Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Promise to my Passport

Earlier this year, I remembered that my passport was set to expire this month. I was a little sad to stop using it. My first passport had only held an embarrassing photo from middle school and stamps from Ireland and Niagara.

In comparison, my second passport was pretty decent. Right after the Niagara trip, I renewed my passport for my upcoming Study Abroad trip. On my journey to South America, I earned multiple stamps for Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. My favorite was the full-page visa for Brazil. I also received a fake stamp of a monument from the top of a mountain on the border of Argentina and Chile. It's on the inside of the back cover so please don't rat me out. After my Study Abroad trip and two unnecessary trips to Mexico (stories for another time), I went a while without being stamped again.

I traveled to London in 2011 and finally put my passport back to work. The following fall I went to The Netherlands and took a sidetrip to Belgium. I was a little annoyed that I hadn't earned any stamps for my Belgium trip since I'd traveled via train, but I obviously understand that not having to go through customs makes travel easier. The next year brought Asia - Thailand and Hong Kong - for which I received many stamps, and Italy, for which I earned stamps for Amsterdam again and Paris, since I didn't have direct flights. My passport wasn't a perfect reflection of my travels, but it sure meant a lot to me to flip through the pages and see where I'd been.

This week, I traveled with a brand-new passport. While waiting at the airport, instead of flipping through the pages, I flipped *out* a little instead. My passport will be valid until I am 39, which caused a little panic about how close I am to 39. This realization made me wonder what I will have accomplished by that time. 

I will spend an entire decade with my passport, as everyone does, but it will be a legit decade in my life as well. My upcoming thirties will be defined by this passport and by how full I can make it. 

While I'm still unsure about where I'll be in every other aspect of my life at that time, I know for sure that this passport will have way more stamps than my last. This is a promise to myself and to my passport that I'm excited to make. It's even more exciting when I remember how long it took me to get from 19 to 29. Let's do this.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hawaii - An Attempt at Athleticism: Hiking the Na Pali Coast

I like to say that I'm outdoorsy. I'd definitely rather be outside than inside, at least between the months of March and November. With that said, my activities while outside are not necessarily what others might consider outdoorsy. As I'm writing this, I'm reminded of a someecards from a number of years ago:

Yes, of course I love drinking on patios, eating ice cream on benches, and reading books on a blanket in the park or in a chair with an ocean view. But I also enjoy walking the hour home from work or the entire length of Broadway and riding my Citibike once every three months, so doesn't that count for something? 

The answer is no. At least it didn't count when I took my first official hike in Hawaii in May with my sister, Katie. I was used to wearing my sneakers at the gym or for a mile or two run or walk, but there was something about this trail on the Na Pali coast in Kauai that was a little different than the sidewalks of NYC. Yes, *that* Na Pali coast. Katie and I experienced it in three ways on our trip - by boatby air, and by land. Specifically this land:

Katie and I chose to just hike the four-miles (two there / two back) to Hanakapi'ai Beach rather than the eight-miles (four there / four back) to a waterfall. We started in the early afternoon at maximum sunshine, heat, and sweat-dripping-down-our-necks time. Because of our timing and the weather, it was a good decision to just hike four miles. Even though the trail was a challenge, the view reminded me why we were on this journey.

When we were almost to the turnaround point and the beach, we were faced with a gushing stream which I was both intimidated by and excited about. I thought it would be amazing if I could cross the stream easily, what an accomplishment on my first hike, right? Instead I rushed to jump across the first few rocks without thinking and slipped right into the stream, finding myself in knee-deep water. It wasn't my proudest moment. (But it wasn't my least proud either.)

The turnaround point, Hanakapi'ai Beach, was gorgeous. I had hoped for a place to lay down, rest, and read a chapter or two before our return trip, but the tide was too high and the rocks were not made for sitting for longer than a few minutes. We took some photos and started quickly back on the trail.

The way back was pretty rough for me. Even though it felt like we had been climbing up the whole way there aside from the descent to the beach, it felt like we were still climbing up on the way back. It started to rain, which felt amazing after the intense sun, but of course this made the trail über slippery. My shoes were already soaked from my accidental stream swim and I was feeling pretty squishy and gross.

Even my hydrated feet weren't as bad as my unhydrated bod. I didn't think to bring a bottle of water on our hike. In my everyday life, I find water boring and unnecessary but I clearly needed it this day. Katie shared hers with me a little but I felt bad stealing it. At one point, I spotted water trickling down the side of a rock and stuck my open mouth under it while my sister said "Um." I responded with something along the lines of "I do what I want" (which is true) and enjoyed it. A few minutes after drinking the water, Katie suggested that it could have had contaminants and that I might come down with Cholera. Thankfully, this did not happen.

On a not-as-hot day, with legs that were exercised more than just climbing my four flights of stairs daily, I would do this hike again, if for nothing but the views. But it was difficult for me to stay positive, especially on the way back, and I started joking with my sister, "why are you making me do this?" which she did not find funny at the time, because maybe I wasn't actually joking. I was complaining. A lot.

This was 100% a fake forced smile:

Hiking is an activity that I'd like to do more of, but I will be smart next time and bring water. I will also try to not fall into a stream on the next trail. Of course, if you know me well, you know how hard it is for me not to fall. This was most recently demonstrated by a fall into an elevator that has left me with a severely broken toe and a cane. It may be a few months before I attempt this hiking thing again.


