Letter from the Editor

“Wanderlust” means the desire to travel, a longing or impulse towards wandering. It’s become really popular for people today to use the word wanderlust, to feel the need to escape from where they are and find somewhere new. I know for myself, I have always wanted to travel because I haven’t found anywhere I want to stay. When I become too comfortable in a place, it makes me uneasy, and I know that I need to leave. I need to find something more, some kind of adventure.  Inspired by my own desire to travel, I created WanderLUST as a way to share these experiences and to stray away from the boring, depressing norms of the media. I was searching for something exciting and new, and when I couldn’t find it, I decided to start a project of my own.

I’ve traveled all around Australia. I had orientation in Melbourne, admiring the graffitti and art all around the city, a cheap yet delicious meal in Chinatown, and had rounds of cheap beer bought for me and my friends at the famous rooftop bar Cookie. I spent a weekend in Sydney, taking pictures outside the extravagant opera house, and exploring the inside, as well as Sydney Harbour Bridge and Darling Harbour (and the way too expensive night scene around there). I hiked the Blue Mountains even when I thought my asthma wasn’t going to let me go further. I spent ten days in New Zealand, doing some of the most adventurous and terrifying things I’d never even dreamed of doing– hiking a glacier, bungy jumping, jet boating, white water rafting, and so much more. I’ve slept on buses and on beaches and in airport terminals. I’ve slept in some shitty hostels, and some really nice ones too, like the one in Cairns with the pool and the hammocks. I’ve scuba dived the Great Barrier Reef. I visited Bali for a week where I got to meditate in some beautiful temples, play with monkeys, buy cheap incense and jewelry, and get full body massages for $5 every day.  But I’ve also gone days without eating because I spent my money on flights and tours, or to drink and smoke. And while these certainly make for some interesting stories, people are always much more interested in the juicy stuff. Who’s fucking, who’s fighting, who’s falling in love, who’s failing their classes because they keep getting drunk?

WanderLUST is here to share these kinds of stories from people’s daily adventures whether they are at home or around the world. It’s a judgment free zone, where you can share things you may not usually be inclined to share (because those are always the best). We include articles about sex, awkward situations, drunken endeavors, activism, travel, adventure, humour, art, food, rants, beautiful places around the world, pretty much anything that will make you happy to read and/or write.

I couldn’t be more excited about our first issue and the funny, interesting stories that WanderLUST’s contributors have shared with us, and I look forward to what’s to come. We are constantly looking for new writers, musicians, artists and photographers to share their views, their journey, and their talent. If you think you have something interesting to share or feedback for our magazine, please contact btedesco@arcadia.edu. We’d love to hear what you have to say, and hope you enjoy our first issue and everything that will be coming up.

alice in wonderland

 

Photo credit: Google Images
No copyright infringement intended

 

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London Love

by Bri Wink

To Those Abroad In London:

First and foremost, do not take your time abroad for granted. Go ahead, indulge in a few days of wallowing in homesickness upon arrival, use jet lag as an excuse to curl up in your bed, skyping your friends and family and crying into your pillow that is nowhere near as comfortable and fluffy as the one at home. Take a few days to adjust, but then move on. Get out of those sweatpants, walk out that door and go out and do things. If you spend your whole time abroad stuck inside your room, hiding behind your laptop and complaining about your lack of live stream feed, then you shouldn’t have even studied abroad in the first place. You didn’t travel over 3,000 miles to stay up until five in the morning watching Pretty Little Liars. Go experience real things instead.london1

Take tourist days. Don’t be afraid to freak out crossing Abbey Road. Pose in front of those red telephone boxes with pride. Galavant around the Victoria & Albert Museum and take as many photos of St. Paul’s Cathedral and Big Ben as you want. Tourist days are the best days because you can let go of all that nonsense about blending in and just enjoy yourself. Bring your camera, bring a friend and leave the embarrassment of being an American behind. Just go out and knock things off that checklist of yours and don’t be ashamed of your enthusiasm or excitement or even your American-ness while you do. With that said, take a few non-touristy days, too. Travel off the beaten path and find a café or a bookstore or a pub that you can call entirely your own. Don’t pre-plan, either, Google searching “best unknown pubs in London” because that is cheating. Go out and find it on your own.

