Category Archives: Some Thoughts

Same Same, But Different

For years Kyra and I have talked about traveling internationally together.  And as this blog has become more about our “unlisted buckets” than the actual items on our bucket list, it seems only appropriate to reflect on the fruition of our longtime plan and adventure to Thailand.

Exactly three weeks ago today, Kyra and I met up in the Dubai airport; Kyra coming from Houston, me from Johannesburg (more on that later). After another flight, we arrived in Bangkok where we stayed for three days, touring temples, buying ridiculously inexpensive clothes and jewelry, visiting Thai spas and meeting/becoming celebrities.

Having become somewhat, though never entirely, acclimated to the Thai culture, we made our way to Koh Samui to meet up with our lovely Contiki Tour group. Aside: We highly recommend Contiki if you are looking for a fun, easy way to travel and meet like-minded-20-something-year-olds from all over the world. Keep reading for more details.

With our group we then spent the next nine days “island hopping” via death wish ferry between Koh Tao, Koh Phanang and our starting place, Koh Samui.

Here are some of our highlights in no particular order:

1. Snorkeling off of Koh Tao. We spent the entire afternoon on a boat, so naturally it was a pretty good day. The excursion started and ended on fairly scary notes– i.e. the discovery of the complete lack of ambulances on Thai islands and experiencing a monsoon whilst at sea. But we quickly learned that any type of death related fear while in Thailaind can be calmed by a few Orange Breezers, marine life and the belting of Titanic/Celine’s “Near Far Wherever You Are.”

2. Touring of the Grand Palace and Temples in Bangkok. On our last full day in Bangkok we decided to take a less shopping-oriented day trip and visit the historic Buddhist temples in Bangkok. We took a canal tour through the city (another boat, we should have known it was going to be a good day) and also were driven by a very kind cabbie named Tanapon to the Grand Palace and several of the popular temples. The design and structure of these buildings was astonishingly ornate. I described it like Versailles x 10 in Asia. We couldn’t believe that the buildings were made by hand so many years ago. This was also the day that we discovered that Kyra was a celebrity in Thailand. At the temples no less that 20 people tried to take their picture with my tall, blonde and beautiful best friend.

3. Off Roading Trip in Koh Samui. On our first day with the Contiki Tour, the majority of the group went on a day trip to hold monkeys, RIDE ELEPHANTS, swim in waterfalls and see a few lookout points on the island. Pretty great day all in all, but probably our favorite part was the fact that we took off-road jeeps everywhere, driven by some crazy (and I can hostly say that they were crazy) Thai men. One had an afro bigger than mine and laughed like an evil monkey. He was so fun, though. From that first afternoon on the islands, it became clear that there were very few, if any, laws. On this day the lawlessness worked in our advantage because we were allowed to ride atop our jeeps while we traveled up and down the mountains. There was a whole lot of screaming going on, but it was a blast.

4. Farwell Paint Party. I mean who doesn’t love a good blacklight party? Be honest.

5. The Contiki Experience/ Our Sappy Story. Our trip truly would not have been the same without the people we met along the way. Our awesome Australian guide Jeenah, the crazy Irish gang, our new Scottish besties Rachel and Jenny and the 21 other international friends made the trip worthwhile.  We now feel confident in saying that we have close friends from all over the world that are willing to “share a bucket” or “ring the bell” at a moments notice. It was so great to get to learn about different cultures, people, upbringings, view points and of course, accents. By the end of the nine days we were like a family and it was hard to say goodbye!

In Thailand, vendors in the market have popularized the saying “same same, but different.” The phrase is basically used to defend knock-off or cheap brands by convincing shoppers that their products are the same as the real thing… but different. This saying is now used on all kinds of neon tank tops and t-shirts sported by island party-goers and we learned can be easily woven into conversation when on the islands.

Having had a week to reflect upon the trip, I realize that our experience in Thailand and with our Contiki  family exemplified this saying quite nicely. Each one of us was different in many ways, each bringing a different life experience to the trip. But we were also the same in the sense that we were all young adults, wanting to explore the world a little. Like I said this is sappy and I am definitely not a traveling expert, but the thing I learned most from my trips was that, yes, there are so many different types of people out there, with different lives, beliefs, passions, etc. But in the end we aren’t all that different, we are kind of the same. Most of us just want to live our lives in the fullest and happiest way we can.

This trip added to the full and happy summer that Kyra and I are leading. Thanks for reading! Check back for a post about my Africa trip and visit to the Abita Brewery next week!

Sneaux Daze

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Whenever we were considering what activities to include in our bucket list during the oppressively hot month of  August, Kyra and I had one rule.

