Hello, Durham.

“Dada?”

A chubby finger is pointed at me.

I raise my eyebrows at the toddler staring at me, and give her a look that clearly says: Nope.

I end up talking to her for a few minutes, through baby babble, gestures, and some help from her actual father. Her name is Julia, she’s two, and she loves jazz. The jazz part I inferred from her breaking into dance when Sinatra starts playing.

I’m at Beyu, a coffee shop/jazz club in downtown Durham

Beyu.

Beyu.

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Adventurous Love & War

After close to seven months of singleness, after six years of very un-singleness, I have determined one thing about dating.

I don’t like it.

After spending most of my twenties trying to stress the importance of having a relationship with my parents, clinging to someone’s arm after one too many drinks, and really really wanting him (whoever he was) to buy me flowers for no reason, I quit.

I buy my own flowers now.

here are some

here are some

I know that sounds cynical. I don’t intend it to.

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Erica Denise Randall: A Bad Ass B!tch 22 Years in the Making

A few months ago, I interviewed my sister Erica for Conversations. What she said moved me so much, I couldn’t write about it. I needed time to process.

I was talking to her about who inspires her. She talked about our family; parents, brother, and other sister, Sharon, as well as her high school mentor, Mike Myers. She spoke of how their passion and encouragement inspired her.

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Art That Matters, Damien Rice & Everything

A few weeks ago, I left YouTube on auto-play. My sound was off. I was working on something or another, and absentmindedly, I switched the audio back on.

“We could get a house and some boxes on the lawn, we could make babies and accidental songs.”

That’s all I heard. A haunting, heartsick voice. I immediately started the song back to the beginning, and then binge-listened to Damien Rice’s 9 for the rest of the afternoon.

I was at work, so it had to be in-between meetings and conversations.

“I’m sorry…I’m listening to an amazing song…” I’d explain, so hesitant to pull off my headphones.

Don’t get me wrong, I love music. But I don’t remember the last time an artist made me feel so much. The songs were enchanting, beautiful… and sad.

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I fucking love this movie.

This movie never ceases to remind me how right, and how wrong, I can be.

I saw 500 Days of Summer six years ago.

I was sitting in my apartment at The Piazza at Schmidts, one of many residences over the past decade. I had never seen 500 Days before, but had heard good things. The various messages of the film resonated with me so deeply, I cried.

Like, sobbed.

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Goodbye, Raleigh.

“Are you laughing at me?” I asked, running up from the shoreline.

Elizabeth, dusted in sand and laying on her beach towel, giggles.

“Yes, you’re so cute,” she says in her slightly southern drawl, before going back to reading her art magazine.

A few moments before, I had been standing on the shoreline. I was literally hopping in and out of the surf – a humorous little “will she or won’t she” jig as I contemplated getting in the water.

Finally, I just ran in.

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Basic beach.

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Quotes from Conversations

I’ve been working on Conversations for a few months now.

I’m really excited to share the content – I’ve interviewed a lot of incredible people. Instead of posting the series on the blog, I’m saving all of their stories for the book.

In the meantime, I’m anxious to share.

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Adventures in Faith & Hitch-Hiking

I’m on the side of a road in Egilsstaðir, Eastern Iceland. The biting Icelandic wind bites my nose and ears. It blows through my thin leggings, the only clean pair of pants I have. I hold up a sign that simply reads, “Akureyri”.

Cars speed past. Some drivers appear sympathetic, some ignore us completely. Some even seem entertained, as if I’m an adorable four year old with spaghetti sauce all over my face. My ex stands across the road, holding a sign that reads “Hofn”, a town about an hour south.

I am furious with him. I don’t remember why now. As we stood on opposite side of the road, all I could think about was how cold, tired, and frustrated I felt. I’m embarrassed to admit why this part of my Iceland trip is so undocumented.

During the last two weeks of our Iceland adventure, we were always on the verge of breaking up. I was afraid to admit it, and carried the failure like carry-on luggage. So much, in fact, I didn’t feel proud of the trip anymore.

In that desperate moment, on the side of road, I prayed. Just for a warm bed, my best friend Elizabeth, and a beer. Little did I know, two out of three of those requests were about to be granted.

Within 10 minutes, a dark green Jeep pulled over on his side of the road. He rushed over to it, and within seconds, waved me over. We climbed in, and were greeted by two friendly, burly Icelandic men.

They offered to drive us to Hofn. We figured it was a good compromise, a convenient stop on the way to Vatnajökull, a glacier in Southern Iceland. We had to be there in 48 hours.

