A Big Ol’ Monthly Roundup

April and May came and went, and I’m sitting here thinking how the heck is it already June?! Fortunately I can say I actually did things the last two months so they weren’t just withered away binge-watching Netflix, which is more than I can say for those winter months…

Like I said in my previous post, one of my goals for April was to start running consistently. Well, I started running and I’m happy to say I’ve been able to stick to a schedule and do it regularly each week. This may not seem like such a big deal, but it is for this girl. I was worried I would start wheezing and coughing up a fit like every other time I tried to run, but thankfully I’ve been fine! Seems like that surgery is paying off after all!

Also in April news, D graduated Ranger School! This was a big, exciting accomplishment. He likes to act like this was no big deal, but it’s huge. He also got his airborne wings in May, so that was another accomplishment checked off his list, and I am so so proud of him.

I made my way down to Portland in May for a weekend. It was…honestly super weird. I know that’s Portland’s claim to fame/thing, but I really was not expecting it to be as weird as it is. I’m not entirely sure what I had expected, but it caught me off guard. I think it came down to how empty it seemed. It felt like there weren’t any people around us, and we were staying in the middle of Downtown Portland! Aside from that though, I did enjoy the few touristy things there are to do there. This list is great if you’re planning a trip to Portland any time soon. I recommend Voodoo Doughnuts. It is popular and busy but the lines aren’t as bad as you’d expect. Also, the tax-free shopping doesn’t hurt either. I also really enjoyed all the food trucks everywhere. That was pretty cool. Overall, I probably won’t be going back to Portland anytime soon, but it was a nice experience.

I surprised my family and went home for Mother’s Day, and the look on both my parents’ faces when they saw me was priceless. Unfortunately I was only there for 36 hours, so it was a quick trip, but it was still great to see my crazy loud family and spend some time together. Traveling back and forth across the country is not easy, and with my dearly beloved boyfriend staying in Georgia longer than the Army first said he would, it’s safe to say I’ll be racking up those frequent flier miles in the next few months; starting with next weekend when I travel to GA for D’s birthday! Woohoo!

And for the last bit of news, I’m excited (and slightly terrified) to share that this week I completed my first week of graduate school! Going back to school has always been on my mind since graduating two years ago. For a while, I just gave up on it and figured it wouldn’t happen or be a good option for me, but thankfully I have an amazing boyfriend and great friends who encouraged me to pursue my goals and take the leap of faith. So I did! The program is completely online, which fits in with my lifestyle, work and commute schedule. The first week was challenging, and I know it’ll only get hard during the next 10 weeks, but I am thrilled to be starting on this new chapter in my life. That’s going to be taking up most of my life now to say the least!

 

March; Looking Back and Ahead

Happy April!

A week or two ago, I decided to start a new monthly theme highlighting the favorite or important moments from the previous month, but also a few notable things that I’m looking forward to in the new month. It’s pretty basic, really and not anything particularly special, but I think it’d be a fun way to remember the little/big things that happen each month. So here we are, starting with March!

Take it back now, y’all:

  • Ed Sheeran’s released a new album and IT IS AMAZING!! I was admittedly a little thrown off when I first heard the album; I wasn’t really sure what I had expected from him, especially after the success of his second album a few years ago, but after giving it a good listen (shout out to my long commute to work and Seattle traffic for giving me time to listen to an entire album), I was blown away. Needless to say, it’s been on repeat all month and will be for a while. And I got tickets to his concert in July, so I’m pretty stoked about that!
  • My sister came all the way from New York to visit me for a week! It was so good having her here with me. I knew she would love it, because really what’s not to love. We didn’t get to do too many things since I had surgery and she was here to take care of me during my time of incapacitation, but it made me incredibly happy to have someone from my family finally come and see what it’s like out here.
  • Speaking of surgery, I had sinus surgery last Monday to remove nasal polyps and fix my deviated septum. I’ve had issues with allergies and my sinuses for years, but recently they got so bad I could barely breathe, especially at night when I would be kept awake just coughing all night. It also made doing regular things like going for a run or laughing too much a bit of a hassle. The running part I didn’t mind so much since it gave me an excuse to avoid going on a run with Dalton, but it was pretty embarrassing when I would start coughing if I laughed too much. But after this surgery, I’m hoping most of those issues I had will be gone. I’m still currently in recovery and will be for a few weeks, but I feel rather hopeful. It’s been a long struggle.
  • Dalton passed the first phase of Ranger School this month! He’s 1/3 through at this point, though we find out this week if he passed the 2nd phase or not. We can only communicate through letters during this time, so that’s been a bit of a struggle, and my emotions have been all over the place, to say the least, but I know whatever I’m feeling, he’s going through much worse. I seriously cannot wait for it to be over.
  • I gave up shopping and drinking for wine because those are my biggest vices and for the most part it hasn’t been too bad! I will admit I kind of regretted giving up drinking when I realized how much I missed Dalton, but then again it was probably in my best interest that I did give it up. (wow I sound like I have all kinds of issues). I don’t need wine to cope, but it sure is nice to have a glass after a stressful week at work. I’m looking forward to Easter Sunday in a few weeks 😛

Looking Ahead:

  • I honestly cannot believe I’m even writing this right now, but one thing I’m looking forward to is being able to start working out again after getting the okay from my doctor. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I couldn’t do it at all. Now I don’t want to make it seem like I work out everyday, because I definitely do not, but I do a few times a week. I’d also like to test out my new and improved sinuses and see if I can actually run now. That might be pushing it, but I’ll report back at the end of the month!
  • Tulip Season has arrived! I will hopefully be going to Skagit Valley to see the tulip fields. It’s apparently a big deal around here, so I’m looking forward to that.
  • If Dalton passes the next two phases, I’ll be going down to Georgia for his graduation. I can’t tell you how anxious and excited and nervous I am all at once. Here’s hoping and praying he passes; I miss him so much.
  • I recently purchased a pile of books that I put in a corner and promptly forgot about. I have a bit more time on my hands lately, so my hope for April is to at least finish two books. That might be expecting too much of myself, especially given my reading track record lately, but we’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, that’s all for now! I’m excited for April and have a feeling it’s going to fly by. Hopefully it’s a good one.

Lenten Things

Happy Ash Wednesday! Today marks the beginning of the 40-day journey before Easter. It’s a time marked with sacrifices and tuna fish, and the struggle of giving something significant up for those 40 days. I usually like to do something relevant that is frivolous and doesn’t better me as a person, so this year I decided to give up shopping (my go-to for the last 3 years or so) and wine. These are important because those are the two things I’m well-known for. Those who know me know I love my wine and have a crazy shopping problem, so giving both those things up is going to be a challenge. Also it should be noted that this is a weird time for me to be giving up wine, considering my boyfriend just started Ranger School and my stomach has been in knots 24/7, and will continue to be until he graduates, so wine would’ve been my regular companion during this time. But the fact that it’s going to hurt is what makes it a worthwhile sacrifice.

I’m actually really looking forward to Lent this year. It’s the first time I’ll be away from family and have their support during this challenging spiritual journey, so I have to do a lot of soul-searching on my own. One thing I’m excited to use as a resource is my new Lenten journal and Stations of the Cross cards from Blessed Is She. I purchased them a few weeks and cannot wait to delve into it tonight. I’ve found that  need to work on my communication and personal prayer life with the Lord, so I think this is the perfect time to start. I’d like to have a dedicated time for prayer each night, which is something I’ve been slacking on. I know it’s not going to be easy, and honestly thinking about it sometimes just scares me, but I think the same can be said about any good thing in life.

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Put On Love Print from Blessed Is She

In The Land Of Sideways, Misty Rain & Occasional Sunshine

I always do this; start blogging again only to give up just a few weeks later. I used to convince myself it would be different this time, but at this point, I really can’t say that it will be any different. That, however, is not the main point of this post. Seattle, aka my new home, is the focus here today.