1. It has to be something that we can/will feasibly do

Naturally, the idea of seeing snow at the ever-tropical Cabana was not something that fit into that category, nor was  it something we could control.

But as I said last week, just because something isn’t listed, doesn’t mean it’s not bucket-worthy.

While, those of you experiencing Polar Vortex Janus (Ohhh my gassssh) are likely incredulous, if not offended, by the fact that we consider this thin layer of white stuff “snow,” please remember that we feel the same way when you talk about “the heat.”

With that said, please enjoy these delightful pictures of Cabana and Iza, while we bask in the last few hours of our snow days (aka catch up on homework yolo).

**And for any former-athlete-readers, please feel free to let me know when in my life it will no longer be socially acceptable to wear my purple sweats, and how do you suggest I cope with this. Thx. **

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Thanks for the pics, Rainman

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The Unlisted Buckets

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In my short time as a bucket list expert I have noticed something:

There are multitudes of bucket-list-worthy moments in life. Many of which are not included in our list.

Bucket lists are a great way to showcase and hopefully experience all of the cool things one wants to do before __blank__ (the end of the year, the end of college, the end of your  life (eek)).  But what about those not-so-hip things that you/me/we are inevitably going to do before said __blank__–the ones that happen even if they are not bullet points on a prophetic list?  Are those not equally, if not more, important, exciting and noteworthy? And if so, is it wrong to overlook them in my blog dedicated to the pursuits of our senior year? Aren’t they worth celebrating?

Nope.

JK. These are rhetorical questions. Obvi my answer is yes; yes I do think small victories and foreseeable achievements are worth celebrating, that’s why I am writing this post.

This weekend marked the senior class’s last home meet, our senior meet. While it was  far less emotional than I expected, there was definitely a celebratory feeling that afternoon. Well…after we completed our full load of events of course.

We weren’t necessarily  celebrating any phenomenal swims that day, even though there were plenty, but the fact that we made it through all four years and are reaching the end of “the process.” In many ways it was a glorified participation award. But in a sport like swimming, especially in the college environment,  participating is a feat to be celebrated. Forging functional relationships with all the weirdos who chose to swim for LSU is something to be celebrated. Being a member of a team for fours year and working every day to improve it and yourself is definitely something to be celebrated, no matter what the end results might be.

No, attending our senior meet was not on our bucket list. Jumping off the 10 meter platform didn’t even make the cut. It was simply something we assumed we would get around to, like other students might view their last college final or last greek social function. It was not an event at the beginning of this year that we thought “oh that will be so cool, we have to do that,” but provided that we didn’t drown or give up on ourselves (another feat to be celebrated) it would happen. And I’m glad it did.

I’m proud of each and every one of us for making it to this point– for completing our senior meet, for finishing our last circuit, for graduating (!), even for not getting kicked out of the student section during football season!

There have been a lot of “lasts” this year and more to come. Our bucket list will continue to serve as a means to live our remaining time in Baton Rouge to the fullest, while remembering that without the unlisted buckets there wouldn’t have been a bucket list in the first place.

More hilarious pictures of people jumping off the platform, aqui

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Bucket List

LA

Hey y’all!

If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t posted in a while, and I apologize for that.  I took a brief hiatus while school, swimming, and rush (gag me) got underway and now I am back with a vengeance, equipped with a new and I think rather exciting idea for the direction I want this blog go in.

If you are just joining me, so far this blog has been pretty much about random things that interest me or that I have done.

This summer, having lived in Houston for a bit and going on a few vacations, I had the luxury and time to experience lots of cool, new, and interesting things.

Now I am back to the grind in the good ole’ Baton Rouge for my senior year (WHAT?!).

Having lived in Baton Rouge my entire life I have become pretty accustomed to hearing phrases like “BR is seaux boring,” or “The only thing here is football.”

Now I’m not going to lie, I have probably said those exact words myself at one point in my life. I’m not going to pretend that Baton Rouge is anything like Chicago or Houston. But having observed my surroundings a little more closely these past few months I have realized that there are actually a lot of things to do down here in South Louisiana, a lot of Baton Rouge staples that I haven’t gotten around to seeing/eating/experiencing in my 21 years. There are also plenty of things I have done here that I would like to do again before I graduate and potentially leave Baton Rouge for a while.

So… I have decided that I am going to get up off the couch and see what’s out there.

 I created a bucket list with my BFF, roommate,  and fellow senior Kyra Jones.  We want to use this list to ensure that we get the most out of our last year in the Red Stick, to challenge us to try new things, to provide us with a small relief from our often monotonous schedules as collegiate student athletes, to make us stop eating at the same college town restaurants for every meal, stop going to the same seedy bars every single night out,  and to encourage us to truly take in the culture that BRLA and the surrounding areas are overflowing with.

