8 Things You Might Not Know About Life in Hawaii

When I went home for Christmas, one of the first things my parents asked was “what has surprised you the most about living in Hawaii?” I didn’t have a great answer then other than “the speed limit is 35 miles per hour on the highway and people follow it.”

Well, I’ve had 10 months to marinate on an answer, and now I think I’ve finally got some ideas, big and small. I hope this will allow you to see the surprising details of what it’s really like living in small town Oahu!

  1. There’s not a ton of wildlife here.

We’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Has anyone thought recently about just how far away Hawaii is from literally everywhere else in the world? Check it out:

We really out here. (Source: https://oliverandamandaineurope.com/2015/04/08/by-wind-water-or-wing-to-hawaii/)

Needless to say, it’d be a difficult trek for our animal friends to make. Which leaves us with these stunning creatures:

Mmmmm. Dinner!

When my principal and I stopped at McDonald’s on the first drive from the airport to campus, I saw at least 10 chickens in the parking lot and asked “so the nuggets are going to be super fresh?” I’m pretty sure McDonald’s doesn’t serve local chickens, but there ARE a ton of these guys here on the island.

I’ve seen nene (ducks), mongoose (scary-looking squirrels) and a couple of WILD HOGS (one on our campus!), but as far as wild mammals, that’s pretty much the list.

2. But the creepy crawlies are very creepy.

Like the cane spiders that will crawl out of your sink drain while you’re washing your hands. Speaking from experience here. They’re not poisonous, but they’re big and scary and for sure going to meet the bottom of my flip flop.

We also have centipedes, which are poisonous and unfortunately have a hard body casing that makes them difficult to kill. They for sure would have survived if that North Korean missile had actually been heading for Oahu. Nevertheless, in one of the opening faculty meetings, my assistant principal held up a foot-long dead centipede on a piece of paper towel and said “If you see one of these, kill it right away.”

And cockroaches are just a fact of life.

In other words, always keep a flip flop handy.

3. Geckos are guardians.

Who knew this list would be all about animals?? I promise we’ll get to other stuff soon. Geckos live in our homes here. The 6th grade boarding boys at school call them “guardians” because they eat the gross insects and mosquitoes. I have learned to love the the guardians, even though they poop on the walls and make a loud chirping noise that has definitely thrown me off my game while teaching.

4. Aloha doesn’t just mean hello and goodbye.

Fridays are Aloha Fridays, which means it’s time to bust out your Hawaiian shirt or most outrageous muumuu! My workplace might not be representative of all of Hawaii because we already have a more casual culture, but most people here make an effort to don their aloha apparel on Fridays. (In general, the dress code is wayyyyy more relaxed than in Minnesota. I have worn Birkenstocks to work every day here.)

I wear this little number every Friday.

Another place you’ll experience more aloha is on the roads. I live out in the country, where it is very much the norm to stop traffic to allow other cars to pull in ahead of you. When this happens, the car pulling in will often throw a shaka out the window to thank the person who stopped for them.

Spread aloha, not germs.

It’s a cool system. This doesn’t hold up quite as much in the city, where cars drive just as fast as they do in Minneapolis, but driving up here in Hau’ula is a pretty relaxed experience.

5. Outdoor recreation is on a new level of intense.

When I moved to Hawaii, my step-mom Kathy gave me three pieces of advice, one of which was “stay away from edges.” At the time, I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I learned quickly that outdoor recreation is a different beast in Hawaii.

Many of the hiking trails here are officially “illegal,” but you’d never know it based on how many people still go there. In fact, one of the most iconic trails, “Stairway to Heaven,” has a guard stationed to stop hikers. Like that’s going to stop anyone!

I learned how different the scale of difficulty was when we took the kids hiking one of the first weekends. My colleague, who has lived on the island for many years, took us to a trail she deemed “easy.” It was entirely uphill. I hiked the entire thing way behind everyone else with one of our boarders, pretending I was taking it slow just to help him. Secretly I was panting the whole way up.

Some locals RUN UP THIS TRAIL (an abandoned set of railroad tracks up the peak of a mountain) for their daily exercise. It took my friend and me 3 hours to go up and down.

