A Vacation From My Vacation

Well, well, well.

Look who decided to show up round these parts again?

As you might already know (because I yapped about it endlessly), I was off in Europe for the first two weeks of September. Three words: it was epic. So epic that I needed a vacation when I returned from my vacation. You know the kind: the catch-upcation. Tackling the inbox, unpacking, facing the laundry pile, daydreaming about being back in Europe, making peace with the fact that my flight back might as well have been a strange time warp. You see, I left the US in a summer state of mind, and came back to the height of football season, the end of a financial quarter at work, fall TV shows premiering (which, to be fair, shouldn’t have taken me by surprise because I've had my favorite shows' return dates penciled into my calendar since like December), and Instagrams of pumpkins and sweaters galore. 

What even?! I’m not ready for this! I was in a freaking bathing suit last week!

What’s making my mind even more loopy is that we’re starting San Francisco’s Indian Summer - so while the calendar and Instagram is screaming FALL at me, SF is all like, lol here are some sweltering 90 degree days and no air-conditioning for you, my friend.

AND. Lastly. I’ve also been tres nostalgic lately. Last week marked 5 years since I was a college freshman. This month marks a year since I moved into my big girl apartment in San Francisco, and in a couple of weeks, it’ll be my work anniversary. 

This is all to say… vacations. They throw you for a spin, don’t they? And September, too. September throws you on quite the loop-de-loop, as well.

I’ll elaborate on this nostalgia and, of course, the trip in the weeks to come. But for now...

Tell me. What have you been up to, friends?!

Olympic Events I'd Medal In... If They Existed

So, get this. Two of my freshman dormmates competed in the Olympics this year. Three, if you count a girl who practically lived there too. That's like 5% of my freshman dorm. Not only that, one took home a bronze medal from London, one won a gold in Rio just last week, and that third girl nagged a gold medal (and MVP status!) in both Rio and London. BOSS.

Meanwhile, I would like to point out that I excel at eating Mexican food like it's going out of business. Actually, let me rephrase. The Mexican restaurant that I live above did indeed go out of business on Saturday, and to bid it a proper farewell–I ate there four days in a row last week. Take THAT, Olympians!!

That got me thinking. If the Olympics were to more accurately represent my skillset, which events would I have a shot at being top dog?

Speed-Alarm-Clock-Snoozing, for one. My reflexes and memorization of the iPhone 'slide-to-turn-off' technique is on point. There's also (Not) Decision-Making. I will outlast any hem-and-hawer out there, weighing options and debating pro's and con's till kingdom come. I'm also the last one standing in all Netflix battles: a strength that I have trained over many years of sharing my best friend's mom's account with like six other people. I persevere through all "too many device" warnings, and keep clicking refresh, I tell you. 
I'm always a winner when it comes to finding a kitty or puppy belly to scratch, and am easily conditioned into providing treats for all four-legged creatures at their first meow or bark (yes, Coach Jerry, of course Coach Jerry).

When it comes to relays, I'll have you know that I'm an incredible baton-passer. A few weeks ago, Cassandra was en route to Bosnia and needed to show customs a copy of a bus ticket... which wasn't yet purchased, and she needed it in about 15 minutes. So here I was at work, frantically trying to book a bus ticket on a Croatian website, but I texted her the ticket with seconds to spare... except customs ended up not needing to see it at all. 

Other "sports" I'm particularly good at: bargain-hunting, cupcake-tasting, taste-testing in general, napping, procrastinating, procrastinapping, speed-walking when I see the word "sale," scaring myself silly at an oddly suspenseful episode of Pretty Little Liars, caffeinating, perhaps overcaffeinating, figuring whodunnit on police dramas, and creatively exaggerating to my mother my fruit and vegetable intake of the day.

Let's leave it at that.

Tell me friends, which Olympic sports–real or not–do you excel at? Did you totally binge on the Olympics this year? What was your favorite moment? WHY IS IT OVER.

Life Lately :: In Anticipation

My thoughts upon greeting Monday morning once again:

You again.


Except, I'm not as pissed as I typically am at my long string of wake up alarms because each one brings me a little closer to vacation. I'm in that state of antsy anticipation at the moment–the kind where you purposely erect roadblocks in your mind so as to stop thinking up torturous countdowns, but then do it anyway.

