Thursday, December 22, 2016

Memorable Moments from Europe 2015

Last year (2015), I visited 5 countries on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that spanned 18 days. I meant to write about it sooner, but here are some highlights that I still daydream/laugh (and feel pained) about to this day. If you're interested, I still plan to share more details about the places I went and all the great eats in separate posts.

1. After landing at London's Heathrow Airport in a happily drowsy state, my mom and I proudly navigated the tube system lugging our suitcases through crowded train cars, tunnels and stairs. We dropped off our luggage at the hotel, and we crossed the street to visit the famous Pret A Manger (a popular lunch spot). Not familiar with the traffic signage and flow, my mom walked into traffic :/ and was hit by a car. We ended up in an emergency room half an hour later. UGH. My mom fractured her vertebrae, which is still healing to this day. While in the hospital room, my mom cracked a joke (NO PUN INTENDED) about how our hospital room was more spacious than our dumpy hotel room. LOL. Gotta love my mom's sense of humor! More to come! Thankfully, mom made it through the trip (with the help of painkillers). BUT DAMN, it really affected her spirits. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I couldn't shake off this ominous feeling.

2. London is a beautiful multicultural melting pot with all walks of life. This is something I miss from my old international city of Las Vegas. People don't stare at you or look at you like, "you're not from here."

3. In Paris, I'll never forget the night mom and I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. We were on a massive green lawn snapping selfies with the iron lattice tower lit up at dusk.

4. The Palace of Versailles was a remarkable spectacle. There's something about French renaissance architecture and design. I could have spent days there.

5. I'll never forget the kind French man in the convenience store, who didn't speak English, but he was so genuinely excited for us being in Paris. He tried to speak with what minimal English he knew. "First time? Paris? You like?" He probably didn't understand what we were saying, but he smiled back and nodded.

6. That one moment when my mom told the bakery owner that he looked familiar because he looked like a very handsome movie star. It made his day. This is just outside the French bakery.

7. These amazing Paris window sills.

8. Visiting Amelie Poulain's place of employment. My. Favorite. Movie.

8. In the Paris subways, we were followed by a few randos likely trying to steal our cameras. Thankfully, we ran into another crowd and made it to our subway stop safely. We couldn't help but take these photos. No explanation needed.

9. We ate at an authentic Italian restaurant that didn't have menus. Only one chalkboard with dishes in Italian. Feeling homesick for convenience, my mom said, "I wish we could just have Olive Garden." My brother, Karen and I, were dead. Dying of laughter. "Lady! Lady!"

10. In Brussels, mom and I ordered coffees and Belgian waffles in Grand Place (as you do in Belgium). Mom's review: "These waffles don't taste any different from the ones at Costco." I almost spit out my drink.

11. In Copenhagen, I had these grandiose dreams of riding a bike to the mermaid statue early in the morning just like in the movie, "Copenhagen." I even signed up for an online account to use the bikeshare service. Turns out, the bikes were electric, and you'd go from 0 to 10 miles in two feet. My first reaction was to hit the breaks which sent my bike flying, and me falling to the side. Thankfully, I caught myself. EPIC FAIL. This is the famous intersection where it happened.
Morning Ebb And Flow from jim slade on Vimeo.

12. We took a walking tour around Copenhagen, and I got to enjoy a Carlsberg on the street. All while learning all about the city's history and the mad archbishop. Photo by Greg Kiefer.

13. Callie and I thought that ginger shots would help us avoid getting sick. Within seconds of our first sip, we were gagging and ran elsewhere for water.

14. After hanging out with Ally and Hamish in Malmo, we barely caught a train back to Copenhagen and took seats near a group of modelesque Swedes in their 20s ready to hit the town. I had this dreaded feeling that they'd pick on us, and they surely did. As we passed the Oresund bridge, the 5 Swedish guys started impersonating American, Southern, French, and German accents for us. Then one said, "Straight out of Compton!" Nonstop giggles.

15. In Stockholm, this was our beautiful morning commute from our hotel (apartment) to the office every morning.

16. Catching up with my old friend Rakesh from New Zealand now living in London. He took us out to the fun spots in Shoreditch.

17. Sketch London. 

18. The insanity of the two Primarks I've visited.

19. Pret a Manger with Callie. :) 

20. Duck and Waffle views and a catch up with Rey. 

I thought this trip would help me get Europe out of my system, but it didn't. Nothing can cure that. Thankfully, there's been more travel. More to come!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

JV's 2014 Recap (Posted in early 2016)

NOTE: 2014 updates one year later...

