The Paris-based think tank known as the OECD is just out with its semi-annual survey of how different economies stack up in terms of social well-being. (Well-being is basically the polite way economists talk about happiness.) The organization even has a new data visualization to let you see where your country ranks in certain key measures. Called “Society…
I have been going through (and continue) a religious journey over the past few years. I was baptized Catholic but thanks to my heathen parents, I never really practiced it during my youth. With that said, I have gotten to a point in life where i am happy to embrace Lenten season each year. And…
Lenten season is upon us! In honor of Ash Wednesday, I am reblogging my orignial blog post on Lent from 2011 (in link above).
I have to consciously stop myself from saying “Happy Lenten Season” because it is anything but happy. I can’t help but look forward to this time of year every year because I embrace it as my own personal rebirth. Unlike new year’s resolutions, Lent gives me time (40 days) to work on my faith and whole person, which holds much more ground than doing something just because it’s a new year.
This Lenten season, I am not giving anything up but instead embracing what it truly means to be a child of God. So I will be completing 40 random acts of kindness over the next month and a half. Which for anyone who REALLY knows me knows this will be hard. I mean, my dad calls me “meanie.” Like, that’s his nickname for me. Clearly, I have issues.
I’m looking forward to growing in my faith and being a (nicer) better person…at least for the next 40 days :-)
because we all need this. literally.
GYRE is the culmination of a unique collaboration of marine scientists and eco-activist artists, The “expedition-to-exhibition” project took five years to complete.
i hate birds but this is no way to go out, man.
Nearly 9 million pounds of meat products has been recalled by a California company that processed diseased and unsound animals, according to federal regulato…
…the more you know.
Do Vegetarians Live Longer?
…so you’re telling me there’s a chance?!
(and yes, I understand there are 374298174310274192837 other ways to die early. But at least it won’t be from heart disease)
New year, new blog!
Feeling very settled in the new year, so I thought I would do some updating on the ol’ blog.
2013 was fun. per usual. Louisville has been great to me. I did so many new things this year and made so many new (lifelong) friends and learned so much. I dated a bit, unsuccessfully, but those situations always prove to teach me about what I want/don’t want from a partner and what I am willing to compromise. Lessons are always learned. I challenged myself and put myself in uncomfortable situations…and survived! But the greatest thing to come out of 2013 is realizing that I am evolving and I see it and I feel it and it’s an incredibly humbling experience.
I just completed the last semester of my Masters studies, which was the hardest to get through thus far. I had no time for anything (especially blogging)! Now I am transitioning into my first semester as a doctorate student at the University of Louisville (!!!). 3 more years of school and then I hope to become a college professor somewhere warm and sunny with no state taxes (ahem Florida).
Not knowing how much free time I will have with my new studies, I am hoping to blog more. I am going to revamp the blog, focusing on things I am learning/don’t know with traveling, running, healthy living, dating, and being a new quasi-vegetarian (see #20 below), while still posting about any other random nonsense I come across. I’ve already made my first vegetarian meal and poached my first egg so things are looking up in the new year!
I also reconsidered some of the things on my 30 for 30 list. I’ve updated a few of the points (edits in italics):
- Place in the top 3 in a road race.
- Visit one new country.
- Pay off at least one credit card.
- Learn how to swim.
- Buy a bicycle.
- Get my motorcycle license.
- Shoot a gun.
- Drink a expensive glass of Scotch.
- Camp with a group of friends - or have a bonfire party on a beach.
- Volunteer at least 1 hour every week - I haven’t been keeping up with this. I volunteered on Thanksgiving which was great, but that’s the extent of it. I have been thinking hard about a summer service trip to Central America. I have to do some research but this will happen if I can make it happen. Which I will.
- Make a lasagna - will now be vegetarian!
- Take a self defense class.
- Go streaking- hoping that the camping/bonfire with friends will knock this one out.
- Watch a live professional hockey game.
