Sunday, October 2, 2011

My trip to the UK

The last part of my three month trip was spent in the UK. We landed in London and stayed there for a few days where we got to meet up with our friend Nuala who made an appearance in Siem reap too! We did a lot of sightseeing and drank way too much Cider. Then we headed for a night out in New Castle (the rumors are all true) before we went to Dublin. I wish we had had more time in Ireland but the time we did have was spent doing what we do best drinking. We then packed up the car and heading out for a camping trip in Scotland. We only lasted 2 days due to the terrible rain storm but we had a great time while we were there. For my birthday we went to a farm where ewe got to see "Shitfield" Shetland Ponies, highland coos and too many cute sheep to count. I loved every moment of my time in the UK and I absolutely can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Any spare change?

I just got an e-mail from the orphanage that I visited this summer in Cambodia. I feel completely broken hearted because I look at the photos and remember the joy I felt while I was there. The orphanage runs completely off of donations and the kids have to live there no matter what because there is no where else for them to go. 

Each one of the children gets one of the lockers on the left
that is the entirety of their worldly possessions
They make most of their money form donations from
their dancing and now the performance area is flooded

There were recent storms; much like those we have experienced here and the orphanage was flooded. When I was there this summer it was very difficult for me to leave because of the spirit of the children was inspiring. I know that no one has extra money laying around but it really pains me that I don't know how to do more for these kids. The children at this orphanage live in conditions that we would consider completely substandard at best yet to them were paradise.This is not an organization the gets money form any "parent" group; they operate on 100% donations.

  • $32.00 is 50kg of rice which means a full day of rice for the 70 children who live there
  • $117.00 is 3 full meals per 70 children per day
Honestly if you are feeling extra kookie and have boat load of money you can donate it to me and I'll fly over there and stay for as long as my money will last to help rebuild everything they have lost. If you have any suggestions on how I can raise money to get me back there to help please let me know because it would be a 100% volunteer experience, but 100% worth it. In everything I have done in my life nothing has inspired me as much as being with those young people and seeing there hope in what from the outside looks like a hopeless situation. If you can help at all please please please go to the web site and donate. Orphanage Website

This summer this was their performance area.
I can't imagine how long it will take them to
raise the money to fix this.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

They are my letters and I'll do what I want to!

When I was about eight I saw an episode of What Would You Do? on Nickelodeon. It was a challenge show that always had audience participation. I remember that I saw a large group of girls wearing letters of a different language on matching t- shirts and they looked so happy. I knew I wanted to know what that group was.  I thought maybe it was like adult Girl Scouts or something like that. When Marc Summers finally went to this group of girls the one he interviewed said, “these are my sorority sisters”. I don’t remember anything else about that show; not a single episode, and I was an avid watcher! The idea of a bond of sisterhood between women who aren’t related sticks with me to this day.
In college I had to do ethnography for my advanced writing requirement. I had to pick a culture and learn about their rituals, language and characteristics. This project came at the same time that I accepted my bid to join Alpha Phi. I was very open with the sisters and let them know that my interest and desire to be in A-Phi was not motivated by my ethnography. I told my friends in Center for Women’s Concerns and LGBA that I was only doing it for the ethnography.
Why was I so afraid to tell people that I wanted to be in a sorority? What story do Greek letters tell without saying a word? I am a natural “joiner” and lifetime Girl Scout. I love to be active and thrive in an environment that combines friendship, unity and fun. I am very philanthropic and love to get my friends involved in what I’m involved in. I scream “sorority girl”.
So what made me so scared to tell my parents I wanted to join? Why was I uncomfortable when I told my best friend that after I pledged I would be an Alpha Phi? Why do I continue to feel that I need to explain myself when someone learns that I am a member of a Greek organization?  It is because not everyone who wears their letters wears them with the respect that I do. I did not learn to respect Alpha Phi when I felt nervous about not knowing enough. I respect Alpha Phi because I now understand that I am part of a life - long adventure.
The same letters that sparked my interest so many years ago still spark a bit of anxiety in me and it is because of what women and men do in “honor” of those letters. When I think of my Alpha Phi founders and the courage they must have had to go to university in the 1870’s I wear my badge with honor. When I think of the thousands of women who have been helped by The Alpha Phi Foundation I proudly wear my sorority jacket. When I learn of a community organization that has experienced success because Alpha Phi’s volunteered their time to help I am eager to display my AF letters on my car, water bottle or favorite pen.
I want every little girl to see Greek letters and want to join a sorority. I want every young woman to go to university and fall in love with her organization so much that she wants every female she meets to become one of her sisters. I want every adult woman I know and meet to know what she can expect of me because I am an Alpha Phi. She can expect a friend, philanthropist, advocate and person of genuine moral character. She can expect to find a woman who has made mistakes and learned from them; a woman who hasn’t always embraced the true meaning of the letters Alpha and Phi. She can expect to find a woman who lives each day by the values that her sorority founders set out for her over a century ago. She can find a woman who believes that a woman deserves every opportunity her male counterpart may receive. She can find a woman who believes in her fraternity; a woman who believes in Alpha Phi. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The reverend is in

