travel

Old Streets, Old Hearts

11.30.16

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Paris was the first place (and only place so far) that I experienced culture shock. It was really weird, because I had visited foreign places, first world place, other places in Europe and places with languages I couldn’t speak before I visited France and never experienced such foreign, scary feelings as when I first landed in France in 2013.

I knew what it was instantly – France on the surface looked enough like any other anglo culture… The architecture looked enough like the rest of Europe, the people looked how I expected, everything was exactly as I expected… except the lifestyle. It was the day-to-day of the Parisian life that shocked me.

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The simple things that tripped me up in Paris. I remember my friend taking me to 3-4 different stores just to gather supplies to make dinner. In her house, her tiny stove and mini-fridge set me into a whirlwind of anxiety. “HOW DOES ONE MEAL-PLAN?!” I asked her. She laughed.

When she would tell me about her job and how people in France don’t really get fired. Or how small her salary was and how many hours she worked – I remember being totally shocked. What about work-life balance? How do you make it to the gym and then all those stores and then commute, then make a healthy dinner and have time with your significant other and perhaps a hobby when you leave work at 7-8PM every night? She said “It’s worse for my boyfriend, he works longer hours.”

I remember taking the subway and watching multiple old men whip their bits out and pee in public. WHAT. I remember how disgruntled the French seemed by my American English. I read online that the French were hesitant to speak English, but I didn’t realize they might also be really rude to you if you were speaking English. I remember thinking “are they being rude? or am I missing some silly nuance?”

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This time though, this time I would be ready for Paris. This time I wouldn’t be shocked when I landed in France and everything was strange. I learned some French, I planned how to eat out and was ready to see public urination. And well, it sorta worked and France sorta tripped me up again. It seems, something deep in me adores Paris but in the way that I am also deeply terrified of it. It’s deviant, strange.

This time I could tell my waiters that my French was bad, but I could say please and thank you and a few phrases to stumble through ordering, but I had a waiter dramatically glare at me when I put my fork upside down on my plate when I was done. Another French friend told me I was being offensive my folding my napkin upon my plate when I was finished eating too.

Oh the customs I keep missing.

My boyfriend had a minor meltdown over the lack of coffee shops with to-go cups. He was caffeine withdrawal angry every morning. I was confused about which businesses would be closed on a public holiday and ended up visiting 3 restaurants on my list before we simply had to duck in somewhere and grab food.

Another waiter playfully scorned me for ordering a dessert and not finishing it, saying “An American who doesn’t eat all of her food, incomprehensible!” and then he kissed my hand as I was red from embarrassment.

OY VEY.

But I was so much better than my first trip. And next time we visit France, we will be even more prepared. Have you guys ever experienced culture shock? Where and why?

travel

Bonjour, Paris

11.28.16

Paris travel guide

I used to have dreams about Paris as a girl. Until I visited, I couldn’t really imagine what Europe was like – the closest I could get was movies and even then, it was as though something didn’t equate in my head. I couldn’t really imagine the buildings; I couldn’t perceive how tall the Eiffel Tower would be. Dreams about Paris would dot through my dreamscape every so often – one time I dreamt the Eiffel Tower was only as tall as a playground jungle gym.

Then I went to Paris… And like all other romantic hearts was struck by it. I spent some time there when I was 23 and it was just incomprehensible. It felt like a city of such beauty, such antiquity, such a resilience to modernism couldn’t actually exist.

But Paris exists. Last month, I had the opportunity to travel back to Europe for my second time and spend two weeks in The City of Lights.

Paris travel guide
Paris travel guide

This time before I left for Paris, I had another peculiar dream about the city. It felt just like the series of dreams I had before. I dreamt that I was wandering the streets by myself, staring at buildings and fountains, dreaming of people who had once lived in all of the buildings I passed. In my dream a group of three people, two men and a woman approached me on rollerblades, dressed like French clowns, but also like… trendy. Instead of face paint they had cool harlequin makeup and custom Missoni patterned skates. WHAT DOES IT MEAN. It means that my brain doesn’t seemingly know what to ever expect from Paris.

