Category Archives: Travel

Peace of mind… heaven knows you give me mine…

I had promised to write about this a while ago… but if you read my previous post you would know that I’ve suffered a bit of writer’s block lately.

So, right after I made my 35 before 35 list, I was able to cross something off:

2. Get a new tattoo

I had wanted to get something while I was traveling. Nothing special, but it would be a good story nonetheless. So, when I made it to London at the end of my 3 week European adventure, I sought out a tattoo parlor at which I would be branded with something random to serve as a memento of the trip. I was thinking of a Doctor Who tattoo that I had wanted (“Allons-y” for all you Whovians out there). But then the time came to get it done… and suddenly I felt the need to make it more meaningful.

Earlier that day I was aimlessly wandering around London… I found myself crossing the Waterloo Bridge and looking to my right I saw Big Ben… and I was smacked in the face with emotion. I started crying. Happy, overwhelmed tears.

I was at the tail end of my trip… a trip I had been determined to make. A trip for which I worked my ass off… and did all by myself. It’s still hard for me to fully articulate. It was a moment where I felt the very definition of strong and independent. I felt so tiny in the world and yet incredibly powerful. I learned about myself. I changed. I grew. And all at once, it hit me.

Back at my hostel, I brainstormed with a couple of people for tattoo designs. I casually mentioned this story and it seemed obvious what the tattoo design would be: a bridge. Bridges are symbolic of strength and transition… a joining of two sides. I think this was pretty representative of this trip.

So, I made a very last minute appointment with a tattoo artist recommended by one of the hostel workers. I told him I wanted a bridge on my wrist and a couple of hours later I was sitting in the parlor while Jake, my artist, sketched something up. I wanted something small and simple. And this was the sketch:

The outline...

Placement of the outline… am I really doing this?!

When he showed me the sketch I thought it was too big… was I ready for something like this? And then he mentioned color. Now, I already have a couple of small tattoos. They are fairly hidden and are black and grey. Color was not something I wanted. But I let Jake convince me. Why the hell not? Go big and all that, right?

And just like the other tattoos I have, there was a moment of absolute doubt and hesitation in the seconds before the first needle touched my skin. This is forever after all. But then he started… and there was no going back.

I just kept remembering why I was getting this… what it meant and how it will always serve as a reminder of my time spent abroad. The friends I made… the lessons I learned… the strength I gained. And when it was all over…

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The finished product…

Aside from the constant questioning regarding its geographic significance (it’s just a bridge… it’s not the Golden Gate or the Bay Bridge… or the Brooklyn Bridge), I LOVE IT. I love looking down at it and knowing what it means to me.

Even now when I doubt myself, I can look down at my wrist and I know what I’m capable of: anything

Blog song title: “Gone” by Vacationer (this was the song playing while I was on the bridge… the lyrics don’t necessarily match the mood… but when I hear the song, I still remember that feeling I had on the bridge that day)


Stand in the mirror… you look the same…

Many people have been asking me about my travels… which now seem more distant than ever. I’ve been back for two months and haven’t quite gotten around to really discussing or writing about what I gained from my trip. But I’ve realized something recently.

I met some amazing people from all over the world… seriously… everywhere. Every continent except for Antarctica was represented. And I spent time in some amazing cities. But when my plane touched down in New York City, I was so happy to be home.

When I first came to New York, I was desperate for some new experiences. I needed them. I needed change… so much change. I needed things to be different from what they were before. And they were… almost instantly.

But then I seemed to fall into a rut. Same people, same places, same drama. I had always wanted to travel and for most of my young adult life, I put it off. The timing of my trip this year was perfect without me even realizing it. I needed to step away from my life here. And I did. And it was, as I mentioned earlier, amazing.

So now that I’m back and have had adequate time to think about what the trip meant to me, I just keep thinking how grateful I am to be here in New York. However, things are different. Some of my friendships have fallen to the wayside and some have become stronger. Some of the things I used to do are not as interesting to me anymore. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

OK… so this is my main takeaway: I need to stay dynamic. I used to find comfort (complacency?) in routine, but now it makes me anxious and frustrated. For example, lately I’ve been “cheating” on my alumni group with another school. Is it because my new (and very dearest) friend is involved? Sure. Is it because I have a little crush on a boy in the group? A bit. But mainly it’s because it’s different. New people, new environment. It’s refreshing.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love and appreciate all of the people and experiences I’ve had over the past 2 years here in New York. But my trip reminded me why I’m here. I need to continue to branch out… to meet new people and to seek out new experiences… to keep things shaken up.

Do I have more to say about my travels? Sure. But some of my stories/lessons are going to come out in other ways… stay tuned.

