Behind the Lens

Jones Pass Colorado_Kellie Kliewer

So you guys already know why I started the blog: to share recipes, true and ridiculous life stories, to build a bucket list and check off epic things to do in Colorado, and to spread some positivity and inspiration to anyone in need! I really think that staying humble, positive and having an open mind are so important! It helps you develop the skills to see things differently in times of trial, when learning new things, when carrying on everyday conversations with people you know and new people you meet on the street.

Maybe to help people understand me a little better, I’m going to provide you with a list of 10 things that make my life unique and that maybe everybody doesn’t know…. if I have any secrets left at all.

Photo Cred: Meg Rex, Baca Photography
Photo Cred: Meg Rex, Baca Photography

1. I consider myself an extroverted introvert.

So much introspection. I’ve seen it called “analysis paralysis” and I find myself doing it pretty frequently. I bet some people probably think our conversations strange because of the pauses I take for the wheels to turn every now and then. But I also like to be around fun people and have in depth conversations with them over a drink and a fire pit and a live band, so there’s that side too. I’m a delicate and loud-mouthed animal who is shy and brave all at the same time.

2. I’m kind of a Southern Yankee.

My dad is a Virginia guy and my mom hails from Massachusetts. Those Commonwealths! This made me a wise-cracking, mountain-loving, Red Sox watching, Redskins rooting, road-ragin’ mutt somewhere in between the two. It works.

I was born and lived in Florida until I was 5, have lived in Georgia, both Carolinas, and Virginia, grew up with a Southern accent, but spent my summers with family from both sides in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. The first time I came home saying the word “ain’t” though, I was told not to be bringing home such nonsense and it was removed from the vocabulary, STAT. But my dad would also probably have made me scrub a floor if I came home with a Tom Brady jersey, so there’s got to be a compromise in there somewhere.

3. I graduated from Virginia Tech in May of 2007.

After four really fun, eye-opening, incredible years at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, what is now called the Virginia Tech Massacre went down on April 16th about two buildings down from where I was sitting in my Microbiology class the month before college graduation. We didn’t hear it, but it was all kinds of mass confusion EVERYWHERE after that. And mass emotions. And the focus on our hard work and graduation was no longer a focus in any way, shape, or form. That kind of last finish line that people like me need to cross to feel like a chapter is complete, was stolen from all of us and was replaced with a flabbergasting, angering, and saddening hole that no one who was there will EVER forget.

Now it’s a part of all of us who were there, and our families, and the people who know us and called, texted or thought about us that day, whether we want it to be or not. And it always will be. The sound of a siren always puts the image of that day in my mind because I stood frozen that morning as about 30 cop cars came blazing onto campus to go swarm Norris Hall where no one knew what the hell was happening. It was a really disturbing time that reminded us all that life is too short and the world is a confusing, crazy place. I suppose that was a good lesson to learn right before we got dumped out into the real world to go off and make something of ourselves.

4. I once was a Spelling Bee champ.

I lived in Georgia from the time I was 5 until I moved to Virginia the summer I was 13. My elementary school held a spelling bee the year I was in fifth grade and I was PUMPED. Some might say I have this competitive hair sometimes…

Now, as I’m standing up there, I want you to picture a room full of elementary school kids who can and will lose their SHIT for HOURS over a well-placed fart sound (pfffffffffffffffffffffffft I mean, who wouldn’t) or putting bread in someone’s hair. A lunch room full of giggling little kids with the attention span of a really hungry feral cat.

“BOOBY!” The man announced, “we’d like you to spell the word booby.”

Now who puts a naughty word like that on the list of spelling bee words for elementary aged children??? I was completely mortified!!! They told me it was a bird, and they used it in a sentence, and they even told me it had a Spanish origin, but I had no idea there was any other kind of booby other than the kind that grown up ladies had under their blouses. Somehow I got the spelling right though, and I ended up winning the thing in the end, but it’s really no wonder I ended up with an aversion to public speaking.

5. I’m an only child.

I did a lot of weird stuff using my imagination when I was younger, including building a freaking awesome tree fort with a fallen tree and a tarp, pretending I was an Indian and living in the woods as a hunter/gatherer, and I could usually be caught hoarding an egg wrapped in a warm cloth in a small basket in my closet somewhere because I really wanted to see it hatch into a chick. My mom kept making them disappear after following her nose to the source. Must have been the scientist in me.

But I always had neighbors or friends with siblings that I could either pick on every once in a while maybe to take the heat off of my only child thing for a minute, or I could gang up on my friend with the sibling when my friend got on my nerves.

This way we can avoid real confrontation like a mature person. But I got a glimpse into the lives of those with brothers and sisters and that was a real treat.

