Tuesday, November 30, 2010


An old friend has returned to my life. His name is Burt. For those of you who don't know, Burt is my Rav4 who after spending the past year being neglected and living under an old pine tree, is finally insured! Thanks Geico. Now that i have a job and recently turned 25, I figured I could probably afford the monthly rate which has gone down by 20 bucks since a year ago. Sometimes growing older and not being incarcerated within the past 5 years can really pay off!

I'm actually really excited to be able to drive Burt again because even though he is getting on in years (he's a '97), has butt dents on his roof (my friends and i used to sit on him while watching summer lightening storms), has touchy dashboard lights that only come on when I pound the dash with my fist, and takes roughly 2 minutes to go from 0-60 (this has caused some tense situations on major highways), he's been my most faithful companion through the past decade. It took quite a few years for me to actually come up with a name for Burt. I think it was actually my old roommate Sam who named him as we were listening to the song "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" on our way back to Walla Walla from Seattle during a break from school. I think the artists name was Burt and the name seemed to fit. Strangely most of my close friends now know him by name and often ask me how he's doing. During recent visits to Seattle several friends would ask where Burt was or complain that it just wasn't the same not having him along for the ride. Even more strange is that in recent years when alone in the car I found myself having one sided conversations with Burt about my day or how I'm feeling. And this is why I should really look into getting a dog...beta fish...antfarm...therapist.

The picture shown above is of Burt and I back in 2001, right after we first found each other. Back when I had a size 26 pant waist, had a whole lot more hair, and was about to celebrate my sweet 16. And yes, this picture was taken with a Poloraoid Camera because we were and still are the original hipsters. Deal with it. Me and the parents were about to leave for Portland to go car shopping when Mama Sesser spotted him driving through the Safeway parking lot with a for sale sign. Destiny. We bought him that day and I was beyond ecstatic because like every other 40 year old soccer mom, I had always dreamed of owning a Rav4. You think I'm joking. I begged my parents to let me sleep in the back seat the first night that we brought him home but they told me that was weird and that I'd catch pneumonia. They were probably right, I did suffer from a very weak immune system at the time.

I've had many wonderful memories with Burt such as a road trip to Disneyland, several first dates, the drive through window at Wendy's, high school dances, driving down the highway singing Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" as we spontaneously spun a 360 off of the highway into a snowbank while narrowly escaping death by an oncoming semi truck......... Burt has also gone through some rough times. We almost lost him during the winter of '09. I was at a funeral in California when a tree fell right on top of the poor lil guy. For some reason my roommates at the time, who shall remain nameless, (their names rhyme with Dusty and Austin and if you have any knowledge as to their whereabouts....) didn't feel the need to tell me this small detail. Even after parking the car AND watching the tree fall. I found out the old fashioned way. A friend wrote on my Facebook wall and said they'd seen Burt on the morning news and hoped he was ok. Good ol Burt, we are so much alike. We'd do anything to get on the local news. And I mean AN.Y.THING.

So today, after hanging up with Geico I waded my way through snow drifts to the back of the house where Burt has been living and of course all the doors were frozen shut except the back one. After maneuvering over the seats in my snow boots and parka and pulling several muscle groups along the way, I put the key in the ignition only to find out the battery was dead. Luckily Papa Sesser was home on his lunch break and offered to tow Burt to the driveway. Once there I poured copious amounts of boiling hot water onto the hood of the car thus allowing me the ability to pry it open and jump start the battery. I am happy to report now that Burt is as good as new and getting a well deserved night in the Sesser garage. That little trooper has certainly earned it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's fun to stay at the...

New Years Eve will be here before you know it so I've taken a head start on my yearly resolutions and purchased myself a membership to the....YMCA!!! Yesterday was my first day hitting the gym and I focused only on doing some cardio but today I decided it was time to play with the big boys. No more elliptical for this guy, it was time for some weight lifting. I'm not really much of a free weight kinda guy. Frankly I'm afraid of no one hearing my screams for help as I'm being crushed alive on the bench press and I feel kinda lame having to take off the 50lb weights from whoever went before me and replacing them with a pair of 20's. Ugh. So I decided to try the machines, but as fate would have it they were all taken up by an insane amount of senior citizens. I guess water aerobics was cancelled today? Anyways I saw one open machine but then that meant out of like 15 manned/womaned machines I was the youngest person by a good half decade. So then I figured I'd try the Dumbbells. Yes Dumbbells sounded great. I start doing curls with pair of 30's.....ok they were actually 25's, and who do I end up standing next to? Yep. One of the jocks I went to high-school with whose arms are now the size of my quad, except much more tan. I should have known this would happen. Now to begin with I'm not real fond of running into people that I know at the gym. For one this I've usually just rolled out of bed or I'm dripping in sweat from my level 7 fat burner workout on the stairmaster. And more than anything I loathe it when that person turns out to be someone who knew me in high-school when I had acne, wore socks with my favorite Payless sandals and weighed a healthy 110 lbs. I was beyond flustered. So as I'm doing my reps in front of the mirror and and catching awkward glances from this guy I'm pondering, "Should I say hi?", "Does he even remember me", " You never acknoldged my existence when I sat beside you in Current World Events so why start now?" Granted i'm assuming we've both matured somewhat since those days and people are normally friendlier once they leave behind the social norms of high-school but you just never know. Something about running into these sort of people from my past just brings out that insecure high-school freshman deep down inside of me. Hopefully I get over it by the time my worst nightmare arrives. The ten year reunion. Ick.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bye Bye Bye...tonsils

So this past week or so has been a long one. It began with what my anesthesiologist described as "an assault on my throat". At the ripe old age of 24 I finally had my tonsils removed. Why the doctors didn't just take them out as a youngster like the majority of the population I'll never know. Through the years, experts had always assured me that I had abnormally small tonsils that shouldn't cause me any problems. And of course being the trusting, blindly follow kind of person I am I believed their words. Then came the sporadic sore throats and what I can only grossly describe as cottage cheese like entities that I'd hack up at very inopportune times. I finally decided enough was enough. The tonsils needed to go.

