Last Breath

After working on this novel off and on for nearly nine years, it’s nice to see things finally coming together. I finished Last Breath about seven years ago, but fear kept me from doing much more than editing it every now and thing. Last summer, though, that changed when I stopped caring about fear and rejection and decided to immerse myself back into the world of my private detectives, prepping this bad boy to go out into the world.

At the end of July, I started rewriting the entire thing by hand. It took a few months, but I added a completely new section and fine-tuned the original story. I may be a bit biased, but I think this final version is a pretty decent piece of fiction.

So what’s it about? Here’s my blurb:

Last Breath follows the Smiths, a pair of private detectives who have been called in to consult with the Boulder County Sheriffs Department on a gruesome murder by a sadistic serial killer. Nicknamed The Dripper, the killer savages women before tying them up a drowning them in mountain lakes near Boulder. As the Smiths investigate, Kath Smith finds herself haunted by the case, but is she simply afraid of what she’s seen, or is she about to become a victim herself?

Losing myself in the world of the Smiths, I not only finished this piece, but I also have planned at least two more adventures from them. Book two, tentatively called The New Year’s Eve Murders, is already underway, although I’ve taken some time off for my last two rounds of edits to Last Breath. My hope is to wrap that bad boy up some time this year.

Next up, I plan to start the querying process, which is crazy. I admit that I’m a bit terrified, but I’m much more confident about my writing and this book, making me feel better about jumping off into this whole publishing abyss. But if I never try, there I’ll never know for sure whether others will every get to experience this world I love so much.

So, here goes nothing.

I’m Baaaaaaack!

That’s right! I might be working full time, taking classes toward my doctorate and living it up as a married woman, but I decided that there simply isn’t enough going on in my life, so I should start writing once more.

When do I sleep? I’ll let you know once that finally happens.

But seriously, I’m actually writing because I finally decided to do something with my life…besides being a college administrator, student, and wife. I decided that it was time to do something with that manuscript I finished back in 2012. No longer would it collect dust.

Nope, I decided that it was time to take a serious look at it and try my hand at publishing it (and by it, I mean Last Breath, the official title of my novel). So, I dug it out of my Dropbox in late July and spent the following four months rewriting it (by hand, because I never do things the easy way). Since then, I’ve edited it twice, and I’m in the process of wrapping up a third, and hopefully final, edit before sending it off to a professional for feedback.

I’ve wanted to be an author basically since I learned to read. And for way too long, I let my imposter syndrome get the best of me. But now, I’m serious. Not only am I looking to publish Last Breath, but I’m also actively trying to build my brand as a writer. As a result, you’ll notice a lot of changes coming your way in the weeks and months to come.

You’ll see me using this site much more often than I have, but not just for the hilarious stories of falling down or being mistaken for pregnant when I just need to go on a diet. I’m going to be giving regular updates on the whole shebang and including fun things for those of you who want to stick around and see this thing through.

It’s my hope that you do stick around, and if you’re finding me for the first time, feel free to look through the archives and have a good laugh. I don’t mind.

It’s Not If, It’s When

Back in the fall of 2011, not long after I had become a Building Emergency Leader (BEL) at Johnson County Community College, I attended an active shooter training led by a former FBI agent. He started by immediately killing any lightheartedness in the room by saying that campus shooting happening at JCCC would not be a case of if but of when. Trust me, I quickly began to wonder what I had gotten myself into when I agreed to become a BEL.

Ever since Columbine, school shootings had been a serious fear of mine, and I have had students who had left me wondering if they were capable of committing murder because of certain behaviors they had exhibited to their peers, faculty or staff. As a college employee, I work in the very setting where these incidents can and do occur. Every time I hear about a school shooting, regardless of whether it’s K-12 or college, it cuts me to the core. Even fictional stories about school shootings – Gus Van Sant’s Elephant or Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin for example – give me nightmares.

Today, those nightmares partially came true.

