Just like always

The title of this post is strange, especially when you consider it’s about my trip to Las Vegas which was anything but ‘just like always.’ Then again, it’s also about my brother, so it works.

Last week, I crossed the United States for the second time, this time visiting Sin City herself, Las Vegas. In 2009 during the height of Hangover obsession, I wanted to visit and see the sites like everyone else. Actually, my interest started much younger with Vegas Vacation, the Chevy Chase classic. Literally everything I know about Vegas, I learned from this movie.

Naturally, I landed and saw the Strip and assumed I would eat at the most glorious buffets and put a coin and machine and magically win a car. My only goal was to see Wayne Newton. Maybe ride in a limo and hang out of the sunroof.

Spoiler alert: None of this happened.

My trip to Vegas wasn’t based on my own interest, but that of my little brother. My angelic little baby decided he wanted to go to Las Vegas for his 21stbirthday. It’s not that I didn’t want to go but going there since I stopped drinking seemed ridiculously less fun. I mean you can drink on the streets in Vegas! It’s basically a dream for partyers.

Getting there is pretty inexpensive, but I quickly learned that’s because the city will bleed you dry. I budgeted for all my food and transportation needs while I was there, and it was ALMOST as much as I paid to get, stay, and leave there. I have a lot of reasons I’m thankful I don’t drink anymore, but Vegas prices might be at the top.

My actual view. Yes my hotel doubled as a castle.

Still, my room had a great view of the strip because we were just two hotels away from the end. It was like a scene from a postcard when it was lit up at night. This was one of my favorite things from the trip. See, I’m all about the bright flashing lights. Orlando is my favorite place in the world, after all, and Las Vegas is like Orlando took a shot of coke and ecstasy and covered itself in glitter. Aka my dream.

Mandalay Bay and the lot where the shooting occurred

The other side of our hotel had a more somber view. Mandalay Bay is the first hotel on the strip coming from the airport, which means I could see the lot where the 2017 Las Vegas shooting occurred. Our Uber driver told us it’s been blocked by curtains for a year since the tragedy with no real plans about reopening.

It’s easy to hear about something and even see footage but seeing the site and where the shooter placed himself was heartbreaking. Near the lot was a billboard that read “#VEGASSTRONG” and reminders of this unity popped up all along the strip.

We started the trip with a journey to Fremont Strip, aka Old Vegas. It was just as cool as everyone said. The screen over the street was brightly lit and occasionally there was a special show featuring an artist. We ate in a restaurant located just off Fremont in an old timey casino and I was in love. It made me so interested in the history of Vegas, like how did it get started? Did someone decide to create a city founded on debauchery?

Devan and his sisters ❤️

The next day was my brother’s actual 21st, so we had breakfast, walked the Strip, and then returned for a nap and to get ready. We planned to be fancy people for dinner. Naturally, my Navy-brother outshone us all in his suit. Dinner was Gallagher’s and then we danced at Coyote Ugly. It seems really trashy, but it was a great time.

She ended up drawing a thong. It was great.

On our last day, we gambled a bit and almost broke even. It wasn’t even super tempting to keep trying because you can smoke in casinos and it was gross. Oh! We also walked to In N Out Burger. Before leaving, we went to Tournament of Kings, a Medieval Times-esque show, and there were so many hot dudes. Sorry to be crass, but it’s my biggest takeaway. Also we were Ireland and our king was super attractive but really kind of a disaster in the tournament.

Babe status

The best part of the trip happened in between all of the last day activities. After we checked out of our room, my sister and I weren’t sure how we would spend our time. We bought a pack of cards (actually used in our hotel’s casino) and went to the food court and played Rummy. Soon, our brother joined, and we taught him. He was so bad at first, it made Kristi look good. We did this before and after Tournament of Kings and it was so much fun, even if we were deliriously tired.

If I’m being honest, my relationship with my brother is strange. Not bad, strange, just strange. See, he’s my half-brother through my father and for most of our lives, our dad was our connection. When we saw Devan, it was at our dad’s. As we got older and our relationship with our father began to fall apart, we made more of an effort to see Devan on our own time.

As the years progressed, we gradually spent less time together. Gone were the full weekends where we slept in bunkbeds and fought about everything. It became whenever he and I were both at dads or when Kristi was home from college and then when I was visiting from school or Pittsburgh. We moved to Buffalo and it got even harder. Now the little brat is in the Navy adding yet another city we have to factor into meeting.

This trip would mark the first time in more than a decade we’d spent this much time together. Honestly, it made me a little nervous. What would our relationship be like when it wasn’t just for a few hours, dinner, and a movie?

