Just one more

Times Square in New York City is probably the only place I know of/have ever been that makes you want to stand in the center of it and spin around with your arms up in the air and a big smile on your face. Just like they do in the movies and on TV.

I settled for a slow spin with a smartphone. Still pretty cool.

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28 hours in NYC

We were in New York a few weeks ago for about 28 hours. And we got. shit. done.

I already told you about our first day, when we went to the 9/11 Memorial and High Line during the day and Times Square and the How I Met Your Mother bar at night.

Luckily we had an 11 a.m. checkout Sunday, so we took our time getting moving in the morning (the alcohol the night before may have played a part, but everyone actually felt really good).

We packed up and said our goodbyes to Megan and G with reminders that they’re gonna get their butts to Kentucky soon, whether they like it or not.

We had plans to meet with more of our cousins from up north for brunch, but also had a bit of time to kill before then, and our hotel was just a block or so from Central Park.

Guys, I love parks. They were some of my favorite things about England, about here in Louisville where there are a ton, and New York doesn’t disappoint.

We grabbed coffee first, obvi, then took a walk through the park.

And a seat for a few minutes.


Then we played photo shoot, because that’s what we do.

So cold. But so cute.


On the other side of the park we saw something else pretty cool. A small group was unloading boxes of carnations from a cab. They all had something tied to the stems.

Turns out, it was a girl’s 29th birthday, and in honor of that day, she’d be giving out 2,900 carnations she’d gotten donated from 1-800-Flowers. The notes on the stems encouraged the recipients to pass it on or in its place, an act of kindness in honor of her day.


It was Rachel’s birthday that day, too, so we got a picture of them together.


Such a cool idea and I may or may not be in the midst of planning my own way to pass it on.

Brunch was at a delicious restaurant in Greenwich Village, Barraca, where they had bottomless sangria brunch so really that’s all it took to sell us.

It was so great to spend time with our cousins we don’t always get to see very often, and the food was pretty amazing, too.


After we got our money’s worth of sangria, we said our goodbyes to the fam and headed over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Sami’s one request for the trip.

I wish we could have spent two days just walking through that place. But due to our time schedule, we only had about two hours. Still, we saw some pretty awesome stuff.

I thought I would take more pictures then I did that weekend. Photo fail. But I think I was spending more time just taking everything in. It was a quick lil’ jaunt to the city, but we made the absolute most of it. And I can’t wait to go back.

Bright lights big city

Two seconds into NYC this is our view.

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Two seconds into NYC for Megan and G, they see Peter Dinklage. (Who was referred to as “The Angry Elf” for the rest of the trip and in any mentions of him despite his other work, including his current awesomeness on Game of Thrones).

Oh and speaking of Elf, this happened…

Anyways. When we left off with the trip recap, we had just met up with Megan and G, and were headed back to the hotel to prepare for the night out in the city.

Luckily there was a little market across the street so we could get pregaming supplies – entirely too much beer and also Doritos and chips and salsa. Because of course.

Wanna see a bit of our room?





We stayed at the Salisbury, which I highly recommend because of the convenient location and the really nice rooms and not at all because it kind of looks like The Shining in the hallways.
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We played our new favorite game, Heads Up, which is kind of like Headbandz only not and much better and it was on Ellen so you know it’s the shit. And one of the cards we had to get someone to guess was Bill Cosby and all Rachel and I could think of to do was say “After I stick my spoon in your pudding..” Thank you, Kenan Thompson… (That isn’t that video but one almost as good.)

Dinner was at PJ Clarke’s, which was nothing to write home about, but it was good nonetheless. And Sami got mussels and I ate a few so I may or may not be kind of over my texture issues?

PJ Clarke’s was right across from Lincoln Center, so we ran across the street for some photo ops after we were done eating.

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Then, it was time for the most important photos of our trip. The ones from Times Square at night.

Before, during and after our own pictures, we photobombed other peoples’. Mainly they did. I had an ill-timed need to run to McDonald’s to pee. Because beers. But my sisters, Chuckie and G are definitely in the background of a lot of peoples’ pictures from that night. WIN.

After we’d reached our photo quota and started to freeze, we were ready for the main event. Drinks at McGee’s Pub. If you’re a fan of How I Met Your Mother (and really, who isn’t?) you’ll be excited/happy/jealous to know that this pub is what MacLaren’s from the show is based on, and is visited on occasion by members of the cast.

Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, we didn’t see any of them there. I did, however, ask the bouncer if Neil Patrick Harris was there or would be there soon. And tweeted to him and Bryan Cranston (in town doing a show on Broadway) to come have drinks with us. Didn’t work.

But we did manage to get pleasantly plastered, rack up the biggest bill for drinks I have ever seen and/or been part of in my life, play Heads Up in the bar, make new friends at the tables around us and also try chocolate covered pretzel shots which were life-changing.

Best joint celebrating of birthdays ever. And a much-needed, very fun night with people I love. And, I like to think, almost with NPH.

Better the second time around

Want to know what I remember most about the first time I went to New York? The fact that the boys in my class kept chasing pigeons and my dad was getting pissed because he was having to keep after them about it all day every day.

So naturally, when we went back a couple weeks ago, we re-enacted, kind of.


Oh I also remember being scared to death at the top of the Empire State Building (because heights) and buying Oakleys (sunglasses) from these pretty sketch vendors in the park who we later watched run from the cops and then get arrested.

Yay for tourism!

So yeah.. we went to New York a couple weekends ago because once upon a time we promised Sami we’d take her this year.

What?!? Yeah. Back in the day, when we realized this momentous birthday would need a big celebration since we’d all finally be of legal drinking age (not to mention the fact that I had an allegedly momentous birthday the same year as this would happen) we told Sam we’d go all out for her 21st birthday.

Mind you, this was before we had full-time jobs and had no idea how much money we’d make/have to make this trip happen. And late last year, we were reminded of our promise.

Lucky for us, Santa (and our parents) are pretty awesome and our combined Christmas/birthday presents were plane tickets up to Boston and a hotel room in NYC for a night. Who knew, back when we planned this, that Rachel and Chuckie would live in a reasonable driving distance from the city and make it so we could get the experience but not have to worry about paying for a place to stay for four days.

Besides chasing pigeons, we actually fit a lot into those two days in NYC.

First up, a stop at the Freedom Tower/World Trade Center/9-11 Memorial.


That memorial is beautiful. It’s a testament to the beautiful lives of those people who were lost that day. I couldn’t take enough pictures of the waterfalls and names of the fallen cut into the stone around it.

We learned that when it’s one of the victims’ birthdays, a white rose is placed with their name along the memorial.


We paid our respects and took in the sights and feelings and reverence of that place and I’m so glad we got to include a visit there on our trip.


Later in the afternoon we made our way to The High Line, a very cool park in Manhattan’s West Side that was built on an old railroad line above the street.


The weather was pretty great that day – considering it’s been cold for just about as long as I can remember at this point – so it was nice to slowly make our way through the park seeing some of the sights. We saw several cool buildings…

…busy(ish) streets….


…amazing street art…



..and just a little tiny bit of the Hudson River.




There were tons of places along the park’s “trail” to sit and relax and I bet it is beautiful in the spring and it’s somewhere I’d be hanging out all the time if I lived anywhere near it.

The High Line is where my cousin Megan, and her boyfriend, G, met up with us. They’d come in from Jersey to go out with us that afternoon and night and spend the night.

So, once they got there, we headed back to the hotel to pregame, watch the UofL game and get ready for a night on the town in which we may or may not have tried to get Bryan Cranston and Neil Patrick Harris to come hang out with us..

But that’s a story for another day..

Pictures now, words later

New York, New York…. last time I was there I was a silly seventh-grader more concerned about what my friends were doing than I was about seeing the sights. Lucky for me, I had the chance to go back when I was old enough to appreciate it.

Lots to tell about our trip, but for now, here’s a few pictures to get you interested..

The Tale of Laura and The Ghost Lizard

If you follow me on Twitter at all, you know that I tend to Tweet exponentially more when I can’t sleep, which unfortunately for me but fortunately for y’all has been happening a lot more often lately. Part of it’s some changes in my balance of chemicals but for a while, it was attributed to The Ghost Lizard.

Now. Many of you don’t know the origin of GL. But I’m 90 percent sure he found me in Jamaica and stowed away in my bags and came home with me.

