Yay for Nikki Yeager's Blog! Here you'll find a mix of funny anecdotes, NYC stories and art info! I try to update as regularly as possible and keep it interesting so you'll enjoy every minute of it! Comments make me incredibly happy (just keep it in mind), so keep on reading and come back often
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on April 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
I was at a tradeshow this weekend for my job and had the type of fun a person only has at a Texan tradeshow (keep in mind, this is the same state the blessed you all with my quadruple chin bull riding pic).
Anyways, this year was particularly entertaining because our booth was situated right across the aisle from a time machine.
Ok, maybe it’s not a time machine, but it is a teleporter.
But really, this key closet is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. A normal digital key tracking system – which we were selling directly across the aisle - looks like this:
It’s small, can sit on a table and looks like it belongs in a building. The other one was human sized, shaped strangely like a robot and weird enough that people stopped to take pictures.
I can only imagine a situation where a building puts that key-closet next to their door.
Doorman: “Hold on Mr. Contractor, let me just step inside of my Key-Porter and get you that key…”
*presses buttons, lights flicker, beeping starts*
Doorman: “Ah, here we go”. Grabs a key as the machine flashes, whirs and pops.
The whole thing is just so ridiculous!
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on April 28, 2013 at 10:45 PM||comments (0)|
My hometown never ceases to amuse people. Every time Ohio pops up in the news, it’s always for something outlandish and wacky. Almost every month I have another New York friend forward me an article or fact about Ohio and it’s always related to something entirely inexplicable.
So in honor of my state, and because it’s oh so funny to talk about, I’m including some of the weirdest OH facts below.
1. We have a lovely river in Cleveland that runs for 89 miles from Lake Erie to sourthern Ohio. A great river for travel, industry and... fires.
Yes, you heard that right. Fires. On water.
Now, take a moment to really consider that. How much pollution does it take to ignite a river? Polluted enough that not a single fish could survive throughout the entire span from Akron to Cleveland in the 60s.
During that time, the river went up in flames not once, not twice, but THIRTEEN TIMES.
And to make matters worse, the Italian mafia had a penchant for throwing bodies attached to cinder blocks into the sludge filled flame channel during their hay day. Which basically made it the (somewhat) modern day River Styx. I actually knew someone whose father was a scuba diving police officer. His sole task was to dive into the Cuyahoga River by the Flats in downtown Cleveland and yank up dead bodies. Almost every dive he got at least one.
This is what hell - or Cleveland - looks like.
2. Up in Northeast Ohio we have regular outbreaks of wild animals. It’s like a spontaneous safari at least every several years. For example, when I was about 8 I went to a circus at Mentor High School and rode an elephant with several other girls. It was great, the elephant walked in circles, I pet her dry, gray skin, we pranced around in a high school gym...and then she ran away.
Apparently the elephant was scared by a clown right after the performance and took off running. She galloped through the suburbs, down the freeway and into a Big Lots parking lot where she was finally herded back into a handler’s truck.
Then, in 2012, 18 tigers, 17 lions, 6 black bears, 2 grizzly bears, 3 mountain lions, 2 wolves, and a baboon escaped from a backyard zoo in Zanesville and spent several nights terrifying local residents. That is, until they called in the hunters (we Ohio folk love us some hunting) and shot down every single escaped animal. It was a straight up slaughter.
3. Melon heads. ‘nuff said.
4. The last big news story I found in the NYT relating to Ohio was straight out of the weirdest-crimes book. A gang of at least 16 people went on the attack, cutting the beards and hair of Amish people in Ohio. How bored to you have to get of cow tipping and Wal-Mart trips before you think, “hey! Let’s go cut some Amish beards!”??.
Who does that?
People in Ohio. That’s who.
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on April 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
This year’s Gay Pride Parade in Miami left me feeling sort of… spotty.
And not because of the parade itself, that was amazing, but because of the sun. The hot, horrible, torturous, Miami sun. Despite the fact I know that I burn ever year the first time I take my winter skin outside, I still forgot to bring sunscreen along. So to prevent the terrible burn I got last year (the one that kept me from wearing pants for a week), I picked up some sunscreen before settling down for the parade.
Unfortunately, the only sunscreen in the entire Miami Beach area for under $100.00 was the stick-o-sunscreen stuff. Which basically looks like a big tube of chapstick but with SPF 50.
