Most things stayed the same

It’s 2015.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. Really, this is a ‘it’s not you, it’s me,’ situation. Odd numbers are creepy, and I don’t know why. The volume is better on an even number, I like to say hello twice, and goodbye twice. My neurosis. I don’t think people notice, but now they might.

I had a wonderful dinner, and fabulous drinks this NYE. Did you know a boozy Arnold Palmer is better with a little sprig of rosemary? Well, it is.

Between researching studies and open records requests, I thought about how much I didn’t want to make any resolutions, and then I thought about how I could be happier with my life. So, I ended up making a resolution of sorts. I hope to be more deliberate with my life in 2015, and beyond.

I’ve been very ‘whatever happens, happens’ the majority of my adult life, and that has served me well when it comes to moving around for work, and not limiting where I might find good opportunities. Yet, it has been a disservice when it comes to other aspects of my life– namely, making plans and never getting around to them. Taking vacations, visiting family, visiting friends, going paddle boarding, volunteering, learning to shoot a gun, watching more plays, more live music, more ballet, doing another Crossfit competition. Most of these things aren’t expensive, I just think about doing them, and then don’t. So, this 2015 I want to do those things I’ve been too lazy to do.

In January N and I are going to watch Book of Mormon in OKC and taking an inversion workshop over the weekend. February, we are catching the ballet, visiting family in March, Hozier in April, and hopefully a, longer than I normally would, vacation in June…

I, like, wrote it down in my calendar, in pen– so, it’s a go. Maybe being more deliberate is a key to feeling increasingly fulfilled. I love my job, but I certainly want my life to be about much more than that.

Anyway, I was bad this morning, and put twice the amount of coffee grounds to make one pot of coffee at work– even though there are signs, many signs, everywhere telling me not to do that. At least the coffee is tastier than ever. You’re welcome World! New year, still me– whatever that means.

Just Laugh

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2014 in review

This little report is neat. I’m glad I moved to WordPress. Anyway, to all my pretty friends and pretty strangers all over the world, a big hug and a big thank you for reading my rambles. I hope you never lose interest or that I write more interesting things– either way, stay with me in 2015. On an unrelated note, as I was writing this a piece of toast I was eating fell in the trash. The trash was empty with a fresh bag, and I thought about picking it out and eating it anyway– but I didn’t. I am a better adult with each passing day. Enjoy champagne and good times, and I’ll do the same.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 850 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

That’s Sea Law

Sometimes things don’t work out the way you thought they would, and that’s how I went from living in Germany to clinging to an aluminum rod and trying to keep down my lunch on a 37-foot sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico.

I’m a journalist, but I put that part of myself on hold, and did other fun stuff for the last year. Now I’m back in a newsroom– or will be tomorrow. Before I moved to OKC, N and I visited his dad and his dad’s sailboat. I get horribly seasick all the time every time, but I’m on this ‘try new things’ ridiculous kick and I convinced myself this time would be different. It wasn’t.

It was my first time on a sailboat and I planned to take cool pictures in my swimsuit and Ray-Bans, sunning myself by the sails. Instagram was going to get slammed with pictures of my face! Actually, I only managed to take one crooked blurry photo of the sails.

Do you know how hard it is to look cool while trying not to puke? Harder still to take good pictures. Apparently, I only succeeded in looking angry, but I always look angry, so whatever. The sunglasses did help fool everyone into thinking I was totally not about to blow chunks.

N’s dad started talking to me about how the helmsman has to keep the wind on his/her face while steering the boat, that the boat should be steered like a car with a loose steering wheel, and that sailboats have the right of way because… I don’t know…it’s sea law or something. I thought he was just making conversation, so I was all, “Yeah…Sure… Obviously… I totally get it.”

Mistake.

Moments later he said, “Ok, we’ll put the sails up you man the boat,” and walked away.

I just clung to this steering wheel the size of my body, and kept repeating, “Face, wind, loose steering wheels, don’t puke, don’t die, don’t knock these guys off the boat, I have the right of way.”

It went exactly as well as that time I played the guitar, that is to say, not well. Be glad you weren’t with me, or maybe be sad. It really depends on how much you trust me to keep you alive while I’m panicking.