Paris travel guide

Paris travel guide

I got the chance to go back courtesy of my job. The events team needed volunteers to work the Paris Games Week tradeshow for 8 days. I signed up, because free airfare, and booked a few vacations days at the end and begged my hunny to join me. Michael had never been to Europe before and I felt like it would be the perfect opportunity to explore for a few days. So I worked like crazy my first week there and Michael crashed my hotel room and did some solo exploring.

I feel that I should be honest on here, because it can be very easy to turn photos of travel into a brag, but anyone reading this should know that this trip was a hard one. Our friends keep asking us how Paris was and Michael and I take a deep breath before trying to smile and say “it was really… neat”.

When Michael got into Paris, I was incredibly sick. Something about foreign germs always gets me. I always get sick when I travel to far-off places. Not to mention a convention with long long hours, no days off, a 30 minute break every day and 300k germy little kids wiping their noses on their hands and their hands on our toys and well, of course I got sick. But I was cranky and rapidly developing a very strong sinus infection. I was sleep deprived and stressed and I don’t speak French and had issues getting to a pharmacy and well, thank goodness for Michael because he saved my butt.

If you ever need a doctor in France, it’s actually much easier than you’d expect to get a prescription for antibiotics. Your hotel can call a doctor for 100 euro, who will come to your room and write you a prescription for some strong antibiotics and you can fill them instantly at most pharmacies. Thankfully, Michael coordinated my healing for me, except he spent the second week of the trip somewhat sick himself.

Paris travel guide

Paris travel guide

C’est la vie, as the French would say. It was still a beautiful trip overall, but it was one of those ones where you’re just so. damn. thankful. when you land back at your home airport. There’s really no room for complaining when you get to visit a foreign country without paying for airfare. BUT I also want any readers to know that well, some trips are hard. I’ve traveled a lot and sometimes you have these amazing adventurous beautiful trips, sometimes they’re emotional, sometimes they’re physically hard, sometimes they’re lonely, sometimes the language barrier is so infuriating. I’ve experienced all different kinds of trips and this one just falls into the spectrum like the rest. I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

Anyway, stay tuned for more posts coming soon with all my tips for Paris sights/foods/drinks and also a little insight into my planning process for trips!

See more of my Paris travel posts.

curio

The Goldfinch

11.27.16

The Goldfinch Book Review

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt || 771 Pages || 5/5 Review

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I (semi) often post reviews of the books I am reading. Reading is, and always has been, my first love. It’s a huge part of who I am as a person. So I like sharing whichever books I am reading and giving them a quick review. I post my reviews to both Instagram and Goodreads and thought that I may as well post them here too.

The Goldfinch was one of those books that I saw around and resisted, to give it some time to get some reviews from my peers. It’s not really a genre I have wanted to dabble in until recently (I prefer wizards and teenager vampires to reality), but I am deeply glad that I chose to not read a single fantasy this year and expand my horizons. The Goldfinch is one of the best books I have read lately and I recommend it to anyone who is willing to dive deep for an exquisitely heartbreaking adventure.

The Goldfinch Book Review

REVIEW:
This book felt less like reading a novel and more like traversing an epic journey across ages, time zones, emotional junctures and somehow completely believable but shockingly un-believable events. I feel like this book became a part of who I am as a person, perhaps in part because of how long I carried it in my bag with me.

What. A. Road.

Oh, but a beautiful road it was. It was maddeningly slow sometimes, but in an intoxicating romantic way. Never so slow that I would abandon it, but rather I’d find myself contemplating pages and paragraphs for days after reading them, before I’d reach back into what was a deeply depressing, but wholly incredible read.

Theo as a character is so deeply human. If not relatable, he was at least, vulnerable. He was flawed and frustrating and at times I just wanted to cradle him in my arms. At other times, I wanted to yell at him and then again I found myself being him. Especially in the scenes of his adolescence…

And maybe it’s only those who grew up a bit like a Theo did – not watched close enough, not loved deeply enough – that understand the beauty in a friendship a little too close, the lack of connection with other people, the obsessive love of an object that tethers you to a dead parent. Maybe this book is too hard to identify with unless you have lived it to a certain degree. For me, someone whose life was turned upside down in my early years (albeit, not quite so dramatically or worthy of this type of prose), it was reminiscent of my young adulthood. Reading this book reminded me of quiet snowy walks, wishing for a life different than my own. It took me back to the awkwardness of craving love from those who weren’t meant to give it to me.