So I rubbed the stick all over my body in my best attempt to hide my sickly white skin from the blazing noon sun.
Alas, I did not succeed.
It seems that I need to learn Sunscreen 101. Or even Common Sense 101. Because the proof is in my sunburn: I cannot apply sunscreen to save my life. Apparently this is the method I used:
Which is similar to the method someone would use when applying a stick of sunscreen while riding a motorcycle. If they happened to be one-armed. And dodging a herd of angry buffalo.
So it looks like I’ll be using the purple sunscreen for a while until my loved ones agree that I’ve learned the mechanics of lotion application.
Which could take a while….
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on April 12, 2013 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
When I was a little girl I always imagined that someday I would have enough assets to justify creating a will, and when I wrote that will, the very first thing on it would be that at my funeral all people must wear crazy banana hats and polka dots. Because nobody can be sad when wearing fruit on their head.
And then something amazing happened. I realized that I don't have to die to make people wear absurd headgear, I just have to get married!
So I sent out this email and I'm copying it here considering more people who are invited to my wedding read my blog than look at my emails
For those of you who have RSVP'd to my wedding already - thanks! For those of you who didn't - get on that!!
But I have an even more important reason for emailing you all today. And that reason is hats.
Ever since I was a little girl, I never imagined my wedding day or my wedding dress, but I did imagine every other important event of my life and tried to come up with excuses to make people wear crazy hats. Chiquita Banana style hats. Queen of England hats. Church lady hats. All sorts of crazy hats with feathers and funny shapes and ridiculous colors.
And then I saw pictures of Kate Middleton getting married and decided that I would love to be married like British royalty... meaning my women guests should all wear awesome hats.
Thankfully, I'm not crazy so I won't shun anyone if they choose not to wear an awesome hat. BUT if anything can persuade you all to make my wedding day dreams come true.. please wear a hat. A ridiculous one.
Because it's totally unfair that only the English get to do that.
Here are some places you can buy equally awesome hats if you don't have feathers to stick in a hat you already have:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/Hatsbycressida?ref=seller_info&order=price_asc&page=1 - Etsy, feathers and crazy shapes 40.00 +
http://www.etsy.com/listing/120559597/whimsical-mini-top-hat-wedding-hat?ref=sr_gallery_35&ga_search_query=hat+for+wedding&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all Awesome yellow top hat +100.00
http://www.greatlookz.com/category/strawhatsberetsmore.derby_fabulous_hats/ All sorts of hats!
Love you all!!
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on April 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
The other day my fiance and I were out to eat. It wasn’t a particularly fancy out-to-eat experience, just happy hour and thai food at a place near our office. This place happens to be pretty darn cheap and sort of modern looking, so we love it.
Anyways, as we were sitting finishing our curry on top of a glass table/box with a man-sized clown statue inside (could be creepy, but for some reason it works…), we chatted about work and basketball and whatever conspiracy my fiancé is currently interested in.
After finishing our cocktails with complicated names – only 1 for each of us – we got up and wandered out of the restaurant while continuing our conversation. Daniel led the way to the door, looking back to continue chatting. As we walked past all of the couples at their little tables with short, little chairs, he reached out to open the door.
But it wouldn’t open.
So I pushed him (because that’s what someone should do in that situation) and told him to “stop being a wuss and open the door”. Because I’m a loving girlfriend.
And he did. He pushed the door wide open.
All the couples sitting on their little chairs looked up at the two people exiting the restauraunt…
through the window.
Yes, you heard that right. Daniel pushed down the glass window-wall and we broke ourselves out of that joint.
Two feet away from the perfectly functioning door.
Somehow we'd missed that hinged beauty entirely and just jumped out the window instead. Just to cement ourselves as crazy people, we ran away giggling like fools all the way home.
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 25, 2013 at 8:15 PM||comments (1)|
I am a woman. A power tool using, dish washing, 9-5 working woman. No matter what any man may say, no matter what the income disparity, I am a woman for better and for worse. And since that first job I quit over a sexist pizza position, I've known that nothing matters when it comes to my life and my capabilities. I am what I decide I am.
I am a woman, but that does not define me.
I define me.
