Two Roads Diverged

Life is all about choices – so which choice is coming next?

VIP Unexpectedly

“Jillian, it’s slow – go ahead and clock out.”

This could’ve been the most beautiful sentence I’ve ever heard on a Saturday night when I haven’t gotten clubbing for weeks and I knew that at.that.moment. my friends were getting ready to head out.

I jumped on the phone,
“Girls! I got out early!! Where are you??”
“We’re at the Precinct, meet us there!”

I rushed home – got ready in record time – rushed out.

When I roll into Precinct – well, it’s crowded! 5 top at the bar (aka, the bar is at least 5 people thick all the way down), the dancefloor is a writhing mass of people, and there are even shoulder-to-shoulder amounts of people standing and talking.

I attempt to get a drink at the bar – as I’m stone-cold sober and my friends are, less so ^.^ After 20 minutes, I give up. I figured – it’s late already, I’d rather save my $10, I’ll just go dance!

Sadly, after just a short while, the DJ switches to a live band.

While this can sometimes be cool – in this instance, it just killed the vibe.

It’s getting near 1am.

“Girls, I don’t want to quit, but my feet are starting to hurt, and I just, this band is killing it for me…”
My friend looks up from her phone,
“Well, this guy I’ve been talking to says he can get us into a club in South Melbourne. Wanna try?”

So we jump into an uber – and down to South Melbourne we go.

As we’re waiting outside for the guy to come collect us (and get us past the line to get in),
“So, how did you meet this guy?”
“Tinder. I’ll admit, I’m so worried – you know my luck with Tinder, he’ll probably be tiny and ugly… but hopefully this club is good!”

Minutes later, a not-scrawny, rather attractive guy goes to the bouncers,
“These 3, they’re with me.”

And inside we’re ushered.

Busy – but good music, no mood-killing live band in sight. Al (my friend’s Tinder man) walks us right up to a roped off table.
“These girls are with us! Let’s get them a drink!”
Who needs that much Belvedere?

Out pops a gigantic bottle of Belvedere, some glasses, and red mixer.

My friends look at me with a slightly evil glint in their eye,
“Hey!” they yell, “She’s sober you know!”

Al looks at me incredulously.
“WHAT?! GET THIS GIRL MORE DRINKS!”

Yes, that IS a penis straw.

Yes, that IS a penis straw.


Soon my friend asks me to finish her drink.

Then the Belvedere bottle mysteriously fills up my glass.

Again.

And again.

And probably some more agains…
The bottle buyer and I
Of course – these things all lead to me being not-so-stone-cold-sober anymore…

I wake up on a couch in the morning.

Definitely looked just like this.

Definitely looked just like this.

The night comes racing back.
We left the club. Came to a house. We’re safe. I know exactly where my friends are.
Now it’s time to find my belongings and make sure I get to work on time…

I walk into the bathroom. Tiny shampoo, conditioner, and lotion bottles on the sink. With nicely folded towels.

Am I at a house?! Or a hotel…

I look out the window.

Tennis court.
Pool.
Yard.

Definitely a house. Just you know – a mansion-y house…

I tiptoe down the stairs to the kitchen.

“Good morning.” says a gray-haired man who’s cooking eggs. “You look lost. Looking for your things? Downstairs.”
“Um… thanks,” I say, thoroughly confused as to where we are now but I CLEARLY remember no gray-haired gentlmen. “Um… what, what time is it?”
“8:30. I can’t believe you’re up to be honest. You guys didn’t get in until past 3:30 last night.”

Hmm… so he wasn’t with us. Owner of the house then?

“Um… could you tell me the nearest tram?”
He looks surprised, “You’re going to tram it? Not taxi?? Well, just down the street, turn left, you’ll walk straight to it.”

I go down the stairs, grab my things, run out the door.

It takes 1.5 hours to get home, but I manage it (looking utterly and completely walk-of-shame. I totally understand why the man asked why I wasn’t taking a taxi.).

The girls wake up a couple hours later and text me when they’re home.

“Hey – so was that Al’s mansion?” I ask later.
“Yes!” my friend writes excitedly. “I won Tinder! Woo hoo!”
“And did you meet the old guy??”
“No – his dad was out to brunch by then!”

So, mysterious old man explained.