So last Tuesday was the big day. I had been good and not eaten past midnight the previous night. In preparation my calorie intake that Monday rivaled that of a squirrel ravenously preparing for winter. Going without food is something I'm not very good at so in preparation I consumed roughly 4,000 calories with the hope my body would slowly digest over the first few days post surgery. I was the first patient that morning and mom and dad drove me there at the ungodly hour of 6:30. After stripping down to my boxers and putting on the gown and requesting several warm blankets they wheeled me in to the surgery room. The last thing I remember before going under was the cold sensation of the anesthesia rushing through my blood stream and Dr. Rice telling me that this was Michael Jackson's drug of choice. What about that statement was supposed to bring me comfort!?!?! This stuff killed him!?!?! He'd obviously missed the memo about me being the unrefuted prince of pop (shut your mouth Justin Bieber) and had I succumb to the same sort of tragedy that took Michael the world would have mourned. Mourned I tell you!

The first few days were not fun. However it was by no means as bad as when I had my wisdom teeth taken out. That was pure hell and if anyone had offered me a diet coke with a teaspoon of arsenic during those dark days I would have graciously thanked them and asked for a straw. It was that bad. One thing you quickly come to realize after a tonsillectomy is how often the average human swallows in a day. I was told it was somewhere around 600. That sure felt a like a low estimate!! Oh and waking up several times every night to the sensation of blooding flowing down your throat gets real old real fast. After one such night my parents decided it was time for a check up to make sure everything was ok. When the doctor asked how much I had bled during the night I was doing my best to guesstimate while under the affect of painkillers. Then completely out of left field my mother pulls out of her Vera Bradley purse a Ziploc bag bulging with all my bloody Kleenex's that she had collected while I was sleeping. Oh yeah, and then my dad felt the need to inform the doctor that the bleeding occurred simultaneously with my first bowel movement in three days. I. WANTED. TO. DIE. (P.S. Mom and Dad if you are reading this, I forgive you and realize now that you did this out of love. xoxo) There has been one at least positive thing that has come from this whole ordeal. I've always said that I was one stomach flu away from my ideal weight. Alright, maybe I've only been saying it since 2006 because I totally stole it from Emily Blunt's character in 'The Devil Wears Prada'. But now I can safely say that I am one tonsillectomy away from my ideal weight! It truly boggles the mind how much weight someone can lose when their only calorie intake for the day is 5 cups of shaved ice, a bowl of blue Jello, and a Tazo Berry Blossom tea with two splenda and a splash of honey! Why didn't anyone tell me about this diet years ago!? Maybe I should write a book because the world must hear the good news.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Four Eyes

Yes. That is correct. The picture above is of me and I'm biting my finger to contain my enthusiasm because I'm so freakin excited. I just picked up my new pair of glasses and the world is now a much clearer and vibrant place. The past few weeks have been a bit rough because I had been suffering from really bad headaches that would not go away. First I blamed it on a possible sinus infection because Lord knows that wouldn't be a stretch for me this time of year. The doctor gave me some antibiotics which did nothing for the headache but did clear up my skin so that I looked fabulous for my San Francisco trip. Thanks walk-in-clinic :) FInally figured it might be my glasses and sure enough my prescription was too strong because my vision has somehow improved! It's a miracle (heaven opens up, angels sings, and doves are flying everywhere)!!!
Now don't let's be mistaken. Wearing a pair of glasses hasn't always been a bed of roses. The first pair of glasses I had were in the 1st grade. I think at that time I was excited to have glasses but the novelty quickly faded from view. It only got worse when my mother and optometrist came to the unanimous conclusion that extremely light sensitive Robbie James needed transition lenses. That happened around 3rd grade and whenever I see pictures from those years I just have to cringe. For one thing, I had a bowl cut the size of Crater Lake and my glasses took so long to transition back once I returned from recess that i was in a constant state of tint. And don't be fooled by my happy appearance in the above picture. Putting on a smile and facing the world was simply a coping mechanism.The only thing that kept me going in those days were the whisperings from Mom and Dad that once I reached high-school i could get contacts.

All was fine and dandy until recently when my eyes dried up like the Dead Sea and my optometrist gave me the cold hard facts. Nowhere in the near future will my eyes be able to support contacts due to the fact that my eyes don't create enough moisture for sustainable living!!!!! Luckily all of this is happening in a day and age where glasses are cool. Hip you might say. Last year i bought a pair of glasses somewhat similar to the ones I have now and people would not shut up about how great they thought they were. I must admit they were pretty cool and they did have fleur de lis on the side. Sometimes I just ooze classiness. Needless to say, these days people would kill for my imperfect vision. I've been offered couples first born children in exchange for my stigmatism. And who can blame them because nothing is more lame that a poser in non prescription glasses. Well unless you're Britney Spears. Because let's be clear people. How adorable does she look here???? Love you Brit :)
In closing I would just like to thank all the people in this world who have made my home called earth a place where people can be openly out and proud about the fact that they wear glasses. Gone are the days of ignorant jokes and feeling less attractive for something completely out of my control. These days when walking down the street I'm greeted by uplifting words such as:

Random stranger: Well heeeeeeeelllllllllloooooooo there four eyes!
Me: Thanks for noticing.