I can work my 9-5 job, learn a language and create a collection of art simultaneously. I can build furniture, hoist 25 pounds of suitcase into an overhead bin and sit at an executive meeting amongst middle aged men without a single faux pas. I can command the attention of an entire room without wearing a v-neck shirt or a tight fighting skit.
Because I am capable.
Mentally, physically and emotionally. I am able.
I've taught grown men how to use computers, have managed adults two and three times my age and often sit myself in first class between middle aged males with business suits sagging from their bodies. I am often the only one with a vagina in the room. But it doesn't phase me.
Because the average man needs 8 minutes+ to run a mile. I can outrun him. The average 25+ year old man makes $52/year. I outearn him. Without a degree. The average man can do 27 push ups in one minute. I can out do that. In 40 seconds.
And the average male may think I need help carrying my bag up the stairs or answering a difficult question. He may try to jump in during a meeting or speak over me at a conference. That Man might prefer that I wear skirts, don long hair and cook.
But I will not.
I refuse to cook for anyone if I do not choose to cook. I refuse to conform. And I refuse to submit. I can outrun, outthink and out perform that "average" male. I can create life in my womb (and should be able to remove it should I choose) and can not only hold any position my male counterpart may be able to, but I can excel.
And I will excel.
Precisely because I am a woman. And millions of years after the first man asked the first woman to stew his buffalo or sweep his cave, I have broken my role. No matter how many times my rights are denied or my views are neglected, I continue to seize rights and have views. No matter how many women stand silently to the side while our politicians dictate to our gynecologists and society tells us to put work aside to be a good mom. No matter how many times I'm overlooked for a position becuase there could "never be a female manager at a financial non-profit". No matter how many women let the world deny us.
I will not be one of them. I will not be silenced. I will not be domesticated. And I will not be spoken for.
I am a woman.
But being a woman does not define me. Because it is not the fact that I am a woman, it is one simple fact above all else that must (and will) ring true:
I am a woman, but more than that,
I am equal.
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 25, 2013 at 12:10 AM||comments (0)|
I wonder what it is that compels me to travel? Place to place, I go around collecting states like pokemon (gotta catch 'em all!) and viewing my passport as a badge of honor. I sometimes stare at entry stamps for entire flights, feeling accomplished for each I have.
And I wonder why?
What is it that I'm looking for? What is it that any traveller is looking for? After all, there has to be something. There has to be some reason we keep going elsewhere. Some reason why "here" is never enough.
When I was little, my dad wrote a children's book about Nikki Durant and the Terrible Cant. The Cant was a big terrible monster who tried to prevent little Nikki from getting to "There". But she went from land to land anyways, overcoming obstacles until she made it to her desitination. She made it to There. To which I think my dad may have known me better when I was three years old than most people ever will.
Because my life is one big journey. I go from land to land fighting any opposition. Trying to get to There.
The only problem is this magical There may not exist. It may not be a location and if it is, I'm not sure what it'll look like or how I'll know I made it. In fact, I'm not sure it's a destination at all. Maybe it's an end point that isn't in the least bit tangible.
Still I keep looking, keep searching. If I don't find it in the United States, I might find it in Cambodia, or Panama or Japan. If only I could go to Ghana, my proverbial There might be found.
And although I don't know what it is that I'm looking for, it must be something. Because after I die, the amount of countries I've seen or the amount of experiences I've had won't make a difference. None of that will matter. No one will remember. But still I keep going as if I'll someday accomplish something by seeing, touching and experiencing more.
What is it that keeps me on the road? What is it that keeps any traveler travelling?
I wonder.. what is your There?
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 24, 2013 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
Today I was sitting at a coffee shop answering emails before going to work when I saw a man in a suit walk in and introduce himself to a girl who was probably around 22. She was super energetic and ready to take on the world, while he (a man of maybe 30?) was playing the role of advisor and mentor. It was the first time they’d met and I couldn’t resist eavesdropping on their entire conversation. Because that’s how I roll.
Anyways, he was giving her career advice as she’d just graduated and was starting her career in DC. He seemed to be mid-level management at some agency and Holden Caulfield’s voice kept moaning “phony” in the background of my mind every time this man spoke. It was just something about the way he carried himself…
His first advice was to only take jobs in the field she wanted to work in. Which I so vehemently disagreed with, that I had to clamp my hands on the table in order not to stand up and hijack the conversation.
