Tag Archives: travel

Some Vacation Ramblings

17 Apr

So, I’m on vacation. It’s kind of weird, since I’ve been unemployed going on three weeks now, and usually a vacation is enjoying time away from work. Which I’ve been doing. Since I don’t have a job.

I’m down here in super sunny Orlando, FL with my three stepsisters, my stepdad, and my mom. (Adam‘s coming on Thursday! I can’t wait till he gets here!) Ever since we blended our families together, we’ve been doing the whole Family Vacation Thing, which I’ve gotta say, is way more awesome when there are suddenly five kids hanging around. I can’t imagine anyone ever complaining about having too many siblings.

We got down here two days ago and I wasn’t sure if I was going to post anything, but I did bring my computer and we do have free internet, so here are some thoughts I’ve been having. They are disjointed and disorganized, but at the end there are some pictures!

… Even though I’ve been slathering on the SPF, the Florida sun is strong and I’m well on my way to displaying my mysterious ethnicity. For the record, I’m not actually any kind of exotic ethnicity, but I frequently get asked “what” I am. As my skin tans, my hair lightens, and I have almost-black eyes that confuse the general population into regularly thinking I am some kind of Pacific Islander.

… We’re staying at this resort  and it employs this DJ who, on a daily basis, rocks out to random unrelated hits like these, with some Celine Dion and self-accompanied country karaoke thrown into the mix. He’s hilarious and his presence is just so awkward.

… He also runs what I’ve dubbed Afternoon Contest Time, during which I’ve seen little kids learn and perform the Macarena, Cupid Shuffle, and Cha Cha Slide, cheat shamelessly in a limbo contest, and hula hoop with three hula hoops at once. The kids at this resort are talented, obviously.

… I’m going to DisneyWorld tomorrow for the first time ever in my entire life and I can already tell I’m going to regress into a 10-year-old. I’m giddily thrilled to pieces to ride the teacups, see Cinderella’s castle, and hopefully hug Mickey.

… My stepdad is proving to be absolutely hilarious. I’m sitting here with him and my mom watching Glee (the stupid disco episode – my god, I hate this show) and this conversation between them just happened:

Mom: Did you do those dances back then? I did. I loved them. I knew all the moves.

Stepdad: Up North we only drank beers and killed bears. We didn’t dance.

For the record, my stepdad is from Michigan.

Here are some delightful photos as a reward for making it through my ramblings. Or maybe just scrolling down, but don’t actually tell me if that’s what you did.

Clockwise from top right: Tropical Popsicle/Worst Book Ever/Sandals, Mysteriously Ethnic (and/or sunburned) Self Photo, Strawberry Marg/Original Goldfish, Orlando Sunset

Having Doubts, Being Scared, and Moving Forward Anyway

10 Apr

The last time – actually, the only time in my life – I completely ignored a Mental Plan and went with my gut, I was deciding where to go to college. I’d been accepted to my top choice; I’d told all my friends and their parents that that’s where I was going. Yet, there was something holding me back from signing the acceptance letter. When I received the acceptance from Gettysburg, it all clicked.

I sent in my deposit without a second thought.

In that moment – which has defined a huge portion of my adult life – I knew I had to trust my gut, despite the fact that it was entirely at odds with what my head had been thinking for months.

Since then, I’ve taken some pretty great risks and succeeded beautifully. I completed a semester with a full-immersion language program in France, even though I was “only” a French minor. I flew to California to visit a boy I’d met just one weekend, just to see what could happen. I went to London on two weeks notice for over two months without knowing a single person in the city.

I’m good at pushing myself, I think, but only so far. I never really actually leave my comfort zone; I just sort of tiptoe around the edges of it. The risks I take always have a very clear safety net, so even when I’m nervous or scared or anxious, I know that no matter what happens, the landing will be soft.

With my whole “I’m moving to LA” THING, I’m completely on board. But I think Amber’s brain hamsters got annoyed at how much control she has over them lately, because they are running rampant in MY head now.

“Where will you live?” They ask. “How will you afford to move with no income?” “Do you even know how to buy a car?” “When was the last time you even drove a car?” “You won’t make any friends, you know, because everyone there already has their friends.”