I ended up driving in a circle. Seriously. N and his dad got hit on their faces with the sails because I couldn’t go in a straight line, but I didn’t crash or tip over, so… I’m basically a sailor now, no big deal.

I wasn’t the only one having a tough time. N got sea sick too, but he played it off better, or maybe his sunglasses covered more of his face.

He had a lot of fun working the sails and yelled,”I am like an expert sailor…”

Moments later he went to sit down, lost his footing, and broke some thermometer or something. He appropriately yelled, “I belong on the land.”

After a couple of hours we were sailing back to shore, and I was happy I never actually lost it. Then N said he saw a dolphin and he and his dad decide to explore.

What fresh hell is this! I tried to melt his face off with my death stare, especially because this supposed dolphin never reappeared.

Don’t feel too bad for me though, my father-in-law had offered me some sea sickness medication before we sailed way, and I was too cool to take it.

Sailing is fun. I know because I managed to have a great time in spite of my horrible sea sickness. Next time I’ll just take the damned pill.

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About Dam Time

I’ve been busy. Busier than I thought I would be considering my life has heavily revolved around Crossfit, freelancing, and resume sending. I’ve started to write this post like eight times over the last two months. Ridiculous. Many things have changed in my life since I went to Amsterdam, but this post is going to be about Amsterdam anyway.

You know what’s difficult? Trying to work and vacation at the same time, but when have I ever been cool with simple? I went to Amsterdam as a tourist and a freelancer. I wish my time there had lasted longer, but who doesn’t wish beautiful things lasted longer.

N and I drove to Amsterdam. You know, for someone who was really excited to travel to different cities by train– I drive a lot. The drive was 2.5 hours from Koeln.

Hotel costs are steep in Amsterdam, especially if you want a decent place. That’s why I decided it was a good time to roll the dice, and try Airbnb. Basically, I joined the social network, and looked up people who live in Amsterdam, that would lend out their Apartment to travelers. I know, sounds a little sketch, but I chose the option where the apartment owner would leave their home, so guest could be alone in the apartment. My experience was great. For half the price of a hotel I stayed in a luxury one bedroom, two level condo, outside of the touristy craziness.

Marco, the owner, met us at his home, did a walk through, gave us a list of local restaurants he was really into, and advice on the metro system. Then, he left.

Marco was really confused as to why we would drive from Koeln to Amsterdam just to hang out for a couple of days, but once he realized we were American, it made sense. I guess, a 2.5 hour drive is a big deal in Europe.

It was strange being in some other person’s home. I was very concerned about cleaning up after myself and not breaking anything, but I wasn’t in the apartment all that much.

Dutch sounds really funny to me. Not like, “Listen to those Dutch people with their Dutch talk,” but in how much it sounds like English. I understood a surprising amount, but only after thinking about it for several minutes, so it wasn’t useful or anything.

Walking around Amsterdam was so lovely. The Museum District made me happy. Art, relaxation, and that sweet I Am Amsterdam sign. I tried to take a coolkid picture with it, but I’m not as fearless as the people that were willing to muscle their way to the top.

I Am Amsterdam

Vondel Park was great to walk through. There were sculptures in the space, including a Picasso. The tulips were all over the place, and I sure liked that.

The bike thing is no joke either. They are everywhere. That’s why I thought it would be a great idea to spend 30 euro on renting bikes. I promptly remembered I don’t know how to ride a bike, but decided to try anyway. As you probably expected, I almost got hit by cars– twice. Strangers gasped, and then laughed. We returned the bikes 1 hour after renting them.

Bad At Easy Things

The Red Light District, was– something. It was interesting in a morbid way, and mostly wildly depressing. Then, I felt like a jerk for thinking someone’s life is depressing because they chose to make a legal act their career. The problem is that I know that for some of those women, it’s not always a choice. Though interesting, that walk was just weird.

Visiting the historic buildings, walking along the canals, and checking out great restaurants was more my speed. My favorite restaurant was called Cau. It was near the Red Light District. It was an Argentinean steakhouse. The women servers wore shirts that said ‘caugirl,’ and the men’s said ‘cauboy.’ I got a real kick out of that for some reason. I also ate two giant milkshakes, and didn’t feel even a little bad.