That would be rude.
Then he went on to suggest jobs that she clearly had no interest in while she nodded her head and tried to veer the conversation back into helpful territory. This girl was trying to take every piece of knowledge she could find and apply it to her life, but he wasn’t giving her much.
And if only that man would’ve left before me, I would’ve gone up and talked to her. Because she deserved better. Sure, he might end up being one of those “it’s not about what you know, but who you know” success stories, but he also dished out a whole bunch of crappy advice along the way. Not that I know best, but it seems neither do most mentors.
If I had a chance, what I would say is this:
1. Your resume is what you make it. Don’t worry about working in the exact field you want to work in or finding a job that’s completely relevant to what you want to do. When it comes to a first job, you can’t be picky. Take what sounds interesting and work, even if it’s McDonald’s. Work your hiney off like your life depends on it. Get a promotion. Accomplish something. Then, when you interview for your dream job, make your previous experience fit the description. No HR department needs to know that 90% of your previous experience was flipping fries and only 10% was related to training new employees (let’s say you’re applying to a teaching/training position). All they need to know is that you did trainings, loved the work and excelled at it. No need to dwell on fry flipping at all. Unless you’re applying to be a French Fry Flipping Coach… then you should talk about it.
2. Don’t wait for your perfect job. So you know you want to be a mathematician who designs programs that will eventually make actuaries obsolete in the healthcare field (which, apparently, is a thing.)? Great. But the thing is, you might have to wait 20 years for that specific job. 20 years of passing up really great opportunities because they aren’t “perfect” while eating leftovers and sleeping on your parents’ couch. Then one day you finally see the exact opening you’ve been looking for and – SURPRISE! – some guy beats you to the position because he was out accumulating actual experience while you were “waiting” for something that wasn’t beneath you.
Be that guy. Go out and get some sort of experience since you have time to kill anyways.
3. Which brings me to my last point, school doesn’t get you a job. Experience gets you a job. If anyone thinks they’ll get a degree and magically win a position as a Director of IT, they are absolutely insane. I’ve turned down applicants at a Yogurt Store who had a master’s degree because they had absolutely no work experience at all. Sure, the degree will help in the long run but on a resume without any work it’s worthless. So volunteer, get a part time job, take internships. Do something to prove yourself. Because the degree will help legitimize you once you get into the right position, but it won’t get you a job. It probably won’t even get you an interview.
And that’s what I would say to the girl. If only I could track her down and shout my unsolicited advice in her general direction…..
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 23, 2013 at 6:25 AM||comments (0)|
When I was in third grade I learned about the Panama canal. It was the first time someone taught me about the importance of another country's resources on the United States. And it stuck.
Over 15 years later, I finally saw the canal. And thanks to CouchSurfing, it was with a guy who works for a huge shipping company in Panama and knew absolutely everything about it (like, occasionally the little trains that pull the ships along get yanked into the water. Who knew!?).
Here are some more facts you might all enjoy about the canal:
- The French tried to build it first and failed miserably so the United States purchased the rights to the property. We ran the canal until 1999 and then gave it back to the country who owned it - Panama. Strangely, the people of Panama don't seem to hate Americans... which is suprising since we took the profit from their largest resource until just recently.
And they still use our dollar...
- According to one website it costs a ship $450,000 per passage if carrying 4,500 containers. That's half a million dollars for 48 miles of travel! My friend gave me a slightly higher estimate of $500,000 but at that price, what's an extra 50k?
That would be one expensive cruise!
- Depending on who you ask, it takes 6-12 hours to go through the entire canal.
I didn't even have the patience to watch one ship go completely through the Miraflores locks.
- 20,000 people died during the French construction of the canal.
Which is not surprising. Imagine building THAT before cars.
- And not about the canal, but I still found it interesting - Panama Hats are almost always made in Ecuador!!! And some sell for over 25K!
Sort of like how that Belgian company owns Anheuser-Busch.
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 22, 2013 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
A few weeks ago I was in Minneapolis, which is the only time I've been to Minnesota. As you'd expect, there were three feet of snow on the ground and it was absolutely freezing. But it was also strangely beautiful and impressively metropolitan. Most places I go in the world, I get cabin fever after a day because although I might go out a ton, I'm always inside. From a house, to a car, to a restaurant, to a car to a store. It's like all the small cities of the world are out to suffocate me.