Random barista: I think your stigmatism's sexy!
Me: I get that a lot.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Blog Title

Well now that my "10 MOnths in AmeriCorps" are over I've decided that it's time for a new title for the blog.
Growing up as a small child in rural Eastern Washington, I spent many a day contemplating the fame I would gain in my adult life. The lights. The cameras. The tabloid covers. But most importantly I spent a lot of time thinking about the name of my future memoirs that my screaming fans would be understandably begging me to release. Early on I had decided upon the name Robsessed for obvious reasons. For one thing it sounds awesome and it's basically my whole name minus the R. Clever right? So you can can imagine my horror the day i get a facebook post from my friend Jess Miller alerting me to the fact that freakin Robert Pattinson must have gained access to my childhood diary labeled 1994 and stolen my title! It's a sick sick world we live in folks. But I've persevered. The show must go on. And so in spite of copy right infringement and the looming possibility of being eaten alive by the Cullen family I have decided to stand my ground and claim what is rightfully mine. Therefore, from this day forward my blog shall be known as: ROBSESSED......... go team Jacob!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First day in San Francisco!

Well here I am. Living it up in one of the coolest cities. EVER. Now this isn't the first time I've been here but i don't think the past encounters really count because both times were under 3 hours and gave me enough time to run through the men's floor at H&M and eat a crab at the fisherman's warf.

So I'm pretty sure my love of San Fran came from all the movies I've seen that are set in this city and the fact that there literally aren't any that I haven't liked. Movies such as:

Vertigo: Amazing. One of my favorite movies of all time. Jimmy Stewart? Bernard Herrmann score? Give it to me all day long.

Pursuit of Happiness: Gets the tears running everytime.

Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco: This one clearly speaks for itself.

Milk: Inspiring

The Princess Diaries: Anything with Julie Andrews is pure gold.

Herbie Rides Again: Well ok actually this was a pretty terrible movie. As if having a Volkswagon Bug with human emotions wasn't weird enough, at one point i vaguely remember Herbie driving up to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was probably 7 at the time and even I knew that was just plain silly.

Superdad: One of my families favorite movies and a very underrated Disney comedy from the 70's. I even learned how to play the theme song on piano... Disney big notes of course.

Now as previously mentioned I am slightly obsessed with the movie Vertigo. Jimmy. Hitchcock. Great music. Beautiful shots of the city. Drama. Drama. AND MORE Drama. So my goal for this trip has been to retrace Jimmy Stewart's steps and thanks to google they were kind enough to supply me with addresses for my first Vertigo pilgrimage. Last night was quite the thrill because my sister and I walked all the way from Ghiradelli Square up the squiggly part of Lombard St. where in the movie Jimmy lived! (900 Lombard if you care to know). So there I am awkwardly standing outside someones apartment (cuz Jimmy don't live there no mo) staring like a deer caught in the headlights at the steps that Kim and Jimmy once stepped upon. I would liken the experience to the viewing of the cloak of Jesus by young peasants during the early days of the Catholic Church. Life changing.

So today I decided I was going to hit the city hard. See as much as i could see and for some stupid reason i decided it would be nice to walk as much as possible as a way to become accustomed to my new surroundings. It would not be an understatement to say that i walked close to 7 miles today around the city and by the end of the day i finally caved and decided public transportation was necessary. Although i did have a frustrating incident with a man who got incredibly angry when i sat down in one of the seats near the front of the bus and yelled "THIS IS FOR ELDERLY AND DISABLED PEOPLE. WHY DON'T U MOVE!?!?!" But how was I to know the rules of bus etiquette? Do i look like someone who regularly rides public transportation!!?!?! The correct answer would be no. I don't. After telling him to can it I decided it would be polite to stand. I cave in so easily.

Anyways many sights and sounds i did indeed see today. City Hall. Union Square. Harvey Milk's and Scott's camera shop. :'(. RIP. Amazing vintage shops on Haight Street. Sunset over Golden Gate Bridge. And most importantly Mission Dolores. And why you ask would I visit the oldest existing building in San Francisco and the oldest Mission in all of California?? Because Jimmy went there. Duh?! In the movie he follows Kim into the mission where he finds her staring at Carlotta Valdez's gravestone. And for 5 whole dollars I got to see the whole thing. I may or may not have been playing the films soundrack on my ipod as I walked through the chapel where Jimmy once tread and I may or may not have tried to find Carlotta's gravestone. Turns out she wasn't a real person but it was still well worth my time.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blonde Moment of the Day

Today in my oh so exciting life I was working at a volunteer center for people who call in to sign up to help patrol beaches and look for signs of the oil spill. Not a lot of people had called in, and when i say not a lot i mean 2 people had called in and i hadn't had to answer either call. So lucky caller number 3 phones in and the phone is in front of me so i figure its my turn to pick up and I'm doing a fairly descent job telling her about ways she could help and when the trainings are taking place. Out of nowhere she asks me the address and i start to panic and i'm frantically looking for the business card that has that info but i can't find it. By that point i had probably said the word umm at least 3o times before someone brought me the card and I'm like "oh the address is P.O. Box 2128........"Awkward silence ensued and the woman on the other end of the phone is asks, "How the hell do you expect me to meet you at a P.O. Box!?"