Here's what I can tell you: I'm 18 days, or two point five weeks, or two weekends, or 17 lunches, or like eight major to-do list items, or one big Amazon shipment away from boarding a jetplane to paradise. I. Can't. Wait. (But I have to.) In the meantime, I'll distract myself by sharing some of what I've been up to on the day-to-day...
EATING // slightly more healthfully, as much as that baffles me. I started a diet at the beginning of the month, which ended the day after because my coworkers pulled a jerk move and brought fresh banana bread AND chocolate cake to the office. But even so, I've noticed that our beloved Annie's mac and cheese boxes have been pushed to the back of the pantry. There's still quite the gray area though, like the honey-roasted peanut butter that you self-grind in Whole Foods. We've finished off close to two huge tubs of it in not even two weeks. But it's from Whole Foods so it's okay. Call an intervention!!

Also, Halo Top ice cream. Another obsession in our household. There are currently six pints stockpiled in our freezer, and we hold nightly taste-test fests. Oops.

LISTENING // to the Hamilton soundtrack. It's my power playlist when I need to GSD! Is that weird? Also, sometimes at work I listen to Spotify playlists from college and I get goosebumps and tear up and then shimmy quietly to some Macklemore thanking the universe that I'm not engulfed in a sea of sweaty bodies at a frat in that moment.

WATCHING // White Collar. I'm obsessed! I went from a months-long SVU kick that had me watching the entire series backwards starting from the last episode and enthralled in court procedures and penciling the fall premiere date into my calendar (I'm serious. It's September 21st.) to bingeing on Matt Bomer's pretty eyes every night before bed.
FOLLOWING // the Olympics, obvs, albeit not obsessively as I've had in the past. There's just something about Twitter spoilers that make watching replays so very anticlimactic. My friend's competing in diving today though so I'll be glued to the TV for sure!

AVOIDING // checking in on my credit card statement. You guys, it's horrendous. So many travel expenses, and so much left still to buy. But c'mon, I NEEDED my Turkish towel because think of the Instagrams and also I needed the cutest picnic basket ever that I snatched up at a neighborhood garage sale because again, think of the Instagrams. Well okay, the picnic basket isn't going in my carry-on, but that would've been perFECTION I tell you.

DAYDREAMING ABOUT // do you even need to ask. Strolling the streets of Sarajevo, sunning on a sailboat in Dubrovnik, eating the best ice cream in the world in Belgrade, and admiring views in Kotor. 

HUSTLING // hard, this week. And last week, and next week, and all the weeks except those first two weeks of September. Ok, I'll stop, I realize all this vacation talk when it isn't even vacation yet is getting stupid.

Happy Monday! What're you looking forward to this week?

Dusk At Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Speaking of that summery feeling, it went into overdrive for me a few weeks ago when Leah and I on a whim decided to drive over to Santa Cruz (on a school night!). We tossed a blanket into the car, threw on sweatshirts over work blouses, and settled into the car with snacks and the radio. We pulled up to the Boardwalk not too long before dusk and as the crowd was clearing up, and let me tell you, it was like walking into the pages of a Sarah Dessen book.

Did you guys ever read those? I was a huge sucker for them and any other young adult novel espousing small town summers: the summer jobs at the supermarket or the movie theater, the late nights spent somewhere special, the diners where everyone knows everyone.

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk felt like all of that came to life. The teenagers manning the funnel cake stands, the shrill shrieks of those aboard the loopy wooden roller coaster, the cheesy theme park music, the sandy shore stretching way into the distance.
We walked onward, along the pier, and then heard indignant barking beckoning from below. Curious, we craned our necks and saw: 
Sea lions! 
I Snapchatted this above image to our two closest friends, proclaiming: wish we were all snuggling like this! Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, the four of us crashed at Leah's place and we slept piled up side-by-wide width-wise across her bed. I fell asleep thinking comically, ask and you shall receive.
Before long, the sun began its descent, and we quietly waved it "see you in the morning bright and early when we're back at it again with the work life" and continued on in blissful ignorance. We found ourselves another slice of small town wonder–a dessert parlor selling delightful treats like frozen bananas dipped in chocolate: 
With that, we headed towards downtown Santa Cruz in search of some more substantial grub. Finding that most restaurants were already closed, we ducked into the first place we found open–a fast food-style Indian restaurant. The spicy bites of chicken vindaloo warmed us up on such a breezy night, and wholly satisfied, we retreated back home where we went to bed at a somewhat decent hour only to wake up and face the office coffee and computer screens once more.