Blog title song: “Home” by Foo Fighters


35 before 35

OK… here it is… the 35 before 35 list. For those of you who don’t know… every year I will create a sort of a birthday bucket list. The idea is that these items are accomplishable. I typically aim for things that are a bit more NYC-centric so that I am sure to take advantage of living in the greatest city in the world. Anything that doesn’t get done will go onto next year’s list. The only rule is that there are no rules. Items with an asterisk are carried over from last year’s list.

1) Go to Australia
Starting big. And this one is kind of a cheater… I am still abroad, but already planning a trip to Sydney in September 2014. My favorite Aussies (and Berlin buddies) are getting married then and I’m more than honored to attend the festivities. So the savings start… NOW.

2) Get a new tattoo
This might get accomplished next week… while I’m in England. Yes.

3) Visit a new city in the US
Traveling to Europe isn’t so easy… but traveling within the US isn’t so bad… especially on the east coast. Philadelphia maybe?

4) Go to drag bingo
This has come up many times… but has never actually happened. If you know me, you know of my obsession with drag queens. This must happen.

5) Take a class
Could be anything from a literature class to a history class to science class. I just want to keep the noggin running.

6) Go to the famous sites in Central Park
I’ve spent plenty of time in Central Park… playing softball. But somehow I’ve never been to any of the iconic sites… the mall, the fountains, the boathouse… nothing.

7) Take a boat ride in Central Park
Touristy, yes… but I think it would still be fun.

8) Go to Atlantic City
I really have no motivation for this. Just seems like something I’m supposed to do while living in NYC.

9) Go to a Giants game
No, not much of an NFL fan, but I know many people who are so I’m sure I won’t have trouble getting to see a game… and tailgate

10) Learn how to knit
I’ve wanted to do this for some time. I think if I start towards the end of winter 2013, I’ll have a great scarf for winter 2014.

11) Take an unusual fitness class
Could be some weird yoga… or strip tease aerobics… but I want to do something different.

12) Go to a live taping
Ideally it would be the Daily Show or SNL… but anything will do (and yes, I’ve done this before in California… but time to give NYC a go).

13) Go to Coney Island
No idea how I haven’t done this yet…

14) Go on a spontaneous outing
Yes, this is vague. But my thought is to get one of my friends to play hooky and then go do something… go to the zoo, go bowling, get a train to Ossining, stay in the city and take a bus tour… just do something!

15) Go skiing*
16) Try Ethiopian food*
17) Go see a cabaret show*
18) Take an improv class*
19) Go to the ballet*
20) Go to the symphony in Central Park*
21) Get a bike*
22) Get paid to write something*
23) Take a cooking class*
24) Go to a magic show*
25) Participate in a Hash*
26) Volunteer*
27) Take a dance class*
28) Go ice skating in Central Park*
29) Go to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show*
30) Go camping*
31) Take an art class*
32) Write every day for 7 days*
33) Go on a day trip outside of the city*
34) Run a 5K*
35) Go to roller derby*


34 before 34… in summation…

Yesterday, I celebrated my 34th year of life… in Paris, France. Thinking about this list I made last year (34 before 34), I never would have guessed that I would be in Europe at this time. I also feel that this trip has been a major accomplishment and it kind of overpowers most of the 34 before 34 list. However, I did cross a few items off before I left so here are my thoughts on those. I didn’t get to everything… but if we want to get all technical, I did start my list a while after my 33rd birthday. SO YEAH. And you know… Europe.

24) Go to 10 different museums
OK… I didn’t get to 10. But I did quite a few: Guggenheim, MoMA, American Museum of Natural History, the Met, New York Historical Society, Ellis Island, and the New York Public Library (yes, this counts because I visited a curated exhibition). 7 out of 10 isn’t so bad. I had wanted to go to the Transit Museum and the Museum of Sex, but never got around to it. And yes, I can still go and I plan on doing so in the near future. I’m not much of a museum person, but when I made the list, I worked for the Guggenheim and had free admission to every museum… so that made it somewhat easy to do. And I’m an idiot for not going to EVERY SINGLE ONE while I could. But that’s a lesson I’ve learned… take advantage when you can.

2) Go on a sailboat
OK… again, I’m checking this one off on a technicality. It wasn’t a SAILboat, but it was a boat that cruised the Hudson River. So I’ll take it. The Pac-12 Alumni group does an annual boat cruise around the start of summer. Free booze, gorgeous weather, great friends, and ridiculous views of Manhattan… yes, please.

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Part of doing this list is to do things somewhat out of the ordinary. I didn’t know this cruise existed when I made the list… but just the nature of being open to new things has encouraged me to do things that just come up.

