How was your weekend? Mine was a shitshow, thanks for asking.
It started when I forgot my 10-month old iPhone 6 was in the back pocket of my jeans and it promptly took a dive into the toilet. The next thing I know, my Friday night plans turned into popping a Xanax, scouring tech help message boards (a place where I decidedly do not belong), and begging any moderately tech-savvy person I know on Facebook for advice on how to take apart my phone to dry it.
No amount of Chick-Fil-A waffle fries could make the situation better.
Eventually, at the urging of many an experienced Facebook friend, I stuck it in a bag of rice (thank you roomie for having a forgotten, dusty box of Rice-a-Roni on hand), and hoped for the best, feeling cut off from the world despite having a fully functioning laptop on hand.
Naturally, I couldn't get an appointment at the hellscape that is the Apple store, so I had to rely on being able to walk in. I hate the Apple store. I love Apple products, but I hate the Apple store. I guess if you like shopping on the day before Christmas, like waiting in interminable lines, and like having IT guys talk to you in a patronizing fashion, you might like the Apple store, but as it happens, none of those things appeal to me.
I happened to have my very first acupuncture appointment scheduled for 11:30 Saturday morning, RIGHT by the Apple store, so I got my ass out of bed, chucked my bag of Rice-a-Phonie into my purse, and got to the mall when it opened. Just seeing the sleek glassy windows with the apple on them made my blood pressure begin to rise. Of course, as Steve Jobs would have it, I could not get a "walk-in appointment" until 12 p.m., at which time I would be laying on a table with needles sticking out of me. No problem though, the bearded, tatted hipster employee told me, just come back when I could and the wait wouldn't be long.
With 90 minutes to kill before my acupuncture appointment, I putzed around the mall for approximately two minutes, then stepped out into a torrential downpour to walk to a nearby Barnes & Noble, where I bought a water (I had already had far too much coffee) and settled into a chair with an issue of Travel + Leisure.
All this is a long way of telling you that my iPhone catastrophe paired with my wait time for acupuncture renewed my wanderlust AND my desire to become independently wealthy so I can stay at the places that make it into the "leisure" part of T+L.
I've written plenty about places I want to visit though, so I didn't want to make yet another list of them, especially since the list is more or less neverending. When I complained to my wife of 20 years Carly about my writer's block, she suggested I write about places I DON'T want to go. While she assures me I would hate Mount Everest (a mountain with poop running down the side of it) and India (elephant poop), I still think I would like to visit those two places. For this list, I thought it would be wise to exclude the obvious, which is to say, war zones and places where white Jewish American women are unwelcome (sigh). So with that said, here it is -- my Worst Of list.
I know that for many Russians, Sochi is a holiday destination, but I have never seen finer journalism than that which came from the journalists covering the 2014 Winter Olympics. Orange water, live wires in the showers, interesting toileting situations...who WOULDN'T want to visit? And I have to say, I don't like to laugh at the misfortunes of others (most of the time), but few things in this world are funnier to me than Bob Costas's Sochi Eye.
Runner-up: Siberia. Do I look like Jon fucking Snow to you?
NEW JERSEY, USA
I know I'm going to get a lot of shit for this from my Garden State-born friends, but if I've said it once, I've said it a million times -- what a shithole. The official state nickname is the armpit of America, right? And really it's just the smelly state you pass through on your way to New York. Look, I'm not going to lie; Baltimore doesn't smell like roses, especially in the spring when the algae blooms like cherry blossoms in the harbor, resulting in a subsequent fish kill. But a few years ago New Jersey emitted a mysterious odor so rancid and VAST, it could be smelled here, all the way in Maryland. It made national news. Jersey's STENCH made NATIONAL news.
OK, I admit the Jersey Shore has some nice spots (not shown on MTV), but it's no Ocean City, Maryland. And Trenton boasts the world's most resentful slogan ever created on one of its bridges -- "Trenton Makes, the World Takes." OK, a little bitter then? I mean basically I just imagine that most of it is like the city of Vinci from this season of "True Detective."
