Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Improv Blogging, Part 1: Bison Hunting

Improv Blogging is a new feature where you, my (tens of) loyal readers, suggest topics and I write on them, no matter how random or out there. Full details are here.

Jules has requested that I write about bison hunting. This isn't as odd as it may sound, as I have, in fact, done it. Not successfully, but... I'm getting ahead of myself. (In order for you to fully appreciate this story, photos are included, courtesy of Jules and Ash.)

The whole thing started because my friends have a habit of getting married in random midwestern towns. Forget cities that can be reached with direct flights. Noooo. Connecting flights and rental cars, all of them.

Picture it: Bartlesville, Oklahoma. July 2007. Jules, Miguel, Ash, and I had traveled from distant lands (well, Washington and...St. Louis, which wasn't really so far) to this unsuspecting town for the nuptials of two college friends. It was to be a low key trip. None of us were in the wedding party. We had no obligations, save for the wedding itself. Our plans were simple: Barbeque. Conversation. Burning up the dance floor at the reception.

But Jules...well. Jules had other plans for us. And these plans led to the Unsuccessful Bison Hunt of 2007. We had come all the way to Oklahoma, and, dammit, we weren't leaving until we'd seen a bison!

(I should perhaps clarify that we weren't actually hunting bison, like shooting them. We were just looking for them.)

So, on a hotter-than-hell July afternoon, three girls, one boy, and a small stuffed bison ventured out onto the prairie of Oklahoma. Oklahoma! As you might imagine, there was a great deal of loud singing on this trip ("OHHHHHK! lahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain" ....and so forth) accompanied by the fervent hope that I might also encounter the Little House somewhere. Anyway, we ventured, in our rented cherry-red Sentra, onto the Tallgrass Prairie.

As with all of the great adventures in history---the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Ingalls family's move from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to Indian Territory, etc---our path was well marked:

...and we had a map:

(Okay, technically it was an iPhone with Google Maps, but you get the point.) It promised to be a fruitful adventure, and a quick one. After all, we had to be back for the wedding in five hours.

So we sallied forth. The road was dirty:

The prairie was wide:
The trek was harrowing:
I almost got stung by a bee.

Yet, despite the promise of bison...

...we saw none. TRAGEDY. FAILURE. Our hunt was all for naught.


Despite our unsuccessful hunt for actual, live bison, we found Bison Bison, superstore for all things bison-related. Jules was waaay overstimulated. I encountered "prairie eggs," which I would prefer never to encounter again. We spent many, many minutes in strange, yet illuminating conversation with Mary Jo, owner of Bison Bison and member of the Osage tribe ("I loved the Beatles. I saw A Hard Day's Night 17 times the week it came out"). (The related story of our visit to the Osage Museum, prior to the Questionably Successful Bison Hunt of 2007, is WAY EXCITING, but a topic for another blog post.)

And then, we did what all self-respecting adventurers do after a long day on the trail. We went to a wedding. And we ate cake.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Countdown to 8.8.08*

So. You may have heard, particularly if you've watched any of the NBC networks over the last bazillion months, that there are some Olympics coming up this summer.

I am, to say the least, quite excited about this. I love the Olympics--winter and summer, I'm equal opportunity--and I cannot get enough of them when they are on. I love the theme song, I love the obscenely overproduced Opening and Closing Ceremonies, I love that the world becomes consumed not just by the glamorous sports--gymnastics or skiing, for instance--but also sports that rarely see the light of a media camera, like archery and biathlon. I love the cheesy/inspirational interview/video/photo montages of the athletes. I love how I become thoroughly attached to random athletes who I have never heard of before and will likely never hear of again. I love how Bob Costas, with his almost hilarious sense of solemnity and gravitas, inspires such divisiveness amongst my friends. (Love him or hate him? Discuss.)

During the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, I was a freshman in college and spent hours glued to the TV at all hours of the day. Every evening, my roommate would come home and I would give her the day's US medal count, as well as the highlights. (Incidently, the '02 Olympics are also linked in my mind to a massive drug bust on our university campus--it was the night of the women's figure skating long program, when Sarah Hughes came out of the woodwork to win the gold--including the dorm room next to Ash's. It was a dramatic evening, both onscreen and off.)

Anyway, I spent much of this weekend watching the Olympic Trials (diving and gymnastics) and am suitably pumped. You can expect many blog posts in the coming months (starting on or around 8.8.08!, most likely). However, I would also like to introduce you to Dan Steinberg, who is a sports writer for the Washington Post. He blogged on the 2006 Olympics from Torino, and it was one of the most hilarious blogs I have ever read. It consisted primarily of musings on a) cheese, and b) the New Zealand ("Kiwi") curling team. These may not sound like the makings of a funny blog, but I spent the majority of February 2006 stifling my laughter so as not to disturb my office cube-neighbors.

I don't know yet whether Dan will be blogging from Beijing--I have emailed him to ask, we'll see if he responds--but I offer you Tales from Turin. I encourage you to start at the beginning, but you can also skip ahead to February 11-ish, when the actual games have begun. (Also, this is a big DUH, but this blog is two years old, so don't go emailing him.)