Jellyfish stings are common here. Everyone has had their ass handed to them in the waves. Kathy was right–stay away from edges, and if someone tells you a hike “isn’t that bad,” assume they’re underselling it.

6. It rains a lot during the rainy season.

It’s absolutely gorgeous now, but from November-March, Hau’ula (and the whole windward side of Oahu) gets a ton of rain. Most days, it passes through quickly and the weather can go from flash-flooding to sunny in 2 minutes. However, there were days-long stretches where it rained constantly. That’s how we get such remarkable rainbows!

Seeing a waterspout in real life was exhilarating.

7. The good news–you can drive to a sunnier location!

While the windward side gets pounded with rain, it stays pretty sunny and dry on the leeward, or west side, of the island. And since it only takes an hour and a half to drive to the western tip of the island from where I live, it’s not unreasonable to seek out sunnier skies when it’s too gloomy here.

Yokohama Beach on the West Side.

8. There are truly no bars where I live.

Aside from Turtle Bay resort, which is 15 minutes up the road from our campus, there are no bars unless you drive the hour south to Kailua or Honolulu. Our campus is next to the town of Laie, where the majority of residents are members of the LDS church. So this year, I traded in thirsty Thursdays for Thursdays at the ice cream shop. It’s a wholesome life!

Before all the students left campus, this meant I had a very healthy sleep schedule, as we’d usually disband weekend festivities after we returned from a dinner out. We also found new ways to have fun–game nights, taking a bottle of wine to the beach, picking coconuts, bonfires. Nights out dancing are a rare occasion! It’s a huge difference from living in rural Minnesota, where dive bars were a common weekend gathering place.

Coconut hunting on Valentine’s Day.
Dancing the night away at Cuckoo Coconuts in Waikiki. Nights out were a rare occasion this year.

There you have it! I hope this gave you a drive-by, “realer” look at my life in this beautiful place.

Have you ever been to Hawaii? I’d love to hear if these ring true for your experience too.

The Truth Comes Out

“So… what made you pick Korea?”

South Korea, right?”

“I hope you like kimchi.”

Overall, my loved ones did not quite match my excitement about accepting a job to teach English in South Korea. And I can’t say that I blamed them. Korea hardly calls to mind ideas that put Americans at ease–the DMZ, Kim Jong-un, nuclear missiles hovering just miles above our heads. Not to mention raccoon cafes! (You know, coffee shops where you can play with raccoons?) Once my loved ones adjusted to the idea of me hopping on a 13 hour flight that took me THAT MUCH CLOSER TO ISIS and rabies, they got excited, too.

Fast-forward four months to July 5, one month before I’m scheduled to leave, and my visa falls through. In an amazing display of the stereotypical rigidity I had secretly associated with Korea, Korean immigration rejected it: no exceptions, no grandfathering in. Nothing I could do.

Brace yourself for whiplash, because one week later, I accepted a position teaching English at a small private school on Oahu.

Of course, I went straight back to my loved ones and told them the news about Hawaii, practically foaming at the mouth as I did it. This time, my excitement found its match:

“HAWAII! I’m visiting!”

“I’m looking at flights right now!”

“That’s my favorite place in the world! I can’t wait to visit!”

My sister, who feels uneasy about traveling on airplanes and flat out told me there was no way she would make the flight to Korea, responded to the news with, “Hey, I’ll come visit you there!” When I called my State Farm agent to ask what I should do with my car insurance, she practically bought a surf board and invited herself to come stay with me. Even my doctor chimed in positively on the change in plans: “Korea would be interesting, but Hawaii… I think that’ll be better,” he remarked as he removed the stitches from my butt cheek.

Wow. So even my doctor was harboring secret doubts about Korea. GOOD TO KNOW!

Not a single person asked me what made me pick Hawaii. It’s pretty obvious. Beaches? Sun? No polar vortex? Mountains? Tropical paradise? While South Korea calls to mind images of crowded cities and high rises, the word “Hawaii” itself blooms with images of a yellow Jeep sailing and winding on a coastal highway, taking its time to reach the perfect surf point at sunset. Frankly, if a person had asked “what made you pick Hawaii?” I would have grabbed them and high-tailed it to the nearest therapist.

