25 & Barely Alive

KIDDING! I’m still here, my party people!

Although, I’m not sure this is the same me. Could I really be blogging again already? Maybe this new age also flipped over a new leaf.

We were supposed to hit Las Vegas, but some car issues scratched that long drive, so we opted for Laguna Beach instead. If you were a loser tween girl like me then at some point in your life you probably remember having your eyes glued to the TV, watching MTV’s Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. It was an original show starring high school seniors who were rich enough to get away with drinking on the beach and going to Cabo for Spring break. Tough life man. When I was a high school senior we were sneaking off to fields to share Smirnoff or waiting outside the Byrne Dairy for someone to buy us reject buying us PBRs, not hosting parties at an exclusive hotel.

Anyhow, we headed up there for the day and spent most of our time walking around. The city itself is a lot smaller than I expected, which is probably why those kids had to fly to Mexico for a good time. We stopped in the shops, grabbed lunch, and created our own rendition of the Laguna Beach intro.

On my actual birthday, these two ladies braved it with me back to Tijuana for dinner. To reiterate, I’ve made it a personal goal of mine to spend my birthday outside of the country every year since turning 21. So far it’s been Rome, Italy; Mataro, Spain; Ameglia, Italy; And now Tijuana, Mexico. It’s a great tradition and excuse to get out of the country and travel!

We returned to Caesar’s where we enjoyed more than just a salad this time, including steak, salmon, pasta, and platefuls of delicious desserts. They were even sweet enough to sing to me.

Some people don’t like celebrating their birthdays or being the center of attention. I can’t relate. Wanna throw me a party or announce my name over a speaker? Go for it. It’s the perfect opportunity to get as silly or crazy as you want and no one can be mad at you because of the birthday card. Apparently getting older has some perks.

My roommates provided some wonderful decorations to wake up to, featuring 25 balloons with an embarrassing photo attached to each. What gems.

Also side thanks to them and everyone else for the birthday wishes and fun!

So of course that weekend we continued celebrating. Saturday featured a lovely surprise birthday brunch followed by a bar crawl that left everyone physically crawling back to their perspective caves.

I was also surprised with a delicious Carvel birthday cake that melted all over the table, but was a great combination to that bottomless mimosas on deck.

Finally, we did a Sunday Funday. HA. I didn’t leave my house until 7 PM at night and that my friends, is how you should feel the day after you turn 25.

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Lessons from 24 and life so far

With 25 closing in, I’ve felt a mix of emotions. Mostly dread. For the longest time I hated birthdays simply because it meant I was racking another year into my life. I remember thinking 14 was the perfect age to stay forever. HA! Now, I’m thinking 24 is the golden spot, but my time with that sweet number is up.

So in honor of the upcoming landmark and parting ways with my favorite age, I’ll reflect on some things I’ve learned in general/about myself and progressed in since my last birthday.

24 has taught me…

-More about the power of writing to understand myself. Reading had always been my favorite activity and method of escape, but writing as I continue to learn is a more powerful way to let my emotions out.

-Also that I’m a lazy SOB when it comes to sitting down and actually writing for myself. It has been pretty encouraging hearing randomly that people do like reading my writing. So if you read my blog, please come out from behind the curtain and pump my ego up. Maybe it’ll encourage me to write more weekly than monthly as I’ve been doing…

-Feeling, nervous, jittery, or ANTSY? Yeah, I always thought it was ancy like dancy…. I somehow went 24 years of this not clicking until now despite my obsessive reading habit.

-To further appreciate the love and support I have for my family and friends.

– That I can walk away from feeling uncomfortable without regret.

-There are times when I should feel uncomfortable. In appropriate situations that will help me grow as a person and connect with others.

-Following above, I can’t expect to improve my Spanish if I’m too embarrassed to practice. GROW KAYLA, GROW!

-I’m nowhere near perfect at it, but at least I get the concept of driving stick. Will you get whiplash and a destroyed clutch if I ever drive your manual? Probably.