*T-minus 46 days

UPDATE (2:15 PM): It DOES appear that Dan will be in Beijing, which I discovered from his regular blog...which I don't read regularly. So, yay.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Improv Blogging*

I'm in need of a creative challenge here, so I have decided to try something. In the spirit of community (and also to see who is actually reading this thing), I'm hereby requesting suggestions for blog posts. These can be:

1) True Stories: things that you already know but think the world would benefit from hearing (Obviously I need to have been involved, otherwise I can't tell the story, duh.)
2) Random, Yet Thought-Provoking: sundry topics that you'd be interested in hearing me expound upon at length, or just seeing what I come up with
3) Curve Balls: I think this is self-explanatory
4) Other

For instance, you could suggest "cheese" ("Random, Yet [not necessarily] Thought-Provoking") and I would write a post about cheese. Or "bison hunting in Oklahoma" ("True Stories"), or God forbid, "NBA Finals" ("Curve Ball," obviously, since I don't even think I can tell you who played in the finals. The Lakers? Against...the Celtics? Ow, my brain hurts now).

Bring it on, and let's see what happens! Suggestions may be submitted via the "comments" feature or email.


Monday, June 16, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Hannah!

Either I have shrunk around the waist or Ann Taylor Loft has adjusted their pants sizes. I kind of figure it's the latter, since I, unfortunately, have done nothing to warrant a dwindling waistline. But who knows.

I went this weekend (Friends & Family Sale! I am nothing if not a loyal customer) and ended up with two pairs of Bermudas and a pair of pants in a size smaller than I have worn, like, for YEARS.

Sidebar: I don't think I have talked about my (penchant? obsession?) affinity for Ann Taylor Loft. When I go in there, I cannot stop myself from buying things. I estimate that at least 60% of my entire wardrobe (and about 90% of what I actually wear on a regular basis) is from ATL. I have been known to go, buy things, go back the next day with the intention of returning an item (no doubt due to guilt over my buying binge) and end up coming home with additional items. I am not like this with any other stores! I am not a big spender. But that store just lures me in with its well-fitting clothes and $25 savings cards. It is an illness, I tell you.

Anyway. A couple of weeks ago I put on a pair of capris that I'd gotten last year (not at ATL...shocking, I know) and they were HUGE. Meaning that I either had no concept of what fit me or I have decreased in physical size.

Are these things coincidences? Probably. But just in case, I suggest that you all come see me soon. Because, improbable though it may be, I just might dwindle away into nothingness.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I have not yet, however, eaten cake out of the garbage can. So that's something.

There comes a time for every single woman when she realizes something: even though she is strong and independent, capable and happy to be makin' it on her own, living alone is, occasionally, not all it's cracked up to be. Miranda Hobbes bought her own apartment, choked on her takeout Chinese food, and had to give herself the Heimlich on a moving box. I had a similar moment tonight. But rather than choking, it was...the Sneak Attack of the Five-Inch Bug.

I went into the bathroom this evening and discovered, hanging from the ceiling like Spiderman, the biggest bug I have ever seen. (It was at least three inches long! Plus two-inch antennae! I am not exaggerating.) The kind of bug that you can't, say, squash under an 800-page issue of Vogue or step on with a shoe because it will a) crunch, and also probably b) ooze guts everywhere. Gnat guts I can handle. Fly guts. Even some spider guts. But not Five-Inch Bug guts.

My first thought was 'THIS is why people have boyfriends!!!!' To deal with creatures, obviously.

But then my common sense kicked in, and I gathered supplies: Collander. Broom. JCrew catalog. The plan was to use the broom to knock it off the ceiling into the bathtub, trap it under the collander--the big metal bowl would have been better for size and weight, but the holes in the collander would allow me to maintain a visual on the Five-Inch Bug, eliminating the chance of surprise escapes ( you know, in retrospect it's sad that I have this much experience with trapping bugs...but I learned a lot from the camel crickets in our house on River Road)--use the JCrew catalog for portability, and flush it down the toilet. The plan was foolproof!

Until the Five-Inch Bug, upon being successfully knocked into the bathtub, scurried into a hole in the bathtub and out of reach. (No need for alarm--the hole is supposed to be there. The bug is not.)

So I covered the hole with packing tape.

Anyway, it occurred to me, as I was thinking about boyfriends and roommates and how I should get myself one of those to deal with this kind of situation, that I
had a roommate. And the division of labor was: "Allison deals with rodents. Hannah deals with bugs." (I am not afraid of bugs! Usually.) She sure as hell held up her end of that bargain (see: the Mouse Family Occupation of 2006), so I would have been on bug duty anyway.

But anyway, now I'm skittish and keep thinking that every dark spot--a stray blueberry in the kitchen sink, imaginary shadows on the wall, even the pine knot in my bookcase--is actually the Five-Inch Bug returning to eat me in my sleep.

