Monthly Archives: December 2011

top moments of 2011

another year has passed and once again, there is so much to be thankful for. this year has brought along so much change. positive change pertaining to new friends, new memories, and the good health and fortune of my family and friends.

of course, there is change that is neither good nor bad, but just change. moving hit me harder than i anticipated… i’m usually someone who just takes things as they come. the move required a lot more thought for me regarding my job, my friends, and even my lifestyle.

2010 was an amazing year, i wanted to soak up that time and freeze it. but 2011 has pushed me farther, made me grow up, and i can’t wait to see what 2012 brings. i feel like i’m in a good rhythm . as cheesy as it sounds, i feel like i’m right where i’m supposed to be.

in honor of 2011, here are 11 photos that i feel summed up the year. the photos are in chronological order (to help me so i don’t have to rank them).

#1: Baconfest
for the past two years  julia and i have been able to attend baconfest. if anyone knows anything about it, they know that tickets are almost impossible to come by and the actual event sold out in 15 minutes in 2011. once you are at baconfest there is an unlimited supply of bacon-related treats (bacon wrapped assortments, bacon ice cream, bacon donuts)… there are also lots and lots of adult beverages to partake in. so far my norm has been to get there, over indulge on both, and go home to take an afternoon nap fully induced by sodium and booze.

this year they released baggies of bacon attached to parachutes from the top level floor. people were scrambling all over each other to get the prize– i calmly sat back and drank my bloody mary (complete with a strip of bacon and bacon flavored vodka) and this parachute came directly to me, all i did was hold up my hand. it was a beautiful moment. i like to think it was fate.

(drunk amanda)

#2: The Dream Car
ever since i’ve been able to drive, the only car i’ve ever wanted was a yellow mini cooper with black racing stripes down the front. maybe it was because i saw the italian job, maybe it’s just because the cars are so swank, but while others were drooling over mustangs or ferraris, i was wanting my cute little car with the bulldog stance.

2011 is the last year that mini is doing a yellow color. a mini dealership landed in des moines, the price was low, and the car was just calling out to me.

now, it’s common knowledge that when most people turn 50(ish), they go through their “mid-life crisis” and either get divorced, get new cars, or just do things to make them feel young and hip again. seeing as i turned 25 this year, i decided to get my dream car in honor of my “quarter life crisis.” and to my delight and surprise, the car that i ordered already had racing stripes on it even though it wasn’t mentioned in the description. it was fate. this car was meant for me.

(this photo was taken by my good friend Ted Sandeen of Sandeen Photography. and no, i wasn’t egotistical enough to ASK him to take this,
he wanted to get some practice in)

#3: Grandpa’s Birthday/Lundberg Family Reunion
i will start by saying that my family means the world to me. and whether we’re painting grandma and grandpa’s house or fighting over potato bologna at Thanksgiving, i see the lundberg side pretty frequently. we bicker, we make fun of each other, we get drunk together (is that not a typical family tradition?), and we know that everyone would go to bat for anyone if needed. family is a special sort of sickness- i can complain about them, but so-help-me-god, if anyone else does they are going to get punched in the face.

this year was my grandpa’s 80th birthday. we rented out the community center in our home town and family and friends drove/flew in from all over the united states to wish him the best and catch up with everyone else. it was a unique opportunity and i’m glad i was a part of it.

(the lundberg side of the family: the engquists, my family, the lehmans, the ebersoles, and the other lundbergs)

#4: Trailer Trash Birthday
my birthday signifies a change in the year– for one, it’s in june, so summer weather is starting. it’s also midway through the year so a great time to look back on what has been accomplished so far and also see how far you need to go. for me, june marked the month that i moved to mason city and away from everything that i had grown to know and love. my family is in des moines. some of my closest friends i’ve ever had are in des moines. my job is there as well. but mason city has… well… a super target. a lot of steak and mexican restaurants. and evan peterson.

because i am from a small rodeo town, sarah thought it would be appropriate to have a birthday/going away party for me to help me celebrate my roots and also where i was going… back to white trashville. we had a trailer trash themed birthday party, complete with a lot of camouflage, beers iced in the bathtub, and ‘merican flags. ’cause these colors don’t run, ya hear?!

