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1. Stop calling yourself an “unknown poet”, EVERYONE is an unknown poet!

2. Things you are not allowed to say: “I miss you”, “I had a dream about you”, “I think your baby is actually quite ugly”.

3. We’re all scared. That shouldn’t stop you.

4. Some girls speak poetry as their first language and don’t know how to stop. They wear dark eye makeup and thrift store sweaters and listen to music they choose to like. They take pictures day after day from the exact same angle of the exact same face until they’re convinced that they’re beautiful. Sometimes they all look the same.

5. It’s never going to be simple.

6. Horrible things just keep happening in the world, don’t they? And it seems so terrible and evil and sad. And it is. And then you talk to your friend or meet a nice lady at the grocery store who tells you about her daughter or someone does something nice for someone else. And at least there’s a balance of terrible and wonderful.

7. I’m currently growing daisies in a tiny pot in my room under my desk lamp. It’s a tiny rebellion against winter. Or something. Maybe it’s just tiny daisy plants.

8. You should read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. It’s a really simple and beautiful book.

9. Tell them, just tell them! UGH!

10. “When I save up lots of money, I just buy piggy banks.” – small girl with, apparently, lots of money, and, most likely, lots of piggy banks.

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Think about how many places you and your boots have traveled to (and from) together this winter.

Think about how many cold breezes your coat and hat and scarf and gloves protected you from.

Think about how many times you were kissed while you wore your favorite sweater.

Think about how many times you laughed in your long thick socks.

Yes, winter comes and goes. Yes, sometimes it seems like all we need is a change of seasons.

But just think, next time you stamp the snow from your boots, about how many different places that water has been.

Today was a strange day.

I got up early to do some laundry. I ate a grapefruit for breakfast. All very exciting.

It was raining. No, it was lightly drizzling. It was the kind of weather that nobody likes – not even ducks. This went on all day long.

I had a class today that started at 12:30. I got to school at 10:00 (early enough to get a good parking spot). I sat in the library for two hours, waiting for class time to come around.

It was rainy, and I was too warm in that library. Bored, waiting for two hours with nothing to do, I went online to see what I had gotten on a Psychology exam I took last week. An 85%. Not so great.

Then I checked my school email account. In it, an email from the school about my upcoming graduation (in May). With it, a realization that this is almost all over. Something else is coming.

Another email, asking me if I wanted to pre-purchase tickets for an event in early August 2013. With it, a realization that I might not be in the US next summer. I can’t make plans. Something else is coming.

12:00 came around. Suddenly, I didn’t want to go to class. I wanted to leave. I wanted to go home – no, not home. Just elsewhere.

I walked out to my truck. 12:05. Should I go to class? Students walked past as I sat in my vehicle, staring at the clock on the dashboard. What do I do?

I turned the key. A lady walked by carrying an umbrella over her shoulder. I put the truck in reverse and pulled out of my parking spot.

Where to go? To Target. Once there (not very far from my school), I sat in my truck for a moment. I fiddled with my phone. I put my ipod into my glovebox (to prevent theft). I sat longer. I fiddled around on Twitter: “I don’t know where I’m going; I’m just running away.”

Target. I could just go wander around in there. I could see if they have any cute underwear on sale. I don’t really need anything. I don’t really have any money.

I put my seatbelt back on, and took my ipod back out of the glovebox. I didn’t want to go to Target. I pulled back onto the road, onto the expressway, again, heading towards home.

Gas prices are down a lot. $3.33 a gallon today. I could get gas. I’ve only got a half tank.

I pulled into the Meijer gas station. A lady was walking out from the gas station store when I pulled in. She walked awfully close to my truck as I zoomed past her on my way to a pump. I didn’t slow down like I normally would have. I got too close.

I pull in, check my mirror to see if the tank is close enough to the gas pump (I never pull up far enough and have to stretch the hose too far over).

“Ma’am?” The lady is walking over. My first thought: Is she angry that I got too close?

“The gas station has no power. The pumps aren’t working.”

“Oh, Thank you.”

I think: Do I really look like a ‘Ma’am’? Why do people say that to me?

The engine is still on, so I put my truck back into drive and pull away – back onto the road. Towards home.

