Some Wanderlust

Hello, I am back after another extremely long hiatus.  Clearly consistency isn’t my thing.  The same goes with diet and exercise too apparently, but I digress.  I blame not blogging more on being super busy.  Which is totally real, BUT, it has occurred to me that I do watch too much tv.  Surely there are more productive uses of my time.  In fact, I do have a large task at hand.  My college roommate and I are looking into an exotic adventure this summer, and it is my task to do some research on where we should go.  I think we’re both agreed on a few things – we want to go somewhere interesting and maybe a little different from where everyone goes (she gets me!), no beaches/just laying around, and nothing to “scene-y” (her words).

So, here’s a little travel inspiration from my couch this fine Sunday.  Send me trip ideas!

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia – This is inspired by my favorite photographer (more on that another day).  I mean, have you ever been anywhere that looks like this?

Uyuni Salt Lake 2

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Also, they have this lake:

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Cappadocia, Turkey – This is not actually on the list for my summer trip because my friend has already been here (jerk) but this is super high on my life long list.

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Pamukkale, Turkey.  Man, I have to get to Turkey.

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Infinity Pools, Ubud, Bali.  A little too honeymoon-y for a college roommate trip (MAYBE), but I could hang here.

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Derweze, Turkmenistan – Man made… not on purpose.  Ok, so we probably will not end up here.  But, how cool.

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Laos.  Vietnam’s cooler, less popular sibling.

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Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, Wulingyuan, China

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Myanmar – I mean, come on!

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Back to School….

Hello!  I am back after a busy week with a report on my new literature class that I (potentially ill-advisedly) signed up for.  I’m sure you were all waiting with bated breath.  The Ciffs’ Notes:  I survived week 1.
First off, I SNUCK out of work early (6:30 to be exact – YOLO!!).  No one at work knows I signed up for a literature class.  I don’t want everyone to know how cool I am.  They also don’t know I have a blog.  I’m basically living a double life.  Like Super Woman and the presumably normal/nerdy person she was in real life (maybe my next class will be in comics and I can make more intelligent references.)
Did I read the full half of The Master and Margarita that I was supposed to?  … Not quite.  (But pretty close!).  Ah, memories of showing up to class unprepared and being terrified of being called on (law school, sometimes most times, I do not miss you).  In true law school form, I eeked into the back row and tried to hide (good thing we all rearranged our chairs into a circle.)  I must say though, it’s an odd thing, going to a class that no one is forced to go to, that people ACTUALLY ATTEND ON PURPOSE.  FOR FUN.  (Nerds, all, but 1. that’s beside the point, and 2. we already knew that.)  Pressure/fear of failure… gone.  Weird.
Anyways, I arrive at the immaculate country club of a campus, walk into the room, and immediately learn that I basically just paid money to join an eccentric book club of older people who all already know each other.  People have asked me if there were cute guys (probably because most of the things I do in life are in the hopes of meeting a cute guy – don’t act like you’re any different).  Maybe they were 30 years ago?  Maybe they have cute sons?  Suffice to say, an “adult enrichment” literature class is not quite as effective as taking shots and acting crazy at a college bar in terms of picking up an eligible gentleman.   (I should probably write a dating book.)
Anyways, I digress.  These people were truly eccentric.   One guy has read the book twice, with two different translations … to make sure he caught everything?  (These people have more free time than me … maybe they don’t hang out at the bar as much….)  One high school English teacher clearly hates the book and was kind of grumpy and surly about it the whole time.  He’s clearly my favorite.  Then there were was this 90 year old lady who sounded like her dentures were taking over her mouth.
Anyways, I think it’s good to branch out and try new things and new experiences, and I do actually in fact look forward to making some legit nutty, yet extremely intelligent and well-read old people friends.  Yay, the book club I’ve been looking for!  Sort of.

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Cartagena – es la verdad.

Don’t worry, we made it back (against all odds, all of us made it back to this country)!

One of the first things that people have asked me upon my return (aside from if I did any good drugs – seriously, coworkers/bosses asked me this) was whether I felt safe in Cartagena.  I never once felt like we were hanging out somewhere scary or dangerous.  People are people everywhere, and I think that it something to keep in mind when wandering the world.  If there was anything to be concerned about, it was the stupid things that my own friends were doing!  In the interest of balanced journalism (hah! just kidding – I don’t kid myself that I’d be a journalist, I just rant to my 5 followers), I will discuss a little bit of the flip side of the coin … Things that happened in Cartagena that perpetuate the stereotype of what Americans think about Colombia:

1.  People do try to sell you drugs on the street.  Though, to  be fair, it was kind of a tourist-heavy area.  It’s kind of like Amsterdam – milk it when you’re known for something I guess?  [Don’t worry Mom and Granny – I don’t do drugs.]