Even with the weird dynamics of going with his family, it wasn’t different at all. Fortunately for us, Devan is the sweetest and most sincere person I may have ever met. He’s only concerned about the rest of us and making sure we’re included. Obviously he’s a total goober, but that doesn’t take away from him being the best guy I know.

As we played Rummy together, it reminded me of something he used to say as a child. It was somewhere between his phase of smelling our feet and locking us in the bathroom. We would all be in our dad’s room watching TV and he would throw himself on the bed in-between us, sigh contentedly, and say ‘just like always.’

I’ve missed that comfortability as we’ve gotten older. The three of us, often plus our dad, used to lie on his full-sized bed and watch movies together. I’ve tried so hard to distance myself from that time and my feelings because of my relationship with my dad that I didn’t realize I was starting to erase Devan too.

Lucky for me, because Devan is so great, he loves me just as much as he always has, and it shows. I love that through everything, we’re all still important to each other.

Admittedly my dad has failed in the father department in a number of ways, but I’ll always be thankful that through him I have my baby brother. I’m so thankful that when we’re together, it’s just like always with us.

Vegas, baby. Bringing families together.

Chelsea’s quest to find a life

If you look up the word “crotchety,” you’ll find many less than flattering words. For example, Google will tell you it means irritable, with synonyms including peevish, crabby, snappy and cranky. According to Urban Dictionary, crotchety is a way to describe an old person in their golden years who hates the world and decides to take it out on the world. See also: Chelsea Cummins.
While in Ireland, I realized I was crotchety. I was practically one step away from yelling at kids for enjoying their lives too much. How does that happen to a 24 year old?
It wasn’t that long ago that I risked staying up late for a good time. I drank before meetings in college and chose a night out to studying for a quiz the next morning. I went to class unshowered and skipped the next to go shopping. Even as a recent grad, I hung out and drank with work friends making questionable decisions. I once had a party and invited underage kids and the cops came. Notice I included questionable in the description of my decisions. Nonetheless.
Without realizing it, I grew up but not in the right way. As with most situations in life, I go too far one way or the other. Turning 21 brought a lot of weird times and choices in an attempt to grow into me, only to realize I was going the wrong direction. To correct this, I jumped in the opposite way, cutting myself off from every opportunity to make poor choices. Honestly, I think this abrupt change made me less funny on Twitter.
Now I find myself a real adult. I live in a place with three floors, including a basement and washer/dryer. I have a dog. I’m leasing a new vehicle. I wake up early, work out, read my Bible and eat breakfast. I go to bed at a decent hour and decline activities that might keep me out too late.
Yes, I really am that old. And it’s really depressing.
It didn’t occur to me how tragic my existence had become until I watched several other young people in Ireland do fun young people things as I sat doing grad school work. Slowly, I put my computer down and went outside where it was windy and cold but also a great time. I realized other people weren’t the problem, I was.
This isn’t to say that all will find my life sad. For some, it may be ideal. The point of this is realizing I’m not satisfied with life which is understandably not good.
The worst part is that somewhere along the line, I forgot how much I enjoyed occasionally making the wrong choice. I pushed away the good memories and held on to the bad for reinforcement that I was doing the right thing.
Thank God for traveling to put your life into perspective.

Instead of hiding behind my schedule and responsibility, I’m ready to take chances and let myself be 24. So what if sometimes that means I stay up a little later? Eventually I won’t have these opportunities. I’ll have more than a dog that relies on me. My future responsibilities will dwarf the ones I fear now. Being young is a gift and I’m done celebrating the fact that I’m old. This is a new chapter in my life.
Chapter 1: Chelsea is the consummate good girl (1990-2011)
Chapter 2: Chelsea loses her mind a little and compromises a bit too much (2011-2013)
Chapter 3: Chelsea overcorrects her life to the point of boring tragedy (2013-2015)
Chapter 4: Chelsea finds a new perspective and embraces life (2015-?)
Prior to the writing this post, I began making small changes and decisions about my life. For example, I’m taking a trip down south at the beginning of August to see my friend Linzy because I love and miss her. I plan to start hiking with Samantha. I’m going to the Three Rivers Arts Festival this Saturday (lived in Pittsburgh for 3+ years and I’ve never been there).
Life is what you make it, and I’m done making excuses for this future where I’ll have time to enjoy myself. That time is now. #chelseafindslife

You know what’s better than having your flight delayed?

