My triumphant return to the mountains (of cheese and beer)

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After living in Amsterdam for two months, I was starting to lose my shit a little bit. I love this city, but the lack of even the tiniest hill has started to wear on me. I don’t handle the flatlands very well.

This doesn’t mean I moved to the wrong place, by any means. It just means I will need to leave about once every 2 months and go see some mountains. Yes, I know. I’m a weirdo. But I happen to be addicted to very tall, pointy rocks. Call me crazy.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go all that far from Amsterdam to find mountains in Europe. Also, Switzerland is BOSS.

I hardly know where to start, because as I think back to those two-and-a-half days I spent in Switzerland, my brain is bombarded by memories of snow (SNOW!), fondue (CHEESE!), beer on the mountainside (BEER! IN THE SNOW!), and trying not to fall off a sledge and tumble down the mountain (DANGER!).

So I will start here: a good friend of mine moved to Geneva last fall. This was all very exciting to me, because we determined that once I moved to Europe (just a few months later) we MUST hang out (duh) and I really needed to be in a place with mountains, so this was all just too convenient.

So I flew to Geneva. Melissa met me at the airport. And then we went out for fondue because HOW COULD WE NOT?! I mean, I’ve never been to Switzerland.* It had to happen.

(I should probably mention here that the fondue was DELICIOUS. I mean, holy shit. Swiss cheese is the fucking bomb, man. Wow.)

The night ended there because we had to get up early (lame).  But not really lame, because on Saturday we caught a 7:30am train to Interlaken. I COULD HARDLY CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT. I still can’t, apparently.

The whole thing was basically magic because Melissa had organized everything. So we got in, dropped our stuff at the hostel (which she had previously arranged, of course), and then went and had a leisurely lunch while overlooking the mountains. So romantic!

And then the REAL shit happened. We went UP one of those mountains. In a gondola. For like, half an hour. It was insane. I’ve never spent so many successive minutes in a gondola. It was truly epic.

And then at the top, we walked into the little ski shop and asked for sledges, just like we had been told to do by the woman in the hostel. And they gave us sledges. With basically zero instructions. And they said “Yeah, you just go down the mountain. Follow the purple signs. It takes about 2 hours.”

2 HOURS?! The whole thing was completely insane. Because…2 hours? How fucking high up were we?? And of course at first we couldn’t even find the purple signs. And then when we did, we realized it was fucking steep, and we had NO CLUE how to actually steer or stop our sledges.

So, as you do in such situations, you get on a sledge, point yourself downwards, and hope you don’t die.

Chester was Melissa’s steed, and he was a gentleman. For the first several kilometers, Chester slowly and steadily steered Melissa down the mountain (i.e. she dragged her heels because she was terrified and didn’t want to fall off a cliff, which is pretty reasonable if you ask me). On the other side was Tony, my very mischievous steed, who led me on a wild ride that involved a lot of yelling, a lot of very sharp corners, a collision with a snowbank, and several intentional falls to avoid going off the edge of the mountain. (All this is to say, I attempted to sledge down the mountain with abandon, and it’s pure blind luck that I’m still here to tell you this story.)

IMG_0019Melissa and Chester on their grand day out.

The best part of all of this was when we were actually stopped by an older Swiss gentleman who was taking a leisurely sledge trip down the mountain (probably a weekly ritual, judging by his skill level). After watching me careen wildly around a corner and nearly fly off a cliff, he asked “So, do you ladies actually know how to stop?” To which we very bluntly replied, “No! We don’t!” And then he rolled his eyes and showed us how. And he suggested we try to be more careful. Our response to this was to burst out laughing because seriously, WTF were we doing sledging down a mountain in the Swiss Alps?

After this we actually started to slowly get the hang of it. The turns became easier, we finally understood which side of the rope to pull when we wanted to go a certain direction, and we became more attuned to the mechanics of slowing down.

But then we arrived at our first crossing. Our very gradual and windy sledging path cut directly across one of the ski routes. So we had to look left for incredibly speedy skiers coming full speed down the mountain, and then make an attempt to cross at a time that would be expedient for both parties. This turned out to be a complete disaster, with our initial attempt to cross being thwarted by a human going 15x our speed towards us, at which point we got up off our sledges, grabbed the ropes, and ran screaming across the ski slope. Because we are classy like that.

And here’s the point where this story actually starts to get relevant: after what seemed like an age of continued sledging down the mountainside (it might have been an hour, in fact), we saw a very simple sign in the snow. It said ‘BEER’ with an arrow pointing to the right.

SALVATION WAS HERE.

We dragged our sledges up a short hill to the ski-in bar and stopped for a drink. Because when there is beer on a mountainside in the Swiss Alps, you literally can’t say no. (At least, I couldn’t. Because this seemed like pure MAGIC. How the fuck do they even get the beer up there?! There are no roads! Just skis! It’s fucking magic, I tell you.)

