travel

Recaps, reviews and resolutions

Everybody’s doing it. You know, writing a “Here’s-what-I-did-in-2011-and-here’s-what-I’m-going-to-do-in-2012″ blog post. And I’m finally jumping on that bandwagon. I’m only four days late.

I run on my own schedule.

 

2011 was a fun year! And because I’m sure y’all have already read a bunch of these kinds of lists and I don’t want to bore you, I’ll just rattle off a few quick highlights. I’m sure this is probably more for my benefit/nostalgia/enjoyment than yours anyway.

–2011 saw more snow days for my little Arkansas university than it had seen in 30+ years.

–Said snow days occurred as a result of one heck of a crazy snowstorm everyone dubbed, “The Snowpocalypse.”

–Then came, “The Rainpocalypse.”

–I failed at baking brownies, coloring, cards, and drawing the state of Kansas.

–The highlight of the year was definitely completing an internship in Spain!

–I decided to take the LSAT and possibly apply to law school.

–I started my senior year of college.

–I got to TP a basketball court.

–2011 closed out with a (semi)-winter storm and plenty of Christmas and New Year’s parties.

 

Now… for 2012.

I’m not much for resolutions. It’s not something I’ve ever really done and I’m much more of a go-with-the-flow person as opposed to making a plan and sticking to it tooth and nail.

I jokingly told a friend that I had made a one-day resolution to cheer for the Denver Broncos when they played the Kansas City Chiefs even though I am a huge Chiefs fan. I only did it because I didn’t want the Oakland Raiders to go to the playoffs, which they would have if Kansas City won. A few minutes after the game started though, I figured out that if Oakland lost their game to the San Diego Chargers, it didn’t matter if Denver won or lost; Oakland would be denied a playoff berth. (If you’re unfamiliar with the NFL playoff system, let me tell you, it can get a little crazy!)

So I said heck with the Donkeys, uhh… Broncos, and cheered all-out for my Chiefs!

And it all ended up working out ok. The Chiefs won and Oakland lost! Yay!

But, I digress.

Back to New Year’s resolutions.

Which I don’t really make.

With the exception of sarcastic one-day resolutions pertaining to football games that I actually make for selfish reasons.

And then break ten minutes into them.

I have problems. I know this.

But for real. A couple days before the new year, I downloaded a year in photos app for my iPhone. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Take one picture a day, every day, for 365 days.

Now, I’m really not a fan of such long-term commitments, mostly because I don’t like planning and being tied down, but also because I’m pretty sure I’ll break them. Nevertheless, I’m attempting this one. And by attempting, I mean keeping up with it as long as I can and not caring too much when I miss a day.

I’ve kept up with it so far though! Four days… impressive, I know.

Here are the first three photos and captions. (I haven’t uploaded the fourth to my computer yet. It and subsequent photos will hopefully follow.)

 

New Year’s Cookies! This is a family tradition. Every year my aunt makes these delicious German treats. This year I had at least six of them. I lost count after that, so the final tally isn’t exactly known. Oh well, it’s better that way. I’d probably rather not know how many I ate. I tend to overindulge a bit during all the holiday parties.

I have problems. I know this.

Being a cat is rough. Just ask my cat, Turvy, and he’ll tell you all about it. He gets to spend all day inside and stick his head in the bag of cat food and eat whenever he wants. And he’s supposed to be an outside cat. Pshhh. My mother spoils him.

Family Christmas supper at the local restaurant. This was like the twelfth (and final… thank goodness) family Christmas we’ve had this year. I love my family. I really, really do. And I love get-togethers and parties! But we like to eat in my family, so there is always tons of food at our get-togethers and my stomach has finally said enough.

The flip side is that in a week, I know I’ll be back at school dying to have a home-cooked meal again, so I really shouldn’t complain.

And that’s all for now, folks!

I hope y’all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year’s with your friends and families and that you can approach each day in 2012 as it comes, with a smile on your face!

