Hello, it’s me (again and again and again)

It’s time for my annual “Hello all, I’m alive, I really am” check-in on this blog. It’s a blistering 93 degrees here in Chicago…in late September. No, really. A week ago I may have been in deep up in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, wearing layers upon layers in near-wintry weather while traversing Alberta’s beautiful lakes in Banff National Park, but now I’ve taken refuge at my parents’ air-conditioned abode to escape this heck of a heat wave. I never thought I would ever say this—no really, I have never been one to say no to summer conditions—but damn, where the autumn at?

Not much to update on my end here…and yet there is. I moved to a new apartment, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. Still don’t have a car, but somehow I’ve managed with public transportation for the past year and a half. Still at the same place of employment, where I’ve now been for six whole years. (Seriously, WTF? I don’t know how that happened.) Traveling just as much as ever, much to the dismay of my credit card accounts. As previously mentioned I just came back from a trip up to the Canadian Rockies, which by far had to have been the most exhilarating (nature-wise) experience of my life. And yes, even better than visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time last year (and let’s face it, no matter how busy the Grand Canyon it legitimately is one of the coolest natural features in the world). As someone who grew up in the flat lands of Illinois, to be surrounded by the tallest mountains I’d ever seen for a four straight days was nothing short of amazing.

Today is probably the first Saturday in a very long while in which I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. It is strange and amazing and terrifying at the same time. It’s like, what am I supposed to do with my time if I’m not rushing off to go somewhere for an errand or a party or a fitness class or social event? Why, I guess try to log back in to my WordPress and see if I’ve still got a blog, LOL.

The Fall

So admittedly, I almost forgot I had a blog here (again). It’s been nearly 3 months, and much has definitely happened since my last entry, including:

  • Going to New Orleans in October for work
  • Getting kissed by a random Kiwi on Halloween in what was my first post-relationship pucker
  • Watching the season 8 finale of Doctor Who at a geek bar…actually, it literally was called Geek Bar and it was awesome
  • Going to Fright Fest at Six Flags and having about six simultaneous heart attacks when a fella with a chainsaw found out I was frightened of him
  • Friendsgivings galore
  • Doing a variety of non-alcohol-related things, such as Trapped in a Room with a Zombie, visiting a pumpkin farm, seeing I Love Lucy Live on Stage, and taking advantage of the free days at the Field Museum
  • Getting promoted at work (that one was a biggie)

There are more, I’m sure, but seeing as it is currently the Saturday before Christmas, I need to get some shit together and start Christmas shopping. Feliz Navidad!

Travel over everything

I just spent most of my evening going over all the airline mileage rewards accounts I’ve accumulated over the years: U.S. Airways’ Dividend Miles, Delta’s SkyMiles, the AAdvantage program, and now MileagePlus from United. I don’t know how people keep track of these things all the time. And I don’t know why, after many years of traveling, I’m only now paying attention to this stuff. The amount of miles I actually have in my balances pale in comparison to all the real-life miles I’ve flown: from here to the Philippines, here to London, here (meaning Chicago) to Spain. The list goes on. I guess better late than never, right?

Anyway, the end result of my labors tonight ended up with me booking a flight to Miami in January. While not entirely spontaneous, it was still a pretty random decision to make on a Monday evening. You see, one of my girl friends and I had been trying to plan a trip to Costa Rica in November for weeks and it eventually fell through. Another one of my girl friends had mentioned Miami for January a while back as well, so I suggested that as a fallback trip to my other friend. Anyway, nothing’s even confirmed with all these friends but I just couldn’t take it anymore. Is it smart? My mother would probably say no. But I feel I’ve come to a point in my life where I do not care. I just want to travel and explore and get lost.

Yes, that’s where I’m at in life right now. As Aubrey Graham would say, YOLO!

Not a bad thing…or is it?

The following is a blog entry I started in mid-April…the draft’s been sitting in the queue for a while, so I thought I’d finish it before going on to the real juicy stuff you’ll soon see at the end:

So you know how in my last post I didn’t have any travel plans yet for 2014? Yeah, about a week after that I ended up booking a trip to Puerto Rico with my boyfriend and a couple of our friends. Then a month after that we set off for the commonwealth.

It was a grand ol’ time — went to the beach, rode ATVs, hiked through a rainforest, fought quite a few times Jersey Shore-style, got bit up ridiculously by who knows what kind of bugs, and made friends with a few iguanas.