Around April 2016, I started feeling the need to do something new, live somewhere different. I wasn’t sure where I’d go, and I had no idea how I would explain my newfound desire to leave New York to my family and friends, but regardless of that I did some research and figured out where I wanted to set my focus on: Seattle. I applied to quite a few jobs, and heard back from a couple every few weeks, but being across the country made the interviewing and hiring process difficult, so I was easily overlooked as a candidate. I kept trying though, writing cover letter after cover letter. after a few weeks of that I knew I had to let my family in on my plans. As I suspected, no one was too thrilled about my decision. It was hard to explain why I felt the need to move, and I know some of my family members took it personally, which is definitely was not. this move was about me, for me.

Weeks and a couple of phone interviews went by, and in late July, I had a Skype interview with a company. I thought the interview went well, and I was figured if I did get a call back I would have to fly to Seattle for an in-person meeting. I was pleasantly surprised when I was called back a few days later with a job offer. If I accepted, I would start my new role in 3 weeks, just enough time to give my two weeks notice and get my car out to Washington. This was it, the moment I had been waiting for, finally coming through. I thanked the office manager for the opportunity and accepted the position. 

My mom was the first person I saw after the call. my mother is the strongest woman I know, and I could count one hand how many times I’ve seen her cry, so when she started crying when I told her my big news, it naturally led to a sob fest between us both. (Unlike my mother, I cry over everything. I’m tearing up now just thinking about it.) Despite her tears, she managed to choke out words of support and encouragement, and I know that was not an easy thing for her to do. 

Telling the rest of my family and friends was a bit easier, though there were mixed reactions between “yay congrats, a new job!” and “holy sh*t, you’re moving across the country”. Yet through all their own doubts and disappointment about me leaving New York, my family did their best to support me, which meant the world to me. 

I shipped my car out, gave my two weeks notice at work, and said goodbye to my life in New York. As the plane was taking off I started freaking out, wondering if I was making a terrible mistake, but it was too late; I couldn’t turn back now. When I landed in Seattle, I was picked up at the airport by Dalton’s mom. Since she lives alone she offered for me to stay with her for a few weeks while I looked for my own place, which was such a blessing. What was supposed to be just 6 weeks of living with Lisa, my super cool roommate/ boyfriend’s mother (weird, I know) has now turned in to 6 months. It turns out that we get along pretty great and don’t mind each other’s company (actually, I think it’s safe to say we prefer each other’s company, but maybe that’s just me) so Lisa offered for me to stay with her indefinitely, until I felt the need to move out on my own, which has not happened, and she hasn’t kicked me out yet so I think we’re good. We spend our Friday nights drinking wine and falling asleep on the couch by 9:45. We’re quite the roommates; she’s kind of amazing. Also I get to live with 3 dogs, so that’s pretty cool too.

I love living in Washington, more than I ever even thought I would. I figured I’d like it, maybe, hopefully, but I didn’t think I would fall in love with it the way I have. It feels like home, which is crazy to say since no place but New York has ever felt like home, but this feels right, and I have no regrets about moving out here. I love my job and the company I work for. It’ll be 6 months since I started working there, and during that time I’ve already gotten a promotion. It feels great to finally be appreciated and valued for my hard work, and I love working for a company that treats its employees right. I’ve made a few friends at my job, but I’ll save that topic for another time.

As for my family and friends, I think they’re finally coming to understand my move out here. It’s not easy being away from my family though. I feel it most on Sundays, the day we would go to church and all have breakfast. It’s honestly harder than I thought it would be, but I’m getting used to it, and I’m so grateful for FaceTime and Skype that allows me to keep in touch and see their faces on a regular basis. 

