The Travel Itch

IMG_3723

I hardly know how to start this post. I’m antsy and all over the place at the moment. Frisbee training just got cancelled so now I’m chugging white wine and trying to calm down. Because wine is my answer for everything, wheeee!

I woke up this morning feeling SO thrilled that the temperature was finally below 20ºC. I opened all the windows and sat right in front of the cool breeze wearing a hoodie for the first time since May. As insane as it might sound, I’m fucking done with summer. The heat has made me anxious and crazy and unproductive. I’m ready for autumn. I can’t wait to drink tea and bake pies and be all cozy inside. (It also marks the moment when I switch back from chilled white wine to the red wine I truly desire. Hallelujah.)

It also just started raining for the first time in what feels like a million years, and I am SO fucking excited.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, so I guess I’ll just get to the point.

As you might have noticed, I haven’t been writing once per week as I promised I would do. At times it has been lack of inspiration, but there’s a bigger (and more positive) reason for my silence.

To paint the picture a little better: my travel itch is really out of control at the moment. It’s gotten pretty severe lately, so much so that even though I have a trip next week, another in mid-September, and another in November, I had to plan yet another in October just to feel like I was actually filling up my calendar. People keep telling me that I travel a lot, and I don’t believe them, because I’m insane and apparently my threshold for traveling is ridiculously high. (Also, I never count frisbee as “traveling,” which I suppose isn’t entirely fair, but I can’t help it. So then I have to plan other trips that are not frisbee just to even it all out.)

The combination of this travel itch, my lengthy unemployment, and me feeling like I’m on the brink of losing my mind all combined in a perfect storm in my brain and led to the following decision: I’m starting a new blog. Eeeep!

This probably sounds really silly to, well, all of you. Because if I can’t even make myself write on this one, why the fuck would I start a new one? But here’s the thing: I’ve spent the last 8 months miserably unemployed, trying to find jobs, trying to figure out what I’m good at, trying to figure out how to market myself as a freelance whatever-the-fuck. And it’s been awful. I’ve hated every minute of it, and I’ve legitimately gotten nowhere.

And then about a month ago, I had an epiphany. I’m already unemployed and have nothing to do. And trying to do things I’m good at (in theory) wasn’t going anywhere. So why not start doing something I want to do, and then see if I can turn that into some sort of career? That was when the floodgates opened and the ideas started pouring out, and I’ve spent the past month trying to sort them out and winnow down and focus and make this thing happen. It’s been overwhelming, but I also haven’t been this excited about anything in over a year, so this is huge. Fucking huge.

I don’t want to get too much into details yet (because, of course, I’m still working them out), but I will be starting a travel blog and launching a travel consultancy based here in Amsterdam. I’ve made a goal to have the blog launched by mid-September, and I’ve already started an Instagram account (you can follow it here, if you feel so inclined). I still intend to use my personal IG account for my own shit, and I’ll still be using this blog for personal stories, but the idea is to professionalise everything and, hopefully, somewhere in the future, actually turn my passion for traveling and writing into a career.

(And don’t worry, just because I’ve professionalised doesn’t mean I’ll lose my voice. It’s still my blog and it’ll still be me writing, for the most part. There will just be less profanity. Because I do realise I curse like a sailor and maybe that’s not the best way to get new readers on board… Fucking losers.)

Anyway. I actually dreamed of being a travel writer when I was teenager. And somehow I lost track of that dream. And it’s kind of exciting to find it again. I feel oddly giddy about the whole thing. Kind of like this:IMG_2439(That emptiness behind me is the life abyss I’m about throw myself into, and I don’t even care!!)

So yeah. That’s what’s up. The life update for the masses, if you will.

And since we’re here, and I’m now slightly wine tipsy and feeling sentimental, I’ll just say one more thing. The past year (as many of you know) has been rough. And losing my old job was a lot more difficult than I anticipated it would be. But, despite the anger and feelings of bitterness I held on to for some time afterwards, I will be forever grateful to that job, because it afforded me the opportunity to travel extensively, meet people from all over the world, and ultimately move to Europe to start a new life on a new continent. And that is fucking rad as fuck. So, I gotta give a little hat tip to Five for giving me fodder and fuel for my absurd travel habit. I’m sure I would have been a travel junkie either way, but I definitely appreciated all those free flights to Europe over the years.

And finally, big love to all the people I’ve met along the way, and here’s to the people I’ll meet in the future. I’ve especially been feeling lots of affection for a very particular group of people this week (@TFTD–you know who you are). Somehow I got the opportunity to put together a frisbee team full of people from all over the place, and they are the most fun and coolest and kindest crew on earth, and every time I think of them or hear from them, I feel warm inside. Thanks for reminding me that communities don’t always live in one place. Y’all are my family. So much love. Can’t wait to be reunited with you all sometime soon ❤

Alright, so that got super sappy at the end there. But if you were here drinking wine with me, I guarantee I’d make you start telling me sappy stories pretty damn quickly. Cuz that’s just the vibe I’m in right now. Also, my roommate who has been away for a month will be home in about 45 minutes, and I’m ridiculously excited to see her. So all the warm fuzzy feelings are happening right now. #sorrynotsorry #bitchdontkillmyvibe

Love you losers. Sailor-mouth Christina will never die, I promise. Mwah.