It seems that a lot of my friends on social media had a "sucky" 2014. For us, it was also a tough year. I call it the aftermath. We catapulted ourselves over to the U.S. with 3 suitcases each, no jobs lined up, barely enough savings, but it was necessary. Even after nearly 3 years of living in America, we are JUST starting to feel more settled. My uncertainty is the product of the recession, 6 jobs in 6 years (some freelance, some contracted jobs that came with a few unstable environments: xenophobia, microaggressions, racism, etc. UGH!). I held on just to stay afloat and survive overseas and in the U.S. UGH. All the suffering and sacrifices finally paid off because we live in a great place, are surrounded by good souls, and I got a job working for one of the top agencies in the world. Phew* I'm not going ANYWHERE! Stability has started my process of healing.


We welcomed 2014 with a dinner in Eastlake and then enjoyed cocktails/fireworks at Holly's and Alex's place. It was a simple month. We celebrated our 3rd anniversary at Ethan Stowell's Tavolata, there were hang outs with Lady C and Yuck performed at Neumos later in the month.


This amazing photo happened at LTD Art Gallery. A2 and Dom came to visit us, the Seahawks won the Superbowl, and then it snowed. We had a nice Valentine's Day and enjoyed a cute mellow Valentine's Party at Mel's place. I farewell'd a not-so-great situation, and it was the push I needed to pursue something better. We celebrated Chris' birthday with our favorite people. 


March was a busy month. LTD hosted a Game of Thrones exhibit, we also watched the Oscars at the gallery, LSL and I cringed at El Bachelor Juan Pablo's gaffes, I attended a media/PR workshop at the Seattle Times, we watched Sonicsgate with the film team, Christie visited us (lots of hilarious pranks), lots of other life changes kicked in, we watched my spirit animal Dennis Lyxzen perform, and hung out with Mark aka. Figga. :)


There were walks along viaduct. This bright, brilliant young soul invited me to come see her film at the NFFTY festival (she accomplished her dream of being accepted into NYU's film school). I was moved by these young creative geniuses who were also very articulate during the Q&A session. LSL and Erik took us to see these famous tulips.


LTD threw a fun 90s exhibit. The Pains of Being Pure Heart came to Seattle, and I got to spill my guts out to Kip about how they're my absolute favorite, and how he's the best singer/songwriter ever. I'll never forget how sincerely excited he was. Erik's amazing folk band performed in Ballard, I helped out at the annual NWIRP gala, I got a new job (!!!), the Seattle Center had a beer fest, Sonya made us the most delicious mac n' cheese (Alton Brown recipe), and we enjoyed a Memorial Day BBQ at Mel and James'.


Lady C moved into an amazing new flat, we celebrated Carl's birthday dressed up as wizards and danced at Therapy, Thematic Fashion Friday kicked off (I'm punk!), I went to Vegas to basically eat In 'N Out and celebrate mum's stylish birthday (Tory Burch from H to T).


I got to take Chris to my childhood home in the Philly burbs, Kay and Rich had a beautiful wedding, My Goodness performed for us at the office, we celebrated Nichole's birthday, we caught up with Eric and Gabby for the first time in ages, James Robinson published his Voyages in America book, Marty let me hang out backstage at Spoon/Capitol Hill Block Party, and I visited West Seattle/Alki Beach for the first time.


I took Chris back to Alki Beach, STRFKR DJ'd at Neumo's, Keil let us dance onstage, we attended the punk block party, I visited Bremerton for the first time and purposely wore a navy-themed outfit.


We got to see The Replacements and Nada Surf at Bumbershoot, Jack and Jordan's band came through town, they introduced me to their bandmate Alex who's also in Third Eye Blind (I got to geek out over all their history), and Jon took us Canoeing in the Washington Arboretum.


October started off with no sleep but a lot of excitement. We were brand ambassadors for a client+Demi Lovato, I partied at Adrienne's bachelorette party in Vegas, celebrated Sonya's birthday, reunited with Nick, and celebrated Halloween in NYC as "A" from Pretty Little Liars.


In November, my dear friends Adrienne and Dom got married. They had THE BEST playlist, and we danced all night. I hung out in Brooklyn and Philly, celebrated my birthday at Speckled and Drake, did pro bono work for a great outdoor adventure nonprofit, hiked around mini Mt. Si, hosted a Friendsgiving, and explored Georgetown with Chris.


The year ended with us seeing Saves the Day with Cameron (exclusive emo pics were taken). I had a glorious two weeks in Vegas with my family and drove to LA to see Jermee. I took my family to see the Fab Four. It was one of our last big memories together before my stepdad passed away in 2015. :/

My brother and I sang Saves the Day covers. We will always have these videos to laugh at. Don't I do a good Chris Conley impression?

Thanks for reading about my 2014.

I declared 2015 to be the year of travel. It certainly lived up to its name! 2015 updates to come!


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