- Drive across the country.
- Re-read at least 2 classic novels I read in high school.
- Watch a rock concert from the mosh pit.
- Tell someone new that I love them.
- Take tennis lessons.
- Give up meat for at least 30 days (Lent) - I decided to give up all meat for the new year. I have been battling with consuming clean meat over the past few months. I tried organic chicken and beef but it’s SO expensive. And I’m tired of going out to eat and not knowing what the meat has been through before it got to my plate. I know that sounds ridiculous but that’s where I’m at right now. I am calling myself a quasi-vegetarian because I will continue to eat eggs and cheese. I will probably eat organic/local chicken when the mood strikes me. And I have like 4 containers of organic chicken stock in my kitchen that need to be used.
- Spend a weekend with no phone, iPad, computer, TV and write/reflect on the nonsense that has been my 20’s.
- Meditate for 5 minutes every day - I tried this once and hated it. When I had given up hope on being able to meditate, I found an 8-week seminar being offered at University of Louisville. Signed up and start the 2nd week of January. I also picked up a journal and have been writing when the mood strikes. Journal writing has always been therapeutic for me so I would consider this a part of meditation. And I have been doing yoga twice a week…that counts!
Learn to speak French- I can’t. I just can’t. It’s a beautiful language and yet I continuously butcher it, sounding like this and it’s frustrating. I am concentrating my efforts on Spanglish now. And changing this one to: Go to a music festival.
- Re-learn Spanish.
- Buy stocks.
- Cook 30 new meals - This will be easy with my new quasi-vegetarian life.
- Say “yes” to every question/request for one week straight.
- Discover a new city with someone - Looks like this will be San Diego with Janel in March!
- Try a new dish every time I go out to eat - I’ve tried a good amount of new things so far (pork belly, moussaka, pho, etc). Btw…I think it was the pork belly that made me never want to eat meat again. I was eating the belly of an effing pig O_O
- Finally visit the motherland (Puerto Rico) - Looking to ring in my 30th birthday in Puerto Rico! Tentative dates are October 31-November 4.
I haven’t made nearly as much progress on the list as I would have wanted at this point. But I have 10 months.
Let’s have some fun.
30 for 30
Today is the
beginning of the end first day of the last year of my 20’s.
I guess times flies when you are
drinking your life away / doing all the wrong things / doing all the right things in the wrong way / having fun. But in all seriousness, I am not ready for my 20’s to be over. Not even a little bit.
After discussing my issues of my impending major birthday with many of my friends, I was inspired by LC to create a list of 30 things to do before I turn the big THREE-OOOOOHHH in a year. I have lived my 20’s. But I want to make sure I get my money’s worth.
So after much research and aid from said friends, I have come up with this very ambitious list of 30 things to do before I turn 30, or as I have coined, my “30 for 30” list…
(in no particular order)
- Place in the top 3 in a road race
- Visit one new country
- Pay off at least one credit card
- Learn how to swim (and get over my fear of drowning and dying)
- Buy a bicycle
- Get my motorcycle license (and hope my father buys me a bike)
- Shoot a gun
- Drink a expensive glass of Scotch
- Camp with a group of friends
- Volunteer at least 1 hour every week
- Make a lasagna
- Take a self defense class
- Watch a live professional hockey game
- Drive across the country*
- Re-read at least 2 classic novels I read on high school
- Watch a rock concert from the mosh pit
- Tell someone new that I love them
- Take tennis lessons
- Give up meat for at least 30 days (Lent)
- Spend a weekend with no phone, ipad, computer, TV and write/reflect on the nonsense that has been my 20’s. Bourbon and wine are mandatory.
- Meditate for 5 minutes every day
- Learn to speak French
- Re-learn Spanish
- Buy stocks
- Cook 30 new meals
- Say “yes” to every question/request for one week straight. Week will be anonymous to everyone but me. Sorry I’m not sorry.