Boy did i feel dumb.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Waking Up in Biloxi!!!

Well once again the good Lord has blessed me with another month in the South, which means I am just another step closer to meeting Anderson. These days I’m kickin it in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. It’s probably safe to say that none of you have heard of it because it’s a pretty small beach town. Now the reason we’re down here is because instead of moving on to our next project which would have been back in Iowa where we would have been landscaping and tutoring emotionally traumatized children, which could have been scary, we got called to do disaster relief. You know that whole oil spill thing that’s going on in the gulf. Hopefully you’ve heard of it by now. Thank God none of the oil has washed ashore yet, because for one thing it would just suck for the ocean life and the local economy, and most importantly I can still get my tan on at the beach and swim around in the water. Yaaaaaaaah! Although experts are still debating on whether or not it’s a good idea to be in the water but I figure that if it does give me cancer someday down the road I could easily sue BP and become filthy rich. Bwahahaha! Everything is going according to plan…..

The nearest big town to us is Biloxi which is viewed as the Las Vegas of Mississippi. Now I’ve never been to Vegas but I did see The Hangover and this place has nothing on Vegas. However, Biloxi is the birthplace of my favorite soda ever, well besides diet Coke……it’s Barq’s Rootbeer!!! So for that I am eternally grateful. I had never been to a casino before so I was very excited to see what they were like and possibly win a few bucks. So about 7 of us get all dolled up and made our way to the Hard Rock casino cuz we don’t mess around. So of course they ID you before you walk in and they’re checking all my friends and its almost my turn and I have my card ready and I’m about to hand it to the bouncer and he glances at me and just waves me through. Now maybe the man was just tired and didn’t care but I took it has him saying, “Let’s be real. You look ancient. Here’s some fresh tennis balls for the walker your caregiver will be bringing you shortly.” The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that I had recently had a high school girl wrongly guess my age. She was off by ten years. And just to give you a hint, she didn’t think I was 14.

So I had told myself I would only spend 5 bucks but once I got inside the casino I realized I had 8 in my pocket and why not live it up. So I had absolutely NO idea of what to do and how the machines work and even after spending two hours on the nickel slots I’m still fairly confused. Basically I was just pushing buttons to see what could happen. Now although it turned out to be a great night with friends there were several disappointments. Firstly, I was slightly disappointed when I got there and found out that money doesn’t come pouring out of the slots like in the old days. Everything is digital and all your money gets put on a card, which makes a win very anticlimactic. Secondly, contrary to popular belief, lemons do not come flowing out of the slots when you line up all 3 lemons on the machine. I felt so lied to. Thirdly, the Sex and the City 2 slot machines were occupied by two middle aged woman who spent at least the whole time I was there spending away their retirement money trying to match up screen shots of Samantha, Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda. Grrr…should have been me. And lastly I didn’t get a free drink from the cocktail waitress even after following her around, changing seating locations, and waiting at one machine for at least half an hour betting one penny at a time just as a way of stalling and making it look like I was a big spender. I was perturbed.

But I can’t really complain because I did end up winning 11 dollars which sent me in to some loud screaming and jumping up and down fits which in turn caused one of the workers to come over and ask if everything was ok. I then proceeded to cash out and leave. Always leave while you’re ahead.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm on the NEWS!

Here's my 15 minutes of fame...well it's more like 30 seconds and it wasn't exactly Barbara Walters asking the questions... 
but I'll take it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another Fake Out By Anderson Cooper

Life these past few days has been a whole lot of crazy. First off, as some of you might know, I went through a phase last summer where I was SLIGHTLY obsessed with Anderson Cooper. I blame it mainly on the fact that I had an internship that left me with nothing better in the afternoons then to spend hours reading basically every CNN.com story ever posted. And my obsession peaked when I got to go to Atlanta where I stayed at a hotel adjacent to the CNN headquarters. My main objective for the whole trip was to somehow meet Anderson but it turns out his office is in New York so all my efforts and wasted time taking the CNN NEWS TOUR were all in vain.

So this past Saturday I’m walking around downtown New Orleans having a little personal time while the rest of my team is working on a community service project. As part of the project they put hair into panty hose, that were primarily donated from a group of Transvestites in San Francisco, with the intention that they would be used to be taken out to sea to soak up oil from this little mishap some of you may have heard about. Anyways I had just bought some real hot boating shoes when my teammate Maddie calls and is like “Rob, the press is eating this up, we were just filmed making these hair booms and they want to take us all down to a marina where the oil is to have us put them in the water…….AND ANDERSON COOPER IS THERE!” Needless to say I took off running to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, which is where this whole thing was taking place, because there was no way that my team was meeting Anderson without me…even if I was wearing glasses, a tank top, and cut off jeans. Long story short, a news team from Los Angeles drove us down to the marina, which was 1.5 hours away. I felt so VIP. We got out and the journalist was like “ok , there’s lots of reporters here looking for a story so as long as you don’t say a word to anybody we’ll buy you dinner." So who got a free shrimp dinner for keeping his big mouth shut? This guy. But the sad thing was that by the time we got there Anderson was long gone and was probably back in New York tossing back gin and tonics with Kathy Griffin. So jealous. Mark my words Anderson we will meet someday and become besties whether you like it or not. But it was still pretty sweet to get interviewed by the news team. Plus our chauffer, who’s name was George and supposedly was going to be drafted into the NFL before he blew out his knee, bought me a ruby red grapefruit drink for the ride back. It was loverly.