-Making myself happy has priority over anything else, but that also doesn’t mean I can be an inconsiderate asshole.

-Overthinking will drive you crazy, so stop it! (I’m still terrible at this) Indecision is just as bad, but I am trying to work on it.

-You can always start over–on your make up for the night, a new book you don’t quite understand, or even in a city where you don’t know anyone.

-I will probably never stop being afraid of the dark.

-The travel bug has fully bitten me in the ass, making me ANTSY to go see more of the world.

-Just because you can get a dog doesn’t mean you should. I am finally at the age and scenario where I can own a dog, but I know that I’d rather travel and not have the restriction.

-I shouldn’t be embarrassed of myself. I’m clumsy, flawed, airy at times and imperfect. Everyone has their faults. This year especially taught me that I shouldn’t be embarrassed when my good intentions and decisions don’t work out as smoothly as I intended. There’s no shame in trying, loving, or putting yourself out there.

-I can’t eat pasta twice a day for an entire summer without running and still look like the twig I was in college. I can still enjoy said daily dose of pasta if I move my ass.

-I also can’t go 9 months without lifting and expect to put up the same weights as I did in college. My legs are sore from  squatting 65 pounds….my former track self weeps…

-It can be difficult to make friends outside of college and work, but not impossible. The amount of times I’ve asked for a girl’s number or slid into her DMs since I’ve moved out here is astronomical. Not really–I just wanted to use that word. I do, however, reach out to other women because I live in a new city and hell yeah I want girlfriends! If you’re in my situation, then I suggest to do it and don’t be intimidated.

-Having a pet die will break your heart like nothing else.

-No matter how old I am, I will always get extremely homesick when I’m physically sick. Having the chicken pox and bronchitis in a foreign country brought out the tears. When someone in my family is also sick or hurt I get this feeling too that I need to drop everything and go home.

-I read in a book this year that “every time you come home, there’s a little less to come back to”–a topic I’d like to touch on again if I remember. I did dwell on this statement for awhile, believing that my parents and friends would somehow forget me since I don’t come back that often. I realized how silly I was being since I can stay connected to people while away, making it that much more special when I do go home and see everyone. I don’t have less, I appreciate more.

-To continue being my loud and crazy self without remorse. Though I probably need a filter at times.

This list started out with good/organized intentions and then turned into a mish-mash of my random thoughts and experiences, which basically sums up my year of 24.

I wish I was in Tijuana, eating barbecued iguana

Well, I am extremely frustrated because I typed out an entire lengthy, and incredibly witty (of course) blog post only to have it delete. Sigh. Let me try this again.

After months of living just miles away from Mexico, I finally made it across the border! I’d been wanting to go to Tijuana since my arrival in Southern California, and was ecstatic to go, especially since I haven’t been out of the US in quite some time. If you know me, you understand how antsy I get.

Our first stop was the charming Telefónica Gastro Park nestled between two buildings on Torre de Agua Caliente. One step instead takes you to a very different place compared to the surrounding run-down building. Inside, there are a handful of shiny food trucks with delicious smells wafting through the air. We arrived relatively early, so most the trucks were closed, but thankfully La Carmelita was firing away in the kitchen.

For breakfast, I chose the chilesquiles with abaco sauce and was not disappointed with the tangy dish. Each bite was complemented by a Honey Orange beer from the brewery. Yes, I said brewery! There is a mini one located inside the gastropark with an array of flavors, including Almond Joy, Mango y Coco, Vienna Cream Ale, and Coco Vanilla Stout to name a few. The woman inside was super friendly and let us sample refreshing shots of the beer before we made our final decision.

We sought refuge from the heat with the inside seating and luckily the World Cup was on as well. The décor is reminiscent of a hidden gem in Brooklyn. It was hard to believe we were in such a trendy spot when I’d just been walking down a crumbling sidewalk. With our bellies full, we made our way back into the heat. Every inch of me was covered in sweat and I laughed to see it trickling down my calves.