España miscellany – road signs

If this isn’t a typical tourist thing to do, then I don’t know what is…

I’ve succumbed to taking pictures of Spanish road signs.

Maybe succumbed isn’t the right word. I’m not completely ashamed. The signs are kind of amusing. I just feel like I might as well put a sign on my back saying, “I don’t belong here!” whenever I snap a shot of something so ordinary.

But in the end, the photographer in me always wins out.

Take this sign for example.

I’ve seen numerous signs like this along all the highways in Spain, but never stopped to take a picture of one.

I always just scoff at them.

Tractors and horse-drawn carriages, huh? In Spain? You’ve got to be kidding me. We ain’t in Kansas anymore. Do Spaniards even know what a tractor is? And who would drive a horse-drawn carriage down a major highway? Are there Amish people here?

Now I have to say that in Málaga my scoffing is perfectly legitimate. Málaga is one big cement and concrete jungle. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve seen a patch of nice green grass around here.

But up north in Galicia, where I walked the Camino de Santiago, now that’s a different story. Not only were there tractors in Galicia, there were dairy cows and corn fields and the whole shebang. It felt a little like home. But that’s a story for another day.

I’m just glad the signs finally started making some sense.

But here’s one I don’t think I’ll ever understand.

This was at a beach in a little coastal town in northern Spain called Combarro.

Interesting beach policies in Combarro.

You are welcome to take your daily shower at the beach. But you must never play tennis (all other sports are permitted) and you cannot bring your… goat?

Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

I saw this and immediately thought of The Supremes.

“Stop! In the name of love…”

It’s actually just meant to prevent unauthorized persons from entering whatever was behind it, which didn’t look like anything top-secret enough to warrant such an intense sign, but whatever.

The Spanish are dramatic people.

Case in point.

I believe this sign is trying to tell me that there is a high suicide rate among automobiles in Spain.

So hide your Fords and hide your Hondas ‘cuz dey all gon’ down tha drink up in here.

I’m sorry. That was bad.

But for real. What else could this sign be saying? Don’t drive your car into the ocean?

I’m pretty sure that’s rule #1 in driver’s ed. It was in Kansas anyway. Because we have so much water, you know. It’s a real danger to beginning drivers.

Anyway, your guess is as good as mine on this one too.

And now I’m off to go ponder the deeper meanings of life.

Much love,

kskristy

España day 27 – the beach!

I just watched a cruise ship sail off into the Mediterranean from my balcony. (Hello misplaced modifier.)

That really has nothing to with this post. I just had to tell ya. So you could share in my excitement. In order to really feel it though, you should probably squeal with excitement and clap your hands a couple times. Got it? Good. I would hate for you to miss out on the full experience.

Not that I would ever do that.

Ok… moving on.

Does anybody else hear crickets chirping? Hello? Hellllloooo?

Sorry.

But, speaking of the Mediterranean, I had the chance to swim in it about two weeks ago. A couple friends and I went to a nearby town called Nerja and spent a glorious day at the beach.

It was my first time at the beach. Any beach. Ever.

I’ve been to San Francisco and saw the Pacific, but never touched the water. And I visited the Gulf of Mexico once, but it was right after Hurricane Katrina and there wasn’t really a beach left.

So by my processes of elimination and rationalization, the coast of the Mediterranean at Nerja was the first beach I’ve ever been to.

In my mind, I had such a glamorous view of what the beach would be like. White sand stretching on for miles and miles. Palm trees waving free and easy in the breeze. Super Guapos surfing and showing off for the girls. (For the definition of a super guapo, see this post.)

Nerja wasn’t quite like that.

This was my first view of the coast.

Where’s the beach? Where’s my luscious white sand?

Getting closer. That sand isn’t exactly white but…

…that’s fun!

And crowded. You mean I don’t get the beach all to myself?

That’s ok. I’m still at a beach! I’m a happy camper.

