Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dec 7th: Arizona or Bust!

Unfortunate as it may seem, all good things must come to an end. After a month on the road, it was definitely time for this roadtrip to come to an end for ol' Jeannettie. 

I said my fond farewells to the Stellhorns of Menlo Park (Dear Universe: I would like "Stellhorns of Menlo Park" to become a reality show somehow...kthxbye). Garrett and I hit the road. He kindly drove me wayyyy the whoo-haw into the countryside to meet up with my grandparents, who serendipitously happened to be on a roadtrip of their own and heading down to AZ at the same time I needed to head south. Call it what you will, but I shall call it miracle. I did not want to fly to Phoenix with all my stuff, so they made room for me. So kind.

When I am filled with dark clouds, I look to the kindness I have experienced on this trip to remind me that the world brims with good. I could call the kindness of stranger, friends, and family alike nothing less than a blessing. 

Thank you, all of you who continue to show me kindness that I know I do not always deserve. 

This picture marks the last time I would see Garrett in 2011: 

I'm pretty sure Garrett said he was going to miss me right before this picture. 
You can see that I am hanging on for dear life. Otherwise, I'da fainted with shock.

We loaded all my stuff in the truck and that was it. Poetry Roadtrip 2011 = overtown. 

On the bright side, Arizona or Bust 2011/I Have the Best Grandparents in the World Roadtrip had just begun...and would last for a day and a half. 

Let me introduce you to some stellar human beings:  

Martin and Suzanne Kempton

I know I've already touched upon the subject of needing to be with your own people once in a while. I can't write this post about bringing it back up. My grandparents are the embodiment of agape (divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active and thoughtful) love in my life. I'm certain my grandparents are as aware of my humanity as anyone (in fact, I would almost bet money that they weren't too keen on my road-trippin' with a dude I'm not married to), but they treat me like I can do no wrong. And they're sincere about it. Sometimes I begrudge this mantle of do-no-wrong-ness because it is too big, too much, to impossible. That's okay.  

The important truth of it is: being treated like I can do no wrong opens avenues of soul-healing. This love makes me lean toward wanting to actually do no wrong. Let's holla at the miracle factor again, cuz if you haven't caught on yet, mine is an impish compulsion towards the dark side. And maybe it's more accurate to say that it's not even a desire to not do anything bad (impossible), but to do more good. Be better. 

Grandpa Kempton has told me a time or two that, by this point in his life, he's realized the most important thing is people. Nothing else matters. I know that he believes that when he says it because he proves it to me on the daily. He always says just the right thing. 

In the morning: 
"Why, a hug from you is worth a million dollars." 

After I explain that I have to get gussied up to take family pictures: 
"Why, you don't need to take a shower to be beautiful!" 

In response to my mom getting a little hysterical that I let my 17-year-old sister come with me to the 18+ church New Years activity (yep, I'm that sister), saying "ALL THE MEN THERE WILL THINK SHE'S FREE GAME AND SHE'S NOT!": 
"Why, none of my granddaughters are free game. They all come with a price." 

And my grandmother never, ever, ever wants to hurt anybody's feelings ever. Her heart is so kind and tender. I had a pretty nasty cold this whole trip and she just took the best care of me. 

I know, I know, I know. By now you are sarcastically wondering if someone got all loaves-and-fishy up in hurr or something. I don't mean to blow the image of my grandparents out of proportion, but they are most definitely my heroes. It would take days and months and years for me to give you all the facts that legitimize my claims, so I guess you will have to believe me and I will just get on with the roadtrip deets. 

We drove until the skies got dark and we got hungry. We stopped in a dairy-smelling down called Coalinga. True confessions: I don't mind the smell of a dairy at all. It reminds me of visiting my grandparents' farm when I was a wee young lass. 

Imagine it is night time, and you can't see any of this. 