Well, I would bet just about anything that i'm one of the last people my family and friends thought would ever become an ordained minister but i did it. With the help of a little friend I call the internet I am now Reverend Cassie E. Andrews! I can't really get on board with religion but I can get on board with love and the right of any individual who is in love to be able to celebrate that with any type of ceremony they wish. One of my very best friends recently became engaged and it just felt like a cool gift for them. There is certainly no pressure on them to have me actually perform their wedding but hey it's thoughtful none the less!
Here is my deal:
The Universal Life Church has only two tenets:
To promote freedom of religion
To do that which is right
The Universal Life Church Monastery has recorded your application for ordination. It has been entered into the International Database of the Ministry of the Church, whose numbers total millions worldwide.
As a member of the Universal Life Church you are granted the ability to:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Battle o' Plattsburgh

My Saturday morning routine involves a trip to the farmers market, co-op and Koffee Kat. While the over sized leather couch in the back of the cafe doesn't fit aesthetically it makes a perfect reading spot to deter one from the bitter coffee and art that would make Deloris Umbridge giddy. Yesterday I was treated to an addition to my day by the celebration of the Battle of Plattsburgh. I have lived in Plattsburgh for the better part of a decade and yet never ventured downtown for this epic event. I really have never known what it was about at all so with a little help from the Internet and some leaflets handed out by girls in old timey dresses (who I am told were my good friends Lauren and Stacey when they were younger) I got my education. In a nutshell the red coats retreated because the hearty men of Plattburgh were also great seamen and drove those limey bastard back to Canada. I found the parade a humorous tribute to this battle since the majority of the performers were kilt clad and playing bagpipes. Maybe it's our way of saying thank you.. I don't know.
Regardless it was a very nice parade that raised a surprising amount of patriotism in me. As the men and women in uniform marched down the street the spectators stood and cheered while they clapped their hands around the small American flags that they waved proudly. It was very hometown and very emotional. I got a little misty myself as I watched and became part of the display of respect. 
The Eagle still soars

Perhaps they wanted the battle to go a different way

Didn't even got to see this in Scotland

Union Jack in place of the stars? WTF

We really love the UK!

Taco Kilt?

Friday, September 9, 2011

My daily life

Being back in Plattsburgh feels great. I was so nervous about coming back and being in a place that I left in such a negative frame of mind. My daily life is going well and I really like my internship a lot. I will actually get to start seeing clients next week so I am very excited about that. I'm not going to lie this blog is mainly for Lizzy because I promised her photos of my apartment and such. I bought myself a new camera since my completely died last week and I love the panoramic feature. Here are some shots of my life.
My internship clinic in Ward Hall

Hawkins Pond outside of my office

Hawkins Hall the building next to mine

My walk to work

My house


Dining room

Living room

Front entrance to my house

My lovely bedroom

Gotta have my Pez

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back in the high life again

Well, blogging has taken a back seat while I finished up my travels, visited home and moved back to Plattsburgh. I'm renting a room from a really lovely woman who goes to Florida for the winter each year. The house is over 100 years old and has a welcoming energy that made me feel right at home when I arrived. It almost feels like i moved into a house that I already lived in. From the Where the Wild Things Are painting to the fat Buddhas I love this house. This past weekend was my first weekend back and also the visit of Hurricane Irene. It poured rain all day Sunday while debris covered all of our sidewalks and streets. The damage to campus isn't devastating but it is sad to see so many of the beautiful Weeping Willows near Hawkins pond gone. BTW the building in the back ground isn't damaged it's being taken down.