2.  In what might be slightly less than “first world” … rolling blackouts.  We are sitting at a very nice non-cheap restaurant, enjoying amazing food and wine… and then the power goes out.   For thirty minutes.  And it seems that no one else but the drunk Americans noticed.  It’s standard apparently.

3.  Our friend (who was, by the way, the least likely of our group to do anything at all illegal or scandalous) was inexplicably held and not allowed to board the plane back to the U.S. for quite some time.  And they made her husband leave her and get on the plane.  Fear not, at the very last minute, after the plane was held, they let her on and we peaced out, but I have to say, I was a bit nervous.

Things that (a lot of people) (I assume) do not know about Colombia:

1.  It looks like this:

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2.  And THIS:

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3.  And THIS:

P1000135 Actually none of this was a surprise to me.  It was exactly as I pictured it.

Anyways, executive summary: we had a completely awesome time.  The food was amazing – we ate freshly caught lobster while sitting in the Caribbean in about 4 feet of water.  We explored amazingly clear water with a coral floor, with no other souls in sight (this has to go up there as one of the most fun days of my life. ever).  Our amazing host took us to delicious dinners at very nice restaurants and clubs.  The people are very friendly and nice.  The old city looks European and colonial and is completely and utterly charming.

Some mo fotos for y’all:

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The view from our apartment – could get used to that.

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There are lots of fortresses and castles up in there.

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The Old City.

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Check out Heather’s much more detailed and photographed posts here, here, and here!

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Americans are scared of everywhere

I repeat, Americans are scared of everywhere.  Next Friday, I will be headed to Cartagena, Colombia for vacation with some friends to stay with another friend who lives there.  No, he is not a drug lord (I don’t think … I reserve the right to amend this post after vacation).  Everyone is all “yeah, Colombia is nice, minus the massive cocaine trade and gang presence”, or “Cartagena, like in Romancing the Stone? (and the jungle and scary and death)”, or “Colombia … South Carolina?”  (No, Boston, Texas.)

Or better, “Haven’t you heard of Pablo Escobar???” (Yeah, he died.  I read Killing Pablo, thanks.  And I also have a general familiarity with the history of the world.) Or best, “WHAT?!?! YOU’RE GOING TO GET KIDNAPPED AND DIE”.

If we’re going to die on this trip, it will be because we’re flying Spirit Airlines there.

This is what Colombia looks like (look, not a drug lord in sight!):

This is not the first time I’ve encountered this.  People were horrified that I was going to Vietnam. (Yes, the war there ended quite some time ago.)  Croatia??? Isn’t that like, the Middle East??  (Let me grab you a map.)  Cambodia?? WHERE IS THAT, it sounds scary, are there poor people there?!?!

I guess it’s a fear of the unknown?  Maybe I’m wrong, but it just feels that this is sort of a uniquely American thing.  This unwillingness to go anywhere that is not all roses and butterflies.  An unwillingness to educate themselves and look beyond stereotypes and what basically amounts to propaganda.  Is it the movies?  (Probably.  I feel like you can blame the movies for most things.)  A general lack of eduction?

Whatever it is, this attitude is such a waste.  There are SO many amazing places in the world.  Just because there used to be a drug problem, or a genocide (hello, people go to Germany!  Why not Cambodia?), or there was once a war there doesn’t mean that nothing changes.    Also, I feel like it’s just as easy to get mugged in New York or DC as it is anywhere else in the world.  Terrible freak things happen everywhere, in every town.  I know someone that was  mugged in the grocery store in Dallas, in a safe neighborhood.  Does that mean you shouldn’t go to the grocery store anymore?  Should we just never leave the house??  I think people just need to be careful and aware of your surroundings, no matter where are you.  Don’t be stupid.  And then hope for the best and enjoy the adventure!  Because you’re missing out on some freaking amazing things if you don’t.

All this said, if I do get kidnapped by a narco-terrorist, you can tell me you told me so.

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Friday is Here!!

Happy Friday!  It’s finally here, we’ve made it!  Hope everyone is celebrating something this weekend.  And if not… celebrate the weekend!  xoxo

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I am a crazy nerd.

Today I did something kind of crazy and definitely extremely nerdy.  For those of you that don’t know me personally, I am a lawyer, so that in itself should tell you I am a nerd.  A busy, busy nerd who works a lot.  Today, however, I signed up for a “continuing education” literature class at a nearby university.  Nerdy nerd nerd!  I know.  I’m sorry I LOVE SCHOOL.  I’m good at school.  Less so at life.