All this to say, I felt excited for Korea. Throughout the months, I learned about the culture, and found out that while crowded skylines were no anomaly, neither were beaches and warm people. It would have been a big adventure, the biggest of my life. Maybe it will still happen some day. But Hawaii is an adventure, too. I can’t wait to have so many visitors.

The 8 Most Instagrammable Spots in Faribault

Only choosing 8 Insta-worthy spots in Faribault was the hardest. Decision. Ever! But after much deliberation, we’ve settled on the must-see attractions sure to ignite your (and your Insta followers’) wanderlust. Rev up those engines (just like the trucks in Faribault are!) and make this adorable southern Minnesota town a destination on your summer road trip.

 

  1. Family Video

Throwback Thursday! Many consider video stores a thing of the past, but this real-life Family Video, located smack dab in the middle of downtown Faribault, is beating the odds and still renting out all the hottest new release DVDs. Your followers are going to be foaming at the mouth with jealousy for this one!

 

  1. The Faribo Mall Merry-Go-Round

For just 75 cents, you can enjoy a one minute ride on the World’s Smallest Merry-Go-Round. And–life hack!–you can even take a photo on this jaw-dropping attraction for free. Forget your DMs–your Instagram followers will be practically hunting you down and stalking you to your place of work to find out where you found this thing.

 

  1. The Pet Wash

 

You simply cannot pass through Faribault without stopping by the Pet Wash. Closed every day of the year, this local hot spot has inspired intrigue and curiosity, making each one of Faribault’s 23,000 residents wonder exactly which season the wash is closed for. 

 

  1. The Faribault Mural

This mural has been ‘grammed nearly as many times as LA’s Pink Wall, and the lines start early here, too. Be sure to arrive before 7:00 AM if you want the place to yourself!

 

  1. The Signature Bar and Grill

All You Can Eat Cod Dinner Alert! The Signature Bar and Grill is the epicenter of Faribault’s nightlife, bingo, and seafood scene. Stop in Wednesday nights for bingo, Fridays for cod, and enjoy free popcorn and a rockin’ digital jukebox any night of the week. Just don’t be too disappointed if you have to endure 2 hours of heavy metal before Rock Lobster gets played!

 

  1. 4th Street Potholes

Oh, trust us–you’ll know when you hit these! Your car will probably break, giving you the perfect excuse to hop out and snap a pic with what has been called the Crater Lake of Minnesota. No shame in this Insta game!

 

  1. River Bend Nature Center/Faribault Jail

Adventurous types can enjoy a scenic hike at River Bend Nature Center, but don’t go too far, or you’ll end up at the county jail. On second thought…Do it for the ‘Gram!

 

8. Boxer’s Bar

STUNNING.

The Great Escape

“Okay, let’s use our magic powers. Everyone visualize the door opening and how much we’ll laugh when it pops open. Close your eyes. Ready?”

 

This is not something you want to hear your Airbnb host say.

 

“We’re doing it!”

 

This is not something you want to hear yourself saying in response, especially not with sincerity.

 

Nevertheless, it’s what my friend and I found ourselves doing one fine morning on our road trip. Our home for the night had been an Airstream trailer in our host’s backyard, and now we were stuck. And I had to pee.

 

Our stay in the trailer had started fabulously. We had hauled our luggage up the stairs, tossed our backpacks into the aisle, and collapsed on a daybed padded with throw pillows. (It was time for our daily siesta, after all!) Our host had explained through our email correspondence that the trailer didn’t have a functioning bathroom, but we could use the restroom in their home. We considered this nothing but a minor issue, especially taking into account how delightful our little spot was. Windows surrounded the bed, allowing the afternoon sun to warm my legs and the baby blue curtains to tickle them as they fluttered in the breeze. Pure bliss!

 

Unfortunately, my friends, bliss does not a story make.

 

The next morning, I woke up around 8:00 desperately needing to use the bathroom. I tip-toed over my friend, turned the trailer handle, and pushed.

 

No movement.