P.S. Lisa, sorry I’m gonna be kinda drunk when you get home. But there’s some wine in the fridge for you 🙂

 

Summer Slippin’ Away

Well, I’ve failed at my “write once per week” plan. But to be fair, I’ve been really busy and that’s legitimately the only reason I haven’t updated in a while. Lots of ideas for upcoming posts, but in the meantime, here’s a brief taste of recent highlights:

1. Turning a chill “club social” into a 4am rager. Fortunately (for me) there is no photo evidence…

2. Winning Dutch Competition with this badass group of ladies. I’m a fucking National Champion, yo.35653551_650726871943903_1019904353110065152_o.jpg

3. Partying at Europe’s largest ultimate frisbee tournament for 3 straight days. (Yeah, I also did some work. Whatever.)36342048_2121985134757086_9085663557005082624_o.jpg

4. Drinking ALL the scotch in Scotland. (More on this one later.)IMG_3401.jpg

5. Cheering on Belgium in the World Cup quarterfinal and drinking far too much beer. (And gin.)

6. Spending the next day hungover, swimming in the IJ, and watching more football on one of the loveliest and laziest days I’ve had this year so far. (Go Croatia!)

7. Spending a warm and sunny Sunday cycling down the Amstel to drink wine in the cutest little Dutch town.IMG_3459.JPG

8. Packing for another holiday, this time off to France for fancy dinner with my dad in Paris, followed by a music festival on a Normandy beach for 3 days…

So, further updates will have to wait until next week. À la prochaine fois! ❤

A Not-So-Epic but Somewhat Hilarious Mountain Rescue

For those who read my last blog post, thanks for taking the time. Y’all are saints.

As promised, I am writing more often, and it’s not going to be about feelings, because I hate those things anyway. Instead, I’ve realised I have a fucking arsenal of ridiculous adventure and drinking stories from the past many years that I have failed to write about (because of the aforementioned “feelings”). So, it’s time now. Buckle up.

These will not be in order. I have no idea what I’m doing. Join me on this wild ride, won’t you?

***

IMG_3257.jpg

This first story is fairly recent, and also a new favourite of mine already. In part because it’s completely ridiculous, and in part because it seems to have become a trend that whenever Melissa and I get together, things don’t go exactly as planned. And it’s wildly entertaining.

In April, I went on a girls adventure with two college friends. We don’t see each other all that often, but when we do, we fall back into that easy way of being friends that is so rare and special and awesome that, well, we certainly wish that we saw each other more often. Melissa lives in Geneva, so she and I have seen each other once a year since 2016. The first time, we had a massively entertaining (and potentially dangerous) adventure on a snowy Swiss mountain. And last year, we went on a tulip adventure that was supposed to be a leisurely cycle and instead turned into 20km+ of walking because we planned very poorly. We are really, really good at getting things not quite perfect. Which is funny because normally I’m super good at planning, but somehow, together, the two of us are so relaxed about the whole thing that we just think “it’ll be fine,” and then even when it isn’t, we make it work. And that’s pretty damn cool.

I haven’t seen Eliza since 2015, which, incidentally, is also the last time the three of us saw each other together. And that trip was pretty tame, because we were just hanging out in Boston and having dinner, and the circumstances weren’t quite right for an epic adventure of “oh shit” proportions.

But April was a different story. The 3 of us decided to go to Corsica. Why? I’m not really sure. Melissa suggested it, and I said yes. No regrets, though. That place is fucking awesome.

Melissa also suggested that we do a 2-day cycling trip around Cap Corse, to which I also said yes, because she does lots of cycling trips and knows how they work. And then we organised the whole thing so carefully that we were convinced it was going to be perfect and lovely and awesome. All the internets told us it was “fun” and “beautiful” and “the best way to see the cape.”

IMG_2950.jpgYou do have to admit, it’s pretty amazing…

What the internet failed to tell us is that it was a motherfucking bitch of a cycling trip. One website said it was possible to do the whole thing in a single day, which led me to believe that 2 days would be fairly leisurely and quite doable for reasonably fit people (but not pro cyclists) like ourselves.

IT WAS ALL LIES. Apparently pieces of this ride are a part of the fucking Tour de France.

We had to scale a fucking mountain. A FULL MOUNTAIN.

TWICE.

None of us was prepared for this. At all. In fact, we were so unprepared that on day one, we ran into a man driving a nice car who told us we were going the wrong way after we had already climbed most of the way up the mountain. So we actually had to go back down and start again. And we were not happy about it.

But we made it. We made it up, and made it back down (soooooooooooo much downhill and sooooooo thankful our brakes worked). And then we stayed in the most beautiful tiny fishing village and it washed all of our worries away. Washed them away so fully, in fact, that we were convinced that Day 2 couldn’t possibly be any worse than Day 1.

IMG_6520Day 2: See? Look how happy and fearless we are!

We were very wrong.

We got an early start on Monday so that we could take our time and not rush to get over the mountain. So we stopped for a coffee. And then for lunch. And then to buy a bottle of wine at a local winery. And we gave ourselves a solid 4 hours to cross the mountain pass.

But then we went the wrong way again. Because Google fucking SUCKS.

And then when we righted ourselves, the grade was so insanely steep, and we were so insanely tired, that we just couldn’t go anymore. We walked our bikes for a while, and tried cycling again, and then had to walk again. And then it was 7:30PM and the sun was already getting low and we still weren’t at the top. And we didn’t have reflective gear or good lights, and couldn’t even consider going down the other side with such limited light.

It was intense. Each of us went through all the stages. The “omg can we do this???” to the “YES WE CAN” attitude, to the “no, no, no, we really cannot, I am going to die” attitude. And at each point, the other two would perk up the 3rd and we’d keep going.

Until the point that we stopped. The point where I nearly had a panic attack, but I tried not to, and then Melissa said, “Soooo maybe we should call someone?” and I just started crying. And we stood on the side of a winding mountain road next to a cliff and called the bike rental company. Because we didn’t know what else to do. And we ate snacks. And we waited. And we called other people. Basically, we made all the phone calls.

After about 35 minutes, the bike rental company said they would come rescue us. Which, let me say, is BEYOND the best possible customer service. They did NOT have to do that. But they did it anyway. And charged us only a marginal fee for the whole rescue operation.

