepping down. I don't write in you to voice my political and societal rants. But I'm not going to quell them when they come up, Blog. Don't worry. I know you understand. With that, I'm letting the wine I consumed tonight close this entry and put me to bed.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Azores Day 15: I'm Getting What I Came Here For (it's time to get deep, Blog)

Blog, I'm going to get all Artist's Way on you now because today was rather rainy and my morning pages have made me aware of the things I want to do, not the things I have to do.

What is The Artist's Way? Well, it's something that a lot more people know about than I realized. Carly gave me the book back when she was visiting in July (which I did not document because I was too busy being a blocked artists, AKA not posting at all). She had gone through it a year or so ago and had documented her progress on her very own blog. She swears by it as a way to open up creatively and artistically. Basically I've been writing these things called "morning pages" every day and I go on weekly "artist dates" where I basically hang out by myself and think about shit. I have no idea if I'm doing it correctly, but one thing I noticed today was that I went into Carly's studio of my own will and made some art. By myself.

A little backstory: When we were freshmen in college, living in this no-longer-existent dorm, Carly and her art friends would do this thing every once in awhile called "Art Night" where they would get together and make art at night. They were creative in their work, but not in the naming of their extracurricular activities I guess.

"Gross!" I would proclaim whenever it was Art Night. "Art is something I don't do! I hate drawing and painting!"

But Carly was fun to hang out with (it's so nice that things in that regard haven't changed) so I would put up with this Art Night. She tried to make me like art by introducing me to collage, but all I ended up doing was gluing a cut-out of a finger tip onto a piece of paper in an attempt to make it resemble a rocket. I felt stupid and sad and confused and angry. Art wasn't for me and hasn't been since.

That is until I sat in Carly's studio with her on my first evening here. She gave me a canvas, some paint, and a few tips and suddenly I was totally ok with where things were going.

I arrived in a land where dragonflies travel in packs and peacock feathers grow out of magic bubbles. Obviously.
Yes, I give mad props to Carly for being patient with me and for giving me the tools with which I could create. However 11 years ago she had done the same thing and I wasn't able to get myself to a place where I could just play with what was in front of me and see what happens. What's different now? Well, I'm almost 30, so that's probably got something to do with it. I've gone through some shit in my 20's, like everyone, that has made me a more interesting person: relationships, jobs, traveling, drinking, crying... the usual.

But what I really attribute for my actual ability to just relax and play with the colors and paper that were in front of me is my progression with The Artist's Way. I know it sounds cheesy, but it totally has put me in a different creative space. I'm not planning on making an art career or anything, but I've discovered that the bare-bones act of physically creating something right in front of your eyes is very inspiring and demonstrative of how the creative process works for other mediums of writing, acting, music, poetry, whatever. The muse can be something as simple as gravity pulling the paint to the canvas and the inspiration derived from it can create all sorts of crazy awesome shit.

So today, when I was feeling like I should go outside and explore down by the ocean and then go buy some milk and eggs for more bread pudding because that bread isn't going to eat itself, I decided no. I was going to do what I wanted to do and that was stay in and work on some art. It felt weird, but also exciting. Carly wasn't there to guide me or give me tips. I was doing this alone and had no one to trust but myself.

I'm not sure where it's going, but Julia Cameron would be proud.
I don't know if I'm doing The Artist's Way right and I don't know if I'm putting the paint on the canvas right and I don't know if the things I'm brainstorming and writing about are right. But I'm learning not to care about right or wrong with any of it because they don't matter. It's pretty liberating and it's way better than the stuffy 18 year-old me trying to navigate a collage like it was a science experiment.


Only Julia Cameron's magic spiritual art god knows the truth.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Azores Day 14: If Only Technology Were as Fun as Quatro Ribeiras

Just another day on the island, Blog! I've been here for two weeks and I have an entire week left before I fly back to my inland life in Minneapolis. It's odd how I felt more homesick when I was touring North Carolina than since I've been here. Maybe because The South was a place that was supposed to be home (as in USA home) but wasn't? Europe is Europe and it's not like the States really at all so maybe it's just easier to be distracted by the difference instead of try to fit in with it. I don't know. I don't really care either. I'm happy here but miss home like anyone would. So it goes on vacation.