I don’t have to work today. Just school. Only, I didn’t have school, did I? I’ve got to study tonight. Lots to study.

I still need gas. I drive closer towards home, through the city, into the country. I go North. I stop at another gas station. I wonder if I’m feeling cranky today. I wonder if I’m just hormonal. I wonder if it’s because the sun has gone farther away.

This was the first time I’ve skipped class this semester. I was doing so well. I feel guilty. Class starts in 6 minutes, and I know I’m not going back.

I pump gas into my truck. I wasted gas going to school for nothing. I knew I just should have stayed home in the first place. I felt it. But I don’t skip class.

I stop the counter at exactly $30.00. There’s one small accomplishment for the day. I take it. I print out a receipt. I never print out receipts. I shove it into my little brown purse along with my credit card. Other people are buying gas, too. I feel so tired of this. We all do the same things.

I drive towards home. My gas tank is full. This make me happier. The weather is still gray. I listen to my Paolo Nutini CD. I think about how his voice matches the weather.

I pull into my driveway. My parent’s driveway. My dad is home. Of course he is. I go to my room. I feel better. Maybe because my bedroom walls are painted bright yellow – much too bright for the color scheme of the rest of our house. My parents’ house. I put down my backpack. In it, the books I didn’t use today. A reminder. Something else is coming. But today, you were not the person you are supposed to be.

Today was a strange day.

Waking up in Vegas…

Did that Katy Perry song pop into your head just then? It was in mine at the time as I woke up, as they say, in Vegas.

Without the glitter.

Las Vegas is an interesting place. Or, more like, it’s an interesting strip of road. That’s most of it – a least, that’s where most people hang out. (Downtown Vegas is just as cool and interesting, in my opinion, but not as popular.)

So, let’s be honest – Vegas is a strip of road. With really fancy, expensive, glitzy hotels. And lots of people. All sorts.

“Vegas is the perfect location to host your mid-life crisis” – Me, via Twitter

Did I just quote myself? Anyway.

After the whole waking up in Vegas thing, I checked out of my hotel (the Tropicana!) and then stayed at my hotel.

Why? Why, you ask? Because outside of my hotel was 110 degrees (F) and Nicole and I were not about to set back into that at 11 in the morning. Some things you have to slowly ease in to.

Like a pool.

Like the hotel’s pool! Did you like that transition?

When in the middle of the desert, one searches for water. Luckily, the Tropicana has a rather large amount of water that they allow their guests to swim in.

Unfortunately for me, I had just become a non-guest of the hotel minutes before attempting to swim in their guest-only pool.

This caused a problem when I tried to get a couple of towels – from the people working in what can only be called the “towel tent”.

Me: Could I have two towels?

Girl: Sure. *hands me two towels*

Me: Thank you!

Girl: Sure. Do you happen to have your room key on you?

Me: Umm… no….

Girl: Could you go get it?

Me: Umm… I don’t have one…

Girl: Are you staying with someone who has one?

Me: Umm… no…

Girl: Are you staying at the hotel?

Me: Umm.. well, we stayed last night, and we wanted to check out the pool…

Girl: Oh, so you’re already checked out?

Me: *assuming police were going to jump out of the nearby bushes and arrest me* Mmhmm…

Girl: Oh, ok. That’s fine.

Me: ok. ….. bye.

Ok, maybe it’s hard to show the tenseness that was happening in that conversation. Awkward silences are hard to capture in text form. Just picture a situation you’ve been in where you got caught doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing and were confronted and you attempted to tell the truth without telling truth…. simple, really!

After swimming and using the towels (illegally), I lounged on a pool-side lounge chair and read some dirk gently’s holistic detective agency by my dear friend Douglas Adams. As good as that book is and was, I discovered that I am very bad at lounging.

I just wanted to do something! It was so frustrating just sitting there, because I knew that I had to sit there (because we had something like 5 hours until we could head to the airport), and because I wanted to go do something (even though it really was impossible to go do something else, because – uh, it was hot! – so walking around outside was a no-no. And what else is there to do in Vegas? Gamble?! Nah.)

I’m an explorer. I don’t sit! It was outrageous! But, I sat. And, I read. And, I kept checking the time.

Finally, finally, finally, enough time passed so that we could go do our next planned activity – froyo!

froooooyooooo.