Back to school, back to school, to prove to Daddy I’m not a fool.  It starts at the beginning of September and goes every Monday evening for 10 weeks.  I SO do not have time for this.  BUT, I’m kind of hoping it’s one of those things where you’re more efficient when you’re busy?  Yeah, let’s go with that.  Also, I’m totally screwed if they try to make me write papers.  I’m not interested in that.  Basically, I’m just trying to pay to be in a book club.

Aaaanways, we’ll see.  The class is called Memory, Desire and the Fantastic.  That’s kind of sexy and less nerdy right?  Here is my reading list.  Let me know if you have any feedback/insight on any of these!

1.  The Master and the Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov (this has been on my reading list for years!)

2.  By Night in Chile – Roberto Bolano

3.  Time Regained – Marcel Proust

4.  The Counterlife – Phillip Roth

5.  Atomised – Michele Houllebecq

I’m pumped if not preemptively overwhelmed.  Time to get a new notebook!  (Gah, I really can’t help the nerdiness.)  Can’t show up with a legal pad like an idiot!!

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Summer Book Report

Inspired by this post, I have decided it’s time for a book report of my summer reading.  Mostly because I’m way behind and too lazy to give you full write-ups in separate posts.  You probably don’t want to read that anyways.  You’re welcome.  I made a goal on Goodreads in January that I would read 20 books this year.  I’m a little bit behind but confident that I will catch up (mostly because I’ve completely had it with the horrible reality tv with which I have been rotting my brain and have decided to dedicate more free evenings and weekends to something that isn’t so horrifying – this deserves a whole ranty post in itself).  Anyways, of course I digress.  Without further ado, here’s what I have been reading lately (ridiculously diverse – surely there is something for everyone here).

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) – Mindy Kaling

Mindy, I would never hang out without you.  Call me.  Let’s be friends, us and Olivia Wilde.  This is the perfect vacation read.  It’s quick, witty, and hilarious.  Mindy is so relatable (hello, the self deprecating humor is right up my alley).  Don’t get mad at me, but personally, I thought it was much funnier than Tina Fey’s book (though Tina, we can still hang out too!).  I love that Mindy isn’t your typical Hollywood twiggy bimbo.  She’s so real and so awesome.

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

The subject matter of this book is uncomfortable for some people.  This book is the story of a hermaphrodite, basically a man that was raised as a girl and his struggle with his identity growing up.  I have to say, it’s not my favorite book that I’ve read lately – it wasn’t necessarily a quick page-turner, but Jeffrey Eugenides is a great writer (see my post on The Marriage Plot on my old blog).  He reminds me of John Irving a la A Prayer for Owen Meany and The World According to Garp.  I have his other books on my list.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

I loved this book.  I have to say, though, it reads a little bit … snobby (though I can be a snob, so there we go!)  It’s a little bit philosophy-heavy, but it doesn’t take away from the story.  It is the story of the interwoven lives of the diverse people that live in a Paris apartment.  I think it’s beautifully written and very smart.  Also, it made me want to learn french and jet off to Paris (note to self:  add to bucket list!)

The International Bank of Bob – Bob Harris

This book was a very interesting change from the fiction that I’ve been reading (people are mean to me about being boring and reading so much non-fiction – sorry I like to learn things people!)  The writer profiles the microfinance nonprofit Kiva which makes very small loans to individuals mostly in developing countries, but really all over the world.  I’ve always been interested in the idea of microfinance (nerd!) and so it was interesting to read more about how it works and how they deal with the banks in these foreign countries.  The author actually managed to track down some of the borrowers that he personally lent money to and see how his own money affected the borrowers – it’s so incredible how much a few hundred dollars can completely change people’s lives.  Very cool.  Check out the Kiva site and donate here!

Foodist – Darya Pino Rose

Ok, so this is my crazy girl reading a diet book (but not really a diet book) book (my mom recently told me I was like Bridget Jones with my self help books – thanks a lot MOM!)  This book is exactly what I needed though.  It’s truly not a diet book – it’s just about maintaining a healthy lifestyle without being a yo-yo dieter.  Diets are the enemy – yay!  Mostly it’s about avoiding processed foods, eating local, moving more – all very reasonable.  She encourages you to indulge and eat whatever you want but just in a mindful, thoughtful way – THIS is a “diet” i can get behind!  Like, I love Italian food.  So instead of eating some greasy soggy office pizza, this book would say eat a healthy salad and then wait until you’re at your favorite restaurant where the indulgence is truly worth it.  It’s a great book, bull of studies and statistics and science.   Definitely a lifestyle changer.  She’s got a great blog also – check it out here.
Next up, I’m going to re-read my favorite book One Hundred Years of Solitude since it’s set in Colombia and I’m going to Colombia in a few weeks holllerrr!!  We’re going to Cartagena and I’m hoping to run into Gabriel Garcia Marquez – dare to dream!

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