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Monday, June 9, 2014

Our California Adventure (Day 1, Part 3)

So...we just got to California. The palm trees are swaying to the warm, gentle wind. The snow capped mountains in the background stood in pure beauty, while we stood at the baggage claim, looking for the bags that were't going to show up.

It had to be a joke, right? Like, we had to have been put on some hidden camera show or something. Or maybe, I wasn't completely wrong when I said my life was becoming that of a Nancy Drew mystery story. The only thing missing now was a thief who steals my carry-on bag, and a ghost dog or two.

We stood as the bags went round and round. One by one, people would grab their bags and walk away. The three of us were left standing there for close to twenty minutes, watching in horror as one by one, our bags didn't show up.

Let's face it, I was a wreck. I was exhausted, I was hungry from something other than mini Ritz crackers and pretzels. My stomach was still in knots from the bumpy ride over. We were in a strange place thousands of miles away from everything I knew, and to top it all off, we couldn't find our bags. I was about to have a mental breakdown in the middle of the airport.

But alas! All is not lost! For whatever reason, our bags were moved to a different place in the airport. They had gotten to California before we did, so they had been put away behind an office desk. I was thrilled.

We carried our newly discovered luggage bags outside of one building, onto a bus that took us to another building, where we got our rental car. Thank goodness there were no issues with that. (Well...wait until day three for that story.)

So we were now on the road towards my aunt and uncles house! Before nightfall, we will be with people we recognize. (And not just super villains who clean off tables)

Being from Michigan, I'm used to straight roads. Not many turns, not many hills. Just flat land. Well...California isn't exactly like that. See, those mountains I saw at the airport aren't just in the backdrop. So we had to drive up and down, twist and turn through these mountains. Once again, not too good on my already upset stomach.

After about an hour of driving, we decided to stop for dinner. Although my stomach didn't seem interested in food, I decided to give something a try. We went to this restaurant that, on the outside, reminded me of Outback Steakhouse. I though I would find something that would settle my stomach and make me happy. But when we walked in...the place was much more like a trucker's diner. I knew right away that I wouldn't find anything that would help my stomach.

We sat down, and noticed that at three tables surrounding us, there were three groups of people speaking three different languages. (Again, not something you would see everyday in small town Michigan.)

Mom and Grandma ordered their food, and I went without. It was a good thing too, because I ended up throwing up in the bathroom soon after we arrived. Thankfully, I felt a little better after that. (Sorry if this is TMI..)

After another thirty or so minutes on the road, we finally reached Yucca Valley CA. We checked in at our hotel, which was only a mile from my aunt and uncles' house. (We didn't stay with them the first few nights because they had other company in for the wedding, and that house was already too full.)

I took a shower at the hotel, which felt wonderful. I wanted to get in my pajamas, and go to sleep. Close my eyes, and forget about the longest day of my life. But no...it was only 6pm. (9pm what I was used to) And Aunt Janel was expecting to see us that night. So, we left the hotel, and drove the very short one mile drive to Aunt Janel and Uncle Mark's house. It was so nice to see them. (It had been four years)

We talked for about two hours, until I could barely keep my eyes open. We left a little after 8pm, and finally I got to get in my mickey mouse pajamas, and just slept. I don't care if my bed was nothing but a pull out couch. I was extremely happy to be able to fall asleep. And fall asleep I did.

That first day was definitely the longest of our trip. I'm happy to say the trip did get better for the most part, from then on.

If I learned anything from my first day out west, it's that,

1. Never assume everything is going to work out the way it's been planned.
2. Always have a plan B in case your first plan fails.
3. Nancy Drew is a very patient person if she deals with this sort of thing day after day after day.

~Sam

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Our California Adventure (Day 1, Part 2)

So after a long morning, we made it to Phoenix. I have always wanted to visit Phoenix. Actually, I've always just wanted to visit Arizona. Ever since playing Nancy Drew #10: The Secret of Shadow Ranch, the old west became very fascinating to me. In fact, I even wrote two books about it!