I had gone down to my boss’ office to catch her up on a meeting she had missed and something that had happened in our office earlier. On my way out of her office, I grabbed a large package that had come in and hopped in the elevator for the third floor. I’ll tell you now, nothing seemed out of the ordinary right away. I passed a girl in the quiet lounge who was buying something out of the vending machine. The hall was otherwise empty, but at 3 p.m. on a Thursday, which is pretty normal.

When I got to my office, the door was locked. Honestly, I thought we were once again having problems where the door was locking itself – it happened several times earlier this week – so I thumped on the window since I was carrying a giant box and couldn’t easily grab my keys. Aaron, my Student Involvement Ambassador, had been walking away from the door and turned back. I could tell that I surprised him, but I didn’t understand why. When he explained, well, that’s when panic mode set in.

Aaron stated that a police officer carrying a shotgun had just stopped in asking if they had seen a woman carrying a shotgun. When Aaron said no, the officer said that he was going to lock Aaron and the other staff members in the office.

I had just missed this happening, and when I knocked on the window, I scared the crap out of the people in the office. Of course, the manager in me kicked in. I told Aaron to call over and tell the staff to close the Lounge and Campus Center, which had already been done (my staff is awesome). I then grabbed my BEL radio and called my boss to see if she had heard anything.

Over the next few minutes, my boss and I were frantically trying to figure out whether the situation was a drill or legitimate lockdown situation. I am so thankful I’m a BEL because the notification that we were on lockdown came across the radio before the text and email notifications were sent out.

After that, it was a waiting game, and we wound up waiting for nearly four hours as the JCCC police, Overland Park Police and SWAT and the Johnson County Sheriff Department searched our campus for the woman with the gun. We got a few text notifications, but honestly, Twitter was our best source of information. I sat in my office, my heart in my throat, trying my best to put on a brave face for the five students who were hiding in my conference room watching the local news over the internet. We’d trade news back and forth, jumping at every single thump we heard.

I will say that I am so thankful that I had Aaron in the office. His experience as a former Marine was invaluable as he would reassure me after every thump and bump that it wasn’t a gunshot but a door shutting or the AC kicking on or whatever it was. He kept my sanity in check. I don’t know what I would have done without him.

Eventually, around 6:30 p.m., we heard the police evacuating the Student Lounge and Campus Center. That was the greatest sound ever, because we knew we were next. But the minutes between evacuating those rooms and ours stretched on for what seemed like an eternity. We knew that they had to sweep each room to ensure that no one remained and that the woman with the gun wasn’t hiding anywhere, but we just wanted to run for the safety of our cars so we could rush to the safety of our homes so bad. Not to mention every single one of us had to use the bathroom so badly. But the police soon came to our rescue.

But my job wasn’t done quite yet. The police had already cleared the first and second floors on the COM, but they had missed my boss’ office and the Campus Ledger staff, so I had to speak to the police to tell them where to go. I can now cross “Spoke to a man carrying an assault rifle” off my bucket list.” :-/

While I was out of the building, I still wasn’t quite done. As I went to leave campus, I had to stop and open my trunk to prove that I did not have a gun or a person in my trunk. While I was standing at the back of my car with a police officer, we hear a loud crash. Some gawker on the main road wound up rear-ending the car in front of him. At that point, the officer was definitely done with me. And I was glad to be done with work.

Today was a day that I hope to never repeat. I cannot say if it was a false report or what, but I am very thankful that we did not have an active-shooter situation. I don’t understand why anyone would ever choose to react in such a manner, hurting innocent people. I’m glad it did not happen today. I’m proud of my staff for how well they handled themselves, and I’m proud of the students who hung out with me in my office, all of whom maintained their composure so well in a very stressful and frightening time.

I’m just so glad to be at home where I got to hug Jeff really tight. I thank all of my friends and family for checking in on me throughout the afternoon and evening. I’m happy to report that I am safe and alive, and trust me, I will hug you all so much when I see you.

Looking for the Light

Deep breath.

Confession time.

I have something to get off my chest. Honestly, it’s going to be tough to write this, but I know that doing so will help me take one of the steps I need in order to improve. Many of you who know me know may know some of this, but for most of you, the majority of what I am about to say will be new. But I need to say this. I just need to.