Everything worked out for me getting back into the groove of school. My internship is going really well so far and I get along with my site supervisor swimmingly. I am in charge of the Ward hall Counseling Clinic which is the internship I wanted form the beginning. I get to seet clients from campus and the community. I really hope to get at least one couple or family among my clients but hopefully more.  There is also a new graduate assistant and she is really great and our personalities go together well. I'm of course missing Lizzy like crazy but we've been trying our best to Skype each day. Honestly it feels like we are in Korea again except that sadly on Friday night I won't be making us a yummy dinner while she dowloads Grey's Anatomy. Guess I'll have to settle for on campus bingo and a few pints at the Monopole. Oh who am I kidding I am really excited to play BINGO. More to come soon...

Sunday, July 24, 2011


On this trip I have made it a point to push myself and to get out of my comfort zone. I drove and ATV and then  a motor bike. I hiked with hill tribe women, rode on a number of not to code boats and even feed wild monkys but yesterday I really jumped out of my comfort zone. I willingly got into cages with full grown tigers armed with only my camera. Yesterday I visited Tiger Kingdom outside of Chang Mai, Thailand and it was freaking awesome. Many people have said things about the tigers not being treated properly or that they are drugged but that wasn't what I saw at all. The tigers looked very healthy and had very clean living conditions. Like all cats tigers are nocturnal so they want to lay around during they day and get a belly rub. The tigers were very alert and aware of us while we were with them which would not be characteristic of a giant that had been drugged up. There were some cats that were running around and playing with each other; a few were even swimming in the tiger pool.
When we arrived we were all very nervous but also clearly excited. We chose to see the smallest and the biggest tigers. We got to go into their living area with them to pet them and of course get some amazing photos. The smallest tigers were so cute it was hard not to pick them up or play with them like one would a house cat. I wanted to stay with them for hours and just take photos. 

Seeing the babies helped ease us into the whole hanging out with an animal that could kill you with one paw swipe thing. As our turn to be with the biggies got closer it began to rain so we had to visit with them in their cages rather than the big open play area which was a bummer. Liz was the first one to approach the big tiger and well... to be frank... I thought we were going to die. As soon as she got near him he started making this really low growl and his ears laid flat on his head. I don't know a lot about cats but I know those aren't good signs. Liz quickly backed away and Laura and I practically threw ourselves against the fence. Then in what seemed like a millisecond he was standing on all fours (still growling mind you) and then bam off the table walking right toward me. Our photographer moved in front of me for "protection". His 95lbs would have only served as a great snack before me as the main course. The tiger guy kept telling us it was fine he was just hungry and not to worry but after the tiger jumped off the table he changed his tune and we moved to the next cage to let him deal with the GIGANTIC HUNGRY TIGER!!!! For the record the tiger was not hit or stunned or anything like that the man just yelled at the tiger. We were so nervous after that experience that it was hard to relax with the next two kitties. I was able to relax enough to take in the fact that I got to be that close to such gorgeous animals. Maybe there is a thin line between courage and stupidity but what the hell... I got to cuddle a tiger.
There wasn't much room to move away
He was calm for me
Not a happy kitty