(in the back: jon, freshly UNshaved, with pajama pants, an unbuttoned shirt, and a pack of camels in the breast pocket. me, leised, complete with cowboy boots, a tank with cut off sleeves, and a trucker hat. tyler, in an american flag cut off shirt and a bottle of moonshine.
in the front: joseph with his plaid and camo, just moved back to des moines from san diego. sarah in an 80s jeans jumper, a camo hat, and a red solo cup in hand. krista in too short of shorts, a white crop top, a black bra, and way too much glitter. also, andrew’s creepy, glowing hand. god bless ‘merica.)

#5: My Best Friend’s Wedding
haha, just like the movie. only not. bee was my best friend in high school- we did everything together. when we graduated, we both went our separate ways; we made new friends, found new interests, and started new chapters in our lives– and though time has a way of separating people in the worst ways, i still have a spot near and dear to my heart for a friend who helped shape who i became in life.

the wedding was small but beautiful. there were only a handful of guests, no wedding party, and the wedding song bee walked down to was a slow, acoustic version of Outkast’s “Hey Ya.” the atmosphere was cozy and comfortable. the food was buffet style and delicious. and the bride? well, bee is one of the most beautiful people i’ve ever seen– so needless to say, she was unbeatable on her wedding day.

(the women-friends at breanne’s wedding.)

#6: Jamie and the Ireland and Italy Excursion
a few years ago my good friend jamie said to me, “curt and i are getting married. in ireland. …you can come if you want to.”

one would think, which encouragement like that (well, and that much advanced notice) that i would have started saving. but no, all i knew was that i wanted to go. jessica knew she wanted to go. and in late june of 2012, we went, by jove.

there were so many amazing pictures to choose from to commemorate this trip to two beautiful countries (we tacked italy on to the back end of the trip)- but i picked this photo because it showed the main reason jessica and i went: our friendship. these are two girls that i have known since i was a skinny, punkass teenager. they are two of the greatest people i’ve had the opportunity to know. and while ireland and italy are scenic and beautiful, i could go anywhere with either one of these guys and we’d make it one helluva time.

(getting lippy)

#7: My moon, my man
as much crap as i talk about evan (and that i get in return), he really is fantastic. there are so many things i admire about him. and this year i celebrated two years with this handsome man– could a gal get any luckier?

last year we went to seattle; it was evan’s first time in a commercial airplane. this year we also did another first- a couple’s vacation with a few close friends. we went up to brainerd, minnesota and spent the time hanging out on the lake, playing games, and doing a bit of biking and golfing. next year we are going to belgium. yes, this year marked two years with evan, but there will be many more to come.

(i’m on a boat! and… it’s going fast and… i got a nautical themed pashmina afghan.)

#8: Mi familia.
it’s not so much about this photo, but about the time i’ve gotten to spend this year with my family. because i live part time in mason city and part time in des moines, i have to have a place to hang my hat when i’m in town. my parents graciously (well, my mom is gracious, my dad is a bit of an ass haha) let me stay at their place every other week. while most people would complain about such living arrangements, i have to admit… i kind of love it. i get home cooked meals, free rent, and get to hang with the coolest parents in the world.

not only that, but my brother and his family also live in the city. i’ve had the opportunity to watch the little kids’ basketball games on saturdays, go to family lunches on sundays after church (usually not up in time for church, but i can make the lunch), and just hang out with my favorite kids in the world. my brother is 7.5 years older than me. we didn’t really hang out much growing up, but we have gotten close over the years. i feel truly blessed to be in the lundberg family. especially with these yayhoos.

(little Lena (4), Samuel (9) and Tatum (6).)

#9: Classic Gang+ .
there was this running joke…well, not really a joke, it started as a trivia team name… that a group of us were known as “the Classic Gang.” being egotistical and overbearing like we are, we would title our activities like a tv show: “classic gang does 80/35.” “classic gang does carl’s.” if more people came to an activity we would say “classic gang + (insert name here).

with all the new and wonderful people who have become a part of the hang out crew, the classic gang has grown so much (or rather, demolished) into a large smattering of really amazing (and gorgeous, i mean, look at us!) people. this des moines crew is what makes it so hard to be away and makes me love coming back to town. i’ve had a lot of irreplaceable friends in my life, but these people (and some more des moiners) are my soul mates. we get each other.

(Erin’s surprise birthday/engagement party. In semi-order; Shannon, Seth, Bethany, myself, Brad, Brittany, Joey, Tony, Shane, Katie, Sarah, Veronica, Meredith, and Joseph. Grandma Erin and Grandpa Sam in their wheelchairs in the front.)