For more than 15 years, I have battled with depression. It started when I was 19, and at the time, it lasted about a year and a half. After that, I thought I was done with it. Since then, I’ve battled it off and on throughout my life.

Fortunately, I’ve had more good years than bad years. Many more good years, in fact. In all, I’d say that, over the past 16 years, I’ve only suffered from depression less than five of those years. For the most part, my depression was pretty low level. I could handle it on my own without the need for drugs or counseling. I did meet with a counselor once, and he was amazing (unfortunately, he works exclusively with UMKC students).

Which brings me to the present. For the past nine months, I have started battling depression once again. At first, I thought I could handle it on my own. When things were starting to get a little crazy, I would tell myself it was time to reach out for help, but then bad days wouldn’t happen as often, leading me to think things were getting better. It’s also really hard for me to ask for help, so when things looked like they were getting better, I’d just push forward with my life and hope that things would turn out for the best.

But they didn’t.

This past month or so, things have just seemed to have sunk even lower. While good things have happened to me, it felt like every time something good happened, three bad things would happen in return. I feel like someone has tied a weight around my foot then drove me out into a lake, tossing me into its murky depths. I’m under the water, thrashing about as water pours into my mouth, drowning me.

I know that, for many of you, that may come as a surprise to read. Prior to writing this, I’ve only disclosed what’s happening with me to three people, because I’m ashamed. Not only is it hard for me to ask for help, but it’s hard for me to talk about my mental health.

The Mindy who people see online and in person has been a sham, almost a pod person if I may reference one of my favorite movies. What better way for people to think everything is fine if I pretend that everything is fine? So, I keep posting links to geeky articles and pictures of cats, but really, all I want to be doing is lying in bed, hiding under the blankets away from the world. When things get especially bad, I want to curl up in the fetal position on the floor of my closet, where no one, not even Jeff, can find me.

Lately, it’s been hard for me to even pretend to be normal. Most weekends, I’ll get out of bed, bathe and dress, but that’s it. I won’t fix my hair. I only leave the house if we have plans or Jeff drags me out – last weekend, he had to twist my arm to get me to go out to breakfast. I have a hard time going anywhere on my own anymore. Weekdays, I do what I normally do because I simply can’t afford to lose my job, but it takes a lot of effort. What no one knows is how much physical pain I’m in – did you know that depression actually causes physical pain? I’m hunched over like Mr. Burns, because if I sit/stand up straight, I feel like a rubber band stretched too tight.

So why am I writing all of this? Lately, I feel like I’ve been letting a lot of people down because of my depression. I will be doing what I can to make it up to everyone individually, but I want to just share with my dear friends why I’ve been off these past few months. And if I have offended you in any way, I am truly sorry. Please know that I would never intentionally hurt anyone I care about. Unfortunately, depression can be a selfish disease.

The other reason I’m writing this is because of the fact that I am scared to get help. I believe that, by writing down my plan, you all can help hold me accountable. I have a meeting with a counselor scheduled for next Monday, and I’m hopeful that he can help get me back on track toward moving past this bout of depression.

I need help. I want help. I don’t want to be depressed anymore.

I Think, Therefore I am Weird

When you have a mind that races at a million miles a minute, it is inevitable your brain will land on some very bizarre thoughts.  I would argue that’s how some of the greatest scientific innovations of all time came to be. And the weird ones, too, of course. 

How else would we have figured out that only a portion of people can smell the sulfur from the amino acids in asparagus in our pee? It obviously took someone going, “Hey, wait a sec, my wee smells a bit off….”

To vocalize some of the weirder thoughts we have, we have to have some courage, but in the name of science, we should totally do it. For instance, during college, one of our senior RAs, Ryan, took a lot of courage to blurt out in the middle of our RA training what I think to be a crazy but very true discovery. One morning, as we were eating breakfast, he said, “Did you ever notice that, after drinking coffee, your pee smells like Sugar Smacks cereal?”

Right now, I bet there are quite a few light bulbs going off in the heads of a few readers.

I also bet that there are quite a few coffee makers brewing up some coffee right now in the name of science.

It’s totally true, by the way. 