The list isn’t too long. It isn’t too short. We think it is actually achievable in 8 months time.

Each time we check something off the bucket list ( and we have made some progress already) I will post about it on this here blog! If I find something else that I thought was bucket list worthy I will post it here as well.

If I start slacking, all of you 25 followers better hold me accountable!

Click the link below to read the list. We are pretty happy with it. I’ll let y’all know how it goes and if you have any suggestions, recommendations, possible amendments, or would like to join us on any of our escapades please comment below 🙂

Bucket List

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The Throwbackiest Thursday

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Has anyone else noticed how Instagram was infiltrated with high quality TBT’s today?

From fans’ football photos, to snaps from sororities’ bid day soirées, it seemed like everyone in the Baton Rouge area had a great moment captured on phone that they just had to share. There were far fewer “look I was cute baby” throwbacks, and quite the abundance of tb’s harkening back to memories from last fall.

Not that I have anything against babies or their photos, my opinion of them is actually quite the opposite, but when it comes to TBTs I do have a preference.

If I were to rank the most commendable throwbacks it would go in this order:

1. A Candid/hilarious/genuine picture of you, your friends, your family, etc. that brings back a memory to all of those involved esp. if this memory is something bizarre or one likely to have been forgotten since it was forged

2. An awkward middle school and/or preteen photo

3. Baby pics, duh -Even better if they are fat. Best if they have tiny legs.

So I guess what I’m saying here is that a lot of what I saw on Instagram fell into rank 1. From this information I have derived a theory:

Everyone is ready for summer to be over. Gasp!

While I know we all love summer, the sun, and less responsibility, and during the month of May it seems to be all anyone can think or tweet about, to me it seems that in Baton Rouge people are getting ready for our routine again. For football season to start, for the humidity level to get down at least to 80%, to live in the freedom of our cheap college-kid homes, to be up the butt with our friends again, for rush to be a distant memory hidden deep within the darkest places of our minds, and to have something to focus on other than the tv in front of us.

I know I feel this way. Tonight I “moved back in” to my college house. I use quotes because I only brought enough clothes for one day. But it feels good to be back with these not so perfectly clean floors under my feet and to be getting back to my normal way of life, as I look toward my senior year.

(Just kidding. The fact that I cannot get the floors at my house as clean as they are at my parents will haunt me until I have the means to get a maid. I hate dirty feet.)

( I am also horrified about starting my senior year)

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Vacation Is

A Poem by Laura Furr

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Vacation is:
Taking a nap at 9:30 pm
Waking up an hour later
Brushing teeth
Putting retainer in
Writing this poem
And promptly going back to sleep.

YOLO

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Home

This is all you need to know.

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Independence Woman

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Doesn’t this scream INDEPENDENT LADY?

Happy Independence Day fellow Americans! What a great day it is to recall our nation’s past and present accomplishments to allow for freedom. Today I’m going to take a different approach on the obligatory American spiel and talk about something that has been on my mind recently: Independent women.

*Cue Destiny’s Child here… I hope you get the same Bey promo I did*

Something I think my generation takes for granted are the incredible advances women have made in just the span of a few decades in our country, and the privileges we have simply because we live in America.

In my group of closest girlfriends 99% aspire to have careers–and not just any ole’ career either. My best friend is studying nuclear physics at Georgia Tech (psssh). Two of my room mates want to be chemical engineers, another is heading to dental school. My cousin dreams of being an artist, I a professional news junkie, and a several of my team mates are studying sociology to help the likes of veterans and children from broken homes. The one outlier in my group of friends wants to be a stay at home mom and that’s great too because she’s going to be the best at it!

And the most inspiring part about it all is that our male peers and counterparts respect it.

Compare that to staggering reports of sexual harassment in Egypt where women can’t speak out or even walk in their city without being oppressed in one of the most degrading ways imaginable, and one can see a mind-bogglingly severe disparity between our cultures.

I have always thought of myself as a relatively independent gal. I’m perpetually single, I can go to the bathroom without a gaggle of girls by my side, and I aspire to have a career and make my own money. You know, that sort of thing.

But living alone in Houston this summer has taught me a lot about really being independent. I have to budget my money, kill roaches on my own; figure out when, where, and how I’m going to feed myself, and plan my day around my work hours.

Then when I’m at work it’s an entirely different merry-go-round. Luckily I knew this going in (after reading up about first job advice on the internet), but my boss expects me to figure out a lot of stuff on my own! Can you believe that?

Anyway, I have been enjoying this bout of self-growth and discovery. Today to celebrate America (?) I went on a nature walk through the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, independently. And by that I mean all alone. It was very peaceful. I mean when was the last time any of you were completely alone with nature? For me I think it was ummm… never.