Throughout it all, my boyfriend Dalton has been incredibly supportive. He knew how much I wanted this, and I’ll always be grateful for his love and support during this time, despite all the changes he’s been going through himself. He moved to my side of the country while I moved to his, and while it hasn’t been easy being apart and dealing with the different time zones, as cliché as it sounds, I really do believe this has only made us that much stronger as a couple.

As for myself, it’s weird to even type this out but I’m proud of myself for taking the chance, jumping ship into the unexpected and doing something new and different. It was scary to say the least, but it’s been a great journey so far and I’m pleased with the direction my life has turned. 

Anyway, this was a bit longer than I planned but I had a lot to catch up on. So that’s my story! I’ll try to be better about updating regularly, and possibly talking about my adventures out here in Seattle, but ya know, no promises! 

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View from my office rooftop!

And now for a Super Exciting, Nerve-wracking Life Update

Last time I wrote about my complacency in life and how I wanted to make some changes in my career/ life in general. Well, I’m happy to finally be able to say that…I got a new job and I’m moving to Washington! State, not DC. I always have to clarify that after my little announcement. That’s usually followed by the person saying something along the lines of “Washington State? But that’s SO far! And doesn’t it always rain over there?” I kid you not when I say I hear that every time.

This is a big deal for me. I’ve lived at home or with family in one way or another all my life. I’ve never been away from the comfort and security of family, so packing up and moving across the country is huge. It’s also a big deal for my family, and though I know they’re having a hard time with me moving away, they’re being supportive, which is amazing and I am so grateful to them for that.

I leave New York in 12 days. I gave my two weeks notice at my job last week, and my car is getting picked up and shipped out to Washington today. How the heck I managed to pack up everything in my room in 4 days is honestly beyond me. It is all happening so quickly, and I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, the reality of the move and just everything that comes with it. But I am so excited, despite how nervous and anxious I am as well. It has been such a roller coaster of emotions to say the least. I have a lot to do within the next few days, mostly spending quality time with my family and friends. Now that the packing is out of the way I can focus on that, which is great.

There is going to be some major adjusting to do once I get to Seattle, and let’s not even talk about all the things I’m going to miss from NYC. Seriously let’s not do that, I might start crying again. Yet despite all the feelings that go along with this, I’m relieved and proud of myself for taking this risk and giving myself a chance to do something different. I don’t know how this is going to work out, or if it even will work out at all, but I know that if I didn’t take this opportunity while I had the chance to, I would regret it forever.

So here’s to trying something new and different, and to taking chances.

Figuring It Out…But Not Really

Man, my last post was months ago. Whoops. I wish I had something inspiring or amazing to say but I don’t. A lot has happened since I last wrote, yet also not much has happened at all. I would love to be able to say that my doctors were able to figure out what I have and what is causing it, but unfortunately they have not, and I’ve been in and out of the hospital a few times since October. It’s been frustrating to say the least, but I’m actually doing better after my last hospital visit, so ya know, there’s that.

I’ve spent most of my time lately just getting through each day, and I can’t believe it’s almost May already. Not sure where time has gone but I’m starting to realize that I need to seriously reevaluate my life and work on my goals a little bit harder. And I feel like I’ve been saying that for months, possibly years, but I’ve gotten to the point where my own complacency with my job and just life in general is driving me crazy. I of course have no one but myself for that, but as they say, the first step to fixing a problem is realizing that you have a problem, so that is what I am doing.

I have definitely spoken about this before, and I think that may have to do with the fact that it is a legitimate struggle in my life, but over the last few weeks as I’ve reviewed my finances, it hit me like a semi-truck on a highway…my shopping problem is seriously out of hand. I make ends meet with my paycheck, but now that I have a new car payment each month (oh yeah, I bought a new car in December, super exciting stuff!) I really can’t afford to continue shopping the way I’ve gotten so used to doing over the years. I’ve known this for a while now but I simply chose to just ignore it. That’s what credit cards are for, I thought. But now that mind frame is coming back to haunt me and I have so many regrets, shopping regrets that is.