With my crazy, all-over-the-place mind, I tend to have an average of 964 random thoughts that could lead to scientific breakthroughs and another 1,485 about things that I know science has covered but I’m curious to know what led to the breakthrough. And don’t even get me started on the origin of slang. I have read so many articles and books on how things came to be.

I know that, language-wise, we have Shakespeare to thank for quite a bit. Although, I’m pretty sure he has had nothing to do with some of the more weird slang I’ve heard. The one that was stuck in my head today, which caused me to think of this post in the first place, is the term swamp butt, also known as swamp ass. 

For the record, this came to be after walking around in the sweltering heat and seeing way too many people who were sitting down and needed to learn how to wear clothing more appropriate for the heat and bring a change of clothing for when they started to sweat through their first pair of pants/shorts.

I must also add, that I made the mistake of Googling “swamp butt,” and learned that it’s also called “monkey butt,” which is cracking me up to no end. Plus, there are some hilarious articles out there, including one with the line “dusting your huevos in cornstarch.” I swear to Jeebus I’m not making this up.

This is where I must emphasize the fact that sometimes we think of things that take courage to admit we think. I’m pretty sure that anyone who can smell the sulfur from asparagus in pee thinks about it every single time they smell it (at least I do), just as I do when I smell the aroma of Sugar Smacks in my wee after having coffee. And I don’t just get caught up thinking about the origin of swamp butt. Plenty of other words have left me wondering who the heck thought up their bizarre origins. Words like falcon punch, douchebag, and Netflix neck.

But I am amused easily.

Literally or Figuratively?

If any of you have been following my Facebook or Twitter today, you may know a little bit about where this story is going, but now you’re about to get the full story. Be prepared to laugh your toukus off. 

Actually, I recommend you take a quick break to go to the bathroom. That way you don’t laugh so hard you pee.

You good? No? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This morning was just like any other Monday morning. I was behind the wheel of my car, speeding down the highway, listening to a podcast. Just like any other Monday. When I looked up at the rearview mirror and saw movement, I didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary.

Until I realized that the movement wasn’t in the mirror. It was on the mirror.

A spider was busy circling the outer rim of the mirror. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to die. I wanted to set my car on fire. All I could do was say, “Don’t wreck the car; don’t wreck the car; don’t wreck the car.” 

It took every ounce of willpower in my body to keep the car moving and not drive it into the concrete divider in the median while trying my best to keep an eye on that eight-legged monstrosity (did I mention that he was the size of a dime?). I watched him circle the mirror twice, then climb onto the ceiling where he promptly disappeared.

Not long after that, when I got to work, I offered a quick compromise to the spider via Twitter.

Ok, Spider, I’m going to set my car keys on the seat and slowly back away. It’s all yours. Please don’t kill me.

I just wish I could say that this is where this comical story ends, but when your name is Minday, that’s never the case.

As I was walking into the building, my stomach decided to let me know just how scared it had been by the spider. It growled a warning that I only a few minutes before sh!t would literally get worse. Yeah, I literally had the sh!t scared out of me by the spider. 

That is not a joke.

But later in the day. I did joke. Starting at about 4, the jokes began to flow on Twitter.

So…anyone want to come battle the spider residing in my car? The reward will be knowing that I can actually sleep at night.

The spider is as big as a small grapefruit and answers to the name Jerry. He does speak, too. #imaybeexaggerating

Also the spider does not fear fire. In fact, he took my lighter and is taunting me with it. #stillexaggerating

My cat eats spiders, but in order to get her, I need to find a way to get home. Jerry says he’ll drive. #notsureitrustaspidertodrive

Jerry has offered to show me his driving record. He pulled out a little spider wallet. It’s got a Spider-Man design on it. #wierdlycute

As kind as Jerry is being, I just can’t get past the fact he’s a spider. I also can’t get close to him. #skinisliterallycrawling

How do you politely kill a spider? #askingforafriend #itsnotforjerryiswear

On the drive home, I had a brief scare. While sharing the story with my sister (who howled with laughter by the way), I felt a tickling on my leg and began screaming. My sister laughed even harder as I swiped at my leg to make sure that it was only my jeans and not an arachnid trying to dig its way into my flesh. It was just my jeans. I know.