I’m not going to lie, I did have to turn around several times because of the potentiallity of snakes or you the fact that I was walking alone in a wooded area where murderers could be because honestly what American woman did not have a mother who instilled the (ir)rational fear of being murdered around every corner deeply inside of her… But overall I was satisfied with the day as I got to spend sometime with nature and myself, both of whom I find to be p cool, while also exhibiting my ability to plan an execute a little independent adventure.

I know touring around a park alone is not the greatest feat of independence out there. Nor do I really think it can be considered a feat at all. But while I was walking through the beautiful Texas forrest I couldn’t help but think about other women who live or lived in societies where simply the idea of venturing alone would be unheard of. How could you walk down a hill without a man’s arm to hold? How could you walk in public wearing shorts and a tank-top without the crippling fear of being ridiculed or even raped by your own countryman?

So yes, maybe my adventure wasn’t a huge deal, but I think being a 21-year-old girl-woman who is feels comfortable and safe enough in her own skin to be the semi-independent girl-woman that she is is a pretty big deal. It’s the “small” things like that that make me proud and extremely grateful to be a member of a society that so highly values freedom and independence.

Happy Independence Day, America. ❤ You.

P.S. I saw two bunnies on the trail!!!! Couldn’t snap a pic, but there’s a turtle in one of the pics down there though . #RIPDarrell

THE  PICS

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Tuesday Shoesday: American Edition

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USA. USA. USA.

I know Fourth of July in’t until next week and all, but the real meaty American stuff if happening right now… and these shoes are great.

Between the Supreme Court issuing six rulings yesterday, striking down Section 5 of the prolific Voting Rights Act of 1965 today, and possibly making history tomorrow with a decision on Prop 8; this is a week that I am extremely proud to be an American. No matter what your opinions are on the issues, this time of year shows off what makes America…well, America. As judges, branches, citizens, journalists, and more debate, consider, learn, vote, and even rule; we are engaging in the same exchange our Founding Fathers envisioned and set out for us 200 years ago. The same exchange that helped us to abolish slavery, go to the moon, grant suffrage, go to war, create an economic boom, create a Great Depression, protect freedoms, and continue on in this great experiment we call democracy.

Though sometimes America disgusts me, and though I’m not sure yet if I agree with all of these SCOTUS decisions, the fact that the Supreme Court ruled a section of a nearly 40-year- old law unconstitutional today is pretty amazing. Though sometimes it seems like our nation is in a tailspin these days, the fact that through deliberation and a careful balance of power our judicial system CHANGED the law of the United States in order to (in their opinion) better uphold the standards our nation was founded upon is just plain cool.

Maybe the issuance of these decisions will hurt the US. Maybe it will ensure more freedoms. Maybe it will spark a revolution. I don’t know. But I do know that if these policies do result in political, social, economic atrocities to the United States, our system will allow us to debate, discuss, vote, overthrow, and potentially CHANGE them yet again, so long as we do not limit basic freedoms or act against the principles our nation is built upon. It is this ability to change that gives me hope in America… Does anyone remember President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan? Right now is kind of an ugly time, and I’m not even going to pretend that I understand it all. But I believe that it can change. As long as we engage in the process that those rebellious men in wigs set up for us, bringing  our informed minds and the desire to work together to get it right (unfortunately I don’t know how much of either we are doing today) to the table, I believe that this country can and prevail.

It may take more time. It will definitely take more change. But this is democracy in action, folks. And it’s a b-e-a-uuutiful thing.

Also beautiful, these Cobalt Dee Keller loafers from a few seasons ago that make me feel like a smart American gal, that just so happen to be an American color! No wayyyah! Mrs. Dee is a close family friend of mine and started her own shoe and now clothing line in the last few years. Check her out and check out her daughter Brighton’s blog that is super-duper awesome and has a lot of posts about the DK line.

*Also Happiest of 21st Birfdays to my BFF Kyra Jones. You aren’t American but I love you anyway*

Now comment below please and let me know what you think of my thinking!

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Weekend Update: Fam’s All Here

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It’s funny how things work out.

Last week I wrote about my two families: my biological one and my Tiger one.

Four days later the latter showed up in Houston, to surprise our mutual family member/ my best friend Kyra for her birthday. The great thing about family is that they’re family no matter what the setting. Though we were miles away from our normal habitat, nothing changed within my Tiger family. I guess when people know you and you know them, at your/their truest of self, the environment doesn’t make a difference. They continue being them and you continue being you. There are no charades or fronts, no need to impress, just family.

This family of mine and I had a great time this weekend just hanging out like we always do. Above is our family pic.

It’s going over the mantel.

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