But not Minneapolis. They have buses that run all night long and are reliable down to the minute. Huge buildings and expansive lakes. Within the city you can walk almost anywhere (which is really strange because I saw almost no one walking) and even the things that look far away on a map are usually only a 20 minute hike away. My kind of place.
So I walked from my hotel downtown to the Chain of Lakes. Yes, it's a literal chain of several lakes. And they are beautiful. I'm not sure if it's legal there but I'm pretty sure I saw someone ice fishing. Then I stopped at a bun shop that was so good I've fantasized about those warm, gooey cinnamon buns for 2 weeks now. I slowly meandered back to the Sculpture Garden (snowy and cold but still very cool to see) and then hopped on a bus to the Weisman art museum (free and really impressive).
My favorite sculpture, it made me giggle.
As amazing and varied as the city was, one thing stood out. There was no one around. On any bus I was one of 5 people and on the streets I was often alone. Maybe it's because it was during the day on a Sunday and everyone was either hungover or in church? Maybe it was because of the freezing cold weather....but I doubt that much. I'm pretty sure Minnesotans are made out of polar bear parts so they can't freeze to death in the winter.
I could come up with absolutely no explanation. It seemed that if there were so many things to do, there should be people around doing them.
Either way, I didn't let it bother me too much and just enjoyed having the entire Minneapolis landscape to myself. On the way to the airport I decided to make one last pitstop in order to say I saw all the major parts of the city.
And that's when I discovered where everyone was.
The Mall of America.
It was packed with people. Kids riding rides in the amusement park (yes, an amusement park in the mall), hundreds of college aged girls were doing yoga by the main entrance, people were wandering from store to store. I couldn't even see all the lego sculptures at Lego Land over the throngs of humans, stuffed around me.
Lego man protects his Lego Land from above.
And that's when I learned one more thing about the people of Minnesota, or at least the mall going ones. They are big.
See, the problem is that sometimes I forget what normal people are supposed to look like considering I'm nearly obese by New York standards (JK.... kind of....). We walk so much and there are so many models/actors/etc. that my perception of "average" is really messed up. So to see a bunch of people who are larger than average is shocking. I get confused and self conscious and weird.
Before leaving to catch my flight I grabbed a salad and chips & salsa from a Mexican place in the food court. While I was waiting for my food, a lady walked up to the register and sweetly explained:
Large lady: "I'm so sorry, I know this is weird. But can I have some water in this?"
Passes a 40oz styrofoam cup to the cashier.
Cashier: Looks at her blankly.
Large lady: Explaining with a hint of shame in her voice, "My friend's little girl won't drink soda, so we need to get her water. I'm so sorry..."
Cashier: Slowly took the cup and cautiously filled it up, seeming annoyed at the little girl's need for water.
The whole scene horrified me. In what world is it shameful to drink water (healthy) instead of soda (insanely unhealthy). I can just imagine the mom begging that little girl to drink soda at dinner time. "Honey, once you finish your soda you'll get desert." And then they sit at the table for hours waiting for the stubborn little girl to just finish her normal person beverage.
WHO DOES THAT?!?!?!
And that's when I made the mistake of looking around. It seemed everyone at the mall did.
Right then and there I threw out my chips and salsa and finished my salad. You can bet your butt I'll be working out every day until that image leaves my mind... which might not be for a very long time.
... on a side note. I think it might be that cinnamon bun shop. If I lived near that place, I'd be 400 lbs as well!
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 18, 2013 at 8:15 PM||comments (0)|
Recently I was in Chicago, Milwuakee and Minnesota. Being from the Midwest (or a state that people consider Midwestern even though it's really in the Northeast-ish), the difference in personality of those cities and New York is never an issue for me. However, I do forget those places exist and often forget how important they are when I spend time solely in the Big Apple.
People accuse New Yorkers of being New York-centric all the time. And it's true. We are a$$holes when it comes to recognizing the rest of the United States exists. We tend to remember Hong Kong, London or Copenhagen far before we remember Illinois or Montana.