You see, my problem is if I see something that I like and decide that I want it, I just buy it…because I can. I realized that it was a freedom thing. I have the ability to buy this for myself, so I will and I do. This was hard for me to admit to myself. That might be okay to do for a little while, but now I’ve accumulated a lot of things that I don’t use/need/even want anymore. It’s actually ridiculous.

Now I’m trying a new approach. With the help of a dear friend who also struggles with impulsive shopping, we’re working together on a shopping “fast”. This means no shopping for frivolous, unnecessary things for a few weeks at a time. We hold each other accountable, and when we feel like we want to buy something, we talk each other out of it. It works well, knowing that I have someone else doing it with me. It would be easy to buy something and just not tell her about it, and trust me I’ve been tempted, but the guilt would be too heavy of a burden to carry, so I have been able to resist temptation successfully.

And sure, when the self-imposed fast is over it will be all too easy to go back to my old habits, but if nothing else, this fast has taught me that I do have the ability to say no to something that I think I want, and closing the browser completely and walking away does actually work.

So this is me, deciding now to do something about one thing that I know is holding me back from accomplishing a few of my own goals, because I really don’t need that bag, or those shoes. Really, Mari, you don’t.

A Boring Ol’ Life Update

I’ve been meaning to write about this part of my life for a long time now, but I couldn’t find the right words for it. I avoided writing about anything because, well, I didn’t really have the energy or motivation for it.

So where do I start? Last August I developed a cough that usually only bothered me at night, but bothered me it did. There were nights when I could not sleep at all. Eventually the cough would happen throughout the day, when I went up a flight of stairs, or even when I would laugh too hard. Months went by, and I went to see multiple doctors who thought they were prescribing medicine that would help, but nothing worked. The only thing that offered temporary relief was an inhaler, but I could only use it so many times a day, and sometimes not even that would work. The cough was annoying, but like an idiot, I didn’t think it was that bad or that I should’ve gone to the emergency room during those nights when I couldn’t breathe.

In March, I went to Europe and had the time of my life. The cough was still going strong over there, and I remember quite clearing having a coughing fit on the top of the arc de triomphe. Good times, guys, good times. When I got back from my trip, I went back to work and felt okay, but later that day, I felt this tightness in chest that was just so uncomfortable. And in true Mari form, I ignored it. That night, I barely got an sleep, and the next morning, I called out from work and walked myself to the urgent care clinic by my house. They ran a few different tests on me and did a chest x-ray, which revealed that I had an abnormality in my lungs. I had to go the emergency room as soon as possible. An ambulance was called from the clinic, and as I sat there waiting for them to arrive, I called my mom, and she came running from home. When the ambulance arrived, they made me lie down on the gurney, even though I insisted that no really, I can walk on my own, but I had no choice, it was the ambulance policy *sigh*.

So I arrive at the hospital and they start asking all kinds of questions and doing all sorts of tests, drawing so much blood I was surprised I didn’t pass out. They couldn’t determine what was wrong with me that day, so I had to stay at the hospital for the night. Because I had just gotten back from Europe, they put me in a room on my own and placed me in isolation. Anyone who came to see me had to wear a face mask. I understood why they had to do it but quite frankly I found it a bit offensive, but whatever.

One night at the hospital turned into five. I spent Easter Sunday at the hospital. It was the weirdest Easter of my life. I was almost never alone though. I had many visitors and received so many phone calls; I felt so loved.

A bronchoscopy done on my lungs after five days in the hospital revealed that I had some weird thing called eosinophilic pneumonitis. Honestly to this day I still don’t know exactly what it was that I had (and I’m convinced my doctors don’t really know either, but I digress). I was prescribed prednisone, a very high dose of it too. I was supposed to be on it for 6 months, but I was absolutely miserable during the few months that I took it. I gained 15 pounds in just one month. I was angry and hungry all the time. I wanted to eat everything in sight, hence the weight gain, and was just so mean to my family that I’m surprised they’re still talking to me right now.