It was pretty clear that we were being laughed at by all the actual skiers and snowboarders around, because we had no idea what we were doing and we had “parked” our sledges in the ski-drop area like we belonged there. Which, perhaps, we didn’t. But IDGAF. It had to be done.

And then we drank oversized beers. Like you do in Switzerland.

Version 2The biggest beers! The best beers.

So I’m not sure if it was the size of the beer or the altitude (probably a combination of the two), but we were decidedly tipsy after our pit stop. And we had another half hour of sledging ahead of us before we reached the bottom of the slope.

So we continued on in a hilariously inebriated fashion, with many stops for photos (OMG LOOK HOW PRETTY) or (LET’S TAKE A SELFIE!) or (We’re not that drunk, this is still safe. Right?). There was a whole lot of giggling. And for a while there we thought we might be a bit too drunk, until we saw a guy on a sledge collide with his friend such that they both slid off the side of a small cliff, at which point we realized that we were still fine and weren’t that drunk after all.

IMG_0020We’re not that drunk! (No, we are that drunk.)

So the story doesn’t have a very exciting ending, I must admit. We made it down the mountain. No one died (that we’re aware of). And later that night we even managed to go out for what turned out to be a very lovely and authentic Swiss meal. (With wine! See, I told you we weren’t that drunk.)

(Ok. We might have been that drunk.)

*****

*That’s a lie. I had been to Switzerland once. But it was actually a really awful experience, which included a failed attempt at finding dinner (we drank beer instead), sleeping for 7 hours, nearly losing a drone on the mountainside, the smallest pain au chocolat in history, and then finally escaping into Italy. So mostly I try to forget it. (Although the drone story is pretty fucking great. Ask me to tell it to you sometime.)

I really should put things here more often.

IMG_0145Urban beach party! This shit was the jam.

Well, here we are again. Months ago, I recounted the harrowing tale of my new life in Amsterdam. At this point, I’ve forgotten all about that crap. But at the time, it sucked. A whole fucking lot. (Ok, so I haven’t forgotten. The world and particularly the absurd Dutch bureaucracy spent many months telling me to pack up and go back to America. It was infuriating. I might still be a little bit angry.)

BUT. The point is, it’s over now. And guess what? THINGS ARE SO MUCH BETTER! In fact, I feel like I can basically live my life now and the Dutch government isn’t trying to make each day a living hell anymore! So that’s nice. (I’m not being sarcastic. It really is nice!)

But the REAL point is, I’ve been doing so many things and I haven’t written about any of them! It’s a total disaster. (Not the doing things part, just the failing to record it part.) I guess that’s what happens when you live a fast-paced, crazy, completely unreasonable lifestyle.

(I’ve gotta say, I really never expected to be living this kind of life. It’s a bit mad, really. But I love it, so who’s complaining?)

But here’s the kicker: there are two sides to every story. There’s the “my life is insane!” story (in a good way). On this side are some of the absurd things I’ve done over the past many months, such as:

  • Sledding down the side of a mountain in Switzerland while slightly tispy
  • Pouring honey rum into someone’s mouth from the top of a human pyramid 4m tall
  • Watching my father get hilariously hammered at a Gin Festival
  • Climbing on the roof of a building while very intoxicated against the advice of pretty much everybody
  • Drunkenly running around naked in a children’s playground in a London suburb at 3am
  • Falling off my bike while inebriated. Doing it again a month later.

(If you hadn’t noticed, I like synonyms. But also, I promise I’m not always drunk.)

But, you see, there’s also another side to this story. There are all the very sober, very real “my life is insane!” moments that seem to scare the shit out of my non-insane friends. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “Um, you seriously need a vacation” or “WTF are you doing with your life?” or “You’re doing WAY more than one might consider normal” or the horrified stares I get when I say my next weekend at home isn’t for 2 months.

And to all those people, here’s what I have to say: you are right. This is totally unsustainable. I’m addicted to having a completely unreasonable schedule and I don’t know how to stop!

IMG_0029This is my “I am trying to be normal” face. Convincing, right?

But with all the bad comes the good, right? And lately, it feels like the good has been even better and more fun, so I don’t exactly want to stop, despite the fact that I am highly aware I might just drop dead from stress at any moment. But it’s worth it, damnit! #livingontheedge

[Cue: wine. I am drinking it now. Because why should I start being reasonable NOW? That would just be absurd.]

So, instead of listening to all the reasonable people in my life, I am doing EVERYTHING and loving it. Who needs sanity anyway? ALSO, I’ve realized I have a backlog of half-written posts about some of the aforementioned adventures, which I am planning to finish right now. Because, why not? Also, wine.

Get ready. The deluge is coming. And this time, I’m not fucking around.*

*She said for the millionth time.

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[Next time, on Christina’s totally unreasonable adventures: I’m about to spend a week in Belgium! Let’s see how much trouble I can get into there.]

