May 30, 2012

We're So Young

Every once in awhile, you come across a story or a piece of news that just hits you.

For me this week, it was the death of 22-year-old Yale University graduate Marina Keegan who wrote this article for a special edition of the Yale Daily News that was distributed to her fellow graduates at Commencement.

Go read it, then come back.

Marina graduated from Yale on Monday, May 20. She had accepted a job with The New Yorker and was on her way to have dinner with her family when the car that she and her boyfriend were in struck a guardrail in Cape Cod and she was killed.

I'm not sure why Marina's death struck me the way that it did. The sad reality is that young 20-somethings are killed every day. Maybe it's the fact that I just graduated and her article resounded all too well with me. Maybe it's this odd conundrum I'm facing with suddenly being roped into the same category as other 22-year-olds, despite being 3 years their senior. Maybe it's her beautiful way with words and the haunting sentences she used like "...what I'm scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place" or, "We're so young...we have so much time."

..."We have so much time." Haunting right?

Marina was scared. Rightfully so. Who isn't at 22 when you're standing on one side of a stage a college kid who maybe stayed up too late partying the night before, waiting to cross over this stage that somehow represents a transition into adulthood? Hell, never mind being 22. How about being 25 with a brand new Master's degree and the nagging feeling of having nothing to show for it? Or being 28 faced with the difficult decision to be ending your marriage? Or being 32 and trying to decide whether it's time to buckle down and start a family or keep traveling and trying to see the world.

One thing can be said of Marina's tragic death; her words, her advice, which can be suited to any audience, is taking the internet, and the world, by storm. The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine and The New Yorker, are just some of the major publications that have written about Marina since her passing this Saturday night.

In closing her commencement letter, Marina said, "We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility  because in the end, it's all we have." Little did she know that that sense of possibility that she had, that she wrote about, is having a huge impact on a lot of people. Myself included...and the numerous people that posted about this on Twitter before I read it. It's just unfortunate that it took tragedy to bring light to her words.

In another piece, Marina wrote the following:

"I read somewhere that radio waves just keep traveling outwards, flying into the universe with eternal vibrations. Sometime before I die I think I’ll find a microphone and climb to the top of a radio tower. I’ll take a deep breath and close my eyes because it will start to rain right when I reach the top. Hello, I’ll say to outer space, this is my card."

Marina, I'm not sure if you ever climbed to the top of a radio tower, but I can tell you that those radio waves are definitely flying into the universe.

Whenever someone young passes away unexpectedly, it always strikes a chord. Last winter, a friend I made while living in Boston was killed in a car accident. We hadn't talked in months. I still can't listen to a Pitbull song without thinking about her. Over the summer, a kid I went to high school with died unexpectedly. I had known him pretty well. I played soccer with his sister. My boyfriend was friends with him. I was in India when I found out. I was so upset, I didn't leave the apartment the next day. I didn't even get along with him in high school.

I get angry when people tell me that "I'm sooo young." Yes, I am. Why is that such a bad thing? I am young. And you know what? I'm getting younger every day. When I was 20, I backpacked through Europe. I danced drunk in the Trocadero Fountain in London and climbed the Eiffel Tower and ate escargot. I hiked the Scottish Highlands and won a whiskey drinking competition in Ireland. I want to do all of those things at 60...and I want to be running marathons too. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. My mom will be retiring in a few years, at 60. Every day for her is filled with ideas of what she's going to do when she grows up. I love that about my mom. Marina was right. We are SO young. It doesn't matter if you're 22, 25 or 57. Be young. Do things that young people do. Don't wait until you're 45 to say, "I really wish I had gone bungee jumping" or "I should have gone to Europe when I had the chance at 27." Go out and do it.

In the words of Marina Keegan, "Let's make something happen to this world." Don't lose the sense of possibility that life presents you with. It doesn't have to be today. It doesn't have to be this weekend. It doesn't even have to be this month, but stop waiting around for the opportune moment to do something that you've always wanted to do because that moment might never come. Life is fleeting. Go out and be young.

Rest in Peace, Marina.