There were no spider sightings. I did threaten to leave Nevaeh in the car for an hour or two just to be on the safe side, but I didn’t know if that would be frowned upon or not. 

Is it?

Scaredy Cat

I am not at all ashamed to admit my fears.

I am afraid of many things, too. Several of which, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before – mascots, water I can’t see the bottom of, giant spiders, clowns (who isn’t), height-challenged monsters carrying axes or bats who will chase me around trying to kill me. Man, I really have some issues.

Of course, the biggest fear I have is one that many of you have, although many people are reluctant to admit it, lest they be perceived as childish. But I am not ashamed to admit it. I will stand here atop my soap box and loudly proclaim it. I, MINDY KINNAMAN, AM AFRAID OF THE DARK.

I mean, come on, it’s where the height-challenged monsters with axes and bats hide. And the giant spiders. Well, according to the internet, the giant spiders also live in Australia.

Shudder.

Now, I’m not so afraid of the dark that I need to sleep with the lights on or have a night light. Seriously, I wear a sleep mask to bed, in addition to sleeping with a pillow lying atop my face (ironically, I need it to be incredibly dark if I am to sleep comfortably). I just don’t like to be up and moving around when there is no light.

For instance, as a child, after watching the movie Troll, which haunts me to this day, I was terrified that this weird Sonny Bono-esque troll would come out of the woods behind my house and try to kill me if I ever had to walk outside at night (hence my fear of height-challenged monsters with axes and bats).

Or the time in high school, while at a friend’s bonfire, when someone got that insane idea to play hide and seek in the darkened woods. I clutched on to a friend for dear life and made everyone swear not to abandon me. I would have curled up into a pee-soaked ball of Mindy and cried myself to death had they left me behind.

And then there was this past Friday night.

Sigh.

It was bad.

I had gone to the bathroom. Jeff had been in the living room playing around with Nevaeh, who was agitated because the neighbor’s cat dared walk into our yard, which was her territory (not that Nevaeh had ever been in our yard). What I didn’t know was that, when Jeff was done, he turned out the light and then headed back into the den to finish watching “The Dead Files,” which we had been watching together.

When I finished in the bathroom, I turned off the light, then opened the door to head back out to the living room with Jeff and Nevaeh. When I opened the door, it was pitch black between the darkness of the bathroom and the darkness of the hallway, thanks to Jeff having turned off the living room light (the den is on the far side of the house, so no light had made it up to where I was). My brain only thought, “BLACK! WHY IS IT BLACK? OH MY GOD! IT’S BLACK! THE POWER IS OUT! THERE ARE MONSTERS! I’M GOING TO DIE!!!!!!”

I screamed, “IT’S DARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” then slammed the door shut.

Yeah, I slammed the door, retreating away from the dark into a darkened room. I get the lack of logic there. My brain didn’t. It just wanted to run away from the dark and hide. Into the dark.

Poor Jeff. He didn’t know what the heck was going on. One second everything was quiet, and the next his girlfriend was cowering in the bathroom, sobbing about the dark. Even after I explained it, he still didn’t get it.

And honestly, neither do I.

Go me.

April Fools Day? More like April Fears Day!

If you know anything about me, you know that I am not a fan of April Fools Day. It makes no sense, really, as I love playing pranks. Note, I said playing, not having them played on me. Because that is why I am not a fan of April Fools Day. I blame it on three things: my mom, my sister and retribution.

It all starts on March 31, 2008. At the time, I was living with my mom in a small, suburban house. April Fools Day was only hours away, and I was struggling to come up with a prank that would show my prank-loving mom that I could hold court with her. So I called the one person I knew who could out-prank anyone, my sister Brandy, the Queen of Pranks. 

This is the same Brandy from “Why’s Everybody Always Picking On Me?” She spends a major portion of her days scheming up ways she can scare the bejeebus out of people. Her pranks are legendary. Just ask anyone who ever had to crawl under her house with her to check on the pipes. When they nearly crapped their pants after hearing the guttural gargle from The Grudge, Brandy would just cackle with delight. So, she was the perfect person with whom I could scheme.