Having your flight delayed when you’ve already boarded and it’s 84 degrees outside. Did I mention the plane is packed tight? Yeah, it’s fun. Foolishly I purchased a large water bottle before boarding thinking I’m thirsty and it’s only an hour to Boston.

Now I’ve been on this plane for an hour with nothing to do except think about how much have I to pee and how I should probably be doing grad school things but complaining in a blog post is much better.
In reality, this all seemed like a good idea at the time.
This little flight is really a stepping-stone to the large adventure of Ireland. For the last year, my mom began talking about this trip like a giddy school girl. At first it was hypothetical and then probably impossible and now here we are.
After she committed, she began dropping hints that I should come, too. And by hints, I mean flat out telling me. Her reasoning? I could meet one of the Irish men who clearly wait in pubs for American women to wander into their lives and they can fall in love. Her words. She says she’s joking and thinks it will be a fun experience. Whatever, Mom.
Initially I rejected the very idea. It’s not that I didn’t want to return to Europe. What person is like “nah, I’ve been there once and seen enough old things to suit me.” Plus, last time I saw a lot Italy which was amazing but I wanted to see the other areas as well. The timing wasn’t great with school plus vacation, especially international ones, cost money.
Honestly, I thought she would let it go and I wouldn’t have to be tempted and life would go on. But then she wouldn’t and began planning and purchasing my ticket before I gave my final confirmation. How many times can you say no to Ireland?
So now I sit, writing a blog post I won’t be able to post for hours when I should be doing something constructive. I’m taking the final course in my master’s program and school administrators explicitly state you should not travel during this term unless absolutely necessary.
Like the cool student I am, I first viewed this as a challenge. I’m a good student, I thought stupidly. I can do anything. The whole truth is I’m a mega nerd and one look at all the assignments I had to do made me think maybe I overestimated my abilities. Basically the story of my life is overestimation.
Luckily, I’ve only experienced four minor panic attacks and one catatonic state where I sat at work transfixed by my to do list and unable to perform basic tasks. With the help of Sam, I slowly found the ground again and realized I wouldn’t be able to complete everything by the deadlines I set for myself, but I would get it done.
Now I hear the cute chatter of seatmates becoming temporary friends while we wait to reach our next destination. Isn’t it funny how humans react in situations like this? Remember field trips as a child where you would form weird, one day friendships with kids you never talk to and insist they come over and play and maybe they would but most likely they wouldn’t and once the glow of the trip was gone you forgot why you wanted to be friends in the first place.
We began by going about our business, lone rangers in the game of travel. We stowed our belongings and fastened our seatbelts and waited for a takeoff that wouldn’t come. After the first announcement, we continued our silence and learned we could have our electronics and cell phones again so instantly we retreated into the world we’d been disconnected from for maybe 15 minutes. By the second announcement, we were restless.
I began my friendship by making a this-is-why-I’m-single comment to my seatmate. As I finished the last drop of my water, I fittingly said this water bottle seemed like a good idea at the time. We learned basic histories, job, destinations, etc, and then broke off again to do our own thing. Our legs are touching and a little sweaty but I don’t mind the human interaction.
The trend continues around the plane. A complete island behind me with a book and headphones slowly emerged and began smalltalk with his seatmate as well as neighbors around him. He kind of looks like Tom Hardy, which is cool. Now he’s listening to music again.
The people in front of me discuss their businesses, travelling and favorite restaurants. I think the one guy is British but I’m about as good as identifying accents as I am at identifying ingredients (not good. I can tell you something is strawberry-flavored if I’m eating a strawberry).

I’m not sure why this post transitioned into a study of humans on planes, but it’s helping me pass the time. The stewardess (flight attendant?) is attentive and wonderful and wearing very high heels and I commend her for that. She keeps asking what we can do to make it less hot and I like her strategy of making us productive so our sweat has purpose.
I suggested we take turns fanning with out coats down the aisle but the idea didn’t seem to take off. Kind of like this plane. Ba dum tss.
[Five minutes later]
The hipster behind me opened my eyes to the available bathroom, so now I feel much better. He saw our snacks and thanks us for bringing food for the plane ad said he liked my shirt (lovers gonna love).
Much like a bathroom break after a few drinks, the seal has been broken and others begin filing. The great news is the captain told us we can take off in 28 minutes. No time like the present. Luckily, he said he’s going to floor it to Boston.
 I don’t think I’m going to waste any more of our time because I’m sure you don’t care about my wait now in the past as assumedly I will have made it past this parked position by the time it’s posted and I could probably be doing something more productive.
Like taking another nap. Up top (high five your computer now).