Vacation Recap Part I – Lakes District

Hello my dear readers!  I arrived back home yesterday night and am fairly jetlagged, but not as bad as I have been in the past – I swear I recall, when coming back from studying abroad in Madrid in college (eight years ago!  scary), crawling into my bed at my parents’ house and sleeping for a week.  So this feels like a piece of cake.   And it was such a fabulous trip, it was totally worth it!  I took about 300 photos on my trip, but I’ll just choose the highlights for you.  Also, (surprise surprise), I brought my little journal with me but I only wrote in it while waiting in London-Heathrow on the way there and the way back.  Oops.

Anyway, it really was the perfect trip.  I began my trip in the Lakes District of England — Keswick, to be exact — for my best friend M.’s wedding celebration.  Anyone who is a fan of hiking nd other outdoorsy pursuits (and doesn’t mind rainy weather) should plan a trip there immediately.  It is so gorgeous and lush and green, and the towns are darling and cobblestone-street-filled.  I was so inspired by the scenery, and by my desire to both see as much of M. as I could and to make the most of my vacation that I went hiking 3 days in a row, and despite some huffing and puffing on my part (which has now made me resolve to get in shape again), I really enjoyed it. 

Here are some photos from the first hike:

It was the only truly sunny day of my stay in Keswick, and it was perfect temperature on the trail.  There was one setback, however — the hiking boots I borrowed from a friend waited until we were 2 – 2 1/2 hours into the hike, then the soles began to just peel off!!  We were about 2/5 of the way through the hike, so we turned back, but not before we created the following temporary fix out of the wrist straps for our walking poles, some string we found lying around, and some athletic tape:

And I made it back down the mountain in one piece – though the hiking boots ended up in the rubbish bin and I switched to M.’s trail runners for the rest of the weekend – luckily we wear the same size!

The day after that first hike it was pouring rain, and that was the day of the mountaintop ring exchange.  We all trekked up there in full rain gear (which I had to borrow — I think I had been overly optimistic about the weather when I packed!).  Despite the weather, it couldn’t have been more perfect.  M.’s husband, CC, gave a really heartwarming (and tear-inducing) speech about how much he loves her and how he wanted a chance to declare his love in front of their friends and family.  We were all there, huddled in the rain, watching my dearest friend and her husband, two people who are so in love — it was beautiful. 

Later that evening, we changed into our party clothes and got down to the business of eating and drinking.  M.’s brother is now a chef, so he cooked up a fabulous meal — salmon, sundried tomato risotto and salad, followed by chai tea creme brulee:

And of course, wedding cake — Irish fruitcake homemade by the groom’s mom:

The rest of the night was mellow, caused by food/wine/champagne induced coma!

All in all, it’s hard to convey just what a wonderful few days it was: such a great group of people, such a wonderful celebration, so much joy and laughter.

More on London and Paris, including photos, in upcoming posts.  Stay tuned for tales of a fetching French boy and some restaurant misadventures with my friend RL!

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Countdown to vacation!

In a mere 5 days, I will be in Las Vegas with some of my favorite people in the world, celebrating the last days of bachelorette-hood of my friend S.  And in a mere 9 days, I will be on a Virgin Atlantic flight en route to London!!!!  I will be attending the wedding celebration festivities of my oldest friend M. (we have been BFFs since we were 7) and then seeing my college roommate who lives in London.  I can’t wait!!!

Two things need to happen before then, though.

First, I need to figure out what in the world I am going to pack!!  Vegas is easy — cute going-out outfits, my new bikini (yes, I bought the Jcrew one and it is cute!), check and check.  But for the Europe trip I am totally baffled.  I will be gone for 12 days.  I will be visiting Keswick (Lake District, England), London, and Paris.  I will be doing all of the following: kayaking/canoeing; hiking (M. and her hubby are doing the ring exchange atop a mountain – more on that later); attending a fancy wedding dinner party; traveling by plane and train; sightseeing all over London and Paris; and hopefully enjoying some London/Paris nightlife.  The only things so far that I know I am bringing are hiking boots, my new digital camera, and my dress for M.’s wedding celebration:

(By the way, obtaining this dress was no easy feat.  I went to many stores — Nordstrom, Macy’s, BCBG, etc, and endured one very pushy gay salesman at BCBG who wanted to dress me in something that looked straight out of Star Trek, before finally discovering this dress at Ann Taylor.)

Anyway, I want to make sure I have everything I need for my trip, but I also want to bring the smallest suitcase possible so it’s not too rough on all the trains I’ll be taking.  Therefore, I don’t have the luxury of bringing my entire closet or shoe collection.  And I am very indecisive.  And the hiking boots will take up 1/2 the suitcase.  Gah!  Help!

