Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wings For the Good Little Girl

Kelsey's Israel Blundering Confessional: Part 5 - The Finale

Brosef and his awesome handstand on Mount Carmel
We have reached the end of our blogscipade as well as the end of my silly stories (I'm sure I have more, I'm just not going to tell them all, lest we be here all year).

By the final day, we'd seen so much. My feet trotted upon the very spots history had made famous. I saw and did more than I ever have in my life. I made wonderful friends - family in their own way, really.  Of course, by this point I'd also made quite the fool of myself, as you may have read. (My elbow is perfectly fine by this point, thank you.)

Our final trip was through Caesarea Philippi - King Herod's Roman-esq home. One of his many palaces.  This was the location of the games in Israel, similar to the Roman games played in the Olympics.  Herod, it is said, is the first to suggest a prize for the second and third place winners - silver and bronze medals.
Pool cut from rock by Herod's Builders

All fascinating, wonderful, and breezy. You'd see why they wanted to be there. After Caesarea, we went to our final dinner, and after our final dinner... we went to the airport. To better be comfortable, I put my blonde hair in braids under my Dead Sea Hat. As I'm sure you know from Two Trips and a Loss, Brosef and I followed Owen nowhere.

Now, if you have been keeping up all week, you know from Sick Ain't Pretty On Me that I am dreading this flight. I don't want to get on this plane.  After my last experience, I'm trying to come up with a way to become an Israeli citizen and never come home...
Creepiest LONGEST millipede ever. Almost as long as my foot

Luckily, I was given a prescription anti-nausea pill and prayers of health.
Life saver.
I survived the flight.  I slept through part of it (red eye flight) and watched several movies for the rest of it (Here Comes the Boom - funny but not one I'd watch otherwise; Premium Rush - very interesting and I enjoyed it; The Hobbit - Already knew I loved it).

I'm sure you could imagine my excitement when we landed and I was still going strong - no need to be sick.   I pushed my braids behind me, straightened my hat, and stretched my muscles as we finally were allowed to stand. Bubbly as could be, I followed one of my other coworkers (We'll call her Joanne) whom I'd been by on the plane.  Her husband John was far ahead of us, so the two of us traipsed down the aisles and off the plane.

Little Brother Brosef, Big Brother Owen and I under one of the aqueduct arches at Caesarea
As we neared the entrance to plane, there was a man (either flight attendant or co-pilot) saying farewell as we passed.  Joanne gave him a nod, a thank you, and a smile.  He did likewise.  It was my turn, and I followed suit.

The elder smiled at me, eyes crinkling so the wrinkles on the sides deepened, and pressed something into my hand.  I thanked him as I glanced down at the little object he'd parted with.


My special United Wings
I had just been handed wings.
You know, the kind they give to all kids 12 and under.
The ones who have been really good on such a long flight.
Such good kids.

And I was on of them.

As I stumbled into the connecting gate, I stared dumbstruck at my little plastic possession.
"Joanne." I said, face reddening in amused embarrassment. "He gave me wings."
"What?" Joanne spun around and stared at the little blue item I held out for her observation. For a second, and only one second, she was quiet.

Then the laughter began.

"JOHN!" She called ahead as soon as we saw him. "Kelsey got wings! WINGS! They think she's twelve! I bet they thought she was our daughter."
The laughter continued.
I laughed too, though I was still a bit horrified.  You see, it isn't the first time I've had someone question my age.
"How old do you think I am?" I once asked an intern at work where I have been FULL TIME for 2 years. She's 19, and knows my younger brother. She looked  me up and down.
"Eighteen, nineteen tops."
"I'm twenty-three."
"No you aren't."

Do you know how often I pull out my driver's license to prove myself in these kind of situations?

This is essentially the look - add  braids.
Do you think I look 12?
There I was, holding wings, laughing with two individuals whose oldest son was 4-5 years my junior, holding my little plastic wings.
Brosef, who wasn't even carded on his 21st birthday (and wouldn't have been before then), had an even more jovial response.
"Ah! HA HA! It's the braids. No. No it isn't. It's you and your face. You do look twelve!"
Owen was kinder. He never flat out said I looked twelve, but he did say "That's the best thing I've heard. So funny."