 

No problem, I thought. Just push some of these levers. Surveying the locks and buttons on the trailer door, I might as well have been looking at an airplane control panel. There was one metal post sticking out, a “step on” switch (which I could only assume lowered and raised the trailer stairs), and three sliding locks scattered all over the general door region.

 

I messed with these as quietly as I could, my friend’s peaceful face only inches away from the chaos. I pulled a lock, turned the handle, and pushed and jiggled the door until the whole trailer shook. I walked away (as if trying to fake the door out into thinking it had a break), then ran back at the it, kicking and karate-chopping and throwing my being against it until it shook again and I thought my bladder might give out.

 

After a few minutes of red-faced, frustrating struggle, I resorted to waking my friend up. Half-asleep, she tried the handle and pushed. “Call our host,” she said, and turned back to sleep.

 

Twenty minutes later, an ethereal woman with a pile of brunette hair pulled into a giant looping bun walked into the backyard waving her arms. “What happened?” she called. “You’re locked in?”

 

“I don’t know what happened, but we closed the trailer door and now it won’t open. Maybe there’s some trick to un-jamming it?” I added, trying to not sound like the hysterical idiot I felt like.

 

“No, this has never happened before, and I don’t have a key,” she said, hands on hips, surveying the scene. She jiggled the handle and pulled, the rocking waking up my friend. That’s when she said it: those fateful words that told me we weren’t getting out anytime soon. “Okay, let’s use our magic powers. Everyone visualize the door opening, and how much we’ll laugh when it pops open. Close your eyes. Ready?”

 

“We’re doing it,” we responded. And we really were–with gusto. (Our swim coaches used to have our team do this while preparing for big races in high school. The idea wasn’t so different here, right?)

 

“Shoot,” she said. “Alright, I think there are some keys in the shelves beneath the sink. Why don’t you look there and drop them to me through the hole in the back closet.”

 

Twenty minutes and lots of rocking later, she surrendered. “My partner is on a bike ride, but he’ll be home in 45 minutes. He’s a man, he has keys; he’ll figure it out.” My friend and I agreed this sounded like a good enough plan and assured her that we had enough air.

Little did she know, air was not the issue. I didn’t want to come right out and admit to this perfect stranger how badly I needed to go to the bathroom, but unfortunately after another half-hour of waiting, I could bear it no longer. Next thing I knew, our hostess was attempting to shove a jar up that same tiny hole in the bottom of the trailer.

 

Another painful half-hour passed before her partner returned, first trying the keys, then busting out the power drill in attempts to remove the entire door. When that didn’t work, he tried lowering the trailer, but not before he popped up in the window to introduce himself. “Who am I rescuing here?” he asked. “Oh, hi! Nice to meet you.”

 

Down, down, down went the trailer, and my friend and I exchanged nervous glances as it pitched side to side. Is this really where we’d die? Not in a car accident or a plane crash, but in a tipped Airbnb?

 

Finally, our hostess decided we could USE THE EMERGENCY EXIT THAT HAD BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME, a process that involved nothing more than removing a piece of tape to release the back window’s screen. Whatever. We emerged triumphant but haggard like the rescued Chilean miners, tossing our backpacks out ahead of us and into the garden. Sweet freedom!

 

Our hostess thanked us for coming and apologized again for the inconvenience. We apologized for breaking her screen, which I suppose is just the Minnesotan in both of us, apologizing for something we really shouldn’t. Overall, I’d still consider our stay a good time, even one of my favorite places on the trip.

 

I do have to wonder if her guests for that night had to crawl through the back window, though.

 

I’m curious to hear about others’ experiences with Airbnb. Do y’all love it? Have you had a wild experience? Please, tell me!

 

Before I sign off, here are just some highlights of the trip, photo-style.

Gone but never forgotten.

The “frosé” at Dave and Buster’s on Hollywood Boulevard. Finally crossed “ordering a drink that has another drink sticking out of it” off of my Bucket List!

We came, we saw, we tried to squish Crater Lake.

The “Buried Alive Simulator” at Portland’s Peculiarium museum. (Training for the trailer fail.)

ROCKING a picnic on the banks of the Pacific Ocean.

Take that, Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Did this stop them? No.

And a nice one, for good measure.

