Friday, January 28, 2011


You guys, is it me or has it been January for like three months now? Maybe I'm just extra crabby because this is what I awoke to on Monday morning:

That sun seems awfully pleased with itself for something that's right next to a "-5" don't you think?

I feel like I should get an award for extricating myself from bed that day, is all I'm saying. Thankfully, it's been in the balmy 30s the rest of the week, although that came with a price: the snowiest January on record in New York City.

My street yesterday morning.

I also have become resigned to the fact that I will never in my life have a snow day. Well, at least not one that was mandated by a higher power. Growing up in California obviously didn't afford me that opportunity, and when I went to college in Utah, nobody ever seemed impressed enough by the snow to cancel classes. (The closest I came was one blizzardy day in February when I "didn't feel well" and my roommate and I skipped class and spent the whole day watching episodes of 24 in our pajamas and eating leftover Chinese food.) And now that I live in a city where the majority of people take underground transportation, there's no real excuse not to make it into work.

Most of my social life this month has consisted of friends holing up in each others' apartments to hang out and escape the cold. It's also a great excuse to watch mass amounts of TV and movies. Some of the entertainment has admittedly been a little questionable, but I'm also hooked on Downton Abbey thanks to my mom, aunt, and sisters. If you like period pieces, or British people, or Maggie Smith saying awesome things, you should probably watch the first three episodes online and then watch the season finale on Sunday. Sometimes you just have to make your own snow day, and you may as well have something good to watch.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


So with the beginning of a new year, I'm already looking forward to a couple of new experiences I'll be having in the near(ish) future.

One of them is a trip, probably in September or October. I've been wanting to take a big trip for a while, because it's been a few years since I've left the country (I don't count my weekend in Montreal last year, since Canada is basically America Junior). (Just kidding, Canada, don't be offended! Your citizens are actually extremely nice and friendly and your crepes are delicious.) Anyway, where the "first" comes in is the destination: Africa or South America. I'm very lucky to have been several places in Europe, and while I absolutely love it there, I want to try something different. Originally the plan was to go to Egypt, along with spending a couple days in Istanbul. I still really want to do that, but recently another idea has been forming: Machu Picchu*. I'm talking the 4-day Inca Trail hike through the Andes that finishes with a sunrise arrival at the ruins.

And now I'm torn, because both trips sound really awesome and don't worry, I've already spent hours on Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor planning both of these getaways and I have them all budgeted out, and they will cost roughly the same amount. So, thoughts? Where should I go? And also, do you want to come with me?

The other first showed up in my inbox the other day in the form of an email confirmation:

It's happening. November 6. On my last day of being 26, I plan to run 26(.2) miles for the first time in my life. Cute, right? And also mildly terrifying. So if you want to come and make some signs and cheer me on, I would be fine with that.

*I included the Wikipedia link for people who don't know what Machu Picchu is. When I mentioned to my friend that I was thinking about it, he stared at me blankly until I showed him a picture. He then claimed that if I'd just called it "Peru Mountain City" he would have totally known right away.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Witchcraft and Wizardry, Part 2

The next morning was slightly more leisurely as we knew we'd have all day at the Magic Kingdom (we wanted to stay for the fireworks, which weren't until 9pm). We got up feeling much more rested than the day before and went to breakfast before continuing on to the park. Arriving at the Magic Kingdom (both Florida and California) never fails to make me feel like a little kid, so we were very excited as we drove in through the absolutely enormous Disney complex. Seriously, there are miles and miles of parks, hotels, parking lots, etc. It's amazing.

The park was pretty crowded, and it felt all the more so because of the legions of strollers everywhere. Being in the park again made me nostalgic for when we had come the previous year with the whole fam for my parents' anniversary. I definitely missed having the kids there this time, but I was pretty glad I didn't have to wait in the hour-long line for Peter Pan's Flight. Win some, lose some, I guess.