IMG_2955.jpg

But they wouldn’t just rescue us at a random spot on the side of the road, so we were forced to backtrack to a town we had passed ages ago. (Actually, I think it had been nearly 2 hours since we’d passed that town. But it only took us 20 minutes to get back there. Downhill FTW.) And then we sat on the curb outside the post office and waited. And we waited. And we waited. And we feared that perhaps they would never show up and we’d be stuck in that tiny town overnight. Fortunately, we were sitting right next to a hotel, and we began considering backup plans.

And then the van arrived. And a kind young man emerged from the driver’s side and looked at us with a smile, but you could tell there was pity in his eyes. But, instead of teasing us, he validated us: “Why didn’t you rent e-bikes? Most people do this ride with e-bikes…”

WHY HAD NO ONE TOLD US THAT BEFORE?!

We were so grateful to be sitting in a car, and our driver was so friendly. (I wish I could remember his name…) He drove us to our hotel and wished us well for the remainder of our travels. And basically everyone we met over the next two days looked at us incredulously when we told them about our adventure. “Wait, you DIDN’T have e-bikes? What were you thinking??”

Validation. Also, we felt pretty stupid.

IMG_6508.jpg

But hey, we survived. Built some character. And then drank a whole lot of wine. Wouldn’t trade that adventure for the world.

So, Mel: what mischief will we get into next spring?

Trying

IMG_2481

Today is June 4th. Just two days shy of the 7 month mark since I shared this post about the personal struggles I had been facing of late. In it, I discussed the ugly cycle of my SOBs (or States Of Being) and how they were the overwhelming force in my life and dictated my every action. And in that post, I also said that I would like to blog more, because I thought it would bring me just a little bit of joy. And maybe those tiny bits of joy might help knock me out of that ugly cycle. Just maybe.

But of course, things don’t always work out as planned (or hoped). The SOB cycles got worse and uglier, to the point where they were barely even cycles anymore. Instead, they just melted into an endless cloud of despair and failure that seemed to follow me everywhere. And I couldn’t write. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything at all, really. It took most of my energy just to get myself out of bed every day. After that, nothing else was possible. I had no energy left.

And I don’t want to get too far into the weeds here, but suffice it to say that ugly cycles and ugly feelings ultimately lead a person to do ugly things. I’m not proud of myself, and have struggled with excessive amounts of self-loathing over the past months because of actions I’ve taken that I truly, honestly believe are not me. I damaged friendships, and worse, I damaged myself. Perhaps one day my friends will forgive me for what I’ve done, but I will never forgive myself.

That was a breaking point for me, so I decided to take some time away. I love Amsterdam. It feels like home and I hope to remain here for a long time. But it’s also been the site of some pretty severe personal trauma and turmoil, and I couldn’t continue plowing through anymore. I had hit a wall. I needed to leave. So I went back to the U.S. and stayed with my parents for three weeks. I didn’t look for jobs or try to “move forward,” if you will. I just tried to be. To relax. To sleep and rest and enjoy what life might feel like if you had absolutely no worries at all (which, essentially, is what life feels like when you’re at your parents’ home, with a warm bed and free meals and nothing to do but be you).

Unsurprisingly, I went through many emotional cycles during that three weeks. And ultimately, it was good. I rested. I cried. I laughed. I learned. I planned. And I prepared to come back to Amsterdam knowing that a) I’m still not “ok,” and b) this shit isn’t going to be easy. But I made a plan, and while I still feel like I’m barely scraping at the bottom of the barrel emotionally, I’m at least somewhat less tired physically, and I am prepared to fight for the life that I want to lead.

This doesn’t mean I’m coming out guns blazing and full of energy and optimism. No way. I’m still sad most of the time, and every day still feels like a lot of effort. But I made some decisions at home that I intend to follow through on. And I don’t feel the need to list all of them here now, but there is one in particular that makes sense to share.

I intend to blog more.

You have every reason not to believe me, because I’ve said this before. But here’s the catch: this is beyond just a vague thought of “I should do this, it’ll be fun!” but more a “I MUST do this, it is now a requirement.” I’ve made a rule for myself that I have to post here at least once per week. Even if I don’t feel like it. It’s now required. It’s on my list of things that I decided. So, I’ll just have to suck it up.

Additionally, this ties into another “decision” I made at home, which I’m not quite ready to share in full, but hopefully will be exciting to some of you. Which also involves writing. And sharing things. And being cool. Or whatever people on the internet are doing these days.

So this all might sound insane, and that’s fair. I am a little bit insane (and always have been, I feel). But right now, my emotional brain is a mess of bad and ugly and crazy and, worst of all, soul-suckingly self-destructive. So it no longer gets to call the shots. My logical brain is now in charge. And my emotional brain is not going to like it, but tough shit. There are RULES now. This isn’t ‘Nam. (It’s also not bowling, but whatever.)*

Anyway. I don’t want to get too carried away here. I just shared a lot of really real shit and it’s a bit terrifying. Plus, I just talked about how my logical brain is in charge, while I sit here at 11:44 PM on a Monday after having consumed 3/4 of a bottle of red wine and spilling my guts on the internet. But whatever. At this point, you’ve probably already passed some judgment on me, and if the “drinking wine at 11pm on a Monday” is the thing that really puts you over the edge, you’re reading the wrong fucking blog.

See? I might be depressed, but I can still be an irreverent bitch. And somehow, that’s comforting to me. *insert winky kissy face emoji here*

To everyone who made it this far (and especially to the ones who know I’m not actually an irreverent bitch in real life), y’all are the best. For reals.

Thank you.

 

*If you didn’t catch the reference, look it up. And if you still don’t get it after you’ve looked it up, watch the movie. Not my fave but it’s a goddamn classic and everyone should probably see it at some point anyway.

A Very Naked Birthday Bath

I started this story 2 weeks ago and have yet to finish it. SORRY. I was too busy doing other things (#drinking). But also other, other things. Probably.

