Hello Dear Readers

It’s been an awfully long time, hasn’t it?

If you’re still around, somehow subscribed to my blog or related to me (hi family!), I think I’ve decided to start writing the blog again.

What does that even mean in the era of COVID-19? (Geez, how I hate hearing about that dang virus).

For now, I think it means I’ll go back and start exploring some of the travel I’ve done in the last year or so that I never wrote about. Trust me, I’ve been places. 

Are you guys ready? Buckle up.

-Carissa

Cool California

Hello Dear Readers!

I last left you all with tales of my and Harrison’s trip to Lithuania, where we spent three wonderful days exploring the country before returning to Israel.

You all know I don’t rest on my laurels for long though, as immediately after I got home from Israel my friend Carlos came for a visit. (I mean literally the next day. We suffered from jet lag together). We met in Scotland during our Arabic Programme and I haven’t gotten rid of him since.

Kidding. Kinda.

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Carlos was in the US for a total of three weeks, two of which were with me (yay!) and I made the most of it by showing him all around California.

What did this mean? Well our itinerary looked a little something like this:

Yucaipa -> Las Vegas -> Ventura -> Pismo Beach -> Monterey -> Santa Clara -> Los Angeles

While we certainly kept busy, the slow pace of our travel meant nothing felt too rushed, and we spent quite a lot of time wandering around exploring the culture (and by that I mean food. All of it. Everywhere).

Stay tuned!

-Carissa “California Queen” Rawson

Home Again

Hello Dear Readers!

If any of you are still here, you must be asking yourself: what happened to Carissa? Did she die or fall off a cliff or simply stop writing?

To that I say no. I’m still here, sans cliffs, and I’m still very much writing.

You see, June 3rd was the date of my last post. June 11th I began a new job. A new, full-time, salaried job, as a travel writer. I’m working remotely, writing about my passion, only this time I’m doing it on the world’s largest travel website- as a living!

I have tons of things written here, for you guys. I’m working on putting them up. And I’ll still post as often as I can (though perhaps more sporadically, as damn if it isn’t difficult to do everything all at once).

-Carissa “The Writer” Rawson

Easter-ing Like An Adult

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s been a hot few years since I’ve been home for Easter due to one reason or another (just kidding. It’s travel. It’s always travel). But! This year I finally managed and let me tell you something. I have been Missing. Out.

So I’m not religious by any stretch of the imagination, and neither is my family, which is why I never really made such a big deal out of Easter. Sure, there’s some chocolate, and some good food, but nothing too crazy.

What I neglected to realize was that my family celebrates Easter like a boss. You see, all the kids are grown up now, with my two younger cousins 19 and 21 and myself 29. But rather than stopping Easter egg hunts, which let’s be real are ridiculously fun, the Easter Bunny has instead evolved the process.

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I’m not ashamed

In addition to booze, we hunted Easter eggs containing the best surprise ever- money!

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Including an action shot of Nala

After entirely way too much fun, we then moved the party to Disneyland.

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Obviously

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We also paid six dollars to go on a scavenger hunt around Disneyland, walking thirty thousand steps and riding absolutely nothing. Yes, that’s right, we paid Disneyland to not ride their rides.
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Ain’t nothing bringing this dog down.

-Carissa “I Super Swear I’m An Adult” Rawson

Part of the Family- The Journey of a Lifetime

Hello Dear Readers!

I’m still aboard my Copenhagen-Los Angeles flight. I think it might be taking an eternity. So far we’ve covered quite a few days of Harrison’s trip to California. However, we spent the last few days up in Northern California in the picturesque city of Modesto. Yes, that’s a joke.

 

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Spending time with family is always a joy, but this time it came with the added stress of trying to make Harrison presentable to him. Lucky for me, he’s fairly capable on his own and I didn’t have to do much aside from elbow him occasionally. (He’s going to be so mad I said that but I don’t even care!)