 

Must Love Highways

It’s hard to even think about my life pre-Delilah.

That’s what I call the period when I was aimless, self-destructive, and selfish: the pre-Delilah years. Let’s do a little thought experiment: squint or close your eyes and imagine a redheaded, overweight man (fine, boy), technically age 25. He’s living on your couch, promising for the fifth time that his brother is working a job out for him at the Vitamin Shoppe he owns, but the paperwork is still coming back. He only mutes the Rock of Love reruns on TV after two minutes of strained conversation to tell you this. No, he has not paid rent or helped out with groceries, and you’re pretty sure he’s using your toothbrush.

Open your eyes. Believe it or not, that guy was me.

So, Tinder Date, you must be wondering why I’m telling you this. You also must be curious as hell as to who on earth Delilah is! Don’t worry, I’m not married or anything. But I am committed.

Let me tell you another fun fact about me: growing up, I always wanted to adopt a highway.

My parents and I would drive down Highway 100 and see that glorious sign: Adopt Today! “Please! Please! Can we??” I’d beg, face pressed up against the window. My parents always shot down my requests with a huff. “They’re way too expensive,” they’d say, glancing into the rearview mirror. “I’m going to end up being the one taking care of the highway once you get sick of it.”

All through college I dreamt of adopting a highway too, but I knew it wasn’t time; I was too busy and broke from my studies.

After college, I hit that rough patch I mentioned earlier. My plans to rush straight to the Highway Adoption Center after graduation were thwarted when my Razor scooter flipped over a pothole and landed right on top of me. Yes, I was on my way to the adoption center. I don’t know if it was fate or divine intervention or sheer coincidence, but something stopped me that day, and I was doomed to weeks in the hospital room with a broken pelvis.

I felt totally depressed after that. Weeks on the couch recovering led to gaining weight, losing a job, and losing all hope. I saw my friends get married and have kids, and there I was still wasting away. I got kicked out of my parent’s place and my brother’s, and became estranged from numerous other friends.

It wasn’t until my last friend kicked me out that I realized what I had to do. As I rode along the road on my Razor scooter (I still didn’t have my driver’s license), I ran into that same pothole. My backpack broke my fall, and luckily, this time my scooter fell to the side. As I gathered my strength to sit up, I remembered what I’d been doing all those years ago when I first tumbled; I remembered where I’d been going. Immediately, I scooted back to my friend and asked for him to spot me on the adoption. Luckily, he said yes.

I was surprised by how many people had opinions about adopting a rescue. ‘Aren’t they dangerous?’ They’d ask. ‘Don’t they come with a lot of baggage?’ To them I say: who doesn’t?

Even more egregiously, some people even think I only adopted a highway to pick up ladies. Well, only time will tell if that works or not. Heh, heh.

Adopting this highway, Delilah, is hands-down the best decision I’ve made in my life. Pre-Delilah, I was drifting through life with no sense of responsibility or commitment to anyone else. As soon as I got her, I had to grow up and stop just thinking about myself. Soon I was up at 5 AM cleaning up her trash, and now I can’t imagine a life doing anything else. Seeing this change in myself, I really believe it’s no coincidence that highway is just “God” spelled backwards.

What’s more, I learned what unconditional love really feels like. Delilah accepts me when I’m blasting music with joy, moseying and feeling blue, and everywhere in between. She’s always there with arms wide open to bring me in. She calls me to be better than I am without even saying a word. That’s why I always try to be the person my highway thinks I am.

It’s a lot of work, but worth every second. When people ask me if I rescued my highway, I always have to pause and think. “No,” I tell them. “She rescued me.”

Whew, I’m so embarrassed! I’ve been talking about myself this whole time! Tell me, what do you do for a living?

 

This essay is dedicated to “JUST BILL,” the man who personally owns, cares for, and loves a stretch of Highway 97 in northern California (or was it southern Oregon??). Your highway was lookin’ good. We appreciate you!!

A Tale of Minor Inconvenience and Triumph

Nothing brings people together quite like being the victims of a shitshow, especially at the hands of Sun Country Airlines.