The Fight

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Well, it’s been 2 months since I last wrote. I had this whole plan to write about ALL THE THINGS I’ve been doing, and to move into my own place, and to start blogging more regularly, and to bake bread, and everything else.

But then life struck, again. As I predicted in my last post, there were more bumps in the road. Many, many more. Like, a whole shitload of obstacles. I mean, c’mon people. This is getting ridiculous.

I don’t want to bore you with all the details, but let’s just boil it down quickly: I had issues with my residency permit (came through at the last minute, and I only got my social security number thanks to the good graces of my friend Bram). Then had an apartment disaster (landlord pulled the plug 2 days AFTER I was supposed to move in). I was again saved by Bram. (Bram: You are the fucking man.) AND, I still technically have not received a paycheck. (Don’t worry, I will get paid for every single day I’ve worked. But it’s been an epic saga to sort that out. Dutch banks & foreign companies do not mix well.)

And so, 3 months after my arrival in Amsterdam, I was still without my own apartment, still without a paycheck, and still wondering why on earth everything bad seems to happen to ME.

I realize that sounds a bit melodramatic. But in Bram’s words: “Karma has to eventually go the other way, right?” Because seriously, it’s been ridiculous. Nothing has gone smoothly. This whole move has been a massive shitshow.

And yet, here I am. Powering through. Several years ago, this type of situation would have utterly broken me. I would have become depressed, negative, and convinced myself that nothing will ever be good ever again. Hell, I might have given up entirely. Because Amsterdam does seem to be telling me that I should turn around and go back to where I came from. But I refuse. Because I fucking belong here, I just know it.

There is a group of people here in Amsterdam, and I love them. I call them my Friends. They are cool people. They seem genuinely excited to see me when we we hang out. They are happy that I live here now. Many of them have told me exactly that. And that means a ton, and I can’t just leave now. Because I have friends, and I love these friends. I want to see these friendships grow.

I also just went to Spain for a weekend for a frisbee tournament. At the tournament, people would ask when I was going home. I would say “Tuesday. I’m flying home on Tuesday.” Home. Amsterdam. They are the same now. The flight from Barcelona to Amsterdam felt so natural. It was perfect.

And last weekend, I finally moved into my new apartment. I have my own bedroom, and I have a lovely roommate. This week, I’m going to finish unpacking and hang my art on the walls. And it will be real. For the first time since December, I am going to have MY own bedroom, with MY own things in it. Fucking finally.

So no, it hasn’t been easy. It’s been a fight. But I am fighting hard. Because Amsterdam is my home now, damnit.  You can’t get rid of me that easily.

The Turnaround

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I knew this moment would come eventually. The moment when life suddenly felt right-side-up again. The moment when I stopped “trying to be” and started “being” an Amsterdammer. The moment when, sure, life was still scary and different and I’m still not really sure what I’m doing, but that’s just life so who cares where I am when I feel those things?

It’s been a month since my last post, and it’s not because I was lacking things to write about. There are several half-written posts sitting in my drafts folder that I just never managed to finish. That time I went to Carnival in Den Bosch. The fact that I’ve started cooking good food again. All the craft beer I’ve been drinking. That time I biked 50km round-trip to Haarlem and drank at a brewery inside a church.

But I never finished writing those posts because, frankly, it’s hard to write honestly and sound like yourself when you’re not really feeling like yourself. And basically since I arrived in Amsterdam, I’ve felt a bit like a ghost watching myself try to live this new life. But I wasn’t actually living it yet.

There have been many low points, including one night where I sent my boss a very emotional email at 9:30pm because, oddly enough, he was the only person who would really understand the stress and isolation I was feeling at that moment. That was rock bottom. That was when I thought I couldn’t do this. That was when I was sure I had made a horrible mistake by deciding to move to another country to run a mini-company.

But things got better, as they inevitably do. And this weekend marked the turning point. The moment when I remembered why I came here. The moment when I realized that this is what I was meant to do. And I realized that maybe, just maybe, I’m kind of good at it.

DSC_0083 copyThis weekend, we moved into our new office. That may not seem like a big deal, but somehow Saturday symbolized everything that I’ve been envisioning for the company I’m supposed to guide through 2016. I came to Amsterdam so that my company could actually accomplish something new and great. And moving into a new office was the symbolic starting point. Everything leading up to this point was just preparation.

Saturday was one of the most exciting days I’ve ever had at work. I had an amazing crew of people around me who were helpful and supportive and just lovely to spend the whole day with. The move went so incredibly smoothly that I could hardly believe it. There was so much smiling and laughing, and the only truly stressful moment was when I set the alarm off and thought the entire building was going to fall down from the racket. (Oops.) And after the move was done and the space was clean and pretty, we stayed there for hours drinking beers and eating burritos and simply enjoying each other’s company.

And no, my whole life doesn’t revolve around work. But work is the reason I came to this place, and all of a sudden I feel like I can actually live here and do things and be Christina again. This Christina just happens to live in Amsterdam now.

It’s finally real.

