Friday, July 31, 2009

Shout Out

To those about to be named/mentioned/described, you hold a special place in my summer home, and I salute you...

1. First and foremost to my friend Nikki, whom words can not describe (well, at least not so few words as this will be - look for Nik to star in an upcoming blog post). One of my best friends in the world, and my kind host this summer, Nik deserves an award for the best laugh, greatest hair, and kindest heart. For months and months, you will be seeing me and Nik go back and forth with inside jokes that have been a part of some of the funniest moments I have EVER lived.

2. To, Jen, the Hanf House members, and Mooncheez, who are my favorite form of summer entertainment, thank you. From Rockband jam sessions, writing Japanese on your chalkboard, and glow-in-the-dark sardines games, thank you. I am honored to be a part of your coffee table, as well as your circle of friends.

3. To Jess and her beautiful, beautiful girls, thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your big lives. You and your children are so gorgeous, and I loved every moment of our time together, even if we did only talk about nursing, phonics, and photos. Plus, you had the best PBJ lunch I had all summer, which assures I will come again next year and dine again!

4. To my (literal) old school, from Aimee and Melissa (and Ken) to Randy and Cheryl, and all in between, I appreciated the calls, the coffees, the barbecues, the volleyball games, and the new babies. I wouldn't call it a summer home, or a complete trip if I didn't have time to catch up with you, all of you, who shaped me into who I am today. The team may be split, moved, and switched around, but a better group of people I know not of.

5. A big "talofa lova" to my new friend Albert, whose accent was slight enough to be caught, and whose new friendship included my introduction to arena football, as well as a great partner for coffees. I am still sorry about punching you in the face...

6. Marm and Auntie, my number two girls, thank you so much for all that you give when I am home. I couldn't get around and see people without the both of you, and your patience and giving throughout my summertimes home is not unappreciated or unnoticed. I miss you two an awful lot when I'm away, but know that you are both always ready to welcome me with open arms (and a huge sign) when I come home.

7. To Tandem, I give you lucky number 7. Along with Nik, as a person who influenced my summer in such a positive and healthy way, you deserve one of the biggest shouts. What started out as checking out a movie with Hayley and turned into more games than pool than I can count, time with you was an unexpected surprise and a great treat. I am glad and fortunate to have crossed your path so early, and then so many times thereafter (although I could have easily, and greedily been happy with a little more). You have such a great heart, and I am glad you let me have a little piece of it...

8. Kel-bel, you also fall into the category of 'people I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with.' I enjoyed our dissertation of Harry Potter, a cool night out with some guacamole, and a day at the pool. Next summer we'll do it again, only more.

9. Uncle Don and Grandpa, my golf partners, are the (most patient and) coolest guys to play a round of 9 with. I, like usual, will not do any practicing this year in Japan, but will be glad to take your advice and tutelage next summer, for sure!

10. To the Waages, Foxes, Orths, and Megan - some of my best old kiddies and their families, thank you for all of the traditions - Friday night steaks, Dairy Queen, and Stella's. I look forward to these trips down memory lane more than you know, and it is so much fun to watch you all grow!

11. To the University of Iowa pitching coach - it was nice talking to you at the game. Although you don't know it, I thank you for the inside jokes that my friend Nikki and I still (and will always) have at your expense. If you're ever in my neck of the woods, and find yourself NOT married, call me, because you have great skin.

12. Gary! I enjoy baseball the most when I am: a) sitting front row, b) a bit drunk, and, 3) with you. I love our tradition of catching as many front-row games as we can, whether or not I can or can't speak Japanese to the players. You are one of my favorite people in the world, and I thank you for being my sports pal each and every summer. Next summer, though, let's just share one brat, and splurge more on beers instead!?

13. Dearest Brent, please continue to treat my friend Nikki nicely. She deserves it, and frankly, so do you. I look forward to more free ball games, and fun times at Johnny's with you, and your friends, next summer.

14. To my Chi-town girls (and guy), Tess, Mary, and Tera (AJ too!), thank you so much for making my weekend in Chicago so fun and friend filled. How fortunate I am to have good friends who would come so far to spend some good time together.

15. And lastly, to Daniel - I missed you and our good times this summer, and vow not to do the same next time around. Thanks for your late-night texts, they always made me smile. Even if you do live 1500 miles away (at the closest)...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Can you make it?

Let's pretend you need to pick up some papers at your doctor's office (on one side of town), some items at Target (on a different side of town), and meet friends for coffee

YES! It IS possible to do all this. You see, you might as WELL go do some errands on your way because a) you know you'll have to go through West Des Moines to get downtown anyway (lord knows it would be too convenient to get from Urbandale to Downtown in one shot), and b) because you know you'll have no time to do it later since after your 12:00 coffee, you have another coffee date as far away from Target as you can get. So, you leave your doctor's office in Urbandale at 10:25 and get on to 35 going south towards Kansas City, getting off at Hickman to head to the Target in West Des Moines on the back roads. At Target, you can shop and send 4 texts, pay with debit card, and hold two doors open before getting back onto 235E and making it downtown to Java Joe's. Then, continually re-acclimating yourself with one-way streets, you can pull in with enough time to go in and out of three parking spots, realize you have no change for the meter (thus forcing you to run into Java's to get some before feeding it), and sit to start on a postcard before your friends even arrive.

I can also tell you that you can leave 42nd street and get to 14th (where you cut across 4 lanes to stop for gas, chat with your uncle (what a pleasant and unexpected surprise!) then drive around the one-way-street block 4 times) to park near a school where you're picking up a date for sushi, in only 21 minutes...


Now, for those who, like me, aren't in town on an all-the-time basis, let me offer an important tip I quickly learned this summer - small signs that say 'No right turn on red' are procreating near the freeway exits around town, and should be heeded with caution. If you're like me, you'll not-notice them about 4 times, and will make the mistake of turning right illegally, before searching them out finally becomes a habit to you (and if you're really like me, you'll be ready to leave town once you've finally figured it out!). But, if you DO get pulled over, but happen to be pulled over by a cop who was once stationed on a military base in Japan, he'll not mind so much that you ran the red light, and will instead banter with you a bit about living in the Far East, choosing to send you on your way instead of ticketing you. At least, I am guessing that's what could happen were you to ever find yourself in that situation.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My first true love

Des Moines.

Having had the chance to check out Des Moines this summer from the top of a well-located, downtown Whiteline loft, I can say that the city, my first real home, holds a place in my heart as the most beautiful city, even above the skyline of Paris or from the highest hills of Barcelona.

Although it was terribly difficult to choose just ten, here are the top things I love best about going home to Des Moines:

1. The aforementioned view of the capitol, day or night.
2. Downtown, including, but not limited to, Raccoon River Brewery, Johnny's, free dancing at Liar's Club, and Mooncheez.
3. I Cubs baseball
4. Continually circumnavigating familiar streets
5. Getting a beer (and a good one) for only $3.
6. I Cubs baseball
7. Downtown and Valley Junction's Farmer's Markets
8. Being reminded of great memories of great past times by great friends
9. Target
10. Midwestern boys, and lots of them

I guess, the old adage is true, there's just no place like home.

Monday, July 20, 2009



My friend Jen's grilled cheez stand is the BEST. Everyone - meet Mooncheez.

You can find Mooncheez on the corner of 3rd and Court on most weekends, (when they aren't being hassled by the cops). They offer a good half-dozen or so different types of late-night taste sensations (including a great dessert sandwich with Nutella and coffee bleu cheez) and are THE PLACE to go get a drunken snack option other than hot dogs or pizza.

To you, Mooncheez, gambatte, and good luck!