In other more disturbing news, last Friday I woke up with a layer of skin missing from underneath my nose and it kind of had me concerned because I figured that either I had been bitten by a cockroach, a mouse had used my nose as a punching bag, or I had slept walked into a boiling pot of tea. Needless to say it hurt like hell and had puss coming out like there was no tomorrow. So today I go into the walk in clinic because I have a slight chest cold and I’m chatting it up with the doctor and I’m like, "oh yeah in case you hadn’t noticed the ginormous crusty mess on my face I think I burned myself in my sleep." To which he replied, "how would you have burned yourself in your sleep? That is clearly bacteria growing on your face." Yep. Bacteria. Chilling under my nose because apparently sometimes bacteria can grow under the hair follicles in a beard and the area beneath the nostril provides a cool, wet, and dark environment for it to grow and flourish. WHO KNEW!!!!!!? I guess thinking back on it it’s a good thing I didn’t meet Anderson this weekend because he might have been slightly alarmed by the sight of the bacteria; which I will soon be applying vigorously the cream the doctor prescribed. That is once the Wal-Mart Pharmacy gets their ish together and orders the cream that go figure they were out of. I mean seriously Wal-Mart, with all the money I’ve spent in your store you could’ve had the courtesy to have my Bactrum cream waiting for me in my lowest hour of need.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rob the Firefighter

Well the impossible has happened. Little Robbie James is officially a trained Wildland Firefighter. I know I know, pretty hard to believe and if someone had told me this would happen a year ago I wouldn’t have believed it. But after a week of really boring classes where I sat and watched videos depicting every worse possible situation of a fire and after passing the pack test where you have to walk 3 miles in under 45 minutes while carrying a forty pound pack. Not to brag but I did it in 43 minutes (please save your applause for later). It been pretty awesome and I could totally dig having a job where all I do is walk around with a drip torch lighting things on fire all day. My inner pyro has definitely been unleashed. Oh and by the way, my team is already talking about releasing a calendar because isn’t that what all the real firefighters do? I’m already claiming November and I’m envisioning lots of flames, sweat, mesh tank top, and Dalmatian puppies all over me. Its gonna real classy.

The other day we were doing a prescribed burn on about 100 acres of prairie and my teammate Stephon and I got quite the rush of adrenaline from this whole fire thing. We had just lit a huge fire line across a field when our crew boss drove up and was signaling at us to get in the ranger to move farther down the line. I of course being the sensible of the two told Stephon that we should walk down further where the fire hadn’t touched in order to get to the ranger. He of course was like well let’s just jump over it. Seeing as my nickname on the team has become old man Sesser I wasn’t about to let this young whipper snapper show me up so we both started running towards the fire line and once our feet left the ground to jump over it I swear the flames grew twice in size which pushed a rush of adrenaline through my body like I’ve never experienced. Within seconds my body was drenched in sweat from the heat. In the moment I seriously felt like I was in the Gladiator movie when Russell Crowe is fighting in the battle and he yells “UNLEASH HELL!” Then out the dark smoke and flames you see this huge wolf fly out of it and attack. Basically that’s how it probably would have looked if you had been standing there…minus the wolf…and insert me and Stephon with a touch of slow motion for dramatic effect. All I’m sayin is that it was pretty “bad a”. And my asthma didn’t flare up due to all the smoke inhalation, which was also a big plus.

Now speaking of me, Stephon, wild dogs, adrenaline rush, feeling like your life is a movie, etc….Last weekend we thought it would be a great thing to go spend some time volunteering at the local Humane Society and it was all going just peachy until Stephon decided two put the 3 yr. old St. Bernard in the play area. I don’t really know how but Stephon was playing with the dog in the pen but “Jesse” was apparently feeling a little claustrophobic. So out of nowhere the dog bolts for the gate where he jumps up and body slams it thus opening the gate. Everything after that seriously could have been the new script for the seventh sequel to Beethoven. So the dog just takes off and I was standing close by with my dog who was some sort of large terrier who coincidentally has a knack for squeezing it head out of a collar and running after large St. Bernards. So then we had two dogs on the loose and I’m running like crazy seeing as we’re right next to a busy road and I’m screaming “JESSE! JESSE! STOP! BAD DOG! BAD DOG!” I was so flustered I couldn’t even remember the other dogs name so I had to refer to him as HEY YOU! STOP! Those dogs really could have cared less as Stephon and I chased them for probably a good quarter mile before they finally stopped. And seeing as I probably ran the fastest quarter mile of my life while wearing a parka I was about two steps away from a collapsed lung. So I go up to Jesse and grab him by the collar and surprisingly he’s really happy to see me and figures I would love a good lick. So he gives me those innocent puppy dog eyes and proceeds to lick the entire length of my arm and covers it all in nasty white foamy drool that had all been built up from the run. And go figure my parka was dry clean only. And you have no idea how hard it is to find a good dry clean in rural Iowa.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Double Tall White Mocha?

