Brandi

Also. ..thought about this quote from The Goldfinch today and wanted to have it written down

I was fascinated by strangers.

Often I saw interesting-looking people on the street and thought about them restlessly for days, imagining their lives, making up stories about them on the subway or the crosstown bus... For years, I'd turned those strangers over in my mind, wondering who they were and what their lives were like, and I knew I would go home and wonder about this girl and her grandfather the same way.

Brandi

(no subject)

Massive friend dump has just occurred. I think ALL of them, however, were journals that don't update anymore. And since I barely update myself, it had nothing to do with whether people were commenting or not on mine.

However, if I HAVE removed you in error and you'd like to be added back, please let me know and I'd be happy to do so.

The reason for this is that I do want to start updating regularly, about my weight loss journey and personal issues. I was inspired to do this by a new friend add who had a very honest and endearing introduction post as well as tool going off to blogspot and getting a new journal! I hope to syndicate your journal here, somehow, Amanda so I can still read it without having to go to two sites. We'll see how my tech savvy works.
Brandi

*Wipes off spiderwebs and dust*

Hello, Livejournal!

It's been awhile. But you'll always be my first love. 

For those of you who are not friends with me on Facebook, here are some 2012 updates!: 
*Met my current, and hopefully forever, love, Amanda <3. We met in March and hit it off quite well. She was in a polyamorous sort of lifestyle and was dating myself and 2 other girls at the time. But I guess I changed her mind, because now we're monogamous  living together, and happy. We have our ups and downs like every couple, but I will say that it's the healthiest relationship I've been in. It's been 9 months as of the 26th since our first date, which we are counting as the start of our relationship. We've been living together since around July, which I realize is crazy fast, even for lesbians. But so far we've gotten a dog and a bed together and haven't had to fight for the rights to either since! 

*Got in a car wreck and finished my Masters degree in July. Because of said car wreck, Amanda became my chauffeur for several months while I saved for a new car. This possibly brought us closer together. Masters degree has yet to get me anywhere. 

*Had a great time traveling in 2012. Went to Austin, Niagara Falls, to the Poconos a few times where I fell in love with ziplining, and Quakertown, PA where I crossed another hostel off my list of Hostelling International estinations. For those of you who don't know, this was where I first discovered hostels, starting with Portland in the summer of 2011. I'm determined to visit at least one in each state they exist in the US! I'm continuing to feed my wanderlust and have an Iceland trip planned for March with Amanda, and a tentative San Diego/Monterey trip for the summer, depending on work. I'll hopefully throw in a 4 day weekend to Las Vegas to visit my brother at his new swanky job, and to go to a city I've never been to! 

*Some lows: A close coworker of mine died suddenly on the 18th of December. She did not believe strongly in traditional medicine and it was only in her last couple weeks of life that she actually sought out help for the fluid gathering in her stomach, nosebleeds and tiredness. She finally checked into the hospital instead of just going to Drs appointments on the 14th of December, just a few days before her death. She will be missed. She was kooky, disorganized and frustrating at times but had a HUGE heart and touched so many lives with the way she would reach out to anyone, whether it was the homeless dancer who hung out in the park by our work or the children of our theatre's summer camp. She never judged anyone and was always eager to listen to everyone's stories, and tell her own. I'm not a very religious person, but I hope she's happier, wherever she is, and with her son who died a few years ago as a teenager, Jack. 

*I have gained a LOT of weight this year. I went from a size 10 to a size (eep) 16-18, depending on the day. A lot of it is because of being spoiled rotten by my gf and expensive dinners, but most of it is because of lack of self control. New year, new goals. I definitely don't want to lose my health or let it deteriorate before I'm 30. My goal is to drop enough weight by the summer so I'm not embarrassed to have my picture taken. If anyone is on MyFitnessPal, let's chat

*Got to see my family, including my almost 5 year old godsons, just this week, in Ohio, where I haven't been in a few years (this is where my parents live). It was a great trip and I hope to go back soon.

*Had a dream last night about one of you trying to steal away my girlfriend! I won, though ;-).

I'll leave you with some pictures. Happy New Year, everyone! Maybe I'll post again in a year, haha. 