And for the rest of the day I had to laugh. I went out sober – and woke up in a mansion. WHAT?!

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That time I was offered a threesome…

It’s just about sundown – the end of my first time really trying Yom Kippur – defiitely the end of my first time fasting on Yom Kippur.

G’mar hatimah tovah!

So did I do what other Jews do on Yom Kippur?
Go to synagogue, surround myself with other Jews who are holding together in our fasting?

NO!

I went to Chinatown.

And watched 7 other girls down delightful looking dim sum, honey sesame chicken, and other fantastic looking (and smelling!) dishes.

[I never said I was a good Jew! The running joke on my Birthright trip is that while I have a seriously Jewish last name, I'm pretty much the worst Jew ever...]

After dinner we went clubbing – starting at one bar and later migrating to another.

The decision was made that the girls wanted to move on to another suburb of Melbourne, but I stayed behind at the club we’d just gotten to.

Being as I’ve killed a lot of my shyness these last weeks living in Melbourne (which you have to when you move somewhere with no friends!), I found a couple girls in the bathroom, and ended up hanging with them for a portion of the night.

A little later, I started dancing with another girl. I’d been watching her, and felt protective of her – these two guys were hanging around, and she seemed a bit harassed.
She kept dancing with me and kind of pulling me off to the side – the girl signal for, “Save me! Let’s stay together and keep these guys at bay!”

Near the of the night I went to grab a water from the bar – and one of the guys walked up to me.

Smirking, he looks at me and says, “Boy – I’d just really love to kiss you right now.”
What????
“Seriously, my girlfriend would be ok with it.”
“WHAT?! GIRLFRIEND? Who?”
He looks at me funny, “The girl you’ve been dancing with.”

The girl in question walks up.
“Are you dating this guy???”
“Yeah,” she smiles, “I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but you are so beautiful. Seriously – so beautiful. You are just stunning.”
I look at her uncertainly.
“I would love if you came home with us tonight. You should consider it.” She winks.

I was stunned.

Honestly – I don’t remember what I said after that, but I’ve never run out of a place so fast in my life!

Yom Kippur is the day of atonement – the day where you ask God to forgive your sins.
I figure at least I didn’t end up having any sins to ask forgiveness for!

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Human Kindness

Going to preface this with:  in this story I make stupid decisions. I know this – no need for comments lectures, I’ve lectured myself and others have lectured me already. This is just a story about human kindness.

Last Saturday was the Grand Final game of the Australian AFL (don’t ask me what it is – I still don’t really get the rules…)

Kind of like the Superbowl – it’s a day of sports, drinking, bbq-ing.

Only, since it’s on a Saturday – you can go out after!! (Which means, more drinking, more partying!)

On this night, I went out with the girls, we ended up at a club, and I’d been texting this guy.  All night he’d been trying to convince me that all us girls should come meet his friends. Finally, at like 1am I think, “I’m gonna go meet him. Be spontaneous – I’m gonna do it!”

So I catch a taxi and I go to meet him.

$50 later I’m in the middle of a suburb I’ve never been to before. Most of the shops are closed around me. I have no coat. And now that my taxi left I see no other taxis.

And the guy isn’t answering my texts.

I’m on a street corner, in a dress, lost, slightly drunk, with no taxis in sight.

So I did what felt right in the moment.

Began to cry.

As I’m standing there sobbing, this man walks up to me and asks, rather tentatively,

“Um… are you ok?”
“I… not texting… and closed… just… ugh… cold…”
“Do you want me to call you a taxi?”
“I’m sorry… I don’t wanna be THAT girl crying… I just… you know…”
“Um… well, can I give you a lift home? You seem pretty cold… and upset…”
“I just… if it wouldn’t be a burden…”

And

He drove me home.

Just that. Nothing else. No expectations. Just a nice guy who saw a sad girl and drove her home.

I actually took his number. So I could take him to dinner a couple days later. To thank him.

He admitted to me, “I wasn’t sure what to do. I saw you and I thought, ‘Do I go to her? See if she’s ok? Does that come off as weird? Do I leave her alone?’ But, well, I just had to do something.”

And he did.

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Two weeks in…

Man. I can hardly believe it myself –

I’ve been in Australia for two weeks!

So I quit my jobs in August. Moved out of my apartment, back home. Had my brother’s engagement party. Saw friends. Packed for two days.