 

I saw this bonding of humanity first-hand yesterday when I flew out of the Humphrey Terminal, or “the small terminal,” as it is informally known. This terminal is a joy because once you exit security, it takes maximum 5 minutes to get to your gate. There’s no tram to catch, no moving walkways, no stress. It feels like you’re in Margaritaville. OR SO I THOUGHT.

 

Being “the small terminal,” I cast aside my usual anxieties about arriving to the airport 2+ hours before my flight, deciding that I could begin my Uber voyage when I’d usually be arriving. Time of flight departure: 7:00 AM. Time on the clock? 5:00.

 

My Uber driver did his darndest to make it around the labyrinth of summer highway construction, but despite his best efforts, it made a dent in our time, and we rolled up at 5:45 AM. “No problem,” I reassured him. “It’s the small terminal.”

 

I strutted into the airport grinning, the words “today is the day I go to LA” thumping in my heart and plastered on my face. Ah, but what was that in the distance? Past rows and rows of empty baggage lines, I glimpsed chaos: hoards of people clumped in front of one desk, the group overflowing into the hallway.

 

No. I blinked, thinking maybe this was a desert mirage already.

 

Shouts and the sound of gunfire confirmed in was real.* When I got in the line for passengers with boarding passes, a line substantially shorter than that for general check-ins, I felt relieved. Phew, I thought. I’m in the right lane, there are only twelve people ahead of me, and it’s all going to be okay.

 

Minutes passed, which I knew because I kept impulsively checking my phone, resisting the temptation to text every person in my contacts “UGH GONNA MISS MY FLIGHT.” Then one of the desk employees called out in a strained voice, “All passengers for Fort Lauderdale, all passengers for Fort Lauderdale! Come up and form a line on the left side!”

 

The family ahead of me sighed. Kids, parents, and youth groups rushed under the line divider and formed a new line next to ours.

 

“This is ridiculous! They just keep pulling people!” The father in front of me exclaimed, looking around at the many lines. His daughter pointed to a woman in the other line who was wearing black and white patterned bell-bottoms. “We would have been right behind her!” She said with a smile on her face. That woman was only four from the front.

 

Time on the clock? 6:05 AM.

 

“All passengers for Atlanta, all passengers for Atlanta!” Another crew of neck pillow-clad jet-setters ducked under the line and dragged their suitcases past every other pissed-off passenger. The line had grown even more frenzied. A group behind me became particularly vocal as they observed the ebbs and flows of the crowd. “Are we moving forwards, or are we just getting closer together?” One woman asked after we took one measly step. “They’re just pulling everyone in front of our line! How is that fair?” “Sun Country used to be top notch, but it has really gone downhill.” Then the woman asked the guy next to her, “So are you flying to Boston for work or for fun?”

 

Wow. I had assumed they were lifelong friends, but evidently they had just met. Already the family in front and I had established we were both going to LAX, and that if they called our flight up, I needed to stick with them. “You’re part of the family for the day,” the mom said. In that moment, I was happy to be adopted. The mood there reminded me of scenes in apocalyptic movies like The Day After Tomorrow where the regular citizens are trying to escape and people are crowded together and turning against one another but also coming together to fight for their lives. In this case, the four overworked Sun Country employees were the rich and powerful, and they were feeling our wrath, our ignored discontentment bubbling over.

 

Soon enough, they called LAX to form its own line. It was 6:20. The family ahead of me looked back and nodded to be sure I followed their lead. A charismatic woman who oozed news anchor vibes filed in behind me and guided me from line to line as we continued to be moved around. I think I imprinted on her. “Good luck,” we all said to each other as we checked our bags and rushed to security, giving forlorn glances over our shoulders as if someone might be left behind and killed by the imminent natural disaster.

 

When we finally arrived to the gate, I saw the family; they’d stopped for coffee and tea after getting through security. “We made it!” The mother cheered when she saw me. On our flight, the news anchor woman stopped to ask about my trip on her way to the bathroom. While I did not enjoy that stressful experience and will never again neglect my duty to arrive 2 hours before a flight, even at the “small terminal,” I was glad to meet those people, and I hope they’re enjoying L.A.