The second and even more troubling thing that needs to happen is that my knee needs to heal.   I really can’t explain what happened, but during my Friday night barhopping adventure, my knee started to hurt.  I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but when I awoke yesterday I found that I was still hobbling and limping around and my knee felt like I had twisted it.  I have spent the remainder of the weekend, when I am home, intermittently icing and elevating the knee.  (That frozen Kung Pao Chicken meal from Trader Joe’s is really coming in handy.)  Today it feels a bit better, and in any other week I wouldn’t really care, because I’m sure it will heal relatively soon.  But I am going to (hopefully!) be doing lots of walking/hiking over the next 2 1/2 weeks, and I can’t afford to be impaired in any way.  Especially since I am not exaggerating when I say that I am one of the least athletic people I know, so I am already worried about keeping up with everyone while hiking in England.  (Note – the hiking boots are borrowed bc I don’t own any myself!)**  Oy.  And I can’t miss the ring exchange, so even if it hurts I WILL be hobbling up that mountain.

Okay, when I say that “out loud” it doesn’t sound like the smartest idea.  We’ll see…

**It has been suggested by a matchmaking fellow blogger that GeekHiker and I should go out.  To which I have to respond that GeekHiker clearly needs a girl who, you know, likes to hike.  🙂

Worlds Colliding

Tonight, despite the fact that it’s been a stressful week, and I have way too much going on at work and I keep screwing things up and it’s only going to get more hectic…I have this strange sense of calm and quiet. I don’t know why or how or where that zen is coming from, but I’ll take it! Noodles is curled up in a little ball of fur next to me, I am comfy on the couch with Lost on in the background, and all seems right with the world.

This week I’ve gotten some blog love from a couple of bloggers who I’ve never heard from before. I know that several of my “real-life” friends read this blog (and am reminded of that fact when I get a call like, “I didn’t know that happened!!! I read it in your blog!!!” — sorry, girls). I also know that I have a handful of fellow late-20s female bloggers who read this blog (and whose blogs I read religiously). I wasn’t sure if any guys read this blog though, and honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they didn’t — I’m sure neurotic women are a dime a dozen in our great City of Angels!

So I was more than pleasantly surprised when I got comments from not one, but two male bloggers in response to my poll about sending the email to Networking Guy. (Side note: I sent an email to Networking Guy and he wrote me back a friendly-but-detached email that left the ball solidly in my court. Yeah…not quite the profession of undying love that I had hoped for. Sigh.)

But I digress. The first comment I received was from Geekhiker, who has a blog that is equal parts dating, hiking, and randomness. I enjoy the dating stories — as someone who as my dear readers know is prone to recount her own tales of dating tragedy and comedy, it is refreshing to get a guy’s perspective. And I enjoy the hiking tidbits — there really are so many amazing spots around L.A. And I will go check out more than the local ones…just as soon as I get in shape. In any event, check out GeekHiker!

The second commenter, who emailed me directly, was JMB. This guy doesn’t seem to get many comments, and I have no idea why — when I started reading, it was love at first post for me. JMB chronicles his L.A. adventures through witty, entertaining writing combined with photography, and it’s sort of like reading Los Angeles Magazine (one of my simple pleasures) but with that human touch. Warning: JMB writes using the “royal we” which at first confused me (when he said “we went to this concert” I kept wondering who the “we” was) but once you get used to it, it’s amusing. The theme of his blog is recommendations of things he likes. Well, S/F recommends: JMB. Check it.

And this weekend I am meeting up in person with one of my fellow bloggers! Like me, she’s a single, late-20’s attorney living in Los Angeles and having sometimes-fun, sometimes-atrocious dating experiences. I’m looking forward to meeting her, after getting to know her through our blogs and emails (though my friends made fun of me for having a “girl blind date.”) Hey, people, it’s the 21st century. When you think about it, if I’m meeting all my recent dates online, why not new friends?

Speaking of online dating (wow, aren’t my segues smooth?) I officially cancelled Match.com and have felt not even a moment of remorse about my decision. I did decide to extend my eHarmony subscription for one additional month — query whether it’s some sort of strange addiction? Anyway, even though there is something I like about the slow pace of eHarmony (I have a theory that the higher price and tedious number of steps will deter the guys who just want to get laid, which Match.com certainly does NOT), the slow pace can also drive me a bit nuts. Also, even after having to answer the same cheezy questions time and time again, I still get — can I call it writer’s block? Here are the 3 questions facing me right now from my most recent match:

1. What is the one dream for your life you most look forward to having come true?
2. Tonight you can do anything you want, no penalties, no reprisals, and the cost is unimportant. What are you going to do?
3. How would you spend a romantic evening with someone you have been dating for more than one year?