Relaxing at the beach With my new iguana friend

I also completely blew through my money. After spending so much for my cousin’s wedding in January, I swore to be more frugal. Yeah, that went down the drain when I spent a week on vacation in March and also had to give my mom money for the Philippines when she had to go home a couple months ago for my grandfather’s funeral (he died late February).

The other big reason I’ve blown through my cash? Well in Puerto Rico we stayed at the Gran Meliá resort, where I had some of the best sleep of my life. It may be that my regular bed at home was just that shitty (it’s more than 20 years old, used to belong to my aunt, and was constantly giving me back pains), or the beds at the resort were just that great. But anyway, after returning home the crappy sleep I was having again seemed crappier than before. So I dragged my mom to the mall and went mattress shopping. There I made my first real big girl purchase (since my car in 2011 at least) — a full-sized “plush” mattress complete with a pillowtop!

It was a real impulse buy by my standards; I totally went into the store not knowing what the heck to look for or what my budget was. With discounts and everything the mattress came to around $850 that I am now paying off monthly. How has it been so far? Well the first couple of nights were magical. I slept like a baby and woke up not feeling sore at all! Moreover, I was able to actually jump out of bed like a normal human being instead of wallowing around with my face in the pillows hitting snooze after snooze. But alas, a month has now passed and I’m back to my lazy ways where it takes one-plus hour for me to get out of bed in the mornings. Perhaps I’m doomed that way.

Now for the real news. Why is it big important stuff? Well because as I previously mentioned, the grand vacation I took to Puerto Rico a couple months ago was with someone I called my boyfriend. And well, now, he’s not anymore. Yes that’s right ladies and gentleman — I got dumped. My heart broken. Whatever you call it. Not to get all emotional here, but since it’s been only one week since said dumping, my mind is still in a bit of a shamble. I guess you can say I really am growing up. Now I’ve got my first real grown-up breakup under my belt. Not sure it’s one of those things I’m proud of. But that is the numero uno cosa on my mind today.

Cheers. =\

Bonjour, nouvelle année

It’s week 4 of 2014 and I came to the realization recently that this is the first year in a while that I do not already have vacation plans set. Last year when 2013 started I had a flight to London firmly booked and plans in motion for the Eurotrip I did last fall. In 2012, my girl friends and I were set to go to Costa Rica. In 2011, well, I was just fresh off studying abroad so I didn’t necessarily have plans per se going into the year, but I ended up going to the Philippines for half a month in the summer so that was something. But nope, this year I have nothing. (Mind you, a long time ago I set the goal of going to Brazil for the World Cup this summer. Alas, I fear I do not have the funds nor the traveling companions to do so, so I’ve unfortunately let the plan go.) Strangely enough, I feel completely fine about it. It’s kind of a relief to go into a year with nothing major planned. No trips, no weddings to stand up in, nothing. I feel I’m free to spend my money now however which way I want to (which I guess means thinking of more spontaneous trips to go on! LOL). Or, rather, I can now take the time to rein my spending in and really figure out what to do with my big-girl money, because it’s been three years since graduating college and I should probably slow down on the “I’m young wild and free” mentality. Right?

So what have I been doing with my time? For one thing, I’ve been slowly putting up grown up decor around my room to make it seem less like a 12-year-old’s (my boyfriend had been making fun of me for having a poster of the Seven Dwarfs from the Disney movie hanging on my wall). I’ve now got a couple of souvenir prints of Barcelona and Paris up, and a calendar from Paris also hanging. Funny how much in love with Paris I am now, and how much I don’t really admit it to people. Everyone knows me as the Anglophile and that London is sometimes my favorite city in the whole world (it alternates with Chicago, of course). And everyone knows that Anglophiles are not into the romantic French thing like most girls are. For most of my life London was my ideal city, not Paris. I did not like French food, pop culture, the language, the history. And then I went there and secretly fell madly, deeply in love. It just truly is a magical city! I loved London and all last year, it was exactly what I thought it would be, but man oh man Paris just felt more alive when I was there. I blame this wholeheartedly on the fact that the Seine > the Thames. That has to be it.

I’ve also been catching up on my reading. Finally started on Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and I’m loving it so far. It’s really the first book I’ve read that truly intersects the multiple facets of race and immigration. It’s not just about black people and white people. There’s black Americans and blacks from the Caribbean and the “authentic” Africans. And it’s not just about immigrants in America. I love how it offers a comparison of immigrating to America versus to the U.K. All that good stuff.

Man, I should probably stop gushing and just finish reading the book.