Which Kind do You Have?

Miscellaneous

I’m not a very talkative person. I don’t mind “awkward” silence. It’s only awkward when you make it, but to me it’s just a time to think or observe. I’m not sure how much is true about the following statement, because I was too young to remember, but when I was little my parents were worried because I didn’t talk much. My aunt, on the other hand, wasn’t worried in the slightest. She claimed I didn’t have to talk. I had two older sisters and a caring mother who would get whatever it was I was pointing at. That was my way of communication. I had all the power in my tiny, baby index finger. I still find myself doing that sometimes, so my apologies if I’ve offended you by doing so. Some old habits never really wear off.

What I’m lacking in communication, I make up for in observance; I’m always observing my environment. I don’t mean it in the sense of paranoia, like where’s the closest exit to run to in case there’s a crazy-man walking in the door right now. I’m just observing what’s around me: architecture, people, things that would make a unique photo, how you have a booger in your nose, but don’t want to bring it up. Just kidding, I’d let you know. I just like making mental notes on things, so I can eventually talk your ear off via blogging.

This past weekend my girlfriend and I went shopping at some outlets near our apartment. Shopping was something I used to enjoy. Having those two sisters who were at my beck and call when I was little meant a lot of days spent shopping, and it kinda wore off on me. I was never opposed to hopping in the mom-van for an afternoon spent at the mall. I think it was because there were stores I actually shopped at in the mall back then. Nowadays I do a majority of my shopping online, because there aren’t many brands I wear which have physical stores, so my feelings towards shopping have been tainted.

While I was walking with my girlfriend around racks and tables of clothes, I began my coping mechanism: observing. What was I observing you ask? I was observing the coping mechanisms of other guys who were out shopping with their significant other. There were many different types of male species: black, white, Spanish, Asian, tall, short, skinny, fat, thugs, red necks, classy guys, meatheads, blah blah blah. You name it, that guy was there. After many hours of deductive reasoning and late nights of going over my research, I’ve come to realization there are three types of guys who shop with their significant others, and I would like to share them with you.

The Perfect Man

Women dream of the perfect man; typically referred to as those tall, dark, and handsome fellas. What makes them perfect varies from girl to girl. One girl may think the perfect man is the one who brings home the money, buys her whatever she wants, takes her to exotic places, does all these expensive things, because love = money. Other women think the perfect man is someone who wears Ed Hardy, works out 75% of the day, has enough grease in his hair to stop your breaks from squeaking, and lives by the infamous phrase “GTL”. Whatever man is perfect in your eyes is fine with me. I won’t judge what gets you going.

When it comes to shopping though, the perfect man is not described by the clothes he wears, or how much gel is in his hair. This man is described by how well he handles shopping. He’s the man who will hold all of the clothes his significant other wants to try on. He’ll go and get a dressing room ready while his significant other looks for the one last thing that will make that outfit exquisite. Need a different size in those pants? He’ll take off and get you that size like he’s rounding third base, headed home to score the winning run.

He’ll also provide honest feedback, because honesty is key in a relationship, and he lives by that. “I love the way that shirt brings out your eyes!” “Those pants fit you extremely well!” “I really like what you’re doing with that top/bottom combo; it fits you to the T” are things he’ll usually say. If he doesn’t really like something she’s picked out, he’ll let her know in a loving way: “Babe, I think we could find something a little better to compliment your new hair style.”

This guy is Dreamer McDreamerton, for sure.

The “You’re on Your Own” Man

Ever walk into a store and see three guys standing at the entrance, looking as helpless as Little Orphan Annie? Yeah, those are the “you’re on your own” men I’m talking about. These guys don’t even bother with shopping. Once they walk through the doors, it’s like they walked into Spider Man’s web: there’s no way you’re getting out of that. They were probably dragged away from their 65-inch TV’s right as tipoff started, dreading Monday morning’s water-cooler talk. They know Steve’s going to brag about how he witnessed the craziest ending in sports history and laughs as he reminds you of how you were stuck shopping. Shut the hell up, Steve. You have a booger in your nose, and I’m not going to tell you about it.

If they aren’t dragged away from something they’d rather do, sometimes these men have every intention of being that perfect man mentioned before. They gave themselves the mirror pep talk while getting ready that morning – “Okay, man, you can do this. It’s only going to take 30-minutes, 45 at most. You’ll be in and out of there as fast as that time she told you she was only 17.” They walk into those stores scoffing at the guys sitting by the doors, telling his girlfriend how those aren’t “real men” under his breath. 45-minutes turns into an hour, and she still hasn’t tried on her cart full of clothes. Chalk another one up for the store. This guy’s toast. Off he goes to the front of the store, where those guys he was mocking earlier are there welcoming him with open arms, because guys don’t hold grudges.

He, too, may be someone’s Dreamer McDreamerton.

The Hybrid Man

If “the perfect man” and the “‘you’re on your own’ man” had a baby, voila, you have yourself the hybrid man. This guy most likely won’t offer valuable advice about what you picked out, but he sure as hell won’t leave you alone as he sits at the entrance. He’ll walk with you through the aisles of clothes and shoes, but the aura he gives off won’t be good. He usually looks like Simba following Mufasa, after he was caught exploring the shadow lands. You know, sulking like he knows what he did was wrong and disobedient, but he’s man enough to accept his fate.

He’s often times one step away from being “the perfect man”, but the genes he got from the “‘you’re on your own’ man” prevent him from taking that step. “Honey, what do you think of this shirt?” “It’s nice.” “Babe, what do you think of these pants?” “They’re blue.” “Sweetie, do you like these shoes?” “Sure.”  He’ll give you some feedback, but it’s as useless as carrying your iPhone around when you’ve gone over your monthly data. The significant other would probably benefit more from her man sitting by the entrance, but appreciates the effort and is still happy they’re spending time together.

