Kathy of Tasty Itinerary nominated TUL for the Versatile Blogger Award. Learn seven unQuirked facts about me, Christine, The Uncorked Librarian and meet other talented bloggers. These travel stories are sure to enhance your world travel, too!
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Versatile Blogger Award
Engaging with the blogging community is pretty much how this uncorked lady spends her evenings, lunches, and treadmill workouts. Bloggers work hard, are incredibly diverse in their talents and life stories, and are almost always 210% passionate about their chosen niche.
Recently, Kathy of Tasty Itinerary nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, an award recognizing accomplished and/or rising bloggers from other talented bloggers. Blogs must be well written and of good quality.
This award post will dish all including Mayan curses, star-crossed apartments, being Miss America, and eating olives like a pregnant woman without actually being pregnant.
More importantly than acknowledgment, I have actually been looking forward to writing this post as it is a little less formal and more of a chance to get to know me. I appreciate these awards because they allow others to network and bring light to some fun and diverse blogs that readers may not know about. This post encouraged me to share more about myself with subscribers.
A Little More About Kathy and Tasty Itinerary
Thank you, Kathy, for the nomination. Kathy writes about my two favorite things: food and travel. She is also a supportive and kind blogger. Places that Kathy writes about include Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Italy, and American cities like Los Angeles and Charlotte. You can visit Kathy’s blog here.
The Rules of the Versatile Blogger Award
- Thank the person that nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award.
- Link their blog to this post.
- Select UP TO 15 blogs/bloggers that you either regularly follow or discovered recently.
- Nominate them for this awesome Versatile Blogger Award with links to their sites.
- Write 7 things about yourself.
What Inspires You To Travel?
These inspirational travel writers sparked my wanderlust.
Find a few more jaw-dropping travel memoirs in TUL’s books for dad book list, too.
Versatile Blogger Award: UnQuirking The Uncorked Librarian
Originally, I thought about writing my 7 facts about myself as such:
- Um, I like wine
- I like books
- I like wine and books…
But that leaves me short 4 other facts.
Here is what I came up with:
I spilled my blood in the Mayan Ruins. For years, assumed I was cursed.
Don’t Trip While On Vacation
We joke that I was cursed in Tikal in the Mayan ruins, not to sound taboo or non-PC about the Mayans and their culture. Sacrifices to mollify the gods occurred regularly in those temples.
Around 2008, I accidentally gave my blood to the gods, but they were clearly not pacified. Maybe it’s because, as a traditional healer once said in Bali, “my blood is dirty.”
Don’t ask; I’m not sure either. I think she was referring to my sweet intake or my love of wine and beer.
I have never been a clumsy person but one minute, we were walking through the Mayan temples in Guatemala, and the next thing I know, I landed on my face. Temple hiking in flip-flops is ill-advised, but hiking steep, broken steps and dangerous cliffs in cheap sandals is also my signature.
I tripped—something I rarely do—and went down so hard and fast that I landed on the ground before realizing what happened. Both of my knees scraped the ground, littering it with (sacrificing?!) my blood. I felt OK but as soon as I got back to the States, coincidently or not, I started having the worst luck:
Wait, Is It Friday The 13th…Every Day?
My employer laid off the entire nonprofit organization that I loved and worked my behind off for each day.
They changed direction completely: a community center gone culinary café training program.
Then, my best friend started having headaches. She went in for surgery with a 95% survival rate and devastatingly did not survive.
I started having health issues, which ended up being ulcerative colitis. The diagnosis of a chronic illness nearly thwarted my Fulbright to Indonesia.
The bad luck seemed endless. I am not sure if my luck has since changed, but the coincidental timing of my blood shedding is sometimes in the back of my mind.
I met the real Wayan from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. She told me about my future—which is terrifying since it hasn’t come to fruition, yet….
Teach, Drink, Try Not To Die
Right around the time that I lived in Indonesia, Eat, Pray, Love took off in its success.
Let’s face it, what woman wasn’t dreaming of gallivanting off to Italy for the fine Italian…pasta…and seeking sanctuary and relaxation in India and Bali. Disgruntled middle age women and their millennial children desired OUT. We idolized Liz Gilbert, and in her honor, we visited the Wayan—the actual traditional healer from the book—in Ubud, Indonesia.
Pictures of Julia Roberts and Elizabeth Gilbert stared back at us as Wayan grabbed our hands, pinched our cheeks, rubbed cream on our faces, made us swallow vitamins, and examined us from top to bottom.