You see, one night while we were there this past summer, we had a lock-in at the church with our friends in Jamaica. And for some strange reason and because Jason wanted sleep, TJ and I were left somewhat in charge for the night, meaning we sat in the room out by the sanctuary and watched a movie on his laptop while taking turns going back and telling the youth to be quiet and go to sleep because we had a bus ride to the beach leaving at 4:30 a.m.

Well. Maybe it’s because the movie was The Woman In Black and therefore made us more aware of ghosts, but we heard a noise at some point we were pretty sure was not a kid, because they’d finally quieted down and (hopefully) gone to sleep. We heard it a couple of times and TJ said it was a lizard, while I said it was a ghost. Ta-da! Ghost Lizard was born – or discovered or whatever.

I thought nothing of it for a few weeks after I came home, but then one night I couldn’t sleep and it sounded like, I kid you not, a small animal was moving through the boxes around my makeshift bedroom in my parents’ basement.

Now, maybe I was just super sleep deprived or crazy, but you all, I was standing on my bed at 3:15 a.m. that first night holding a book in one hand and a pen in the other hand (sufficient weapons, I think) ready to attack if needed. Or to push the boxes and see if the thing made any more noise.

I can’t handle rodents. I really can’t. There was a mouse in the garage once (actually probably several) and I have never gotten in to my car faster than I did that week. I also once screamed at it as I ran “You don’t own me, mouse!”

So that was my first thought as to what might have been crawling around in my room making noise. Ew.

But the next day I looked around and moved some boxes and dug through some stuff and there was no sign of a mouse or anything like it at all – no holes in boxes, no rodent poop, nothing dead.

Next night? Something started moving in the walls.

Few things are as unsettling as being woken up by something skittering within the walls along the pipes and I’m just laying there staring at the ceiling hoping it A.) Shuts up and B.) Doesn’t find it’s way out and attack/eat me.

I hoped it was just there for the night and would find it’s way back outside and I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.

But then it came back, and all of the sudden I’m googling shit like, “Do squirrels sleep?” and imagining this Ghost Lizard asshole just moving around in there to mess with me. Because it was seriously right behind my head in the wall.

I didn’t even care that the thing was in the wall – I would have supported him moving to another room, where he wasn’t DIRECTLY BY MY FACE when I needed at least 3 hours of consecutive sleep. But nooooooooo, that would be silly.

All of this time, also, I’ll have you know, I’m picturing the damn thing looking like the cockamouse from How I Met Your Mother and OMG I wish I could find a clip from that episode because its one of my favorites and solidified my love for Jason Segel.

So after a few sleepless nights and when attempts to scare the thing to death or at least back out of the house didn’t work (I hit the wall a lot and bruised a couple knuckles. It was like a bar fight only lamer) – I told the Killer of all the Gross Stuff, Dad, to take care of it. So he threw poison in the wall that would make the thing get thirsty and go outside and die, he said.

Fine by me.

Except the POISON DIDN’T WORK. The Ghost Lizard was immune to poison, because, he was already dead. Ghosts can’t be killed. They can only “move on,” which I learned from Casper.

(Speaking of – Devon Sawa is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter. And he’s still real hot.)

I think it took about a month on and off for whatever it was to finally go away. I don’t know what worked or how, but I like to think that really threatening last punch to the wall I gave (when Dad said, “Stop hitting the wall before you put a hole through it and whatever it is comes out and gets you”) that sealed the deal.

The Ghost Lizard was vanquished (I think) and all is right with the world.

Start spreadin’ the news…we’re leavin’…in three weeks.

In a few weeks, my sisters and Chuckie and I will reunite in Boston for the first time since this time, but for a different reason entirely.

You see, once upon a time, when Rachel and I were young and thinking our jobs would pay us well enough to do such things – we told Sami, “Yeah! When you turn 21, we’ll celebrate by taking you to New York City!”

And all these years later, she remembered, although I’ve heard it was with a little help from one of my roommates. Whoops.

Don’t get me wrong, we always wanted to take her. But there was that whole paying to get up there and having a place to stay.

Well fate intervened in like 12 different ways – including the fact that one of the three of us would be a short drive away from NYC by Sami’s 21st birthday. That meant we could split our time in Boston – where we could stay for free – and NYC.

Add in the most amazing, awesome, wonderful parents and Santa Claus, who gifted us for Christmas and birthdays the plane tickets to get up there, and well, we’re making it happen.