Our explorations took us throughout the city. We headed to a bustling market with vats of honey still fresh with bees to bins full of soaking cherries, peanut butter, and dangling piñatas overhead. Every other stand featured someone chopping up a coconut with a machete or passing out fruit covered in chili spice. Just a couple hours in and I’d probably sweated out all of the water in my body. It didn’t help that we we’d gone dancing ’til late the night before.

My watermelon obsession has not waned over the years, so I was keen to grab some at the market. I stopped by a stand where they offered a selection of different fruit and vegetable combinations blended together. It was at the market that I realized the poor state of my Spanish speaking skills and embarrassment at even trying to utter a sentence. Agua con sandia? They took a large bottle of water and blended it with watermelon leaving me with a chilly and refreshing drink.

My favorite part of traveling is the walking. I love walking and exploring all different parts of towns and cities, not just the landmarks. I love getting lost and circling back to the place and started. I especially love getting familiar with an area through this trial and error process. We walked around more, taking everything in.

Tijuana for the most part is not a glamourous city. I’d been to run down places before in foreign countries and in the US, but to see such a contrast only a few miles away was strange. The bridge we crossed over to get into the city loomed over a river of trash bags and sewage, while people slept nearby. Even inside the hustle and bustle of the city the streets aren’t any better. Open holes on the sidewalk welcome any unsuspecting pedestrian to a broken leg and garbage is a common sight encrusted to the ground. home. Like many cities in the US and around the world, San Diego also has a homeless crisis. Despite the numbness one gathers from the daily encounters of pan handles it doesn’t make seeing the children who beg alongside their parents.

There was still some beauty in the decay found in the smiles of vendors, the scents of grilled meat, and laughs at a local bar. After stumbling upon Veggie Fest at the Tijuana Cultural Center, exploring an alley way full of bars, and snacking on icy treats, we started heading back  downtown for a light lunch. Between the heat melting us and all the water we drank to cool off, our bodies were saturated, leaving little room for food. We, however, were determined to try the infamous Caesar’s on the Avenida Revolución. I had recently learned that the Caesar salad originated in Tijuana thanks to the Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini.

A rush of cool air welcomed us into the dim restaurant that was air conditioned (yay) and the walls lined with the paintings of Oscar Ortega–a Tijuanan (is that a real term?) artist. We relaxed with chilled glasses of sangria while our waiter prepared a Caesar salad at our table for us, which of course, was delicious. I don’t think I can look at a Trader Joe’s Caesar salad the same way.

The return back towards the border was uneventful. I snagged a cup full of esquites (Mexican street corn off the cob) and we snapped some pictures before heading home to rinse off the sweat of Tijuana and rest our swollen feet.

Feeling Stuck

Well it’s June, and since I’ve been in the habit of only writing once a month, I think it’s that time again!

Nobody likes feeling stuck. Whether it’s stuck in a bad relationship, dead-end job, or gum stuck to your shoe, being stuck is the worst.

That’s how I felt for a majority of last year; stuck.

I didn’t want to live where I was living, but saw no other choice. I didn’t want to be in the relationship I was in, but was waiting for a change. When I moved here, I felt that lighter, less trapped. It was a chance to start over on all levels.

Unfortunately, I became stuck in a job that I didn’t love. I felt my creativity and intelligence being stifled, leaving me restless and unfulfilled. Like many other people my age, I’m still don’t have a set career in mind. I know I love writing and working with other people, which comes in many different jobs, but I can’t think of the perfect fit.

That’s also how I feel with living in general. I love where I currently am and enjoy every minute of it, but that restlessness looms over my shoulder. Part of me wants to be established in this still relatively new city and make a life for myself, while the other part wants to ditch the normalcy and return to the life of a nomad.

This will be the first summer that I’m working a ‘real job.’ I won’t get to trapeze around a foreign country unsure of my next move. It’s crazy that while I was freelance writing, I spent so much time fretting over the (non-existent) judgement I might get for not working a typical, 9-5 job, while saving for my dream home/wedding/future children’s college funds/pony.