It sounds terrible, but think about it for one second. Our major news sources (The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal) come from NYC, the country's finance industry is based in the New York area and we have a police force with officers in 11 different COUNTRIES. Things that happen in New York politics or sports become national news for absolutely no reason other than the fact New York is New York. For example, when in Chicago the digital ticker on a building was listing major headlines, one of which was "Snow cripples New York City". What other city would show up on a building in Chicago when they get a little snow? That news flow certainly doesn't go the other way, I have no idea what's going in Chicago 99% of the time.
And if you don't believe me, try a little experiment. Talk to a native New Yorker or someone who has lived there for a long time and ask that person "could New York survive as it's own country?" or "What is the most important city in the United States?".
The answer will be yes, it could and New York is obviously the most important.
Which is not only inaccurate, but a very dangerous way to think. Taking an occasional trip to the Midwest does an excellent job of reminding a city dweller of that fact. For me, a short little trip reminds me of the manufacturing, gas and farming operations that support the rest of the country. Can you imagine if Milwuakee didn't exists? Miller beer would be no more. Without Wisconsin, we'd be nearly cheeseless. Without Salt Lake City there'd be no Mormon Church to inspire our Broadway shows.
But seriously. Where do we New Yorkers think the country's manpower comes from? A huge portion of the New York workforce, myself included, are imported from other states. States that created hard workers and some of the most successful employees. Where do we think we get our food? Why do we not recognize the contribution of people who talk a little slower and spend time being friendly to one another?
I've decided that every person who forgets the importance of other states, needs to take a trip to the Midwest or Soutwest every several months. Go out and see another city.
Because in the end, New York is just that.
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM||comments (0)|
I've been in Panama since yesterday and I have to say it's both amazing and strange. Driving into the city from the airport we passed a crowd of buildings that reminded me of the more built up areas of Cambodia. Run down by American standards, painted in bright colors that had long been faded by the sun and covered with random articles of clothing draped from the balconies. I'd imagine those buildings had spotty electricity and lots of studio apartments with multi-person families.
Then we turned the corner and we were suddenly looking straight into a row of sky scrapers that could compete with the fanciest New York has to offer. Glass buildings 70 floors high. Lots of BMWs. Valet and Concierge.
Then what reminded me of a Hooverville from my history books. Random makeshift metal walls on a collection of tiny houses that were clearly made on the fly.
Another skyscraper. Another shack. A restaraunt with 3 course meals and table clothes, a little shack with coffee from a can. It was one of the strangest sites I've ever seen.
And I sort of love it. Everywhere else we hide our inequalities, in Panama they're in your face. And for someone who likes both of those worlds, it's an incredible place to be.
I can walk down the street and hop on a bus that may or may not get me where I want to go and it may or may not break down along the way. Or I can call a car service and be escorted to and from my destination. I could eat in a gorgeous Peruvian restaraunt where the food is served in miniature portions but is so good it makes up for the over-fanciness. Or I could get rice from a table on the street where people look at me weird for not being Panamanian and I'd never spend more than five dollars.
Basically, it's everything I could want. One part developing country and one part wealthy metropolis.
Oh, and then there's the part with the rainforest.. that's pretty darn cool too.
And strangely, here's an article the NYT published that describes exactly what I'm talking about at the same time I wrote this.
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 10, 2013 at 6:10 PM||comments (0)|
Lately I've been taking a lot of quick trips. A day in Chicago, two in Wisconsin, one in Minneapolis. As a lot of you know, I'm trying to see all fifty states and, secretly, I'm hoping to see all but Alaska and Hawaii before I'm married (I feel like that's a good premarital accomplishment).
Because of that, I've been trying my best to get a good feel for each city before moving on to the next. And t best way I've found to do that? Public Transportation.
Take a bus, a subway or a trolley and you'll not only meet locals, but you'll understand the city from a normal person, not tourist, perspective. For example, who knew that LA had a subway? I sure didn't... until I took it (for 1.25, holy crap that's cheap!). I ended up talking to a camera operator for 20 minutes who was a huge, HUGE, fan of legalized pot and absolutely adored the city (which I still despise). To be honest, he was the first person I've met in LA who was not horrible.
I'm guessing that's because he was born and raised in Detroit
...just kidding, Los Angeles people!
... but not really.