I never made it to the Keukenhof Gardens, and I’m still sad about that. I guess, I’ll just have to go back. I’m always wanting to go back.

Anne Frank Haus

 

Paris, I Love You…

I found the perfect sunglasses weeks before going to Paris. I figured that would be the thing that would make me look like a local– the right sunglasses– ignoring the fact I don’t speak French.

N and I drove from Köln to Paris instead of taking the train. Don’t let anyone tell you those two places are three hours away, it’s more like five hours of driving. People and Google can be such liars.

The German, Belgian, and French countryside is beautiful, but driving in Paris requires nerves of steel. It’s like turn signals don’t exist in France and motorcyclists weave in and out of traffic to squeeze into the front of every lane. I mean, apparently it’s totally cool that they do that, and they don’t care I disagree.

So, here is something about me–maps, electronic or otherwise, never give me a good idea of how close I am to something. If they did I would have realized how easy it is to see most of Paris’ main sights in one day. Then you can spend the rest of your visit exploring your favorite places for longer.

If you start at Notre Dame, you can tour the cathedral for free or take an audio tour for six euro. Right across the street is Shakespeare and Company. It’s a book store specializing in books written in English. Famous authors of the Beat Generation hung out here. If you’re a fan of the written word, I’d say this stop is a must. You can also ask for your book purchase to be stamped with the store logo, and that will make it an excellent keepsake.

Next stop would be the Louvre. You can take pictures with the glass pyramids and enjoy a coffee and baguette in the gardens. Perhaps a glass of wine while you people-watch? I mean, that’s what I did and it was magical.

The lengths to which people go to get the perfect shot are entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to look as hot as possible in every single picture. Who wouldn’t? But some tourists got creative. N was taking a picture of me looking away from the camera, you know, so it looked like a totally unplanned picture. Anyway, while he was snapping away, I saw two women doing the same thing, but their deal was a full blown photo shoot– like they pulled off their sneakers and slapped on some red soled Christian Louboutin’s just for the pictures, and then swapped again. I mean, damn.

At the end of the gardens you’ll see the Eiffel Tower from afar, and you can get a good picture. Just outside the gardens is the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and if you’re into shopping this is the place to be. I didn’t spend much time here but did walk along the avenue. It’s one of the most expensive streets in the world but I didn’t feel like spending my dolla dolla bills there.

The Arc de Triomphe is straight ahead. It’s huge and beautiful, but it is difficult to get a good picture. Different parts of it are always being cleaned so there is scaffolding on it. You have the option to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, but I wouldn’t bother. There are better places to get a good view of the city.

Then, there is the Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre. It is further away from the line of tourist attractions but it’s worth the hike. I drove there and parking was a nightmare, so maybe take the subway?The church is at the highest point in the city so try to go during the day for the view. I went at night, and it was still lovely. If you feel like going inside the church, it’s free and very quiet. There is no photography allowed but there is some breathtaking artwork inside.

Moulin Rouge is hilariously close to the beautiful giant church. It seems like a classy show, though I didn’t have time to catch it, but it’s surrounded by terrifyingly sleazy looking strip clubs. I really didn’t know what to think when a group of middle school students were touring the area with their parents, but I’ve never tried harder to avoid eye contact with strangers.

I also spent a good portion of my sunny Parisian visit at the Luxembourg Palace enjoying the gardens. It’s near Notre Dame and there is a great bakery by the entrance. I bought a box of eight macarons and N picked out some sorbet, then we sat by a giant fountain and snacked.

The running joke during my brief time in France was how obnoxiously well N speaks French. He will tell you he doesn’t speak French, sometimes he’ll even yell it at you, but only after translating something for me. I still laugh at his nerdy explanation.

“Stop saying I speak French. My German is better. I speak less French than I do Spanish. I just took Latin in college so I can guess what things mean pretty well…”

NERD.