My face got so itchy after that

My chingus

Friday, July 22, 2011

Top Chef

In the last couple of years I have really started to love cooking. I don't have a lot of things that I can whip up but what I do make I make well (I still can't bake). One thing we knew we wanted to do on this trip is taking a cooking class and we finally accomplished our goal the other day. We started in the morning with a trip to the market to get all of our fresh veg. Then went to the cooking school to begin. Our instructor was really wacky and the course overall was really laid back even though it was fast paced. We created a few dishes in the morning to have for lunch. My green curry didn't turn out nearly as tasty as it should have but I know it will after I get to make my own paste (or find a tasty one to buy). The other recipes will need to be tweeked too but overall I am proud of what I created.
Our overall menu was:
  • Green Curry Chicken
  • Fish Souffle in a banana leaf cup
  • Stir fried Chicken with Cashew nut
  • Thai style fish cake
  • Sweet and Sour lemongrass soup
  • Spring Rolls
  • Pad Thai (Thai noodles)
  • Steamed whole pumpkin with custard filling
Top Chefs

A+ students
My fish souffle

clockwise from top: Green Curry Chicken, Sweet and Sour Lemongrass soup,
Cashew nut Chicken, Fish Souffle, Fish Cakes

Liz and I making our spring rolls

Very proud of my Pad Thai

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Full Moon Fun

Well, what goes better with a full moon than thousands of drunks on a beach? The other night the three of us went to the Full Moon Party and it was insanity from the get go. This party started in the mid eighties and has now grown to be a once a month party that has 10-30 thousand participants. This is not a beach party where one brings a blanket and some snacks with a six pack and chill on the beach. It is a party where every bar blasted music to accompany the strobe and other lights that highlight the party goers neon clothes, accessories and body paint. A bucket of liquor can be found in the hand of most everyone there and the only place to piss is in the ocean which is a challenge after a couple of buckets. I think the craziest thing I saw that night was the fire jump roping. Yeah lets play a game I like to call good idea bad idea.. I mean to get the courage to jump a fire rope one needs to have had a few buckets to start which does nothing for the coordination factor. I am ashamed that I was encouraging Laura to do it. For days after the FMP we have seen travelers with bandages on their ankles, arms and back covering the burn marks from their time competing in the idiot Olympics. It was an experience just to watch everyone but after a few hours we decided to hit the road. Liz and I were soaking wet and covered in sand (yeah that whole balance pissing in the ocean thing didn't work for us) and Laura was getting frustrated with some of the locals so we made our exit. To my surprise, on the way our I heard someone calling my name! It was a girl we had met when we were in Halong Bay so it was cool to see her again I just wish it had been before I was a "Svetlana" on vodka buckets and had to go home. Our taxi ride home was terrible and I thought one or all of us were going to get into a physical altercation with someone. Don't mess with us! My favorite interaction of the evening was when Liz told this jerkoff kid in our truck taxi that she would gladly watch him fall to his death ( he refused to sit in the bed of the truck like a normal person and chose to stand instead)...and then grabbed his package..twice! Yeah it was that kind of night. We made it home safely and it was something I'm glad that I experienced however I think on my next trip to Koh Phangan I'll stick to the "old people" part of the island and sip my bucket in a hammock. 
Fucket get a bucket 
Getting hot in here
Yes Laura, let's get drunk

Liz wanted me to take a photo of her bracelet..
I didn't understand

Second bucket, can't say I'm posing for this photo
that might be what I really looked like