Probably the highlight of our trip to Modesto was our pre-Christmas Christmas. For those of you who don’t know, Harrison is Jewish. That means he’s never experienced Christmas. I know, it’s a travesty. Luckily for him, we solved that as he ran the gauntlet of gifts from everyone up north. I have to say, for a Christmas noob, he did pretty well.

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What is all this nonsense?

Harrison and I also made it out to San Francisco for a trip to the Cheescake Factory atop Union Square and a few delirious hours with one of my best friends, Monica.

Just wait until next year. The Christmas kiddie gloves come off!

-Carissa “Christmas is Literally the Best Time of the Year” Rawson

Old Grandeur- The Napa Valley Wine Train

Hello Dear Readers!

Now, as many of you know, I happen to be a fan of alcohol. Not, like, too much of a fan, i.e. an alcoholic, but I do enjoy the rare beverage here and there (and everywhere).

To that end, one of the things I’d been most looking forward to during Harrison’s trip was our visit to the Napa Wine Train. It was the star of our vacation, costing both two arms and two legs, and while I’d definitely say it was worth it, I’m not sure I could really ever afford to go again. Kind of like the Maldives.

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I feel like I took this for granted

The basic premise of the wine train is this old, restored train that runs through Napa Valley and stops off at various wineries. It includes tastings at all of them, plenty of opportunities to purchase the esteemed wine, and also an extremely fancy meal aboard the train. All told, it’s about six hours long and is a helluva ride.

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This was my first big trip with Brit-Snacketysnack, so I was pretty nervous. We’d been out and about before, but nothing so luxurious as this. I had nothing to worry about though, as she was extremely popular and had the added benefit of making people like me. 

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Who doesn’t love this?

So, yes, I’ve already admitted that I’m a fan of alcoholic beverages, but I also happen to be extremely ignorant about wine. Thus, as the tours commenced and the sommeliers dragged us from room to room, I stood around waiting until I could hustle forward with my plastic tasting cup and request “a glass of your finest red alcohol, please.”

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Please!

I kid. I know there are different types of red wine. And also white. Aaaaaand that’s about the extent of my knowledge

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But we had a blast!

-Carissa “The Wino” Rawson

A Furry Road Trip

Hello Dear Readers!

We left off yesterday with the knowledge of Harrison’s visit to California and a plethora (kinda) of photos from our visit to Disneyland. 

Today’s post is mainly pictures, as we made our way to Los Angeles, Venice Beach, and alllll the way up the coast to Napa Valley.

Enjoy!

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We stayed overnight at the Venice Beach Canals.
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Including indoctrination into the In N Out cult.
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California is the best

-Carissa “How Many Dogs is Too Many?” Rawson

Meeting the Parents

Hello Dear Readers!

I’m writing to you from the depths of economy on a long-haul flight from Copenhagen to Los Angeles. No, it’s not comfortable. Even less comfortable is the fact that I was assigned a middle seat (with no option of changing it!). Fortunately, the woman next to me begged me to change seats with her husband, who was in an aisle seat. I graciously complied. 

Now, I’ve already told you about my trip to meet Harrison’s parents. What I haven’t told you about is his trip to meet mine. You see, Harrison may have two parents and a sister, but I’ve got five and three siblings. We’re a bit larger of a family. 

So I finally enticed Harrison to fly to California, and I ended up meeting him at my apartment as he landed before I arrived home from Illinois.

I take it you all remember when I faced that gauntlet of his friends? It was a bit similar, as my entire family turned out for the special occasion of Harrison’s visit, including my father, who drove in from work just to (I think) glare disapprovingly at Harrison. That’s what Dads are for, right? We’re just lucky he didn’t whip out the pellet gun.

Day two after his arrival I dragged him to Disneyland, because of course I did.

In total Harrison spent a total of seven days in California, including a road trip of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Those posts are upcoming!

-Carissa, Harrison “This is a Psuedonym,” Diamond and Brit “The Snackiest of Snacks”  

Becoming an Able Veteran

Hello Dear Readers!

