Back To The Beginning

Back to when the earth, the sun, the stars all aliiiiiigned.

Nothing wrong with starting a Friday off with some classic Hilary Duff, right friends? Right?!

Bringing this party to the here and now, I'm writing to you live from my frameless mattress on the floor (Amazon mixup, Amazon how could you), laptop perched on a beat up, duct-taped plastic bin serving as a makeshift desk. My clothes, fresh from storage and smelling like cardboard boxes, are finding their places in my closet and dresser. I have yet to make a grocery run. The walls are bare. I need a lamp and some cute bins big enough for all the miscellaneous, I-really-don't-need-these-Ethernet-cords-what-even-is-Ethernet, can't-bear-to-toss-out-this-ratty-wall-fixture, where-did-you-even-come-from junk that have piled up.

You know what I've always found to be unfair? How, when you're a fifth-grader, you're the hotshots of elementary school. Like, bow down b...rethren, bow down. Then, bam. Back to being squirmy little sixth graders in the pimply, string bean-y, awkward obstacle course known as middle school. Two years later, back on top as devil-may-care eighth graders who own the back of the bus. Aaaaand, nope just kidding, you're a bitty high school freshman. Three years later, you're livin' life like you're living inside Long Live by TayTay Swift. THEN SHUCKS, FRESHMAN AGAIN. On and on.
Well, just now it occurred to me that I'm at my final freshman year: that of the real world. It does seem like it, as my muscles ache from all the boxes I hauled and lugged up the stairs to my room *ahem the box that I hauled and lugged as my dad bless his heart hauled and lugged the other... 12...* and everything's new and different and weird and a little intimidating.

But I know I'll be there soon. Not quite cool senior level, but I'll be a second-semester freshman in no time. It'll be like I've always imagined. Kicking off my boots and shrugging off a coat amidst the briskness of fall, as I change into an oversized college sweatshirt and head towards the kitchen to throw together some dinner. I'll be excited by fitness classes (lol... so ambitious), and finding a good tailor, and fresh produce from the farmers' market, and an efficient salad spinner.

But first, it's time to be that scared shitless but fakin' a this? This ain't no thang! smile freshie. Just one more time.

PS. If I take the grad school route, I just know I'll re-read this post, muttering "bite me" under my breath the whole way through.

London :: My All-Time Favorite Attractions

When asked my favorite city, I freeze up. I'll go all "ummmmmmmm," sputter about nonsensically, perhaps mention Edinburgh or Barcelona, oh and now Dubrovnik but of course, remember that US cities count as cities too and wax poetic/patriotic about my first love New York City and true love San Francisco (despite the rent I had to pay on Monday IT HURTS, it hurts so good), but without fail, I usually forget about London.

I love London. Nay, I fancy London to bits. I heart its slight eccentricity, its modgepodge of neighborhoods. I'm crazy about how I've never even remotely felt unsafe in its borders and its brilliant public transportation. I'm such a fan of how it's this huge, hustling, bustling metropolis, but how it stands upon a history that I can't even begin to fathom. Out of all the international cities I've fallen head over heels for, I think London would be the one in which I'd like to live.

Which is why I felt this terrible sense of gloom and doom when, at the height of my most recent visit, London felt unimpressive and anticlimactic. 

I figured it out though, so no one panic. I got dis.
I didn't pile on nearly enough of a full English breakfast onto my plate. That's the reason.

But also.

The trick to falling for London is that you can't overpack your itinerary with tourist attractions, which is what ended up happening for me this go-around. You just can't. You'll spend half the time in traffic or waiting in line in torrential downpour or under the beating sun. People get pushy and rude, and seriously, why so crowded? Simply not ideal conditions for your heart to go a'flutter.

My advice: pick and choose a couple of touristy things to do, and spend the rest of your time in London enjoying the sunshine by picnicking in a park, shopping at Primark, or taking a day trip somewhere slightly more quaint. You'll be all loopy in love in no time.
My picks (in no particular order) (with links to my past experiences!) 

Kensington Palace, followed by afternoon tea at the Orangerie.

I'll say only three words to you: home of Kate. Now, more words: although less grandiose than Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace is full of charm for any Kate Middleton or Princess Diana fans orrrrrrr throwin' it back now y'all... Queen Victoria fans, anyone? Kensington's garden is vast and breathtaking. Take a nice, long morning walk and then reward yourself with afternoon tea at the Orangerie. (My other favorite afternoon tea is at Fortnum & Mason, but I ain't tryin' to make you sell your firstborn child here, so Orangerie it is.)

Warner Bro. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter.

Well, a ways out of London, but this is an absolute must for any Potterhead. End of story.

Borough Market.

This is what dreams are made of. I made a solo sojourn to Borough Market mere hours before our train to Paris because I simply couldn't go to London and not go to Borough Market. Sample your way around the vendors (I highly recommend the grilled cheese and raclette at Kappacasein), drink some Pimm's, pick up some pastries or soaps or produce or what have you, a sausage sandwich at Brindisa, and brave the Monmouth line for a latte on your way out. I stopped at an ATM before entering the market, and left 30 pounds both lighter and heavier HAHA. HA. On a nice day, I love walking from Borough Market over towards the Globe Theater, up and over the Millennium Bridge and towards St. Paul's.