Stick with me, blogosphere...I'm the fountain of youth.
Yet as I sat there, staring at my new plastic contraption, I realized something.

It was the perfect end to my perfectly hilarious trip.

Now it's your turn - what's the worse mistake others have made about YOUR age? Too old? Too young? Thought your mother was your sister or vice versa?


Remember, this is your LAST CHANCE to enter to win something from Israel, a giftcard for $10 of your choosing, CR Smith's latest CD and a monkey! You must be a follower of this blog (over to the right click "follow") and you must comment below! The more comments over the week that you've accumulated, the more entries: you can have up to 5 entries! Did you send someone my way? Have them mention that YOU sent them and I'll throw in a bonus entry.

In fact, I've had so much fun, I'll give away a second place prize of an Israel cross, a monkey, and a CR Smith CD.
So comment away! Winners will be announced next week!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Between a Rock and a Tender Place

Kelsey's Israel Blundering Confessional: Part 4

Confession: I have an insanely sensitive right "ulnar nerve".


It's the nerve that lends to the term "funny bone".  The one that, when hit just right, gives that fuzzy, tingly feeling all over your arm that is anything BUT funny.

However, when that nerve is sensitive, it means hitting it just the wrong way causes a pain slicing up your arm so intense you want it to fall off.  It's like a hot blade sawing through your ring finger and middle finger, trailing all the way down to the elbow.
My left side is normal - fuzzy, uncomfortable, but manageable. My right side...

The Gates of Hell
 On the second half of our trip, we went to a place which made me laugh due to its name.
The Temple of the Holy Goats.
Seriously. We went there.

This was also the place where it was believed the Gates of Hell were kept - here, hell/hades/whatever you called it lurked. If you were quiet, you could hear goats bleating.

Just kidding. You couldn't. That would have been really disturbing.

Near here is also a place called Abraham's Arch. This is relevant (and awesome) because Abraham actually came by this This man from history who is way back in BC walked through this place. There are still things from the people old, yet preserved as best they can.

From my point of view, we walked on from the arch and I lost myself in my own thoughts. That is, until a searing, white hot pain shot up my arm...
Back story time! 

Now, because this was Abraham's Arch and there were several things about this place enriched in history...
Abraham's Arch - thousands of years old
The jokes were bound to begin.

"Look! It's Abraham's dirt! He touched this dirt."
"Hey, Abraham's he walked through this exact water."
And my personal favorite.

"This is Abraham's rock. He touched this rock, you guys," Owen said to a group around him. I was ahead of him, and being who he is, Owen thought it would be funny to throw 'Abraham's rock' at my backpack.
Being the musician (not athletic) he is...he missed.  The rock sailed by and I continued on, oblivious.  Not one to give up, Owen plucked another rock from the dirt and gently lobbed it through the air at me...

And dropped me to my knees.

He didn't hit my backpack.
He hit my ultra sensitive Ulnar Nerve.

On my end, after minding my own business, I was suddenly on my knees, eyes watering, feeling like my arm was being cut in half by a knife.
Probably what I looked like when
I spun around after being hit...
Super cute, right?
But I know I must have looked like a professional soccer player. A small rock barely plunks against my tender elbow...I whirl around, 180 degrees, grabbing my arm in shock and pain only to see Owen's face light up in amused concern. The group behind him cock their heads and raise their eyebrows as I drop to my knees and let out a pitiful whine.  The chorus of "Oh my gosh, Kelsey!" begins and I berate my stupid nerve.
If I thought Owen apologized one million times in the line through Denver security (Two Trips and a Loss), it was nothing to how bad he felt at this moment.

While Owen felt awful...I was mortified. Of course the one stupid place in which the lightest touch can cause discomfort is THE landing place for the stupid rock thrown by the usually gentle pianist. 

My world went a bit black around the edges, my arm throbbed, and Owen chuckled guiltily while repeatedly apologizing.  If mine was the trip of blundering embarrassments, his was the trip of apologetic shenanigans. 