Truly a beautifully woven tale, that at times felt more real than real life even though the story was alluringly abstract.

A few of my favorite passages from the end of the book:

“Well – I have to say I personally have never drawn such a sharp line between “good” and “bad” as you. For me: that line is often false. The two are never disconnected. One can’t exist without the other. As long as I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing [the] best I know how.”

“Only – if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things – beautiful things – that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another?”

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Kitchen Wants

11.14.16

minimalist kitchen wants

SOOOOOOO I BOUGHT A HOUSE!!! Heh. I am so excited guys. I am a landowner. Actually, even better than that, Michael and I bought a house together. So we’re sorta officially a little family with the perfect little home in North Denver. We’ve been having a blast decorating and setting things up; it’s totally a nest. It wasn’t all that long ago that we were in a long-distance relationship and now here we are, happily together in our home.

We decided to go very minimal with our home. We both got ride of a lot of stuff. We’ve been setting things up, purging old furniture, buying new furniture (this and this, squee), and now I am slowly replacing our old items with shiny new things. In terms of belongings, we really don’t need much more than we have now. We’re keeping it lean in the kitchen (okay we own a few gadgets), but I am trying to replace our college hand-me-downs and put beautiful simple items throughout the house.

The recycled glass cups are something we already picked up! We found this exact set in France and carted them home in our carry-ons. I’m dreaming about more wooden spoons and replacing our flatware with a matching set. Like seriously, how the heck do we have so many different kinds of forks? Where did they all even come from?

Shop my minimalist kitchen wants:

colander || flatware || pitcher || toaster || tumblers || wrap

wellness

Um, Hi.

10.10.16

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I’ve been wanting to phrase this post 100 different ways over the past 6 months. Every week, I add this post to my to-do list. I spend Sunday mornings pondering when I will write it and what I’ll say. Sometimes driving home from work I imagine the words with no way to write them down, always knowing that my truth is a simple one: just do something.

I have put off blogging ever since moving home… what was that.. 4 months ago now? Honestly it’s been a tumultuous, busy time. It’s been everything I can do to wake up and go to work and come home and exist, let alone blogging. Let alone laundry or meditation or exercise or cleaning or spending time with humans or animals or anything.

If you’re wondering what I have been doing for four months, it goes a bit something like this:

1. Moved Home
I made it back to Colorado, unpacked my belongings in my boyfriend’s home, saw a few friends and genuinely enjoyed my first weeks back. After those initial few weeks, mounting pressure to find a job and take my next steps in life set some strong anxiety into my psyche.

2. Hawaii
We went on a two-week trip to Hawaii to spend a chunk of time together. Since the 3rd month of our relationship, Michael and I didn’t get to spend more than a week together at a time. Hawaii was lovely, even despite my fears of an ever-lowering bank account.

3. New Job
Thankfully I found a new job just two weeks after being home from Hawaii, but it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I’ve officially been in my new job for 2 months and I feel like things are starting to level out a little, but I still have a lot of work to do on balancing my home life and my work life and finding some peace in what has turned out to be a rather chaotic workplace.

I also notably turned 27, became an aunt again, am buying a house this Friday and traveling to Paris in 2 weeks. My head has been spinning, but I do promise I am coming back to my little sanctuary of a space despite abandoning it perhaps when I have needed it the most.

Be patient with me. I’m going to be patient with me.

Image Credit

wellness

What You Want

05.25.16

what you want

Okay this isn’t the first life lesson I have posted about (see here, here and really just keep scrolling back a while), but I thought it was time for a little update to the whole thing. Actually, my update is a retrograde to structuring my thoughts more like how I used to in those posts. Just a bit more like a journal entry.