Together, we came up with three pranks to pull on my mom. The first was cheesy. I left a message for Mom stating that she needed to call a Mr. Lion. The number, when dialed, would call The Kansas City Zoo. 

Yeah, go ahead and groan. Like I said, it was cheesy. And sadly, she never got to this prank, because my other two pranks came together first.

The second prank seems harmless, but in a way, it was pretty smart. I rearranged a few letters on my mom’s computer keyboard. See, Mom is a hunter and pecker, meaning that she hasn’t memorized where the computer keys are. She searches out the letter she needs, then stabs away at it, slowly typing in whatever she needed. 

In this case, I swapped the letter S for T, the letter E for H, and the letter X for E. Yeah, S-E-X for T-H-E. In the wee hours of the morning, when she got home from working overnight, Mom tried to log into her computer. She never made it.

Annoyed that she couldn’t log on to her computer, Mom decided to call it a night. Before heading off to bed, she made one last stop. And that was the site of prank number three.

See, Brandy had come up with this idea that sounded hilarious at the time. Had I thought it through, I probably would be okay with April Fools. Mom would have played a small prank on me, but I would have laughed it off. But I didn’t, so she didn’t.

No, Brandy suggested that I coat the seat of the toilet in Icy Hot.

God, I can’t ever write those words without shuddering in terror. I may have some nightmares tonight.

I laughed. It would be funnier and less messy than plastic wrap over the toilet seat.

Or so I thought.

See, my mom went to the bathroom somewhere around 5 a.m. Being tired, she didn’t turn the lights on. She just sat down.

On the ring of fire.

You see, Icy Hot on regular skin burns. Icy Hot on your nether regions feels like the fiery flames of hell have been unleashed, along with the flames of a million suns, on your most sensitive of areas. 

Or so I’m told.

When I woke up, Mom was already asleep. But not for long. When I went to work, Mom decided that she, too, would call upon the Queen of Pranks. And Brandy, being the diabolical genius that she is, made no mention of the fact that she was in on the joke. Instead, she gave my mom an idea that haunts me to this day.

I was working at The Kansas City Star at the time. Right around lunch, my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered it anyway.

Trust me, I regret doing that.

A female voice on the other end explained that she was with a debt collection agency. My father had signed up for a cell phone through Verizon and ran up several thousands of dollars. And my name was also on the bill, even though I hadn’t spoken to my dad in about 10 years at the time (it’s a habit my dad was known for – he ruined both of my brothers’ credit before they were even old enough to ruin their own). If I didn’t pay the bill, the woman explained, I would be sued. The woman made it very clear that it didn’t matter whether or not my dad had forged my name (again, something he was known for), I would pay that debt back.

Now, as you know, I’m a bit of a goody goody. The idea of being sued scared the ever-loving crap out of me. The idea that something I had no knowledge of could ruin me started the tears a-falling. I broke down sobbing. The woman on the phone demanded payment, something that I couldn’t really do making $10 an hour and only working 35 hours a week. She said she would call back and then hung up.

By that point, I had left the office and was sitting outside crying. 

And then the lightbulb went on.

I called my mom’s cell phone. As soon as she picked up, I managed to choke out the words, “Please tell me that was a joke!” There may have been cussing. I’m human after all. 

“That’s what you get,” she replied. She explained that Brandy’s best friend had been the debt collector (she was a debt collector in real life, which is why she sounded so authentic). I thought about turning on Brandy, but I didn’t, because I couldn’t have that evil genius looking for revenge.

I’m actually scared recounting this story, because I’m sure that, even though 8 years have passed, my mom’s crotch may still be on fire. I think I’m going to go join Witness Protection now.

Did I Learn Anything in 2012??