I had booked us a tour with Arctic Adventures. I was expected to write about the glacier, about the experience. Although we still had two days to arrive, hitch-hiking is pretty unpredictable, and I was getting worried.

As we drove, we started chatting with our drivers – who questioned why we wanted to go to Hofn. It’s not a commonly visited area. We admitted that we were actually trying to get to the glacier, and that Hofn – a town on the way – was just a place to find another ride.

Hörður, one of the Icelanders, asked about the tour we were going on. I explained that it was with Arctic Adventures, told him the name of the tour, and the time. In perfect unison, Hörður and Jon (the other guy) exclaimed:

“WE’RE YOUR GUIDES!”

They were leading the tour. I couldn’t believe our luck. Hörður and Jon insisted that they drive us the entire way, and that we crash at their base camp. So I spent the next two days hanging out with Icelandic glacier guides.

glacierguides

Beers with Glacier Guides

I had beers, slept in a warm bed, and met new friends. Two days later, I climbed the incredible glacier – that’s right next to the glacier they use to film Game of Thrones. IT WAS AWESOME.

On the Arctic Adventure school bus, heading to the glacier.

On the Arctic Adventure school bus, heading to the glacier.

Climbing the glacier.

Climbing the glacier.

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On the glacier.

I’m so grateful for that experience. Not only did Jon and Hörður give me a ride, but they gave me faith in the kindness of strangers. I still occasionally talk to them – in fact, I told Hörður the other day to let me know if they need a travel-sized glacier guide (me).

Call it a coincidence if you want. But on the side of the road, angry but optimistic, I strengthened my belief in things just being meant to be. That trip was such an incredible adventure, something I manifested over time. This was just further proof that I was meant to see Iceland, to travel.

With Hordur.

With Hordur.

I love that story. In moments where I feel doubt or uncertainty, I cling to it. It’s one of the pivotal moments in my life that I’ve felt incredibly confident in my faith.

Plus, Hordur does a great impersonation of a tourist.

austintx

Austin, Texas Travel Guides & Other Stuff

I got back from Austin almost a month ago. Time to post some stuff, huh?

Quick recap: I went to Austin for four days with my friends Shana and Kate. We’re all single, 20 somethings who love whiskey, and have conflicting tastes in men.

We stayed: at this cozy, Airbnb apartment over Sputnik on 6th Street. 

We ate: everywhere and everything.

We liked: the vibe, everything to do outdoors.

We didn’t like: the unreliable weather (we went in April, over Easter).

The guides: I wrote three day guides that have restaurant and activity picks around the city, depending on your mood.

Day #1: Get Cultured

on 6th Street.

on 6th Street.

UT Austin, Buenos Aires Cafe, and a cliche hipster tattoo. Go to Austin, get some culture, bro.

Day #2: Get Fit & Fat 

with Shana at the graffiti park.

with Shana at the graffiti park.

A little bit of fit, a little bit of fat. CorePower, Baylor Wall, Amy’s Ice Cream, and food trucks.

Day #3: Get Everything 

Austin.

Austin.

Greedy bastard. Uchi sushi, Rainey Street, and downtown Austin via water bike. Don’t overthink it.

 

Not enough?

Read all of the mushy stuff I wrote about my favorite places in Austin.

Buenos Aires Cafe: Empanadas & First Impressions- About meeting Kate for the first time, and some amazing Argentinian food we had.

Austin is not a hipster Disneyland - How the general vibe of Austin vibed with me.

 

Some jargon: Don’t steal this stuff from me. Seriously. I’ll find you. All of the sarcastic remarks and adventures are mine, as well as the doodles. The texture used in my travel guides, “BB_VintagePaper_05″ was used under an attribution license on Flickr Creative Commons. Credit for that goes to Dustin Schmieding.

Happy Birthday, Rachel.

It’s a Friday.

“Do  you want to dance?” the dark haired, slightly exotic looking guy says.

“Depends. Are you going to make it weird?” I ask, loudly, trying to be heard over the sound of Pravda’s speakers.

Maybe it was the couple of drinks I had, or the shot of fireball I insisted we take, but for some reason, I missed one of my closest friends, Rachel, sending me telepathic “HE’S A CREEPER” messages, during this entire back and forth.

It’s very telling of our friendship – me, the sassy one, with a tendency to overlook details and welcome the unknown, and Rachel, the meticulous, determined one – the one who eventually refused to dance with us, informing me that the guy dancing with me (and yes, making it weird although he said he would not), had been gawking at us awkwardly the entire night.

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