Wayan: You like sweets and eat too many. You need to stop. Your blood is dirty. First, you are a 5th generation reincarnation. Second, you dated a man for 3.5 years and held two jobs. Third, you have too much acid in your stomach. You cannot eat spicy food. Fourth, you are smart. Very smart. Long smart line. But, you are not brilliant.
Me: [Silence. Nodding, laughing, and wondering how the heck she knew about my past jobs and relationship.]
Wayan: You will get married late in life but it will be the deepest kind of love and last forever. You will have 3 children when you are much older.
Me: [In my head: F*ckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk, I don’t want children. No, no, no. You are so wrong lady. Thank gosh this is all total crap.] That is so nice! [Nervous giggle; stomach ready to puke.]
8 Years Later Me: I guess you can say that my husband and I married late in life by Indonesian standards, 27 years old for me. Wayan nailed it, we hit the love jackpot. But the 3 children? Mmmmm, I have 4 cats? I swear if I end up with 3 kids, I might have to go find Wayan.
Besides Canada, the first international trip I took was to Costa Rica with my best guy friend. Even though I am a world traveler, this did not happen until after college.
Can I Just Stay Under My Bedcovers Forever?
Even before college, I could have never imagined moving away from home or traveling the world. I had a stomachache my first two weeks during orientation.
As time passed, I realized that many Smithies came from money, and they always shared stories of their lascivious summers abroad and extended weekend getaways. My face could have been on Smith’s financial aid and work-study statistics pamphlet.
After 4 years of watching inspiring & well-traveled women zoom across the world, though, I wanted a piece of what they saw, no longer afraid. I had my first full-time job before graduation and decided that every year I would take at least 2 international trips. My first stop turned out to be a tropical paradise: Costa Rica.
I’ll never forget the screeching howler monkeys as we zip-lined through the jungle or being the only girl in a group of guys to ATV through La Fortuna’s muddy hills—where the guide endlessly sprayed me with wheelies for falling behind. Stories of decapitation by unseen wire fences played in my naïve mind like an old school horror filmstrip.
We hunted gators and spied poisonous frogs, tarantulas abound.
At night, we swam in steamy pools in the rain as lava dripped from Arenal. Giant hogs lined the streets, surfers flocked to the beaches, and the coffee plantations begged us to tour them. I sat through 7-hour car rides completely entranced.
Every year since Costa, I have kept my word to see at least 2 countries a year.
I lived in Indonesia for a year as a United States Fulbright Fellow. I taught English to high schoolers, volunteered for the local university’s English Club, and sweated my butt off in a tiny village where everyone treated me like Ms. America, or more accurately: America itself.
Wayan may have nailed it: I am smart but not brilliant. From 2009-2010, awarded with a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, I packed up my tiny apartment and dropped off my cat with my parents for the year.
I lived in Depok, West Java, Indonesia where I taught English to over 600 expectant teenagers, some of whom didn’t speak a word of the language itself.
Scorpions and cockroaches graced my floors daily.
I always seemed to break the more conservative Muslim rules. Loud, excitable, and too hot to cover every inch of my body, I tried my best to fit in and not get in trouble.
My students laughed as I fanned and camel-like drank water for classes. Because I taught in a small public school, most of my students had never before seen an American or white skin before. Everything I did, to them, represented America.
Even teachers would ask me what free sex was like in front of a room of 40 teenage boys. It’s pretty good, man, but really not all it’s cracked up to be.
My life resembled MTV music videos, and although I struggled with a parasite, the heat, and customs, I grew to love my time in Indonesia.
In 2007-2008, I started having serious GI problems. My doctors diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis. Although they hoped that my symptoms would clear up and my case would stay minor, unfortunately by 2016 my colon started winning the battle. My life will forever be changed.
Although I casually mentioned ulcerative colitis (UC) in previous posts, UC is a large part of my life. While UC is not who I am, I cannot deny that it is a part of my lifestyle and who I am becoming. UC is hands down a game changer.
What Is UC
When you tell others that you have colitis, they assume you just poop, a lot. This is partially the case but not even 1/10 of my problem.
Everyone’s UC looks different.
For me, I lost blood every day for almost 10 years straight but somehow avoided blood transfusions. Exhausted and constantly nauseous, I would have to wake up 3 hours before heading to work just to get there. Stomach aches and debilitating cramps ruled my life—to the point where I couldn’t sit up or walk.
At one time, I had food intolerances to just about everything I ate and would feast on rice crackers with peanut butter and a bottle of water.