Although he provides the short, useless feedback often obtained from the “‘you’re on your own’ man”, he does have qualities of “the perfect man” as well. While by your side, making it obvious he’s not 100% interested in the current situation, he usually copes by joking around about certain clothes. He’ll be the one who picks up a shirt and says, “Why would someone even wear this?” as a lady walks by wearing that exact shirt, leaving you two giggling like school girls. Or, he’ll put on a hat and ask his girlfriend what she thinks of it, then act as serious as possible about buying it. He tries to make light of the poor situation he’s in, but he puts your thoughts first.

He’s the real-life Dreamer McDreamerton.

In conclusion, I think it’s better off I keep my talking to a minimum and keep observing life. You can’t get in trouble for not saying something. Well, let’s just say you can’t get in as much trouble, because if you don’t say anything, then you’ll get in trouble for not saying anything. It’s a weird world we live in.

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It’s Coming…

Miscellaneous

There comes a point in everyone’s life where we have to be patient. Whether we’re waiting for it to be Friday, because work sucks, or we’re waiting for the next post of a very amusing blog to be published, we must tolerate the delay without getting upset. Luckily for those of you who enjoy my blog, the wait will be over very soon. For those who are waiting for Friday, well, there isn’t much luck in store for you. Perhaps catching up on the posts you may have missed will get you that much closer to Friday. I heard Stacy, the most popular senior in high school, reads my blog. Don’t you want to be as cool as her? She has so many friends who care so much about her.

You want to know a way to test your patience? Order something off your favorite clothing brand’s website on a Friday night. Talk about time stopping. You’re guaranteeing a couple more days of waiting in aggravation for that package to arrive, because your order will be processed the following Monday. Then, once it is processed, you’ll track your package more often than a senior frat bro checks for his final exam score in calculus leading up to graduation. We all know after your sixth year of college graduation is never going to happen, especially if calculus is keeping you back; it’s the worst thing ever created.

The thing that has been testing my patience lately is the arrival of Fall – the greatest season of all time. So many things occur during the fall, it’s almost too much to take in at once. We have the arrival of the college football and basketball seasons, the arrival of the NFL, NHL, and NBA (meh) seasons, the holiday season, and most importantly, the arrival of changing weather.

Collegiate Fall Sports

College sports are far more enjoyable to watch than pro sports in my opinion, especially football. It’s a combination of two things: 1) the atmosphere in and around the stadium, and 2) collegiate athletes seem to play with a greater need to prove themselves more than professional athletes.

Those who were lucky enough to have gone to/go to a school which has a powerhouse football program, hell, any football program really, should consider themselves lucky to have experienced Fall Saturday’s for 4+ years. Unfortunately, my school didn’t have a football program, but I was able to experience the energy Saturday’s brought out of people whenever I went to USC (University of South Carolina) football games, and boy was it a great feeling. From the start of the tailgate, through the duration of the game, and even after the game, the energy in the air from college football is strong enough to make the bleachers bounce up and down, and probably power the whole city.

Benefitting the most from the energy generated from us fans are the players themselves. These guys feed off of the yelling and screaming of fight songs, which only leads to them wanting to play harder, better, faster, stronger.

N-now th-that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger, I need you to hurry up now, cause I can’t wait much longer…

Sorry about that. Whenever you’re given a chance to rap the lyrics of Yeezus himself, you must take advantage of it. Anyways, where were we. Because these college athletes are feeding off of the crowd, it seems like they play with a greater sense of urgency to prove themselves, and that makes the sport more enjoyable to watch.

Professional Fall Sports

I come from a city where our teams like to play with your emotions during the Fall, and it’s hard to watch. The Nationals have been succeeding during the regular season over the past few years, but once playoff baseball starts it’s a whole different story. They’ll typically win the first two games of a five game series, and then go on to lose the next three in a row, crushing your heart as badly as Summer Roberts crushes Seth Cohen’s time and time again in the Orange County. Both the Wizards and the Capitals are on the up and up, but they often times have fallen victim to the same playoff woes as the Nationals, thus crushing the hearts of many of their fans.

As for the Redskins, I don’t even want to talk about their situation. If they win five games this year, it’ll count as an improvement. If they win seven games by some miracle, they’ll have matched their total amount of wins over the past two years. However, if the Redskins are sucking, that means one thing: fantasy football is in progress, and there’s nothing that makes football more enjoyable than participating in fantasy football.

Holiday Season

Tell me one thing that’s greater than being woken up by the scents of a Thanksgiving dinner tickling your nose? The days leading up to Christmas you say? Well, I think you got me there. I’m a sucker for the Christmas season. Listening to Christmas songs while sipping hot chocolate on the way to cutting down your very own Christmas tree probably tops the list of holiday activities. It even tops raiding CVS the day after Halloween for all of the discounted candy.

If you’re not into the holidays, you’re not a human being. However, there are things even you will be happy about: more holidays. Each month leading up to the end of the year contains at least one holiday, which means one more day off from work. If you don’t like missing work, I envy you, because you probably have a job you actually enjoy. Take your job-loving, holiday-season-hating self somewhere else during my favorite time of the year. Also, would you mind checking to see if there are any job openings there?

Changing of the Weather

I’m sick of walking outside and instantly sweating in places I didn’t think it was possible to sweat in. I’m sick of getting into a hot car whenever I want to go somewhere. I’m sick of all of the mosquitoes taking my tasty Puerto Rican blood. I’m sick of hearing all of those cicadas buzzing high above from the trees, acting as a constant reminder as to just how hot it is (talk about a summer anthem). I’m sick of my sunglasses fogging up when I get out of my car. I’m sick of feeling uncomfortable walking outside in shorts and a t-shirt, for Christ sakes. I’m sick of summer. I only want summer around long enough for me to get a good tan, and then I want it to go away. I want it to go away for one reason, and one reason only:

Flannels.

Luckily Fall is inching closer and closer. However, I think my flannels will have to wait a little longer this year. After moving to Charleston, SC, it’ll probably be hot until November. Guess I’ll have to snuggle with them so I can have that skin-to-fabric contact.