How could I not be happy with views like this? So pretty!

Eventually my friends and I found a secluded, shady spot underneath some cliffs at the very end of the beach.  We definitely didn’t have the beach to ourselves, but it kind of felt like it.

But there was still one little issue.

This was the sand.

In Kansas we call that gravel. We put it on our roads. And drive on it. Not lay out on it.

I may be exaggerating a little bit.

The sand really wasn’t that bad. Once you put a towel down, you could hardly tell you were laying on rocks.

All sarcasm aside, I really did have a good time.

I laid out in the sun.

I got hot.

I went for a dip in the Med.

I went back to my towel.

I laid out in the sun.

I got hot.

I went for a dip in the Med.

I ate an apple.

I took a nap.

I laid out in the sun.

I think you get the picture. It was the life.

And to think, I can almost do the same thing in Kansas! We do have the gravel after all.

But not the Med. Or any large oceans/seas/lakes/rivers/ponds/puddles/H2O in any way, shape or form.

I think it’s about time Kansas got around to inventing water…

España day 22 – the Alcazaba

Last Sunday I went to a Moorish castle in Málaga called the Alcazaba. It was great! The castle was built in the 11th century so I loved the archaic architecture. And I got some fantastic vistas of Málaga from the top of the castle.

I’ve got a bunch of photos to share with y’all, so I’ll let them do the talking and keep my sarcastic commentary to myself today.

 

Now I have to explain the photo above because it is clearly the odd one out.

After touring the Alcazaba, a friend and I were heading downtown and we passed through Calle Larios, one of the prettiest and busiest streets in Málaga. The city had hung up shade cloth earlier in the week to try and keep the street (and the people) cooler in the heat of the day. I had seen the shade cloth before, but I was amazed by the new decoration that seemed to be hanging from the heavens.

Paper cranes. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

They were so beautiful.

There was a banner hanging a little way beyond them that said something about, “We don’t know what to do with all the paper,” or something to that effect.

In America, we shred paper. In Spain, they make paper cranes.

Point for Spain.

There are more photos to come! Check back soon for legit flamenco dancers.

Until then, much love,

kskristy

Culture de España – food and drink edition

Hola!

The past few days have been work days again. I’m loving my job. I do different things everyday. So far I have photographed a wall mural that is about to be painted over, learned how to use Final Cut Pro and edited a home assignment video for a missionary, and planned out a couple of upcoming shoots, just to name a few things.

Since I haven’t been out and about much in the past couple days, I thought I would show you a few photos of what’s in my apartment.

 

Ok well, I guess I lied. This isn’t actually in my apartment. Shocker, I know. I bet I had y’all fooled into thinking they’d built an entire grocery store in my living room.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

This store is called Eroski and it’s kind of like Walmart, Spain style.

The store had an entire aisle just for international products. I thought it was neat.

 

These are fun. They’re cookies I picked up at Eroski this weekend and the have a slab of creamy dark chocolate layered on top of a simple butter cookie.

Delish.

I love dark chocolate. I love it so much, I would bathe in it.

Or not.

But I could definitely eat it all day long.

So naturally, I love these cookies for the chocolate, but I also like them for another reason.

 

They have random letters of the alphabet on them!

I picked through the package and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the letters printed. They are what they are.

I’m thinking of collecting about ten packs of these and playing a game of Scrabble with them.

And I’d use a giant waffle for the game board.

Now, I’ve told you I’m fond of the dark chocolate, non-bathing material, but definitely word-game-playing-piece material cookies, but this next thing might just save my life while I’m in Spain.

Let me explain a little bit first.

I may be a midwest Kansas country girl, but I have a soft spot in my heart for some good ol’ southern sweet tea.

For real. It’s pretty much my life long goal to live in an old southern tidewater-style home with a porch that wraps all the way around the house with an old creaky porch swing. I’m going to sit on that porch in that creaky porch swing in the evenings and watch the sun go down and drink sweet tea all the live-long day.