Over Rachel’s actual birthday and St. Patrick’s Day, the four of us (and hopefully a couple cousins that live close by) will be celebrating in New York! Sami turned 21 a little over a week ago, Rachel will turn 27 while we’re there, and a few weeks after we get back I’ll – gulp – turn 30. ACK.

So anyways. As part of this trip, the great Itinerist (is that a thing? or is it just itinerary maker? or tour guide) – Rachel – is making a list of stuff for us to do while we’re in town. We had to send her some ideas and mine ended up pretty doable, I think – an NBC tour and a visit to the World Trade Center Memorial, and as is always on my wish list for a Boston trip – going to see the Sox play.

(I’m one for three. They aren’t doing NBC tours while we’re there. And there aren’t any Red Sox games. I DON’T ASK FOR MUCH, PEOPLE.)

Well, actually I do. Here’s my ENTIRE list of stuff I actually want to do in New York and in Boston during our five day trip.

• Be the one to say “LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIIIIIIIIIGHT!” during SNL’s cold open.
• Ice skate at Rockefeller Center (because, let’s be real, it’ll still be winter when we are there because winter will never end)
• Have this happen to me:
• Hop in a cab and tell them to “FOLLOW THAT CAR!” just to see what they’d do.
• Speaking of cabs – find the Cash Cab and be on and win that show.
• Convince somebody random to fake propose to me at the top of the Empire State Building and cause a ruckus on FB when I post the picture after we get home.
• “Good game” a famous person.
• Be an extra in whatever show is filming there at the time.
• Find out where the Central Park Rangers are and see if they’re as mean as they’re portrayed in Elf.
• Instagram the shit out of everything.
• Buy fake sunglasses out of a suitcase in the park like I did when I was in seventh grade (the only other time I’ve been to New York. Also, moments after it happened we saw the people we bought them from get arrested.)
• Go to Times Square and ask someone where Times Square is.
• Visit FAO Schwarz and play something on the floor piano like in Big. It’s still there, right?
• In Boston: go to Wahlburgers and meet Alma Wahlberg and become best friends with her.
• Also in Boston: find Big Papi (David Ortiz for those not in the know) and become best friends with him.
• Have an awesome five days with my sisters and brother-in-law.

I think I’ll be able to check all those off, no problem.

Wherein I am either the worst chaperone or the best one

I don’t remember the first time I decided I wanted a tattoo, but I know it’s been at least about 7 or 8 years now.

The first time I remember even coming close to following through with wanting to get one was on Spring Break in college with some of my sorority sisters. Yes I was a cliche, don’t judge me.

I didn’t follow through then because I wasn’t sure what I wanted. And I also didn’t want to get it done at some random shop in Panama City – THAT’S where I drew the line at the cliche, aren’t you proud?

The idea came to mind a few other times, more often after I finished college. I even knew what I wanted and where I wanted it. A fleur de lis, on my foot.

So I did some trial runs. Temporary tattoos (especially ones at football games for some reason) were put on different spots on my foot and I thought about what I would get that I’d want to look at for the rest of my life.

I settled on a fleur-de-lis, because it represents the city I grew up in and love and no matter where I went it’d always remind me of home.

I talked about it once or twice with my parents, who didn’t seem too concerned either way, except for when my dad asked why I would even want one “Cause you don’t even wear a watch.” I’m still trying to figure out how those two things are related.

My aunt, who has several tattoos of her own, told me when I was ready to come up and visit, and her tattoo artist would take care of me. I kept saying OK, but never ended up following through for whatever reason.

I made a bet with my brother-in-law that I wouldn’t get addicted and want more and if I got more than one before I turned 60, I owed him like $100 bucks.

Ashley did a test run one night after a few too many drinks.


That’s the night I decided it needed to be a LIL BIT smaller. But the artistry is beautiful.

Let’s change direction a little bit for a minute.

The first time I went to Jamaica was in 2004. I was 20 years old, about to be a junior in college and that summer changed all kinds of things.

We made several friends that summer, and, mind you, this was before Facebook and Twitter and iPhone apps that let you text overseas for free. But we kept up those friendships, when they visited us in Kentucky and then when two of us originals went back there in 2009, we made sure to see all our old friends, a few in particular.

When I had the chance to go back again this summer, I got greedy. I wanted to make sure I saw all of my friends when I was over there – even those who had moved away from Mandeville or weren’t involved with youth fellowship anymore. So before I left I sent some FB messages asking if I’d see them.

