Killing Time in the Car

Thanksgiving and the holiday season means spending a lot of time in the car.

This weekend alone, C and I have driven from Ypsilanti three hours south to a small town in northern Indiana where we both grew up.  Then we’ve headed two hours north to Grand Ledge to spend some time with my family.  Tomorrow we’ll make the 90 minute drive back to Ypsilanti.  That is a lot of hours spent in the car.

Some people get bored in the car, but I’ve always been pretty decent at going on long rides.  The only downfall I have is my tiny bladder that makes us stop at nearly every rest area along the way.

C and I have developed some strategies for helping the time to pass by quickly. Sure, we sometimes just talk to each other, but other times we rely on these new and old methods to keep us from hating to travel.

Whitetail deer in winter

Whitetail deer in winter (Photo credit: GlacierNPS)

Zip is a family game that my mom has passed on to us kids.  It’s a goofy game that is just supposed to take your mind off of the road and make you look outside.  The goal is to get to 100 points.  You get points by “zipping” things, but there are only certain things that you’re allowed to zip.  Cats are 10 points, dogs are 5.  Deer are 25 points, as are little boys in red shirts playing.  Cemetaries are 50 points, but they also wipe out everyone else’s points, and white horses are 50 points, too.  So, it’s not uncommon, especially in the winter, for our car to be filled with the sounds of “Zip a deer!” or “Zip a cemetary!”  There are even epic tales of Zip passed around.  Like, when G was too young to really play, we mistakenly told him that he could zip weeping willow trees and even now, whenever we pass by a weeping willow, he will sing this little annoying song.  Or when my mom was playing against my dad, who had already racked up a deer and a cemetary, so my mom was knocked back down to zero points.  They rounded a bend in the road and passed right by a baseball diamond full of little boys in red shirts playing.  My mom won that game.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (soundtrack)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (soundtrack) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other times, when C and I don’t necessarily want to play a game, we’ll throw on some music and sing along.  Movie or musical soundtracks work the best for us.  Our go-to is definitely the Pick of Destiny Soundtrack as performed by Tenacious D.  We can sing every single word to every single song.  It’s actually pretty impressive.  I also love to sing along to the Les Miserables Soundtrack or the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack.

Other times we like to solve little puzzles, much like those tweeted by @ShakespeareSong on Twitter.  This fantastic tweeter will translate modern song lyrics into funny archaic phrases.  C and I love to read them randomly and try to solve them.  One of our favorites is, “We art not required to remove our garments in order to experience a splendid outing.”  Or, “My pelvic bone is unable to fabricate false statements.”  Can you guess what songs they are?

How do you and your family kill time in the car?

XOXO

A

Hail, hail, to Michigan the champions of the West!

Yesterday, C and I hooked up with a few of my sorority sisters and headed into Ann Arbor to watch the last home football game in the Big House.  It was pretty awesome – we started with mimosas and tailgating and ended the day with a nap during the Notre Dame game and pizza delivered to the apartment.  Sure, I didn’t get a lot of work done yesterday, but it was totally worth it to get to watch some football.

What college football did you watch yesterday?  Notre Dame is still undefeated, and so is Ohio State.  Stanford beat Oregon.  Who do you have picked for the National Title game?

Go Blue!

XOXO

A

Forza Tubby!

I received some somewhat troubling news today.  No, no, it’s nothing serious, unless you’re a lover of cats.  Specifically, Roman cats.

During my junior year at DePauw University, I had the amazing opportunity (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) to spend a semester in Rome.  I lived in an amazing apartment in Gianicolense, otherwise known as the Janiculum hill, made some incredible friends, and indulged in La Dolce Vita for five amazing months.  It was an incredible experience and I enjoyed every moment of it, so much so that I have made a pact, a promise, to return to Rome at least once every decade.  I had my first adventure in Rome with my Mom and older brother, Chris, when I was a freshman in high school.

Here’s me, sporting some fantastic red hair, my brother, Chris, and my Mom.  I was kind of a punk kid back then.  I blame my brother for that.

So, then when I knew I wanted to study abroad, I knew that I wanted to go back to Rome and, as they say, do as the Romans do.  And boy, did I!  Days spent lounging in piazzas, sketching fountains for my drawing class, nights spent sipping cheap wine and walking along the Tiber.  Eating suppli after class and finding the best panino in Roma.

Anyway – I’m sure you’ll all hear more about my study abroad adventures in future posts, but I’m getting sidetracked.  Because I love Rome!  Some of my classmates and I started saying, “Rome is home,” and I know that we all still miss it.

But – so I mentioned that I lived in Gianicolense, which is kind of on the outskirts of Rome.  It’s nice if you want to visit the Vatican, but not if you have classes right next door to Piazza Navona, basically in Centro Storico.  So every morning my flatmates and I would jump on the tram to get to our Italian language classes by 9AM.  Our apartment was literally on the last stop of the tram and school was on the other end.  Altogether, the tram ride could take up to an hour, but it was never a hassle.  Sometimes there were creepy people to watch, or singing gypsies to listen to, and if not, I always had my trusty iPod to listen to some Lady Gaga.

The last stop on the other end of our darling Tram #8, let us off right into the footsteps of history, in Largo Argentina.  This place was the very place where Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March in 44 BCE.  The most interesting thing, by far, though is the presence of a cat sanctuary right within the ruins.

That’s right.  You heard me.  Cat sanctuary.

Sadly, my dear roommate L sent me this new story (you can read it here) alerting us that the Romans are considering shutting down i gatti di Roma!  Where will all of those adorable kitties go?  I have such fond memories of tromping past there in an awful mood, missing home, and being greeted by a large black and white kitty that I had nicknamed Tubby.  Tubby always made my day better.  Everyone who came to visit me got the tour.  Sure, the Colosseum is great and the Vatican is gorgeous, but have you seen the cat sanctuary?!

Forza Tubby!  Forza i gatti di roma!  Forza Roma!

Ciao ciao!

XOXO

A

Misty mountain views.

How could you not be inspired by this view?

Today, I’m moving a little slower than normal.  I haven’t been very busy today, but I’ve got a lot of deadlines approaching.  So today, I’m going to offer up an inspiring view that’s been getting me through the day.

This is a photo I took when my family went on vacation this past summer.  We did a huge road trip down to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, with stops at Mammoth Cave, then Nashville, Lynchburg – for the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, of course! – and Knoxville.  It was a ridiculously fun trip, and we spent a week in Pigeon Forge, looking out at these mountains.  I’ll never forget how amazing it was to wake up in the morning, the sun rising slowly, the mist creeping up the mountain and mingling with the clouds.

Simply amazing, simply inspiring.

And here’s to getting through the rest of the week!

XOXO

A