We spend a lot of time thinking about the things we want. At least I do. I think about the things I want nearly constantly. From objects, to personality traits, to experiences, to changes… I want a lot. Always yearning in the Rachel Camp. Sometimes I get what I want, sometimes I don’t, but nearly always I forget to take time to reflect on these things. I want (see there it is again) to be the kind of woman who is more deliberate with her wants, slower with her wants, and gracious about the outcomes no matter what they look like.

So, some practice. When I first had the idea of moving away from home last year (I’ve always had this idea, but it waxes and wanes) I had this image in my head of Snoopy and I walking down some stairs, stepping out on the street and just going for a stroll. That was my visualization of moving. I began to dig a bit and I imagined a job I loved, I imagined some sort of industrial flat. I imagined driving a big truck across the country, mile by mile getting closer to my new start.

And guess what. I got everything I wanted, sometimes in the most uncanny ways. I got a princess palace on the cheap in a cool side of town, a great job that paid me well and inspired and challenged me, streets bustling with opportunity and undiscovered restaurants. I got to refine my routines. I got to experience loneliness (something I genuinely wanted). I couldn’t really imagine a better experience, moving away. And yet, I am leaving it all behind this week to go back home, which really isn’t something I want, but something I need to do. And reflectively, I feel so gosh damned lucky right now. Even though I’m sad and stressed and headed toward a small home, in a city I’d very much like to avoid, with no job prospects at all… I am so so deeply thankful for getting exactly what I wanted and that’s enough for me right now.

xx

image credit: cereal magazine
more posts about life lessons

recipe book

Healthy Foods

05.24.16

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I have this really strange curiosity about what other people eat. I find it so fascinating because we all eat so differently. I’ve really spent the last year refining what my diet looks like. I have a lot of room to grow here in terms of nutritional content and staying consistent, but a year ago I couldn’t have told you much about what I ate. It was all very unintentional and happenstance.

WHAT I EAT

  • Breakfast – rotate between three main meals – chia pudding, overnight oats, frittata.
  • Meals without sides (one main dish typically).
  • Quinoa instead of rice (healthier & faster!).
  • Selective sweets: homemade peanut butter fudge or chocolate covered bananas (milk chocolate ftw).
  • No drinking on weeknights (Friday & Saturday only).
  • Change it up seasonally: Summer = Fish & Salads, Fall = Stuffed squash & Soups, Winter = Chile & Stew, Spring = Grain salads.
  • Cheat Meals (for emotional nights or quick meals, never more than once a week): Annie’s pastas or Ramen noodles.
  • Eating out only happens a few times per week (2 is my goal) unless there are unusual circumstances.

HOW I EAT

MEAL PREP! I’m obsessed. It’s a huge component of my weekly and daily routine. I typically spend an hour on Sunday morning planning my meals for the week. Then Sunday afternoon I go shopping. Sometimes I have to hit as many as 3 stores to get everything I need, so it’s a real affair. Sunday night I cook my most complicated meal of the week and then on Monday night I cook an easier one.

  • Choose recipes that will yield at least 4-5 servings, or double them.
  • Choose one meaty recipe (fish or turkey or chicken) and one veggie one (typically grain based).
  • Cook Sunday and Monday nights and portion meals before putting them in the fridge.
  • Eat leftovers for both lunch and dinner all week. This takes training to get used to but it’s awesome to reach into the fridge and pull out your meals.

TIPS

  • I use Pinterest to find most of my recipes, but occasionally I will simply Google whatever I am looking for.
  • Create an account with My Fitness Pal and use their recipe calorie calculator to find your nutrition. You can use this to track your meals also, if that is something you’re into.
  • Use an inverted pyramid: higher calories earlier in the day and taper down toward evening.
  • Drink hot lemon water or tea before anything else in the morning to rev up your digestive system.
  • Eat fruit (or veggies) for snacks and pick different fruits every week for the best variance in nutrients.
  • Try to keep snacking to a minimum. This also takes training, but it can be done. I very rarely eat between meals.