Today Carly and I went to Quatro Ribeiras which is the swimming hole that took my phone the last time I was here but is also easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I love it there and took tons of pictures a safe distance from the ocean so as not to ruin my phone again. I also made an annoying amount of Vine videos that I for the life of me cannot figure out how to embed into you Blog. So I'm going to be chintzy about it and link to the embedding page so you can further witness how there are no rules in Europe. Take it for your own and embed it elsewhere if you wish. I give up on technology.

With that, my battery is dying due to my excessive failure at said technology. If Casey McKinney knows anything about anything, it's that making North American power outlets available in this Portuguese home is nothing short of a miracle. Basically I'm too lazy to go to the living room to plug in my computer. So all you get is some pictures of the best swimming hole in the world, Blog. (That statement may be a little biased, but seriously, look at this place)

This is where you can access the cool and salty waters that are home to poisonous jelly fish!

This is where you look the ocean straight into its eyes of death as it lunges towards you. Carly is fearless and, as always, appropriately protected from the sun.

This is a dude diving into water that is questionably deep enough for diving from such heights. No rules.

This is the best place ever.
One more thing, Blog. I had dinner tonight with friends and it was the best. Megan and Dale and Carly are wonderful ladies. And I even learned the most effective way to make a handprint in the sand from Megan's daughter Charlie. Did I take a picture of this loveliness? Of course not. I only document rocks and water these days.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Azores Day 13: A Disjointed Recap of the Last 27 Hours

Blog, it's the weekend and that means I've been doing some drunk writing lately. Last night I had a great time opening for Tommy and the Time Machine at Praia Rock Café with some Dirty Curls songs. Turns out Air Force people really like erotic bluegrass music. It felt good to get up and play in front of a (small) audience, but strange to be up there alone playing Court's awesome songs. They loved it though and there was even a Portuguese woman who wanted to take a look at the words to Suck a Ring. Low level international fame, here we come!

Carly was a documenting beast with her camera and snapped a few shots of my set along with me accepting an invitation to join backing up the main act themselves. I'm not used to rocking out so hardcore, so I kind of stood there for awhile with a drink. Worth it.

Pedro knows what he's doing. I do not.
But I think the Dirty Curls might have a few new fans on the island which is exciting. Also, there were kids in the audience. What is it with foreign countries that always attracts children to dirty comedy music audiences? At least here they didn't get upset about it. Portugal: 1, Mexico: 0.

I'm tired, otherwise I'd explain that scoreboard more. Frankly, there's not much more to say. Today Carly and I did some shopping in Praia and then we went out to eat at this restaurant called La Barca where I guess we were in the presence of some famous DJ (European I'm sure, so don't get too excited). Then we tried our hand at attending Vila Nova's summer festival but were discouraged when it started getting late and nothing seemed to be happening except for sporadic cannon bursts and random flag ceremonies.

My bored list of today's activities is indicating I need to go to bed. I'm still loving it here and am glad I have a week left. Also, I haven't been down to the ocean for a few days and it's a little weird. OMG. I'm becoming an islander. However...

"I feel naked without Courtney. Where is my comfort banjo?"

Friday, August 23, 2013

Azores Day 12: Praia Rocked Out

Blog, I'm tired. But it's good. I played Dirty Curls songs at Praia Rock and they loved it. Court, you're a genius. Carly, you're awesomely supportive. Me? I'm tired and intoxicated and amazed that I hung out with a couple ladies from VALLEY CITY NORTH DAKOTA tonight. Just when you think you're isolated in the ocean... you're not.