What’s the Point?

Miscellaneous

It’s raining outside. There’s nothing better than the rain. Rain provides water for our agriculture, which in turn provides jobs for people to gather said agriculture, which ultimately provides the human race with food. Rain gives us lazy people even more of a reason not to leave the house – “I mean, the sun is out, but there’s also a 30% chance of rain at 5:00pm, and if I go outside, I’ll stay out past 5:00pm for sure. Better not risk it!” Rain is relatable to so many good things, but there’s one thing that sucks about rain:

Mosquitoes.

What in the absolute fuck is the point of a mosquito? They have to be the worst species of life on this planet. All they do is buzz around and suck the blood from us humans, then leave you with this itchy, red bump on your body that causes you to scratch yourself until you bleed to relive the pain. You remember that one time your dad pointed out a prostitute to you and said, “Hey, son, check it out: it’s a walking STD!”? Well, I want you to go up to him right now, remind him of that time, and then tell him he was wrong (not because of what he said, but because he was truly wrong). Then proceed to tell him that mosquitoes are in fact the equivalent of walking, well, flying STD’s, because they pretty much transfer blood from one thing to another. You’re dad will be so impressed with your creativity and critical thinking abilities that he’ll retire early and jump on your back for the rest of his life, which might not be bad, because the mosquitoes can bite him instead of you.

I live in the mosquito version of Dave and Busters. Mosquitoes come here to feed on terrible, half-priced apps, bad service, and games you can never win (that’s unfair of me to say, because I’ve never been to a D&B, but I can make a very, very strong assumption). My apartment complex is surrounded by wooded areas, and inside the complex itself we have three man-made ponds. Every time I step outside, I come back in with at least 5 new mosquito bites. Often times these flying demons sneak into our house when we open the door to go out/come in, and I hear them buzzing around me, but I CAN NEVER KILL THEM, SO THEY LINGER AROUND LIKE A DOG FART; THEY’RE LITERALLY FEEDING ON MY GIRLFRIEND AND ME AS WE SLEEP! It’s getting to the point where my whole entire body will soon become one giant bump, and I’ll probably die due to the amount of other people’s blood I have coursing through my veins.

I took Zoë out one day, and while I was standing there waiting for her to do her business (because business is done outside, not inside) two mosquitoes landed ever so daintily on my ankle. These mosquitoes couldn’t have been more than an inch from one another, happily sucking days away from my lifespan. After a moment of oblivion on my part, I finally noticed and happily murdered them on my own bare skin, because fuck’em, that’s why. Upon lifting my hand as I basked in the glory of defeating everyone’s enemy, I saw enough blood on my ankle for the blood bank down the road to meet its monthly quota. Seriously, if I hadn’t of noticed these two on my ankle, they probably wouldn’t have had the strength to fly away with how much blood of mine they consumed. They’d roll away, laughing at me, as my foot changed from normal foot color to not normal foot color.

In all seriousness though, I was curious as to what purpose mosquitoes serve, so I consulted everyone’s smartest friend: Google. I found a link to a website called “Quora”, which is a website where top-of-their-profession individuals provide everyone else with answers and knowledge on pretty much anything. I should have stopped after reading the layman’s-termed answer Google gave me, because a “Neuroscience PhD and all-around bio geek” (that’s really what she called herself) provided me with an answer that made me feel stupid, which lead to a state of serious annoyance. I mean, her answer was upvoted by an Organismic and Evolutionary Biologist for christ sakes. Seriously? I’ve never even heard of that.

I went on to read a few more, which I find weird now after having gone on that rant about hating the first answer so much, and found out mosquitoes are an integral part of many ecosystems. They’ve been around for over 100-million years, and if they were to all of a sudden vanish, many other species would suffer due to a loss of a primary food source. One answer also stated mosquitoes help with preventing overpopulation of the human species, due to carrying and transferring deadly viruses. I guess that’s good, right? I don’t know. Shortly after reading all of these answers I closed my computer out of frustration fueled by stupidity. I felt like the kid in class who had a question, contemplated asking the question because he thought it was stupid, disobeyed his conscious and asked it anyway, then heard the faint chuckles from the back of the class after asking – “Now, class, no question is “stupid”, but some are pretty damn close.” Fuck you, Mrs. Jones…

And mosquitoes.

Hold on, I’m Taking a Picture…

Miscellaneous

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You know those moments in the past you reflect back on when you’re older, and some say wiser, and you wish you would have stuck with a hobby, because who knows where you would be if you had? Well, apart from skateboarding, I’m now realizing photography should be added to that list. Pictures taken are moments captured in history. There will never be one picture that is the exact same as another and that’s what makes photography exciting. You’re in total control of capturing the next greatest moment in history to showcase to whomever you want, whether it’s at an art show, as a gift to someone in your family, or even just on Instagram (manny__iii – two underscores, if you were wondering =D).

When I was a sophomore…or was it junior-year? Shit, I’m getting old. When I was a sophnior in high school, I took an introduction to photography class. We learned the ins-and-outs of taking photos, the cameras themselves, lighting, working in a darkroom, etc. I was probably seen as one of the worst students in the class to my teacher, and an annoyance to my parents now that I think of it (explained later). It wasn’t because I was a bad kid who talked back or anything like that. It was because I didn’t put a lot of effort into it and procrastinated way too much (typical high schooler antics). It was an elective class, and I was on the varsity baseball team, with sights set on playing in college (boy were those sights blurred), so why would I need to focus on an elective class? God, if I could punch that sophnior in the face right now I would.

I can recall countless nights getting home from baseball practice and remembering I had a photo project that was due the following day. I’d go get my camera only to realize I had no film. “Mommmmmm…will you take me to go get film for a project that’s due tomorrow?” (This just made me realize I was a sophomore, because I couldn’t drive). Notice how I left out the fact the project was assigned a week and a half ago, but I eventually confessed during the 30-minute drive to Penn Camera (remember those places? God rest their soul). We’d get back from the deceased and I would take lame pictures of objects around the house, like lamps, clocks, and doorknobs. I pretty much set myself up for questioning from my teacher the next day. “Manny, when did you take these pictures?” “Ummm…errr…photosynthesis?” At least it has the word “photo” in it. Good job, kid.