And flew to Australia.

Now trust me – the buildup to leaving the US? I was terrified.

“But you’ve lived out of the country before!” Friends and family said to me.

Yes, but there’s a huge difference for me between leaving the country for school, or for a job I already have, than leaving the country to a new place where I know no one. Have no place to live. And have no job nor any idea how long it will take me to get one.

I had to take a lot of deep breaths before I left. Had to calm myself down.

Then, I got here.

Australia

How Australia greeted me

How Australia greeted me

I hit the ground running. I landed, check in, went to the bank and opened an account, went and got a phone, found the Greek Precinct (and got free food!).

Fell asleep at 6pm. Whoops…

By Friday I had two jobs.

A week in? Two jobs, a potential third, and an apartment to look at.

Two weeks in?

Moved out of the hostel and into a house.
Quit one job already.
Got a paycheck.
Met loads of people.
Hugged a koala.
Pet a kangaroo.
Saw wild penguins.
Go out most nights of the week.
Been on several dates.

Still haven’t been killed/nor tried to be killed by anything.

I think Australia and I are turning into best buddies.

Feeding a kangaroo!

KOALA!

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Hunter Hunted at MTV Studios

The traffic inches along. Just fast enough that I can’t e-brake, release the clutch, and relax my tensed leg muscles.

“Thank goodness for the gym,” I mumble to myself. But it’s worth it. Shortly, so shortly, I will be off the highway, and rolling into the parking lot of Viacom – aka, the MTV and many other tv stations headquarters.

_______________________________________________________________________

I finally arrive. The elevator drops me in the lobby. The receptionist points. And there’s my band.

The only band whose every song they’ve sung, I’ve liked.

The guys who take the time to get to know their fans, to recognize them when they see them again.

A band who’s gone the extra mile by hand-delivering their first EP to my dorm door; and put my friend on the VIP list when I forgot to get her a ticket to their House of Blues concert.

A band where my friends and I have gone to concerts, and we left after Hunter Hunted played – as we had no interest in the headliners.

A band who’s growing whose stardom is catching up to the stars they’ve always been.

We all troop up to the MTV floor, into a little music studio, where Hunter Hunted will be giving a mini concert.

To some of the staff of Viacom.

And me. The only non-Viacom member.

I tweeted like mad a bit. Instagrammed a little.

The set was short – only a couple numbers, including one of my favorite of their new songs:

The staff filed out – back off to their jobs (don’t I wish I could have a musical break in the middle of my day!).

I was able to do a one-question interview. (No pressure!)

A little more time spent chatting with Michael and Dan – about their lives, my life. Whatever – because these are guys who make you feel comfortable.

All too quickly I had to leave to meet up with friends at UCLA. But every time I meet with this band, it’s memories I’ll never forget.

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Santa Doesn’t Always Fly In a Sleigh

Flying Santa!

An early morning departure saw me sitting in the Charlotte airport, devouring a Cinnabon, and wishing I liked coffee.

When they announced our flight would be late (of course), the grumbling passengers settled down to wait, and to chat.

And that’s when he introduced himself.

Santa Clause

And his wife!

The Clauses

A lovely couple that lives in Charlotte, they spend their year waiting for Christmas.

For Christmas, their house becomes the talk of the town – and “Santa” dresses up (in his own homemade suit!) and goes visiting hospitals, malls, families, you name it, he visits it.

And his wife does it all at his side. She’s there every step of the way!

But the best stories he had to tell? Well this guy plays Santa all year long. When he goes on plane rides, children will ask him if he’s Santa.

“I listen to the conversations they have with their parents. Like this one boy, I heard his mother call to him – so I got his name. Then she had mentioned they were going, ‘home to Detroit’. So when the little boy came up to me and asked who I was, I said, ‘Well James, don’t you worry, I won’t miss you in Detroit!’”

Needless to say, kids go nuts!

On another flight some kids were whispering together and pointing and looking at him. Suddenly the flight attendant walked up, sat on his lap with a, “Santa, I already sent you my letter. Just wanted to give you the heads up!” and walked away.

Stories like this always make me so happy! I imagine how excited those kids must’ve been to “have Santa on THEIR flight!”

And I got to end up with him and his wife on mine.