Visit the markets. Brick Lane is my favorite but go to all of them. Camden, Portobello Road, Borough Market, Old Spitalfields….They’re all unique and different and are such a great way to experience the vast and rich cultures that London is known for. Eat loads and buy loads and for just one day, indulge yourself in being a hipster. Just walk around and take in the charm of the city through the eyes of the vendors. You haven’t experienced the real London life until you’re chowing down on cheap empanadas while haggling down the price of a leather jacket.

Go out on the town, ride the Tube drunk, and get lost on the night busses with your crazy friends and the even crazier strangers you meet. Open your eyes on these 4am journeys and take in the view of the city at night without the hustle and bustle. Sit back, relax, and let the beauty of the lights and the stillness of a city that’s half asleep mesmerize you. Then get off at the wrong stop, stand around for another twenty minutes and do it all over again when the next bus pulls up. Also understand that not every night has to end in vague memories and hangovers. Sitting around, gorging on pizza and bingewatching American Netflix with your flatmates is just as satisfying as feeling the bass pump through your veins and seeing the neon lights flash behind your eyelids at a club. Some may even argue that it’s better.

Steal something. I’m not saying to break into a jewelry store or hold up a bank, but sneak out a pint glass from your favorite pub. Rob a fork from that restaurant you fell in love with. Take a few leaves from your favorite tree or flowers from a garden. Conveniently never return the notepad from that hostel you stayed in when you traveled and don’t hesitate to steal a few kisses from the boys and girls that tickled your fancy.

When you get sick (and you will get sick- Freshers Flu knows no discrimination) you will miss your mom and your dad and your own bed more than anything. You won’t have the slightest idea what cold medicine to take, how to work your insurance, or what to do with yourself other than wallow in the self-pity that comes with a runny nose. I think the days I was sick were the days I missed home the most, simply because all I wanted was my mommy, my teddy bear and an America’s Next Top Model marathon to cure me back to health. But eventually, I stopped moping around and started ingesting that Vitamin C, slurping down some of that soup and went to the pub to drink away the headache. In Britain, a pint can cure just about anything.

Meet people. Meet local people, to be exact. This is the most important part of the experience, the one that you’ll cherish the most once you return home. Befriend the Americans on your program but don’t forget to set out to make some of the best friends you’ll ever have. My entire semester became infinitely better because I spent my time playing it up with a bunch of British idiots I was lucky enough to call my friends. Knowing people, hanging out with people, and understanding people from the city that you’re in or from cities and areas around it makes the whole study abroad experience vastly different. These are the people who can show you the ins and outs; the ones who know the best place to grab a bite or the perfect spot to watch the fireworks on Guy Fawkes night. These are the people who will think you and your American-ness are fascinating, and together you’ll understand new things about yourselves. They’ll help you figure out the basics and provide vital information on how to live outside of your comfort zone, and in return you can help them see the city through a new set of eyes. Also, you get the benefit of hearing those precious accents daily and nothing can be better than that.

Fall in love: with the city, with a boy or a girl or maybe even both, and most importantly, with yourself. Cherish the way the air smells before it rains, and be captivated by the way he/she holds your hand when you’re drunk on Jack Daniel’s and their smile. But, more than anything, get on that plane ride home loving yourself. Love who you are in the city, love who you’ve become (because those pamphlets really don’t lie- studying abroad does change you) and the way you’ve grown to care more about people and the world around you and less about your own problems. Studying abroad is about the whole “once-in-a-lifetime” experience, sure. But really, you’ll notice the best memories come from those little moments that shape you.

And if you do fall in love with a boy or a girl that captivated you, don’t run from it. Let that feeling of a foreign romance wash over you. There really isn’t anything that can compare to a European love affair. It might not work out in the long run, of course, but that doesn’t mean you have to immediately give up out of fear of the future. Sometimes the city really is better when you have someone’s hand to hold.