My lack of interest in the class at the time still blows my mind. The first project we had in class was creating a pinhole camera out of an oatmeal box, for christ sakes. “I just ate my breakfast out of this box this morning, and NOW I’M TAKING PICTURES OF MY TEACHERS LEXUS IS350 WITH IT?! ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?!” It was perhaps the coolest project I ever did in high school, and 15year-old me was too blind to see the  potential photography entailed.

Other projects we had consisted of creating fake magazine covers (Mom’s beamer in the driveway), manually color-splashing photos (shed in the backyard), and this project where we cut two photos in 10-15 strips and pasted them on paper we had folded like fans, so if you were to angle your head one way you’d see one picture and angle it the other to see the second photo (kinda hard to explain, but I used my dads convertible with the top up and down). Are you sensing a pattern at the photo’s I took? I pretty much set myself up for procrastination, knowing that my subjects were literally right outside my door. Other kids in my class actually planned out certain locations to shoot at, and sometimes even had a friend model for them. Me? No need to plan anything out, I’ll just take a picture of my mom’s flowerbed in the backyard. Worst. Student. Ever.

Anyways, enough sobbing about the past. Almost ten years later and all that hard work has gone down the drain, to the water treatment plant, and studied by H2Ologists to be used as electricity for their iPhone chargers. What’s that? There aren’t such things as H2Ologists who charge their iPhones with water? Well, guess what? High school me made a camera OUT OF AN OATMEAL BOX IN 2005! It’s now 2015. Don’t doubt what the human-race can do in 2015. Come on, guys, use your head. After recently purchasing a new camera right before my trip to Iceland I’ve had to re-teach myself what high school Manny flushed down the toilet. But, seeing as how I’m unemployed at the moment, the learning is keeping me hungry to get better, so I guess it worked out.

I’m now at a stage where I’m obsessed with photography. I think my obsession stems from the fact I can relate photography to skateboarding. Both hobbies require a creative eye and patience; both hobbies will make the everyday stranger you pass on the street stop and take another look at what you’re doing; both hobbies are ways to escape from reality and put my mind at ease. But, perhaps the greatest thing photography and skateboarding have in common is that it makes you get up and get out of the house. There’s nothing better than exploring the world around you in my mind, and, when the time and money permits, the world outside of your comfort zone. Why not purchase a camera, familiarize yourself with it, and document those captured moments for eternity? Trust me, you’ll wish you did.

Should I be Mad?

Miscellaneous

I know, I know – I introduced you all to my recent trip to Iceland yesterday, and this post is going to be about something totally different, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want. (Part two of my Iceland trip will be up within the next couple days, I promise!)

A few posts ago, I introduced the internet to my beautiful ball of fur – Zoë. My girlfriend and I have had Zoë for a little over three weeks now and we’re still working on her potty training. She’s getting better at it as the days go by (e.g. occasionally whining when she has to go outside), but it’s still not at 100% potty perfection. There are still occasions where I catch a glimpse of the sun shining through the window and reflecting off a perfectly placed circle of bodily fluids, and times where I’m not so lucky and end up with a wet sock on the way to the kitchen. But, like I said, we’re making progress at what I like to think is a reasonably good pace. (If you potty trained your dog in three days, I don’t want to hear about it. Take your super puppy and kindly leave my blog. That is, of course, after telling all of your friends about it.)

Now, to the part where I’m not sure whether or not I should be mad. Being the unemployed blogger I am, waiting for that one day the right person reads my blog and my writing career takes off and I befriend all of the celebrities like Ariana Grande, Tove Lo, and Rich Homie Quan (man do I love rap), I spend a lot of time at my apartment. Ever since getting Zoë I don’t really have a choice to get away to skate or go on a solo photo adventure. I can’t bring her with me, due to the obvious reason – she’s all fur (you thought I was going to say she’s only 9-weeks old, huh?). If I did bring her with me, I’d have to bring her back within an hour of leaving because the sun is brutal here in Charleston. Unless you’re at the beach with a nice breeze, you’ll sweat faster than Biebs getting pulled over in the USofA without his green card. (Does he have citizenship in the US? If so, my analogy is irrelevant and I’m being judged heavily by all of the Beliebers.)

(I’m sorry for this break in the current programing you’re tuned into, but I just witnessed the saddest thing ever. According to whatever spell-check system WordPress uses, the word “Beliebers” is in fact a real word. There is no red dotted line underneath it, signifying it’s spelled incorrectly, so that must mean it’s a word, right? I should just stop where I’m at in this post and have this be my final sentence. The world will soon be run by these Beliebers, and everyone will be forced to bleach their hair and shave the sides of their head, leaving only a reasonably long, awkward patch of hair on top. Thanks a lot, Canada. Take your free healthcare and friendly people and shove it – but let us keep that delicious bacon, please. The US is doomed.)

Being the only one at the apartment during the week means I have the freedom to do whatever I want. I could elicit the hardest of drugs to residents at my apartment complex if I wanted to (I don’t). I could fill every square foot of space in the apartment with M&M’s (I haven’t…yet). I could even use the bathroom and keep the door open if I wanted to (this is the one option listed I do). Now that we’ve established that, the craziest thing happened the other day. I got up to use the bathroom, made it safely with two dry socks, and executed my business to perfection. Perfectly executed bathroom session complete, I turn around to walk out and what do I see? The cutest of puppy faces staring back at me. Awww, Zoë. What else do I see? The most symmetrical circle of puppy business separating me from Zoë.

I kind of just stood there, not knowing how to react. I mean, yeah, sure, she peed in the house again. BUT, she peed in the bathroom. It happened a few days after that as well, only I didn’t witness it this time, I just saw it when I walked in.