This all happened over the summer months. During this time, I wasn’t allowed to go back to work because the doctors believed that I got sick at the office, but when the symptoms and cough came back in August, they realized that it wasn’t the office. A few more weeks of steroids and a stronger inhaler did the trick. I haven’t had the cough in about a month now, and I no longer have to take the steroids; it’s been such a huge relief.

I’m back at work now and I’m trying to find myself again. Those months on short term disability leave really did a number on me, on my emotional and physical health. Fortunately I’ve lost all the weight that I gained thanks to a clean diet and exercise, but my self-confidence has just gone down the drain. I’m trying to find that again, that belief in myself and the happiness I always had within me, even if I didn’t always show it, which is why I put off writing this post for so long. These last few months have been long and taxing, but the year is almost over, and I’m hoping that I can put all these health issues behind me with it.

This ended up being a lot longer than I planned so if you’ve stuck with me and read it all I love you and I’m going to bake you banana bread someday. 

Mari Goes To…Part II

Last time around, I wrote about my experience in London (recap here). This post is super long so apologies for rambling in advance! Also, it’s been almost a month since I got back from this trip so there are some details missing a lot has happened since then and it was actually really difficult to remember everything that happened although it was all amazing.

After 3 amazing days in London, we traveled to Paris via bus and ferry. It was a long drive, but it gave me plenty of time to catch up on some sleep. We arrived to Paris, and it was cloudy and rainy. That night, we made our way up the Eiffel Tower, (we took the elevator because it was raining and we were too lazy to walk) and despite the ridiculous fog, we were still able to see the city in all its stunning nighttime glory. It was really quite breath-taking. There was also champagne toasting at the top of the tower, so that was pretty sweet.

My hair however, suffered deeply. It started off straight when we got there…but ended up in a big poof at the end of the evening. You could literally see the progression of my hair in the pictures, as it just grew in frizziness. It was so embarrassing, but after a while, I really didn’t care. I was in Paris, a city I had dreamed of seeing for so long!

The next day we started our exploration of the city at the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile. Going up those stairs was quite the journey and I felt like I was going to have an asthma attack once we got to the top, but again, the view was pretty amazing and made it worth it in the end. I guess the same can be said of any view really, but it kind of took me by surprise just how different Paris looked at night and during the day. I liked both views, but personally I think it was so much more exhilarating at night.

From there, we strolled through Champs-Elysees and did some shopping, mostly window shopping though if we’re being honest here. We were on our way to Musee du Louvre and were taken completely by surprise by just how many gypsies and scammers were around this area. Fortunately our tour guide had warned us about this, so we were able to avoid getting scammed, but they were super pushy and annoying, which kind of took away from Paris’ charm. Also thanks to our tour guide, we knew of a secret entrance into the Louvre, so we were able to avoid waiting in long lines and went right in to the museum. That was pretty great.

As a part of our tour, we had a free tour of a French perfumery. I didn’t really care to go the perfumery, but figured what the heck it’s free, I might as well…and man, am I so glad I decided to go. The perfumery, Fragonard, was beyond what I imagined it would be. We got a brief history and tour of the perfumes, and were shown samples of each perfume available for purchase. I didn’t go to Paris with the intention of buying perfume, but somehow I ended up with enough perfume to last me the next 10 years and I have no regrets because I smell amazing all the time now.

That night, we made our way back to our hotel, got dressed up and went out for dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge. I’d heard that the show wasn’t that great and that the whole thing wasn’t worth it, so I wasn’t expecting much but I had to go because hello, I was in Paris and Moulin Rouge is one of my favorite movies in the world, so of course I had to go. But anyway, despite what people had said about the show, I actually really enjoyed it. The performances were amazing, dinner was great, and the wine was so good, our table kept asking for more. I’m pretty sure the waiter was judging us, but whatever, we had a blast.