A show on West End + late night Shake Shack in Covent Garden.

Good and gooder, my friends.

Tower of London + a river cruise down to a tour either at Westminster Abbey or House of Parliament.

This is for you history buffs out there. The Tower of London is so full of history, albeit mostly bloody, sad, or bloody sad. Catch a Yeoman tour and they'll tell you all about where Henry VIII's queens were imprisoned and/or executed. Warm and fuzzy stuff! Cheer yourself up afterwards by taking a peek at the Crown Jewels. Leave blinded. I enjoyed Westminster Abbey much more on a guided tour, but was absolutely enthralled by the House of Parliament's audio guide.

Museum hopping.

The best part is that won't even have to spend a penny. My favorites are the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert. If you choose the V&A, go explore South Kensington afterwards! 
Highlights.

Staying at the Hilton Kensington in Holland Park. Excellent service, nice-sized rooms, reasonable price, and located in my favorite neighborhood. Dinner at Edera. Really, really delicious pasta and Italian food in general. Such nice service - they stayed open for us and didn't rush us at all even though we showed up five minutes before they were supposed to close. Cocktails at The Castle. Although the fish n chips weren't amazing, the summery gin mojito – it was peachy and green tea-y and gingery and really awesome – was out of this world.

I saw London, and now up next I'm gonna show you France! And um let's nix the seeing of the underpants, shall we?

Currently :: June, July, & August

If I were a more brilliant person, I would title this edition "Retroactively" because that's a bigger and more accurate word for this right here, but what can I say. Brain cells have been zapped by too many days out in the direct sunlight. Thanks, Obama.

Without further ado... I have been:

WATCHING // so many beautiful sunsets, and so many beautiful giantesses (those Eastern Europeans! so tall! so mighty! I felt particularly midgety!) strolling down Stradun, the main street in Dubrovnik. Once back in USA Land, we beelined for the movie theater and checked off Trainwreck and Mission Impossible 5 Million (which was surprisingly impressive). Now? Finishing off Parenthood and FRIENDS.

EATING // well, everything. I went from daily English breakfasts to a personally curated Paris goodies tour to carbs ahoy in Italy to seafood in Croatia, meats in Bosnia & Herzegovina, too many brunches in LA and SF (there was one day in San Francisco that we had three breakfasts. Three.) and now to perching on the kitchen counter and snagging samples from my mom's stovetop whenever she has her back turned.

WANTING // to be on the road again, and to be moved in and settled in my new apartment at the same time. Can there be a happy medium?
PLANNING // a bridal shower! I'm single-handedly buying Etsy. Not even a tassel here and a cakestand there. No. I'm buying Etsy. All of it. And also, I'm arranging my new room, of course, so I'm also buying Amazon and maybe IKEA too because why let an excuse for meatballs go wasted.

READING // The Muse. I stumbled upon this career advice resource for millennials by accident, but think that we all need to be following it diligently. Does anyone else have any great career resources, columns, etc. to recommend? I've heard good things about Levo League as well. #GIRLBOSS. There have also been texts about Southeastern Europe, WWI, former Yugoslavia and its war in the 90s, etc. Notable: Ivo Andric's The Bridge on the Drina (a pain, but... I *heard* it gets better, *cough*) and Aleksander Hemon's The Book of My Lives, which was really engaging! And! Hemon came to speak to us in Sarajevo, which was quite the treat.

MAKING // my own food. In a relative sense. Okay so maybe not yet, but I went from Googling "how to turn on a stove" two weeks ago to begging some lessons from my mom and my friend Leah to now scrambling up some pathetic eggs, cooking some passable pasta, and asking for a Crockpot.

SAYING // "sve je dobro u mome svijetu," which is Croatian for "all is well in my world." It was on the label of a very inspirational bottled water company that always had something interesting for us to read. I haven't learned a new language since high school Spanish and I forgot how frustrating and confusing it can be, but I've got to say that it's so much more enjoyable when you're immersed in it all day everyday!

NOTICING // how, although Europe... I mean Europe is Europe, the USA can be pretty great sometimes too. Free water. Target. In-N-Out. Friends in the same time zone. It can also be pretty awful sometimes, but... aren't we all.
MISSING // that girl up there. After four years of living together – some years in one suite, some years in one room, and this summer sometimes in one twin-sized bed as she was coughing up bronchitis germs all over me but I'll take my chances because HOTELS. ARE. EXPENSIVE. – it's kind of sad-weird not being two feet away from her and our Apple TV remote at all times. 

NEEDING // the heat and the humidity to peace the eff out. Sorry. (But I'm really not.)

LEARNING // not to be a broken record about this, but I spent two and a half weeks learning about former Yugoslavia – all the way, way back when it was under empire rule to WWI to the devastating war in the 90s, all from an Eastern perspective. Therein lies one of the most important lessons from this summer: to constantly challenge myself to be open-minded. I didn't ever know that I never knew. I kind of want to learn forever and forever and well shucks too bad, diploma's in hand get outta here.

FEELING // the in between. The gray area. Like I'm in transition. 

Happy Monday to all, and to all ... a venti double-shot?

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