You Look Fine To Me
When you look happy and dress up with all of this misery inside, many people just don’t understand. “You look fine to me,” albeit a bit skinny, became others’ mantra to me. Forget the killer illnesses and bugs that I caught every other month from the biologics coursing through my body. With these autoimmune suppressants, I even had Scarlet Fever, which sounds like some crazy medieval shit to me.
UC has not been easy, and luckily for me, I still have my colon, even if it hates me. I will always have symptoms and issues. Today, I can breathe a sigh of relief because I receive Remicade infusions, a poisonous miracle that has stabled out my immune system. I can eat again and live a fairly normal life until my next flare.
UC is part of the reason why I no longer work in the public library. My immune system could not handle to germy books and money. The inconsistent schedule of nights and mornings plus odd meal times did not work for my body. The political nightmare and stress of my system added anxiety to my already comprised situation. I destroyed PTO with endless illnesses and my bosses just could not comprehend how to work with me:
“What happened to your face?” I am on steroids this week…
“Are you allergic to those too,” said sarcastically to me after winning flowers at a staff lunch/training where I brought my own lunch.
“You can’t just get up and use the bathroom when I am talking to you,” argued a gossiping coworker, even though I cannot control those things like normal people and politely excused myself multiple times first.
“You called out sick yesterday, but you look fine to me,” scolded a supervisor.
“Maybe your colitis is because you are high strung. Can’t you control it?”
“Maybe you have an eating disorder…You need to gain weight; you are so boney.”
I kid you not, this was my ‘professional’ work environment.
Colitis is a good lesson and reminder that everyone has their own struggles that you may not know about or understand. Be compassionate and empathetic. Pause to think before you speak. Pretty dresses, makeup, and straightened hair might be someone covering up the pain inside.
Colitis has a lot to do with how I met my husband and has enabled me to work on this blog much more. I have made conscious time because of UC to write more and do yoga daily—habits that I love.
My husband and I met through star-crossed apartments, and his mom co-led my Brownie troop.
I grew up with my husband our entire lives but we never knew each other.
We are both from the same small town, and Tom’s mom actually led my Brownie troop. We both remember tiny girls in flowery dresses walking across the ‘friendship bridge’ his parents devised in his backyard. Being three years older, though, Tom was too cool for his sister’s friends.
My only youthful memories of Tom include him slinking down the stairs, completely ignoring us, on the way to his basement bedroom. The story should have ended here.
We met again post-college when Tom saw a picture of my apartment online and his sister realized that it was brownie Christine carrying a pizza upstairs. We soon realized that I lived in his grandparents’ old apartment, and he had moved in across the way. Star-crossed apartments, really.
Unfortunately, we should have been doomed or destined never to connect: I moved out soon after to live across the world for the year. Unknowingly, my now husband read my Indonesian blog religiously and followed along on my journey—we were Facebook friends.
When I returned as a single and Indo homesick teacher, the rest is history. If he had not seen that Facebook photo of my kitchen, we may have never connected. And you think Facebook is bad…
If you give me a can of olives, I will most likely eat the entire can alone in one sitting. Just sayin.’
My Nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award
- Jella @ Asiana Circus: Jella’s blog is one of my favorite finds this year. Geeky, unique, and cultural, find anime, poetry, unicorn and mermaid food-related travel tips, my (wo)man (Dr. Who), and some serious glamping tents with bunnies. I’m obsessed with her blog in the non-creepy stalker kind of way and applaud how well Asiana Circus is set apart from any other blogger out there.
- Fiona @ Just Me and My Boarding Pass: Fiona is a sincere travel blogger living in Australia. She takes beautiful pictures and writes the most relatable travel tips and information.
Book Bloggers and Authors:
- Jess and Tegan @ Fiction No Chaser: Gosh I just love feisty blogs that have their own very clear and snarky voice. These two write hilarious and down and dirty book reviews paired with my favorite thing in the world: ALCOHOL. And let me tell you, these girls book review as much as I enjoy a glass of wine. I am in sheer awe of the number of quality reviews they produce.
- Kaleena @ Reader Voracious: This book reviewer just hit 1,000 followers on WP, which is a big deal. As I write this, she is badass caught up in a 24/48 hr reading marathon. You guessed it: 24 hours of reading in a 48-hour time span. Her reviews are stellar, but more notably, she provides book bloggers with resources for tracking books and how-to-guides for ARC databases, like Edelweiss.
- Brandy Woods Snow @ Brandy Snow: I had to include one of my recent favorite authors since I just reviewed her new YA contemporary romance title, Meant To Be Broken. Brandy blogs about writing, her book, and has showcased cover reveals. She is an author, journalist, southerner, and definitely a YA writer to keep your eyes out for.