There are many pictures, but not in my possession. I will find them Blog. I will find them and post them and caption them. Until then, good night.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Azores Day 11: Sewing and Spouses

Today was a day in, Blog. It was rainy on the island and I've beached enough over the past couple days to where a break was warranted. This means that Carly and I were able to get some sewing done. And by Carly and I, I mean Carly made some shirts of mine fit better than they did before. In particular, this gem of a wardrobe piece that my sister in law got me from Guam:

All you need to know is that it was the only one left at the BX on Andersen AFB.
I don't know if I should be embarrassed or flattered that she thought of me when she saw it, but it's so ridiculous that I love it. However before I rocked what I perceive to be a Guam native with some sort of Guam ruin, I was sure to make the most of the scraps Carly was creating as she trimmed down my collection of giant t-shirts. With that Blog, I present to you the one and only "sleeveshirt":

Whoa. It looks trashy. Probably because it's made only of sleeves.
As much as I wanted to wear "sleeveshirt" to the Spouse Club get together that happened this evening, I opted for my sweet Guam garment instead. Spouse Club is a thing where a rousing game of Bunko and some delish turkey sandwiches made for an evening well spent. I mingled with ladies who married into the military and was further convinced that being a military spouse is not the life for me. But that doesn't mean I don't have a good time hanging out with them. There was wine and dice. What more could a guest at Spouse Club ask for? Awesome friends from college? Well ok.

It's hard not to notice the Guam shirt, isn't it.
Tomorrow I make my Azorian debut at Praia Rock. Sergio was kind enough to give me a few minutes to play some erotic bluegrass music by way of Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls before the main act goes on. Of course I announced it at Spouses Club when they all asked me to stand and introduce myself before we started rolling the Bunko di. If anything, I'll have my Bemidji alums in the audience along with whatever other random airmen show up. Here's to hoping my diligence in blogging continues so details are shared tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Azores Day 10: My Love/Hate for the Ocean Grows

It was a perfect beach day, Blog. I perused two swimming holes; one where I "almost died" and another that has proven to be my favorite despite it being the location of where my phone was ruined the last time I was here.

Tides, man. I just can't get over them.
 I "almost died" because a wave knocked me back onto some rocks at the Vila Nova swimming hole pictured above. My fear of the ocean is so great, that when I see it coming for me with all its might, I am paralyzed with fear and do things like fall over on to sharp rocks and scrape my knee. To be fair, I would have been fine had the people hogging the railing let a tourist through, but alas, I was left with nothing to grab onto and thousands of gallons of water coming at me, bro. Blood was drawn, but in the end I survived. Obviously. Because I went to another swimming hole afterward.

Swimming hole #2 has a name I can't remember and a vendetta against my phone.
Though I lost a phone that is more expensive than my car the last time I was at this locale, I have to admit it's my favorite swimming hole on the island (so far). Sure the pictures just make it look like a bunch of concrete was poured on some rocks, but this place is the bomb. The accessible water was clear and deep today as we showed up at high tide. Kids were diving off of the high cliffs into narrow channels and Carly and I even were brave enough to jump off a ledge a few times into the really really salty (seriously is the Atlantic more salty than other salty bodies of water?) water.

When I was here in May of 2012, this was the place where Carly and I foolishly forgot about the moon's gravitational pull on our planet's oceans as we left our belongings on what we thought was dry ground and went off exploring all the rocks and shit that this awesome beach has to offer. After a short 15 minutes we returned to find our stuff all but washed away by the incoming tide. Turns out salt water is the absolute worst thing to happen to an iPhone and I lost all 300 pictures I had taken during my previous four days on the island.

The whole ordeal might be a little bit why I'm so thoroughly documenting my second time visiting this obscure place. Also, I doubt I'll ever be back here again.

Well, today Carly and I made sure we stayed far away from the water with our belongings. But that didn't stop us from drinking tiny beers and standing on a ledge with Portuguese people flying, flipping, and diving into the water all around us. Carly almost got hit by a child in a speedo. It was the best thing I witnessed all day.