While 2012 started out on the sucktacular side, it ended up pretty spiffilicious. Seriously, I went from being horribly depressed to having wacky dating adventures, finishing a novel, meeting HBJ (the hottest guy I know!) and just having some darn good fun in the process. In all, I’d count the year as a success just based on those things alone, but as I like to reflect upon the previous year’s hilarity, I figured I’d give you a look at what all I learned over the past 12 months. So sit back, relax, loosen your belt and prepare to laugh.

  • I am more than a bit obsessed with Funko dolls, amassing a collection that includes Freddie Krueger, Michael Meyers, Jason Vorhees, Leatherface, Beetlejuice, Sally, Jack Skellington, the Mayor, Edward Scissorhands, two Captain Americas and Edna Mode. They are amazingtastic.
  • My cat has now taken to guarding my pajamas from ebil.
  • Battlestar Galactica is the bomb-diggity, yo.
  • Krampus is as Krampus does.
  • Apple’s “will fit your ears” earbuds do not fit my ears.
  • Batman has satisfied me.
  • I heart Tarder Sauce, aka Grumpy Cat.
  • Ermagerd, Gersberms.
  • Adam Scott is still hot.
  • Nic Cage is the greatest actor in the history of ever.
  • Adding cherry vanilla flavoring to NyQuil only means it tastes like cherry vanilla-flavored devil juice.
  • You can actually have hot chocolate that does not taste like hot chocolate.
  • Even at the age of 33, it is still possible for me to fall out of bed.
  • Chocolate soda is nowhere near as awesome as it sounds.
  • I have a crush on Neil Degrasse Tyson.
  • It’s Obama’s fault that I miss Suzie and no longer live in Texas.
  • If Oprah described War Horse: YOU get a death scene! And YOU get a death scene! YOU get a death scene! EVERYBODY GETS DEATH SCENES!!!
  • Little baby people don’t have sideburns. They have to grow them when they’re older. But if your little baby already has sideburns, that’s awesome. Don’t be concerned.
  • Also, two beavers are better than one. They’re twice the fun. Ask anyone.
  • It’s good to be a geek.
  • My new apartment is haunted by a polite ghost who writes hello in the mirror, knocks on the door and folds socks.
  • I English good.
  • The idea of playing defense in softball is to catch the ball with your glove. Not with your mouth. Not with your bare hand.
  • Just because you’re 33 doesn’t mean you can’t have a Captain America-themed birthday party.
  • Teddy Roosevelt is a BAMF.
  • While lemon in your Coke is delicious, drinking Coke right after eating a lemon granola bar leaves you feeling as though you drank dish soap.
  • You can burn your eye with shrimp if your Japanese steakhouse chef has bad aim.
  • Rainbows taste like bacon.
  • I can blame Spiderman for all my problems.
  • I apparently dated a pirate.
  • Harry Potter Puppet Pals are even more amazing live.
  • All you need is love and a cat.
  • Zombie burgers are soooooooo good!
  • I cannot listen to the beginning of “Somebody that I Used to Know” without singing my ABCs.
  • The greatest meme in the history of memes is Thor learning to text.
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  • Do not, under any circumstance, make Oprah angry.
  • I’m about as big of a Tommy Lee Jones fan as you can get, but there is not enough fandom in the world to get me to see a movie about him and Meryl Streep trying to have sex. Ever.
  • Squats are a tool of the devil.
  • Mrs. Captain America does have a nice ring to it.
  • I have witnessed with my own eyes that it is possible to eat a bowl of cereal while driving.
  • My dentist is the devil.
  • Ten years later, Suzie and I can still tear up the River Walk. And it’s still Cleavage Friday.
  • I can touch my nose!

Honestly, I learned so many awesome things. This is really just scratching the surface, but man was it fun. And so, I leave you now with what’s pushing me to learn some more awesome things in 2013. Enjoy!

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Bully!

Teddy Roosevelt
BAMF fo sho.

No, not the kid who takes your lunch money or that diabolical girl next door who knows exactly who to make you cry. I’m talking that cry often said by one of the greatest men in U.S. history, Teddy BAMF Roosevelt.

If you’re one of my friends, or a member of my quiz bowl team, you know that I adore Teddy Roosevelt. I mention him quite often, though not as often as I may mention a certain Steve Rogers, aka Captain America.  There’s even a photo of him currently hanging on the Wall of Awesome in my office. Teddy, I mean.