We had a great time running around all morning, one of the highlights being our ride on Splash Mountain. Becca skipped out of line at the last minute, despite our protestations that we "probably" wouldn't even get wet. We were cruising along just fine until our boat stopped right next to the falls. It was only a couple seconds, but it was enough--another boat flew down the slope and its tidal wave of a splash drenched us. Becca laughed at us afterward and then we went and got soft serve and stood in the sun while we tried to inconspicuously let our pants dry out.

Doing a jig in honor of my mom while in line for Pirates of the Caribbean.

By early afternoon we had done most of the things we wanted to in the park. Since there were still hours to go before the fireworks and the parade, we were trying to figure out what to do in the meantime. "So... do you guys... want to go see a movie or something?" We checked showtimes and oh, how interesting, the theater at Downtown Disney is showing Deathly Hallows every half hour. I mean, we might as well, right? Ridiculously, there is no direct transportation between Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney (we asked four different Disney employees, all of whom gave us different--though all equally convoluted--directions). But we eventually made it to the theater a few minutes before the next showing. It was just as excellent the second time around.

We got back to the park in time to go on a couple more rides before the parade and the fireworks. I don't care how old you are--if you aren't at least a little affected by the fireworks exploding over Sleeping Beauty's castle while "When You Wish Upon A Star" plays, you probably have a heart of stone (maybe I'm getting a little choked up right now just thinking about it, don't judge me). Standing there with two of my best friends in the world, I couldn't help but think that if we'd known back when we were five that someday we'd go on a vacation like this together--no parents, staying up ridiculously late, eating whatever we wanted, and running around amusement parks--it would have totally blown our minds.

On Sunday, we had to say our goodbyes to Krissy as she left to go back to California and Becca accompanied me back to New York for Thanksgiving. We were all sad for the trip to be over, but we had so much fun and I could not be happier that we really did it. Which just goes to show you that sometimes the most ridiculous ideas end up being the most genius.

More pictures here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Witchcraft and Wizardry, Part 1

So a few months ago I went on the best vacation ever and then I never wrote about it. Sad.

My sister Becca, our best friend Krissy and I have made a tradition of seeing the midnight showing of every new Harry Potter movie together (we've been friends for 21 years, so we feel very comfortable with each others' nerdery). Aside from my mom's homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, this is my favorite tradition of all time. So last spring, when the trailers for Deathly Hallows started showing up, we were trying to figure out how we'd be able to see it together. Now that we're adults (ha), we all live in different states. Then the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando, and Krissy sent us an email that said, "When can we go?" Oh, wouldn't it be awesome to go when the movie came out?

It was kind of a joke at first. But then we thought, no, seriously, LET'S DO THAT. And the anticipation began. We spent the next few months planning and getting excited. At one point, Becca was faced with the possibility of having to take a flight with two layovers that left really early in the morning. "It's okay," she said. "If Harry can fight Voldemort, I can do this." I like her.

Anyway, we all flew into Orlando on that Thursday. After getting everyone picked up at the airport and dropping things off at our hotel, we headed to theater where we had tickets to the IMAX showing at midnight. We had a great time catching up and wasting time waiting for the movie to start. Around 11:30, Becca left to get popcorn since the line at concessions was crazy (there were several midnight showings in the theater). By about 10 to midnight, there were still a bunch of people in front of her in line, and she started freaking out, so Krissy went to wait with her. At midnight they were just barely getting to the front of the line and were worried they'd miss the beginning of the movie, because the previews had started. I texted them each time a new preview would start so they'd know they had a couple more minutes. As the IMAX countdown appeared on screen, I frantically called them to tell them to get back to the theater. Nobody picked up, but as the countdown ended, I saw two little figures sprinting along the bottom of the theater with popcorn in hand. They collapsed into their seats just as the title screen came up. A true Potter miracle.

The next morning we got up early-ish after about 5 hours of sleep to walk over to Islands of Adventure. We got there right as it opened and headed straight for the Harry Potter section. Turning the corner and seeing Hogsmeade village with Hogwarts castle in the distance was seriously my 13-year-old dream come true. Everything was so incredibly detailed, it felt like we had walked right into the movie.