An hour passed before I could use my arm again - it's that stupid. I tried to play it down "Oh. I'm fine. No big deal. Why am I holding my arm awkwardly at my side? For fun of course! It's really comfortable..."

Shoot me now.

What's your Achilles' Heel? Do you have a trick knee, a bad hip, or maybe ankles that click? Can someone undo your world with a little flick of your ear? Let's commiserate together, I bet you won't look as foolish as I did :)

Come one, come all and FOLLOW my blog! Don't forget to comment below once you've done so to enter for a chance to win something from Israel, a gift card, a CD, and a little neon monkey! Comment on all five blogs and you will have 5 entries!

What you're winning!

The Day Hiking Kicked My Sorry White...

Kelsey's Israel Blundering Confessional: Part 3

I'm not an outdoorsy person, but if I am going to go outside, I hope it's for hiking.

However, since I am not often outside, I don't hike much. My friends don't hike much. It's not something I've had a lot of experience in, no matter how much I enjoy it each time I actually do.

In Israel, there were several hiking opportunities. Each one kicked my sorry white hide, and all in different ways.

En Gedi is where David hid from Saul up in the caves. Of course, I always expected this to be a desert place, dry and barren - no one would go there and they chose it for that reason.
En Gedi is a tropical waterfall area with lush green vines all around.  This hike, I more or less well as saw some sites we all could have done without.

Russians don't follow the "NO SWIMMING" rule
With the exception of missing my step and clattering down onto my face and dropping the camera I'd borrowed from my mother (and didn't get a scratch!).

The real beast was Masada.

Masada is a mountain with a snake trail slithering up its side. If you're willing, you can hike uphill for five miles in the desert sun to reach the top. If hiking isn't your thing, you can take the 1-2 minute gondola ride scaling up from the lobby below.

Masada is a tourist site due to its history.  Ages ago, the people of Masada were invaded by the Romans, but because of the difficulty to get to the top, the Romans weren't able to acquire Masada for an embarrassingly long time (for the Romans).
When they finally built a ramp to scale the mountain and take captive those from the land above, the heads of the families - deciding they wouldn't fall prey to Rome - killed their loved ones and then drew lots to kill each other.
When Rome reached the top, only Josephus remained.  His stories are where Jewish people get much of their history.

Being the dumb-dumb that I am, I took the challenge. Of COURSE I wanted to join Brosef and the rest in scaling this ridiculous mountain when I am not athletic or capable at all.
How far up we hiked. That white line is the trail. Those tiny black dots are people.

At first, trekking with Big D (one of my travelers) was easy. We set a good pace and made good time.  Brosef and Owen were racing far ahead of us, but I already knew Owen would win. Brosef didn't have the right shoes AND had brought his heavy backpack. It slowed him down.
Eventually, Big D had to leave me behind so I could wheeze up at my own pace.
So. Much. Wheezing.

Masada ruins
As I pressed on alone, the metallic taste in my mouth grew strong. I was sweating everywhere- EVERYWHERE. My parched mouth couldn't be satisfied with what little water I had. As if from a movie, I could hear the vultures calling out for my defeat, demanding I drop so they might feast...the world blackened around me. It was the end...
Pretty sure that part was in my head.

Eventually, I reached a place where Brosef was resting, Big D having passed him as well.
"Come on, Sister." He demanded in his most encouraging tone. "You can do this. Come to me."

He coaxed me the rest of the way up the mountain.  In part, I kept on because the person behind me was catching up and I didn't want her to beat me.

I finished in 29 minutes.
Let me break that down for you.
They consider Masada a 45 minute hike.  25 minutes is what kids do it in (young agile kids) - 24 minutes is the best time for a man who does this regularly.
I did it in 29.

Triumphant, I turned the corner to find all those from the gondola as well as those who had come before me - Brosef (28 minutes), Big D (25 minutes) and Owen (22 FREAKIN MINUTES).

Panting like the chubby kid who had to walk the mile back in school (that might have been me...), I dumped water all over my fire-truck-red face. I whined and moaned and couldn't cool down.
Nothing I did made me feel better.

So I sat and wheezed for ten minutes.
And then we were up and moving again, which, once the mountain beats rewards you.
The view from the top

Masada is amazing. One of the most spectacular views, a fascinating story, and a city still very intact for being millenniums old.