Because the man is seriously awesome.

So, what makes our 26th President a BAMF? I shall enlighten you and hopefully make you a convert to my Teddy Roosevelt Appreciation Society.

First off, if you aren’t sure who Teddy is, he’s a fifth cousin of another Roosevelt – Franklin D. Roosevelt, the longest serving President. But I’d argue that Teddy is the way more awesome cousin, though FDR was pretty darn cool himself, especially seeing how he got us out of the Great Depression and most of the way through World War II. 

But I digress.

Teddy accomplished many awesome things in his life, and his achievements are legendary. Now, I’m not going to write you a biography. Instead, I hope to inspire you to run out and learn more. So here are my personal favorite reasons why he’s a BAMF (in no particular order):

  • At the age of seven, he and two cousins created the Roosevelt Museum of Natural History and he taught himself rudimentary taxidermy to preserve his specimens.
  • Speaking of history, he was considered to be a serious historian after publishing his first book The Naval War of 1812
  • You know he was President, Vice-President and even Governor of New York. Did you know he was a deputy sheriff in the Dakota Territory, New York City Police Commissioner or Assistant Secretary of the Navy?
  • Youngest man to ever be President, assuming office after President William McKinley was assassinated. Take that JFK!
  • If you wanted to talk policy with President Roosevelt, you first had to fight him in Judo. That’s right. Fight him in Judo. Awesome.
  • He was considered an authority on American mammals, and he led scientific expeditions for animals in South America and Africa.
  • He was a big game hunter – yes, we all know this. But did you know he was a rancher in the Badlands of the Dakotas?
  • He wrote more than 35 books and on many occasions, would read a book a day. Along with Thomas Jefferson, Teddy is known as one of the most well-read presidents.
  • As President, he designated 150 National Forests, 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 5 National Parks, 18 National Monuments, 4 National Game Preserves and 21 Reclamation Projects.
  • Oh, and don’t forget getting the building of the Panama Canal rolling.
  • Won the Nobel Peace Prize (which only 2 other Presidents have won – Carter and Obama) for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War.
  • He’s the reason we have meat inspections – thank you, baby Jesus!
  • Teddy was friends with F.O. Stanley, founder of the Stanley Hotel (you know, the haunted hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining). When visiting Stanley in Estes Park, CO, Teddy would have a friend dress up as a bear to block the mountain pass and scare the guests.
  • His nickname was Teedie.
  • He hated the name Teddy, calling it “an outrageous impertinence.” Whoops!
  • Who was the first President to be seen riding in a car in public? That’s right!
  • And he is the reason why we have the White House Press Room.
  • He had a son named Kermit.
  • Yes, Virginia, teddy bears are named after Teedie.
  • He is one of the racing presidents during Washington Nationals home games, but he never wins the race.
  • Was an avid boxer until he was punched so hard it detached his retina and he went blind in one eye. And that happened while he was President; he just never told anyone.
  • He loved to skinny dip. In the Potomac River. In the winter.
  • His ghost is said to haunt the bar of the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, TX, where he recruited men to serve as Rough Riders. 
  • He is the first and only President to have received the Medal of Honor, which had been denied to him until 2001, when he was posthumously awarded the honor by President Bill Clinton.

And perhaps the greatest fact of all time: Just before giving a speech, good ole Teddy was shot by a would-be assassin. After determining that his wound was not fatal because he wasn’t coughing up blood, Teddy gave that speech, talking for 90 minutes. His greeting to the crowd? “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” 

Oh, and he didn’t have the bullet removed. 

Seriously. Does this sound like someone who was a sickly, asthmatic child? Does this sound like a man who was told to avoid strenuous activities to placate his heart problems? Nope, but he was, and the fact that he overcame his illnesses and lived an awesome life during a time when medical care was only starting to get serious shows that the man is a BAMF.

Many facts courtesy of http://www.theodoreroosevelt.com and theodoreroosevelt.org. Of course, many are just things I’ve learned after years of learning about my favorite President.