Sure, I got sick (again) after the move. And sure, there are still plenty of kinks to work out, and I know there will be many bumps in the road ahead. But right now, I’m sitting in bed drinking red wine (which is apparently good for colds, ha!), and I am so incredibly happy that I hardly know what to do with myself.

Thank you to everyone in Amsterdam, in Europe, in America and elsewhere who has been there for me over the past 6 weeks. I love all of you.

And to the Wrecking/Building/Moving Crew from Saturday: y’all are rockstars. I heart you like whoa.

*****

[Next time…] I actually go back to talking about the things I do best! Drinking, traveling, drinking, eating, and riding my bicycle.

Ain’t no party like a Jungle party…

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Welp, I think I have officially become a European. I went to my first European club party on Saturday. The theme was “The Jungle,” and I actually survived. In fact, I think it was a roaring success. (Get it? Roaring success?? I’m punny.)

Anyway. I was very proud of myself, because I’m not much of a partier, to be totally honest. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love to have a good time. And I’ve certainly had my share of epic evenings. But most of those involved frisbee people at a frisbee party in the middle of a random field outside a major city somewhere in the world, and I can tell you for a fact, it’s rather different from your standard club scene. And the other share of my drunken adventures usually involve sitting at a brewery somewhere and drinking one too many pints.

TL;DR: Going to clubs is just not my thing.

But I have this friend. His name is Bram. And on Saturday, Bram wanted to “PARTAY.” Yes. “ParTAY” with an “AY.”

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See what I mean? He brought a fucking monkey to the party. That’s how serious he was about the whole thing. (Side note: I don’t remember taking that photo. Also, I am a dumb bitch who makes a duck face when she’s drunk. Feel free to judge me. I am judging myself as we speak.)

Now, some of you may be asking how a European clubbing adventure is any different from an American one. So let me fill you in: these people take their clubbing seriously. The whole thing is planned out to a degree of sophistication I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

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First, the place looked fucking tight. They decorated for the occasion. I wish I had a better photo, but hopefully you get the point. There were crazy balloon structures, and awesome lighting, and a GIANT wooden/painted monkey face over the DJ booth. Also, the venue itself is just sweet. American clubs are ugly and underground and boring. This place was fucking sick.

Which brings me to THE THEME. Yes, I know a lot of American clubs do theme nights, of sorts. But it’s usually something dumb like “Ladies Night” or “Payday Friday” or “Tropical Party” (i.e. if you are female please wear a bathing suit so we can see you half naked). Please go fuck yourself, misogynistic club culture. I am not interested in your crap.

And of course, I do see how a jungle theme could lend itself very well to that culture. But here’s the thing: there were very few slutty outfits. I was SO pleasantly surprised at how few people wore revealing or skintight clothing. A lot of people ignored the theme altogether. (I just remembered I own leopard pants and I forgot to wear them. Damn.)

On top of all that wonderful stuff, this particular party had a mission: all proceeds went to support the rebuilding of rainforest in Borneo and Sumatra, because they have been ravaged by forest fires. That shit is awesome. It made the cover fee SO worth it.

We decided to meet at midnight (OMG waaaaay past my bedtime) and party till we couldn’t anymore. It all started fairly tame. I drank some beers. I tried not to feel awkward about the fact that I wore a really bright shirt that glowed in the blacklight and made a lot of people stare at my boobs. Huge mistake.

Then the wrecking crew (Bram & co) arrived and shit got real pretty quickly. I ran around like a crazy person, which is something I tend to do while drunk. I also hate techno music, so I needed to get really drunk in order to dance properly. Apparently ecstasy helps with partying all night, but I am terrified of drugs so I just stuck to beer. (Which proved to be a mistake the next day. Also I got sleepy and ended up leaving at 3am. Like a loser.)

I also may have (with a significant amount of assistance from Bram) accosted a dude who looked exactly like someone else I know and gave him my phone number. I hope he never calls me. I am so awkward in real life.

BUT WHO CARES?! I went clubbing like a European with other Europeans and danced my ass off and got weird and crazy and took part in what might be my favorite polaroid photo of all time:

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Perhaps I could get used to this after all. Also, I wish I had stolen that hat.

*****

[Next time, on Christina’s drunken party adventures] CARNIVAL! It’s like Mardi Gras for Dutch people! (I’m actually serious.)

Living the ‘Dam Life

Hello, world. My name is Christina, and as of yesterday I live in Amsterdam. WTF.

48 hours ago, I left this beautiful place:

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Yep, that’s Seattle. It’s fucking stunning, amirite?? I am missing it a whole lot right now, and I imagine that feeling is going to ebb and flow for quite some time.

I don’t even know how to continue this post. There are so many feelings happening at the moment. Within a matter of 12 hours, I went from being a US resident to being an expat; from being in a country that speaks my language to a country that doesn’t*; from being just “Christina” to “Christina, the American.”