Honestly, I'd love to tell you that the silliest thing I did on this trip was turn beat red and dump a bottle of water all over myself.
But if I said that, I'd be lying!
You know you want to hear about what happened next...when rocks go flying.

What about you? What's the most proud you've been after a physical accomplishment?
Talk to me below, and don't forget...all comments of followers are entering themselves to win something from Israel, as well as a hearty gift card to one of your choosing: Amazon, Barns and Noble, iTunes. The prize pack keeps growing as I've thrown in a Neon Monkey and the newest CD of CR Smith

Brosef and I - less red, but still....

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sick Ain't Pretty on Me

Kelsey's Israel Blundering Confessional: Part 2

Newark airport has a strange policy. They don't turn on their AC until halfway through April or May, no matter how hot it is outside. They leave their heat on.
As we landed in Newark and stepped out into the airport, I thought I might die.  I don't travel well, you know, but I also don't take heat all that great either.

The heat is worse than any I've experienced in the year. It's sweltering with no escape. As we all drag ourselves around the airport, searching for water and comfort, my health drops lower and lower by the minute.  No matter how much water I drink, I can't seem to feel right.

We board the plane, and I know it's at least 9 hours before I will see land again.  It's a red eye, so I pop a Unisom and some Dramamine and allow myself to drift off, Owen to my left, Brosef on the other side of the aisle.

I sleep fitfully for the next two ish hours. Our plane is jolting and horrible, and I still feel too hot. Owen swaps me seats, no doubt seeing how pale I am and wondering if I need more space (I was in the middle).  By the aisle, I shift many times, occasionally nodding off only to snap back up again.

A never ending supply of awesome, even after 36+ hours of travel
Brosef falls asleep and my stomach starts to churn. That overjoyed feeling of "oh no please don't let this happen to me in a closed space next to a coworker! Please God No!"

But alas, my body has never been cooperative with my panic.  Let's just say all the water I kept drinking came back to visit, Linda Blair style.
And my sick bag had a hole.
And Owen had to get me HIS sick bag.
And I had to run off to the bathroom to continue to see the water from before again and again.

I kept nothing down. Owen was kind to me while Brosef slept, unable to know what torture I was in. I only felt worse having someone non-family taking care of me. He may be like a big brother...but he ISN'T. It's not the same.  All I wanted was for my brother to wake up and make me feel better, as I was mortified to be looked after by Owen.
My Brosef is the coolest guy I know

And to keep you all entertained.

Sick ain't pretty on me, and I was one sore sight to behold.  As we got off the plane, EVERYONE noticed how ill I looked and took pity on me.
But I was working. There wasn't time for sickness or embarrassment  I had 47 other people to take care of. So away I went, focusing on my job.

I don't think I felt well again until we stepped outside the airport and I once again felt a fresh breeze on my face.
Most glorious moment right there.
Brosef and Owen and I worked on our phones to make them international (theirs never did work quite right), and we prepared for the trip of a lifetime.  That first night, watching the sunset, I couldn't believe I was actually standing there. It's all I wanted to remember about that day.
Everyone connecting with the world again

Of course, I will forever remember the insanity behind my sickness. We never forget our most embarrassing moments, do we?  Well, I suppose I should then tell you about the one that happened a few days later...

Sunset over Jerusalem
Tell me, what's the most embarrassing thing YOU'VE had in front of a coworker, friend, or even stranger?
Come make me feel better - I need the virtual hug!
 And stay tuned for more to come

Don't forget all comments of followers will enter themselves to win something from Israel, as well as a hearty gift card to one of your choosing: Amazon, Barns and Noble, iTunes. You can end up with as many as 5 entries by the time this blog blast is done!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Two Trips and a Loss

As I previously stated in an earlier blog I spent two weeks in Israel in April. Now, it was an experience I can't find the right words to explain - it was so amazing, I'm left speechless.
I could try.
I could try and tell you all the highlights, but see...I would rather you go for yourself some day.