Should I have been mad? Should I have flipped everything in the apartment  over in a furious act of Hulk-rage? Should I have banished Zoë off to our screened in back porch with all of the creepy spiders and dog fur from the person above us until mom came home? Nope, I did the complete opposite and gave her a treat and then tweeted about it with an excessive amount of emoji’s. My thought was she saw me and wanted to be like her dear old dad *wipes tear from eye*. She’s a super-DUPER-SMART pup and saw the human bathroom as her bathroom as well. Gosh, she’ll be the one supporting us soon, just you wait!

Anyway, that was the post that ruined the fluidity of what would have been a  perfectly executed three-part Icelandic trip summary. Can’t promise it won’t happen again between part two and part three. Life’s just that unfair sometimes.

Trip of a Lifetime! (Part 1)

Uncategorized

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(Preface: I probably should have written this either during my time in Iceland or shortly after I got back from Iceland, because everything I’m saying will be based off of memory and not really “in the moment”. With that being said, I won’t be able to remember everything exactly (luckily I have pictures to help out with remembering exactly what we did and when we did it), but I shall try my best! Be sure to check back for the next part!)

Way back in January, New Years day to be exact, I was awoken by a phone  call pretty early in the morning. After having to pry my eyes open with wrenches due to the alcohol consumed the night before, I noticed it was a call from my Aunt. Now, given the state I was in and time of the morning it was, I most likely would have ducked the phone call. But, for some reason I answered it, and I’m so glad I did.

“How would you like to go to Iceland?”

Wait, WHAT?!?! I think I found something that wakes you up easier and faster than coffee: ask people life-altering questions. After a brief conversation with my Aunt, my girlfriend and I were one step closer to a trip of a lifetime. A string of emails back and forth between my Aunt and me over the next couple of weeks resulted in my girlfriend and I booking our flight to a country we never would have thought of going to: Iceland.

Six months go by and our dream vacation is right around the corner. Now, I’ve only been out of the country once, and that was to the Azores two summers ago, so I’m nowhere near the traveling veteran my girlfriend is having lived the first half of her life in Paraguay. Traveling internationally to me has been slightly tainted by living off of my dad’s and brother-in-law’s clothing for three days while in the Azores. Can you guess what happens next? Yup, you got it. We arrive at Keflavík International Airport to find out our luggage was never transferred to our flight in Toronto. No matter what you tell me, I’m placing the blame on the Air Canada lady at BWI Airport who repeated THREE TIMES our luggage would arrive at our final destination. Anyways, our trip wasn’t starting off the way we planned, but we were too sleep deprived to really care (plus, our luggage was flown on the next flight over, so we got it the following day).

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(Our cottage in the valley.)

Day 1 – Arrival Day

After finding out our luggage didn’t make it, we we’re off in our rental car to explore the south-western coast of Iceland. (Speaking of rental car, it was good that our luggage didn’t make it, because we had just enough room for six people and the luggage that did make it.) The weather that day wasn’t very welcoming (rainy and 45 degrees), but it was pretty typical for that time of year in Iceland.

Too be honest, there wasn’t very much to see along the south-western coast. Apart from the fact that it was so hazy, the land surrounding the roads was nothing but volcanic rock fields with the occasional jagged trenches. We made our way around the land similar to the way the vikings did around the year 1000: Mapquest. While fighting sleep deprivation, I couldn’t help but notice how eerie the area was. We probably saw three cars the whole time we were exploring, and every residential area we past through was a complete ghost town.

We made a couple of pitstops along the coast at some scenic viewpoints and at some natural hot springs before arriving at an Icelandic grocery store. It’s always fun going to foreign grocery stores and seeing what it is they have in stock (I say that like I’ve been to so many of them). Apart from the typical Icelandic brands they had, they also carried things like Lucky Charms and Mountain Dew.

There isn’t much to go off on the ride to our cottage, because the whole drive felt like a dream. As a matter of fact, my uncle who was driving admitted to dreaming while he was driving, which we all thought was hilarious. After finally making it to our cottage, we fought off sleep as long as we could in an attempt to salvage our sleep schedule. Let me tell you, it was one pathetic fight. Once my head hit the pillow, I was asleep. It was 5:30pm.

(Side note: we were in Iceland during the summer equinox, so it never got dark. Each night our room progressively got darker as we put blankets and towels in front of it to sleep.)

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(Stokkur Geyser erupting from atop of a mountain)

Day 2 – Haukadalur Valley and Gullfoss

After 15 hours of sleep the smell of pancakes filled the cottage, leading us out of bed. We figured since the previous day was such a struggle, we would explore the area surrounding to cottage. Finally getting our luggage back, everyone got dressed for the day and we took the shortest drive of our trip down the road to Haukadalur Valley to see the geysers.

A steady drizzle of rain and fog filled the air. Combine that with a cool, brisk wind, we were deep in the true Icelandic experience. Upon arrival to the geyser fields, the scent of sulphur filled the air, which, by the way, isn’t the greatest of smells. The steam from the boiling water waiting to erupt caused visibility to be even more obstructed, but we were able to get an up-close-and-personal look at some of the eruptions, as seen below.

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After being on the ground for a few eruptions, we decided it was time to hike up the mountain that overlooked the geysers. The mountain we climbed up looked tiny from a distance compared to the surrounding mountain ranges, but when you’re at the bottom of it you’d think otherwise. It took us 30-minutes to hike to the top and get a great view of the geysers and the valley where our cottage was, which seemed a little long, but steady drizzle caused the ground beneath us to be slick with mud.

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Hiking down was just as challenging as hiking up, but once we were safely back down we cleaned our shoes in the runoff of water from the geysers, which was probably frowned upon (oh well, we’re American, what do you expect?) and headed off to see what is said to be the largest waterfall in Europe: Gullfoss (translated – Golden Falls).