Just stepping off of the plain and onto the airport floor, I felt like I had accomplished something. Even if we were only going to be there for twenty four minutes, I could now say I had been to Arizona. (I'm sure you Arizona dwellers are rolling your eyes at my total nerdness right about now.)

I had to take a picture of the airport too.

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Which made me think of this...

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This is the scene when Nancy is at the airport in Phoenix. (They must have renovated some since 2004)

So far, my day had been excellent. The plain ride was very smooth, I was now in a city I had always dreamed about going to, and now were were only hours away from California. What could go wrong?

I've learned that's something you NEVER say at an airport.

Remember that storm I told you about in my last post? The snow storm on the other side of the country? Yeah...well, because of that storm...our plane got in late. And because our plane got in late, the plane we were supposed to get on to go to California left without us. And because the plane left without us, we had to wait four hours until our new plane showed up. Oh joy.

None of us were too thrilled. Turned out Arizona really wasn't as awesome as I was expecting. (Well, the airport anyway.)

We walked around a bit, stretching our legs after such a long ride. We went to a few gift shops. I got a package of arrowheads. I'm never getting that money back...

We also went to a very expensive cafe that sells $7.00 yogurt and granola, and $12.00 coffees. While sitting there, I noticed one of the employees looked just like Loki. I mean, they were very strangely identical. I tried my hardest to get a picture of him without being overly "creeperish" but the only picture I got focused on my mother's empty $7.00 yogurt container, and not him.

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If you're ever at the Phoenix airport, find this place and look for Loki the bus boy. You'll see how right I am.

Anyway, so the next like...three and a half hours we just sat. We all had our iPads with us, and thank goodness the airport had wifi. Seeing Loki the bus boy got mom in the mood to watch the Avengers on Netflix. My grandmother spent the entire time reading on her tablet, and I decided to watch a movie I hadn't seen in a very long time.

High School Musical.

If only I wasn't at a public airport. I could have burst out singing all those overly dramatic nostalgic songs. But no, I did not make a total fool of myself. (At least, not intentionally.)


Finally, finally, FINALLY, we were able to get on our new plane to Ontario, California. Since of course, we didn't originally have seats for this flight, each of our tickets were random, which meant we didn't get to sit together. My grandmother was placed up front by a younger couple. My mother was placed near the back by an older couple who talked the entire time about Disneyland, and I sat in between two women. The one near the window who looked just like Mrs. Dabney from Good Luck Charlie slept the entire ride...that is, until the flight attendant came out with snacks. She woke up to that. The woman to my right spent the entire flight reading. I didn't say a word to either of them the whole time. And frankly, I think all three of us were glad we didn't have to be social.

The ride to California was very bumpy. My stomach kept feeling like it was dropping, which isn't a very reassuring feeling when you're in between two strangers in a cram packed airplane. I tried to ease myself. I watched Judge Judy on the tv, and then listened to Lindsey Stirling on my phone. I tried reading like the one lady, but it certainly doesn't help your upset stomach to try to focus on words while bouncing up and down.

I was very glad when we landed. I think everyone on the plane was. We got there four hours later than we planned, which reminded me of Shadow Ranch again. (Bess and George's plane was delayed several times.)

I just kept saying to myself "We're here, we're here."

But honestly, we weren't. Yes, we were in California, but we still had a long day ahead of us. That's right...my day was turning into that of a Nancy Drew mystery.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Our California Adventure (Day 1, Part 1)

This past April, I went with my mom and grandma to California for a week. I had never been out west before, so I was very excited for this trip. The reason we were going, was because my cousin Andrew, and his girlfriend, Elisenda were getting married. This was sort of a "Happy 18th birthday/graduation" trip. I looked forward to this trip for over sixteen months - at least thirteen of those months unsure if the trip was actually going to happen.

But finally, we got all of the wedding details, and were able to buy our plane tickets. Our plan was to leave Detroit on April 3rd, and return home on the 9th. (We had a few things planned to do while we were there, but I'll talk about those later.)

So on Thursday, April 3rd at 3:30am, I woke up and got ready to leave for the airport. My grandma showed up at the house about 3:45, and my uncle (who was going to drive us to the airport, since my dad can't see very well at night) showed up about 3:50. About twenty minutes later, we had all of our bags in the trunk, and we were on the road.