Me and Amanda


Our pup, Dexter. 
Brandi

(no subject)

Oh, and this happened on Saturday:







I only have minor whiplash and a seat belt bruise. And I didn't hit anyone else, just the guardrail. So I am very very lucky. I do have to pay a fine for falling asleep at the wheel, however. I'm a moron.
Brandi

(no subject)

Also, I want to try and be a more honest person--especially with myself. So from here on out, except for the occasional emo rant, my entries will be public =)
stfu wicked witch

Austin Part Deux

So, like many people after 1/1/insert year here, I joined a gym. I really dig it, though. It's called Retro Fitness and what sold me besides the low price tag was the fact that they have a theatre in the back room where you can watch 80s movies while you work out. Hardcore.

I'm trying REALLY hard to not be a lazy slacker with my diet/exercise regime. I swear, it's like withdrawl from drugs stopping myself from eating at night and at work where all the homemade cookies and unwanted candy looms before me. It was VERY hard last night and today at work (especially considering it was SO slow so I was SO bored and all I ever seem to want to do when bored is eat or sleep), but tonight seems slightly better. I still crave food, especially when the smells of deliciousness that my roommates produce waft in from the kitchen, but I'm trying to preoccupy myself more. Like buying a heart rate monitor online. I was doing SO well with my savings but I caved after logging my exercise on My Fitness Pal yesterday only to discover that MFP determined I burned 600 calories while the gym machine said 450. The internet tells me that neither is accurate, and the best way to really know is to get a HRM, so I got one.

I'm currently uploading my Austin pictures on Facebook. I gave a couple glimpses on my last entry, but those were only the good ones. Hah. Most of them are blurry because of the bus tour I took, but I want to document every second of my life by electronic means otherwise I shall simply panic (note the sarcasm). Really it's another distraction technique from FOOD.

My first night in Austin was awesome. The lovely damnitnicole was kind enough to pick me up and show me around a bit. We ate at an awesome dining establishment where I got to taste REAL queso dip (I will never be able to accept the crap in PA now...and again, I'm writing about food to distract myself from eating it), then headed to a rockabilly show at a bar aptly named Hole in the Wall. The band was pretty fucking good and I definitely saw why Austin is called the live music capital of the world. I was tempted to get their CDs, but decided to wait for the new one since some of the radder songs they performed are going to be on that one. After that we went on a bike tour and Nicole pointed out all the different neighborhoods and the danger factor (or lack thereof) which was very helpful considering I might move there...or Portland. Jury's still out. Annnd we legit rode up to the steps of the Capitol. No way you can do that in DC haha. Or Philly.

Tuesday was kind of a tame day, spent it perusing the shopping district on South Congress street (And ate at a great place called Magnolia Cafe) then hung out with some of the other hostellers in the TV room at night while we watched crappy reality TV and discussed how Austin was better than all of our respective hometowns. I love hostels, and I've only been to two! But now I'll never go back to a hotel while traveling/on vacation. I love the experience of a hostel too much. Everyone is so friendly and EVERYONE has a great story to tell. Like the investment banker from london who quit his job to travel from hostel to hostel. Or the danish friends who went to Vermont and Colorado to visit their respective old exchange students then to Dallas, only to discover there was nowhere cheap to stay so they came down on a whim to Austin, then would move on to New Orleans the next day. Or the wife of the tattoo artist who's based in Philly who I got a business card from ;). Oh and another thing? Hostels give you FREE PANCAKES. True story. And they're super cheap to stay in.

Wednesday I had my awesome Guidehop.com tour, which you already know about from my last entry. Thursday I spent going to various free museums on the lent bike that Aaron gave me, and Friday I had to depart =(.

I definitely am craving to go back to both Portland and Austin, but the traveler bug in me just wants to visit more and more cities =) A friend of mine wants to go to LA but a part of me just likes traveling alone lol. I don't know why. It's freeing, I guess. I'm more myself. I don't censor myself as much. Sure I'm still a bit awkward around new people, but my smiles are genuine and I don't want to just be somewhere else, which is often the case hanging out with friends here after I've done a long work day. Something to think about I suppose!
Brandi

Scooter Ridin'

Hey everyone! I had such an incredible time in Austin that I need to update about, including hanging out with damnitnicole, but I just have SOOO much to say that I decided to split it up. This first entry is about my www.Guidehop.com tour, an awesome website if you haven't checked it out yet!

Even in January, Austin is full of warm sunsets and landscapes that look like they're carved out of a painting. The best way to discover this, I've found, is to feel them by way of local knowledge and scooters.


I'd never been to Texas before, but I was craving warmth, both literally and figuratively. I work in a busy non-profit theatre in snowy Bucks County, PA and although it's rewarding, the job is also very stressful. After 6 weeks of a 28-member cast performing Gypsy, I knew I'd want to hit someplace warm and stress-free in mid-January.