Our first neighbors in Georgia were a nice Spanish family that we all just loved. There were four kids in the family, the youngest of which was my age and could never quite say my name right so it always came out as “Keddie”. The oldest was another boy who once 1) locked me in the bathroom with the lights off AFTER saying Bloody Mary three times (HOW could he leave me in there with HER?) and 2) put me in a full sized trash can and rolled me down the hill in the front yard.

And I laughed and laughed, until the top finally came off and I spilled out of the trash can into the street.

And I also cried when I thought Bloody Mary was gonna get my ass.

So many feels.

6. I have a thing for the number 6.

I was born on the 16th, at 12:16 am, after 16 hours of labor, and I weighed 6 lbs, 6 oz. My mom says she was checking my head for any visible signs of Lucifer…

…There weren’t any, for anyone who might still be wondering. 😉

7. Having someone else pee on your jellyfish sting won’t make it stop hurting.

WAIT, how’d that get on here???

Life lessons y’all, take notes. You’re welcome.

8. My husband is my high school sweetheart.

You know how most couples are really afraid to fart in front of each other?

Well I took care of that real early on by accident.

I was in my junior year of high school and I had just started dating Sammy. My best friend threw a party and like a lot of us did back then because we didn’t know how to “do” alcohol, I ended up drinking a little too many Bud Ices, or Hooch, or whatever the hell we got our hands on back then. I pretty quickly became “That Girl” as we got my ass outside to go lay on the sidewalk beside the garage, in the rain, and repeatedly heave it all out.

Sammy was a real swell gentleman and he laid behind me and held my hair as I romantically vomited into the rain. After a while the vomits became dry heaves, and one of the dry heaves just pushed out a huge RIIIIIIP! Right on him. In my haze I remember my best friend’s mother saying, “she don’t know if she’s gotta shit, or puke!” Ever since that day, her entire family still writes me birthday and holiday cards with really sweet “happy birthday, Sidewalk!” type notes in them that I hope to continue to receive for years to come.

But in all honesty, this guy is amazing and wasn’t outwardly fazed by my young flatulence where most 16-year olds would be, and for sooo many reasons OBVIOUSLY is the one for me. Instant love story. I think Nicholas Sparks clearly would be a wise man to make it into a movie.

9. I was taught to work for what I was given.

My best friends from high school all remember it well.

The list. 

The list that my parents would leave me on the kitchen island in the mornings over the summer outlining all of my chores that I had to do for my allowance and to be able to leave the house. To include, but not limited to: cleaning out the refrigerator, laundry, vaccuming and mopping, and scrubbing the kitchen floor one square at a time with a very specific method that my dad demonstrated for me before letting me loose on my own. My friends knew I wasn’t leaving the house until all of this was done, so sometimes they would even come help me. Looking back now, I’m quite certain this was because I had a car and was driving a full five months ahead of them, but I’m going to continue to think they just couldn’t go on hanging out in the Graves Mill Food Lion parking lot without me. 🙂

I  now acknowledge the sheer genius my parents exhibited back then in (imagine this!) making me work for the money they paid me, although at the time I strongly considered it slave labor. It made the house stay clean and it produced a kid who knew how to do her own laundry and clean her own apartment when she went to college. It made me fully understand that things are not just given, but they are earned, something that most kids really need to be reminded of in this day in age. Bye bye, entitlement! You don’t live in this house.

10. I believe that pets are family.

We used to have a cat named Oscar that was a couple years older than me and maybe he saw me as his little person to watch over. He used to walk me to the end of the road to the bus stop every morning, and when the bus brought me home from school in the afternoons, he would be sitting there waiting for me to walk me home. RIP Osky!

I once had a couple fish named Fred and Barney. Barney got eaten when the cat knocked over the fish bowl, so we got Barney Too. When Fred died though, I was very upset, and I made him a grave and a special headstone.

Fred the Fish Headstone

I’m not sure I should have legit been calling myself “your best owner” as I was writing his headstone after his death…

Then there was Jasmine, the black lab without a tail because some Georgia trailer trash POS shot her in the behind one morning with a gun and she stood upright in our neighbor’s yard all day because she couldn’t lie down.Poor girl. But she lived until 16 and had a long, happy life.

I still swear that my old cat Felix was the reincarnated Notorious B.I.G. He was born exactly one week later than Christopher Wallace, and he answered the call when a couple of my friends and I had a seance with a Ouija board trying to contact Biggie, and he knocked over a lamp when we asked him to give us a sign! He also meowed at us. It was a done deal and no one can ever convince me otherwise. 😉

Now there are three: Dixie, my bitchy and ornery Tortie cat, Sookie, the kooky Boykin Spaniel, and Georgia, our smart border collie mutt.

Dixie on my back


 They sleep in our bed, lick us in the face, and sit next to us on the couch, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!