Sure, they doesn’t have flying reindeer, but what they did have was a giving spirit.

What’d they give to me? An invitation that anytime I’m back in Charlotte I simply must come over for dinner and a visit.

What better gift could you ask for?

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Disney Christmas Wonderland

So as I’m sure many of you already know (but this is my first time) – getting published on another blog is just super duper exciting, and fills you with happiness and warmth! :)

So if you’ve never checked out Bucket List Publications you should (Lesley Carter’s blog is here).

And if you want to learn all about Disneyland at Christmas time, click here!

So yes. That’s my excitement for the day!

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Hidden Talents at County Fairs

It just so happens that my old college roommate lives in Winston-Salem, NC. The site of the Dixie Classic Fair!

So of course we had to go!

We planned to go on a Monday – so Sunday night, we spent at least an hour pouring over the schedule of events. Planning.

”Ok, dog show first. Then the pig races. Then we’ll find the woman on stilts. Ok, then the woodcarver display, then…” (and so on)

Monday dawned – dark and rainy.

But we were glad! Because rain meant the fair was empty. We didn’t fight crowds, we didn’t fight lines, we didn’t fight for seats. Everything in the fair was at our fingertips!

So our plan started off fine – we hit the first couple shows we’d planned on. Found the woman on stilts much faster than we’d planned on – and ended up with some extra minutes.

We wandered over to the “Town of Yesterday” where all the demonstrations were being held – tin making, loom weaving, etc.

We walked into the hut holding all the award-winning wines. As we’re purusing a man walks in and starts setting up some tables.

“I’m just setting up now, but if you guys come back in a half hour, I’ll let you help me.”
“With what?”
“I’m a glassblower!”

An offer to watch glassblowing? Heck yeah!

So we go wander around for a half hour, then scurry right back to the glassblower’s hut.

Jeff – the glassblower.

Dixie Classic Fair, Winston-Salem North Carolina, glassblowing

Melting glass!

Fascinating guy. FULL of stories. Full of facts.

He let us choose colors, and then turned on a blowtorch to make us glass jewelry.

As we were in 200 year old houses, he couldn’t really do full glassblowing. He could only use a small blowtorch – but it was still impressive!

So we chose some colors and he made us some glass beads. Told us to come back in a half hour when they’d cooled.

Because what’s sexier than eating deep fried reeses balls?


So we went off to eat (deep fried PB&J, deep fried reeses, and chili cheese fries. Yes – that is my arteries you hear clogging up).

Then we went back.

We all chatted some more. He made us a couple more beads. Showing us some different techniques like adding glass drops on the outside.

We left again to entertain ourselves (petting zoo, pig races).

And we returned AGAIN! And he made us MORE glass pendants.

As we left to allow him to get some dinner (and check out the Kellie Pickler concert) he told us that if we came back, he’d let us behind the blowtorch!

Some of the glass swag

So what could we do but go back?? And of course, try our hand at glass making.

I went last of the three of us. And it was exhilarating and terrifying. So cool to be holding molten glass – but I was holding molten glass and my hands were next to a pure blue flame!!

(All right, picture story!!)

glassblowing, glass bead making

This face: the trepidation of that flame


The face of amazement – the “this is SO COOL”


Molten glass – it’s dripping!


It’s a bead shape! Happy face!


Pretty much – I amaze even myself with how cool I look (ha, ha. Get it? Cause I’m cooling the glass??!?)

It turns out – I’m apparently a natural at glass bead making. Jeff complimented my skills, and the woman next to him looked at me and said, “Seriously – I’ve seen lots of beginner students and they don’t make beads that look that good.”

I know – I can hardly believe how perfect it is too.


*self-pat on the back* If I ever really find myself completely unemployable, at least I can make awesome glass beads to sell!

At the end of our 12 hour fair day we trudged home. More tired, wetter, and colder than when we’d first started out.

But in the end it was one of the better fairs I’ve been to! How often to you get tons of free glass swag, make a new friend with an awesomely talented artist, and try your hand at creating something in 1500°F flames?

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“Life is too short to drink bad wine”

During my stay in Greece, one of the things my North Carolinian roommate always talked about was North Carolina Wine.

Now I’m Californian. I know wine.

Ok. That’s a lie.

I don’t like most wine.

Well, I don’t like reds.
Or dry whites.
Or dry rosés.