Indeed, there are a lot of feelings. But despite all of the confusion, the trip went unbelievably well. I was expecting all sorts of crazy drama (“Your bags are too heavy!” or “Your bike will cost $10,000 to check!” or “We refuse to let you into the Netherlands because you don’t have the appropriate paperwork!”). But instead, it was so easy that I could hardly believe it. Because seriously, is moving to another country supposed to be this easy?

Let me provide some context: When I arrived at the airport in Seattle, I had a small backpack, a carry-on duffel bag, 2 checked bags, and a GIGANTIC box filled with my deconstructed bicycle. I arrived at the airport nearly 2.5 hours early, because I was worried about this ridiculous baggage situation.

But then, a nice man at the curbside check-in desk offered to help me take all my stuff inside. Then they let me check in at the Priority desk, even though I’m not technically priority. Then the guy charged me $200 less to check my bike than what I had been told on the phone. Then I got a window seat next to a very nice professor. Then during the flight, I went to ask for more wine and the stewardess was SO NICE and we chatted for 10 minutes. Then when I got to Amsterdam, they didn’t ask me any crazy questions at passport control. I got all my luggage, and even with my overflowing cart they didn’t stop me at customs. Then the guy at the cab line was super friendly and loaded all my bags for me. Then the cab driver brought all my bags inside the lobby of the building where I was staying, without me even asking her to. And then I had a room in an apartment and literally EVERYTHING WENT SEAMLESSLY.

IMG_3086The view from my apartment!

It was so overwhelmingly easy that I nearly panicked. Because that’s some crazy shit. It’s not supposed to be that easy, is it?

Now don’t get me wrong. This didn’t mean I was happy and full of giggles and joy. I was exhausted and stressed and terrified and, to be honest, partially worried that I had made a terrible mistake. I just left a place that I adore, with friends that I love and already miss dearly. This is hard.

Yesterday was tough. Lots of jetlag and a nap that I allowed to last way too long; several bouts of crying; a brief jaunt to the grocery store; frantic unpacking; easy pasta dinner; and more sleep (which went poorly…stupid jetlag). But today, I woke up deciding to make myself excited about this town. And so I did all the things I enjoy.

I walked to a cafe and bought myself a coffee. Then I walked into De Pijp and wandered around the shops. I bought myself a French press. I went to Kaas en Zo (roughly translated as “Cheese and Such”) and bought some delicious aged cheese. I went to a beer store and bought some Dutch craft beers (and one Italian beer!). I stocked up on groceries and finished unpacking my bags and made homemade stew and ate dinner while watching Netflix. And now I’m sitting in bed with tea and writing this.

IMG_3098Part of my awesome haul from today.

And somewhere in the middle of all of that, I was walking down a side street with a backpack full of groceries, and I felt comfortable. In that one moment, it seemed like this was right. Months ago, I asked for this, and I suddenly remembered why. Because I feel comfortable here. Comfortable in a way I never managed to feel anywhere else. I still don’t entirely know why that is, but that’s ok. I’ll just relish it for now.

This doesn’t mean I’m not still sad. I am. I think I will be sad about leaving Seattle for a very long time. I think it’s going to come in waves, and there are days I will regret everything I’ve done. But I know myself well enough to know it’s not over. I have never wanted to stay in one place for long. So who knows. Maybe 5 years from now, I’ll find myself back in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. Those mountains are always calling…

But for now, I am ready to greet Amsterdam with open arms. Because I do WANT to be here, and I want to be excited about it.

So, Amsterdam. What do you say? Want to go on an adventure with me?

 

*Note: Basically everyone in Amsterdam speaks English. But Dutch is still the native language, and that’s how you’ll be addressed unless you immediately dictate otherwise. So no, it’s not difficult to manage, but it sure as hell isn’t an English-speaking country.

*****

[Next time, on Christina’s adventures in Amsterdam: BEER! I am going to drink all of it.]

I am my own Advent Calendar.

opening(Spoiler alert: I do not own this awesome advent calendar. It’s really too bad.)

You know that panicked moment you have when you realize it’s December, and you have failed to accomplish 99% of the things you said you would do this year?

Welp, cue panic. But then, cue my full-on IDGAF attitude, because who cares what day it is, I DO WHAT I WANT. (Translation: I freaked out, but then I talked myself down, because that’s how we crazy people operate.)

But in reality, I’m actually super excited it’s December. For one thing, it’s Kahlua month. Every day during the month of December, I put Kahlua in my coffee. It’s a tradition that began in 2009, and I haven’t looked back since. I don’t really know why this tradition gives me so much joy, but it is literally my FAVORITE thing about this (the most wonderful) time of year.

(I actually just realized I forgot to do it this morning. Crap. Guess I’ll have to have 2 cups tomorrow!)

The second reason I’m excited for December is because, well, ’tis the season for countdowns of sorts. In 2012, I wrote 12 blog posts in the days leading up to Christmas called the “12 Drinks of Christmas.” In 2013, it became the “12 BEERS of Christmas.” In 2014, I was a loser and didn’t do a countdown, but I drank plenty of exciting holiday cocktails with my roommate.