#10: My job/Eating a piece of humble pie.
to start with, and i will say this over and over again: i absolutely love my job. i feel very fortunate that my first “real” job is with a company that i could see myself with for a very long time. there are many opportunities to grow here. there are beautiful, sad eyed scientists to adore. and the group that i work with are people who have crossed over from co-workers to real friends.

but with my job, there are also times where i have to check my ego at the door. i’ll be the first to tell you that i’m not the smartest person at a science company, and that’s a fact. i’ve had to learn a lot, not only in graphic design, but also working in a professional work environment. how to deal with certain employees. how to manage workload/real life.

one of the coolest things about my company is that every year the des moines-based facility holds an auction to support YESS (Youth Emergency Services & Shelter of Iowa). this year there were around 400 people there and we raised over $50,000 to donate to the shelter to help buy christmas presents and keep the facility managed. this year i donated video services to the auction, thinking it would be a silent auction item and i was “doing my part” to volunteer, to help.

instead, it was the first item in the live auction. and while no one else had to go up on stage for their donated items, my lovely friend kristi (quality and regulatory director for our agrifoods division) decided it would be best to call me out of the crowd and make me stand on the stage. and while i was walking up to the stage she also decided it would be best to shout out, “because, come on, who doesn’t want up to 5 hours with amanda lundberg?” [to which many snickered in the crowd and added “amanda lundberg AND a video camera, rawr.”]. and while i don’t get embarrassed often, i will easily call this the most embarrassing moment of 2011.

(i was auctioned off for $800, by the way. in case you were curious.)

#11: The Lundberg/Brammer _____ of 2011
this year i moved out from with my “life partner” and moved in with evan. after 3 years together, sarah and i decided to end our common law marriage (hey, it’s legal in iowa) and move on with our lives.

it was very hard to adjust at first because sarah and i did everything together- whether we were doing the crossword (hungover) on sunday with a crew or just watching Sex in the City 2 (which neither one of us would admit to liking, it was just on tv, of course), sarah easily became my closest des moines friend. it was amazing how we went from acquaintances, to roommates, to real friends within such a short period of time. i think we bonded over our excessive behavior and our fake-lesbian romance, but seriously, she’s one of the best friends i’ve ever had.

(The Signature Pose.)

so there is 2011 in a nutshell. here’s to a good year and an even better 2012!

well, unless the world ends. then we’re just all fucked.

Merry Christmas

What a year. After dating Evan for awhile, we finally decided it’d be best to move in together. Unfortunately, that means I had to move out from with my one true love Sarah. Ah, such is life. Anyway…

Merry Christmas, everyone!
Wishing you the best this holiday season.


the year after my england trip i had my next overseas adventure. in the summer of 2007, jamie (of marriage in ireland fame) and i packed up our gear to travel to tanzania and do a documentary.

the whole set up took a bit of planning. in my junior year of college i had decided that i wanted to do something with my “skills” to give back or do something that was bigger than myself. i researched many non-profit organizations and talked with a few to decide what it was i fully wanted to try and do. after finalizing my thoughts with a group based out of california called global partners for development, the opportunity to travel to tanzania with them came up.

global partners focuses on a few areas of development-  water projects (water sanitation and even being able to have a water resource near a village is a huge problem in tanzania), primary school funding (attracting good teachers, making sure there is funding for the school itself, along with supplies), scholarships for secondary schooling for girls (a lot of times a family will only have enough money to have one child continue their education and the male child will get chosen every time), animal projects (teaching a village how to raise an animal and have them procreate/used in the village instead of killing it right away for food), and women’s social/ecomical business (giving small start up loans to women [usually whose husbands have died of HIV or AIDS] and teaching them business skills, a trade, etc.)

i thought these projects were fantastic. global partners didn’t have a christian or religious focus (not that having one is a bad thing, but i wanted a place whose focus was the people), but they were doing so many things that spoke to the heart of what i believe. the major set back was they, being a non-profit who gave away a good amount of their earnings, did not have camera equipment nor the funding to send me with them for this trip.

i started talking with my college to see if there was any type of funding for this type of project. fortunately, there was a grant that i qualified for which gave me a bit of money. my hometown church gave me some more. and from that point, people came from out of the wood work to donate money to help me get to tanzania. i was overwhelmed with the positive response i was given and determined to make the best documentary in my capabilities (which, given that it was my first and only documentary to this day, was a feat in itself).