The next day, Thursday, we got back on the bus and drove up to the Palace of Versailles. I couldn’t believe how extravagant it all was! It was absolutely beautiful and I felt really lucky to be able to experience it firsthand after reading and studying so much about it. However, I made the mistake of wearing a dress that day because I thought the weather would be nicer (and also because I had packed 5 dresses but didn’t have the chance to wear any except one the night of the Moulin Rouge and I refused to let those dresses go to waste), but it was cold, rainy and super windy, so my legs were frozen and it was a flowy dress so I had to keep pulling it down to keep from flashing all the tourists in Versailles (way to go, Mari), so that was fun. We did find a cute little crepe place though, so we were able to eat delicious crepes while we waited for the rest of our group. That made up for the cold rain.

The rest of the trip is kind of a blur. On our last night together in Paris as a group, we had a Parisian dinner in Montmartre, and I tried snails for the first and last time. I only did it so that I could say I had snails while in Paris. Suffice to say it was a once in a lifetime thing and I won’t be eating snails again. I did try duck for the first time though, and I enjoyed it, so there’s that.

Some from our group left the next day, and saying goodbye to the people who had become like family in those 10 short days was a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. But alas, it was time to go our separate ways.

I stayed in Paris with a few other people for two more nights, and during those days, we went to the Catacombs (creepy as all heck but also pretty cool at the same time), I had lunch with an old friend who interned at the magazine during my first year, and I bought 70 euros worth of chocolate from a chocolate boutique in Montmartre for everyone back home. I also bought a super cute pair of ankle booties that I’m totally in love with and want to wear with everything but I also don’t want to wear them because I don’t want to ruin them, it was that kind of purchase. We stopped at Laduree for macaroons, and man were those macaroons delicious! Oh and we had dinner at Angelina’s, a restaurant known for its hot chocolate. We waited in line for 20 minutes, and it was 8 euros for a cup of the famous hot chocolate, but you know, when in Rome and all. The hot chocolate was pretty good though, so it was worth it for a once in a lifetime thing.

Overall, I enjoyed my time in Paris. It wasn’t everything I hoped it would be, maybe because I was expecting it to be more glitzy and glamorous and romantic, but it was a great experience. My favorite part about it was the architecture and history of the city. That was something I definitely appreciated quite a bit. I ended up shopping more than I thought I had planned but I like looking back at my purchases now and thinking, I bought that in Paris, how cool is that?! I don’t have any plans to go back to Paris any time soon, maybe only for a day or two for some more shopping and macaroons.

London however, I hope to go back there soon. There’s a lot of history in England that I’m intrigued by and I would love to be able to explore the city and country even more.

I’m so grateful I was able to go on this trip. It was quite the experience, and the memories will last me a lifetime. So will all those bottles of perfume 😉

Sparkling Eiffel Tower!
Sparkling Eiffel Tower!
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Creepy faces at the Catacombs
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Palace of Versailles
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Macaroons for days!!
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I’ll never get over how big my hair got…so embarrassing
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Arc de Triomphe
I got a French manicure in Paris because of course!
I got a French manicure in Paris because of course!

Mari Goes To…Part I

London! That’s right. After years of dreaming about traveling to Europe as a vacation, I was finally able to do just that. The trip was a graduation present to myself (I’ll talk about that later). It took some months of saving but it was so worth it.

Since I’ve wanted to do this for so long and had the resources to do it, I figured what the heck, I need to do this now while I can. This meant that I’d have to do it on my own since it just wasn’t an option for any of my friends at the time. So I planned my trip through Contiki Tours and Trips and traveled on my own.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought I would meet some people but would end up spending most of the trip on my own…but boy was I wrong! I met some amazing people and I was never alone. There were people from all over the world. My roommate was from Australia. She had a super strong accent and reminded me of Rebel Wilson; it was great. I had connected with some of the people traveling through Contiki prior to the trip, but the connection in person was so much greater. Getting to experience these new cities with new friends changed the entire trip for me. It was no longer about being in London or Paris and doing all the tourist-y things. It was about being together and getting to know each other better, being there to keep each other safe and make sure no one got gipped by all the gypsies in Paris, and just having a good time.