Seriously, they are being such assholes to me. They are starting to drown out all the support of my friends and family – and there’s a lot of support there! They are forcing me to dwell on all the scary stuff that comes with ignoring a Mental Plan and listening to my gut.

The hardest part, right now, is pushing forward. I know this is the right decision for me, even though it’s totally different from anything I’ve ever done. I know it’s the right decision because it’s totally different from anything I’ve ever done.

Almost 10 years ago, I went with my gut and ended up having a blast for four years. What makes me think this will be any different?

Wine & Love v.3

23 Feb

Hosted by Nora

Presented without additional comment…

… Wines …

  • I’m totally have one of those ugh weeks. I’ve been cranky and irritable for absolutely no reason. Ugh.
  • I totally failed at making time for myself this week. I haven’t worked out, eaten well, or written at all. All of these things make me feel better when I make time for them and I know that – so it’ aggravates me that I slacked this week.
  • Since I’ve eaten like crap this week, I don’t feel great about my body right now. I know, I know, here’s the girl-comment-on-being-fat. I’m not fat, I just know I can feel better. I just need to take care of myself!
  • I still don’t have enough time to do everything I want. I’m going to whine about this every week until I find a solution that I love and can implement it.

… Loves …

  • My brother was in town for President’s Day weekend! We went out and got all drunkity one night and then my mom and stepdad came to hang out with us. We saw “The Vow” and my mom cried three times or possibly for the entire movie. Then we visited one of my aunts. It was a really good weekend balanced between family and friends and partying and chilling out.
  • The night Adam and I went out, Alana came too! It was so fun to meet her – I have to say she’s totally awesome (Hey, Alana!). I cannot wait to make her be my new friend here and also hang out in Vegas!
  • Speaking of meeting bloggy people, tonight I’m going to Bob‘s birthday party! We started g-chatting pretty regularly when we discovered he’s friends with a bunch of girls I know from college and now I get to meet him!
  • I’m going to the Poconos this weekend to ski. This should be interesting, considering it’s been 60 degrees and sunny all week, but whatever. I can’t wait to sprawl out in front of the fire with a bunch of friends, exhausted after flying down snowy (or not) hills all day, and roast marshmallows.

The Giant Pants & An Obscure Cartoon

6 Feb

I used to have these super soft, gray cotton, drawstring pajama pants. I got them when I was in that adolescent stage of thinking I was way more enormous than I really was, so naturally these pants were also enormous. I, however, have never actually been enormous, so the pants just looked ridiculous on me.

Luckily, they were pajamas, so I didn’t wear them in public. Ok, maybe sometimes I did, but it was high school and back in 2002 wearing giant pajama pants in public was cool. FINE I just had a terrible fashion sense.

That’s not the point.

The point is that I brought them to college with me and then brought them to France during my semester abroad. At some point in France, I realized just how giant these pants were:

It's unclear why I was ever under the impression these pants fit normally.

I mean, really, you’d think I’d lost some impressive amount of weight and wanted to illustrate it. Nah, I just had an incredibly skewed concept of how small or big I really was.

Shortly after my Giant Pants Epiphany, I started experimenting with how much of my body I could fit into these pants. Turns out, it was all of it:

This is what we did for fun in France.

Around the same time I was playing the Fit My Entire Body In a Pair of Pants Game, Facebook introduced photo albums and something called “tagging.” As you can imagine, these pictures got posted – and tagged – immediately. (They’re still tagged. Why would I ever take them down?)

This one was particularly popular with two of my roommates:

If you don't see a giant gray ass with a head, you need your eyes checked.

My roommates began referring to me as Assy McGee. Apparently I needed a crash course in clothing sizes and  pop culture: Assy wasn’t just an endearing nickname, but an actual cartoon character.

I'm not sure there's an appropriate caption for this.

It’s been six years and I wear smaller pants now, but I’ve never actually lived this down.