Mahalo, Katie, for pictures, the motivation to go on, and for making me think I was going to get Cholera!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Falling Slowly at Once the Musical

A few weeks ago, Kat and I went to see Once The Musical for Broadway Week (2-for-1 tickets!) and I've been thinking about it ever since for a few reasons: (1) because 5% of me is an aspiring singer-songwriter just like one of the main characters, delightfully referred to as "Guy" in the Playbill (2) because 65% of me is a hopeless romantic, similar to the other main character, "Girl" (3) because the story and music is absolutely beautiful. I downloaded the soundtrack the very night I saw the musical and have been listening to "Falling Slowly" on repeat ever since. The version below features the original cast, Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti (the mother of HIMYM and who I once saw perform at UCB).

{YouTube link} <--- if viewing from a smartphone

The story takes place in Ireland (another reason to love it) over just a few days. "Guy" gives up music because he has lost his love and thus, his inspiration. "Girl," who he has just met, encourages him to continue playing. They start a band, record a demo, and, in the end, "Girl" teaches "Guy" to continue loving as well. Although in some ways, Once is a traditional love story, there is enough that sets the story apart for all to be satisfied.

Once is unique in many ways, not just in its ending. Each cast member plays an instrument for the majority of their time on stage - which led Kat and me to wonder if the actors knew how to play their respective instruments beforehand or if they learned after they were cast. In addition, the audience is encouraged to go on stage before the show and during intermission to order drinks from the working bar featured in the bar scenes of the show. If you're heading to the show - which you should, no question about it - make sure to get there about a half hour before it starts to experience this and the lively folk music and dancing from the supporting cast.

Although there were many gems, including a bit on how proud a character is to be Irish (because we all are), my favorite quote from the show was, "You cannot walk through your life leaving unfinished love behind you."

I fell quickly for Once. There is no unfinished love between us. Just real-life, pure, true love.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Doctor's Orders: 3 Tompkins Square Bagels Meals a Day

I reward (bribe?) myself with food pretty frequently. The most recent deal I made with myself was that if I got up early on Saturday to do yoga in the East Village, I could go to Tompkins Square Bagels afterward. The quality of this reward definitely outweighed the small sacrifice of a few hours of sleep.

There were two reasons I wanted to try Tompkins Square Bagels, but each would have been enough of a reason on its own: macaroni and cheese on a bagel (are you freaking kidding me) and birthday-cake-flavored cream cheese (I know!). Since I don't have unlimited room in my stomach, I thought this adventure would be best enjoyed with a friend so that we could split everything and not explode in the meantime. Mike was easily convinced.

While we were waiting in line, my eyes also came across "The Jersey" which I couldn't resist either because, duh - Taylor ham, egg, and cheese on a bagel. Mike said he couldn't help me out with that one. I usually am only able to eat half a bagel at a time so I'm not sure why I thought I'd be able to split two and eat one myself, but I'll never give up on my ambitions.

After receiving our order, Mike and I walked across the street to sit on a bench and dig in. When we took the open-faced mac and cheese bagel out of the bag, we both giggled excitedly like we were five. We ordered this delicacy on an everything bagel and it was scooped out, which I would *never* do with a normal bagel but it made perfect sense in this situation since the mac and cheese was heavy enough on its own. I got cheese all over my hands and my yoga pants and I didn't care one bit.

The woman we ordered from recommended the birthday-cake cream cheese on a plain or French Toast bagel. We obviously went the French Toast route and it was unbelievable. Not only does the cream cheese taste just like cake batter, but there are rainbow sprinkles involved too. You would think that this combo - or even just one or the other would have been overwhelmingly sweet, but it was absolutely perfect and will be enjoyed again soon.

As suspected, I was too full from the first two bagels that I didn't get to the third that same morning. "The Jersey" sandwich went into my yoga bag for later. I popped it in the toaster oven Sunday night and it surprisingly stood up (probably because it was called "The Jersey" and we don't back down for nothing*).

*double negative intended


Monday, September 1, 2014

Newport, Rhode Island - Blinded by the Lighthouses

Recently, I spent a beautiful weekend in Newport, Rhode Island for one of my dear friend's bachelorette parties. If you haven't been or if you wish to revisit, we should go together. It's an adorable little boating town and I got a good taste of it, but I want more. One of my favorite items on the weekend's agenda was a Lighthouses and Mimosas Tour with Classic Cruises of Newport.

For just $25 a ticket, we were loaded on to the Rum Runner II, a ship that's almost as old as the Wonder Wheel on Coney Island, for an hour and a half, with unlimited mimosas and croissants. The crew on board regaled us with stories not only of lighthouses but of many of the mansions and boats we passed along the way. I loved every minute of it. The scenery was gorgeous and the breeze was perfect for a morning after a night of celebrating.

One of my favorite stories was about an amazing party thrown by the Vanderbilt-owned "The Breakers" mansion back in the day. The guests of the party thought it strange and quite tacky that the centerpieces were sandboxes, until the end of the night when the host said the guests could dig within the sandboxes and keep whatever they found - which included rubies and diamonds. These people bled money, and some of them still do today. For example, along our trip we passed several yachts almost the size of football fields, one of which we were told has a grand piano on board - because of course it does.

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