So really, I’m pretty picky about my wine.

But my Family! They know their wines. Especially my brother.

But – just because I don’t like wine doesn’t mean I haven’t tried it.

So with more than a bit of skepticism (and Californian wine-snoodiness), I went to a North Carolina wine tasting.

North Carolina Wine, Shadow ridge vineyard, Hanover park vineyard, wine tasting

Wine on a cold day: it is pretty perfect.

And it. Was. Delicious.

I mean – WOW! The things these people were doing with wine!

I had three favorites:

    Shadow Springs Vineyard, Strawberry shortcake wine

    Image: Shadow Springs Vineyard

  1. Shadow Springs Vineyard, Shortcake.
    This wine was made from strawberries. Yeah, you read that. STRAWBERRIES! Fermented Strawberries! Drinking that wine was like drinking strawberry juice. With 11% alcohol content. Om nom nom.
  2. Shadow Srings vineyard, Dark Shadow wine, Dark chocolate wine

    Image: Shadow Springs Vineyard

  3. Shadow Springs Vineyard, Dark Shadow.
    Now this was one of those ‘dark chocolate red wines’. Now I’ve had plenty of those. It’s just red wine. Right?
    Well this one. I sniffed it. Smelled just like dark chocolate. I tasted it. It was like drinking dark chocolate! Oh man, this was a decadent wine!
  4. Hanover Park Vineyard, Blueberry wine

    Image: Hanover Park winery

  5. Hanover Park Vineyard, Blueberry.
    Once again, a fruit based wine. This one: blueberry. And just like the name, again, it was like drinking blueberries!

(I brought a bottle of the strawberry and blueberry home to my parents, who vastly enjoyed it.)

When the wine servers found out I was from Cali, they were so tickled by how much I enjoyed the wine – and of course we got into a conversation about what I thought was so special about NC wines.

And I came to this conclusion: North Carolina is doing what California used to do. Experiment.

They’re making wines from different fruits – with great success! If you suggested that to Cali wineries? They’d wrinkle their nose in disgust at you – hardly believing you’re daring to suggest something different from their grape-y recipe.

So I’d come to see that what my roommate was always going on about was true – North Carolina has amazing wines! And I will eagerly search the wine section – hoping to one day see these wines gracing my grocery store shelves.

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Charlotte Creativity

After I’d been home for a while, filling out work applications and such, I finally found an application that guaranteed an interview! (My dream as I can’t seem to get past the paper phase to save my life)

I just had to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Well, fine by me!

  1. I’d never been to NC before.
  2. One of my Greek roommates lived in a town close to charlotte.
  3. One of my college roommates lived in Another town close to Charlotte.

So really, all great reasons to go, interview, and visit!

First stop: Charlotte, NC.

Definitely a beautiful city – complete with cemetery parks that show Friday night movies! But seriously – I really loved the feeling of this place. Spent all day wandering around everywhere in the city.

Charlotte NC, Fourth Ward parks

See the tombstones in the background?

Met up with some friends I forgot lived in Charlotte and had real southern cookin’!

But some of the more memorable moments of Charlotte?

There’s one in particular:

The Best Pick-Up Line I’ve Ever Gotten

I was waiting at the bus station for a friend to pick me up and drive me to Greensboro. A black man approaches and asks if he can borrow my cell phone.

Being a nice person – I let him.

After several unsuccessful attempts, he returns the phone to me.

And immediately starts to hit on me.

“What’s a pretty lady like you doing here? Got a boyfriend? No?? Well honey, I will be your boyfriend.” And his arm goes around me.
“Um… I have a bubble, and you’re in it.”
“But honey, don’t worry cause I’m going to be your boyfriend.”
“Well, that’s a kind offer, but I’m only here for the next couple minutes.”
“Well, it’s fine, you’ll move here. And be with me.”

And then came the best line of all,

“You’ll be with me and have my honey-colored babies.”

Needless to say, this led me into giggling spasms. And our conversation continued in this vein for a good 20 more minutes with him asking all of his friends how beautiful they thought our “honey-colored babies” would be. (All of his friends were laughing too – he didn’t get much support.)

My friend arrived later and I jumped in the car and went on to Greensboro.

But Charlotte left me with an impression of its beauty, and of its creativeness.

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