So instead, I present to you "Kelsey's Israel Blundering Confessional" - five posts over ten days for you to have a good laugh at the silly, embarrassing, or dumb things I did in Israel. Those are stories ANYONE can enjoy without understanding the location. There will also be a giveaway, so be sure to follow and comment on each blog.  To start us off, I'm picking one that isn't entirely my fault...the one that started the trip.

Without further ado:

Kelsey's Israel Blundering Confessional: Part 1

Traveling has never been a strong suit of mine.  I have the joys of getting airsick, or maybe it's land-sickness...I've never been able to tell.  All I know is my equilibrium is shot and I feel I've been on a boat for some time after.

And yet, that is not what I'm here to tell you about.

In April I was blessed to go to Israel through my work. I could take the next lifetime to tell you about each detail, but I figure by then you'll have already gone yourself!  What I will tell you are a few funny anecdotes that stick with me, and will continue to stick with me, when I'm old and grey.
Leaving in the wee hours of a snowy morning.

I am not the best traveler.
Yes, I get airsick, but it's more than that.
I am unlucky: the black cat, the broken mirror, and the number 13 have nothing on me.  Traveling with me is a danger.  A danger my coworker Owen learned on his own.  Of course, this story is his fault, so maybe HE'S just as unlucky as I am.

Security in my hometown airport isn't slacking, but there are stricter airports in the country. We set off on the first leg of our adventure and landed in Denver with the prospect of 4-5 hours layover.  Being that Denver is a major hub for us, my younger brother and I decided to walk lamely back and forth the length of Terminal Hub C.

We'd succeeded in a few rounds when we ran into Owen - bless his heart.  If you remember Owen from a past blog, you will know he's like an older brother/cousin to me, but the pair of us always leads to a good story.  Owen was on his way to a gallery with photos that used to be in Terminal Hub C but had been moved.  He offered for us to join him.
An Adventure!
My brother, from now on to be dubbed "Brosef", agreed at once and we trailed on down to the tram. The gallery was listed in a place called just plain "Terminal" that none of us had ever been to.

That should have been our first warning sign.

Along the way we joked about how we're safe as long as we don't go outside. We can just grab the tram back to Terminal Hub C when we're done at the gallery.
As we get of the tram, we take one of two escalators - both only going up.

Second Flag.
Here Brosef started to get curious, but I am a blind follower of these men I trusted so well and I question nothing.

Once we are now above the stairs and have passed TWO ARMED GUARDS, Brosef is concerned, and Owen is curious.  I stare out in search of the gallery while the two spin around and observe the place we had just left.

Do. Not. Enter.

"Huh," Owen said, scratching his chin in contemplation. "That's weird."
"What?" In hindsight I mentally slap myself for not catching on sooner, but I readily turned to Owen with bright eyes and positive thoughts.
"That sign above where we just left says 'Do Not Enter.' "
"Oh, well there has to be a way back down." I said, still naive and happy to be a part of the group.
"I don't know." Brosef eyed the space around us. "I'm thinking we'll have to go back through security."
"I think I've led us 'outside'," Owen chuckled.

I couldn't fathom that.  I HATE going through airport security. So I stayed positive (and got the picture above) while the guys went to the information desk to find out where we'd gone wrong.

As I approached them, they were laughing. Owen, rather guiltily, and Brosef like he'd heard the world's funniest joke.
Of course....
We have to go back through security.

Now, this isn't THAT big of a deal, so we traveled on through (after stopping at the gallery) and thanked our lucky stars we had all of our tickets and passports with us.  Laughing along the way, we pulled off our shoes, belts, and watches, dumped our liquid bags, and removed our electronics in preparation for security.

Again and again Owen apologized to us. Again and again we told him it's no trouble.
"We wanted an adventure, we're getting one. This isn't so bad." I smiled, knowing Owen always means well (almost always).

But of course.

As I put everything back together, a man appeared and asked me about my liquid bag.
The bag I'd successfully gotten through our airport with just a few hours earlier.
The bag that no flag had been thrown.
No problems.
No trauma or weapons or anything.

Mask and Cleanser? OF COURSE I brought it with me.