- Discover a new city with someone (has to be new to the both of us)
- Try a new dish every time I go out to eat
- Finally visit the motherland (Puerto Rico)
The goal here is to try new things and try them with people. And as you can see, there are a good amount of
dumb random things that I haven’t yet got to that would only be acceptable to do while I’m still a 20-something (streaking…seriously can’t believe I’ve never run around aimlessly and naked and outdoors).
Some of the items I have always wanted to do but just never took the time to do them (make a lasagna, take tennis lessons, take a self defense class, etc).
The only item I am terribly concerned with completing is the road trip across the country. So many logistics. So. Many. So in that case, I will reevaluate my life and come up with an audible.
Well that’s it. My life goals for the next year. I’ll probably throw another marathon in there just for good measure. This is going to be quite the undertaking but I think I can do it.
Wish me luck!
(Thank you Johanna for this episode of New Girl…and for saying “29” like Schmidt every. single. time. my age is brought up, which made me laugh instead of cry)
My first solo concert experience
I decided to go see John Mayer solo for many reasons: 1) I didn’t think anyone would be willing to drop $90 on a ticket. 2). I didn’t want to go with anyone who was “kind of a fan.” 3). I also thought if I can eat alone, then I can definitely go to a concert alone. 4). And I was fully ready for it to be a emotional experience that very few would understand.
Actually no one can really understand my love for this man besides Janel, who struggled with me through the Battle Studies tour in 2010. We went to his show in Virginia Beach (set list) and were so moved that we bought tickets to see him in Northern Virginia a week later (set list) which completely blew our minds…so much so that Janel found a recording of that show and shared it with me so we can relive it at any point. I even got a tattoo that was inspired from this album for goodness sake! Have you ever really listened to Heartbreak Warfare!? Do you have a pulse!?
So I drove two and a half hours to go see John Mayer in Noblesville, Indiana, which is northeast of Indianapolis. This show makes it my fourth John Mayer show.
I arrived at Klipsch Music Center around 7pm. Thankfully, I’ve had some good tailgating training this past year and came fully prepared with some bourbon and ginger ale. It was a gorgeous day out so I sat in my car and listened to Born & Raised and sipped on my drink.
I went into the venue in time for the opener, Phillip Phillips. I sat through his performance, which was pretty good…especially when he covered Usher’s “Nice and Slow.” After he was done, I got a beer and chillllllled.
The crowd waiting for John Mayer.
I am not sure what came over me but I decided that I just did not feel like sitting in my own seat (which was actually decent!). I mean, let’s be serious. I was a party of one that may take up 15 inches of space… there should be SOMEWHERE for me to stand and not be noticed.
So I sat in the first seat I liked. Then got kicked out. Then went for another. And got kicked out. Then stood in the aisle. And got told to move to a seat. So I found another random seat. And got kicked out. And went for another. And that’s when security got involved.
Clearly, no one wanted me to live my life.
Well it wasn’t that bad. This group of 4 decided that instead of telling me I was in their seat, they would have the security person check my ticket and tell me I was in the wrong seat. I made sure to thank them on the way to my seat.
I was finally making my way to my own seat when a nice couple offered to share their 2 seats with me. It was only one row in front of mine but I took them up on the offer. And then the dad next to me told me I would need to move once his daughter came back. ::eye rolls:: (she never came back, btw.)
I was FINALLY in a groove when this mom a few seats down yelled at me for being in her grown son’s space. I was not winning AT ALL. But this was funny to me because when he returned to his seat before this happened, I ASKED HIM IF I WAS IN HIS SPACE and he said not at all! The couple who let me borrow their seat came to my rescue and I then continued to live my life.
Here are some shots from the show (the background is a full LED screen…beyond sick!)
My first solo concert experience was not bad at all. I’m usually in my own little world at shows anyway. I will take this as a lesson to sit in my own damn seat, though. I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t annoyed and ready to throat punch everyone in my section (who I imagined shared the same sentiment about me).