London was everything I hoped it would be. I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t even know, but I’ve been in love with London, or the idea of it, for years. Being in that city made my heart sore. I loved the accents, architecture and simplistic beauty of it all. Maybe it has to do with all the British artists I like listening to (looking at you, Lawson) but it was all just absolutely perfect. I loved how simple the metro, aka tube, was to navigate. And just the streets in general. I felt safe there, almost completely at home. London is the kind of city I would move to on my own without hesitation.

Buckingham Palace was nice, but my favorite part of it was the palace gift shop. Yeah, I didn’t know that existed either but it does! And it was glorious! I couldn’t resist and bought a pair of Swarowski crystal earrings that were modeled after Kate Middleton’s engagement ring. They’re the kind of earrings I can really only wear for very special occasions, so chances are those bad boys are going to be sitting on my vanity until my wedding day. They’ll be my something blue, whenever that happens! But they were by far my favorite purchase of the entire trip. I enjoy just looking at them, that’s how pretty they are.

Stonehenge and Bath were beautiful as well. I loved the old history and mystery of it all. We were very fortunate to have decent weather while in London, which I was not expecting at all but it was a lovely surprise.

I spent most of the day in London exploring with one of the awesome guys I met through the tour. The first night we met, I thought his name was Ben. I was wrong, it was Dave. So he was dubbed Ben-Dave for the rest of the trip and he became my trusty sidekick and bodyguard in the streets of London. Shoutout to him for dealing with me the whole day. Takes a special kind of man to be able to manage that 🙂

On our last night in London, we went to the West End to see Mamma Mia! on Broadway. It was a good show. I found it so funny how one of the actors was playing a man from Vermont and was doing an “American” accent but he sounded Southern. It made me realize that that’s probably exactly what we sound like to English people when we try to talk with an English accent, but I digress. That night we went out for drinks and karaoke at Covent Garden, a popular shopping and nightlife area in London. A couple of hours and Long Island iced teas later, we got lost in the streets of London and had to find our way back to the hotel without really knowing where we were. We ended up right in front of the Australian Embassy, which was the location of Gringotts Bank in the Harry Potter films. We found our way back eventually, but that added a nice little touch to our London adventure. The next day, slight hangover and all, we packed up and made our way to our next destination…Paris!

But more on that next time! For now, here are some pictures from London!

Stonehenge!
Stonehenge!
Typical tourist selfie with Stonehenge!
Typical tourist selfie with Stonehenge!
Some of the lovely girls I was fortunate to meet and spend time with
Some of the lovely girls I was fortunate to meet and spend time with
View of Big Ben and Parliament from the London Eye!
View of Big Ben and Parliament from the London Eye!
Ben-Dave was so done with me
Ben-Dave was so done with me
My beautiful earrings from the Buckingham Palace gift store!
My beautiful earrings from the Buckingham Palace gift store!

So I suck at this…

If there is one thing I’ve learned since I started my journey as a so-called blogger, it’s that I suck at this. There are so many things I want to write about, I have all these ideas flowing through my head. They’re great ideas too, but I always have such a hard time sitting down and just getting them out onto paper, or in this case, onto the keyboard. I don’t know why it is but it is such a struggle for me.

However, with this constant struggle in mind, I’ve dedicated some of my time to updating my blog during the next few days. I can’t say when I’ll actually post something interesting enough to even be read but I’m working on it!

I’m also trying to figure out how to work bloglovin’. This is seriously so complicated and it’s making me questions my capabilities but I am going to figure this ish out! http://www.bloglovin.com/people/marimarte-12830107

So keep an eye out for an update on this poor, desolate blog very soon! (Or don’t, that’s cool too, I understand)