Amen.

Anyway… Spain does not have sweet tea.

I knew this before coming here, but I didn’t know it was going to be such a problem.

I even rationed myself the week before coming here in a futile attempt to break my addiction to my precious nectar from heaven.

It didn’t work. I think I was in Spain for maybe an hour before I started craving a tall, cool glass of sweet tea.

Needless to say, I was a tad bit worried about what I was going to do. Six weeks without sweet tea might have drove me crazy.

But then I found this.

 

Tinto de verano.

Don’t ask me to translate. I have no clue what this says. I think verano is summer… or veranda. One of the two. But hey, verandas are associated with summer, so it’s all good.

This is how I decipher Spanish. Word associations. They’ll getcha far in life.

Anyway… the tinto.

I don’t exactly know what all’s in that bottle. I do know there is wine and some kind of semi-carbonated lemon fizzy liquid something. But it’s good. Not as good as sweet tea. Heavens no.

But it just might get me through five more weeks here until I can get my hands on a jug of Red Diamond.

 

 

Mucho amor (much love),

kskristy

España photos – day 4

Well it’s day 6 of my internship in Spain, but this post is all about photos from day 4. I’m getting behind already! Thankfully (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) the last two days have been work days so I haven’t had a chance to take many more pictures.

Back to day 4…

Some of my wonderful co-workers/friends took me downtown and showed me around on Wednesday afternoon. I had a blast seeing downtown Málaga. I am definitely a country girl through and through, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a big city every once in a while! Wednesday was definitely one of those days.

So without further ado…

 

Roommate! This one is for you! It’s just like Cali!

 

This stuff is the bomb. I know… it looks like plain cherry jam, but for real. You can’t know how good this stuff is until you taste it.

I’m in love.

I eat it at least twice a day.

Sometimes without the bread.

 

And then sometimes I tell myself that cherry jam straight out of the jar is not a sufficient breakfast so I make myself a proper meal.

 

Most people in Málaga live in apartments. To me, this looks like a high-rise complex straight out of 1970s America.

 

Now this is downtown Málaga. The building on the far right is a hotel. I’m not sure about the other two, but they sure are purdy… I mean bonita. (I’m having issues giving up my country slang. It’s a problem.)

 

This is Málaga’s official statue. Sadly, I can’t remember the story behind it… something about buckets and fish. The end.

Howdy y’all! Mah name is Kristy and I’m fixing to be y’alls tur guide through this here fine city of Malagie, Espana. That’s “s-pan-uh” folks. Let’s git ‘er done!

I’d make a fantastic Spanish tour guide, can’t ya tell?

Sorry.

 

This wall is in the middle of a parking garage. Wild, right? It was built by the Phoenicians to protect the city over 3000 years ago and got buried and forgotten about until modern technology brought about the need for this newfangled thing called a parking garage. Lots of dirt, some shovels and a few bulldozers later and voila! Houston, we have an ancient wall.

Bam.

 

This is city hall. No big. Our city halls look like this in Podunk Kansas too.

 

Well hello there tree. I almost thought I had discovered a new species when I saw you, but then I remembered you actually do exist. In every other place except Kansas, America. Thanks for reminding me there is more than flat land and dead grass out there in this world.

 

My, what big roots you have!

 

One of my lovely new friends was kind enough to ask if I would like her to take a picture of me with the tree. It felt strange being on the front side of a camera for once.

Always the photographer, never the photographed. That’s my life story in a nutshell.

 

Poinsettas grow on trees. Who knew? Not this Kansas girl. I didn’t even know what a tree was until about two pictures before this one.

 

This stone is from the time period when the Romans had control over Málaga. I’m not sure what it says. It’s written in Latin. I’m having enough trouble with Spanish right now. I think I’ll save the Latin translations for some other time… like never. That’s good too.