In keeping up with all of my friends from Jamaica on social media it was like we hadn’t left, like it hadn’t been a few years since we’d seen each other. I got to see Jason and Nick in Kingston and TJ showed up at our welcome dinner.

TJ is an artist. A pretty amazing one at that. And he does tattoos. That night when I saw him for like the first time in 4 years, the first thing that came to my mind was to ask him to do my tattoo – the one I’d been wanting for years but never sucked it up and gotten it done.

Because he’s awesome, he said yes, of course he’d do it and that was that.


My kids were excited – they wanted to come watch (probably because they thought it’d hurt and wanted to see me in pain..I know how they are) and I reminded them that none of them were allowed to do anything like this while under my supervision. (That whole “do as I say not as I do thing.” I’m gonna be a great parent.) Spoiler alert – They didn’t get to come watch the process but they saw it and poked at it and freaked out about it the next morning.

Anyway, once we figured out that I’d get it done the last day I was there, I didn’t think too much more about it. It was gonna happen and I wasn’t going to change my mind. And my group asked about it every single day.

Fast forward to Sunday, July 14 – our last day in Jamaica and Tattoo Day. After helping lead the church service with our group and the group from Andrews, I said goodbye to the youth – who were going to a pool party and then their respective host’s houses to pack – and went to TJ’s to face the needle.

I didn’t get nervous until I texted him and asked if he was ready.

Then my hands got clammy and my heart did that really fast beating thing that it does when I’m anxious (or about to jump into 30-degree water).

Luckily, we pretty much got right to the tattooing as soon as I got there – gave me less time to freak out. However, it also gave me less time to change out of my dress from church, which wouldn’t have been a bad idea had the tattoo not involved putting my foot in his lap.

But anyways.

I asked for rum, which is apparently not allowed before tattooing cause it thins your blood and if you bleed it won’t stop and hold the hell up I’m gonna bleed?

I also had to pick a fleur-de-lis design. Did you all know that fleur-de-lis can look about 124,901,230 different ways? ‘Cause I didn’t.

But I settled on one and while TJ got the stencil ready I texted my sisters to let them know what I was doing. Sami was in Rome, and Rachel was on my parents’ couch talking to them, neither of us telling them what was going on.

She told me later they were trying to guess what I’d be doing that day and she had to bite her tongue cause they had no idea..

So then. On went the stencil.


Pardon my weird-looking foot.

And then the buzzing. I think the sound is worse than the actual needle, but TJ will tell you that’s a lie because my foot twitched about 30 times while he was working. So much so that I’m kind of surprised I didn’t cause him to draw a line up to my ankle, or tear a hole in his pants leg that I was gripping with my toes.

Also, my fingerprints may or may not still be on the chair arms in Pat’s (his mom’s) living room, where this was all taking place.

But the two of them kept me calm and I managed to stop shaking enough to get some pictures.



He told me to pick a color to fill it in with, which I completely forgot I would have to do. I went with old faithful: blue. But navy blue, not a blue people would think represented UK, ’cause that would just be awful.


And then it was done. I lotioned it up and stared at it a lot. And thought that for all my over-reacting and twitching it wasn’t that painful.


I don’t know what it was that made me decide that this was the time I’d actually go through with getting it done (I have an idea though) but I’m glad I did.

It means a lot that it was done in a place I love, by a person I care about, during a week I’ll always remember. And that’s alright by me.

Besides the design meaning Louisville, it now has even more meaning because of where and when and who was involved. But yes. It means a lot. And it looks really good. And I checked it off my list. Oh, also it was done while I was chaperoning a church trip with teenagers and allegedly I was “in charge.” So. There’s that.

And, yes, I already know what and where the next one will be. I’ve already alerted my tattoo artist…

Best Week Ever. Greatest Hits.

I’m just about done telling/showing you about the Jamaica trip. Except for one more thing to tell you about later that’s such a big deal it gets its own post. And here’s a hint: It involves crossing something off my List.

But that’s for another time.

I took almost 1000 pictures that week. Well personally I probably took about 600. I gave my camera to kids/Jordon a whole lot.

I’ve shown you several, and none really do the week or the relationships we have with our friends there any justice.

But these are my absolute favorites from the trip. Please enjoy.