That's all for today. I've turned into a total beach bum who fears the ocean. Tomorrow should entail sewing (what?!), more Air Force fun with Thirsty Thursday, and a game called Bunko. I'm somewhat excited.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Azores Day 9: What's a Trip to Europe Without Some Language Barriers?

First things first Blog, when I say I'm going to take a picture of a cow, I actually take a picture of multiple cows. Case in point:

The ocean is a part of this because that's what the cows see when I'm not standing there causing herd befuddlement and taking pictures.
Livestock photography was just one small part of today's excursions. I also climbed on some rocks, got afraid of the tide again, and found out Portuguese people, like every other European, pretend they don't speak English until you try to speak their language and fail.

I've pretty much figured out how to navigate the landscape here. There are rocks to climb, waters to swim in, and pastures to hike across. None of these things, however, have taught me how to speak Portuguese. I don't know if there is anything in this world that can teach me how to speak Portuguese. It sounds beautiful, difficult, nonsensical, and like every single Latin-based language combined into one. Just when you think it's like Spanish, you find out it's more like French. Or Russian. Or none of these. And I guess the Portuguese get really offended if you try to speak Spanish to them because apparently the two have a history of not getting along. Also, I'll reiterate, Portuguese and Spanish are two entirely different languages.

I knew that fact even though I ended up speaking Spanish (poorly) today when I found myself in a tiny grocery store in search of eggs, milk, and, of course, wine. I don't even really know Spanish, but it's the only language that was ever even a little bit taught to me besides English. So when the two men who were lurking next to the wine started talking to me, I had nothing--I mean nothing--to say in their language. I didn't even know how to say hello in this language (it's ola) when I first got here. I mean, I knew how to say hello in Portuguese at the time of this interaction, but it wouldn't have made sense. The conversation had already been initiated. Ola wasn't going to cut it. After they kindly moved out of the way so I could look at the wine I said the only other Portuguese word I know: obrigada.

They were amused by this. I decided to try and instill their help since despite this grocery store's tininess, I couldn't find the milk. I had seen the word milk in Portuguese when Carly and I were at Biscoitos the other day. I remembered it was pretty much like the Spanish word for milk, leche. So I just went for it. "Donde es el leche?"

Shit. I was speaking (terrible) Spanish to Portuguese people. It's like you can't not do it.

But they were nice and could tell I was trying and that's when they pulled their European slight of hand and decided to whip out some English chops by telling me that the milk was right behind me. Of course it was. Why would it be in a refrigerator? That would make too much sense.

Beyond that, they helped me pick out some wine (from the mainland!) and ring up my things. Thanks Portuguese guys. You brought me out of my comfort zone and accepted me for the unilingual American I am. Except I was a little confused when everyone said ciao to me as I left. So we say goodbye like Italians?

So now I guess I know three words in Portuguese: ola, obrigada, and ciao (even though I already knew ciao from Italy, but whatever). Oh wait. Scratch that. I know a fourth: fodis which of course means fuck. Like Carly's husband says, you've got to learn the swears first. I don't know why, but it sounds like good advice so I'll go with it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Azores Day 8: Awkward Beach II - The Tide Is In

Blog, I meant to ask Casey and Carly what the far-off booms are that I've been hearing throughout the evening, but they went to bed and I just realized that I'm not in America anymore. "Left-over Fourth of July fireworks" isn't a viable excuse here. Neither is "Portuguese people love celebrating our independence a month and a half late and on our behalf".

I guess it's just some weird Europe or Air Force thing that I don't know about. STORY OF MY ISLAND LIFE.

Another story from my island life is my excursion to the beach today. You might remember my first encounter with the Vila Nova beach from just a week ago. In case you don't, then you clearly have either a tragic case of amnesia or no interest in yourself Blog, both of which are disappointing situations. But fine, I'll baby you as I am wont to do and will sum up my last Vila Nova beach experience by saying that it was awkward. It was awkward because I overthink my existence when I'm alone in new and strange places and don't know how to just go into the goddamned water already.