By the way, I hate the CD case in the shrubbery. It ruins the picture. But  my arms weren’t long enough to grab it. Sad day.

 

This is a Roman amphitheater that was also constructed during ancient times, forgotten and buried and later unearthed.

It’s the circle of life. And it moves us all. (Name that song lyric!)

 

France had to throw it’s flavor in the Málaga melting pot too.

And just fyi, I hated the Louvre. I thought it was kind of boring. And I got lost. But I do like to pronounce the name, “loo-vrah.” Makes a stuffy art museum way more fun.

 

I was genuinely impressed by Málaga’s creativity when it comes to renovating buildings. They put up a giant sheet that looks like a fun house and go to work behind it. Very cool.

 

I’m a sucker for old houses. Plus, I like the cross hanging from the top floor on this one.

 

Another picture of myself in front of another tree. I see a pattern developing…

 

Look at the branches on that thing! How amazing! We are definitely not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

 

I’m afraid this is my artsy-fartsy creative side coming out but I absolutely LOVE the perspective and the lighting of this photo. And I love how it gives you a sense of the narrowness of the streets. Totally serious on this one.

 

I’m definitely a fan of this door.

 

They really, truly had a bar named Cheers in downtown Málaga.

As I walked past it, I could almost hear Woody saying, “What’s shakin’, Mr. Peterson?” And Norm replying, “All four cheeks and a couple of chins.”

Favorite quote of the whole series right there. One of the many.

 

This is the most-walked (and in my opinion one of the most pretty) streets in Málaga. It’s called Calle J-something. Sorry. I forgot. But I got the Spanish word for street down pat. Calle.

 

 

The anti-government protests that started in Madrid a few weeks ago made their way to Málaga. And they’re still going on.

Except of course, when I asked the protestors in my bueno Español to go play hide-and-seek for a minuto so I could snap this picture.

They said they’d love to.

 

 

My friends took me into a couple of Spainsh clothing stores. I admit I was really curious to see what kinds of clothes they would have. They say whatever is popular in Europe will show up in the States in a year or two… but if this full-length denim romper pantsuit (is that even what you would call it?!?) is a preview of what’s to come, I think I would rather walk around naked, thank you. Just as long as I could wear my beloved boots.

Oh my dear, precious heaven for my feet boots… how I love and miss you so.

 

 

This, however, is a part of Spanish culture I embrace with open arms. Espresso. Mi amor. My love.

It was so hard for me not to chug that whole glass.

Side note, the restaurants print diagrams of the strength of their espresso on napkin containers. You just tell the waiter which one you want and he mixes up just the right amount of espresso and milk. Muy bueno!

Side, side note, the orange juice in the background was literally squeezed right when it was ordered. It was unlike any other orange juice I’ve ever tasted before. So, so good! Muy, muy bueno!

Side, side, side note. there are churros behind my espresso. Churros are basically fried pastry dough, which are best when dipped in hot pudding-like chocolate. Spaniards like to eat them for their metial. Metial is an afternoon snack, which in Spain happens around 4:00-5:00 p.m.

I’m a fan.

 

These are my lovely new friends and I at a bar that was built in 1840. The barrels behind us contained all different kinds of wine. I had one that was aged five years and very sweet. Muy bueno!

Sorry for the bad picture quality. It was so dark in that bar, this was the best possible result. I thought about scrapping it altogether, but my little not-legal-in-the-States-yet self couldn’t bear to delete my ever first photo taken in a bar.

 

This is a ginormous ferry that sails across the Mediterranean to a little town on the northern coast of Africa that is evidently still owned by Spain. Very cool. I want to go!

 

Speaking of the Mediterranean…

 

Now, this has nothing to do with downtown, but it was my first official purchase in Spain. Well, besides groceries, but those don’t count. Well, besides the churros and espresso too. Those do count.

Anyway… the fan.