Here’s a breakdown of my meals on a random day:



6:30AM: Pre-Breakfast
– Hot Lemon Water

8:15AM: Breakfast
Overnight Oatmeal or Chia Pudding with a handful of blueberries and sliced almond
– 1 cup of coffee with 2 creamers, no sugar
– Fill up my water bottle for the day

12:00PM: Lunch
Garlicky Kale Salad or Balsamic Chicken Salad with Lemon Quinoa

3:00PM: Afternoon Snack
– 1/2 Cup of Cottage Cheese or 1 Bag of Natural Sea Salt Popcorn or 1 bottle of Kombucha
– Afternoon Coffee or Green Tea

6:00PM Dinner
Tilapia & Feta Cucumber Quinoa or Alkaline Green Soup

8:00PM Dessert
– 1-2 pieces of Natural Peanut Butter Fudge
– Hot Tea or Lemon Water



Tell me about how you eat in the comments, or if you have and tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years. Also let me know if you have any questions about what I eat!!

xx

wellness

Funemployment Files | 01

05.20.16

funemployment

T-Minus 1 week until my last day at work, after which I will be officially joining the ranks of the unemployed. I thought it might be interesting to see this journey as it unfolds for anyone else in a similar boat, thusly the #funemploymentfiles. I’m so funny.

THE SITUATION

I have enough money and help from the boyfriend to sorta make it for a while. Obviously it’s not ideal. Paying health insurance out of pocket is a blow. Not contributing to my retirement is keeping me up at night. Among all the day to day worries with basic finances, I am also having an existential career crisis. I don’t know what I want to do next. I’ve long felt the unfolding of a deep feeling that maybe I don’t want to be a graphic designer. In my current role, I act as a Creative Director and very rarely am hands-on with design and it actually is much more rewarding for me. BUT, Creative Director jobs are hard to come by when you’re 26 and don’t have a stunning portfolio of high-profile client work. I also want to find a job I can stay with for 5+ years. A job where I can grow and where I believe in the company and what I am doing. I know I’m asking for a lot here, but I’m at a point in my life where I am trying to be intentional about the things I do. I don’t want to take some job that I feel only okay about and leave in a year. I want to hold out for the right job. I don’t even know what that is, but I am hoping I will know it when I see it.

THE INTENTION

I kind of anticipate being unemployed for a while. Maybe it’s a few weeks, maybe it’s the summer. And if it was a while, I’d be okay with it. If it wasn’t, that’s okay too. I’m happy with my situation and I intend to not let my unemployment go to waste. I am preparing to make myself a daily schedule, weekly goals and plenty of routines to keep me focused and working. Here’s my initial brainstorm on some of the things I hope to accomplish during my indefinite period of joblessness:

setup my new home
practice meditation daily
explore denver
get outdoors
fitness, every day
journaling, reading & blogging
refining my goals for the next phase of life
volunteering
spending time with family/friends
art projects, learning new things

THE EXPECTATION

I fully expect to have moments of painful boredom. I expect moments of feeling lost. I also expect to find some freedom. How often in one’s life do they get to be unemployed for the summer with no seriously pressing financial stress? I expect to possibly find a part-time gig. I also expect life to be vastly different from my expectations. Isn’t that sorta how it always goes?

My next step is to start putting together a daily routine that I’d like to try and adhere to. No sleeping in (okay maybe a little sleeping in) for this woman. I also want to make a more specific list of goals for myself and further my exploration of what my dream job would be.

xx.

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fashion

maniamania

05.19.16

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I cannot be trusted with nice things. Sunglasses, boyfriend’s debit cards, expensive jewelry… I have been known to lose all of these things with an uncanny rapidness. It’s always been a bit of a struggle for me when I see other women wearing really pretty jewelry or tucking away their expensive sunglasses. I wonder how they are so put-together. What girl, you don’t get sloppy drunk on Friday nights and lose all your belongings? Heh, me neither. Oh you don’t break everything that passes within a cubic foot of your body? I also don’t have that problem. Like HOW. How do you not lose/squish sunglasses? HOW do you keep your rings on your fingers? I cannot even keep polish on my nails for more than a few hours, let alone bear the burden of expensive jewelry. I am just not a dainty woman. I’m a rough and tumble tomboy at my core.