Oh but what a delight it was to live out a Sarah Dessen book, if only for an evening!

What were your summers like growing up? Were you a Sarah Dessen fan?

Oh, Summer Days

One of the strangest things about life after school for me is how the workdays flow ever onwards with really no standardized break* to, well, break time up a bit. I mean sure there are the holidays and weekends too, if we want to stretch it, but it just hasn't been the same. I swear that this is a culprit for how 2016's racing by: without the anticipation of and counting down towards summer break, the days have slipped away so very quietly, without fanfare. That's how little old me, finally wrapping her mind around June gloom, is all "wait what do you mean it's August?!"

(Also, that famous San Francisco Indian summer chill hasn't helped. It feels like frickin November.)
But even so, every now and then, I take pause and catch a whiff of summer in the air. It's triggered by an upbeat playlist, or an atypically hot day, or our Friday BBQ's at work, or colorful, sugary popsicles dripping on sticky fingers. And most notably:

// hiking up to Bernal Heights (in heels!!) for the most jaw-dropping view of San Francisco in all of her glory. We huddled against the strong gusts of wind, our hair whipping every which way, and admiring the city from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge. Something about that blue sky just screams summer to me.

// baseball games, complete with garlic fries and Irish Coffees because isn't that in itself a synonym for "quintessential All-American summer"?

// ice cream for breakfast, ice cream for lunch, ice cream for dinner. Lest you think I'm kidding, I'm not. I've done all three. Recently. 

// four of us sprinting to the BART metro station, cackling away madly all the while, in an effort to pick up Cassandra and her eight million bags all because the Bay Bridge was shut down. Rewarding ourselves with copious drinks PLUS extra mozzarella on the pizza we snarfed down at Delarosa. Unforgettable!
// burritos + TV / movie nights where laptops are put away.

// and some college throwback drinks too to go along with all that. I'm talkin' Smirnoff ices, PBRs, and Malibu & Diet Cokes all in the house.

// happy hours. Oh, gimme all the happy hours. There've been plenty–with coworkers, with friends, and best of all, with half-price carafes of sangria at Spark Social SF, a new food truck park close to where I live. Which is how Cassandra and I made the executive decision to grab three carafes (hey, there were three flavors: watermelon, peach, and blackberry, can YOU say no to that?!), and lots of pupusas to share, for four of us and it all went fuzzy beyond that.  
// reunions with dear, dear friends from last summer. We spent entire meals reminiscing about the waters of Croatia and planning all that's to come in September.

// dinners al fresco, with twinkly lights strung overhead, and double-fisting frozen Greek yogurts (sour cherry! baklava! again, could YOU say no to all that?!) wishing for a third fist with which to manage the wine glass. 

// graduation, and new beginnings. Always brings about the nostalgia.
// s'mores! But, of course.

// Smelling the bacon sandwiches being freshly prepared in the cafe downstairs. Last September when I had first moved into my apartment and was job-hunting, I was home all day long and could of course smell the bacon fryin' up downstairs through the open windows. That, and the constant buzz of city traffic, will always shift my mind towards new beginnings and summery vibes.

// day trips: to camping in Pescadero, to Napa, Santa Cruz.

// um, cat cafes. Mainly because summer = joy, and cats = joy, so therefore summer = cats. Right?

// but most of all, there was one evening that absolutely became the epitome of summer for me. There's this darling French family who we as a foursome have befriended over the years: a hilarious couple, an au pair, and four kids under the age of 10. When Cassandra was in town, they invited us all over to their newly renovated house. We blasted Top 40 music on Spotify, dug into cheesy pizza, and then played tag, running around the yard until Cassandra was dripping in sweat and the rest of us were laughing too hard to breathe. We played with hula hoops, then danced a bit barefoot, then those over the age of 10 polished off glasses of wine, and then we all plopped down on the green grass for popsicles which the kids kept on wanting to "cheers!" to. Dusk fell, the air became chilly, and we retreated back into the house to watch some TV.

Summer in a nutshell. 
How's your summer going? What were some highlights?
*That is not to say however that I'm getting no break at all. This time next month I'll be cheersing to the start of my vacation with my three best friends in the Balkans, what what!

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