I’ve always associated decorative fans like this with Asian cultures. But they are actually quite common in Spain. A lady’s gotta stay cool somehow in the hot summers of Southern Spain and no air conditioning!

I’m a fan of this too.

Ha.

No pun intended. Maybe.

 

And these are boys that go to the school I can see from my balcony.

They have been practicing the actions to this song ever since I got here. Evidently this school always has some big end-of-the-year shebang with lots of song and dance.

Can you guess what song they are dancing to?

The YMCA.

Not even kidding.

I asked the people I work with if they can understand the lyrics and they said no, Spaniards just like 80s music from America.

Fun fact… that end-of-the-year shebang is going on right now. No joke. The YMCA is blaring through my windows. And it’s 1130 p.m. here. That’s Spanish culture for you. School programs end at midnight here. I would have loved that when I was a kid! I was never allowed to stay up past 10.

 

Thanks for hanging in there with me through all those photos (and ridiculous captions… I don’t know what’s gotten into me tonight). There will be more to come in a few days!

 

Much love,

kskristy

 

 

España! Day 3 photos

Hola from España!

Today is technically the third day of my trip, but it was the first chance I had to take some photos.

Nobody speaks English here, but other than the frustrations of a communication barrier, I’m having a great time!

Here are a few photos.

This is the view from my own private balcony.

 

The pretty sitting area of my apartment. I’m in love with the red wall. For real. The other three walls of the room are that same fantastic color. Spaniards don’t do accent walls. I love it.

 

Spain has ducks and geese. Just like my little Arkansas college town. It feels just like home. Sort of.

 

I’m across the pond. Literally. Get it? Across the pond. As in I’m across the Atlantic Ocean!

Sorry I had to explain that. I’m pretty sure I killed it.

 

I’m responsible for cooking most of my own meals while I’m here. Tonight was the first night I cooked a real meal. Please note that this was at 21:30… I mean 9:30 p.m. Sorry, I’m a fan of military time. So is Spain. And Spaniards like to eat late. Dinner/supper/whatever you call it in Español starts at 21:00, I mean 9:00 p.m., at the earliest.

I’m usually starving at 16:00. I mean 4:00 p.m.

 

This is the finished product. Rice, peas, sausage and cheese. Not bad.

 

And now it’s 23:23. (I promise I didn’t plan that.) And I’m tired. Estoy cansada. So I’m going to take a 2.27 minute shower (unfortunately, that’s as long as my hot water lasts. I really love long hot showers) and hit the sack.

 

Hasta luego y’all!

Shooting blind

Allow me start off this post by saying I am by no means an expert photographer.

I simply love holding a camera in my hands, looking at the world around me through a viewfinder and doing my best to capture little moments and pieces of God’s great creation.

Photography has always been a hobby of mine. I remember going through one disposable camera after another during my junior high years. Pets, clothes, grass, refrigerator magnets… there was nothing out there that didn’t warrant a picture in my eyes. Then my mom got her first digital camera, and oh boy, was I a happy camper. I’m pretty sure I single-handedly kept Duracell batteries in business all through my high school years with my constant self-portrait photo shoots. That Kodak went through batteries like there was no tomorrow.

Then, in April 2009, I purchased my first dSLR, and that’s all she wrote. I was hooked.

I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve learned how to manually control the settings on my camera. I’ve learned about framing and composition, and even photo ethics.

I still take photos of anything and everything, and I still have a lot to learn. But during my photographic journey, I have developed one theory that has given me some of my favorite shots.

I like to call it shooting blind.

The gist of the theory is that you simply hold your camera in the general direction of your shot and without looking through the viewfinder or framing the shot, you simply snap the photo.

Not everything has to be meticulously composed. Sometimes you just gotta shoot a blind shot.

