June 30, 2013

Sunday Currently : 25

Rain drops and thick air... Today is definitely a muggy day, and while I would love to escape on the couch and do nothing more than drink lemonade, catch up on TV shows, and devour a new mystery novel, I must trudge forward and go to school. Yes, this Sunday involves doing schoolwork, and since I'm meeting a friend, I can't procrastinate and avoid this one. Oh, universe, you're making it very hard to be productive and motivated!



reading : Catch-22. I've been reading this on my work commute and am torn whether I want to read more this week or save it for my bus ride next weekend up to New York. Either way, I am still really enjoying this book!

writing : My dissertation. Ugh. While I do enjoy getting together with my friends to do dissertation work and provide encouragement, I also enjoying getting together with my friends and not doing any sort of school work. But apparently I need to finish my dissertation in order to get my degree next year, so....

listening : To The West Wing playing in the background. I've seen the entire series, but this is one of those shows that you could watch over and over again. Dooo-doooooooooo-do-do-do! 

thinking :  About lots of things, yet nothing at all. My coffee hasn't quite kicked in yet. But I am vaguely thinking about 4th of July plans and how I want to spend this Thursday. 

smelling :  My coffee. :) 

wishing :  For peace between our cats. O'Higgins (formerly Mr. Valentine) is desperate to be friends with Molly and expresses his affection by pouncing on her while she sleeps. Predictably, this does not elicit a loving response from Molly. 

hoping :   That next weekend in my hometown is filled with good times and old friends. And the beach. I reeeeally need the beach. 

wearing :  PJs. It's so muggy out that I don't particularly want to put on real clothes today, but since I'm going in to the lab today I should maybe at least put on a different shirt. Oh, responsibility. 

loving :   The hubs! 4th of July! Cat cuddles! Our new AC unit that doesn't sound like a rocket launch and actually cools our bedroom! 

wanting :   Our J. Crew Factory order to arrive early this week so that I can admire my new clothes. I have trouble resisting their sales. This week was no exception. Oops!

needing :  A cool shower. 

feeling :  Sweaty. Ha! Sorry. Summer in DC, what can I say?

clicking :  On not too much right now. Anything I should check out?  


Happy Sunday! 

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June 26, 2013

Casablanca

Oh, Casablanca. Rationally, I knew that Humphrey Bogart wouldn't be walking the streets of Morocco, but I was hoping that this city would have a bit more of a romantic feel. In truth, it's a modern city that is both seedy and beautiful, and I had to keep in mind that this it probably represented the "real" urban Morocco. Tourism isn't a major part of Casablanca, and at times I felt as though the city didn't care about us. I wanted to be wooed, and I wanted Humphrey Bogart.

Since life can't be a romantic black-and-white film, however, the hubs and I went for the next best thing and created our own fun. Casablanca is home to a gigantic mosque on the sea, and the sight of such a beautiful structure arching upwards into the sky was breathtaking. I was so disappointed not to be able to go inside, as we missed the visiting hours, but if the exterior is any indication, this place is simply gorgeous. 








After oohing and aahing for a while, the hubs and I embarked on a massive walking tour of the city. We walked for hours, admiring the beautiful and faded architecture. I would have loved to see this city in the 1920s, and it was easy to let my imagination run wild as we looked up at the buildings.





My favorite part, however, was a market area that was closing up shop for the day. Most of the vendors were gone or gathered in crowds watching the end of a soccer match, and as the hubs and I walked past the empty stalls, it felt at times that the only other souls there were the stray cats who had made their home beside the vegetable crates. I can't quite describe why I loved it here so much, but it stirred something inside of me. Maybe we were seeing something that wasn't quite meant for us, but it beckoned all the same. It was as though time had frozen for a moment, and though it was still, I could feel the rush of people running around just hours before and nearly hear the voices calling out to one another. The phantom market pulsed with abandoned life, and we were hushed visitors catching the final glimpses of its secrets before the gates were locked for the night.






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June 24, 2013

The Gardens of YSL

Marrakech is a city unlike any other I have known. It is both modern and ancient, peaceful and chaotic. The main plaza, as I shared last week, is a surreal experience straight out of a storybook. It was marvelous to sip mint tea and cafe au lait from the rooftop terraces and gaze down at the scene below, watching the cats trot between food stalls trying to get scraps, the tourists gliding around wide-eyed and open-mouthed in awe, and the vendors aggressively trying to lure anyone with a money to spend into their shops. 

The people-watching in that plaza is first-rate. Sometimes, though, you need to withdraw from the constant motion and find somewhere quiet to take a stroll and recharge your mind. When the hubs and I read about the gardens of Yves Saint Laurent, we knew we had to find it. So one morning after breakfast, we dodged in between the donkeys, horses, and motorbikes and visited Jardin Majorelle.