In reality, that was perfect for me! I had the flexibility to work from quite literally wherever in the world I wanted. I was writing, which I love to do–ya know except for the scut work that I had to start with.

I’m glad that I had that experience and one in a more conventional setting because it’s starting to help guide me in some sort of direction. Even if I don’t know exactly what I want in a career, I know that I crave the flexibility that a desk job can’t provide. I want to write, to move, to meet people, and to stack up too many deadlines for myself; I want to be in control.

It’s easy to get caught up in the articles and lists that tell you how to live your life and what you need to do to achieve happiness. Some people are really passionate about quotes and base their dreams, lifestyles, and actions around them. I know that it’s bad when I start looking to quotes for advice and here’s one that really pisses me off.

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It all starts with a soothing background. The fog rising up from the lake just permeates a smug wisdom.

Unhappy with your job? Quit!

Well that’s nice, but what about this thing called money, security?? Do you know how long it takes to get a new job, especially when you’re fresh outta college!!

Move?

Hey, uh landlord? I’m trying to follow my heart and this shitty quote online, so can you cut me out of my lease real quick? THX! Oh wait, where am I gonna move with my imaginary money from my non-existent job?

Let go of a miserable relationship?

Yeah okay, I can’t argue this one, but you get my point.

I know that ultimately personal happiness is one of the most important achievements, but people can’t be a freakin’ ray of sunshine all the time. It just doesn’t happen. Also, it’s not always realistic to do exactly what will make you happy. Sometimes you have to feel stuck for a little while before

That said, I don’t think you should waste years of your life on anything that’s not making you super fucking pumped to do everyday. Even if your job or whatever is not perfect, perhaps it allows you the chance to write poetry, practice for your weekend band, or train for a marathon. Feel stuck, get unstuck, and stop reading terrible quotes that won’t make a lick of difference in your life.

Habits I Lost When Moving to California

It blows my mind that I’ve been in California for almost six months. This is the longest I’ve been in once place since I was in school. It’s also astonishing that I have yet to get sick of San Diego or brunch. So. Much. Brunch.

Since this is the longest I’ve also been in the US in a few years, I’m not sure if my habits have changed in regards to what I did in New York or while abroad. My life was significantly different from each place I lived. For example, I was eating the traditional five times a day in Spain whereas I eat five times a day in America, but it’s not traditional….unless obesity is that ingrained in our culture at this point…

ANYHOW, life is definitely different here. It’s more relaxed and honestly feels like an extension of college. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I live with two women my age (one who WAS my college roommate) in a city with multiple colleges and East Coast transplants, but I am not complaining.

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It’s actually what I find so refreshing about being here. I’m never bored and there’s always something to do. While this holds true to New York City as well, I found it to be too city for my liking to the point of being overwhelming. I like the mixture of big city and beach neighborhoods.

Checking the weather

I’m thinking sunny with a chance of partly sun? Okay, so I do check the wear, but it doesn’t really impact what I’m wearing. I mostly look to see if it’ll be sunny enough to lay out and read or not, and usually it is.

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I do find it strange that while I would normally expect a scorching May and June in New York, the weather here isn’t very consistent during that time, hence being introduced to “May Gray” and “June Gloom.” But honeslty, I’m fine with just a month or two of this weather since I experienced it every day in England.

Sarcasm

YOU THOUGHT. I will never lose this. I’m not sure if it’s an East Coast, or more specifically a New York thing, but everyone I know from home speaks heavily with sarcasm. It hasn’t been as well received out here and is considered borderline rude by most people, who I consider soft.

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Me as a dog

I definitely have toned it down in some scenarios, especially when the sarcasm isn’t detected and I feel bad for people who actually think I’m an incoming freshman here in California for orientation.

Side note: I started talking with coworkers about sarcasm, which led to slang, accents, and the like, so I made them take this quiz to see where their personal dialect places them on the map.