But above all, understand that you’re going to have to leave. It’s inevitable; when you study abroad you have a clear expiration date and sooner rather than later, the day is going to come where you’re going to have to re-pack your entire life into a suitcase, hop on a plane, and go back to the place that you once considered home. Cry. Cry a lot. It doesn’t help, really, but it’s not something to be ashamed of, either. Freak out. Go crazy one last time. Sob the whole way through the packing process and the whole way to the airport. Hug your new friends so tight that it hurts to let go. Be weak. Listen to The Weakerthans “Left and Leaving” on repeat the entire 7 hour plane ride home. But then promise yourself that you’ll come back eventually. Get off that plane in your home airport rejuvenated, ready to return one day. Tell yourself as you fly back across the Atlantic that it’s going to happen. There’s so many things you haven’t done yet, so many sights and places and sunsets over the Thames that you haven’t seen. Do not doubt for one second that a return is possible. Because it will happen one day, as long as you believe that it will. Studying abroad is temporary, but the feelings that you leave with are for a lifetime.

london2

How to Climb a Mountain

by Ian Agnew

1. Rethink your decision to climb a mountain.

2. After rethinking your decision to climb a mountain, decide to do it anyway, despite the fact that the most exercise you get on a regular basis is carrying groceries up the massive hills of wherever you live (which may or may not be Wellington, New Zealand). If you actually are fit enough to climb a mountain, do not climb a mountain; you could probably impress people just as easily by showing off your muscles or something.

3. Assure yourself that you’re more than capable of climbing a mountain; after all, you once completed a half marathon without training for it at all (note: it is key that you disregard the fact that you wanted to die at the end of said half marathon and were in pain for days afterward; also, your 15-year-old brother finished before you).

4. DO NOT PACK UNTIL THE DAY YOU LEAVE FOR SAID MOUNTAIN-CLIMBING. This step is essential, as packing any time before this date could render you too prepared, and will detract from the necessary experiences of dehydration, sunburn, delirium, etc. If a friend asks you to bring something for them, simply laugh, put on sunglasses, and pee on them (effective for/on both genders).

5. Arrive at the mountain early in the morning wearing too many layers of clothes, because your friends told you to. Do not worry about overheating; within the first hour of the climb, you’ll step off the trail a bit, strip down to your underwear, and only put back on the lightest pair of pants/shorts you have with you. It is important that you believe there will be no need to keep warm later on in the day.

6. Now you must actually climb the mountain. Keys to this step are: stopping every 5 to 10 minutes because one of your friends is somehow more out of shape than you are, not wearing enough sunscreen (even spf 50 didn’t cut it), and regretting your decision to climb said mountain immensely.

7. If you make it to the top, congratulations! It’s freezing cold, despite it having been sweltering 20 minutes ago; by no means should you attempt to warm yourself. Simply sit there, sore and in pain, while you wait for the rest of your friends to make it up because you ran ahead and just wanted to be done with the thing (of course, that’s if you have friends).

8. Once you’ve been sitting there, in the frozen crater of what you’ve now been told is a dormant volcano, begin to think about the trip down and pray for a gondola or helicopter or flying bison to come and make your life easier. None of these will appear, but it is important that you create false hope for yourself.

9. Begin the climb down while attempting to wingman for your friend, as the girl he likes has come on this trip with you. Don’t worry about his constant slipping and falling ungracefully; these only add to his desirability in her eyes. After you’ve made it down a ways, it is important that you feel as though you’re going to die, mostly because you ran out of water two-thirds of the way up, but also because your limbs are telling you that you’re going to die.

10. Somehow, miraculously, make it to the bottom first, hobble into the visitor’s center, and spend five minutes at the water fountain before everyone else; this solidifies your status as “Biggest Asshole” of the day. Take off your socks and hobble everywhere like an old man/woman while complaining endlessly about all of the pain you’re in.

 

Congratulations! You’ve climbed a mountain! Now forget all your pain and suffering and go climb another one next weekend.

The Ritz Blitz

by Anonymous

Fresh in the midst of the holiday cheer, the day after Christmas I embarked on a trip to Montreal with my sister to just get free from the doldrums of our daily lives. This trip was amazing because it was a week prior to my 21st birthday, which meant that I was legal in Canada and would be legal in the U.S. once I arrived home. My sister is about 7 years older than me so our interests can often conflict and we spent a lot of time wandering the city on our own merit. Me being right in the middle of the college experience, headed straight to the bars and casino to spend some hard earned money from my most recent internship. It was on the 5th day of my journey in the frigid -33 degree weather, I decided to trek out and stop by a bar I was eyeing for a few days. There was nothing particularly special about it, but it looked like a laid back English-esque pub. It was late in the football season and there was a guy making bets on a few games, I struck up conversation with him for a bit and gave him my analysis on a few players and teams. In return the guy bought me a couple coke and rums, which was unnecessary but greatly appreciated.