We ate dinner at a fantastic fancyschmancy place called Harris Ranch. The most important thing for me to say about this dining experience is that it is a steakhouse. A very nice steakhouse in a town where steak is quite obviously a main commodity. 

The next most important thing for me to say about this dining experience is that I have been investigating the world of plant-based eating for a few months now (on the road it's pretty much impossible, by the way). Now, that doesn't mean I hate meat or think it's terribly awfully evil or whatever. I just have been trying to change what I think is most delicious. 

Dining on someone else's dime at an expensive steakhouse would be the perfect excuse to guiltlessly chow down on some delicious meat. Much to my surprise, however, all I wanted was vegetables. Like, I was only craving vegetables.  Craving. Nothing else even really sounded appetizing. That has never happened before. What a pleasant surprise to see real evidence that my food choices are changing little by little. Also, portobello burger...divine. 

So after that delightful dining experience, my grandpa got us TWO SEPARATE ROOMS at a motel. THAT'S RIGHT, FOLKS. I had my own room. Blammo. I think that was more for my grandparents' benefit than my own, but you will not catch me complaining. They could've told me to sleep in the truck that night and I would've done so with a smile on my face. So this...ah, perfectly wonderful aloneness. What a luxury. 

You better believe I lounged in both beds on this glorious evening. 
And also took an excessively long shower. 
And also walked around in the buff. 

I woke up, packed up, and prepared mentally, spiritually and emotionally 
for the looooooooooong day ahead. 

Bla bla bla. Morning happened. 


I absolutely love this picture. 

Oh, and I somehow managed to hurt myself on this roadtrip. No surprises. T'was when we took a bathroom break specifically for moi. The situation was totally under control until my grandma didn't think I was rushing quite quick enough so she started telling me to "hurry, hurry!" like I was on the verge of peeing my pants/WWIII (granted, any woman who bore 12 kids in her life probably thinks all bladder-relief situations are emergencies). So, of course,  I started believing I should run, which turned into an olympic sport as I felt as though I would either need to jump over the hitch to the trailer or face a bear-mauling, as surly a bear has decided to chase me now. 

The Perpetrator. 

The Perpetrated.  

Has anyone seen The Harvey Girls? 
This picture reminds me of that film.

A lil' treat for you:
4:07. I wanted to be her when we'd watch this movie on Sundays after church. 


We drove 10 hours this day. Shoot ya'll. 
But we made it home, safe and sound. 

Getting home to the house...ah. Nothing like getting home to a bunch of little hooligans running out to hug you a thousand times.  It turns out that the little hooligans aren't so little anymore. My brother Scott loves standing up tall so I notice that he's taller than me. Matt and Cori both say how glad they are that I'm home too many times to count. And my mom...that was a nice hug. A nice hug that turned into a poke and a tickle. My people. 

And that's just 'bout the end of the road. For now. 

Dear friends, may you find home. 
Whether it be temporary or permanent, soft or stone, 
harmony or discord, physical or spiritual, sunshine or grey skies,  
may we at least find home in each other. 
May we give and receive love. 

"Heal the scars from off my back/ I don't need them anymore /
You can throw them out or keep them in your mason jars/
I've come home."

Stay tuned for reflections/conclusions from this experience, the month of December, and New Years ridiculousness. (???New Year resolutions??? Maybe.)

December 6th: Pollo Fritto

You might not know what, exactly, a Pollo Fritto might be. If you have taken at least 2 weeks of Spanish in high school, or if you've ever eaten at El Pollo Loco (smokey bean burito and loco salad holla!)  you will know it has something to do with chicken.

If you have ever eaten Fritos you will know it is kinda close to the word "fritto," which also sounds like "fried" in English.

This will all lead you to deduce that it has something to do with fried chicken.

If you are an American, you will be excited. You will be excited because you like fried chicken. It's part of your national heritage.

If you give a mouse a cookie... 


Imagine you are hungry, and you want something tasty. Imagine this bad-a truck of dreams rolls all up on yo' business:

What culinary delights must await you, weary foodies!