now where does jamie fit into all of this? jamie, who went to school for broadcast journalism in nebraska, was visiting me at college when i casually mentioned my plan that was in the works. her passion and response was immediate: i am coming with you. i told her about the money, the equipment, and the time/dedication needed. she did her part (and then some) and we were well on our way.

there was a larger group also heading to tanzania with us (we received biographies and information about everyone/the places we were going beforehand), but jamie and i were flying out of des moines and not california (like the rest of the group), so for a majority of the trip out there we were on our own. we finally met up with our group in tanzania, after our 20 hour plane ride.

tanzania is amazing. it’s beautiful. it’s rustic. it’s peaceful, it’s life-affirming, and a part of my heart has been left there. the children that we met at the schools were wonderful. they were playful; we gave them coloring books and stickers. most people spoke english rather well and were so appreciative of the work we were doing and for the money that the donators had brought. we were able to sit in at an actual tribe’s meeting (all in swahili so we were filled in later about what it was about) where the masaii chief leader was scolding the group for not caring about women’s education. (in most tribes girls will be married off at 12 or 13 and they will not continue schooling but rather be at the home).

a lot of what we saw in tanzania was heart breaking as well. not because of the poverty so much, but because they were so thankful for what they had. for opportunities to speak with us. we were sang to many times, presented with gifts, and many hugs and handshakes were given. jamie and i tried our hardest to document everything, take copious amounts of notes, and gather information, but it was so hard to not just get swept up in the culture instead. we stayed in beautiful areas, ate delicious food, and bonded with our group of people. it was an experience i will never forget, for multiple reasons.

the last few days we were there our bus drivers (pascal and rama) took us out to a few safari places. pascal really took a liking to jamie and me, he always made sure we rode in his vehicle with him and called us simba 1 and simba 2 (lions).

the animals of tanzania are wild- and i mean that in the double sense. wild as in… radical, amazing, and unbelieveable and also wild in the- oh, what the hell, there is an elephant about 10 feet away from me! sort of sense. we saw four of the big five while were there. a couple of lions, some cape buffalo, plenty of elephants, and one lone rhino we almost missed because he was so far away. also, poachers like to kill rhinos because their horns are worth a lot of money, so they are becoming scarce. the only ones we did not see were leopards because they had migrated away from the area during the time were there.

i could literally go on and on about tanzania, but i will wrap up with some final thoughts below. my hope is to return to that area some day and see the progress and difference the projects have made to the culture and economy of the country itself.

things i remember about tanzania:

  • a baboon stole my lunch. no, literally. he (she?) lunged across the picnic table towards me and i instinctively grabbed my camera rather than the edible box of goodies in front of me. it looked at me, stuck my bread roll in its mouth, picked up the box and bounded away. rama, our bus driver, threw rocks at it, but it was too late. and there were no more extra lunch boxes so i did not eat much that day.
  • this crazy lady we went with told me if i stick a penny in my belly button i wouldn’t get my motion sickness. i didn’t try it– because it sounded crazy. and that was one of the more sane things that she said.
  • we had goat on a stake a couple of times in the same day while we were out there. they cook it, over a fire, stake it to the ground, and then cut off pieces with a giant knife. wild dog will hover around you in hopes of getting some scraps.
  • “asanti sana, squash banana” (like rafiki says in The Lion King) does not mean “you’re a monkey’s uncle… and i am not.” it means “thank you very much… squash banana” (no direct translation on the last part)
  • giraffes are the most hilarious animals in the world to watch fight. they kick at each other and swing their necks, but they are so awkward and strangely built that it looks like they are fighting in slow-motion.
  • if you are sitting behind a leaking bathroom that smells like piss on a plane (and i pray this never happens to you), ask the flight attendent to sprinkle coffee grinds around the area. some guy on the flight next to me asked her to do this on our trip (he had already been through this sort of experience) and the smell cleared right up.
  • hyenas are awesome. i don’t care what anyone says about them being unlikeable animals. they (at least the type we saw) look nothing like they do in The Lion King; hyenas look super majestic, powerful, and… damn, are cool. they are fearless.
  • it’s embarrassing to try out your swahili on a tribe that doesn’t even speak the language. i thought the children were giggling at my pronunciation. no. they just had no idea what i was saying, in english or otherwise.
  • do not take glass coke bottles out of tanzania. they look awesome because they are so retro- but once the pop is gone they are returned to a recycle center, sanitized, and new pop is put in them and returned. if you take a pop bottle you are basically stealing a life-time of pop from the country.
  • you can get gifts and such for ridiculously cheap because of the poverty level. if you are going to a more populated town they are used to tourists and know a bit more about haggling and prices that we are used to. the more rural parts are anxious to sell you anything for any price you want. i tried not to take advantage of that too much because i really wanted to help the people.
  • ^ speaking of gifts, they really make some AMAZING things. beaded jewelry, carved wooden sculptures, hand painted canvases. the gifts i remember buying were many small beaded necklaces from a woman’s economic group we were helping, 3 hand carved masaii men (for my parents, my brother’s family, and me), hand carved wooden animals (that i gave away as gifts), some delicious coffee grown at a resort we stayed at, and two canvases that i had stretched and mounted immediately when i got home.
  • hippos kill more people every year than alligators and crocodiles combined. they can run at speeds up to 40 mph. they sneak up underneath boats, open their jaws, and can snap the thing in two. the game hungry, hungry hippos took on a whole new meaning after finding this out.
  • jamie really is a swell gal. i’m lucky to know her and to be in her life.