I’ve tried to write this introduction a dozen times, in a myriad of ways, attempting to sound like myself. You know, light, carefree, sort of sarcastic. But the thing is- this isn’t light or carefree or sarcastic at all. Very few things have impacted my life as dramatically as this journey has, and all I can say is that I’m profoundly grateful.

So I’ll aim for honest.

Several years ago some bad things happened to me. At first I denied I was affected, played it off. After all, I’ve always been the *strong* one. What could possibly have the power to hurt me?

And so I lived my life, doing whatever I wanted, never questioning the choices I was making or the reasons behind them. I went a dozen different places on a whim, simply living for the day, experiencing more things in a year than more people experience in a lifetime.

I was happy.

And then I met someone. And we were happy. He loved to travel too, and we spent our time traversing the world, eating, drinking, living.

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I love him.

And then about a year ago, he gave me an ultimatum. You see, he knew me, better than I knew me, and saw so clearly what I could not.

I was hurting. More than that, I was a fractured person, held together by mere willpower and denial.

I had to get help. So I did. I began seeing someone, learning very quickly that my normal was not normal. Every week I would speak to her, unleashing all the poison inside, letting her into the whirling nightmares that were my thoughts.

Oh what a difference it made! She helped me re-frame my thoughts, put ration to the irrational, give voice to the pain inside.

And yet.

There was still so much hatred. For myself, for who I was, for the choices I’ve made and the things that I’ve done.

I stumbled across This Able Veteran while looking up service dogs, knowing how much my own dogs have helped me, wondering if there was more help out there.

I applied, not daring to believe that I’d be chosen for a dog. I’ve always been a loser, you see.

So when I received a call from the organization’s founder, Behesha, telling me that I’d been picked, I broke down.

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I don’t deserve this.

I arrived in Illinois just after Thanksgiving, worried out of my mind. Am I good enough for this? Do I deserve help? Am I really broken, or am I just manipulating the system for a free dog?

The stream of my thoughts continued, each more vicious than the last, until I was certain I was the worst person alive.

That’s the problem with PTSD, you see. It eats you alive, invisibly, so that on the outside you appear perfectly fine and on the inside you’ve been left with nothing but the blackness of your self-loathing.

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And somehow, she doesn’t see that.

Meeting Brit was just the first step. There followed a three week course on trauma resiliency, focused on understanding our thoughts and healing from the damage we’d inflicted, and continued to inflict, on ourselves.

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The first day of the rest of our lives.

Am I cured? No, I’m a long way from that. And frankly, I don’t think I ever will be. But I’m healing.

So to those who’ve been there for me along the way, thank you. For every thoughtless action I’ve taken you’ve held on, believing in me, supporting me, being there for me when I couldn’t be there for myself. To This Able Veteran, who gave me the power to love myself again, thank you.

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Joy in a photo.

And to you, Dear Readers, who’ve followed along as I’ve traveled, cheering me from afar, thank you. Your guys’ support has kept me writing, kept me grounded, kept me sane.

I’ll see you all later.

-Carissa

Home Again

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s been an awfully long few months, and much to everyone’s relief, I haven’t died, fallen off a cliff, or otherwise injured myself. I’ve simply been very busy.

When last we spoke I was still in school (technically), funemployed, and traveling. Well, as all of you may have guessed, I am still traveling. In fact, I’m on a plane to Georgia (the country) right now. However, I have also officially graduated from the University of Edinburgh.

With honors!

And gotten myself a job. You’ll all be pleased to know that it’s fully remote, so yours truly can continue to wander around the world, doing whatever I please.

Ok, that last part wasn’t quite true. I’d like to introduce you all to Brit, my service dog.

She and I were paired just about a month ago, and she’s going to be my best companion from now on. You see, sometimes some bad things happen. And some bad things happened to me while I was in the Air Force. But sometimes there are some people who care, truly care, about you, and want to see you well. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Brit and I will see you all soon.

-Carissa “This Able Veteran Is The Best” Rawson