Imagine you could put this in your mouth. 

If you are ever in the Bay area, I'm surr-yus. You have got to Pollo Fritto it up.

I got a front row pass to Pollo Fritto this week. I'm totes geekin' out on the company. And for good reason--it is a great idea peopled by some of the most genuine, creative, cool, fun, interesting, kind, thoughtful souls around.

Oh, and BT Dubs, the food is seriously delicious--perfectly crisp fried chicken nestled in the warm hug that is secret bread from the heart of San Fran blanketed by perfectly tangy/spicy slaw.  Not too spicy. Not greasy. Just right.

I have never been fan of cole slaw, so when they mentioned "slaw" as they explained the sandwich to me, I had to keep myself from making the "did you just ask me to eat cockroaches?" face. But this stuff isn't drowning in mayo. Nor does it have wilty carrot bits slithering all up in it. Instead, the vinaigrette dressing adds just the right flavor but none of the gag-factor. All the veggies hit your mouth with a delightful crunch.

What I appreciate about this particular sandwich is, unlike most of my experiences with fast food, I don't feel like I just ate a year's ration of butter when the sammy hits the digestive tract. While fried chicken isn't the best thing you could ever do for yourself, a deliciously filling lunchtime treat that goes down fresh and easy? Yes please.

Gah. My mouth is watering as I type this.

So, Skip and the dudes had been waiting and waiting for the truck to get tricked out so they could finally get their magic food to the hungry people of Menlo Park.

Garrett and I had the privilege of going with they guys to check it out hot off the press.

Driving, driving.  
Yeah, that's Spongebob. 

Ryan and the dawggie. 

Dropping Jon off at the airport. 

What a rockstar. 

Oh you tricky doggy. 

Luh dis. 

GAH <3
Ryan, make me a sandwich. 
(See what I did there? Gender stereotype role-reversal never tasted so good)

You can't see him in there very well, but it's a happy, happy Skip in his chariot. 

The open road. 

Good times, good food, good friends, good sunsets, good This American Life podcast on the radio. 

Lets get slow. Ride into that sunset. Forgive. Love. Eat fried chicken. 

In the studio with the dudes.

So the dudes are putting together an acoustic album. Gah. They are so talented. They started recording while Garrett and I stayed with them in Palo Alto. I know we all wonder what, exactly, goes into that magic potion that turns ideas into recorded music. In this case, it's a work-space-turned-antique-storage-space-turned-sleeping-space/recording-studio-combo. It is the smell of California--a smell I can't exactly explain but it has something to do with this particular brand of sunshine in the suburbs. Soft breeze, tall trees.

The magic of recoding is Jon cursing under his breath and not so under his breath, Garrett happy as I have ever seen him behind that mic, Ryan making jokes, and me playing the role of obnoxious little sister.

On the note of me playing annoying little sister, I recorded some of the magic. Magic I shall share with you now. Garrett is singing Jon's song "Muddy Water" (I think that's what it's called?):

The best part, I think, is 2:09 when Garrett realizes I'm recording. 
Also, you might have to turn the volume way up. I didn't spend much time fixing the audio. 

If the dudes happen to read this post--which I don't think they will, since it's just me, Erin, SarahJo, and Amanda gettin' bloggy up in hurr. Holla, ladies!--anyway, if the do happen upon this post for any reason, I hope they don't get too angry at me for compiling some of the vids I took. It would be a shame that such a fine troupe of men to get angry at me for showing the 3 people who read my blog how studly they are. 

So, after getting asked to leave multiple times, I kinda just kicked it in the house. 

Don't worry, I got pictures first. Amy took some pictures too. They were much more receptive to her. Either way, enjoy. 

Hark! A picture of me! I'm pretty sure Garrett took this shot. 
What you don't see under that jacket of mine is a giant grin, 
knowing what mischief I've been making. 

So great. 