Ok, so I understand the purpose of these questions, and I like reading the other person’s answers. (Though, in response to the question “what do you find physically attractive?” the guy responded with a long winded answer about how “smart is sexy” and personality is the most important, which sent my bullshit-o-meter through the roof). But in general, I get it. Still, when I am faced with these questions I just end up staring blankly at the screen (thus eating up precious potentially billable minutes) and then giving up.

So here’s my challenge to you, dear readers. Save me from the agony of having to answer these again. Submit your own answers and I will choose the winners to send to Mr. Potential Date. Who wants to play??

My arms will keep me warm

Hello, dear readers, and I hope you had a fabulous weekend. Things are still going swimmingly in the post-trial world of S/F. It’s a bit strange since I’m not exactly sure what the catalyst was, but I feel, as my friend D. put it, that I am really coming into my own all of a sudden. I’m not sure why this is happening now, and part of me wishes that it happened a long time ago (I’m 28 and have been living all by myself — no roommates — for over a year and a half now), but for the first time I can remember, I really feel the full ownership I have over my life and I’m loving it. For so long, if I’m really honest with myself, my main focus (whether consciously or subconsciously) has been looking, waiting, wishing and hoping that the love of my life would come along. When I got sick of feeling heartbroken, I put up a self imposed wall and told myself I was on “man-cation” but I never actually broke out of the same old patterns. But I feel like I had an “a-ha” moment — what if I never get married? Is that going to be tragic, or is it going to be ok — better yet, is my life going to be great no matter what? And at any rate, why ruin the present worrying about the future?

I’m finally in a place where I feel like my life is fantastic just as it is. Being alone, to me, used to feel like some kind of punishment. Now, I relish it. I fill up my hours with things I want to do — because I have the luxury of being able to focus primarily on my own needs. And I decided to start making positive changes in my life – starting with exercising. I’ve been hiking 3 times in the past week (last Sat and this Sat and Sun) and I’m loving it. I must admit, dear readers, that right now I’m pretty embarrassingly out of shape and I huff and puff up the mountain, but it just makes me that much more motivated to keep at it until I am more fit. Case in point: yesterday my friend D. and I went hiking up in Runyon Canyon, which is where everyone within a 10 mile radius of Hollywood and their dogs goes hiking on the weekend. On our hike, while I was panting my way up the hill (I don’t think I’m very fun to hike with right now b/c I get too out-of-breath to be chatty!) we were passed by a woman who was–no exaggeration–probably 8 1/2 – 9 months pregnant. Like, she could have given birth on the hike. Not only was she hiking in her extremely pregnant state, while my daily exercise prior to this recent hiking spurt consisted of walking the 2 flights of stairs up from my office parking garage, but she was having no trouble whatsoever.

If that’s not motivating, I don’t know what is! I’ve been considering getting up and taking a hike before work some day this week, but we’ll see — when push comes to shove, it’s often difficult for me to rally out of my warm and cozy bed.

In other news, New Guy is apparently still alive. Our last date was over 3 weeks ago, after which he went to Europe for 2 weeks, and we hadn’t talked since. Our last date was somewhat awkward (whereas our prior dates had been pretty sparkling) so I assumed that he had just decided that things would fizzle out. I knew he had gotten back into town and I hadn’t heard anything from him. Honestly, while I thought it was a bit rude (I had sent him an email) I really hadn’t been thinking much about it. And then today I received the following voice mail: “Hi SF, it’s NG, sorry I’ve been so MIA, I got back into town last Sunday and I have been getting killed at work. Hope you’re doing well and that your case went well. Give me a call when you get a chance.”

Normally, if a guy would have called me after I’d given up on him, I would have had an extreme reaction: either really pissed off (“how dare he wait so long to call me?”) or really excited (“I guess he does kinda like me!”) Now, I had neither reaction – instead I though, “Huh.” At first I thought maybe I wouldn’t return the call, since I had already sort of assumed things were over and things were weird last time and he hadn’t contacted me sooner. Then I decided that I would call him and go with the flow. I’m not mad, I’m not thrilled, but I stll think he’s a nice guy and at one point we had some pretty awesome chemistry, so why not? If I weren’t in such a good mental place right now, I might feel like I was playing with fire, but as it is, I know that I’ll be fine no matter what happens.

On a final note, I bought the Juno soundtrack and I’ve been listening to it pretty compulsively. I love the song that Ellen Page and Michael Cera sing together at the end. Is there anything cuter or more romantic than the lyrics “I don’t see what anyone can see, in anyone else/but you”? Then there are all the quirky Kimya Dawson songs that I really appreciate for their upbeatness and strangeness. My favorite is “Tire Swing” and especially the part at the end, “if I’m a spinster for the rest of my life/ my arms will keep me warm on cold and lonely nights.”

Maybe that sounds depressing, but it really isn’t. What can be better than knowing that you’ll be able to keep yourself warm? And I finally know that’s true…