Breakfast

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To me breakfast is like my coworkers, Monday through Friday we’re friends, but on the weekends, I don’t know you. Call me basic, but brunch is my bestie. While I do wake up early enough for breakast, it’s more acceptable to pop champagne bottles in the afternoon. Also, the food is delicious and no one else wakes up at 7 am on Saturday and Sunday like a complete psychopath (me).

Wearing pants

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This might go along with the weather, but I never wear pants or closed toe shoes unless I’m running. Pants will always be my greatest enemy, especially jeans, so even if there is a slight breeze down by the Pacific, I will always opt for a dress or skirt.

Sunday Scaries

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They’ve now extended to Monday. This city is big on day drinking, which I only really experienced during Spring time in college. Now, it’s more normal than hitting the town at night. You can also do both and it’s not frowned upon, but encouraged.

In Albany, I used to refer to it as ‘scumbag Sunday’ where you marinate in last night’s make up and house down McDonald’s fries with sweet and sour sauce to recover for practice the following day. Now, it hits on Monday in the first hour of work where I chow down on ramen and take intermittent naps on the bench in the bathroom, while trying to look presentable.

Transportation

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Bottom-line: I’m an avid Birder.

Even though I own a car and fresh pair of blades, I Uber like I am Beyoncé….if Beyoncé ever Ubered, which I’m sure she doesn’t. Aside from being home in Ithaca, which you could still always take a bus, this is the first place I’ve lived where you can’t bike, walk, or easily take public transportation somewhere. Albany, Spain, England, and NYC were all pretty easy to get around. San Diego is so expansive that it’s a necessity.

Winter

BUHBYE!

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Cooking

I ALWAYS used to cook in school and even after. While Ithaca and NYC are great places for take out, I still mantained some balance. That balance has gone out the window since I arrived. I don’t even think about cooking on the weekends unless it involves heating up the prior meal’s take out.

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Also, my diet heavily relies on Mexican food. Tamales for breakfast, tacos for lunch, oh, and uh for dinner? Yeah, I’ll have the tacos please. I would say I have a problem, but I’ve never met a taco I didn’t like.

 

No New Friends

And I’m back by popular demand! (Okay, all of two people asking me why I haven’t blogged in a while, but thanks for the encouragement!)

My life in California is simple and simply fun all the time. Aside from that whole 7-3:30 grind that is, but at least I’m out early enough for the beach! And if you follow me on Instagram, you already know how annoying I am with posting my frequent trips there.

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So since my last stop in here, I’ve had quite a few friends come visit and more on the way. Pretty much every visit has involved a long night out dancing followed by a boozy brunch stuffed to start the cycle over. Can’t fix what isn’t broken amiright??

I’m going to take the easy way out and do a recap of their visits.

Nick

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Okay, okay this was way back in February, buuuuuut still counts. Being an athlete was definitely one of the best things about college solely because I met a bunch of amazing people, who I am still friends with today.  Also, they come visit me even on the opposite coast!

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Babies!

Nick (Hi Nick!) was in the pole/vault multi fam and a hardcore lawnguylander (Long Islander). He came out to visit Kelsey and ML last year for a work conference and this time around I was fortunate enough to see him.

Aside from Kelsey falling…or me tripping her…and just an all around good weekend, the most memorable moment was when I was introduced to BIRDS with Nick. More will come on that later.

Celia

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Que tal? As you might remember, Celia and I met a couple of years back while we were both au pairing in Mataró. As she likes to point out despite us both being Americans, we’ve never hung out in our own country! We initially met in Spain and spent a blissful summer frolicking in the Mediterranean, while eating too many tapas.

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The next time we reconnected was in Italy where she visited me and my other au pair family. Again, we soaked up some sun and this time ate way too much pasta. Honestly, whether it’s pasta or tapas it’s never enough for me.

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Finallllllly, she came to visit me in San Diego. The visit was short, but sweet. Even though I managed to kill her in the first night. I do hope she’ll return…maybe with a stronger liver :P.