I was chatting with the locals of Montreal for a couple hours just enjoying the random company and listening to some good stories, when little did I know that a great story of my own would soon be written. Seven drinks deep, I began to be a little bit more relaxed in the foreign setting, and I started talking to the bartender hoping to maybe befriend him for a free drink. Turns out the guy had a couple family members that were from Jersey, and we bonded over taylor ham and bagels. I probably got more excited than I should have, but my attention was quickly redirected as a beautiful brunette walked by had caught my eye. Approximately 5’ 6”, long dark brown hair that had the perfect sheen, a slender taught core, a robust perky chest, and quite possibly the most perfectly shaped ass one could conceive. The funny part is, I’m not a terribly judgmental person but when a perfect 10 walks your way you take notice. I’m not that super confident cocky guy you see at the bar, but instead I’m the guy who wishes that I could be that way. To this day, I have no idea why she walked up to me and introduced herself to me, but I guarantee you I was not fighting it. She looked me in the eyes with the cutest smile, and said “Hey, you look like you’re having a good time. I’m Layla, and this is my friend Christina.” I must have looked dumbfounded, as I offered them a seat next to me they sat on either side of me. At this point I was a bit confused, a bit drunk, and VERY interested as to how this would play out.

The next part of this story, is basically why most of my friends don’t know this event ever occurred. They both swiveled their chairs towards me, and Layla without skipping a beat said “So, we think you’re kind of cute. We want to make a bet with you, if you can make us both cum I’ll take care of your tab.” Words cannot describe what was going on in my head, my jaw must’ve dropped, and as if it were actually an instinctual response I said, “I don’t lose bets.” I reflect upon that moment as my most alpha point in my life. Layla took my hand dropped $100 on the bar for a $40 tab, and I began to wonder what is going on. In my head I begin thinking, “Well a prostitute wouldn’t pay for my drinks, maybe I’m just very lucky today?” I decided to roll with it for better or for worse. She takes me to a Ritz-Carlton, as we enter a King’s Suite, this place is beautiful and huge littered with champagne and remnants of some cocaine. “These girls know how to party”, was my first thought but was this actually happening? To put it simply, yes. Yes, I had a threesome with an incredibly beautiful brunette and her blonde friend who was pretty, but honestly? Didn’t come close to what this girl Layla had to offer. As I won the bet, and it was rounding close to 6am I realized I had to leave somehow and get back before my sister started wondering what in god’s name I was doing all night. Christina was on her cellphone texting, Layla was in the shower, and I grabbed the last sip of champagne and walked out drunk. Wandered back to my hotel, to find my sister was still asleep, and passed out. I woke up the next day to realize that the night before actually happened, I had sex with two beautiful and wealthy girls that just wanted to get it. It is still a story that I find to be an anomaly. Forever the Ritz-Blitz will live in my memory.

Photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/4vegeU

Virginity: The New “It” Club

by Kara Mendez

If I got a dollar for the amount of times someone has said “are you virgin?” to me in the last 5 or 6 years, I would be able to buy myself the beautiful Ralph Lauren heels I stare at daily- and a ba5752009155_8cba3c5802_og to match. My society’s obsession with virginity seems bizarre considering that it’s 2014 and I can walk down Time Square and see a 60-something year old woman with stickers over her nipples carrying a guitar at 2pm. (If you’re not from America or the New York City area type in “Naked Cowgirl” into your favorite search engine) However, it seems that having your virginity gives you access to a secret club that instantly makes you a better person. Now, being an American who has never left the country or even the East Coast for that matter, I often wonder is it just America or are girls being de-humanized everywhere for having sex?

I lost my virginity at 16. This event had no major effect on my life. I woke up the next morning, went to school, probably ate a bagel, and nothing changed. The only difference was that I was now experiencing disappointing high school sex. However, the reaction from my peers wasn’t as laid back as my attitude towards what happened. It was as if I told them I was engaged to be married or I was moving to Kentucky to join a traveling circus; these reactions quickly transitioned into the word “slut”. It seemed that I was being punished doing a natural consensual act. Let’s fast forward 5 years. I’m now 20 years old- almost 21- and I had two additional sex partners. (Both of whom I was in a committed relationship with. Both of whom I had consensual relationships with.) Now instead of everyone being obsessed with the fact that I am having sex they are obsessed with how many people I’ve had sex with; as if the higher the number the lower my worth.