Gullfoss got its name because on a sunny day, the water tumbling down the three tiered, staircase falls truly appears to be golden. Unfortunately for us, the weather was very gray, but the sight was beautiful nonetheless. The roar of the water approaching the falls then free falling some 34 meters down to the bottom was almost as mesmerizing as the sights of the falls itself.

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(Gullfoss on a clearer day of our trip)

Our time at Gullfoss came to an end and we decided to call it a day. The little activity we did over the course of the day seemed extreme due jet lag. We drove back towards the cabin, ate some dinner, and wound the night down with a relaxing hot tub session and Icelandic beer. Ahhhhh, what a great night that was.

Overall, the first two days were amazing, sleep deprivation or not. As stated before, I never thought I would have gotten a chance to travel to Iceland, but thanks to my family I was able to do exactly that. From the moment we landed in Iceland to the end of day two, I already knew this trip would be life-changing. Be sure to check back soon to see what we did the next couple of days!

Puppyhood

Uncategorized

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This is Zoë (be sure to follow her on Instagram! @zoe_the_auz). This little bundle of joy has graced my girlfriend and me with what hopes to be a lifetime of memories and laughs. So far? The laughs seem few and far between.

When we were in the beginning stages of puppy scouting, we were thrown all of the typical new puppy-parent questions: the ever infamous “are you sure you want a puppy?” as if we were telling our friends and family a joke, just to see what they said; “do you know what nurturing a puppy consists of?” as if we were being introduced to the dog species for the first time; “are you ready to take her into considerations when making plans?” as if we have the schedule of Kanye West, etc. All we were thinking of were the nights cuddling her on the couch watching a movie, enjoying a nice adult beverage; the cute puppy-kisses waking us up at a reasonable time in the morning; the easy-for-you-but-impossible-for-her tug-of-war games we’d play with mommy’s socks. Then we woke up…at 3:00am.

I’m here to give those of you who have ever considered getting a puppy some classified information on what puppyhood really consists of. If I wanted to be like everyone else and say, “it’s a lot of work”, my blog post would end here. Lucky for you, I’m not like your mom/dad/sister/brother/friend/garbage man/mailman/dentist/financial advisor or even Mary down at the gourmet donut shop. This is first hand experience.

Say good-bye to your sleep schedule

We were prepared to be woken up early in the mornings to take Zoë outside for the good ole’ one-and-two combo. What we weren’t prepared for were these awakenings to occur every three hours. I would love to see the security camera footage of our zombie walks at 3:00am, while Zoë is prancing around, squatting down to say “these four strands of pine straw belong to ZOË THE AUZ! ‘psssssssss’ ” then darting in and out of the bushes.

Then, when you finally bring her inside, be prepared to a) play with her for a little while, hoping the three rounds of stuffed-toucan fetch tires her out (it won’t), or b) try to sleep through the screeching howls and screams of her in her crate.

Best thing to do before bed? Make sure your soon-to-be pile of fluff doesn’t nap before you’re considering going to bed. Try taking him/her on a nice long walk before settling down. (Be sure to have a fast enough pace so they can run, ya bums.)

Crate-training is worse than wet socks

The first night we brought Zoë home, we were already in fear of putting her in the crate that night. We were told to section off the crate with a divider, so she only has room to sleep and not move around as much (i.e. pee). We tried to make it as comfortable and appealing as possible with pillows, blankets, and toys.

Out go the lights, and in comes the loudest, most bloodcurdling screeching and howling (and other noises we still can’t put into words) we’ve ever heard. It literally sounded like the divider fell on her and she was being pierced by the hooks. (That may or may not have happened, minus the piercing, due to faulty configuration…) The sounds were so loud, my girlfriend and I were expecting to hear a knock on the door and be taken to puppy-jail for being complete idiots.

Tips for crate training? Introduce your soon-to-be puppy-scent puppy to their crate as soon as possible. Try putting little treats in the crate, and having them eat and finish it while in there. Then, open the door and let them out, giving them soft compliments. Keep doing this until you deem it necessary. Oh yeah, and make sure it’s sturdy and configured correctly.

You don’t need a “Kanye West Schedule” to feel the pain of planning

Need to go to the bathroom? Make sure you know where your puppy is. Need to take a shower? Make sure you know where your puppy is. Need to close your eyes for just a second because you got 2 hours of sleep last night? Make sure you know where your puppy is.

Wait a second…Kanye West does these things too! I’m pretty much Yeezus!

These were the things Mary from the donut shop was talking about. You don’t have to have meetings scheduled with Adidas, nor be consumed with ACTUALLY keeping up with the Kardashians to experience the drawbacks of having a puppy. Simple, everyday things are harder when you’re a humom or a puppy dad (dad’s don’t have cool pet names).

Tips for scheduling around a puppy? Feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Thanks!

Nothing is safe come teething time

As I sit here and write this, I can see Zoë chewing on the hand strap of my monopod I used at the beach yesterday for taking pictures. I had to stop her because she moved onto biting the foam handle off in little pieces. When I got up to take it away, she ran straight to her crate. Yay crate training! Here’s a treat!

Puppies will chew on anything that isn’t one of their toys: shoes, blankets, any type of strap/string, wires, their crate, any part of your body, you name it. I even saw Zoë chewing on the couch one day. Not something chewable, such as the corner of the couch, but the side paneling of the couch. How she’s able to position her snout and actually get a tooth on the couch panel is something only Einstein himself could solve, but he’s dead, so it will remain a mystery.

Tips for teething puppies? When you see your soon-to-be cuddle-butt chewing on something they aren’t supposed to be chewing on, simply clap loud enough to get their attention (try not to startle them). Then grab one of their chew toys and calmly let them know this is what they should be chewing on.

You may want to invest in some rubber boots

Your soon-to-be mommy’s little angle will pee in your house. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I don’t care if you’re Cesar Millan himself, it’s going to happen.

We have hardwood floors in our apartment, and it’s kind of bittersweet in the sense that it’s an easy cleanup, but you can’t see any of these treasure puddles pooling in the one spot you’re about to step in unless you’re at the right angle. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve walked to the fridge to grab something to drink and stepped in a cold puddle left behind by Zoë, and wet socks are worse than crate training, as previously explained.