May 28, 2012

Ballpark #16: Citizens Bank Park

Being a Mets fan, I've avoided paying a visit to our biggest division rivals over in Philly since I started this goal of visiting every Major League ballpark.

Philly sports fans (or should I say phans) have a reputation for unruly behavior and starting fights just about anywhere they go. My first experience of such fanaticism was at the Mets second ever game at CitiField in 2009 against the Phillies when the Mets scored a home run and my friends and I had beer thrown at us for standing up and cheering. So, needless to say, I was a bit hesitant to make the journey over to Citizens Bank Park.

When I went to Yankee Stadium last summer and almost left the park before the game even started because of such horrendous treatment on the part of just about every single person at the stadium, someone left a comment on my blog telling me that if I was going to have that attitude about every team I dislike, that I shouldn't bother visiting every park at all.

Well, let me tell you something, I don't have that attitude about every ball park and I loved Citizens Bank Park.

We didn't have the best seats, but they were $9...can't beat that!
See, I don't understand the Yankees/Mets rivalry. There is no such thing. We play each other all of 2, maybe 3 times a year in Inter-League play (which should be done away with) and it doesn't count so whenever I wear a Mets shirt on the subway and some Yankee fan tells me I'm rooting for the wrong team, I just don't get it.

Now, the Phillies/Mets? That's a rivalry. The rivalry is arguably one of the hottest in the National League (as is often depicted by some rather violent pictures of Mr. Met and the Phanatic beating up on one another).

When I got home from DC on Wednesday afternoon and The Pilot picked me up from the airport, we decided to make our way to Philly for the night to catch the Phillies/Nationals game (an up and coming rivalry within the National League).

As I've been going from ball park to ball park, I've been rating them from best to worst based on a number of factors: the actual stadium itself, the hospitality of the stadium's staff and employees, the fan base, the food and overall experience. So far, Pittsburgh's PNC Park is my favorite park. I knew Citizens Bank Park would be different as soon as we got there.

Driving into the parking lot, the young man who we paid for parking was one of the friendliest people I've ever talked to. He greeted us with a huge smile, thanked us for coming to the game, asked us how we were doing and told us to enjoy ourselves.

Once we were parked and started to make our way inside, we were stopped by a guy from ESPN who wanted to film us walking into the park. The Pilot was wearing a Nationals hat and they wanted to get a shot of some Nationals fans walking into the park. (I haven't been able to find the video but we'll see!)

Photo courtesy Philly PhanPhoto
Once in the park, we took a loop to walk around and see the park. Right away, I was impressed. The park was beautiful. They had a restaurant with outdoor patio seating (with a crazy long line that kept us from grabbing a bite), an entire play ground for kids and plenty of room to walk around and see everything. The only downside, you can't really watch the game while you're walking around the park which you can do at a lot of the other stadiums I've been to (like Pittsburgh, CitiField, etc.)

We grabbed some food and beer and hung out at ballpark's beer garden before making our way to our seats. They had a great selection of beer and while enjoying our drinks before the game started, we started talking to an awesome guy about the game. When he saw my boyfriend's hat, he made a few, friendly jokes about us being Nats fans, but when we told him where our loyalties actually lied, he pretended to call security (all in good fun of course). Then he said, "Well let me be the first to officially welcome you to the Phillies ball park" and spent the next 10 or so minutes telling us all about the park, asking what we were doing there and recommending the best food and drinks in the park.

At the Beer Garden!
Philly fans? Unruly? Definitely not. The ballpark was very family-friendly and we had a blast! We stood in line for an inning and a half for the oh-so-famous and oh-so-fabulous crab fries, got some Turkey Hill ice cream in a helmet cap and watched the Phillies blow the Nationals away.

In a near relationship-ending move, The Pilot bought himself a Phanatic.
We had a great time and the stadium is beautiful...not to mentioned packed, which was really surprising for a Wednesday night game that called for thunderstorms. I think I might even consider it one of my top 10 favs but hey, I'm only at already at 16...which means I'm more than half way there! 16 ballparks down, 14 to go! Let's see which one will be next!

Have you been to the Phillies stadium?
Or, have you been to the stadium of your rival team and liked it?

May 24, 2012

From the Flight Deck...