This John Mayer show (set list) was not as life changing as the Battle Studies tour was in 2010 and I know it for multiple reasons. But it was great nonetheless. And John Mayer shreds. Know this.
Have you ever gone to a concert alone? Which one and why?
I have always struggled with the increasingly extreme (and mostly incorrect) overuse of ellipses and I am glad I am not the only one…
See what I did there.
Eurotrip 2013 packing recap - love it or leave it behind
As a follow up from my packing post, I wanted to share the things we could have not lived without…and those things we could have left behind during our 3 week adventure in Europe.
Things we could have not lived without…
- Compression sack - The amount of clothes that will fit in this little thing is unreal. I may never travel without it ever again. Perfect for jammies, underwears, and other clothes you can wrinkle and not care about.
- Osprey day pack - I lived with this thing on my back. Loved it.
- Rick Steves best of Europe guidebook
- This was our bible. We referred to it on a daily basis, sometimes on a more than 5x a day basis. Food, sight seeing, activities…everything we did came from that book.
- Camel bak/Nalgene water bottles - There were public water stations in every country so we binged drank water everywhere out of our water bottles. So clutch.
- My sunnies - Especially important on those hungover days. Which was everyday.
Things I am so glad we brought…
- iPad - Because my iPhone 4 did not work, this was crucial for me in order to keep in contact with peeps back home. Plus I was able to read on it during long train rides and listen to music. And use 3G when in need to reconnect with the world.
- Document folder organizer - An easy, accessible way to find all the documents we ever needed.
- Makeup remover wipes
- Trail mix and protein bars - The cheapest way to satisfy any munchies we had on our flights/trains/hikes.
- Gorilla tripod - Tara invested in this guy before the trip and I think it was one of the most clutch purchases. As a flexible tripod, it really allowed for us to take selfies without actually taking selfies. If you are an avid photographer, you really need this in your life. But seriously.
Here are some gorilla inspired shots Tara set up.
Things we should have packed…
- More sports bras
- Hoodies instead of zip-up jackets - We are hoodie people. They would have been so much more comfortable.
- More dri-fit tops and running shorts
- Harem pants - Because everyone was wearing them and I was envious.
- Extra memory card - Because you never know how many (1400) pictures you will take.
Things we could have left behind…
- Power pack USB charger - We never had issues with electricity or charging our stuff.
- Mini surge protector - See above.
- Hair spritzer
- More clothes
- At least one pair of shoes
- Jeans - We were nervous for the weather in London but packing a pair of jeans for one day was not worth it.
- Ibuprofen PM
- Combination lock - Which got confiscated at Wimbledon. Never even got a chance to memorize the combo.
To prep better, we should have…
- Learned the language basics ahead of time - Hello, goodbye, please, I’m sorry, excuse me, DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH are the essentials.
- The rules on tipping - We never knew what to leave behind so more times than others, we didn’t leave anything.
- Learned the 24 hour time clock - Tara would ask me what time it was. And I would say something like 18:00. And then I would ask her what time it is. That happened on a daily basis.
Is there anything you can’t travel without?
Eurotrip 2013 recap
Eurotrip 2013 was truly one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Besides my little sister being born, this may be the top life event thus far.
We had some great adventures during those 3 weeks, which started almost immediately with the 2 hour delay of our flight out of Louisville.
Finally on our flight to Europe and celebrating with beers!
Fresh off our 8 hour flight to Zurich and getting ready to get on a train to Interlaken.
Switzerland was the most beautiful, breathtaking place I had ever seen and was my favorite country of the trip. It was just unlike anything I had ever seen before in my whole vida. The Swiss Alps make for a wonderful backdrop. There were times where we were sitting on the patio at our hostel and just staring out. No talking. No drinking. Just staring at the glory of those mountains. (We did do our fair share of drinking and hiking there too). Gimmelwald. Please go there.
The Swiss Alps, ya’ll.