ANYWAY.

I celebrated my birthday for five days and have only told you about the first two. The third day happens to be my actual birthday, so I guess I should probably get into it, huh?

So if you recall from last time, my first 10 hours in Berlin were a blur of cross-city transit, coffee, food, beer, failed attempts at clubbing, photo booths, and cocktails. And then sleep sometime around 2:30am. Wifey told me happy birthday at least three times before we went to sleep, and then again first thing in the morning, because she is the BEST wifey.

So on Sunday morning (actual BIRTHDAY day), we woke late and walked to a nearby cafe for breakfast. Which turned out to be hopping, because apparently it’s the best place to have breakfast in Berlin. I’m exaggerating, but only a little. It’s epic. See:

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-30 at 02.24.37

The best part is I think we paid like €25 for that entire spread. IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I could have eaten there every day for the rest of my life (and turned into a giant balloon of a human, but whatever).

Then we got super naked with a bunch of other ladies.

Just like any other Sunday.

Cool?

Ok, moving on.

KIDDING! I will explain.

First, quick backstory: 9 months ago, Wifey and I adventured across Andalusia. During this trip, we visited a hammam. It was A-MA-ZING. And so, when we discovered that there was a hammam in Berlin (one of several, in fact), we decided it had to be part of this trip as well.

So my birthday began with giant breakfast, followed by several hours of bathing and sauna-ing with a bunch of naked ladies. It was awesome. I would absolutely go again. Hell, I’d go every Sunday. It was relaxing as fuck.

And then we were sooooooo mellow, and also very warm (yay!), so we walked for a while in the cold until we found the East Gallery of the Berlin Wall. Where Wifey took this super cool photo of me, because she is great at that:

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-30 at 02.24.36

We then continued walking in search of a flea market, which we discovered was actually IN club central (i.e. Friedrichshain, where we were the night before). But we also found that it was closed because a tree had fallen into it. (I failed to mention before that there was a code red windstorm happening. Like, state of emergency level wind. Apparently. Didn’t stop us though.)

There had been a small series of fails, and we were also very cold at this point. So we decided on a pre-dinner break. (Translation: We bought beers to drink at the house, and then played loud music while we got ourselves dolled up for a night out.)

And then we went to the brewery.

Oh yes. Because it’s me, and I HAD to find at least one craft brewery in town. And of course we didn’t have a reservation, and they didn’t have a table. So we sat at the bar for a while and the super fun bartender entertained us for about an hour before we actually got seated. (All the while drinking beer. Duh.)

And then we drank MORE beer and ate delicious food (yum). And then, because Mr. Bartender knew it was my birthday (hooray for Wifey!), he surprised us with free shots of who-knows-what! Even better, he took the shots with us. I do wish I remembered what they were… But whatever, it was amazing.

[Note: I almost skipped ahead to our attempt at clubbing, forgetting that we actually went to another beer bar first. But it was super empty on a Sunday and we were afraid we would get sleepy, so we didn’t stay very long. Exciting stuff.]

Because here’s the thing: we wanted to party. We were fairly tipsy (drunk?) after like 7 beers each (ok, drunk). But it was also Sunday, so a) fewer parties and b) we had no idea what we were looking for. We attempted to go to Suicide Circus, which is totally fun but also we were HELLA early (midnight) and didn’t want to pay €15 to get tired within an hour and leave. So we gave up on the big clubs, and aimed for something smaller.

That’s how we ended up at this SUPER WEIRD tiny club that felt like a labyrinth and had porn all over the walls. And my wifey took this photo of me at the end of an epic photo series where I looked really uncomfortable because she kept telling me to look straight at the porn. But I guess she was right, because I look quite calm here (but fun fact: I’m staring at porn).

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-30 at 02.24.34

So there you have it. My 30th birthday started with naked women and ended with porn. With a whole lot of beer in between. Seems like an appropriate way to ring in a new decade, right?

***

[On the next installment of Christina’s epic 30th birthday bash: Hangovers & Halloween.]

Winter Is Coming (And It Tastes Like Whiskey)

[I realise I’ve only updated y’all on Part I of my 5-day Berlin birthday extravaganza. I promise to finish that story soon! Life got in the way, as per usual. I also went out and drank loads basically every night this week, which took away from writing time. And now, for some unknown reason, I am ill. It wasn’t me.]

Today I had the most amazing revelation: We are exactly 2 weeks away from December. Hallelujah!

Now don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not a crazy Christmas buff or anything. That’s not why I’m excited. The REAL reason I love December is because it is Kahlua month. Haven’t you heard??

Actually, you probably haven’t, because I made it up. But starting on December 1st, I put Kahlua in my coffee every morning for the entire month of December. (And usually on New Years Day as well, unless I’m horrifically hungover like last year.) This is a tradition that began my senior year of college, in a fit of house-cleaning and excitement during exam week. And has since continued, because I figured why the fuck not?

In addition, I now have the BEST new mug from which to consume warm alcoholic beverages, thanks to my amazing wifey:

Mug-Face

So my brain was pretty Kahlua focused for the greater part of the morning. But fortunately for me, one drinking thought begets another, and I ALSO realised today that it’s wintertime and it’s damn cold outside and OMG HOT TODDY SEASON IS OFFICIALLY UPON US.

I actually can’t believe it took me this long to adequately prepare. I had thought of this a few weeks ago, at which point I procured lemons and honey, and then I completely forgot again.

So today, in my fit of genius, plus the fact that I have a monster head cold and hot toddies cure EVERYTHING, I bought this:

bulleit

It’s fucking happening. Winter be damned.