  • mazunga means “white person.” though i am not, i got called it many times while village children chased after our vehicles and pointed.
  • there are tiny antelopes called dik -diks and they are the cutest things in the world. there are large antelopes with impressive horns as well, and impalas, but the dik-diks take the cake for african animal you want to take home.
  • global partners for development is an amazing non-profit organization filled with people who are desperately trying to make a positive impact on the world. donate if you can, but just check them out for sure.

dreamy smirk

but really, what’s the point of having friends if you can’t make shit of them?
(photo taken from, the best screen printers in the universe)

what comes before part b? (part-aaay)!!!

i love throwing parties. when sarah and i lived together we threw epic parties every couple of months; get togethers where everyone who was anyone was invited and everyone who was anyone had a good time.

but the thing was… they were never “normal.”

no, we couldn’t just have a get together with beverages and food and quality time. if you know either sarah or me very well, you know that we take things to the extreme… and then we push it a little farther. we had to have parties with jungle juice so intense you forgot your mother’s name, candles and crockpots we’d leave burning all night because we’d pass out before we remembered to turn them off, and costumes. costumes galore.

the first themed party we ever threw was a prom party. we bought Lundberg/Brammer “Starlit Promises” shot glasses for souvenirs, put up prom decorations, and even  stayed up all night to paint a backdrop for the “professional photos” (and got paint all over our basement floor- we had stars and a moon there until the day we left that duplex).

quickly following the success of the starlit promises prom of 2009, we decided that we had to have a harry potter triwizard tournament (please read the 4th book/see the 4th movie for reference). even though sarah wasn’t/isn’t a big harry potter fan– she had to admit that making our guests compete in challenges and dress like witches and wizards was a great idea.

the next party we threw was a halloween party- which helped ease those who weren’t quite ready to dive into the “costumes for no reasons.” also, sarah dressed up as matt and vice versa, so there’s a great pic of matt and i doing sarah and my “signature pose”.

after people started getting a taste for our themed parties, we started getting requests. our friend benjamin wanted to have a going away party before he left to teach in china. wanting to please, we told him any party idea he had we would gladly host. …then he said he wanted to have a “onesie” party. we were reluctant and weren’t sure if people would show up… but to our surprise… it was a huge hit.

soon after the onesie party (which renewed our spirits about our friends’ creativity and dedication to our parties) we had sarah’s birthday. she has a thing about the roaring 20s so we had a “tender is the night” night complete with prohibition, gambling, and flappers.

sadly, after sarah’s birthday party, we had to slow down on parties. we moved out of our fancy duplex and into a two bedroom apartment in terrace hill (not as hip as sherman hill). we had neighbors upstairs. the first were two uber christian girls who didn’t drink nor stay up late. the second were even worse. they were a couple. with a baby. they called the cops on us on a weekend at 11pm when we weren’t even having a party.

but that didn’t stop us from having one final shindig there. and possibly our most elaborate party to date (at least for props and scenery)- mario all-stars.