What a handsome little treat for the eyes, yes? 

Getting serious. 

Aww Jon. 
I just want to pinch all these dudes' cheekies. 

Figuring out the words. 

Realizing that I'm taking pictures. 

"Are you taking a picture?"
"You'll thank me later." 
"Does Jeannette have to be here for this?"

That's my hand, ya'll. 

View from outside the door. 

Just playin'. I really didn't care too much. They were trying to get work done. T'was no vacation for these hardworking fellows. And I actually really enjoyed having my headspace. And playing with Lincoln. And watching an episode or two of Gossip Girl. So there's that. 

The end. 

First week of Decemberish: Hello, Palo Alto. I love you, San Francisco

True confessions: I slept through at least 75% of our drive into San Francisco. I generally think it's unfair for the passenger to sleep while the driver does the dirty work. Sorry, Garebear. In my defense, we never really talked in the car, so, as far as I'm concerned, it's the same if I'm awake or asleep. I think I still woke up to change the CD if my groggy-car-dream-memory is accurate. So there's that. 

I also woke up to eat banana bread my aunt Carrie made and think about how much I wish I had water.

Oh, how parched I was. I didn't even have enough water in me to make a spitball and pretend it was water as I swallowed it. Don't lie--you know what I'm talking about. I was too out-of-it to get water when we stopped for gas. STUPID, STUPID. 

I spent maybe 3 hours of that drive having a groggy "little engine that could" moment. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. *dreams about sharks, wakes up miserably parched* I think I can, I think I might cry...I don't have enough water for tears. Bloody....

Don't worry, though, I made it. I could've kissed that balding fat Indian man at the gas station. He tried to tell me to be careful because the winds have been pretty powerful bla bla bla as I tried to guzzle water as politely as possible and nod as if I was listening intently, keeping crazy eyes in check. 

And it only got awesomer from there. 


More bridge! 
So gorgeous.

We got to Palo Alto and hugged it out with Ryan and Jon. It is always a pleasure to see those handsome men. I also had the pleasure of meeting Skip and Lincoln. Yep, I didn't think of taking pictures. Use your imaginations, jeeze. 

Amy, Ryan's sister, was still at work when we got there so we hugged it out with her later. She and Skip are a great hosting duo, and Lincoln is simply adorable. 

Ryan decided we were going on a walk to the dog park with Amy's two lil doggies. Enjoy: 

Jon, the dog whisperer, doing what he does best. 

Ryan surveying a tree. 

Ryan climbing said tree. 

Garrett watching encouragingly. 

Me. Kind of. This is how I interact with dogs 
(Of course there's no real picture of me. Sorry, SORRY, okay?) 

We spent some Family Time with the Stellhorns. Amy made delicious food for us each night we were there and made us feel totally welcome. 

Getting our Trust Falls on. 

Jon. What a supportive palzywalzy
Look at him, listening intently to Garrett's entrancing poetry. D'awwww. 

Cutting jalapenos for DELICIOUS Pollo Fritto sammmmmmmiches. 
If you are in the Bay Area, you should really look Pollo Fritto up. 

Watching South Park/Dog Whispering. 
Come now. You didn't think Jon was the ONLY dog whisperer, did you? 

We did a lot of things. That mainly actually means the dudes spent a lot of time recording music or at least trying to record music (post soon to come) and me listening to the dudes record once in a while/ reading/writing/being on the internet/taking naps and having nightmares about my friends concerned about how much internet I've been experiencing lately/taking naps and having nightmares about ex-boyfriends. 

We also played Settlers of Catan, which is a lame, boring game if you don't know what's going on but a fun game if you do. I almost won once, even, until Garrett and Ryan plotted against me. Never again, boys. I will defeat you. 

The dudes apparently, and when I say apparently I mean vehemently, didn't want to go into the city, which was kinda disappointing to me because I love adventuring around San Francisco. 

No worries, folks. Andrew saved the day. 