(Note: I do not recommend putting this into practice with real guns, arrows, darts, or any other potentially harmful projectile. That could be bad news bears for you or others…)

I’ve found that some of the most interesting angles show up when you just point and shoot. I’ve discovered angles and perspectives that I might not have ever thought to shoot from otherwise.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:

I love everything about this shot. The hole in the tv, the window in the background, the cool tones of the foreground compared to the warm tones of the background, the drama and the interest created by the composition… awesome.

I had knelt down on the floor of this great abandoned house (more on that in another post!) and shot a couple of similar shots prior to this one but I had just been focusing on the cracked tv. The photos were very cold and not super interesting. I knew this was too cool a subject to just be content with a mediocre photo so I decided to try something different. I laid down flat on the floor and propped my elbows up in front of me. I set my focal length and focus point to approximate values that I thought might work for the shot I wanted and then I took a couple photos. And I got a great photo!

Here’s another:

Funny story about this photo. I actually got it out the drivers side window of my car as I was flying 70 miles an hour down the highway. (Don’t tell my mother… or the cops.)

Too many times I have been driving down the road and seen something that would make a great photo but didn’t have my camera with me.

After kicking myself and asking myself why a photographer wouldn’t have their camera with them at all times, I vowed to keep my Nikon in the passenger seat of my car forever. Except when I take it other places.

And that’s how I got this photo. I was driving back to college last January and as I drove up a hill close to the Kansas-Oklahoma state line, I saw this little clump of trees in the valley below me. I reached for my camera right away, popped off the lens cap and right as I passed the trees, I took the photo. I basically got lucky on this one, but hey, it works!

Now here are two examples of the same subject I shot blind. One of them turned out well, one of them not so much, but they are still interesting.

This is the photo that didn’t turn out so well. Just in case you were wondering.

A couple months ago, I was doing a photo shoot in the downtown area of my little college town with a group of women. I had a co-photographer along with me and she started setting the group up for another shot. I wasn’t doing anything at that moment so I found this sign and decided to try and get an interesting shot of it.

I gripped my camera in my hand and held it down at my side. Then I tilted the camera up toward the sign and took the photo. This one missed, obviously, but I still find it interesting.

I took a couple more photos and ended up with this one:

I love this. I think the angle is intriguing, the shadows are nice, the composition is somewhat surprising but pleasing and the simplicity of the photo draws me in.

And to think, I got it without even looking.

So I encourage you, the next time you take a photo, to try shooting blind. Don’t look at or through your camera or anything. Just point and shoot and see what you get. You might be surprised!

Pumpkins and a list

First off let me apologize for my week-long hiatus from this site.

I know this goes without saying, but life is crazy.

And that is definitely no exception in this college student’s life.

In the past week I have…

–Played more basketball than I have in all my high school years combined

–Toilet papered my university’s brand new sports arena to celebrate the beginning of basketball season

–Skipped class three times

–Skipped chapel twice

–Felt guilty about the above two lines only once

–Went to Kansas City

–Went to a rodeo

–Went to a concert

–Ate deliciously authentic German and Honduran food

–Pulled all of my hair out during the Chiefs vs. Bills game (just kidding… almost)

–Bombed a test

–And… (this is the best thing yet) won second place in a pumpkin carving contest with some of my best friends!

That’s all of us and our award-winning pumpkin!

We walked into the cafeteria one evening last week and were greeted with tons of huge orange pumpkins available for anyone to decorate. My friend Hannah and I picked out one of the biggest and smoothest pumpkins (because everybody knows it’s no fun painting a bumpy pumpkin, duh) and signed our group up for the campus-wide contest.

As we ate our dinner, we contemplated what we should paint on our pumpkin.

Our group consisted of a biology major, two education majors and two engineers, plus myself: the journalism and photography major. Consequently, that earned me the position of creative director of the group, despite my persistent refusals.

I tried to explain that there is a big difference between being creative with a camera and being creative with a paintbrush; the latter of which, I am most definitely not.

They didn’t get it.