I’m sure I’m not the only woman who has experienced this. The world is obsessed with how many men a woman has slept with. Which ones of Taylor Swift’s song-inspiring lovers did she sleep with? The world almost exploded when we all found out Britney Spears lost her virginity to Justin Timberlake. No one seemed to care that JT wasn’t a virgin but all of a sudden Britney wasn’t a “good role model” for our young women. Yes, because teaching young girls that sex is a natural part of life and that women are allowed to enjoy their sex lives would be terrible. It’s 2014 and it seems that people are still very upset by the fact that women enjoy sex and that women have sexual desires the same way men do.

Now we can talk for hours about the difference between men and women. About how men are rewarding for scoring and women are talked about behind their backs. We can have long, intellectual conversations all about the double standards in modern society. However, what we really need to be talking about how women view other women. Why does one woman having sex make you so defensive that you have to call her names? Why are women so obsessed with other women having sex? Why are virgins considered more valuable than non-virgins? Why are we so concerned with the magic number of how many sex partners we have? (I know so many women embarrassed to tell their OBGYN their number during annual visits.) If we are having safe, consensual sex with off age partners then why it considered a crime against ourselves?

Photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/9LhxVD

Bad Luck in Bali

by Natalie Mormer

There is no doubt about it. Bali is an absolutely beautiful country. It has incredible architecture, delicious food, hospitable people, lush forests, and picturesque sights. With that being said, my trip to Bali, though I got to experience those wonderful things, was quite an adventure.

Now, I chose the word ‘adventure’ for a reason. After googling the word, one will find four ways of describing adventure, but it’s the first three that interest me. The first is, “an unusual and exciting or daring experience.” The second, “excitement associated with danger or the taking of risks.” And finally, “a reckless or potentially hazardous action or enterprise.” The first two of these are usually what people think of when traveling to a foreign country with your three friends (and some random guy your one friend kind of knows). The third, however, has the more pessimistic approach. After the trip, I’m pretty sure the third was a bit more realistic.

Let’s just start off by saying my friends and I don’t have luck on our side. Basically, boiling it down to it, money is a bitch. Most of the parts that we didn’t enjoy about the trip involved money. Fun fact: one rupiah in worth about 0.00008 U.S. dollars. What does this mean? Congratulations, you’re a fucking millionaire in Indonesia. What does this also mean? You have to deal with rupiah. I learned on my trip that being a millionaire is such a pain in the ass. There are so many more bills that you have to deal with, your wallet doesn’t close all the way, and spending money becomes way too fun. However, having no money is worse. This was our first problem, when my friend, Bri, couldn’t get money out of an ATM in the airport, after ten minutes of being in the country. But no worries, she talked to her folks and we were on our way, until our taxi from the airport got a flat tire.

Our trip was incredible; we saw beautiful temples, met awesome Indonesians, stayed in beautiful hostels, and don’t get me wrong, we loved the trip and wanted to stay in Bali forever…but shit happens. It started out relatively small, maybe a couple of bad/ awkward photos, a crazy monkey grabbing onto your hair and stealing your bananas, buying jewelry and it breaking almost immediately, getting bullied by street vendors into buying ugly stuff, but we always bounced back, considering it to be part of the adventure. Anastasia, another friend, lost her bankcard, but found it, and everything was fine. Our alarm didn’t wake two of us up for a 2 AM hike up a volcano, but we got up at 2:10 and made it.

I understand, you might think I’m nitpicking the small things that happened, but these things made it fun, worthy of talking about the trip, what brought my friends and I closer together. We got sick of each other, but each of us had funny and shitty things happen to us to joke and laugh about…except for me.

In order to understand the one shitty thing that did happen to me on this trip, is to know that I REALLY wanted to get a good souvenir for my dad. It was our second to last day in Bali and I had gotten everyone else in my family something, but I wanted to get Karl (a.k.a. dad or Karls Barkley) something that he would actually like. Karl is a hard man to buy for, but after seeing a bag of organic, locally grown white rice, I knew I found what I had been looking for. That may sound odd to you guys, but trust me, he’d love it. But please, whatever you do, ignore the fact that I already bought him stuff at the markets. Like I said, money’s a bitch.

I’d like to think this act was seemingly innocent. All I wanted to get was rice for my rice-loving father. Fast-forward to our last day, leaving Bali at Denpasar airport and heading on a plane to Brisbane set to departure at 3:55 PM and arriving at 11:40. These are the events of the day:

 

11:00: Arrive at airport.