Always in awe.
I enjoyed Germany a lot more than I thought I would. It just doesn’t have a culture that I was particularly interested in. But that has now since changed. Maybe it’s because we were with Andy (our amazing friend and gracious host) and Liz exploring Stuttgart and beyond. Maybe it was because I fell in love with Munich so much that I made Tara go back with me for a second day trip. Maybe it’s because I ate my weight in wurst and beer. Or maybe it’s because one of our best nights from the whole trip was a dinner party that Andy’s friends Margaret and Arturo hosted where we had homemade Mexican food, drank the best tequila I have ever had, salsa danced, and laughed until our stomachs hurt. Who knows. We also went to the Dachau memorial, which was the first concentration camp during the Second World War. That was an incredible experience.
Friends enjoying some beers after the tour of Neuschwanstein castle!
A beautiful day at the Schlossplatz (Palace Square) in Stuttgart.
Friends in Munich!
Dachau concentration camp memorial.
London was a whirlwind of barely 72 hours. We landed. We ate and drank. Slept. Woke up at 5am to stand in line for hours. And it was all so I can see my favorite sporting event of the year - Wimbledon. We spent 13 hours getting there, getting in, and watching Wimbledon and it was glorious. The icing on the cake was getting in after waiting for 5 hours and immediately seeing Serena Williams practicing on a side court. The following day we toured central London via a bike tour, which brought to light the madness that is London. Totes overwhelming. Then we pub hopped. I also discovered 2 new versions of Stella Artois that I will be hunting down in the States. We left the second night around 3am to catch a 7am flight out of an airport an hour north of London. Not our best planning. And for anyone who doesn’t already know this, never fly in or out of London Luton Airport. Just don’t.
Where’s Waldo in the queue madness?
Wimbeldon. Day 2. That happened.
The obligatory Serena Williams ass photo.
The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
After a long day of travel, we made it to Cinque Terre, where we had the best view of our entire trip right out of our window. We ate a ton of pasta and focaccia and drank all the Italian wine we could handle, and then some. We also watched plenty of sunsets from our balcony. Although (and to our disappointment) the hike that connects all five towns was closed between 2 towns. With some adjustments, and a shuttle to an inland town, we were able to make our 7 mile hike along the coast of the Ligurian Sea happen. It was a tough combination of a hot day and lots of hills but the views made it all worth it. Calves were sore for DAYS. Gelato and seafood was also an obvious choice for food. I loved it here but thought the number of American tourists was a bit much.
The town we stayed in - Riomaggiore.
Hiking the Cinque Terre! The town in the background is Vernazza.
Final hike destination - Monterosso!
Sunset from our patio.
Nice was glorious in a very different way. Full with French tourists, it reminded me of Old Vegas and Old Miami. We had a rooftop pool and deck area where we were able to take in all of the sea side. And then there was the Tour de France. I can’t say that I am even close to being a cycling enthusiast but the experience was so much fun! The whole town was out supporting the cyclists as they did a team time trial through the city and along the seafront. Luckily we were able to watch it from multiple points of view. We rented bikes are rode around to discover more of Nice and Old Nice. One of my favorite parts about the NIce portion of our trip was the fact that we didn’t use public transportation at all.
The Promenade des Anglais at sunset. From our rooftop.
Tour de France stage 4 team trials. I can’t believe how close they rode by us!
Tour de France from the roof!
The trip was amazing and there are plenty of stories from it. Like Tara’s encounter with a Interlaken local when we first get there. And that tent village we stayed in. Or how our first day in Europe was the longest day of no sleep ever. Or our excursion to get Indian food in London. Or London in general. Or the time our shower broke in Nice and we had to shower on the roof. But those stories are better told in person.
Thanks to Tara for being a great travel partner, photographer, life liver, party animal, and listener. And also having more guts than me to make us friends and ask at least a hundred different strangers to take our picture.
Until the next adventure…