Anyways, I'm infatuated with local transit. For example, in Chicago I took the subway and was confronted by about 15 panhandlers. The thing is, everyone in Chicago is slightly nicer than the people in NYC and everyone certainly seems more religious (Christian religious, New York can beat any city in Jewish religious-ness) which means that I felt terribly guilty completely ignoring the homeless people asking for change because I was the only one who didn't even make eye contact and it was entirely normal for the panhandlers to appeal to the passengers' religious morals as grounds for giving change. That's hugely different from NYC considering New York is more work/reward related instead of kindness/religion related. Which means if you entertain a crowded subway car or give someone directions, you're far more likely to get a few dollars than if you talk about Jesus and kneel down in prayer. Big Chicago difference.
Anywho, I tell you all this in the least demanding way possible (which is hard to do when giving unsolicited advice) - go out in whatever city you're visiting and ride a bus. Take a train. Find whatever public transportation exists and get on it.
I promise you, 100%, you will not regret it.
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 9, 2013 at 5:40 PM||comments (2)|
After a work trip to Chicago, I stopped for a personal visit to Milwaukee. Which makes Wisconsin the 27th or 28th state I've seen (I think).
During my short overnight visit, I stayed with one of the nicest CouchSurfers in the world. I was his first surfer to stay on his couchbed and he was a superb host. Luckily I found someone who grew up in Wisconsin so he was able to give me a pretty good feel for the area.
Strangely, Milwaukee is one of those cities where you can see pieces from every part in a day or two. So we drove around and my host calmly told me about all the different neighborhoods we passed. There was the Third Ward (very artsy/hip/cool), there's Brady St. (very college-y but there are some awesome coffee shops there) and there's the domes (cool bio domes. The desert one is my fave!). He kept up his calm, collected, entirely enjoyable personality the whole time.
I could easily picture him in California.
Then came the last few hours of my trip and we were trying to figure out what to do. He thought for a while and then asked in his quiet, kind way of speaking, "do you like cheese curds?".
To which I replied "...ummmmm?"
Because I'm not from Wisconsin and I have no freaking idea what cheese curds are.. as if that requires an explanation. I would assume they come from curdled cheese but who the heck really knows.
And then his personality totally changed. His eyes lit up, he sat up straight and his voice got slightly higher and incrementally louder, "Well, we NEED to get some cheese curds!". And so we did.
We hurried to the public market and bought fried cheese curds with ranch dressing. And yes, they are exactly what they sound like, cheese pieces with fried dough.
But they're freaking delicious!
And they should have been, considering my Wisconsin friend also worked at a cheese shop for a while. Which he, of course, loved.
So it's settled. Wisconsin really is made of cheese.
|Posted by Nikki Yeager on March 6, 2013 at 7:40 PM||comments (0)|
So I've been trying desperately to learn Russian. I'm determined to be able to speak to my future husband's family in their native language. And I'm also determined to put that stupid-monolingual American stereotype to rest. But it seems I actually AM a stupid, monolingual American.
Basically, when I try to speak Russian I sound like I have marbles in my mouth and only half a brain in my head. It's so bad, it's embarrassing. Seriously shameful how badly I butcher that lanugage.
And here's why I don't have ny hope for becoming fluent:
1. I sympathize with this lady. Which is why I write in unacceptable print letters. Just like a typewriter.
Yes, that's correct. I am a Russian typewriter, smudged ink and all.:
2. Hoteel, Hachew and Hoteem are all the same word (forgive my spelling, I haven't figured out how to convert Russian words to the Roman alphabet without totally butchering it). HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!?!?! Those are obviously different verbs, no?
3. Noun conjugation. Enough said.
There are 6 different cases for nouns. Which is why Russian people always look so serious. It takes a lot of thought just to explain "I am going to Moscow" vs. "I love Moscow" vs. "I'm in Moscow." Because Moscow would have a different ending in each sentence! Gah!
This guy knows what I'm talking about:
4. Lastly, Russian culture confuses the crap out of me. Women change their last names based on the fact they're female (my dad would be Mr. Yeager, I'd be Ms. YeagerA), middle names are some weird conglomerate of your father's name and some random endings (my middle name would be something like Davidina) and one of the first words I learned was "hello" which has 12 letters in it and a combination of four consonants in a row.
Oh, and there's this (really, watch the whole video):