11:22: Find out that we can’t check in until 12:30 (What the fuck).

12:44: Check-in.

12:45: Find out that we have to pay money to leave the country (Seriously, what the fuck).

1:02: Go to ATM.

1:03: Find that the ATMs don’t accept Visa and the only one that does is out of order (You’ve gotten to be kidding me.)

1:05: Finally find working ATM and all take out money.

1:20: Get through security.

1:25: Get to gate.

2:00: Wait.

3:00: Wait/ buy some snacks and water for plane ride.

3:26: Found out they changed our gate.

3:27: Speed walk to new gate.

3:28: Get searched at gate and learn that we’re not allowed to bring the water we literally just bought into said gate.

3:50: Wait.

4:20: Find out that a guy that was going to Australia to be tried for getting drunk to the point of people thinking he was hijacking the plane a couple days before, was being escorted onto our plane.

4:40: Wait.

4:50: Board the plane.

 

After that is was smooth sailing for approximately six hours. With our bad luck from the day, lack of sleep on the plane, arriving late at night, and overall, ‘we need to get the fuck out of Indonesia and into our beds’ mentality, we needed to quickly get our things and get the hell out of the airport.

As it turns out, declaring things in your luggage is actually important to the government (who knew?). Fun fact #3: If you’re in a group, and one stupid person declares stuff, they check EVERYONE’S stuff. This was a fun fact that I had not known at the time. (Think about the definition of the word ‘adventure’ here.) My recklessness and bad luck caught up to me right as she was asking what was in the large bag in my checked bag. Fun fact #4: You have to declare shit like grains and wood. She had me unpack my bag to find the rice for my dear ole’ dad. I then proceeded to confess that I had bought little monkeys that are made out of wood. She then had me look through my backpack, full of smelly clothes and regret, for the small wooden monkeys. After going to her super advanced scanner thingy, it was discovered that my two kilograms of white rice was not allowed into the country and was to be destroyed. My monkeys did, however, survive the whole ordeal.

Throughout this process, the woman decided to take this time to sufficiently scare the shit out of my friends and I, threatening us with the possibility of heavy fines and up to ten years in prison. Being on a student visa, I could have possibly been kicked out of the country.

My mother once told me, “what draws us to adventure is not knowing what will happen next, it’s the uncertainty, and that’s what makes us feel alive.” I wonder how she would feel about adventure if her daughter got sent to jail or kicked out of the country because of rice.

Photo credit: Brittany Tedesco

 

Miss Lotto

by Derek Shuffield

I hate riding the bus.

First there’s the smell. Every bus somehow contains the smell of hours of physical labor mashed together with greasy McDonald’s food and indigestion. Even after you get over the stench, there’s still the noise. Children fighting and parents scolding, some headphones blaring music that Satan himself must have created while someone else is screaming incoherently into a phone.

I stood staring blankly into oncoming traffic hoping to see that massive vehicle with my number on it: 22. My bus was ten minutes late and the next scheduled bus arrived in another ten minutes— I had to catch that one to get to work on time.

I took my eyes off the road and looked over at the no-name gas station across the street. There was only one car there and a pack of cigarettes would be lovely.

What the hell, I had ten minutes. That’s plenty of time to run in, grab a pack and run back out.

When I got there only one lady was standing at the counter.

“Ok, for daily numbers, give me 2-2-2, 3-3-3, 4-4-4, 5-5-5, 6-6-6, 7-7-7, 8-8-8, 9-9…”

Jesus Christ, I thought. This may take a while. The cashier stood looking just as confused as I did punching in numbers into a register.

“And for the Big 4, give 1-2-3-4, 4-5-6-7, 8-9-1-0, 1-1-1-2, and 7-7-7-7. And for the Treasure Hunt I want 10-20-30-40-50, 11-22-33-44-55, and 12-23-34-45-56. For the Mega Six…”

Fantastic. I’d seen this before. Due to my smoking habits, I’m no stranger to gas stations and to lotto freaks. I shouldn’t even say freaks, most of the people who buy lottery tickets have some reason. Old ladies trying to pass the time are the usual buyers, followed by your blue collar workers just trying to make a few extra bucks so they can get that special something they can’t seem to save up for. But she was neither of these. She was the unpredictable kind—the kind that begins buying lottery tickets the day they turn 18 just because they can.