Even though lounging around in the sun was a plus, my first reason for picking Austin was to see the sights of a state I've never been to before. I signed up for a bus tour, standard fare, something that seemed easy. And it was. The 90-minute tour was typical and historical, pointing out old buildings and structures and road after road of limestone. I struggled to capture pictures, and they turned out blurry. I left the tour with a textbook definition of the city, but not much of a sense of what made Austin's heart flow.

I was staying at a hostel, an environment that was helpful and casual, not to mention cheap. I saw a bright, inviting poster mentioning local guides, and I perked up. After my bus tour, I was somewhat bored and wanting some adventure. Guidehop did just that. The photo of cliff diving and trailer food tours sent electric spice through my veins, and I instantly swiped one of the business cards pinned up next to the poster.

The website was equally inviting and very easy to navigate. After checking my cluttered facebook account, the streamlined www.Guidehop.com put my eyes and mind at ease. The three main navigation buttons, "Join," "Log In," and "How it Works," made it simple. I excitedly clicked through the tours available, as well as the cities featured. Right away, "Ride with a Scooter Gang," caught my interest. I emailed the guide, Aaron, right away and got a response within the hour. Sure, he'd take me around on a scooter. I mentioned I didn't like the bus system; he'd be happy to pick me up. And the sunset I'd heard so much about from the locals? We could definitely cruise up there.


Aaron arrived right on time and took me to meet his scooter. He described how it worked and offered me use of a helmet and protective gear. Since I had never actually ridden on a scooter before, this was comforting, even though my excitement was ruling at this point. His friend, a new local, joined us on the ride on his own 50cc scooter.

What gave me the most joy at the beginning of the scooter tour was revisiting some of the sites I had seen earlier on the somewhat dull bus tour. Instead of facts and figures, Aaron gave me an idea of the local feel of the town. He told me about the "bat bridge" that ran the length of congress street, and how kayaking under it during summer months was quite a thrill. I learned how Aaron could get from one side of Lady Bird Lake (really a river) to the other without having to ever set tire on a street--the pedestrian and cyclist routes and accessibility were incredible. We rode through three different downtown districts--the Warehouse, 6th Street Music District and 2nd Street Shopping District--as Aaron pointed out various attractions, along with personal anecdotes about his experiences during SXSW. We slid through the Barton Springs neighborhood (something that was simply mentioned briefly in the bus tour, I might add--up close and personal was definitely more my style with this gorgeous area) that had year round 72 degree water, before heading to dinner and ping pong at a local food trailer establishment. This last part was above and beyond the description of the tour, but Aaron asked if I had anything else in mind that I hadn't yet checked out in Austin and I immediately thought of the dozens of food trailers I had seen around town.

The best part of it all, though, was the ride up Mt. Bonnell to check out the sunset. I heard amazing things about this from my googlizing before my trip, and I had resigned myself to not being able to go because of my disappointment in the public transportation system. Guidehop fixed that. We rode up and through the hills before reaching the peak and climbing up the stairs to reach the summit. By this point, I had convinced myself to buy a scooter someday and Aaron was telling me some of the basics. When we got to the top, Aaron and his friend helped me and several other clumsy ladies reach the top of the terrace--the best view to see the sunset. I started snapping away, uninterrupted now, before posing for a few shots myself. The view of Austin was breathtaking and something I never would have been able to appreciate fully without the air breezing past me on the scooter ride through the hills and the incredible local knowledge of the city provided by Guidehop and Aaron. I definitely did not feel like a tourist at this point. I felt liberated from stress and from dullness.

After the tour, Aaron gave me a free tshirt from Guidehop--something I wasn't expecting and an offer to use one of his bikes for the rest of my stay (Again, remembering my hatred of the public transit system)--something I definitely wasn't expecting. By the end of the tour, I didn't feel like I had been on a tour that happens from a memorized script and shameless self promotion to buy merchandise in a gift shop. I felt truly guided through a city I had never been to, and felt the warmth and courtesy of local culture. My only regret is not staying longer to experience more Guidehop tours. Who knows, I hear bats come out in the warmer months--maybe they can guide me back.


That eye-catching poster! =)


On top of the terrace at Mt. Bonnell!


City landscape in the background!


Just beautiful


Unfortunately, I can't do the sunset justice with my photography skills, though I sure tried!!


My free guidehop tshirt and generously lent bike, as Aaron dropped me back off at the hostel!