P.S. You are all welcome at mine for hot toddies anytime. They warm the soul and cure all ills (I actually believe this, I have hot toddy’d my way out of many a head cold in my day). XO

The 5-day Birthday Party

Now, the thing with this blog is it’s supposed to be fun and light and tell the wild tales of my drunken adventures. Well, it actually started as a blog about food and beer, but it very quickly devolved into a blog about my wild adventures. Because apparently I’m an animal. [Note: It is also full of sarcasm and self-deprecating humour. Oh, and lots of caps lock. Get ready.]

So, my aim from here on out will be to focus on the FUN STORIES (woooooo!) But first, I must say one thing:

THANK YOU to everyone who has reached out over the past 2 days with kind words, comfort, and support. I didn’t expect it, and I couldn’t be more appreciative. All of you are completely and totally wonderful. Thank you, a million times. ❤

Ok, so now that’s done. (Seriously. I love you all.)

Let the tales begin!

Before we get into the dirty details (intrigue!), there are two things I must mention. First, I turned 30 about ten days ago (HOLY HELL). And second, I must introduce my wifey.

I have this friend. We shall call her Wifey. We were roommates in Seattle before both of us moved away to do new things. And once we became roommates, things got serious pretty quickly. I mean, we became wives. (Not actually. But you know.) For the rest of my life, this girl will be my wifey. No one else will ever get that title (well, unless I marry a woman… This is an issue I will deal with if/when the time comes.) Even if/when we both have husbands, we will still be each other’s wives. Our future maybe-husbands are just going to have to deal.

Since I moved to Amsterdam, I expected I would see all my American friends much less, if ever. But Wifey has already visited me (or met me somewhere in Europe) three times in less than two years. Because she is amazing. And, of course, my wife.

A few months back, my wifey suggested we go to Berlin for my 30th birthday. So obviously I said yes. Because a) that sounds fucking amazing and b) I cannot say no to Wifey when she offers to fly to Europe. (Seriously, she is too cool.)

This essentially meant that I got a 5-day long birthday adventure. Because according to Wifey, “well, I’m here, so it’s still your birthday.” Even the day before my birthday was my birthday. Everything is my birthday. It was the FUCKING BEST. I have never birthday’d so much in my life and I loved every minute of it. (Also, when you birthday, you get free drinks sometimes. Yay!)

Now, I can’t possibly share 5 days worth of adventures in one post, so consider this Part I of the miniseries. I took a 9am train to Berlin on Saturday, after some pre-pre-birthday adventures with a few Amsterdam friends. Because if I’m missing my 30th at home, I had to do something at least. It was low-key, just 4 of us. But there were giant margaritas involved (“low key”). I didn’t get drunk (I did). I also didn’t spend too much money on scotch at 1am (I also did). It was chill (actually, it was. Also, AWESOME.)

So the 9am Berlin train was a struggle. But I made it, and managed to mostly kick my mild hangover on the 6-hour journey. I finally arrived to greet my very jet-lagged wife, and both of us had the “omg do we have to go outside?” feeling. But then we DID go outside, and instead of being lame we painted the fucking town because we are rockstars and TAKE THAT JETLAG/HANGOVER/BEING OLD. You will not bring us down.

(Side note: Wifey is not yet 30. She is so young. I am jealous.)

As I am trying to recall the events of that very first day in Berlin, I’m realising that we did literally EVERYTHING. First, we visited the Kaufhaus des Westens (or KaDeWe), which is the largest and most glamorous department store ever. The top floor is entirely gourmet food, so we drank an espresso and ate some snacks. Then we walked to a beer garden in a park. It was insanely cold, so we sat inside, but it was probably the prettiest place in the world and I have decided to be married there (someday). Also I took this amazing picture of my beautiful wifey:

DSC_0875 copyTHEN, we took a bus (first in the wrong direction, followed by the right direction) to a super hipster fancy restaurant. Miraculously, even without a reservation, we managed to get a table on a busy Saturday evening (birthday luck!). And the food was AMAZING. Also the wine. Also the waitstaff were super fun. The place had good vibes.

Then we tried to go to a speakeasy nearby (the kind where you ring a doorbell to get in), but they were full. So we decided to get a drink elsewhere and come back. Which we did, and they were still full, but I think actually the door guy just didn’t like us. Douchebag. Don’t you know it’s my birthday?? (Apparently he didn’t, since we forgot to tell him.)

At this point it was near midnight, and we thought that we might as well try to check out this Halloween party at this club we heard about. And that’s when we ended up in CLUB CENTRAL in Friedrichschein, and neither of us had any idea what we were getting ourselves into. (That place is fucking MENTAL. And super cool.) Plus, post-hangover and post-jetlag, we weren’t sure how long we would last and didn’t want to pay €15 to get into a party we knew nothing about.

So instead we took an amazing photograph:

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-29 at 02.51.28

And then moved on to a local bar nearby to finish the night off with some cocktails. At this point it actually WAS my birthday (hooray!) so I am very proud to announce that my first drink of my 30s was a mojito. Solid choice, in my opinion. Perhaps this will shape the decade ahead (and fill it with hot Cuban men?? I fucking hope so.)

So let’s see. We basically started the day at 4pm and still managed to hit five establishments before my actual birthday even started. Feels like a win. I realise this is a fairly anti-climactic way to end this post, but let’s remember that a) the next day is actually my birthday and b) we were jetlagged/hungover. Plus, now I’m old, so I guess things are just gonna be more lame from here on out.

LAME. Whatever. I’m still gonna kick my 30s out of the park. Being old isn’t real anyway. 😀

Here goes nothing.

DSC_0887 copy

Ok, so it’s been over a year. I’m great at this blogging thing, for reals. But I think it’s time I try again, for a few reasons. First, several people have asked me over the past few weeks why I stopped blogging. “You were good at that! You should keep doing it!” Well, shucks. That’s pretty damn sweet. Guess I should give the people what they want, right? (Also, thanks everyone. Y’all are the best.)