This year, I’ve decided to up the ante. Sure, I could do “12 cocktails” or “12 wines,” but both of those sound a) expensive and b) I don’t know that I could come up with 12 really solid candidates without doing a hell of a lot of research. And who has time for that crap?

So instead of 12 days, I’m going for 25. That’s right. I’m gonna be my own goddamn advent calendar. Starting tonight, straight through until Christmas day, I will drink a different beer* every day. Ideally they will be beers I haven’t tried, and hopefully many of them will be winter or holiday brews. Perhaps I’ll throw a barrel-aged brew or two in there as well. Because ’tis the season, right? Everybody knows that “Be merry” = “Be drunk.”

I have failed at a lot of things in life, but I am determined to succeed in this endeavor. Because it’s the last month of the year. Time for the final push! There’s no time to waste! It’s now or never!

And frankly, it’s my last December in America, and who knows what sort of crazy traditions I’ll get into when I live in Europe next year. Only time will tell…

*There is always a chance that some of the next 25 days will feature not a beer, but some other adult beverage. I maintain that this is allowed, because I’m in charge and I made up all the rules anyway.

**************

[Next time, on Christina’s Drunk Adventures: I’m drinking lots of beer this month! So I’ll probably tell you about it or something.]

Reykjavik parties harder than I do.

Just a few weeks ago I turned 28. And apparently that means I am super old, because shortly after that I went to Iceland and couldn’t keep up with anybody.

Alright, this isn’t 100% true. I did keep up with them one night, but it kind of broke me. There isn’t really anything else to do here except tell you the whole story.

I took a trip to Iceland for 9 days (more on that later). During this trip, I attended a 5-day music festival (more on that later, too). During this festival, I met a lot of awesome people. Seeing as all of us were on vacation, we decided we should probably party like we were on vacation. So on Friday night, we did just that.

[Side note: The whole trip basically consisted of me staying up way past my bedtime and drinking more than I should. But Friday night was particularly epic and demonstrates that I can, in fact, still party like a college kid.]

The night began as the previous two had: concerts. Lots and lots of concerts. We’d been out to a few shows during the day, followed by some “cheap” eats and a brief rest at the hostel. And then it was go time. We headed out to one of the official venues to see more music. I was with a German, a French-Canadian, and a non-French Canadian. Rag-tag crew ftw.

After the first set, Martin (the German) and Marie (the French Canadian) weren’t really feeling the music, so they decided to go to a different venue. But I felt like dancing, so Todd and I stuck around and danced our asses off to some sick electronic music by these guys:

Then we moved on to another venue for some more jams. The performance we went to see was sort of “meh” so we were formulating plans to leave and meet up with others. But then, right at midnight, a new band started playing and it was sort of insane. Live house music? As in, house music with 3 girls singing live over it. And somehow, despite the fact that I don’t even like house music, it was amazing. Perhaps it was because we were already drunk (probably). But regardless of the reason, we dove into the crowd and danced like the crazy drunk people we were, while simultaneously dodging the leather-jacket-wearing 60-yr-old men who were having what appeared to be the time of their lives. Who knew?

Once that ended, the logical choice would have been to call it a night. But no. It’s Friday night. It’s Reykjavik. We’re on fucking VACATION, yo. So we met up with this American girl Kari and hit the bars.

We began to wander the city hoping to find a cool spot to party (aka DANCE). It was kind of an ordeal: this bar didn’t have music, that bar was too full, etc etc. Eventually, after some wandering around in the rain, Todd (who was sans hat or raincoat) said that he really didn’t care where we went but it would be nice if we could just go inside somewhere. This seemed like a reasonable request, so we went into Bravo.

bravo

We had actually attempted to see a show at Bravo earlier that day, but it was super full and a crazy woman on the street wouldn’t stop accosting us, so we left. But when we went inside at 1am, it was pretty empty. Apparently it was still “early” in Reykjavik. WTF.

The DJ inside was totally on point, however, so we stuck around despite the lack of crowds. (Usually no crowds = bad sign, but they were playing early 90s hip-hop, so we legitimately couldn’t leave. It’s a sin to leave a bar that’s playing “No Diggity.”)

Within about 15 minutes of our arrival, the bar was packed. We danced, drank beers, took shots of Brennivin (Icelandic aquavit), and danced some more. We also got an asshole kicked out of the bar after he spilled beer on me and shattered Kari’s full glass of beer. (It made me sad that he was American. He’s giving us all a bad name.)

Despite that unfortunate incident, the three of us were having a blast and probably could have stayed there all night. But around 2am the DJ started switching up his playlist. And very quickly, all he was playing was 80s rock ballads, so it was no longer a viable dance option. I don’t know what it is with Europeans and 80s music, but you really can’t dance to that shit. Sure, you can scream it into the abyss and jump up and down while you’re drunk as fuck, but where’s the fun in that? I need to move my ass, people! And “Don’t Stop Believin'” is just not ass-moving music.