UPDATE (Friday, 10:27am): IT CAME BACK! Not five minutes after I posted, the Five-Inch Bug returned! On my bedroom floor! (I don't even want to think about how it got from the hole in the bathtub to my room.) And then I spent 30 minutes--I am not exaggerating--chasing it around my apartment with a collander and a piece of cardboard, capturing it FOUR TIMES only to have it escape before I finally managed to flush him down the toilet.

Heard... (TV edition)

...on Ace of Cakes, upon discovering that the Scottish highland cow cake had fallen apart overnight
Duff: Yaktastrophe.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tomorrow: spaghetti-o's!

It is possible that I had Chef Boyardee Dinosaurs and Meatballs for dinner tonight. In my Harry Potter bowl. I'm not saying I did. It just....could have happened. Theoretically.

And, theoretically, if I had had Chef Boyardee Dinosaurs and Meatballs (henceforth referred to as CBD&M) in my Harry Potter bowl, rather than, you know, real food, I would only feel a little bit guilty about it, since I did not actually spend money on them. They would have been a "gift," sort of, bestowed upon me by my beloved Jules upon her departure. (Thus! The CBD&M would have had sentimental value.)

Anyway. If I had eaten CBD&M for dinner--hypothetically, of course--I might feel a teensy bit like a five-year-old. But I can live with that. Because they probably would have been delicious.

Monday, June 9, 2008

"Ah, summer..."

"...what power you have to make us suffer and like it." ~Russell Baker

Yeah, except for the "like it" part.

I'm warning you now that there's probably going to be a theme throughout my posts this summer, and that theme is: "DUDE, it is HOT."

Every year, I dread the coming of the oppressive heat. But, every year, I am totally surprised by the ferocity of the heat and humidity (OH, THE HUMIDITY!) when they settle upon the city. I'm starting to compile a list of things I can't do during the summer months due to the heat:

1) Use my oven. This shouldn't be much of a hardship, since I use it infrequently anyway. But now that I can't use it? ALL I WANT TO DO IS MAKE BROWNIES.
2) Sleep in a normal position. I've taken to sleeping diagonally in my bed in order to be at the optimal fan/breeze contact angle.
3) Have normal-looking hair. Using the hairdryer only exacerbates the hotness, so I either have to a) not use it and let my hair air dry, which ain't pretty, or b) melt. Although, really, either way it ends up in a ponytail, so this is a moo point. ("It's like a cow's opinion. It doesn't matter." ~Joey Tribbiani)

Anyway. Time to do some work in my nice, air conditioned office.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


*(Number of days of 95+ degree heat that I made it through before I put the AC unit in.)

It is hot. Very, very hot. Jules texted me yesterday morning and said "M wanted me to tell you that DC is hotter than FL today! Don't melt. "I was all "Eh, my apartment doesn't get direct sunlight, I can get away with fans only." NOT SO MUCH.

It actually wasn't too bad, until I turned on the oven for dinner and it never cooled off. I spent the evening draped on the couch like a wet noodle. I can handle one hot day, but three months? No way. So this morning--after I went to the grocery store and remembered what air conditioning felt like--I put the AC in the window. Ah, sweet blissful coolness!

And then I turned on the TV at 11am, expecting to watch the last half of the French Open men's final, which started at 9. But! 'Twas the middle of the third set and Rafael Nadal was three points away from defeating Roger Federer. Which he did! In straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, 6-0! I cannot believe it. (I don't think the NBC people could either, since the broadcast was scheduled to go until 2pm, and it was over--ceremony and all--by noon.)

Anyway. I am staying inside with my air conditioning, a book, and the Olympic Trials.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Meet me in St. Louis

(...I'm talkin' to you, Ash.)

Hot damn. It's booked! I am officially going to St. Louis for 4th of July weekend. The planets have aligned and the airline gods came to their senses, realized that $390 was an absurd price (ABSURD, I tell you!!) to pay for a ticket, and finally saw fit to show me the one website in all the universe that, suddenly, had flights for less than $200. WOO HOO. Thank you, Travelocity!

So I'm going. And I'm pumped. Also, tired and a little prone to overwrought language while blogging. So, I shall henceforth proceed even unto bed.

Next up: find reasonably priced flights to Chicago (after all, it is my kind of town) and Charleston, SC. I don't have a song reference for that one.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The best part about when your friends leave...

...is when they come back to visit.

Truly, few things are better than reuniting with an old friend, as I was reminded three times over the course of the month. Jay came to visit. B was in town for lunch last weekend. I saw my old camp buddy Michael in NYC.

But I am so not a fan of this "goodbye" thing. I mean, really. Even when you reunite, you have to part ways again.

I'm a little Eeyore-y tonight. Jules and Miguel are moving to Florida tomorrow, and I was helping them pack all day. (I did get a bunch of groceries out of the deal. But still.)

But anyway. 'Tis June! Finally. May was a busy, busy month, full of graduations, visits from people, visits to people, farewells, lots of work, etc. I am exhausted. And I'm trying to book flights to Chicago, St. Louis, and South Carolina for the summer and everything is a bazillion dollars. Damn you, gas prices!