The trip to the airport in Detroit takes about a half hour. So for the first twenty five minutes, it doesn't feel very real. I mean, yeah, it's still super early in the morning, and I'm not completely awake yet, but it wasn't until we started seeing signs for the airport that I started realizing that it was finally happening.

After Uncle Jon helped us get the bags out of the car and to the check in station, he left, leaving the three of us in a very large building with hundreds of other people who were about to do the same thing we were...except to places all over the world.

We went inside and stood in line for awhile, waiting in line for security. When it was finally my turn, I went up, and stood in that weird machine, and all of a sudden, a large "ERROR" flashed across the screen. My heart nearly stopped when the woman said that I may need to go back to another room to be searched. I had no idea what was going on. I knew I didn't have any weapons or explosives in my pocket, but the machine said otherwise. We tried again, and then it said I was clear, but it did give me a mini heart attack. I still have no idea why it did that.

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Anyway, so once we were through security, we did more sitting in a small area with dozens of others who were going on the same plane we were. I tried to read, but my mind was wandering, too excited and anxious for the five hour plane ride to Phoenix ahead of me, and another hour trip to Ontario.

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Our plane left at 6:35am...or at least was supposed to. We boarded around 6:15am. We got seats right on the wing on the right hand side. The plane was packed with people. Not one seat was empty, which of course made it feel extra stuffy.

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We took off just as the sun started to rise. It was so beautiful. In fact, I spent the next fifteen minutes just taking pictures.

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There was an app you could download that showed you where you were, and how high up you were, and how fast you were going. I spent a lot of the time watching it on my tablet.

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I also brought some books and magazines to keep me entertained.
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The plane ride seemed to take a long time. One of the reasons why, was because of a snow storm. We had to fly around it, which meant going through Minnesota, instead of right down to Phoenix. Although I knew that it was taking a little more time, I didn't think much of it. But let's just say that because of that storm, the rest of our day was going to turn out completely different than we ever would have planned.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Growing Up is Hard to Do


    Hello Old Friend[s]!

     I know it's been awhile. I'm here again, and [I promise] it won't be the last time. 

    Okay, okay, I'll stop quoting Francesca Battistelli, but seriously...hi everyone!! Yes, it's been far too long since I've posted on here. And seriously...I miss it! It feels like I am letting all 100 of you down! I know for  a fact that even though it says I have 100 followers, probably only 10% of you will actually read what I post.

Anyway, I'm just stopping by to say that I haven't quit blogging completely. I still intend to post on here - especially now with all the changes that are going on in my life. When I started this blog back in 2009 I was just entering my freshman year of high school. And now...I'm getting ready to go to college. What's up with that?

A lot has changed since then, obviously. I've grown up. I've learned lessons. I've made new friends, and have said goodbye to old ones. My life has turned around almost completely since I posted my first carefree blog post on here about my "love of American Girl dolls." I do still love my dolls, and I know that will never change. But I have recently learned that growing up requires maturity. In my mind, I am laying my foot on the proverbial brakes in life. 
  
"No!" I say. "I don't want to go college! I don't want to get a job! I don't want to give up my free time where I can just do my own thing!"

Ever since I started high school, I have been dreading this time in my life. Unlike the majority of my friends at the time, I didn't want to grow up! I was very happy with being a carefree thirteen year old who's biggest challenge in life was deciding what color rubber bands she wanted next time she went to the orthodontist to get her braces tightened.

The whole idea of college, and making decision on my own, and thinking about my future scares me. Even though I have known it was coming for years, I am mentally not ready for it.

It's not that I'm afraid of the future - I mean, why worry about things you can't change? It's not going to make you feel better by thinking about it every waking moment of your life. I guess what I'm most anxious about is changing who I am as a person. I love my life, and for years I have tried to live my life to its fullest. I didn't want to waste my childhood trying to grow up. While my friends were shopping for clothes for themselves, I was shopping for clothes for my dolls. When they were spending their time talking about the drama and trouble at school, I was busy reading about the trouble that super sleuth Nancy Drew was getting into after being locked in a closet.