Besides a kid's coaster and a couple other attractions, there are two main rides: the Dragon Challenge roller coaster with two interweaving tracks (so you see other cars whiz by you) and the Forbidden Journey ride, which is part virtual reality, part Indiana Jones-style thrill ride. The line for Forbidden Journey weaves through Hogwarts castle, so you get to spend time looking through the classrooms, Dumbledore's office, etc. Both rides were awesome, and we spent the morning going on each a few times and looking through all the shops.

After lunch at the Three Broomsticks, we decided to go to the other parts of Islands of Adventure for a bit. None of the park was especially crowded (our line wait time averaged about 10 minutes), but the HP section was by far the busiest. And we hardly saw any kids there--it was mostly people our age or slightly older. We came back to HP land for another time on each of the rides and to get some Butterbeer.

Butterbeer, which I MUST figure out how to replicate.

Around 4pm, we were feeling pretty exhausted, so we decided to call it a day. I will say that as fantastic as the park was, I do hope they expand it at some point. All day we were coming up with awesome ideas for more rides and attractions, which is just proof that they should hire us for these things.

In line for Dragon Challenge.

Leaving at the end of a glorious day. I call this one "Accio Hotel".

Back at the hotel, we collapsed and took naps for an hour or two. When we woke up we considered going to a different movie that night, but we were all too tired. Instead, we opted for dinner at Sweet Tomatoes (an old school favorite) and watching a movie in our hotel room. Our 24 hour Harry Potterpalooza was everything I'd hoped it would be, and my only complaint is that I do not live there.

Monday, January 10, 2011

End of an era.

Until New Year's Eve, I hadn't really thought much about the fact that midnight would mark the end of a decade. Between that and the fact that my three-year Manhattanniversary was this weekend, I've been feeling a little sentimental and have had time to wax nostalgic about the last 10 years. I think that for me, they can be summed up as The Decade I Grew Up. Although I still don't really consider myself an adult, 2001-2010 contained some of the most significant moments of my life thus far. I went to prom. I graduated high school. I got a passport. I left the country for the first time. I went to college. I had my first boyfriend. I lived in a foreign country. I got my degree. I moved away from home. I landed my first grown-up job. I also made some lifelong friendships, learned what it means to make major decisions, and discovered how to rely on myself.

In the car on the way to the airport to come back after Christmas, my mom and I were talking, and she asked, "What do you think the next decade will bring?" When I imagine myself 10 years ago, it's hard to remember what I thought the next decade would be like. I picture the skinny girl with the braces and the new driver's license and the basically zero life experience and I think, you have no idea. No idea how great and hard and exciting and challenging and hilarious and amazing and scary and FUN things were about to get.

Even if I had the chance to go back in time and tell Past Me about everything, I wouldn't want to (not the least of reasons being that I'd have to prove that I was really from the future, and in the movies they always use their knowledge of the outcomes of sports games as evidence, and I would totally suck at that). For better and worse, I'm glad I didn't understand back then what I was getting myself into. And that's why I won't even try to predict what's next. Because I'm fairly certain that I really just have no idea.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Merry and bright.

Oh, hey. So Christmas was pretty great. It was lovely to escape the city for a little while and spend 10 days with my favorite people. It helped that while NYC was beset with frigid winds and crazy blizzards that shut down three airports, I was enjoying 60 degree sunshine without a care in the world. My parents' house was inhabited by 14 people, with several more coming and going depending on the activities. It's nice to be in a house full of people who share your priorities, namely: eating a lot, silliness, wearing sweats, hugging, and playing video games.

Some highlights:

Christmas Eve feast.


Getting some work done.

An amazing Thai dinner, prepared by my brother's future mother-in-law (p.s. I am awesome at wrapping won tons now, if you require services of that nature).

San Francisco.

A birthday.

In-N-Out. (Twice.)


A zillion more pictures here.

While the break was probably the perfect length and it was nice to get back to real life, it has been extremely hard this week to force myself to do stuff like concentrate on work and wear real pants. I don't like to think of myself as a hero--I'm just doing what I can. And I'm already looking forward to seeing my peeps again this summer.


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