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Island Fun

We arrived in Phuket and of course had to haggle a taxi to take us to our hotel which was quite a ways from the airport. We settled in and after dinner our first stop was of course the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a really nice on in fact the best one I’ve seen in Asia so far. They had an extensive collection of guitars and clothes. I got to see a Springsteen jean jacket, a collection of Beach Boys Hawaiian shirts and my personal favourite one of Stevie Nicks fringe laden robes. After our stop at HRC we wandered around the market place which was not a very fun experience. It wasn’t a market place as much as over 100 small bars lined up all promotion drink specials. Now usually I’m all for a cheap drink at an outdoor bar but not when every single bar come equipped with stripper poles. To say that it was a skeezy place is an understatement and the cherry on top of this uncomfortable sundae was watching a Lady Boy strip outside of his hut. The combo of his botched boob job and Barbie doll looking nether region let Laura and I know it was time to hit the 7/11 and head home to watch Harry Potter with Liz.
Hard Rock Phuket
The next day was beach day and it was glorious. After so long travelling through the rest of SE Asia it was nice to be back on the sand even if it was really crowded. I mentioned earlier that it was weird for me to see a burqa up close; it was far weirder seeing a burqa swimsuit. Picture a woman playing in the sea with her children in what can truly be described as a swimming “costume” as my British pals like to say. When they were walking along the beach they looked like some sort of performance troop. Really, throwing all other opinions aside, I just kept thinking about how hot they must have been.
Phuket was cool but it wasn’t a city for me and I was excited to head out to our next destination Phi Phi. We docked, booked our accommodation and then waited for a taxi. When a man with a glorified wheelbarrow showed up I was a little perplexed. Phi Phi is such a small island that one can walk everywhere and the taxis are really there to help with luggage. We quickly decided that this was not a place to stay sober and found Jordan’s Irish Pub a place with 3 for 1 buckets. We also found that they had a DJ that would play pretty much anything we requested so we had our own private dance party and it was great. We decided to check out the beach which was really insane. Fire Dancers, black lights, fireworks and of course more buckets. None of us truly recall getting home that night but we know we were together. What we do recall of the evening was really fun.
I swear I'm wearing clothes
Second day was hangover and beach day and I’ve gotta say the beach was really dirty, must have been from the all night party the night before. That evening as we snuggled into bed Laura realized that her crackers had been tampered with. A mouse must have gotten into our bungalow and munched down. It was gross but not the end of the world and we all relaxed to read. About 10 minutes later I felt a bug of some sort crawl from my knee down my leg and in the light of Laura’s kindle saw the giant cockroach scurry up the summit of my foot and dive over the side of the bed. I screamed and threw my body into a convulsive state once I realized exactly what was happening. The lights went on and we waited to see the vile creature again. Sure enough after about 3 minutes of working ourselves up we saw him climb up the wall. Liz, being the quick and logical thinker that she is grabbed a glass to trap it while Laura and I stood in a semi paralyzed state. After some work we trapped the roach in the glass and put the entire contraption outside. Little sleep was had in our bungalow that night and in the morning we discovered that our little vermin friend came back to eat Laura’s gum and my Lithium (we can safely assume he’s dead now). UGH!
Lizzy wasn’t feeling well the next day so she stayed home while Laura and I went on a speed boat trip around the islands near Phi Phi. The highlight of the day was by far Maya Bay. This is the island where The Beach with Leonardo dicapprio was filmed. It was phenomenal. White sand that was so soft it was like walking on a beach made of powder and water that was crystal clear and as warm as a bath. It was breathtaking in its beauty. I see what the movie described it as paradise and an island one would never want to leave. Our speed boat trip home was so bumpy I felt like I might puke or fall overboard at any moment but it was worth it to get to see such an awesome place. Phi Phi had great pizza and a few good bars but I’ll say I felt too old for that island and I don’t see myself ever visiting again.

Kho Phangan has been a blast. We got our resort for a fraction of the cost it would have been because Laura is an expert negotiator. Lying by the pool all day is a great way to spend a vacation. Since the beginning of the trip Liz has been excited to get motor bikes and I have been dreading the moment that I would actually have to try to ride one. Well the other day it came and I really didn’t think that I was going to be able to do it, neither did Liz or Laura. Once I got the hang of it and didn’t think that I was going to die at every turn I started to enjoy myself. Now I’m psyched and think about getting a bike now! Being on a bike is so freeing and not to mention a great way to cool down from the island heat. 
Biker Babes

Wow look at the rack on that mermaid
We have ridden our bikes all around the island including two trips to see elephants. I love elephants and have since I was a little kid so being able to finally pet and feed them had been a dream come true. They are so beautiful and smart and it kills me that they are used for treks but I’m happy to go feed them bananas and pet their trunks.

Aww they are making the same face

10 year old baby
Koh Phangang is amazing and I really love each day that I'm here. I'm so happy that we have decided to spend so much time here. 
Swing swing