So we grabbed our coats and walked out the door. And there was really only one option.

Kiki.

kiki-queer-bar

There were a number of reasons this was the obvious choice. First, it was directly upstairs from the bar we were already in (too easy!). Second, there was no line (which there had been an hour before). And third, it was a gay bar (which guarantees good music, duh).

Kari and I turned to Todd. “So. Gay bar?” Todd is a trooper, and we were all drunk, so he said “whatever” and we went in.

And we danced. And danced! And DANCED SOME MORE. There was probably more drinking involved as well. I don’t even remember anymore. Here are the things I DO remember:

  • Belting Britney songs with Kari like a pro.
  • So much Lady Gaga. Seriously. So. Much.
  • The crazy gay guy who wouldn’t stop trying to make out with me and Kari. (I still don’t understand this phenomenon.)
  • Todd eventually disappearing.
  • Kari & I realizing Todd had disappeared, and deciding perhaps it was time to go home (around 4am).

We got back to the hostel to find Todd hanging out in the kitchen. So of course, like the responsible people we are, we decided to drink some wine. And hang out more. Because who needs sleep anyway?

And then, just before 6am, we all decided it was probably bedtime.

So here’s the deal. I love to drink and hang out with friends. Sometimes I’ll get too drunk. Maybe I’ll even close out a bar (at 2am in Seattle). But I haven’t stayed out until the wee hours in YEARS. Like, since I was in college.

And of course, I was fucking broken the next day. I slept until noon, woke up to shower and eat breakfast, and then slept again until 4pm. Because I am TOO OLD for this shit. But I don’t care. It was one of the greatest nights I’ve had in a very long time.

So, thank you Iceland, for making this happen. And thank you Kari & Todd for being there while it happened. There’s no way in hell I could do that every weekend, but if I could do it once a year with y’all, I would be most honored.

*************

[Next time, on Christina’s adventures in Iceland: I drank Icelandic beer and saw the Northern Lights! Coincidence???]

When the trip is over, but you don’t want to leave.

IMG_2672

I’ve been away from home since October 25th and have yet to write anything about it here. So, yeah. My bad. But on the upside, I’ve now got a big ‘ol backlog of stories to share! So get ready for a cascade of posts over the next week. Woo!

But right now, there is only one thing I could possibly write about, and that’s the fact that in just over an hour I will be leaving Iceland. And I am so insanely miserable about it that I hardly know what to do with myself. I don’t think I’ve ever been so upset to leave a place in my entire life.

This past summer, I spent over a month in Europe. I was hopping around here and there, mostly for work (and my work is fun, so also for fun). And when I had to fly back to Seattle, I was distraught. Why did I have to leave??? But then, just a few weeks later, I got the wonderful news that I was going to move to Amsterdam because my job warranted it, so I spent the rest of the summer riding this sensational high. Finally! This thing I’ve wanted for ages is finally coming true. I get to move to Amsterdam and be the European I always wanted to be!

And yet, the past two days have been this unbelievably intense internal struggle, during which I legitimately considered quitting my super awesome job and staying in Iceland forever. Even though I’m about to move to Amsterdam. Even though I want to move to Amsterdam. Even though I love my job. All of these things were trumped by the fact that I want nothing more to stay in Iceland FOREVER.

It’s weird how these things happen. I still haven’t quite processed the last 9 days, during which about 40 million amazing things happened. I met some incredible people. I saw 41 shows over 5 days at a music festival. I hiked on a glacier. I stayed out until 6am like a college kid and partied my ass off. And I met more, and more, and MORE cool people every day. People I wish I could see every day, but of course they live all over the world.

And now I have to leave it all behind.

I know it wouldn’t be the same if I stayed. I know I wouldn’t continue to have the same experience I’m having now. There’s something about a trip being finite that makes it so much more enjoyable. But I still can’t shake the feeling that I found something here. I found something I haven’t found before, and I really don’t want it to go away. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but I am not the same person I was when I arrived here. Perhaps after a bit of time and reflection, I’ll figure out what happened over the past week. But for now, all I know is that I’m different, and different in a good way.

There are so many more things to share about this trip, but for now I need to get on a plane and mope for the 8-hour flight home. But it’s ok. Sometimes it’s important to be sad. Even more important if something positive comes of it. And I’m pretty sure it will.

Thank you, Iceland, for making me better than I was. I’ll never forget it.

The dangerous art of biking and beering.

Ah, day drinking. It really is one of the greatest pastimes on earth.

Yesterday I went on a biking and beer-drinking adventure with my friend Chris. Because what’s more fun than riding your bike around Seattle and drinking beer at craft breweries on the weekend?