But today, Blog. Today I found a nice spot that was both accessible to, and safe from the water. I set up camp and immediately made my way down to the stairs where last time I realized I didn't know the Portuguese word for hello (it's ola) when I encountered two ladies already in the water. Today it was just dudes in speedos and more small children running around on slick concrete. And today I knew what I needed to do. I walked down the stairs into the water and swam Blog. I swam for a full five minutes and then got scared that the ocean was going to kill me because the tide was high and water was flowing over the slick concrete and that kind of shit is just scary when you're literally from the geographic center of North America, ok? Besides I needed to write my morning pages for the Artist's Way even though by this time it was the afternoon. Whatever, Julia Cameron. I'm giving it my best shot.
The ocean can do things like DEVOUR CONCRETE STAIRS. Beware.

Despite all the self deprecation, it was a successful afternoon at the beach! Until it started raining and I was forced to pack up and walk back to the casa de McSwenny. But hey! I took a sweet scenery picture because that's what you do when you're on vacation, right?

Where Island Meets Ocean: A Love Story
Tomorrow? I'll probably take a picture of a cow. Get ready!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Azores Day 7: Not Every Day is an Adventure

Blog, I didn't take any pictures today because it was a lazy Sunday to the max. After saying goodbye to Jimmy and Trishell this morning, we went to the grocery store and then immediately returned to the casa de McSwenny where we proceeded to eat ice cream, watch movies, and nap. Sure Carly and I took a very scenic walk this evening, but I'm not going to bring a picture-taking machine with me on such an outing. No no. Just water for hydration and my mad rock climbing skills, yo. Don't worry, Blog. I have an entire day to kill tomorrow. I'll go for the same walk and get some scenic snaps of ocean and rocks and shit.

Also, reading the above paragraph makes me realize I'm starting to sound like Casey McKinney due to the ample amount of time I've been spending with him. Give me a week and I fear I'll be dropping f-bombs all up in here while trying to convince everyone that goats have x-ray vision.

Since there are no pictures, I'll leave you with a portion of the safety video they show you on the Portugal airplane before it flies you to an island that's full of livestock and good times. I realize this might be more appropriate to post when the end of my trip is approaching and I'm getting ready to fly away on the Portugal airplane, but it's worth posting now because I need someone to tell me why a Victorian-era woman is on this flight:


And if that wasn't enough, you can find all five weird and European minutes of it here. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Azores Day 6: More Lajes Lady Love

Blog, I can't even deal with how much fun the Lajes ladies are. Tonight we had a three hour dinner where we were that table. Luckily we were quarantined in our own that table room, so we weren't too much of a distraction for everyone else. Jokes that rank pretty explicit and ridiculous on the explicit and ridiculous scale dominated the evening (all I'll say is "glory hole room") and I laughed more than I have since I've been here, minus the rapper-video dance montage we did at the beach yesterday. Basically we act like obscene 13 year olds and it's the best thing ever because we can drink wine while we're doing it.

And though dinner was delicious and highly entertaining, it was also bittersweet. The whole loud American outing was part of a goodbye to Jimmy and Trishell who fly away in the morning. They've been stationed in Salt Lake City, Utah and are on their way stateside tomorrow. I've just gotten to know Trishell for the few days I've been here combined with the few days I was here last year, but it's easy to see that she's a huge part of this group of friends and will be sorely missed. Saying goodbye to good friends just part of the Air Force I guess. That's what my sister in law says anyway. And she knows what's what because she's Guam-ing it right now and is about to say goodbye to island life herself. Of course all of us back home are looking forward to her return; including my badass niece who is her direct spawn and a miniature version of her. But there's something to be said for the bonds that you make abroad. If you find your niche, you don't want to leave it because you all are in this weird place together and you grow from that experience. I guess all you can do is look ahead to the new friends you'll make in the new places you'll live. It's almost as if the military makes you go through being a freshmen in college every few years, just to keep you on your toes. Reason number 573 why I never joined. Gross.