I love me some frozen yogurt. I really do. And self-serve is where it’s at! None of that girl-behind-the-counter-makes-it-for-you crap!

Strawberries, kiwis, mochi, little bit of oreo crumbles, and some gummy bears on top! Mmmm…

Anyway, enough of that. (Even though after I had finished my cup I wanted more! It was good, ok? Don’t judge!)

We managed to spend about an hour nom-ing on our deserts… and then we still had hours and hours to wait.

(Note to self and others: late-night flights kind of suck! And if you’re in Las Vegas in July with nothing to do…  you may as well book another night at a cheap hotel and stay inside and watch TV in air-conditioned comfort until it’s time to go to the airport! Ah, the lessons you learn.)

So, I will ask the question once more: “What does one do with hours to go until their flight home?”

You, with a knowing look in your eye, “Go to the movies!”

Me: “That’s right!!”

Yes, I went to the movies. Again. For the second day in a row. Whatever.

We saw Brave, which was actually really good (I love her hair!), although I wrote a better ending to the movie in my head. Tell me if you think it’s better than the actual. (And if you haven’t seen the movie, feel free to skip to the next paragraph! I’ll meet back up with you there.) Ok – so, you know that giant bear that everyone and their father wanted to kill? Ok. And you know how the girl’s mother wanted her to get married to one of the sons from the different Kingdoms? Ok. And you know how that witchy lady said that that bear was actually a guy that had wanted to escape from his life or something? Ok. Umm, hello, Pixar! Do I need to spell it out for you? My ending wouldn’t even have violence! What kind of Pixar movie kills off someone/something?! Here’s how you do it properly: Have Brave (is that the girl’s name? I forget.) get the witchy lady to turn the biggo bear back into that super-attractive guy that we all know he must have been! And then: ta-da! Brave has got her a husband, and the bear is gone (with no squishing), and they all live happily ever after! You’re welcome, Pixar. Feel free to contact me for any plot assistance in the future. Love, Jenni.

After the movie ended, we once again found ourselves in the oven-like heat that was Las Vegas. No, not again! We then ran back to our hotel that wasn’t actually our hotel anymore. Home sweet home! Nicole tried her luck at a blackjack table, which was pretty cool to watch. We even had the dealer teach us how to play – because neither of us had any idea how to play blackjack. Then Nicole lost $5. Then we left our hotel (so long!) for the very, very last time.

It was time, finally, to go home.

Home.

Before that, we had to take back our car. (No, we did not put that scratch there! Thank you very much, mr. rental car guy!) I snapped a picture of our silver Ford Taurus baby as we walked away from it and towards the shuttle bus that would take us to the airport. Fun Fact: Our trip mileage counter read 1,500. 1,500 miles! In a week and one day. What a week it was.

At the airport, I almost got through security without them stopping/patting/arresting me. But when they called “Who’s bag is this?” while pointing to my little red luggage, I claimed it quickly and without surprise. Now what? Apparently their machine only took a picture of half of it, so they had to run the bag through again. Or something. I just nodded and clutched my shoes while many of the people who had been in line behind me streamed past. Then I grabbed my luggage and (trying to be very non-suspicious)  strolled along to my gate.

Home.

Before that, we had to fly to Phoenix. Again, the flight seemed to take only a few minutes. Well, apart from the very nice (talkative) lady who wanted to tell us all about her 7-month stay in Hawaii, and how she had already been on a plane for 5 hours that day, and how it was going to take her another 4 hours to get home, and how a gallon of milk costs way too much in Hawaii, and etc.

Here I’d like to mention how much I love flying. Every part of it. Even, and especially, the people.

Then, home. After an hour layover, we boarded our flight to Detroit, MI. Home. It was 11:15PM as we found our seats and settled in on the plane. It was 6:20AM as we got off the plane and found ourselves, finally, unfortunately, thankfully, wonderfully, terribly: home.

After one week and one day, we had returned. To the land of trees, it seemed to me. Trees and lots of green. Michigan. After a week and one day of exploration. After the first trip west.

Californiacation.

I don’t know how to sum up my trip; If I should, or if it’s even possible. When people ask me about it, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to explain.

I went. I saw.

You should too.