As soon as we stepped through the gates to the garden, we were transported from the Marrakech of unceasing motion and sound to a space much calmer than we could have guessed existed within the city. The richly painted planters, the trickling of water in a pond.... they were vibrant and full of life, but in a way that was subtle and modest. Here we found a different piece of Marrakech, a piece that gently reminded us that amidst chaos there must also be calm.

 




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June 23, 2013

Sunday Currently : 24

It is entirely possible that we stayed up too late last night and that my body is not functioning at optimal level today. One minute we were lazily BBQing in the backyard for our friend's birthday, and the next minute it was somehow after midnight and I was falling out of a chair in hysterical laughter at a ridiculous story that shall not be printed on the internet. :) You have to love those nights. Sure, I'm a little headachey now and could probably have used a couple more hours of sleep, but laughing with friends in the backyard, gazing up at the supermoon and watching the dogs chase the fireflies is just priceless.

Welcome to summer!



reading : Catch-22. I just finished To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf last week, and I've returned to Catch-22 with the hope of finishing it up over the next week. It's a great read, and I'm really enjoying  my recent books!

writing : More honeymoon posts. Be on the lookout for more Morocco tales this week! It's so fun to go through all of our photos and relive the experience. :)

listening : To the air purifier running in the living room. Things are quiet around here on Sundays. 

thinking :  About what we will do today. Since the rain has stopped for the moment, I kind of want to head up to Takoma Park to buy a tub of chocolate pudding from the farmers market...

smelling :  Residual peanut butter from my toast. Mmmm.

wishing :  For more fun this summer. Even though I'm working full-time, I need to carve out beach days and outdoor brunches with friends. Perhaps I shall take a look at my day planner and start committing to some summertime adventures...

hoping :  That today, whatever it brings, is filled with more peace. It's fun to have a lazy Sunday with the hubs, and I like how simple and calming this morning has felt already. 

wearing : Gym clothes from our impromptu living room yoga session this morning. It felt so good to stretch! 

loving :   Cool summer nights where we can stay outside for hours. :)

wanting :   Tacos. Always tacos. 

needing :  To stay hydrated today. More lemonade, please!

feeling :   Tired but content.  

clicking :   On yoga videos. We found this one this morning that is part of a 30-Day Yoga Challenge, and it was nice to stretch out and get our bodies moving. I still prefer going to an actual class, but this was a good, quick substitute.


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June 19, 2013

This is Marrakech

Motorbikes weave their way in and out of the crowds, and the shrill, frantic notes of the snake charmers' flutes fill the air. An old woman calls out to all who pass her, promising to read their futures in the creases of their hennaed palms. The men in bright Berber outfits clink their cups together, their large hats casting shadows across their dark faces, and the acrobats flip and bounce through the air as a crowd gathers to watch. Women in jewel-tones headscarves whisk past you in groups of two and three, and waiters call out to you from the restaurants that crowd the edges of the plaza, each menu exactly alike yet each promising to have the best mint tea and tagine in all of Morocco. It all melds together, a giant frenetic mass of life, and yet despite the pulsing energy all around you, you stand still. You smile in disbelief and amazement at the sight before you as the sun beats down on your arms, and you take it all in. 

This is Marrakech. 

 


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June 17, 2013

Bad Travel Karma: A Sad But True Tale

Soooo, while I would love to jump into a series of lovey-dovey posts about our honeymoon, the hubs and I just learned that the 8GB card with most of our photos on it doesn't work with our card reader. So until we get a new card reader or a cord to connect our fancy new camera to our laptops, I will have to entertain you in other ways. And really, I have just the tale to kick things off.

A little fact about me: I have terrible travel karma when it comes to international travel. Sickness, lost luggage, missed connections, and stolen passports are just part of the game when you travel with me. And as much as I wanted our honeymoon to be stress-free, I knew in the back of my mind that the bad karma was there waiting. Lurking. Readying to pounce at any moment.

It began, as many bad karma stories do, with rain in New York and a delayed flight on Delta. After learning that the overhead lights for our seats were completely broken and being told by the flight attend that we were being high-maintenance for asking if we would have enough time to make our connection from Barcelona to Marrakech, I tried not to let the panic seep in. I am young and in love! I reminded myself. I am honeymoon-bound! There's no way things can go wrong!

Ha. Ha. Hahahahahahahahaha!

My suitcase was the last one to get off the luggage carousel. The Iberia check-in desk wouldn't let us check in for our connection because they said they there wasn't enough time for us to go back through security. Awesome. They shrugged and told us to go talk to Vueling, the small airline to whom they had contracted the flight. Vueling stared at us blankly and offered to sell us a new flight that left a few days later, without any sort of credit or refund for our original connection. Ummm, no thanks, Vueling. P.S. You suck.