and the final party we had– right after i moved away, at the house of my gracious friend phillip, the white-trash birthday. i had just moved to mason city and sarah thought it was appropriate that i was “returning to my roots” of white trashiness. i gladly accepted that challenge.

parties have continued on now that i’ve moved out. there was a halloween party in the colonade. we hada glitter party for sarah’s birthday that was potentially the most extravagant and messy party to date. the cops kicked us out the first place by 10pm. the second round of cops came to get us (at our new location) at 2am.

due to the eviction notices, the rape case, and the total shenanigans of the glitter party, i will do everyone a favor and not post any photos. 😉

it’s weird not planning and buying and setting everything up until the wee hours of the morning (although i must admit i don’t miss not having to clean it all up the next day). i do miss hosting themed parties. i also miss “family game night” where a bunch of people would get together to play silly games like cranium and imagine if. but i also am enjoying a bit of a quieter life. with rest. and health. 🙂 who would’ve known growing up is okay?

oh… *sigh* parties. who’s next?!

no need to russian-to-it.

i think i may have mentioned it a time or two (or eight or ten if you are around me often), but i am going to russia in february for work. this “will she, won’t she” game has finally come to an end, and i will be traveling out the last week of february/first week of march.

at first i asked my boss if she was punishing me (because i imagine winters in russia are even worse than winters in iowa), but the more and more i think about it, the more and more excited i become. i will be spending a week in st. petersburg- 4-5 days of video interviews, working on product positioning with product managers and technical service people, etc and then an additional 2 days checking out the city.

plus, it gives me an excuse to wear my awesome hat:

(my mom thinks these hats are super dorky so my sister-in-law and brother got her a similar one for christmas last year. i make her wear it around the house with me sometimes.)

and to make matters even more exciting, an old college friend of mine is thinking about meeting me there for the last portion of the trip. i love seeing people i haven’t seen in a long time, and this man is no exception.

ladies, meet ari. he’s single and ready to mingle: (and finnish. and adorable.)

i met ari my senior year at wartburg college (you-rah-rah-rah!). he was a freshman at the time and under normal circumstances i wouldn’t have even noticed him. for one, he’s blonde (and we all know how i feel about that). and for two, he was a freshman. when would i ever have a class with a freshman?

lucky for both of us, one of my roommates was on orientation staff and she brought him around a time or two. we quickly became friends- i mean, sure, he was blonde and young… but he was FINNISH. He was stylish. He was worldly.

…and his hair was beautiful. 🙂

one of my favorite things about ari is that he always laughs at my last name. my last name is lundberg. it’s swedish (just like me… haha… sort of.)  in most european languages, “berg” means “mountain.” i’m not too upset about that, it’s an easy translation, and i probably could’ve figured it out for myself. another [sad eyed] friend has told me that “lund” in swedish means “grove,” so apparently my roots trace back to the people living off the land between the grove and the mountain.

but in hindi, “lund” is a slang term for male anatomy– most specifically it translates to “dick.” so ari calls me Dickmountain, or DM for short. …he’s a real classy kind of guy. 🙂

after i graduated wartburg at semester i ended up seeing ari a few times [when i visited school for homecoming and also at my fake-prom party], but he soon returned to his homeland and we haven’t really seen each other since. i am STOKED that he is making some time to come and visit- especially in the cold of winter!

neither ari nor myself have every been to russia, however. seeing as i want to soak in as much as possible, i would appreciate any tips or ideas of places to see while i’m in st. petersburg. a small group of work colleagues (the fun ones) are also staying for some extra time, so hopefully someone will have an idea of what to do. don’t get me wrong, i love to travel and explore new things, but one fault of mine is that i’m too laid-back when it comes to itineraries. if i have a rough draft i will follow it, if i don’t, i will play it by ear…

…and my ear usually leads me to a bar. so help a sister out and give me some good ideas! 🙂

not gonna eat MY brains.

i am a huge fan of amc’s television drama the walking dead, mostly because it covers a subject that is near and dear to my heart. zombies.

over the years i have become more interested in zombies and the potential for a zombie apocalypse. admittedly, i was not the biggest zombie/zombie movie fan at the beginning acknowledgement of their possible existence, but the fact of the matter is… i’m a survivor. and wanting to be prepared as possible, i have ran over possible scenarios, weaponry, and survival kits to ensure i will be roaming this earth long after the last zombie has had its brain blown out.

to my slight reluctance, i am willing to share parts of my zombie survival plan with everyone. i am not sure how much i want to indulge (survival of the fittest, afterall), but these few things are key.