But, the friends have been made and the times have been had and you can't change that. Especially tonight when we all were around the table flopping our arms on the table and laughing so hard at the inside jokes that were being born before our eyes that all we could do was take another sip of wine and laugh some more.

Yeah, Blog. It's sappy I know. Maybe it's because I'm drunk again (Megan and I might have shared two bottles of wine; you do the math (meth?). Maybe it's because I'm saying goodbye to some really great people who I don't want to say goodbye to in the morning. Maybe it's because this trip so far has been a great opportunity to hang out with friends who I've known for a good ten years now. And they're not just friends at this point; they're family.

This is just scratching the surface.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Azores Day 5: Island Lady Friends

Real quick, Blog. I'm drunk and I hung out with these ladies all day (hence me being drunk; I don't do this on my own).

Lajes goodness at its best.
Like I said, I'm drunk. And it's late (for this time zone anyway) so I'm going to bed. I just didn't want to miss a day blogging. Even if it's just a quick "hey look at this awesome group of island girlfriends I have". That's right Blog. I don't mind bragging about my friends. Because they're awesome and salty and sunburnt because we all hung out at the beach today. Yes this is a surfacey "my life is awesome" post, but I truly feel lucky that I can go to a (seemingly) random island and end up with a solid group of lady friends to hang out with. I might as well show my gratitude for it via the internet.

I'm being bold putting a bikini picture up because I'm drunk and everything is a good idea right now.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Azores Day 4: Running From Bulls

Alright Blog. Today I saw the one thing that Terceira is known for. It's obvious that Terceira is on the tips of everyone's tongues these days and those tongues are more than likely talking about the most exciting thing that this world has known ever in this universe ever and that is...


No, it's not running with the bulls like they do in Spain. No, it's not a bull fight with a matador and a red flag. NO it's not cow tipping.

It's simply what it sounds like. A bunch of (drunk) Portuguese men annoy bulls in the street and then run from their subsequent wrath.

Also, bull aggravation is very difficult to photograph.
I mean what else are you going to do on an island in the middle of the ocean to pass the time? There's livestock and streets and drunk Europeans all over the place. Might as well combine them all into one evening that is ruled by testosterone and adrenaline. It seriously was one of the more entertaining things I've witnessed and I'm secretly hoping that this happens again before I leave. What is it about a bunch of creatures with testicles pissing each other off in the streets that is so alluring? I know not, but hundreds of men, women, and children gathered to watch. Blood was drawn. I'm the entire tradition's newest fan.

OMG it was seriously so exciting I can't believe I'm falling for this ridiculous European pastime!
Everything else I did today pales in comparison. Sorry Carly. Lunch with you was great and I had a wonderful time eating questionable baked goods at the Biscoitos swimming hole, but bull aggravation Carly. BULL AGGRAVATION!

So hard to photograph, so fun to watch!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Azores Day 3: Oh That's Right... the Military

That's right Blog. Every trip overseas is made for a reason. Mine more often than not have to do with a particular branch of the military known as the Air Force. Today I spent a couple hours face to face with the intimidating Security Forces (keeping things secure!) while trying my hand at getting a base pass so I could do elaborate and secret military things like eat hot sandwiches and buy hair dye. Apparently I needed someone who was an E5 rank or higher (don't ask me what that actually means) to sponsor me so I can access these luxuries and apparently everyone who was at an E5 rank or higher (seriously, someone tell me who invented this system of ranking) was at some mysterious military welcome-something-or-other.

Or they were defending the freedom all of us civilians back in the states enjoy day in and day out without a second thought (by attending some welcome-something-or-other). Whatever.

After getting to know the airman who was airmanning the front desk that assigns base passes to random civilians like me, Casey finally showed up to sign a piece of paper that apparently gives me Lajes access for the next three weeks. Score! I'm totally going to hit up the BX and gorge myself on sparkling water and candy bars that I pay for in American dollars, just because I can. Well worth the wait, if you ask me.