See? I don't want to change what I love to do. I see how people have changed for the worse as they grew older. They changed who they were. I don't want to do that. I want people to still know me as who I've been for the past eighteen years. This is the time in life where you have to make the most decisions you'll probably every have to make. I'm ready for a challenge, but at the same time...

I just wish things were back to the way they used to be.

Ah...well, enough complaining. I'm sure you have much better things to do with your time than to listen to me ramble. I just thought I'd pop by and say hi to all you loyal followers. I have a few ideas of things I'd like to accomplish on here during the summer months. We'll see how that turns out. :p

Thanks!
~Sam

April 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Magazine Interviews

Have you ever been interviewed by someone before?

I remember years ago when I had my own "newspaper," and I would interview people (my friends) on all sorts of different topics. (Though, they usually revolved around Nancy Drew and American Girl.) I had never taken part in a real, professional interview. I had seen them go on before. About four years ago, we went on a field trip to a TV station. We got to sit in a very small studio and watch the show's host interview several guests. I remember thinking how calm and laid back the one being interviewed was. Something told me that if I was the one in that spot, that I would stumble over my words and make a fool of myself. 

Last November, I had the opportunity to participate in my very first real interview. This one was over the radio. It was a promotion for my book, and I had a few minutes to talk about what it was about, and answer some really easy questions. The thing that made this a little intimidating was the fact that it was being done live. That meant that if I messed up, there was no going back to fix it. Let's say that I was a little nervous. But, I did get through it. It wasn't the smoothest talking I had ever done. (Seeing that big red "on air" light can be a little nerve wracking) but I think I did okay. I mean, how much can you really mess up in five minutes? (Okay, probably a lot if you tried.)

Like I said, that was in November. But just the other day, (yesterday, to be exact) I participated in another kind of interview. This one was a lot different than the previous one.  

I was interviewed for a magazine.

So, the reporter came over. It helped that she was very friendly, and that she was a woman. (The DJ that interviewed me for the radio was in his sixties, and had this really long beard and hair. Not necessarily something you see everyday.)

The woman had a recorder that she sat down on the table, and then she started asking me questions about my book. The questions started out like, "How did you get into writing?" and "How did you hear about NaNoWriMo?" These were pretty basic questions that were easy to answer. Occasionally she would write something down in her notebook, or ask me to spell something, but really, it just seemed like a conversation between the two of us.

The interview went on for about 45 minutes. Although the interview was mainly about my book, she asked other questions about my piano playing, my school, my plans for the future, etc. Some of the questions took a little time answering  because I really wasn't expecting them, and weren't sure about my answer. But I think it all went okay.

I don't know if I'll ever be asked to be interviewed again. It surprised me that I was interviewed by a magazine before the local newspaper, but you know, I find that kind of cool. If having an article about myself in a magazine was ever on my bucket list (which I don't think it was) I could scratch that off now. I don't know what issue of the magazine I'm going to be featured in, but I will make sure to share the interview on here once I receive a copy of it. 

So, that was the highlight of my week. 

~Sam

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Resolutions and a New Year

At the end of each year, I come up with the ridiculous resolution that I want to keep for the new year. I will always pick something very hard, and way over the top, expecting to do it, but dramatically failing in the second week.

This year, the same thing might happen, and just like every year, I am going to try my hardest. But unlike every year, I am not going to give up when it gets too hard. I have made the wise decision to not give things up as much as I have tried in the past. About five years ago, I decided to give up soda. I've never been much of a soda drinker, so it really wasn't that hard. I haven't had an soda since. It isn't even a temptation to me anymore, so I know that I need to add something to give me something to actually work for.

Instead of picking something to give up for the whole year, I am choosing things to give up for a month at a time. I guess you could all it "mini resolutions." Each month I will either add to whatever I have been giving up, or pick something different, depending on how hard of a challenge it is for me.

I debated a few different things to give up, but I think I finally have a good idea, at least for the first few months of the year.