We ended up purchasing a new flight through TAP, the Air Portugal folks, who were very nice and sympathetic to our "adventures" with Iberia/Vueling. So the hubs and I ended up spending some quality time in the Lisbon airport, trying to teach ourselves Portuguese. As we rushed through the airport, I realized that one of the bows on my shoes had fallen off. Sad, sad, shoe.



Things greatly improved after that, and Morocco treated us well. But my bad travel karma wasn't done with me yet. When our time in Morocco came to an end and we flew back to Spain to spend a week in Barcelona, my suitcase didn't quite make it on the plane, and we ended up waiting over an hour for the next Vueling flight to Barcelona to reunite us. This was relatively mild in terms of bad karma, but just enough to remind me that it could lunge back at us at any moment.

Lessons learned? Always give yourself lots of time if you have a connection. Divide clothes between different suitcases if traveling with a companion. Always bring the essentials in your carry-on. And never ever ever fly Vueling ever.

Now, readers, because I love you, I will now share with you some of my favorite Bad Karma Travel Tales. Buckle your seat belts and hold on to your barf bag, because this is going to be a bumpy ride!!

THE SOUTHEAST ASIAN VOMITING AND PASSPORT ADVENTURE
A couple of hours in to a 23-hour American Airlines flight to Vietnam with connection in Tokyo, I got food poisoning! I spent the next several hours vomiting into a paper bag, hating life. Since the flight had been delayed out of New York due to weather and an unruly intoxicated passenger who had to be escorted off the plane by police, I nearly missed my connection in Tokyo. Upon arrival, I vomited some more, found out upon landing in Ho Chi Minh City that all of my luggage was still in Japan, and burst into tears when I wearily stumbled through the arrival gate and saw the hubs standing there smiling. Then I dropped my passport in the back of the taxicab that brought us to our hotel and didn't realize it was lost until the receptionist asked for it. This tale, however, has a happy ending: The cab driver brought it back to the hotel instead of trying to sell it on the black market, and my sister-in-law, who is from Vietnam and thus obviously speaks Vietnamese, helped track down my luggage the next day. Yay!

IN WHICH LUFTHANSA DISCOURAGES STUDY ABROAD
On my way to study abroad in Italy, Lufthansa lost about 60% of the luggage for our group. Imagine being in southern Italy in August with only the suitcase containing your winter sweaters. Yeah.... Everything was eventually found, but it took a few days, and I remember feeling very sweaty. Lovely. The best part, though, was a few days before Christmas when we all arrived at the airport to fly back the United States, only to learn that Lufthansa had canceled the tickets for our entire study-abroad group because one student had called to change their flight, and the agent handling her call proceeded to then delete the entire reservation. We ended up spending the night in Germany at a gross airport hotel and got back to States a day later. Not a major disaster, but to this day I shudder when I see a Lufthansa plane.

THE MEXICAN SUITCASE
A few years ago I flew to Mexico to visit the hubs, who was abroad on a language fellowship, and once again, my suitcase was lost somewhere between DC and Mexico City. I forget what airline I took, but my bag arrived a couple of days later looking as though it had been through a civil war. The weird part is that the courier who transported my suitcase to our house in San Miguel de Allende had been on the same bus I took from Mexico City, yet he didn't deliver the suitcase until a day later...

TAKE-A-COFFIN AIRLINE
On a family trip to Honduras, we had to to take a small plane with TACA airlines between El Salvador and the island of Roatan. When we boarded the plane, it was boiling hot inside. Why? Because the air conditioner was completely broken, and the plane had been baking in the sun all day. It was a short flight, but we were all sweating to death, and the passengers were basically threatening mutiny. Honestly, this was an even more unpleasant experience than my food poisoning adventures with American Airlines.  Also, the door that separates the cockpit from the rest of the plane was completely broken off its hinges, and we could all peer inside to see the pilot from the aisle. Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.

And there you have it!! I survived it all, and I can still laugh at everything that's happened. That's really the trick to traveling. Be as prepared as possible, but at the end of the day, something ridiculous will happen, and you just have to deal with it. At the very least, it all makes for a wonderful story. :)

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June 16, 2013

Sunday Currently : 23


Well, this week has been a bit bumpy. Our internet, once again, was completely broken, and I was unable to post and catch up on blog posts like I had intentioned. However, we switched providers a couple of days ago, and I am finally back up! My parents were visiting for Fathers Day weekend, and there was lots of running around doing fun things, so this is the first moment I've had to sit back and relax for a bit.