Studmuffin central. 

Andrew and I go back, way back, 19th century style, to Summer 2008. You know, the summer I "singlehandedly brought Zion down to Hell and forced everyone to have sex in the woods" according to my boss. In actuality, I was great at my job and never even suggested that anyone have sex in the woods. Shoot, ya'll. I didn't even have sex in the woods (True confessions: I did make out in the woods and it was awesome. I suggest we all make out in the woods at least once in our lives). 

Anyway, I made a lot of life-long friends that summer. Andy is one of them. Andy is that guy I wouldn't hesitate to call if I needed a place to crash for any reason, nefarious or innocent. He is truly a fantastic friend. 

From first late night we spent talking at Jacob Lake, he and I have been first-rate compadres. Even though we don't fully agree on everything, we share a lot of the same values and a similar sense of humor.   

4 a.m. trip to the Grand Canyon. 
Steve, a MUCH more innocent version of Jeannette, Andy.
Notice: sister's soccer sweatshirt. 

I love this picture so much. 
We had a Nordic funeral for a bird that we found dead on the doorstep. 
Flames and all. 
Of course, Andy and I were the brains behind this shenanigan. 
Andy built the raft out of popsicle sticks.  
*note: it takes a lot longer than you'd imagine for a bird to burn. 

Andy goes to Berkeley, In fact, he is the face of Berkeley right now. We decided to meet halfway. Halfway between Berkeley and Palo Alto just happens to be San Francisco. Win. 


I rode the caltrain into the city all by myself. ALL. BY. MYSELF. I am aware that some of you are smirking at me right now. Oooh, you're 23 years old. All by yourself, huh? A real challenge, huh? 

Hater's gon' hate. 

Okay, so sometimes I am timid about really, really stupid things. I get over anxious about something not even worthy of anxiety. Public Transportation is one of them. Although I really love taking the train, I am always worried about getting lost/missing my stop/missing the train/bla bla bla. An experience in 2007 scarred me and it has taken me getting on and off a bajillion trains, plains, and automobiles since then to get over it. 

I guess the ease of this particular experience is notable, personally and now publicly, because the nonexistence of panic seemed like a nod from the universe. Things are getting better. You are growing up. You are okay. You are okay. You are okay. 


Hipster artsy photo of my jeans/Doc Martens 
(true confessions: accident picture)

Downtown stop. 
Gorgeous sky. 

Andy and I were both hungry so we hit up Panera. We talked for probably an hour. Then we realized we were wasting precious daylight, and we are grown up adults who can walk and talk at the same time, so we caught the BART down to Union Square. 

Okay, let's have an ubergirl moment: THE MALL IS SO COOL. There are these fantastic spiral escalators. With all the Christmas colors, people shopping, smells and sights, I felt like I was inside a giant beautiful fairy-robot's ribcage. 

I'm not always a huge fan of shopping, but I saw the light on this day. 

The Christmas lights. 
The projected lights were kinda cool, kinda creepy. 

Nightlife in Union Square.

I tipped him a dollar for this picture. 
Worth it. 

So we really didn't do anything too spectacular. We mostly tried to find a warm jacket and jeans for Andy (he had to prep for his trip to Germany. In fact, he in Germany with his boo right now, ka-chow!), shared secrets, discussed how we could save the world, tried to go ice skating and then were so over it, drank some Starbucks. We mostly enjoyed each other's company, a simple pleasure I really needed. Just the perfect outing. I couldn't've asked for anything more. 

And just like that 6+ hours had passed and I had to get back to Palo Alto. 
Hugs, future plans, goodbyes. 

And this, ladies and gentlemen, marks the day I rode public transportation all by myself 
without crying, panicking, stressing, thinking I lot my ticket and would now get kicked off the train, daydreaming about what I might do were I to get muggedor raped, getting lost, or any other sub-category that could possibly be included in the category "Irrational Fear of Public Transportation."

Boom, Baby.