Things started poorly when I decided to take us to a brewery that doesn’t exist. #winning

Somehow, Chris decided I was still trustworthy enough to follow me a second time, and we actually began our drinking adventure at Peddler Brewing Co. This turned out to be a stellar choice for our first stop. At 1:30pm, the place was not particularly full yet, so we sat at the bar and shot the shit with the bartenders, both of whom were awesome Midwestern transplants who enjoyed making fun of each other and talking to us instead of serving the other customers. They seemed to think we were pretty cool, because we ended up with a free beer as well!

IMG_2544We tried the two IPAs they had on draft: I had the On Your Left IPA, and Chris had the Tropic Thunder IPA. Both were delicious, but mine was better. Christina 1, Chris 0. Haha!

(This wasn’t actually a competition. But now I’m excited about making this a competition after the fact. Pretty sure I’m going to lose though.)

The adventure could very well have ended there, because despite the fact that I told myself I would photo-document the entire afternoon, this is the only photo I took. So I think I lose a point for that. Back to 0-0. Sigh.

Somehow, though, the adventure continued. For some unknown reason, Chris allowed me to lead the charge again to our next stop: Lucky Envelope Brewing. This brewery has only been open since May, so neither of us had been there before. Hurrah, new things!

lucky_envelope_1(I stole this photo from the internet!)

This time we were lame and both ordered the Fresh Hop Citra Pale Ale, because ’tis the season and soon the fresh hops will be gone. It was good, but not amazing. We both get a half point for effort. Or something.

Next stop was Reuben’s Brews, which is hands down one of my favorite breweries in Seattle. They have a new-ish taproom that is pretty sweet, and we were joined by Laura and Juanse, who are super cool people who ride bikes a lot and are basically just the most fun to hang out with. We also needed food, and there is always a food truck at Reuben’s, hence the decision to go there. Saturday’s food truck was called Napkin Friends, and it was insane.

Ok, so I know this post is supposed to be about beer. But can I just talk about this food truck for a minute? HOLY YUM. I am actually having trouble writing about it right now because I’m beginning to drool all over my keyboard just thinking about this sandwich. (Ok, I know, that’s kind of gross. But if you’ve ever read my blog you’ll know that I often discuss my overt drooling habits when talking about delicious things. So you might as well get used to it. Or don’t, what do I care?)

a8d37bc7ccb6c018efa36b9be4950f15For those of you who didn’t click on that link and are still reading this, here’s the deal: this sandwich doesn’t have any bread. Sounds crazy, right? But no, because it’s AMAZING. Instead of bread, there are latkes. Yes. Potato pancakes. Delicious potato goodness. Two of them, hugging the contents of the sandwich with such care and joy that your taste buds legitimately can’t contain themselves anymore, and once you bite into the sandwich you’re transported to a world where bread no longer matters, because fuck normal sandwiches, THIS IS LITERALLY MAGICAL.

[Sorry. I need a moment to breathe. And by that, I mean WINE BREAK. You know, to calm my nerves.]

Ok. ANYWAY. Back to business. And by business, I mean beer!

Reuben’s Brews is a wonderful spot, and they have a lot of beer. It’s pretty impressive. We’re now at a point in the afternoon where I started losing track of shit, so I don’t entirely remember what we were all drinking. I know I had an Imperial Pumpkin Ale of some sort. I think Laura and Chris both had a Dark Lager. I don’t remember what Juanse ordered, because by then I was a) slightly drunk and b) absorbed in the really intense social/political/real-life-shit conversation we were having. Which, of course, I have little memory of now. Woohoo!

Oh, and as for points, I get points for drinking the strongest beer at the table. So Christina 1.5, Chris 0.5. YES!

So things get a bit shitty here because it started to rain. So, summoning my tipsy authority, I convinced Chris to go back to Peddler for another beer instead of riding all the way home in the rain. He was clearly not entirely on board with the idea, but ultimately he admitted (after the fact) that it was a GREAT IDEA and I am a genius. (He didn’t say that. He did say it was a good idea though. But only afterwards.)

So I get a point for being right (woo!) but Chris gets 2 for putting up with me. So we’re now tied at 2.5 each. Damn.

The return to Peddler is mostly a blur. We sat there for a while, but the place was filled with Ohio State fans and I didn’t really understand what was happening. I also took far too long to drink my beer. So I lose a half point.

Christina 2, Chris 2.5. Shit.

At this point it was definitely time to go home. Both of us had uphill rides ahead of us. But seeing as Chris had to go at least 2 miles farther than I did, he gets an extra point. Christina 2, Chris 3.5.

Well crap. I lost. Damn!

Wait, no. That can’t be right. I went out day-drinking for 5 hours and rode my bike and was super cool and CLEARLY this means I am a winner. Yes. (Chris might be more of a winner, but he’s not here to defend himself so HA!)

And so, dear friends, the moral of the story is that I drank a lot, I biked a lot, and I won. Because that’s just a fact.

**********

[Next time, on Christina’s Adventures in Drinking: That time I was forced to drink fruit beer in London.]