All that being said, my very sweet boyfriend bought me a beautiful ring for Valentine’s Day this year. It’s a proper womanly ring. Also to be fair, I did ask for the ring. I decided it was high-time I owned one nice object. I had been searching quite extensively for jewelry I might enjoy wearing. I may be a tomboy, but I am a pretty damn picky tomboy. And when I found ManiaMania, it was true heart-eyes-emoji love. I literally love every single thing they make. All of it. It’s just… well it fits my aesthetic to a T. Check them out, you will not be sad you did. I want every single ring they ever make.

I would also like to note, while we’re on the subject, that if I am a bit of a masculine lady… I have picked a partner who is a bit of a feminine man. And somehow, that works out just perfectly. Dude has more than twice the amount of shoes I have. And also, he’s prettier than me. And once a little kid loudly asked his mother “mom, why does he have long hair and hers is so short?” We chuckled pretty good at that one.

xx

wellness

Headed West

05.18.16

headed west

This is a hard post to write. I’ve been searching in myself for the words I want to say for several weeks now and I still keep avoiding it. I’ve said it a few times and in a few places, so anyone who reads this blog probably already knows that I am moving back home in less than two weeks. It’s hard to know where to start to make it all make sense and not ramble forever, but I suppose I’ll start from the beginning.

In November I flew out to Louisville for a job interview. I took the job when it was offered to me and I had four weeks to pack and move. My boyfriend and I went on our first date in October and it felt very silly at the time to turn down a job for a two month relationship. If it was meant to be, it would be, I told myself. He helped me move out here, albeit reluctantly but supportively nonetheless and we planned initially to try and see one another at least once a month, if not more.

To say it was hard would be an understatement. Falling in love with someone who you rarely see, in a different time zone, is it’s own unique kind of torture. But he flew out here every three weeks for the first few months. It wasn’t until my first visit home, only two full months after coming here that I started spiraling down. With a whole slew of family issues and my heart feeling like it was no longer in my chest but beating 1,000 miles away from me, I began to get pretty depressed. My visit home wasn’t some glorious event where I saw my old life through rose tinted glasses or something. In fact, it was really hard. It reminded me of why I moved away in the first place.

I didn’t (and still don’t) really want to be in Denver. I liked the distance from everything I grew up with. In Louisville I am what I say I am. I get to be a version of me that doesn’t exist in Denver. Which is why the decision to move home was ridiculously difficult. But I thought about it and I talked about it with my closest people a lot. I faced a good deal of resistance to my idea of moving home, in fact, my two best friends were (and kinda still are) pretty ardently against the notion of me moving back. This is my big chance in life, the big opportunity to go do something different. And I would move back over family stuff that’s out of my control and even worse, for a man? I feel guilty even writing how much my friends oppose my decision, because it may all blow up in my face someday. But at the end of it all, this is my decision.

If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow. – Beyonce

 

The thing about me is that I always follow my intuition. And uniquely, my intuition isn’t just my “gut feeling”. I’m very good at combining feelings with logic. It’s always been a skill of mine. My gut is telling me to go home. My gut is telling me to give my relationship a shot. My brain is going through the catalog of my existence and it keeps telling me the same thing: I always learn from my mistakes. I am a person who makes a lot of mistakes, but I don’t make the same mistakes twice. It is one of my deepest held beliefs in life that the path to wisdom is a series of lessons that one must learn and that the universe (or whatever you believe in) will guide you down your path. When you encounter obstacles, you always have to make choices and experience the pieces of life that have been made available to you. It is your choice whether to learn from the experience and move forward, or to stay there and continue experiencing the same thing over and over (usually asking yourself “why me?”). Thus far, the worst and hardest experiences in my life have taught me the most important lessons. I am always learning, even if sometimes it’s the hard way.

So no matter what happens next, maybe my relationship falls apart, maybe we get married and live happily ever after. Maybe I hate that I moved back home and I find another out of state job. Maybe I go home and redefine my life and my friendships completely. This is my life and I am learning the lessons I need to learn right now.

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