The second reason is that I really need a distraction. (Warning: heavy content ahead.) I’ll just be perfectly blunt about it: I am beyond miserable and every single day is a struggle right now. It sucks. A lot. The past two years have been incredibly difficult for so many reasons, this past year in particular. Worst year of my life, if I’m being perfectly honest (although 2008-09 comes pretty damn close). And I am not optimistic about anything at the moment, which is a pretty shit place to be existing but hey, so it goes. And while I have no confidence that blogging will fix anything, it can’t possibly hurt. Plus, there is something to be said for taking the time to remember fun times and wild nights and writing them down. At the very least, it’s a short respite from the daily slog.

I’ve been rotating between three states of being over the past many months. I like to call these SOBs [States Of Being] because a) duh and b) it also means “sons of bitches” and that’s fucking hilarious. Because sometimes my state of being is a total fucking SOB and I want to punch it in the face. And the mental image in my head of my SOB being an SOB and me drop kicking it in the ass like a football makes me smile. (Apologies for the violence, but it’s only in my head, I promise. Also, sorry if that was confusing. Acronyms are hard.)

ANYWAY. Back to the point. Three states of being. The first is “meh” or complete and utter apathy about everything. This SOB is also well-represented by the shrug emoji. This is my favourite SOB because when I am apathetic, it’s harder to ruffle my feathers. I also tend to find nearly everything funny. Oh, I just dropped my ice cream on the sidewalk? HAHA THAT’S HILARIOUS. And then I laugh because life is such a bitch, and what else can you do but laugh about it?

Of course, SOB #1 doesn’t last forever, and usually then morphs into one of the next two states. The second state of being is something I like to call IDGAF, or I Don’t Give A Fuck. This is a pretty angry SOB. I also tend to be pretty manic when I’m feeling this way. High energy, low morale, and a complete hatred of everything around me. During these times, when something bad happens, my response tends to be something along the lines of “NOTHING MATTERS” and then feeling bitter while simultaneously dancing around my living room. Because obviously it does matter and I do care, but it just never seems to go my way and I’m not sure how to handle it. I don’t like this SOB because it scares the people around me. Also, my brain is mean. Yikes.

If I’m lucky, I go from SOB #2 back to #1, and I feel better for a while. If not, along comes SOB #3. This one I like to call Fake It Till You Make It, also known as “put a smile on it and no one will notice that you’re miserable!” The problem with this SOB is that it doesn’t really work, but I’ve convinced myself that it does so I keep trying. And then, when I’m in the middle of it, I’m smiling like a lunatic to try and hide my misery, and then I’m pretty sure that if I keep fake-smiling this hard, I will actually turn into a cartoon smiley face, or a deranged version of the Cheshire Cat, and it will be so terrifying that everyone will flee the scene. This is my least favourite SOB, mostly because it only appears when I’m absolutely at my most miserable. But also, it’s no longer working, and I’m not really sure what to do about it. My friends have started seeing through my fake smiles (big surprise there) but I’m still too afraid to explain things to them for fear they will run away.

Despite all of this, there are still moments of joy. Most of these occur when I’m on holiday, or doing something special (going to a concert, or whatnot). Last week was filled with joyful moments, because I was away in Berlin and Paris and blocked out the real world for a while. But the comedown from these manic and happy times is rough. I got back yesterday and today has been unbelievably difficult (hence the swift and brutal arrival of SOB #3).

So, to finally bring this full circle, I am reigniting the blog. It will give me an excuse to relive joyous moments by writing them down, and will also (hopefully) encourage me to try and make increasingly more of those moments in the future. I also suck at documenting things (I tend to hate my phone when I am intoxicated, so then I forget to take pictures) but maybe this blogging thing will encourage me to be better about recording fun moments through some completely shitty and blurry photographs. How could you not be excited about that?

This post got too long, so I’m done for now. But soon, Berlin and Paris. Starting tomorrow.

Joy still exists. I just need to keep remembering that.

That time I almost stole a kayak in Poland.

Version 2

Ok, I might be exaggerating slightly. But not much, actually. I really did almost steal a kayak. The only thing that held us back was the lack of an oar, and therefore no way to steer ourselves down the adjacent river.

So I suppose the next step in this story is to give you some context. Because you’re probably just thinking I’m some asshole who tries to steal people’s kayaks, but I promise you it’s not like that. (Ok, it’s only sort of like that.) Also, I just switched from “I” to “us” in the previous paragraph without warning, and I swear it’s because there were other people involved, and not because I think of myself in the plural. We’re not that crazy.

ANYWAY. A few weeks ago, I went to Poland for work. As many of you know by now, this usually means I go to a foreign country and I spend a LOT of hours in a field watching people play ultimate frisbee and/or selling apparel to said ultimate frisbee players. And then, once us frisbee people leave the fields, weird things happen. Because that’s how we roll. Also, we’ve all gone insane from spending 12 hours a day in a fucking field, and we don’t know how to properly behave in the real world.

And so, on this particular Saturday night, we got into all sorts of shenanigans. The tournament had ended earlier that afternoon, so all the staff were finally done and allowed to actually let loose and enjoy themselves. So that night, it was time to go. And I mean, “let’s fucking GO” level go.

First, I should begin by saying that the crew involved consisted of 4 Brits, 2 Canadians, and myself. We all work in the ultimate frisbee world, in some capacity. So by default, we’re all a bit weird, and totally 100% awesome.

The night started with champagne. Actually, I think we had hard cider first. But then champagne. And then we went out for a very late, incredibly magnificent dinner which involved a very large beer, and then more wine. (And holy shit so much food. Pretty sure the Canadian dude ate 3 entrees because he is apparently a human garbage disposal. I mean that in the best, and most impressed, way.)