In the end, we collaborated on the idea and decided to paint a seasonal pumpkin. Mainly because my friend Bethany is good at drawing trees and the rest of us figured it wouldn’t be too hard to paint little colored dots on the branches for leaves.

The finished product was above and beyond what any of us had imagined.

See for yourself.

Hannah and Morgan and their beautifully blossoming spring tree.

Kathryn and Lindy and their cheerful summer tree.

Lindy and myself and our vibrant autumn tree.

Bethany and her frosty winter tree.

Voting commenced over the next several days and the winner was announced on Monday. The winner of first place was an illustration major (go figure) and painted the most detailed design on her pumpkin I had ever seen. I’m sure it must have taken her ten years. She definitely deserved to win.

And we were all thrilled at our second place victory. In reward of our artistic efforts, we received a $25 gift card to Walmart.

Next weekend we are going to use the card to go buy real food (a true delicacy in college life) and make a real dinner.

You know you’re a college student when the highlight of your week revolves around fresh, homemade, healthy, non-cafeteria, non mass-produced food. I can’t wait.

Now excuse me while I go make some Ramen noodles.

Hole #5

Fall break: it doesn’t have quite the out-of-control renown as spring break for most universities across America. But it is a break nonetheless.

It’s a chance for students to get away from campus, catch up on sleep and put off all the studying and papers professors like to pile on before students leave because they think an extended time away from class means extended time for homework.

Not true. Nobody wants to do homework on break.

My university went on fall break last Friday. Ok, I guess it was technically Saturday, but half the campus skipped Friday classes and went on break early. I may or may not have been part of that half. Don’t tell my mother…

I spent my break in Oklahoma City with friends until Tuesday. It was wonderful.

We did nothing.

We slept.

We dyed hair.

We took naps.

We ate cheesecake.

We bought $20 jeans.

I know, I know. It sounds so incredibly exciting. But there was one crazy highlight of the trip.

I went here.

I entered a building with this mural on the side of it.

It made me slightly nervous. I don’t like skulls. Or unhappy faces.

Maybe if the wall had been painted with a mural of a grassy meadow with warm colors and trees and birds flying happily across the sky, I might have felt more at ease.

But this is what I had to work with. Skulls and graffiti.

Now some of you may be wondering what in the heck I was doing in a place like this. Trust me, I was definitely out of my element. I don’t regularly enter buildings painted this way.

I don’t like skulls. Just in case I hadn’t told you already.

Anyway, this building was home to a body piercing business.

My friend and I had been talking earlier in the morning on Tuesday about how we should spend our afternoon because we didn’t have any plans. Several weeks ago I had mentioned to my friend that I was thinking about getting my cartilage pierced. And somehow this led to that and all of a sudden we were deciding on Tuesday morning that I would get my cartilage pierced that afternoon.

Which brings me to the skull building.

I wasn’t nervous at all until I saw it. Then I started thinking, “Holy cow, Kristy. What in tarnation did you get yourself into?”

But we went inside and I was surprised. It was very clean and not at all scary looking on the inside. Unless you count the guy behind the counter with the biggest gauges in his ears that I’ve ever seen in my life.

So my nervous feeling went away, I picked out a stud for my ear and then it was the moment of truth.

It was time for the needle.

The piercer guy cleaned my ear, marked a dot where he was going to punch a hole and then he did it.

He gave me hole #5.

I had heard horror stories from friends who had gotten their cartilage pierced and swore it was the worst decision they ever made because of all the pain they felt, so I was expecting this piercing to hurt.

But it didn’t.

In fact, if I hadn’t been sitting in front of a mirror watching the guy stab my ear, I don’t think I would have known that it happened.

I didn’t feel a thing.

Good job, piercer guy.

Afterward, the guy gave me a brochure telling me how to take care of my ear, which was fine. But… on the back of the brochure, this business advertised all the places that they do piercings on the human body.

Let’s just say that I think I’ll stop at my ears.

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