Today I had a major reality check by one of the bazillion differences between Seattle and Iowa. I was craving some Starbucks and the only option within a hundred miles was the one located inside the entrance of a Target. I know. Tragic. So going into it I should have known there would be lingo lost in translation. I mean its not like I’m a total high-maintenance customer that’s asking for a Venti, 3 pump, non fat, vanilla latte with 3 Splenda, stirred, at 180 degrees with light whip but I do have my whole drink shpeel memorized and I can say it pretty darn fast on a good day. Usually it’s a little more complicated but I decided to leave out the 2 pump, non fat, extra hot part because I’ve learned that once you leave Seattle you have to repeat orders like these four or five times before they have it all written down on the cup. So all I asked for was double tall white mocha and he looked at me like I was speakin Mandarin. So after 4 seconds of extremely awkward and confused eye contact, the barista dude looks at his manager who can tell he has no idea what I’m talking about and slowly tells him “well you press the button that says white mocha and then press the add a shot button”. During all this I’m holding back the urge to grab him buy his collared black poplin shirt and scream “Who the hell do you think you are calling yourself a Starbucks Barista! Take off that green apron you imposter and get a job at McCafe!!”
But I regained my composer and realized we’ve all been there. I too was nothing but a newbie barista at Starbucks which I secretly love to tell other Sbucks baristas because once you tell them you worked at the mother-ship that is Seattle they instantly have a much higher respect for you which I won’t lie I totally eat up. Unfortunately i'm pretty sure the barista wasn't new and that he had in fact been working there a while. If Howard Schultz were dead he would have rolled over in his grave.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mardi Gras

Well my time in the South has ended and I’ve found myself back in rural Iowa in a place called Wapello. Its pretty tiny. As in 2000 people live here and none of my friends from Iowa have even heard of it and its not exactly a diamond in the rough but its kinda nice to be back to a slow pace of life after spending six weeks in the south during Mardi Gras. Now don’t get me wrong, it was great being down there for all the hubbub, excitement, parades, unending king cakes, and just getting to experience for myself what a huge part of the culture it is down there.

One of the last weekends in Alabama a group of 12 of us did a 24 hour trip to New Orleans for the big Mardi Gras weekend which at the time seemed like a great idea but I would never do it again. My only responsibility for the trip was to rent two mini vans for our group which I thought wouldn’t be a big deal except the day that we were supposed to leave none of the mini vans were returned by their drivers so they had to give us three SUV’s which cost a little more but I’m not gonna lie was kinda sweet because I felt like Obama driving with his entourage. We left right after work and drove the two hours to New Orleans and first stopped at our sweet apartment room we rented where we slept three to a bed and everyone else got the floor. I was lucky enough to grab a middle spot on the bed and I don’t know how I slept that night because half of my lower body was hanging over the bed. Eventually in the middle of the night I got up and grabbed a chair for my feet to rest on which was a big help. Within minutes of us getting to the apartment the guy who was renting the other room in the apartment who had obviously been smoking pot all day came over and was super friendly and wanted to hang out with us and then invited himself to come down to Bourbon St with us which we ultimately didn’t mind because he paid for all of our trolley tickets. Again, probably because he was high but hey I’m not picky. Unfortunately the trolley we were taking dropped us off like two miles away from Bourbon so after a long walk and a bathroom break in a random hotel lobby, whose toilet hadn’t been flushed during the past 20 uses, we finally made it to Bourbon and it was a whole lot of crazy like I’ve never seen before. It was literally a half-mile street with wall to wall people. Within seconds of going into the crowd we all got separated and then of course all of the cell services were crashing because of all the users which was super inconvenient/thrilling/terrifying because I was trying find my friend Adam who was only two blocks away. And normally one wouldn’t think two blocks to be a great distance but it literally took us an hour to find each other and of course by that time we both had to pee and I hardly had any voice left after spending an hour shouting into the phone to tell him which street corner I was on or what the florescent sign I was standing under.

The next morning my one and only goal was to go to the French quarter and grab and beignet at CafĂ© du Monde’s but after driving around for an hour looking for a parking spot I gave up because we had to return the cars before we got charged an extra days fee but this just gives me a reason to return someday.

On Fat Tuesday a bunch of us went to the last Mardi Gras parade in downtown Mobile even though I was less than enthusiastic about going considering I’d already gone to several and in my opinion you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. I mean it was pretty fun the first time grabbing as many beads as you could and I even caught a teddy bear that had kisses all over it which I loved at first until I found out a majority of the stuffed animals came from Goodwill so I became a little concerned about where that thing had been. But anyways the parades are pretty dangerous so even if you don’t want to catch anything you still have to hold your hands up to shield your face in case you get beamed by a stray handful of beads. Another thing they love to throw is moon pies which is a nasty desert that’s basically 300 calories that I’d rather consume elsewhere. Anyways they’ll usually just throw one or two at a time from the float but every once in a while you’ll get some fat lazy guy on top of the float who doesn’t have the decency to open the box to throw one so he’ll chuck the whole box of moon pies from the top of a possibly 200 ft float. You wouldn’t believe the momentum those things can gain and they can do a lot of damage. I feel sorry for the innocent bystanders who had to hear me shriek like a 12 year old girl and cover my eyes the first time I saw one of those boxes coming my way.