And THEN we went to this insane beach bar along the river, which also happened to be right next to the zoo. As we walked through the forest on the way to the bar, we kept passing ridiculous graffiti showing zoo animals who were apparently going into space. I promise you I’m not lying. The images were very upsetting, just look:

IMG_0471I don’t know what this octopus did to deserve being sent into space against its will, but it made me sad.

I was fascinated by the graffiti, as was this British guy Jon. We were so enthralled by the crazy space animals, in fact, that the two of quickly lagged behind the rest of the group. We stopped to marvel at them and took several selfies. And then we lost everyone.

So when we found a beach bar, we assumed we were in the right place. So we bought a beer, and then looked around and realized that there were definitely no frisbee people there. And I think everyone thought we were insane because we wouldn’t stop talking about the “crazy bird” and the “space octopus.” I only hoped that everyone there assumed these were our code names and that we were really awesome special agents. (I’m certain this is what they thought. There’s no other explanation for our behavior.)

We already had a beer in hand, so we figured we would drink it and then continue onwards to find the group. And frankly I don’t remember if we kept walking, or if frisbee people just appeared out of nowhere, because suddenly we were in the right place and everyone we knew was there too. It all seemed to happen rather magically.

We ordered more beers and then spent some time sitting on a very funky piece of architecture that I believe Jon referred to as a “geometric orgasm.” I wish I had a photo of it, but I don’t. It was pretty cool, though. His description was fairly accurate, to say the least.

And that’s when we saw the kayaks.

So here’s a little thing about me: when I get drunk, I like to do things that a) I probably wouldn’t want to do while sober and b) seem WAY more fun than they actually are. So at that particular moment, I was inexplicably excited about sitting in a kayak. Actually, I think I was more excited about the prospect of going down the river in said kayak, but getting into it was step one.

Fortunately, Jon (who I had only just met) turned out to be as ridiculous as I am, so he was as excited about this idea as I was. So we went to the kayaks. And we crawled into one. And I think we sat there for a good hour, with the very serious intention of actually taking the kayak down the river, but lamenting the fact that we didn’t have an oar. Pretty sure someone was hiding the oars from us, probably because whoever owns the bar is very smart and knows that stupid drunk people will otherwise try to steal their kayaks. (We totally would have stolen that kayak. Totally.)

IMG_0499This is a terrible photo, but it proves the existence of the kayaks and us being in them.

Eventually we got out of the kayak, because sitting in a non-stolen kayak and doing nothing gets pretty boring after a while. But then we were hanging out on the floating dock next to the kayaks, and the Canadians thought it would be funny to untie the floating dock from the thing it was attached to. While Jon and I were on it.

So for a brief moment, a new idea came to be: Let’s take this raft down the river!

IMG_0500Our Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn rafting adventure begins! (Except not.)

We very quickly realized that was a terrible idea and we would probably die, but fortunately there was still one tiny chain keeping us attached to the mainland. (Without which, we were totally fucked, actually. Because, if you can’t tell from the photo, there was no way off the raft at that particular moment.)

But then, as Jon attempted to pull us back using that tiny chain, it snapped. I was completely unaware of this fact, but he began to panic and kept telling me to “Jump! Hurry, jump to the other dock!” while I kept saying “Dude, chill out, you’re overreacting.” Because I just thought he was being a sissy. But apparently, for a brief moment, we almost actually floated away down the river. Which would have been exciting, but then I probably wouldn’t be around to tell you this story, so I’m kind of glad that didn’t happen.

And of course, in the midst of all of this chaos, we continued to drink beer. In fact, despite the fact that we’d just had a near-death experience*, we managed to continue drinking for several hours. And then a wedding party showed up after their reception, which apparently had been at the zoo. We thought a zoo reception was pretty cool, until this guy kept yelling “DO YOU KNOW HOW SCARY IT IS TO BE IN A ZOO AFTER DARK?! THERE ARE BEARS EVERYWHERE.”

It was about this point that I realized I was far too drunk and tired to be having a conversation with someone who has severe bear-phobia and is still suffering PTSD from his nighttime zoo experience. (Frankly, I think he’s an idiot, because I would LOVE to be in a zoo at night. That sounds fucking dope. You could pretend to be a jungle explorer. You could practice your night vision. YOU COULD STEAL A MARMOSET.)

(I promise I wouldn’t actually steal a marmoset. I barely know how to care for myself, let alone a small monkey.)

So, after many failed attempts at conversation with the terrified-of-bears man, we decided to leave. And before we even managed to make it out of the park, the sun was rising.

Leaving a bar at sunrise? That’s some college-level party shit right there. I haven’t done that in years. Mad props to the crazy British/Canadian crew for partying like rockstars.

I am so proud.

 

*Ok, we didn’t actually have a near-death experience. But it could have been a near-death experience if we had floated away. We just didn’t try hard enough.

*****

[Next time: When in Ireland…]

All of the Gin: A Story of My Dad.

DSC_0167 copyThis is how I hook all you gin-lovers. With a super sexy photo of Hendrick’s.

Once upon a time, almost two and a half years ago, I wrote a story about how I got my cousin so drunk while wine tasting that she made a fool of herself in front of the entire family. It is one of my greatest accomplishments. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration. But I am very proud of it, and it’s a story the family will never forget.

(And before you stop reading because you think I’m a terrible person, please read that other story for some context. Because me getting her drunk was payback for her getting me so drunk I almost missed her brother’s wedding. All is fair in love and war.)

Now back to the point. I never thought I would ever one-up myself on that fun little escapade. But I DID. Because a couple of months ago, I got my Dad so drunk at a gin festival that he made a complete fool of himself. I only wish my cousins had been there to witness the glory, but that is why I am writing this blog. So they can relive it with me!

So here’s how it all went down.