17) Go speed dating
Somehow this came up with a friend of mine and I was more than happy to oblige her and go along. Though I didn’t care so much about actually meeting someone, I was excited to cross something off my list and have a unique experience in the process. It was pretty funny… a true practice in small talk and quick conversation. Most of the guys start with the same types of questions: “What do you do?” “Where are you from?” “Have you done this before?” But occasionally a guy would just totally be himself and we’d just have a bit of banter. Nobody really struck me as dateable and perhaps my approach to the whole thing was a bit too casual. It was a fun time though.

A few weeks back, comedian Tig Notaro was on the Nerdist podcast. She has a saying that she’s used for a long time, but after all she’s been through (look her up if you don’t know) it means a lot more… and it totally resonated with me: “How about now; how about right now?” Part of creating this list is about forcing myself to do things I normally wouldn’t do. But I as I said before, the creation of the list has pushed me to do other things as well.

It has been a hell of a year… a lot of ups and downs, but I feel accomplished in so many ways. Obviously it’s my intention to continue these adventures. I want to do things now; do them right now.

Stay tuned for 35 before 35!


Now I’m looking to the sky to save me… looking for a sign of life…

I had this grand plan to write about each city I visit before I moved on to the next one.  It was adorable as a plan in my mind… but as I’ve learned on this trip, plans are useless.

I have been keeping a travel log – writing observations as they come. But I really don’t think I can adequately reflect on this experience until it has ended. For those who care about this sort of thing… I started in Berlin and had an unexpectedly amazing time. While there, I planned out the rest of my trip – Amsterdam to Paris to Edinburgh to Manchester to Birmingham to London to home. Amsterdam and Paris have been somewhat underwhelming… but after the raucous time in Berlin, I guess that is to be expected.

I’m looking forward to Edinburgh and England (though I don’t think I’m going to stop off in Manchester and Birmingham anymore). I’m going to spend some quality time in both places in hopes of standing still long enough to do more reflecting. The rest of the trip is about me just existing for a while. I’m still glad to be getting some space from my life in NY. I only realized when I was here how much I needed a break.

I’ve been discussing my travel plans and motivations with others (as is fairly typical when you’re staying in a hostel, surrounded by travelers from around the world) and my story is ever changing. I started this journey in January with the plan to go see Europe, finally. I had different motivations back then. Once I booked my trip my motivations changed. And as my departure date grew closer, my motivations changed yet again. And now that I’m in the middle of it all… my inspiration and what I’m gaining is changing every day.

Which is why I can’t sufficiently write about my experience… not just yet. But stay tuned. This is something I’m going to need some time to do.

Blog song title: “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters


I longed for this to take me, I longed for my release…

As I previously mentioned, the timing of this trip is pretty much perfect.

I don’t want to get into too much detail… yet. But I’ve been in this incredible habit of getting involved with the wrong guys… unavailable, too slow to act, liars, live in Brooklyn… and right before I left, I feel like things got so overwhelming. Too many balls in the air. (Zing.)

As I boarded my plane in NYC, I was a tad emotional. I mean, the gravity of the situation was hitting me what with the whole traveling for the first time thing. But I also felt on the verge of some catharsis.

Though this trip was planned long before my personal life got so… hectic, I can’t help but feel that I’m escaping… or running away from things. But there’s a tremendous amount of relief in that. I need time… I need space… I need to feel disconnected a bit.

I’m on my second day in Berlin and while phone connectivity would be nice for finding my way around, I am rather enjoying being completely on my own and detached from the world. While my goal of this trip was never to get out and see all the sites, I’m feeling super ok with just hanging out at my hostel for now. For now.

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Hallo Berlin

Blog song title: “Leave” by R.E.M.
Photo credit: me


Breaking the rules

I’ve broken a lot of rules lately.

The main one is with myself and this blog. I set out to keep a records of sorts of my new life in the big city. But somewhere I lost my way.

Yes, I am enjoying myself and I have enjoyed writing about these new experiences… and really, I originally set out to write just for me… to have a record of this amazing transition. Then I decided to put it out there for people to see – and I got some great feedback which pushed me to keep writing and keep sharing. But, as I observed in my last blog, I seem to have let the heart and soul fall out of this whole thing.

I hate making excuses… especially in writing. What’s the point? I can’t say exactly what happened to cause this change because I don’t really know. I have definitely become more self-centered and have gotten too in my head about things. And that’s going to change.

I’m still planning to write as often as I can… I’m still planning to travel and write about that (though I’m not crowdfunding anymore and I’m pushing my trip to August/September so I can save more money and get cheaper flights)… But I’m going to work to put the heart and soul back in.

I’m a pretty self-aware person… but somehow I let this run away from me and it’s time I wrangled it back in.

So I apologize to you, dear Reader, for misleading you in any way and for not really being myself. I’m ready to break some of these habits and rules… and keep reinventing.

 

Blog song title: None… that’s another rule I’m breaking.


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