Tips for potty training? Whenever you see your puppy start sniffing around as if you dropped a piece of food somewhere, stop what you’re doing and take him/her outside. Chances are your puppy is ready to mark their territory. Congratulate him/her with a pat on the head and a small treat, while acknowledging what he/she did.

Now, I’m going to sound like a complete dad, but even with all of the hassles I’ve encountered in the two-plus weeks of having Zoë, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being able to see her grow up and be a mature, smart dog, accomplishing all of her life goals of barking at squirrels, fetching tennis balls, and running behind me while I skate is going to be awesome. So, go out there and get that pup you want. Even though there are a lot of troubles that come along with pups, you’ll be happy you did when you see them sleeping peacefully next to you. Also, you can use some things to your advantage!

  • Having the worst dream of your life? Only three more minutes until little Daisy will wake you up to tell you she has to pee!
  • Stuck on the phone listening to your mom talk about holiday plans? “Damn it, Rover, don’t pee there! Sorry, mom, gotta take Rover outside!”
  • Can’t go out on Friday because you have no money, but too embarrassed to admit it? “Sorry, man, can’t come out tonight. Gotta be here for when Buddy has to pee!”
  • Conversation getting awkward with Mary at the donut shop? “Sorry, Mary, gotta go. I don’t want Lucy to pee in your shop!”
  • Blog post dragging on? “Sorry, guys, Zoë just woke up from her nap, gotta take her to pee!

I’m sensing a peetern here…

Stuck on You

Miscellaneous

It’s getting to be that time of the year again. The time where the days are shorter and the nights are longer; the time where it was 11 degrees outside yesterday, but today is a scorching 43 and you’re content with that. Tucked away in the depths of your closets are the cargo jorts and bro tanks (thank, fucking, god) and out come the hoodies, jeans, and flannels. I’m usually stoked about this time of the year – as you can tell by the posted link – but there’s still one thing that drives me absolutely insane about the cold.

It’s not the fact I have to run out to my car in the mornings, toothbrush in mouth while toothpaste oozes out onto my shirt, to start it while I finish getting ready. Nor is it the fact I have to take back the jacket I bought five days ago, and have worn religiously since,  because the hip, young cashier never took the ink-thing off (it actually looks like something that belongs on the jacket, like, a compartment that holds the spool of wire I use to scale buildings at night, so I’ll probably keep it). It’s something even more annoying than someone giving you shit about wearing said jacket indoors, because SUPPOSEDLY IT’S NOT POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE AND MAINTAIN THE PERFECT BODY TEMPERATURE TO BE COMFORTABLE WHILE WEARING IT INSIDE OF THE OFFICE.  GAAHHHHHH DAMN.

It’s the increase of static electricity in the air.

Holy shit.

Nothing is more annoying than pushing the hair out of your face and having it lay flat on your forehead. If this doesn’t happen to you, I’ll put it into perspective, you lucky little punk: you know when you pull your clothes out of the dryer and your sock is stuck to a pair of sweatpants? You then have to peel that sock loose with what seems to be as much force as prying the new Elsa doll out of the hands of a 5 year old girl? Yeah, consider my forehead Princess Elsa and my hair those tiny, somehow very strong hands. It’s the most uncomfortable feeling in the world.

And, to make matters worse, try taking off a sweat shirt/t-shirt without conducting enough static electricity to keep the whole Northern Virginia community lit. I bet you $50 doll-hairs you can’t do it. You’ll come out of that procedure looking like you stuck a fork in a socket. Then, you just feel like you’re being touched by some stranger in uncomfortable places. It’s not a fun feeling to have.

With my forehead being stuck in ECJ (Electrical County Jail) for most of the day, I decided to consult the most dependable doctor of the 21st century to find out why static electricity is worse in cold temperatures than warmer ones: the internet.

“The reason static is more problematic in cold weather is because of low humidity of the air. ‘Relative humidity’ (rh) is the percentage of moisture held in the air compared to the maximum it could hold at that temperature. So, 50% rh means the air has only half the amount of moisture it could hold. It turns out that static is promoted if rh drops below about 30%.”

Hmmm…seems pretty logical, and something I could have guessed if I had given it the time of day. But, here at my big boy desk job, I don’t have the time of day to think about that kind of stuff. Instead, I have to improvise. For instance, today I had to pour some of the water from my water bottle into my hands and run my hands through my hair to release my confined forehead from suffocation (the lengths I go to to maintain this beautiful head of hair I have). I probably came out of that situation looking like I took a Mexican shower at my desk. (Side note – there was some guy taking one of those in the bathroom at work yesterday. It was really weird and made me very uncomfortable when I went to wash my hands.)

My advice? I don’t have any. I’m still trying to come up with some, seeing as how I’m living this nightmare day by day. If you have any suggestions, I demand you tell me. Until then, I’ll just keep my water bottle near by.

Is it Spring yet?

Plastic Bag Bandit

Miscellaneous

You know those instances where you read something that happened to someone, or maybe even overheard someone retelling a story that makes you think, “hmmm…that would never happen to me”? Well, I frequent Reddit a lot, usually scanning over users answers to AskReddit questions, so this thought is always fresh in my mind.

A couple of weeks ago someone proposed the question “What are some simple work etiquette’s that most people just don’t get?” Now, being the Reddit professional I am (*cough* almost 30,000 karma points AND gilded by some kind stranger *cough*) I went with an answer that I figured people would react to the most**. My answer to this was along the lines of “if the food/drink in the fridge isn’t yours, don’t eat/drink it.” Pretty simple. It’s common knowledge and is an issue that should be brought up to the Office Kitchen Police Department (OKPD) if it ever occurs to you or a loved one, because you’re essentially stealing from someone. (I also racked up the karma points for that one!)