Another alarming thing is that Mardi Gras tends to draw out a lot of gang activity which I learned because as some of my teammates were waiting for the final parade to pass by and end the Mardi Gras celebration someone was shot in a McDonalds right by where my group was watching the parade!!! Thank my lucky stars I decided to leave early otherwise I’m sure I would have been in line during the attack patiently waiting to pick up my small fry with a hot fudge sundae which I’ve recently become OBSESSED with as I’m slowly working away at using up my 50 dollars worth of gift cards from mama.

Long story short. I’m loving me Iowa these days because my life no longer feels threatened. Of course that’s only temporary as well because I would not want to be here during hunting season with a bunch of Dick Cheney’s running around if you know what I mean…

P.S. Dear Jess Miller. Thanks for showing me how to attach a picture in my post. You inspire me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Here I am!

Howdy ya’ll. I’m getting to spend my first winter in the deep south and I’m thinking this needs to become a yearly tradition. Who knew there were places in the world where you could get a tan in January?! The weather down here has been pretty amazing. Highs in the 70’s and I’ve got quite the farmers tan going on. I’m really starting to wish AmeriCorps would issue me some a work appropriate tank tops cuz these puppies need to breathe. The only draw back to being here in Mobile, Alabama is that rumor has it that this is the wettest city in the 48 contiguous states. I would tend to agree because we had two days of torrential downpours like I’ve never seen in my life as opposed to Seattle who likes to slowly drizzle for the whole month of January. Let me tell ya I don’t miss that.

So for my project down here my team has been working with Habitat for Humanity on new construction projects and so far it has been so much fun…well…except for yesterday when I literally shoveled a pile of dirt, moved it several feet, spread it out with a rake, and then repeated the process for approximately 6 hours. Talk about stimulating. My site supervisors are hilarious and luckily have enough patience to deal with someone like me who hadn’t a clue on how to build a house. Of course all my questions usually result with an eye roll or a “are you serious?” remark, but I know they do it out of love. So far the main things I’ve worked on was putting up siding, soffit, and shingles and of course nailing everything in sight. And not to brag or anything but I push a mean skill saw these days.

The whole culture of the south is very fascinating to me and very different from Washington. For one thing I think it’s mandatory for ever food chain to carry fried chicken and the biggest fashion statement here are guys who buy enormous fishing hooks and hook them around the brim of their hat. I mean I guess it looks cool and you never know when you might feel the spontaneous urge to fish but it seems a little dangerous and I’m curious as to how many of these cool kids have lost an eye all for the sake of fashion. Another big thing is chewing tobacco, especially among the Habitat site supervisors. They are constantly spitting everywhere and thank God for hard hats because you never know when a stray spit may strike from someone laying shingles. Another big thing down here are churches. Last week I went to the largest church I’ve ever been too and their parking lot equally rivaled that of a Wal-Mart. It’s insane. Churches down here are like Starbucks in Seattle. The amount and close proximity of them seems a little ridiculous at times and I had no idea how many denominations there were which has made picking a church on Sundays quite the ordeal. Last week we found a church online that sounded good and once we arrived there on Sunday morning we saw that it was held in part of an old strip mall. This might be my favorite things about the south and possibly their most ingenious idea which is put every human essential into a strip mall and call it good. I’ve literally driven down the road and seen a strip mall with a church, a bar, tanning salon, and dollar general all in a row. Talk about convenience!

The living situation on this trip has been interesting to say the least. There’s 21 of us living in a trailer who’s previous owner must have found a blind carpenter to work for cheap because it has the worst add-on I’ve ever seen. Every room has as many beds crammed into it as possible and the only place I’ve ever been able to get Wi-Fi is on top of washing machine. We have only one couch so we eat all our meals on the floor. I’ve never felt so claustrophobic in my life. My bedroom is literally the size of my room in Ashton Hall and there are 6 of us guys living in it. One of the guys snores but thankfully I have my Yosemite Falls noise machine to put me to sleep. The neighborhood we live in is definitely lower income but pretty decent although I like to be dramatic and tell people we live in the ghetto. Last weekend I volunteered at the Convoy of Hope which was an community event where people could come get food, groceries, shoes, etc…Anyways, I was working in food services and had just bagged my 600th hot dog when a girl I’d been chatting with called me a Yankee after I told her I was from Washington State. I’m pretty sure Washington wasn’t even in existence let alone part of the union during the war and I could have sworn that the war ended in Gone with the Wind but she told me she gets along well with us Northern folk so I guess there were no hurt feeling. Then I was asking her where she lived and she was saying how it was pretty nice area and I was like “oh yeah well I live on Westchester Road in the ghetto.” Then she turned to me and was like “I live a block away from there. Are you saying I live in the GHETTO??!!!” It got awkward real fast and she was obviously offended but it was too late for damage control because out of nowhere an old man next to her chimed in and said that his church was on that street. Long story short I didn’t make any new Facebook friends that day.