January-No Sweets, and nothing to drink but water. I know that I have a hard time with both of these, but especially the second one. Since I don't drink soda, I always grab the juice. And although fruit juice isn't bad, it is filled with sugar. For one month, I am going to drink nothing but water. My mom was a little concerned when I told her this, because she says that I need milk. And I will still have milk if it is in the food I'm eating, but just for drinking when I'm thirsty, I will only drink water. And as for sweets, I have done this for lent for the past few years. It is a challenge during Valentines Day and my birthday, (which are both during lent) but since I am only doing this for January, it shouldn't be that big of a problem.

I have an idea for February and March, but I am going to wait and see how I do with January before I decide for sure.

Another thing that I want to do this year, is the 365 challenge. I have seen several people on my facebook do this, and I want to give it a try. What you do, is take one picture every day, and then at the end of that week, I will post all seven pictures here on my blog and give a little information about each picture. Since I am always carrying my iPod or camera around and taking pictures anyway, this shouldn't be that hard of a challenge...at least, I hope not. We'll see though, I guess.

So, what do you think? Are you planning to start, or give something up for the new year?

~Sam

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

Happy Day after Christmas!

How was your holiday week? Mine was great! Unlike the past few years, I had absolutely nothing that I had to do Christmas week, beside record for my CD, but that really wasn't that big of a deal. For as long as I can remember, I either had a Christmas concert to rehearse for, a Christmas program that stressed me out, or some other thing that I was obligated to fufill. I never usually minded doing those thing. I had the choice to say no in the first place, but to me, being busy was what made the Christmas season so memorable.

This year however, I spent most of my Christmas time just relaxing. I'd watch Christmas movies, wrap presents, and bacially, just hang out around home. You'd think being much less busy would make the time super slow, but actually, Christmas seemed to creep up on us very quickly.

My day was very enjoyable. We did our annual Christmas morning routine, where we read the Christmas story, (This year, we read the KJV, so we could say it like Linus in a Charlie Brown Christmas.) Then we open our gifts, and finally, finish off with a coffee cake breakfast.

All of that went perfect. But shortly after, (around 10am) I was hit with what I call, "a dizzy spell." I absolutly hate these. What happens, is I all of a sudden start feeling very dizzy. I can't seem to focus on anything. My head feels like it is spinning. The dizzy feeling in my eyes quickly start making my head hurt very badly. The pounding is incredible, and makes it nearly impossible to do anything without having to sit down, being afraid that you're going to fall.

By this time, I am so dizzy that I couldn't even see out of my left eye. It was like a very blurry camera. This causes my stomach to start feeling weak. This happens once ever few weeks. I went to the doctor because of it, and I was given glasses, and they have worked wonders. But even with them on, sometimes it still happens. And out of all the days for it to occur, it had to be on my favorite day of the year.

I thank God that it only lasted a few hours. (The last time this happened in early November, I was sick in bed for two days.) By 2pm, I was feeling almost totally healed, and beside from just a tiny headache, which I am assuming were sinus related, I was all better.

By that time, we had driven to my aunt's in Ohio for Christmas dinner. I was not up for eating, since I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to keep it in. A little after noon, once I was feeling a little better, I ate a few grapes, and that seemed to help a lot. It wasn't until that night when I got my share of a real Christmas dinner, and could actually enjoy it. Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn pudding, macaroni salad, and homemade rolls. (Since it was leftover from lunch, all of the meat was gone, but I didn't mind. Everything that I ate tasted amazing!)

When I woke up this morning, I felt even better, along with the surprise that it had snowed some over night. It looks like we did have a white Christmas after all.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I had a great Christmas under the circumstance. When we got back home, I decided to make a video showing everything that I got for Christmas. I guess it is a good thing I edited it, because it was 19 minutes at first! I'm glad I was able to shorten it to 11.

Anyway, if you decide to watch, I hope you enjoy. You'll notice that I am very strangly white in this video. Not only am I like that all of the time, but it doesn't help that I am sitting next to my open window, (which, like I said, had snow on the other side of it.)

So...I guess that's it for now. I am going to be posting a lot more on this blog as 2014 comes to a start. I will tell you why, and my plans for the new year in the next week.



Have a great last week of 2013 guys!

~Sam