Runner-up: Staten Island. One time in college I got lost here on foot and I never want to go back. Really it might actually be worse than Jersey, but don't tell anyone I admitted that.
Look, I know plenty of nice, classy people from the South. And by "plenty," I mean "a few." I don't know a single one from Arkansas though. Not one. There are a few cities in the South I'd like to visit, but none of them are in Arkansas. I just imagine it as a hot, arid wasteland full of people with unappealing accents who really like their shotguns and confederate flag.
Runner-up: West Virginia, wild and incestuous.
People keep telling me I should go to Wyoming and visit Yellowstone National Park because, like, nature. Grand Teton, Jackson Hole. I get it. But my idea of a good time outdoors is lounging on a beach. Camping? Hell no. Glamping? Not even. If I want to rough it, I'll stay at a Comfort Inn or something (but even then, probably not). Wyoming is the least populous state, and that's probably for a reason.
Look, there are two types of people in this world. People who, when they're outside, get a normal amount of mosquito bites. And then there are people who, when they're outside, get eaten alive. I fall into the latter category. And my bites swell up to the size of golf balls, as if to say "you don't belong here," not unlike how being in Baltimore has given me hives in the not-so-distant past. YOU DON'T BELONG HERE. You belong in a city where cicadas are firmly buried beneath large swaths of cement.
Runner-up: Montana. What can I say? I prefer the great indoors.
DUNDALK, MARYLAND, USA
Here it comes. I'm about to let my elitist flag fly. Is Dundalk 15 minutes from my house? Yes. Do I avoid it like the plague? Also yes. If New Jersey is the armpit of America, then Dundalk is the armpit of Maryland. Equally stinky, equally trashy. In fact, there is a pineapple-shaped SHIT PLANT for which it is known. And as the weather this weekend was very hot and I spied many a Baltimorean in scanty clothes, I wondered if Maryland is the "That thigh tattoo was a poor choice" capital of the country. I suspect many of these tattooed gems hail from Dundalk. Really, I can't say it any better than some genius put it on Urban Dictionary (sic. on all grammar and punctuation errors):
"Dunn-dock hun", a rotting cesspool on the Eastern side of Baltimore County, Maryland (known to those in Dundalk as "Merr-land"). Sandwiched between a sewage treatment center aka the shit plant and a disgusting town called Highlandtown, Dundalk houses some of the most vile Maryland residents. Women there often boast between 6-12 teeth, hair that is at least 3 shades and copious amounts of 5$ tattoos. They have 6 kids each, with approximately 2-3 fathers, of which 1 is known. The species known as the Dundalk male frequently wear shorts that end only 2 inches from their white Reebok classics, with an Ecko shirt that they spent their entire paycheck on. Even though they have their hair shaved to a 1 they use a half a bottle of Dep gel and brag about the silver chain they bought at the North Point Flea Market.
Runner-up: Essex. A mere half a step up from Dundalk.
Disagree with any of my choices? I'm sure some of you do. Bring it on. Or as they'd say at the Jersey Shore (or Dundalk for that matter), "Come at me, bro."
P.S. RIP iPhone.
Note from Jen: I can't vouch for all of these places, and I sure as shit won't be traveling to Russia anytime soon with their horrible homophobic agenda, but I can say that some of the places on Staci's "won't" list are absolutely worth visiting.
New Jersey may have its gross parts (ahem, Newark) but having spent time around Long Branch and the suburb, Marlboro, I can say that New Jersey ain't half bad. In fact, I sort of like it. It has weird awesome things like cranberry bogs and really beautiful hiking. I've already said how much fun I had in Montana and Wyoming, but I'll say it again -- that place is BREATHTAKING. I don't know how much I'd love camping in it, but driving through Yellowstone was incredible. Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas actually looks really beautiful, but I've never been myself.
Sorry Dundalk -- you're on your own.