I want to go back. I want to drink coffee and eat croissants for breakfast and escargot and wine for dinner. I want macarons in all the flavors while I walk in a city of great excess and great suffering. Sometimes I’m such a stereotype– Woman in love with the City of Light, but I’m ok with that.

Paris, I love you, but I’m sure you hear that all the time.

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Let The Water Boil

I cook a lot now. This is a big deal because I don’t like to cook and, also, I’m bad at it. 

I’ve always thought of myself as more culturally sensitive than the average American. Not because I’m snooty, though I can be, but because I took multiple intercultural communication classes while in graduate school. However, knowing what to expect when moving into a new culture is different from experiencing it. One thing that is a challenge in my case is dealing with food. 

To say the German version of food is terrible would be culturally insensitive. Instead, I’ll say that the Germans commonly put tuna fish on their pizza and gravy on their pasta. 

I have found some excellent Thai, Indian, and Italian restaurants. There is a great burger joint on Friesenplatz. There is also a terrible Mexican restaurant with good nachos and decent tequila near a small theater that plays movies in English. None of that food, however, is German or food I’m accustomed to eating everyday. So, now I cook.

I’ve gotten really good at making primal mashed potatoes, and a few meat dishes– all while burning my hands much less often. I’ve found that I like cooking at home because I get to use spices more commonly used in the States and in Mexico, so my food tastes more like home. 

Cooking pasta is still a problem. I tried making spaghetti with parmesan, olive oil, garlic, and lemon zest. It looked pretty, but the pasta tasted rubbery. 

My inability to boil pasta is really astonishing. I had a conversation on the topic with a friend once–

“Well, are you letting the water boil?”

“Of course I let the water boil. What’s wrong with you?”

The thing is, I hadn’t let the water boil before putting the pasta in. I guess I figured it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m still not sure that it does. This time I did let the water boil first, and it still came out off. 

I don’t know if I’m bad at cooking because I don’t like to practice, or if I don’t like to practice because I’m bad at cooking. I mean, I do have a scar on my hand from that time I burned myself while I was toasting a Pop-Tart, but I’m not sure what that says about me exactly. 

I’ll keep trying on the pasta, maybe. Even if I keep getting it wrong, I think I’m well liked enough for people to pretend my chewy, sometimes crunchy, pasta is edible, hopefully.  

Mireya In Europe

 I live in Europe now. Germany to be exact. 

 The flight from the U.S. to Germany was exhausting, but when is something like that anything else? 

 It was through Luftansa, and as soon as we took-off I thought it would be a great flight, as far as international ones go. I had an aisle seat, there were three empty seats between me and the only other person in my row. There were personal televisions in front of every seat with more movies and TV shows than I could watch in 10 hours. 

Then it happened. An echoing hacking cough coming from my row mate, a man in his 50s. I looked to see if he was ok, and as I did, I watched him spit into an empty bottle of soda. I tried my best to ignore him by cranking up the volume on Blue Jasmine, but his cold demanded to be heard– for all 10 hours.  Snort, Cough, Spit, and occasional nose picking– for all 10 hours.

Sleep was difficult to come by even though I took some melatonin, so that resulted in a bizarre viewing of a movie called The Counselor. I’m certain it would have been a ridiculous movie even if I hadn’t been sleep deprived and loopy. Have you seen it? It’s really terrible, but you should watch it anyway. 

When I arrived at Frankfurt I had a two hour layover. Then a one hour flight to Dusseldorf. That flight was hilarious in the most terrifying way. I have never been in a more turbulent flight in my life. I’m told it was just particularly windy that day. People on the half-full flight were laughing– that nervous loud laughter that bubbles over when all you really want to do is panic. I was just silent and using all my energy to hold down puke. I wouldn’t have tried so hard, but there were no motion sickness bags on the flight. 

That night I went out for some karaoke with a few people. As I told them the story of that turbulent one-hour flight they looked confused, and asked why I wouldn’t just take the train into Cologne. The short answer was– well, I didn’t know that was an option. 

So, there you go. For your next long flight to Germany invest in some noise canceling headphones and if you have a long layover followed by a short flight, figure out if there is another faster but equally easy way to get to your final destination. You live, you learn, you get a blog post out of it.