1. get yourself to a farm — sorry, city dwellers, but if a zombie apocalypse has started and you are still in an overpopulated city, you’re already fucked. unless you’ve successfully locked every other human out of the wal-mart you have just relocated into (you heartless jerk), you need safe harbor, you need wide open spaces to maneuver, and you potentially need cows.

2. cows and/or supplies — okay, not so much cows, but you do need a food source. a garden would be nice. cows/pigs/chickens/sheep/livestock in general are also nice. not only can you butcher the livestock for an endless supply of filot mignon or bacon (mmm, bacon), you can throw a chicken or young pig or sheep (let’s be realistic about a zombie attack… you probably can’t throw a cow) at a hoard of zombies to distract them from trying to rip you apart limb from limb and eat your innards.

also, by supplies i mean guns or weaponry. i hope you have already thought of this. i suggest weapons that keep you at a safe distance– guns are good, but they are loud and, well, deadly even to humans. arrows are good (get a cross bow, no one has time to learn old school arrow shooting), spears have potential. just beware of using close up weapons like a pick ax or knife. for one, you need to hit their brain (that’s the only way they die), and getting that close to their mouths could enable you to get bit before you deal the final blow. also, keep your mouth closed while killing– zombie splatter into open orifices can also cause infection.

3. good friends — i mean, not so good of friends that it is going to impair your judgement of whether or not you should shoot them if they become infected, but good friends are a must in survival. and by “good” i also mean good for you. you need people who are also survivalists and who can bring something to the table, whether it be hunters or doctors or just someone who is easy on the eyes (you might need to repopulate the earth, afterall). you also don’t want too big of a group– ten people at the most. any more than that and it can start going all ‘lord of the flies’ and people be power trippin’ all over the farm.

on a smiliar note, you also want to make sure you are not the weakest link in your group. if you’re the weakest, i’m not going to say you are going to die first… you should already know this. (you are going to die first.)

4. practice, practice, practice — i can’t stress this enough- it’s important to be prepared. and i’m not only talking about canned foods and gauze wrap (although, speaking of, you should have plenty of both). have you watched any zombie movies to find their strengths and weaknesses? do you know how fast can you shed a jacket if a zombie has a hold on it? can you reload a gun in the blink of an eye?

if you haven’t thought of any of the above (*cough* weakest link *cough*), i will give you a simple exercise to start with. i call it the “trip and recover.” practice falling to the ground and getting up as quickly as you can. because, let’s face it, if you fall… your “good” friends aren’t coming back for you. i was a sprinter in high school- i don’t necessarily need stamina… i just need to outrun the slowest person. and i’m not a bad enough person that i would shoot you in the knee cap to ensure that i will be quicker, but i’m not a good enough person to be taken down beside you.

so obviously this is not all the information that you need to survive a zombie attack, but they are the basics. maybe in a more advanced course we can discuss clean water sources, how to reenforce your farm, and other survival tactics.

i wish you all luck, and hope to see you in the new world.

how tacky

as much as i hate the cold and snow (and i do, trust me), there is one related thing that gets me in the mood for the christmas holiday season.

tacky christmas sweaters.

i don’t know how this phenomenon came up. i’d like to know if it is popular in other countries? is it popular over the whole united states or just in certain regions? regardless of spread or origin– tacky sweaters have become a staple of my christmas celebrations.

and it’s not just me looking for christmas sweaters. thrift stores can’t keep them in stock. even shopping malls will stock up on them during the winter months hoping someone will pay full price for a sweater with a reindeer sewn across the front. sorry, younkers, but $50 is a bit ridiculous. even if it is the most hideous sweater i’ve ever seen with light up christmas wreaths.

snowmen, santa claus, little elves… i can’t get enough.

lucky for me, my mom has kept one little number throughout the years. it’s a vest. a christmas vest… and it’s uber-petite, it’s short on me and i’m 5’3″. it’s a blue color, similar to regular jeans, and on each side it’s oh-so-tactfully decorated with santa and snowmen and other holiday cheer. my mom won’t admit she still likes it, she claims to have just saved it for me for all of my parties… but i found it in her closet the first time i wore it and would like to think she was just waiting for cold enough weather so she could wear it herself.