Other than that weird adventure, today was full of cats, naps, lava rock, and Chicken House. Here's where I'd post a picture of Chicken House with a clever caption, but I was dumb and didn't snap a photo of it before we went in to eat. So all you get is Carly on some lava rock.

There's lava rock here because this island is basically a volcano that exploded millions of years ago. GEOLOGY.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Azores Day 2: Awkward Beach and Old Friends

Just like that, I've adjusted to the time change, Blog. All that sleep paid off and today I was able to take some time for personal reflection along with a nice jaunt down to the beach where I silently freaked out about which part of the swimming hole was best to explore. I was clearly the only American at this public access. While everyone else confidently navigated the concrete stairs that have been built into the rocky cliffs so as to access the Atlantic's chilly waters, I was awkwardly reading Kurt Vonnegut's Jailbird while watching the Portuguese dive into water that I eventually learned was not deep enough for even a belly flop (in my opinion anyway).

The cliffs distract you from the fact that all water in this photo is no more than 4 feet deep.
I love Europe because rules are a moot point here. There was a kid who was no more than four years old running around on the concrete, peering over edges that dropped an easy 15 feet down into frigid water that was well over his head. He was walking along rocks with waves splashing around him. He was pushing off the edge of the stairs to try out his puppy-like doggy paddle with no adult within reach. Sure there were lifeguards present, but they were occupied with trying to capture what I assumed was a jellyfish in another part of the swimming area.

After overthinking it to a maddening point, I finally just manned up and made my way down some stairs where there were a couple ladies around my age cooling off in the water. As I approached them I realized I had forgotten (or, fine, maybe I didn't know) the Portuguese word for hello, which is sad because it's ola. I awkwardly smiled as they blatantly judged and then decided to escape the entire situation by submerging myself in the cold and salty water.

Swim swim swim. Yes. This water was definitely only up to my rib cage. Why are full grown men diving into this head first from 15 feet above? Oh that's right. Europe doesn't have rules or a sense of preventative action. Anything goes! I'll bite if it means I can drink wine in the passenger's seat of Carly's island bomb car, which I can. No one is forcing me to dive into this ridiculously shallow water or flirt with poisonous jelly fish. No rules it is.

But the real highlight of my day was seeing this lady:

All I got was an action shot of nipple warfare in the car.
Megan Ramage White is on this island and we had dinner and it was the best. Old memories resurfaced and we reminisced about the good old days (and holy hell that entry I linked to above is so old, I was still nursing my wounds from my break up with Rob. ROB.). It's been four years since we've seen one another; a time that has been easily marked by her daughter's existence, who before tonight I met only once when she was a baby. She's four now and we had a lengthy conversation about her cat, Chicken and how she had all sorts of animals at her birthday party. I'm sad I'm away from home for so long, but am so happy I'm here for the next three weeks so I can be with these awesome people in this awesome place for an adequate amount of time.

Tomorrow we go to Biscoitos for more beach. This time I won't be alone so I'm hopeful my ability to exist in European society will be realized and executed.

Until then, I'm totally going to bed when I'm supposed to. Success!

Monday, August 12, 2013

I am in The Azores and All There is to Do is Sleep

Well Blog, I made it to Terceira. I haven't done much but sleep, eat a hamburger, paint a painting, and sleep more.

Before all of that hullaballoo happened, I waited in line to check my bag, then I waited in line to board the plane over here, then I waited for the plane people to check out these two people who apparently were too sick to fly, then we took off and I had an anxiety attack complete with very intense visuals of how I would escape the metal tube I was flying in were it to crash into the ocean. Then we landed and I waited in line to get off the plane, to board a shuttle, to get through customs, and to pick up my bags.

The flight itself was only four hours, but throw everything else into the mix and I think I was dealing with SATA airlines for a good 10. I wish I was exaggerating. I also wish I hadn't come right off of two flights before I even saw that ridiculous line at the ticketing counter at Logan Airport in Boston.