However, we seem to have picked up this little guy along the way, courtesy of the Washington Humane Society:



The shelter named him Mr. Valentine, but we'll probably change his name once we settle on something appropriately cute and clever. :) I was worried that Molly, our current cat would try to pounce on him, but instead she jumped a mile high off the ground and seems totally spooked. Hopefully they will become friends! 


reading : Still trying to catch up on blog posts. Now that we have decent internet that actually broadcasts a signal, I'm planning to settle down with an icey glass of lemonade and do some reading with the cat(s) by my side. 

writing : Travel posts. Again, I started to do this last week but was unable to upload anything since our internet kept cutting out. Patience is a virtue, right?

listening : To the birds chirping outside, a neighbor mowing his lawn, and Mr. Valentine crawling around behind the bookshelves in the guest room. He seems to be trying to find the perfect naptime spot behind the books. Good thinking, buddy. 

thinking : About all of the garden work we did this weekend with my mom. She gave us a bunch of flowers to transplant from her garden, and we went to work making them all at home in our front yard. Things are looking pretty good! 

smelling :  Sadly, not anything, since I am sick yet again. Summer colds are the worst, don't you think? I need to seriously change something in my lifestyle because I have been getting colds over and over again all year. Blegh. 

wishing :  For an easy week at work. Ha! I probably jinxed myself. Last week was good, but since I was getting sick, I was completely drained by the time Friday came around. Fingers crossed for good energy in the days to come. 

hoping :  That Molly and Mr. Valentine become friends. On the ride back from the shelter, I suddenly felt horribly guilty for getting another cat and feared that Molly would hate us for bringing in a new guy. I love her so much and don't want her to be scared or upset. I think Mr. Valentine is laidback enough that she shouldn't be too offended by his presence. Besides, I basically wanted to adopt all of the cats in the shelter, so she should be happy that we only came home with one! :D

wearing : Mesh shorts and a t-shirt, though it is mighty humid indoors, and I might need to switch into a tank top. 

loving :  Our home. This was my parents' first visit to our new place, and though I was feeling sick, I was also really excited to show them what we've done. My mother said that it feels very warm and welcoming, which made so feel so pleased. My parents created a wonderful, calm, loving space in my childhood home, and I strive to make this new place just as sacred a space as the one I grew up with. 

wanting :  Improved health. :) My plan involves gentle runs, yoga, more veggies, and a vitamin. 

needing :   A good night's sleep tonight. NyQuil may or may not be making an appearance.

feeling :  Tired but happy. I'm so glad that we got to spend Fathers Day weekend with my dad, as I have to admit that I sometimes feel left out of family time since the rest of my family lives up in New York. Family has always been the most important part of my life, and moments spent together are always appreciated. :)

clicking :  On lots of posts! Be on the lookout for comments on posts you wrote weeks ago. :)



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June 9, 2013

Sunday Currently : 22

I'm baaaaack! Oh, the places we have been! The camels we have ridden, the food we have eaten.... our honeymoon was a total blast.

I have so many photos and stories about Morocco and Spain to share in this space, but today is all about the present moment. The hubs and I are back home in DC, starting the process of settling back in to our routine here. The gears are starting to turn again regarding the projects we paused, and it's fun to see how the garden we planted before leaving is now lush and thriving. For now, it's nice to be back on my beloved brown couch, typing away as I listen to the cat clomping up and down the stairs and start to plan my precious Sunday.





reading : Lots of blog posts! I kept up on reading for a little bit in Morocco, but we were so busy running around Barcelona that I completely disconnected from the blog world for the week we were there. Now it's time to catch up on what you've all bee doing!

writing : Not a whole lot at the moment. With Blog Every Day in May being over, I can no longer rely on prompts to guide my posting for the time being, and I need to sit down and think about what kind of content I want to put together for the next few weeks. 

listening : To some happy birds chirping in the front yard. I love how quiet it is in our house!

thinking : About starting work up again tomorrow! I was able to increase my hours to full-time for the next few weeks, and while I am grateful to earn a bit more to make up for our 3-week vacation, I'm also a little nervous about working so much after such a big break. Fingers crossed that this week goes well!

smelling :  Damp, humid air. Oh, DC, summer has arrived. 

wishing :  For more peace today. I'd like this Sunday to be slow and languid.  

hoping :  That J. Crew reimburses me for my newish pair of toothpick jeans that suddenly formed a giant rip under the back pocket while we were in Morocco! I also realized that the dye was turning my legs blue (awesome), so I think my pair was a tad defective. Customer service is going to take a look at them, and I'm waiting for them to send me a packing slip so I can send it off. 

wearing : Mesh shorts and a tank top, which is basically going to my summer uniform when I'm at home. 

loving :  Being back home with the hubs. After so many fun adventures, there is still something to be said for sharing a quiet home together. 

wanting :  Peaceful moments today. 

needing :   Food in the fridge, as it seems that the friend who was staying here while we were away did not do any grocery shopping. Our fridge looks so pitiful!

feeling :  Very very content. 

clicking :  All over Bloglovin today. I have so many posts to catch up on, and I also see that I have received a flurry of new followers who I would like to know! Once I work my way through my regular subscribed blogs, I would love to start exploring some new ones. In the meantime, feel free to introduce yourself in the comments. :)


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