sure, there are other things that get me in the christmas spirit. as much as i do hate (piles and piles of) snow, the first snowfall of the year is breathtakingly beautiful. i’m still very much like a child in the sense that i try to catch snowflakes on my tongue and pretend to smoke when it’s really cold, making my breath look like the smoke. i will occassionally make a snow angel. i will drink hot chocolate and some milk nog (egg nog is too rich, how can people do that?). i will wrap christmas presents, admire people’s holiday decorations, and hang out and appreciate my family and friends.

and, if i’m lucky, i’ll be doing all of that in my tacky christmas sweater(vest).

reminiscing on england

the first time i ever traveled abroad was in 2006. and the feeling, the excitement was so contagious that i think i came down with a bad case of ‘travelitis.’ for those of you have never heard of travelitis or the perils that it entails, it’s a very serious (but not very rare) condition. and i have not wanted to sit still ever since.

when i was in high school i had a “pen pal” from england named chloe. we would pretty much email every day and shoot the shit; we’d talk about celebrities, schooling, and the differences between england and the united states. i told her that if she ever wanted to visit the good ol’ u. s. of a. she would have a roof over her head if she came to iowa.

my senior year of high school she took me up on the offer. my parents and i went to go pick her up at the des moines international airport (…funny title in itself, considering we don’t do international flights, but thank you fedex) and we took her out to see the exciting things in iowa. you know. the exciting things.

anyway, in 2006 my best friend mallory (who had also gotten to know chloe well over the years) and i decided that we would like to visit her in england. she was living in whitstable (kent) at the time and her parents graciously said they would host two twenty year old girls during our two weeks of vacation. haha, suckas.

i don’t think i slept on the plane ride i was so excited. [mallory has corrected me and said i did sleep, it was her that did not, haha] when we finally arrived in england both mallory and i were extremely jet lagged (or maybe just tired from not having slept) so we took naps. i woke up a bit earlier than her and decided to go downstairs and make conversation. mallory woke up in a pitch black room to find me gone. gave her a bit of a scare, hehe. but that was the most lethargic we were all week.

we argued about who had the room with the big bed.

we checked out the local scene.

we had our first fish and chips on the beach of whitstable.

overall, the trip was a blast. we got to experience the slower, smaller living of england while staying in whitstable and while visiting canterbury and dover.

(we look so young!)

(dover’s castle didn’t have a gargoyle, but don’t worry… i took care of it)

but we also got swept up in the excitement and sight-seeing adventures in london.

seeing as the trip was over 5 years ago, it’s hard for me to vividly remember everything. even when i was looking through photos i was having trouble figuring out where some of them were taken (because, i’m not going to lie to you- cathedrals, for the most part, all look the same). but there are a few things that i do remember from the trip. and, of course, the most important thing i took away from the trip: i will never be done traveling.

things i remember from my trip to england:

  • i tried curry for the first time. it was spicy as hell. go figure.
  • there was this dog named Jim who liked to look out of the windows. i managed to get a great shot of this cat tormenting him by sitting on a pillar right outside the window.
  • driving in england, though confusing and on the opposite side of the road, is a lot slower than in other countries.
  • this was the first time i went to a country where tips were not the norm and waiters and waitresses didn’t come around very often. i think we sat and chatted in a restaurant for a few hours before the waitress got around to asking us if we wanted anything else or to get the check.
  • ^ oh, also, apparently asking for a box for leftovers is absurd. (don’t look at me like that, i might be hungry later!)
  • they aren’t kidding around- those guards will not talk to you. and they are slightly intimidating. (but some guards do talk, and they even oblige to pose for photos) 🙂
  • i had my first pimms & lemonade while in england. i thought it was delicious. years later i still haven’t had one as good as the first i had in whitstable.
  • because the drinking age was 18 (and we were 20) we got to take advantage of many opportunities. this was also where i had my first strongbow and learned of scrumpy jack. i also remember chloe getting upset because neither mallory nor i got carded for a club and she did.
  • i loved taking photos of touristy places, things, etc. i think mallory took a majority of the candid shots and i focused mostly on the landscape. i regret it a bit, but looking at the photos now i’m glad i got some of the shots i did.

  • there are parades in england and people throw pennies at the floats instead of the people on the floats throwing candy out to the crowd.
  • there was a man at canterbury castle who had the most fantastic mustache i had ever seen. even to this day, none can compare.