KWOW

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Again, super thankful for track leading me to one of my other good friends, Katie. She was also my roommate at UAlbany too. Check out the baby faces.

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The perfect storm was formed when my most Irish friend came to visit me on St. Patrick’s Day, subsequently causing chaos all around. Katie combined with her brother, who is also a San Diego resident led the way in Irish jigging and reminded me why Fireball hurts the soul.

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Her fiancée Phil also came, which is pretty significant since it’s one of the last times I will see them both before they get married this fall! Aside from the St. Patty’s festivities we spent a Sunday exploring Coronado, including The Del and the Cabrillo Monument in Point Loma.

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Oh look, it’s me, Nick, and Katie heading to Penn State back in the day.

Kyle & Brandon

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So uh, when are you guys moving here? Kyle and I go way back to the Trumansburg middle school and terrible hair days. He had feathered hair, I had bangs. Not a good look. We became friends in high school over trivial pursuit and street hockey, which we’ve traded in for traveling and stuffing our faces.

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His old roommate from college Brandon also came along on the trip, providing sick CONTENT, a lost wallet, and a solid gag reflex. Throw me, Kelsey, and ML, into the mix and you have a solid crew with 607 roots.

 

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This past weekend was full of sunshine finally showed the Cali weather’s true colors. Of course we took advantage of this by playing scrabble and listening to Seth Feldman in our front yard. Kyle managed to fit in skydiving that morning as well. Casual.

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Somehow we survived a night in downtown and managed to make our brunch reservations (see a pattern yet?). Once bottomless mimosas were over, we (minus ML who took a nice nap) burned off our energy playing spike ball and soccer on the beach.

30739975_10155470906105980_3859885786065272832_nThis ball kept on rolling until it was the next morning and somehow both of them managed to make their flights assumingely reeking of alcohol, but in one piece.

Also, here’s our signature pic from the past three summers in Rome, Paris, and now San Diego.

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Now, who is next?

 

 

 

 

 

Can I Kick it?

Okay, so contrary to my New Years Resolution and constant promises of being a consistent blogger, I dropped off the face of the Earth again for two months. To be fair, I completely uprooted my life…again….moved across the ocean, and then country to California! So that left little time to blog.

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But that’s right, I am now a resident of sunny San Diego, California. In my last post, I’d just landed here for a short visit seeking some girl time after ending a relationship. I was so happy being reunited with my friends–and the sun because I’m still a firm hater of British weather….and England– that I wondered how I stayed away for so long. Well, that visit turned into a new car, new job, new house, and new life! The perks of being a gypsy.

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I’ve had many friends, family members, and even random people ask and comment on my impulsive life decisions. Mainly, they ask: How?????? How do you change your life so drastically? How do you make these choices?

If you know me, then you know I’m the most indecisive person on the planet. I can’t pick what I want to eat or which bracelet I should buy while hiking in Italy (Cough, Celia) to save my life. I go back and forth, and ultimately whatever decision I do end up making, I still fret over.

Everyone likes to be comfortable. That comfort shouldn’t be a trap. Yes, having money and lots of things is nice, but it’s not everything. You can’t let the security of a job, a town you’ve always lived in, the pretty furniture you have, or even the baggage of a boyfriend keep you from breaking out and doing what you want.

Go live your life for you. It might blow up in your face and suck or it might be the most incredible experiences of your life. Either way, you’ll live and figure it out because that’s life. It’s messy, sad, crazy, fun, confusing, and every other word in the dictionary. But you ALWAYS figure it out and get through it.

Like moving to England last year, I just went with what felt right. Well, that ultimately did blow up in my face (see it happens), but it was still an experience worth having! Without living in that shitty city or having my heartbroken by some knucklehead, I would’ve never climbed a Swiss Alp, kayaked around the gorgeous Cinque Terre, or stuffed my face with tapas again in Barcelona. I would’ve never met the sweetest Scottish gal, reunited with my Catalan family and friends, or lived in Italy.

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Sometimes you just have to go with what feels right in the moment. And in the moment, SD feels right to me.