"Excuse me miss, is this your face wash?"
I'm already panicking as I looked up to see a squatty little TSA agent looking at me through basset hound eyes.
"It's too large for you to have in your carry on at 4floz. Can you put it in your checked bag?"
Immediately I launched into an explanation, "I'm from Chardeau. It got through there okay. I can't check it."
"I believe you, but you can't take it. Would you like to put it in your check bag?"
I tried again, obviously not clear the first time. "No, I can't. My checked bag didn't check in here."
Brosef, beside me, jumps in, "We accidentally got outside of security and have to go back through."
"I'm sorry. But you can't take this. Would you like to mail it to yourself?"
By this point annoyance and frustration have overruled all else. Airports do that to you, you know. I stared at him in disbelief that what was allowed in Chardeau isn't acceptable here - shouldn't all rules match? It was a brand new bottle! I have oily skin!!
"No." I sighed, giving up. "Just throw it away."
His eyes widened. "Are you sure? We have a post office and for just a few dollars you can..."
"It's only worth a few dollars. I don't care. Throw it away."

I put together the rest of my things (now missing a hair tie as well) and wandered over to Owen and Brosef. Owen, mortified by the fact that he lost me my face wash, promised he'd buy me a new one and apologized again.
"But they let you get through Chardeau!"
"I think he's just cheap." I said, rolling my eyes. Brosef and Owen raised their brows in question, and I smiled.  "He just needed face wash, so he got it from me for free!"

We rode the tram back (seeing some scary neck piercing that I thought must hurt), and as payback for the misadventure, we indulged telling EVERYONE of how Owen led us astray. The cheeky devil. He didn't live it down for the rest of the trip.
"Are you sure we should follow you?" I might say.
"I'm not following him." Brosef would joke.
"Just don't lead me astray." I say once as he leads me back to the group after we'd been separated.

I physically shuddered at the thought of this piercing 

As for the face wash, I found a new, much more expensive bottle (cheapest in the store) in Newark that did wonders for my skin while abroad.
And though I denied his request to pay for it, Owen gave me the money anyway, because that's the kind of person he is.
I vowed to pay him back. Especially after what happened next on the plane....

Want to hear more about my adventures in Israel? They'll be more to come!  In the meantime, tell me your BEST airport security story.  What have they taken from you? What have they let you keep? I have a zinger when we get on our way BACK from the trip.

So tell me tales, spin me stories, share with your friends...
Perhaps when we reach the end of this thing there will be something worthwhile involved...all comments of followers will enter themselves to win something from Israel, as well as a hearty gift card to one of your choosing: Amazon, Barns and Noble, iTunes.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

When Does the World Slow Down?

It's May.


It's May? More than halfway through? Has time sped up or have I been in a coma?

This year has been a whirlwind. In the last month, I've traversed the sands of Israel and worshiped on the sea of Galilee, heard whispers of all things awesome under the chilly mountains in Chardeau, and spent more time in the fictional world of Balire (pronounced "Bah-leer") than I have in years.

Time stops for no man (or woman) they say, and they weren't kidding. But I've been a faithful blogger...just not here. I left you all to go dancing around with a few fellow monkeys in a place where writing is queen (and  wishes to be king).

Just don't think I've forgotten you. You who dare tread into my Asylum and wonder about what it is in Kelsey's head that is ticking. For those of you who want to know more about this Fearless and Frightened Female from March, I have to say I haven't moved forward.

At least I haven't moved back - I've been busy okay! Out of the country. It's a valid excuse.  I still don't know if I want to go Indie or Traditional.  Honestly, I can't do anything until I have my most polished manuscript in front of me, and it is with an editor (I'm so excited to have it back I could scream).
Monstrosity is about a scaly green wolf beast named Aileen
in a reversed retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

More of my friends are flying the Indie path, and you'll hear about them when the time comes (September is the soonest and you WON'T want to miss her).

As for me, I'd just like to have a moment to appreciate May.  The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and the grass is once again emerald waves under my (sadly allergic) feet. I hope to find the time to tell you my favorite Israel stories. I have some funny ones.

For now, I'll leave you with this.
I have more today than ever before. And it feels good.

Hanging out on the Sea of Galilee