It’s easy to tell how old a lotto freak is, especially the unpredictable kind. All you have to do is see how long they can continue to spout out the same numbers they have been saying for years. The older the lottery player is, the more numbers they will be reciting because God knows that if one day you don’t play that one set of numbers, it’s gonna be the day that those numbers were worth a few million bucks. If she didn’t shut up soon, she’d be 45.

I looked at my watch. I had seven minutes til the next bus arrived. I began to tap my foot and the lady paused in the middle of reciting her Mega Millions numbers and turned to me.

“Are you waiting to buy gas?” she said, wiping some of the stray strands of hair out of her face.

“Just cigarettes, but—“

“Oh, ok. Well for Mega Million I want…”

For Christ’s sake, woman. When she finally finished with her numbers she paid, took her tickets and began to make small talk with the cashier.

“Where are you from, honey?” she began to ask, swaying her weight from one over-burdened leg to the next.

“Pack of menthols?” he asked me cutting her off. He knew what I wanted and that I was in a hurry. I was in this gas station all the time.

I nodded my head as he went to reach for my smokes.

“I’m originally from North Carolina, and whereabouts are you from?” he asked her back as he grabbed the pack and handed it to me.

“Ah, I’m from Pittsburg, but I wish I was from the South. You know, we may have a tough history with the South, but with the good Lord’s help, it’s a place many of us can call home now.”

I handed him my cash and said not to worry about change, and jumped towards the door.

There it went by.

My bus.

My numbers.

22.

Gone.

“Shit!”

“Ah, hun, did you just miss your bus?” Miss Lotto asked me.

I told her I did and it was my last chance to get to work on time.

“Well I know the feeling. Come with me. I’ll help you catch it.” Her face was shining with pride.

She shoved all the tickets into her purse and started out the door in a panic.

I opened the passenger door to her sedan and hopped in. As I buckled up I started to search for my bus money so that when we caught the 22 I could make a quick transition from car to bus.

“Oh, don’t you even think about it hun,” the woman said. “I won’t take your money. I don’t normally do this sort of thing. But you know what, the good Lord blessed me so I want to bless you.”

I tried to hide my surprise and look grateful as the car jerked forward and careened onto the road.

“Hold on now,” Miss Lotto said looking at me. “We’re gonna catch this thing.”

As she straightened onto the road, I watched the speedometer climb from the speed limit of 25mph to 45. Miss Lotto jerked the car to the left. I looked out my window and saw the double yellow. The speedometer began climbing up as two cars on our right fell behind us. Our car swerved back into the correct lane of traffic just as oncoming cars began to blare their horns in shock and horror.

We flew down the road at 60 mph. I prayed there were no school zones between us and the bus.

I closed my eyes and tried to picture anything that wasn’t moving as fast as I was. Snails, sloths, and California traffic danced for me as I felt the brakes being applied.

“There it is, hun!” Miss Lotto said. I opened my eyes and it was only three cars in front of us stopped at a red light. As we pulled up to the light and I slid my buckle off and wiped the sweat off of my forehead in one swift motion.

“No! It will turn green! We’ll catch it at the next one,” she said. She pulled into the turning lane and clenched both the steering wheel and her jaw preparing for what she seemed to be picturing as the drag race of the millennium. The light turned green and she bolted past the rest of the cars and the bus.

I really wanted one of my cigarettes.

“So do you work around here?” she asked casually.

“If I make it there alive—“

“Well, praise the Lord! Lots of people don’t have jobs right now.”

With a radiant smile and glowing proud eyes she began to scan the road for the next bus stop. When she found it, she slammed the brakes. I jumped out of the car, thanked her and stood at the stop holding out my money.

The bus never even slowed down.

“Get back in, we got this!”

I hopped in, buckled up, pulled on the buckle to make sure it was nice and secure and she took off again honking the whole time. Within seconds we were on the bus’s tail.

The 22 stopped at a red light to let someone off the bus. Miss Lotto drove right past the bus and the red light, stopped her car, and put it in park. I couldn’t believe it. We were holding up traffic coming from every direction.

I thanked her again, got out of the car and ignored the blaring horns as I ran up to the bus blocked in by Miss Lotto’s sedan.

Brakes screeched and people started screaming from every direction. I hurried toward the bus trying to look only at the pavement beneath my feet. Once I got to the bus door I knocked on it a few times before it opened.

The driver glared down at me. I looked around me at the people on the bus. All eyes were on me.