One of the things that I think has surprised me the most about the south is how everyone apparently lives in a trailer. I mean I knew that the south had it’s money issues but when every right turn is a trailer park called Craig’s Place it can be pretty aggravating trying to find the nearest Wal-Mart. Also I constantly find myself thinking that I’m in the 3rd season of the OC where Julie Cooper Nichols loses all her money and has to move to a trailer park and soon comes to the hilarious realization that she can put her house in reverse. Haha. Man I miss that show. But even more aggravating than the maze of trailers has been the dog situation. I realize now that when Bob Barker would end The Price is Right by saying “remember to spay and neuter your animals” that he was speaking directly to the state of Alabama. The amount of dogs per square inch is out of control and they all just wander around mating with each other and making some of the ugliest dogs I’ve ever seen. I’d honestly be surprised if there was a single purebred in this city. Three people on team have already been chased down by dogs and one even tore my friend Kyla’s shorts. I’ve always felt that a dog could sense I was a dog lover but that doesn’t seem to be the case down here and going for my weekly run has become the most stressful part of my week. I feel like I owe mama Sesser an apology for all the times I made fun of her when she’d claim a dog tried to attack her during her power prayer walks around the track.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's a new year and I'm back to the land of below 0

Well here I am. Back in Iowa. Three flights and 15 hours of travel later.

My first flight went pretty smooth. Pasco to San Fran. Once in San Fran we were stuck on the runway for a while and the man next to me started talking to me and asked me where I was going and what I did. So I explained the whole AmeriCorps thing where I’m giving my country a year of service by helping with disaster relief, building houses for people in the south, etc... You know, the usual. I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I asked him what he did. He told me he worked for the government and was flying to DC for work. I was intrigued so I asked him to be more specific. Turns out he’s a nuclear engineer who’d been hired by homeland security to develop technology that would keep America safe from nuclear attacks from places like North Korea, or maybe it’s South Korea…I always get them confused. Anyways how do you even top that!!! Needless to say I felt kind of lame and wished I had a more exciting job.

My longest flight was between San Fran and Chicago and it was roughly a four hour flight and I had planned ahead and asked for an isle seat because I knew with all of the cran-apple cocktails I tend to consume on flights that I’d be visiting the little boys room probably twice every hour and I hate having to climb over people and ask them to move. Then from the end of the isle I see this red headed kid with freckles hobbling down the isle on crutches with those sad puppy eyes and wouldn’t you know it he is supposed to sit in the middle seat of my row. So the cripple(I think he had a broken foot) comes up to me and just stares at me with those crocodile tears welling up and I’m trying to stay firm but I totally cave and offer him my seat so that he can get out easier. I figure why not, be the bigger man, what’s another crown in heaven to lay at the feet of Jesus? So I got stuck in the middle seat, which also sucked because I’m extremely claustrophobic on planes. 4 hour flight. Had to ask the poor little guy to move out of his seat three before I nearly wet myself from all the juice. And the only movie they showed on the plane was Four Christmases. Apparently Delta didn’t get the news flash that Christmas is long over and its actually 2010 now. Happy New Year.

Another awkward thing that happened during my travel was while I was waiting for my Chicago flight to board I figured what better time to whiten my teeth with my new crest white strips then while I’m waiting for my plane. So I go to the men’s bathroom and slide on the strips with the thought process that I’m not a very sociable person when I’m flying and tend to keep to myself so I won’t have to try to talk to people while wearing these things. Go figure, there I am clutching onto my Eclipse book of the Twilight Series and up comes some lady who’s holding the first book and she wants to know how I like it, if I saw the movies, am I team Edward, blah blah blah. Meanwhile I’m doing my best to not drool all over myself when I speak as I make sure my lips are constantly covering my teeth and of course whenever I give a courtesy laugh to something she says I turn the other way so she’s not wondering what the hell is one my teeth. Moral of the story: whiten teeth only in the privacy of your own home because those commercials are misleading where they pay actors to make it seem like you no one notices when you’re wearing them.

It was nice being back home for the holidays. Mama hooked me up with a $50 gift card to McDonald's which means any weight loss aspirations i dreamt of just flew out the drive through window. I also got to see tons of great friends and family, learned to knit slippers, and had myself a Disney marathon which is always delightful but it was more work and less play as I tried to make up for lost time and get some more community hours. I’m trying to get the Presidential award this year which is a piece of paper that Obama will sign if I complete 100 hours of individual community service. Kind of a gold star kind of thing. It’s gonna look pretty sweet on a resume if the fact that I served at an old folks home and cleared nature trails means anything in the graphic design world. You never know. But either way that thing is going to be framed and hanging about my fireplace for all my guests to see unlike mama and papa Sesser who used to have a Christmas card from George and Laura Bush on their mantle. Tomatoe, tomatoe.

During the first week of break I went and volunteered at Odd Fellows Home, which is where my grandma lives. While serving there I did tons of exciting things like rewinding 45 VHS tapes and playing dominoes with elderly women suffering dementia who must of thought I was born yesterday with the amount of times they tried to cheat. The Wednesday before the holidays was the big Christmas party so I was pretty stoked to help out and spread some Christmas cheer. I put together little gift bags, wrote some of the residents Christmas cards and set up all the chairs for the concert. After all that it was time for the party consisting of what turned out to be a cart full of peppermint schnapps hot chocolate and a local Elvis Presley impersonator who I would have sworn was Ted Kennedy in a blue jump suit if I hadn’t been in DC during his funeral. RIP. So I can’t say I’ve ever been much of an Elvis fan and I’m even less a fan of Elvis impersonators so it quickly turned into an hour and a half of pure torture. I mean I know I was getting community service hours for simply sitting there but I would have taken laying sandbags along the Mississippi river in the pouring rain over this any day. Even grandma hated it and kept asking me when he was going to be done. I think she really just wanted a smoke. We both agreed we wished there had been a Bing Crosby impersonator instead.