That's what you get for flying to a remote island in the Atlantic. That, and jet lag. Which is what I have right now. Which is why I should probably try and sleep more even though I just woke up.

Oh, I also took a picture of the view from the room which Carlis of the O'Clare kind has so kindly set up for me. Batteries are dying all over the place so I'm not going to post it here, but you can know that it's the same view that you can see here (minus my face).

With that, I'm off to bed for even more sleep. Hopefully this session won't be full of weird dreams about mental breakdowns and random gifts of banana bread.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Yearly Fringe Post: 2013

I didn't write in July, Blog. I didn't do it. It's the first whole month I've missed blogging-wise in several years. I'm sure your Blog-heart is broken, as I know mine is. There's only one way to come back from the tragedy, Blog. It's time for my yearly Fringe post.

What's my yearly Fringe post, you ask? Why, you can take a look at what I had to say last year to get an idea. Basically I've fallen into this habit where every August I express my complex and conflicted feelings about the Minnesota Fringe Festival to my one and only Blog, Blog. That's you. Never forget it.

Fringe has to do with theatre and theatre, unfortunately (fortunately?), is the one thing in this world that I love to do. Ever since I was cast as a cow in the Missoula Children's Theatre production of Beauty and the Beast when I was 7 years old, I have been in love with, and a slave to the performing arts. Because of this, the Minnesota Fringe Festival  is both my best friend and my worst enemy. It provides me with the most straightforward opportunity to participate within the vibrant theatre and performing arts community that lives in Minneapolis. And the reason I love living in Minneapolis is because of that vibrant theatre and performing arts community's presence. I want to be in you, vibrant theatre and performing arts community. Luckily the Fringe Festival allows me to penetrate you without the aid of cheesy pick up lines or date rape drugs. We can just exist together and share our love and art and a beer together at The Crooked Pint after 11 o'clock on any given night come the first two weeks of August.

And the first week of those two weeks is just like the start of any relationship. It's new and exciting. It's blissful and carefree. We've opened our show! Everyone remembered their lines! My friends loved it! I've gotten a chance to make myself completely vulnerable by exposing my heart and feelings and abilities on a stage in front of an audience and it's all been accepted! I don't see any sort of an end to this huge success! I'm living in a dream that has only four performances left and you'd better buy your ticket now so you can live this incredible fantasy with me!

Then the halfway point of the festival hits and shit starts getting real. Real real, yo. You get a review like this one and don't know what to do with yourself. Your initial reaction is one of rage which then develops into defeat. "I'll never do theatre again," you say to yourself. "This is my last Fringe," you decide. "I guess I should get to slitting my wrists now since that's the only viable response to this entire situation," you reason.

A good night's sleep later, you realize that everyone is entitled to their opinion and that bad reviews, even scathing ones that seem to almost personally attack you and/or others within your production, are a means to build character and even improve the art that both nurtures and dominates you. "Who cares what they think?" you declare. "I'm just as worthy of being a part of this festival as they are!" You know it's true. At least you keep telling that to yourself in order to prevent the blade from slicing the translucent skin covering your vulnerable wri--err--feelings and emotions and stuff.

Here's the ridiculous part: after all the emotional turmoil that comes with your beating heart being slashed to bits in a public arena for all to see, you want to do it again. You completely and wholly intend on submitting your application next January. You know you'll be heartbroken and disappointed if your number isn't drawn. You already know in what direction you'll take things if it is. We are slaves to this sick and wonderful thing. Year after year after year. We love it and we hate it but for some reason we can't live without it and fortunately (unfortunately?) we have realized that and have managed to produce one of the most prominent Fringe Festivals in the country.

Thanks vibrant theatre and performing arts community of Minneapolis. You're one of a kind and I'm both sad and relieved that this version of our summer camp is coming to an end in just a few days.

Here's to next year! (and my number being drawn, because it has yet to be)