“Just pay already, kid,” the driver said.

I stumbled onto the bus, took the two dollars back out of my pocket and fed them to the money machine. Turning my head toward the aisle I was met by those familiar smells and sounds that can only exist on public transportation. I made the walk of shame to an empty seat, put on headphones, cranked some Satan music, and began to stretch out my hands. The harsh stares began to subside as the bus began to drive again. I was one of the people on the bus I hated now. And I didn’t even care. I was gonna make it to work on time. And I was gonna get there with a fresh pack of smokes.

Photo courtesy of SEPTA <http://article.wn.com/view/2014/02/19/February_18_2014_A_SemiCentennial_of_Service_SEPTA_Celebrate/&gt;
No copyright infringement intended.

Worn and Tattered Travel Journals: Stellenbosch

by Kate Slenzak

After a quick dive into the archives (read: worn and tattered travel journals) I give you, a tale from my first night in Stellenbosch, uncut and mildly edited because spelling isOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA hard, ya know and drunk journaling is apparently a thing I do…. After being dropped off at the doors of our residence complex and being essentially told to figure it out (mind you it is like 8:30 PM and there is no one in sight who might be able to help) we managed to find our rooms. We quickly dropped our things, ate some pizza (obviously the most important part of the night) and met back up to head out for our first night on the town. Three lovely Americans, still slightly jet-lagged, definitely disoriented and confused, headed out for an exciting Tuesday night in Stellenbosch, South Africa. With very little knowledge of where exactly we were going, we randomly chose a direction to head and eventually found someone who took sympathy on our clearly lost souls:

C: Hey, we aren’t from here…

Stranger: Yeah I can tell, what are you looking for?

(Side note, how the hell did this guy know we were foreigners. Must have been my damn baby face.)

C: A bar or somewhere to just grab a drink.

Stranger: You’re looking for a place where all the young kids go… Bohemia is right down the street about two blocks.

BINGO! Former students had told me about this place, cheap drinks, awesome pizza and a chill atmosphere was expected. We headed into the darkness and came across the holy land– BOHEMIA. As we walked in I decided that I was definitely not cool enough to be there. Such grunge, much rock, so roll. Hello hot bar tender… I ordered a nice box of rosé and we took a seat. While awkwardly swaying back and forth on my much too tall bar stool and making small talk, I got unexpectedly drunk… oops. I am going to blame it on the fact that I was (possibly) still jet-lagged and ignore the fact that I am actually a terrible light-weight, which isn’t actually a bad thing and actually just makes me a cheap date, so take that society. We decided to leave after finishing our drinks and as we started to descend down the stairs I WIPED OUT. I am not talking just a slip down one step and I catch myself, no. I fell down a whole flight of stairs on my ass. Welcome to Stellenbosch, you drunk bitch! I can honestly say that, no, I was not that drunk. Literally 2 minutes before we got up to leave I watched a server drop a beer down the stairs. To which I responded by thinking to myself, “huh, better be careful when we leave, wouldn’t want to slip down those stairs.” I wasn’t careful, and instead ended up with an outfit covered in bar scum and a laughing table of onlookers at the bottom. Cute. After laughing it off to hide the pain (the bruises stayed on my butt for a good two weeks), we headed back to our housing complex. Ready for a night of settling in, we were halfway back when we hear a harmonica…. And singing… is that Afrikaans?

C: WE DON’T SPEAK AFRIKAANS

Me: SORRY FRIENDS!

Out of nowhere a group of three half-dressed men rush over to us and begin to ask us where we are from.

Bro #1: Would you like to come in for a drink?

Me: Why are you not wearing shirts, I feel overdressed?

Bro #2: Oh we have an Olympic size swimming pool in the back.

Me: Fair enough.

And the three of us lovely young ladies head into a strange house with a bunch of bros. No worries though, it looks like a frat house so clearly I’m right at home. We head out to the backyard and find around 15 people rocking out to Miley Cyrus and surrounding a kiddie pool. Not going to lie, I thought it was hilarious. One drink lead to another and all of a sudden I find myself having the bar scum washed off of my upper thigh by Bro #2 while I ask Bro #1 if he knows what I mean when I say “white privilege.” Is this real life? They all head out to the club (in their swim trunks) and we head back to our apartments for a drunken slumber. Welcome to Stellies ladies, stay classy America!

Photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/8RivUD