 

By the way–I’m in L.A. to take a West Coast road trip with my lifelong friend, my partner in debauchery and class projects, my Nathan Fielder’s-wife-to-be. She lives in Los Angeles, so we’re starting here, then journeying up the coast to Vancouver, B.C. beginning tomorrow. Stay tuned for stories of eating, praying, and loving!

 

*There was not actually gunfire, but it FELT like there could be.

DIY Neck Pillow

Does anyone else find sleeping on an airplane ridiculously uncomfortable?

Here’s the way it goes for me: lean back against the headrest; fold tray down and rest on arms (facial orifices just inches from unimaginable germs left from laptops, kleenex, babies, etc.); inevitably jerk awake as hurtling towards the stranger in the next seat. Repeat.

Last February, with a big trip to Jamaica coming up, I decided it was time to rectify this situation once and for all (without springing for SkyMall’s monstrous face rest). So before flying off to the Land of Wood and Water, I decided to pick up a needle and thread for the first time in a long time and sew my own neck pillow.

 

The Process

This only required a few simple materials:

  • the ol’ needle and thread
  • pillow stuffing
  • fabric, which I took from an unloved pair of pajama pants wasting away in my closet

In case you haven’t noticed, the crotch of a pair of pants looks an awful lot like a neck pillow. (See Fig. 1.)

Fig. 1. (Don’t worry, I did not use khakis for this pillow.)

In an effort to keep things as simple as possible, I cut out the crotch of the pants, and voilà! The inside of the pillow was already stitched! (I might not advise this approach, but more on that later.)

The process was easy-peasy after that. I flipped the fabric inside out to conceal the seam, and used a simple running stitch to sew the pillow together. About halfway through, I flipped the pillow right-side out and continued.

Seamless.

As I pulled through that final stitch and tied it off, I marveled at the final product. Wow–it looked like a crotch!

This neck pillow was made for walkin’.

Squishy!

Baby Shorts or not, when I placed this baby around my neck and rolled my head around it to test it out, it was a fluffy, magical cloud.

 

The Verdict

So, did this neck pillow live up to all the expectations I had? Did it solve my sleeping woes?

Not really. I’m becoming more convinced that neck pillows just weren’t made for the sleeper self-conscious about conking out with her head back and mouth agape. (Spiders: need I say more?) That being said, this makes for a really cozy sleeping pillow. En route to Jamaica, I ended up resigning myself to putting it on the tray table and sleeping there, hunched over again. However, it worked perfectly as a barrier from the germs.

If neck pillows do work for you (and I hope they do), go ahead and make your own, and let me know how it goes for you! Also–if you have tried that monstrous sleeping face rest from SkyMall magazine, will you tell me how you like it?

Lament of an Airport Fruit Cup

I was moved by a fit of inspiration after eating an airport fruit cup whilst traveling to Seattle, Washington for my cousin’s graduation a few weeks ago. This little ditty goes out to anyone who has fallen prey to Caribou Coffee’s “fresh fruit” assortments, which give melon everywhere a bad name.

 

Lament of an Airport Fruit Cup

Oh, Airport Fruit Cup, you cost me 5 dollars,

but took so much more of my pride.

When at last I found a fork to eat with

it seemed like you wanted to hide!

‘Where the hell does this thing open?’

I asked, searching for truth in this one life.

Straining and struggling and pulling to death

you stayed shut, the start of my strife.

Oh, Airport Fruit Cup, you were leaking juice,

but from where I could not detect.

If I achieved my goal and pried you open,

Grapes, pineapple and juice would you eject?

We were crammed together in economy class,

just a breath from the nearest stranger.

The man next to be wore a tweed sportcoat;

he watched me strain and could feel the danger.

Then, hark! An Opening! Disguised as a hinge!

You opened with a warm welcome.

But your $5 price tag mocked me with glee,

and I wondered if I could be more dumb.

Your melon was tough, your grapes rather soggy,

And I really don’t mean to complain,

But the pineapple was so tough that out of fear for my bridge,

From eating, I had to refrain.

Oh Airport Fruit Cup, you triumphant bastard,

you fickle lover, you fair-weather friend.

To top it all off, you spilled on my shoes,

and that’s where our journey ends.