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!

 

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!

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!