**Okay, I confess. I knew my response to this question would get a lot of upvotes, because the question gets reposted a lot, and I’ve seen the success the answer’s had in the past. You happy?

Anyway, something similar happened to me this morning when I got in to work, however it’s almost 10 times as sad; like, 9.7. Let me give you a little background before we dive in: last Friday I had some leftovers for lunch I forgot to grab from the fridge before I left, so when I came in Monday morning, new lunch packed, I saw my leftovers and figured I would eat that first before it got too old/gross. I did exactly that, and kept what I brought in for lunch Monday and ate it for lunch today (yesterday was a holiday). Following along? No? Cool, let’s move on.

I get into work this morning, go to the fridge to put what else I brought for lunch in my bag from Monday, but it’s nowhere to be found. I stand there, staring at an open fridge, just waiting for my lunch to magically appear before my eyes. Kind of like a young child hoping to catch a glimpse of Old Saint Nick on Christmas Eve: he sets up by the nice, cozy fire, waits, next thing he knows, it’s morning and he accidentally fell asleep and the presents are already there (damn it, kid, you’re lucky you’re cute). Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t as lucky as the cute little kid who woke up to presents. Did I wake up from my trance to my bag being in the fridge, brought by some mythical (yet totally real) human? No. I did not. It wasn’t there. I’m looking on every shelf, moving cans, bottles, even other people’s lunches around in search of my lunch. Then it hits me: someone stole my lunch. Shock filled every inch of my body.

After a few frozen minutes of “deer-in-headlights” look, I spot something that eerily looks like the sub roll I make my sandwiches with wrapped in aluminum foil. As I look closer, I also see the turkey and granola bar I packed Monday morning underneath it. Could it be? Did someone really steal the plastic bag I brought my lunch in?

Yes.

Someone stole my plastic bag. Someone opened up the fridge, took MY food out of MY plastic bag and put it back on the shelf. Seriously? WHO THE HELL STEALS SOMEONE’S PLASTIC BAG?! The only way I’ll forgive whomever stole my plastic bag is if they tell me some stranger came in after I left for the day on Monday, holding a weapon they recently murdered someone with, and demanded a plastic bag to dispose of the evidence with (after they take me out to lunch tomorrow of course).

After minutes of anger and hatred raced through my veins, I put my chips on top of the rest of the ingredients of a hearty lunch and shut the door to the fridge. I’ve spent all of today plotting my revenge for whenever I find out who stole my bag. I’m thinking something along the lines of taking a screenshot of their desktop and making it their background, or tearing off all of the erasers on their pencils. Something that will leave them with the same feeling of shock and sadness I had when I realized we have a plastic bag bandit (remind me to trademark that) at the office, and they chose my poor, innocent bag as a victim.

Can you believe it? The audacity some people have nowadays…

That’s Not My Name (x4)

Miscellaneous

Do you ever dread ordering things over the phone because of your name? How about introducing yourself to a stranger at a loud bar? No? You have no problem with this? Your name must be something hip, like, “Purple” or “Cucumber”. For us po’folk who have a name that sounds similar to another name, introducing ourselves can be quite aggravating, whether it be over the phone or via face-to-face confrontation. You’ll either have to spell it out for the other person or simply sit through a long list of them spitting out names before you go all, “CONGRATU-FUCKIN-LATIONS! YOU FINALLY GOT IT RIGHT. BYE.” on them. And, with a name like “Manny” you can only imagine which ones I get called (actually, some of them are pretty unbelievable). I’ve been called Danny, Mandy (do I look like a fucking Mandy to you?!), Randy, Manti, probably Aaron or Chris; it’s stupid. My name’s been misheard so many times, I probably should just make up a name the next time I order something (“What’s that? You want my name? Oh, yeah, it’s Ambulance”). Every so often, when my name is heard and spelled correctly, I want to give the other person a couple bites of my meal as a trophy, but then I think back to the pain and depression I get when people mess it up and I rescind my offer. Up until a couple weeks ago, when I was given a nice surprise…

It was a brisk, fall Sunday morning in Northern Virginia. The birds were chirping, the leaves were falling, and one of my roommates and I were on our way to a local Wingstop (the perfect way to ease the pain of being a Redskins fan). Now, kids from my high school have been going to this place for years, so we’re pretty much one big’ole wings loving family, but there have been some new employee additions, which meant the girl at the register didn’t know me. Seeing as how I hadn’t been to Wingstop in quite sometime, I wasn’t going to let the chances of her mishearing my name spoil my 100% grass-fed, certified-A chicken wings. I swallowed my pride, placed my order, was told it would take 14 minutes, folded up my receipt and sat down.

14 minutes later

At this point I’m starting to get antsy. I take my receipt out of my pocket to see what time I placed my order (don’t give me a time and not stick to your word, god damn it), already embracing myself for the “MANDY” I’m going to read at the top of the receipt, and that’s when I saw it. I froze. My eyes got wide, like the first time I ever saw a naked woman in the movies (not like when you’re watching said movie with your parents, that’s usually when you pull the, “is someone at the door?” card). I can’t believe what I’m reading. Right under the time of the order, which was MORE THAN 14 MINUTES AGO, was a name. A name I’m well aware of. A name I have never seen before in these situations. A name that almost brought a tear to my eye: Manuel.

No, Charlie Day, that IS my name! Can you believe it?! I certainly can’t!

After my excitement wore off, I started to freak out a little bit. Was this a woman I met in another life? How did she know my real name? Did she travel back in time to let me know everything was going to be alright? So many questions left unanswered. I didn’t even care that I told her my name was “Manny” and she put “Manuel”, so, technically speaking, she still got it wrong. I was in complete shock, yet it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Yeah, I’ve graduated college; witnessed the Red Sox win the World Series not once, not twice, but three times in my life; traveled to islands off the coast of Portugal; but, this? This is what dreams are made of.

I learned a pretty valuable lesson that day: when people ask for my name, I should use “Manuel”. That, or seek out the Spanish people when placing my order. They almost always get it correct.