In May, my parents came to visit me in Amsterdam. (For those of you new to blog, I live in Amsterdam! I had only moved a few months prior, so my parents’ visit was their first to Amsterdam and very exciting overall.) They were here for a whopping 9 days, and because my Dad had a conference in the middle of their week here, we couldn’t really take any big side trips. 9 days is a long time to vacation in the same city, so towards the end of their time here, we had already seen and done a lot. So we needed a fun family activity.

Enter: the Amsterdam Gin Festival.

DSC_0160 copyI promise that server isn’t creepy, he just happened to catch me right as I shot this photo.

For the entire week, my mom was completely on board with this plan. “The Gin Festival sounds really fun!” she said. And DUH, of course it would be fun. There would be drinking involved! Also, my mom is amazing and excited about most things that I suggest. She’s the best mom ever.

But I intentionally failed to mention it to my dad for most of the week because I feared he would not be excited. For my whole life, I have never known my dad to be into gin. He loves wine. He loves scotch. He loves cognac (ask the family about that story). But gin? Not a thing he loves, as far as I knew.

But boy was I WRONG.

My dad apparently LOVES gin. Also rum. And jenever. And vermouth.

The whole thing became dangerous very quickly.

So I don’t want to bore you with too many details, but I must set the stage here. Because, honestly, this story only gets better the more you know.

The plan began as follows: We were going to meet my friends, Bex and Luke, at the Gin Festival. We would go early (around 2pm), so we could drink in the middle of the afternoon, and then have dinner and sober up in the evening, so as not to have any hangovers. Because we are pros and know how this works.

So we headed to the ferry terminal. Because it’s Amsterdam, and sometimes you get to a gin festival via a (free!) ferry across the IJ. (It was actually really amazing. First we got on a boat. The boat ride was lovely. And then when we got off the boat, there was gin EVERYWHERE. Fucking YES.)

Bex and Luke were running a little late, so we decided to do some reconnaissance and wander around the festival a bit. There were so many stands, so it was worth taking a few laps to discover what was what.

But that’s where things went wrong. Because my father has the patience of a 5-year-old. So as soon as he saw something he liked, he had to try it. And then he saw something else. And something else. And before Bex and Luke had even arrived, my dad had tried 3 different gins. My mom and I had managed to limit ourselves to just one taste, but somehow my dad wandered off, and when he came back he was babbling about some dude from Brazil who had served him “this incredible rum, seriously you have to try it!”

Oh no.

My mom and I tried to remind him that we were going to be here for several hours, so he should probably pace himself. To which he just waved us off and wandered into the crowd again.

Once my friends arrived, things only got worse. Because of course we all got excited and wanted to try things, and then we completely lost track of my father. At one point, after probably 3 or 4 shots of alcohol in his system, he realized he should probably eat. So he tried to make us all stop drinking and come get food with him. So we went to the food trucks. And we ate. And everything was fine, for a short while.

But then the gin-tasting recommenced. And by that point, all of us were feeling a bit buzzed. But not as buzzed as Dad. I mean, just look at this goofy man:

DSC_0171 copyWhy is he holding up that juniper plant?! We will never know.

Those of you who know my dad know he’s a pretty strange guy. But somehow in spite of this, he manages to charm people. He charmed the “magical Brazilian rum man” so much that he opened a super special-edition rum just so my dad could taste it. And then, even though the gin-makers weren’t actually allowed to sell bottles at the event, he got one of the guys to sell him a bottle completely under the table. So he could take it home to America. “How else am I supposed to get it?” he said.

*Facepalm* (Although to be fair, he had a point.)

By the time we finally left, I think we’d been there for over 5 hours. Which is a long time when you’re drinking straight liquor all day. (Side note: I really love gin, actually, and this festival was DOPE. I am absolutely going back again next year.) So we hopped back on the ferry, where even more hilarity ensued.

First, let me tell you: my dad was quite drunk at this point. In fact, I’ve never seen him in such a state. He was slurring his words so thoroughly that I wasn’t sure we’d even make it home.

So his first move was to try and get Bex and Luke to come over for dinner. They respectfully declined, because they are very smart. Also, they were exhausted.

His second move was to get involved in a ridiculous conversation with an American guy on the ferry who was living in the Netherlands, but planning his wedding to his “true love” back in Kentucky. And they were going to get married this summer and she would move to the Netherlands with him. And it was a really strange story, because they had no money, but they were going to do it anyway because they were so madly in love (I think he may have been reciting a movie…). And at this point, my dad tried to give him €50. My mom and I had to forcibly prevent him from doing so. Because, c’mon dude, that shit is WEIRD. You don’t just hand out cash to strangers!

And his third move was to promptly pass out on the couch in my living room when we arrived back at my apartment. And I mean PASS OUT. He was snoring heavily. It was amazing.

Given that it was only 8pm, and I was hungry, I offered to run to the store for some dinner fixings. When I returned, my mother and I began to dine on a lovely meal of bread and cheese and salami, with a side of salad and even a glass of red wine. (Because she and I were actually not that drunk.) We kept trying to wake up Dad to get him to come eat. After swatting us away multiple times, he made an attempt, took one bite, and went back to the couch to pass out again. It was after 10pm before we could finally get him to actually eat dinner.

The entire day felt like a drunken fairytale. And then we all went to sleep.

This may seem like an anticlimactic ending, but for those of you who have met my dad, you know this entire story is completely unbelievable. I mean, I’ve hardly ever seen the man drunk, let alone slurring-trying-to-give-strangers-money-passed-out-on-the-couch drunk. It was incredible.

And Mom and I will never forget it.

And, dear cousins, if you still don’t believe me after reading this, just ask my mom. She and I still laugh about it. It was absolutely AMAZING. (And maybe let’s pretend I just recounted this story to you instead of putting it on the internet… I don’t think Dad will be very happy with me.)

 

*****

[Next time: I went to an insane festival in Ghent, Belgium. INSANE, I tell you. These Belgians are cray.]