Life in London: Brazilian Limes and I’m Always Lost

15 Feb

So, I’ve been in London for over 48 hours now. Aside from being insanely jet-lagged, the adjusting is going pretty well. I have a flat (flat!) and I’m completely unpacked. I’ve gotten groceries and last night I even made dinner! (This is a notable step, since Day 1 I subsisted on cheese-smothered microwave chicken nuggets and potato chips.) I have spent a considerable amount of my first few days walking to and from my destinations and only just today ventured down into the Underground. You might think that getting groceries, making dinner, walking to work, and buying an OysterCard (like a Metro card but cooler) would be fairly standard, run of the mill daily activities. But you forget – this is me. It doesn’t matter that everyone speaks English or that I’m used to big cities; these very basic tasks have proven either incredibly challenging, outright hilarious, or both (when I’m lucky!). So before I forget any details, I’d like to share with you the adventures of my first 48 hours in London…

Walking anywhere here inevitably involves getting lost. It doesn’t matter if I need to walk through King’s Cross/St. Pancras station to get to a convenience store (akin to walking through Penn Station – I maintain this is endlessly complicated) or if I’m walking a mile and a half to the property management offices for my flat. I will get lost. Also, it’s mostly not my fault. I print out Google Maps and I’m really good at following directions. The streets here? The just END! I mean, I will not make any turn whatsoever and suddenly I will be on a different street. What the fuck, London? Why did Vernon Pl. just stop existing? Why am I suddenly on Shaftsbury Ave? Sure, sure I can ask for directions – and do I ever! – but guess what! No one knows where the streets are! Seriously! It’s amazing to me. Residents for 10+ years (quoting my failing direction-givers) don’t actually know where anything is. Including the street you might actually be on.

Example: I am on High Holburn Street, right underneath the street sign. I am unsure of which direction to go since I am completely turned around; once I know which direction to go, I know exactly how to get to my destination. I stop a nice-looking woman and ask which way to King’s Cross Road. She explains I must take High Holburn Street, which is “very far from here.” It went like this:

Me: Aren’t we on High Holburn?

Woman: No. It’s very far from here.

Me [point to the High Holburn Street Sign above my head]: Doesn’t that say we’re on High Holburn, though?

Woman: Well you need to walk very far down that way to get to King’s Cross Road. You’re going to be walking forever.

… Ok, woman, listen. I understand I’m going to be walking for a while; I’m walking on purpose! But seriously, you just pretended like we weren’t on the street we were on and so how am I supposed to trust your directions? Turns out, it was the right way, but I’m convinced it was just a fluke.

Further on that point, everyone thinks that their area in London is “centrally located.” Let me tell you something: This is like saying the West Village and the Bronx are both centrally located in New York City. Just, no. That’s not true. Therefore, if you, Londoner, tell me that “our offices are quite centrally located” I expect to be able to walk there fairly quickly. Like, say, in under an HOUR.

So, in conclusion, walking around London is confusing and hard and can end up being funny but sometimes it’s also a little nerve-racking. What’s really funny is that when I finally made it to the grocery store (I was walking), I got carded for the bottle of wine I was buying. People. THIS IS EUROPE. I AM 26 YEARS OLD. THE DRINKING AGE HERE IS 18. COME ON! The great news is that my £4 bottle of wine was quite delicious!

After my walking debacles, I decided this morning would be the ideal time to take the tube to work. It was raining slightly and also I forgot the way to walk to work. And I threw out my directions. The tube is actually pretty easy, except for when I had to hike up about 40 million stairs to get out of the station when the escalator wasn’t working. And then of course I had to walk from the station to the office…I’m sure you can imagine how that went. It’s about a 4-5 minute walk and, yes, I got lost. Seriously these streets don’t make sense!!!

Speaking of more walking, I went to get lunch today and walked over to Food Secret with my co-worker. Food Secret sounds to me like a sketchy place to get food, but it was actually delicious and that is completely irrelevant here. On the walk there, during which I did not get lost since I was with someone who knows the area but I could never find the place on my own, we ran into some women handing out free samples from baskets around their waists. We stop and linger and the ladies hand us the samples…which turn out to be Brazilian limes. I kid you not, they were giving out little limes in plastic bags with a booklet of recipes and Brazilian Lime Facts attached!

I cannot make this shit up.

Also, my point in all of this is that walking in London is hard but it’s ok because you’ll probably run into some lime samples and that will make your day all better.

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