Last week, Two weeks ago, I gave you all free range to ask The Pilot questions about what it's like to take to the skies on a regular basis for work. Some great questions came out and The Pilot is here to answer them!

(Sorry it took me so long to turn the reigns over to him. I was busy doing things like graduating and running relays and he was busy flying planes.)

So without further ado, here he is!

Kelly asked "What do you do to keep your calm when something unexpected happens on a flight?"

"Scream over the intercom that we're all going to die. No, but seriously, everything is training based. If you're trained properly enough, you're trained for the unexpected so if something unexpected happens, you just take a breath and trust your training and deal with the issue."

Cait wants to know where your favorite place is that you've flown to.

"Well my favorite airport to fly into is Washington Reagan International and that's mostly because of the awesome river visual approach that, coming in at night time or even during the day, you get to see the White House. It's a very challenging approach so it makes it fun flying when everything else is so similar, so it's fun. My other favorite place to have a layover or an overnight is Canada. I really like Ottawa, Toronto and Quebec City, those are probably my top 3 favorites. The people are very friendly, they're very pretty cities."

Holly asked why you wanted to become a pilot and what you love most about it now that you are.

"Top Gun. Nah, I'm just kidding. From a young age, you know, my first trip on an airplane, going to an airport when I was young, just getting on a plane, the whole experience was a blast. It was something I really liked, looking up at the sky; playing baseball as a kid, you're always looking up to the sky and seeing all these planes flying overhead, it's just...the thrill of flying is something I've always had, something I always thought I'd be good at. Now that I am a pilot, every day is different. It's never the same, but it is what I thought it would be and to train so hard for so long and finally being here just makes it...achieving your goal is just so great."

Christine asked if you are nervous flying...especially when I'm in the airplane...(which I think is an excellent question)

"No. Never. I'm never nervous, when Christy's with me it's more exciting, I want to try to have a good landing and just be very smooth, but that's the way I fly anyway, so it doesn't matter whether she's in the plane or not, it's just the way I fly. I want to make it comfortable for the passengers, so if that's the way I fly, there's nothing to worry about."

Meghan asked how you stay awake/alert on flights and if you get nervous in bad weather?

"Well, since I don't drink coffee and I'm not a coffee drinker, I tend to drink a lot of caffeine soda. That tends to be my way of staying up or alert. But a lot of times, just being able to talk to the other pilot about life or just the day in general, just kind of keeps you up."

"Once again, it's not nerves, it's excitement. Bad weather...all it is is really just another challenge that gets you up. Like I said, you train so hard that, going through bad weather is nothing, it's just another daily routine. But there's no other experience like popping out of the clouds at 300 feet and seeing a runway in your face, it brings on the excitement so I'm never nervous about it. 

RoseAnn wants to know you handle turbulence and if it ever freaks you out?

"My very first flight ever, I was up with an instructor and we had just taken off and we hit a little bit of turbulence and I looked over at my instructor real quick and he was cool and calm as a clam, like nothing ever happened and I think from that moment on, I was very calm with turbulence. It's just a nuisance more than anything. It's just annoying. It's like driving in a car down a bumpy road, you do it, it's annoying."

Lastly, when we were all at the Mets game on Wednesday, Susan asked The Pilot if you really need to turn off your cell phone when you're on a plane...

"Yes. It may not necessarily be for the instruments themselves, like they say, but it is a FAA regulation and not complying with that could be a felony, technically, but with the effects of instruments, my experience is that, when people do have their cell phones on and have service, it does create a static noise in my headset when I'm trying to communicate with ground control. That's my experience with it. Do I know if it necessarily affects other instruments? I don't know for sure, but it is annoying to hear some rattling going on in your headset because someone left their cell phone on." 

Thanks for answering everyone's questions!
How do you feel about flying? Are you a nervous flier or do you get excited about boarding a plane?
Have you ever met a pilot? 
If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

So I Graduated...

It's official. I can now add the letters 'M.S.' to my name.

Last week, I graduated from New York University with my Master's of Science in Global Affairs. My coursework is done, my thesis is done and I've finally graduated!

I had had some hiccups as to whether or not I would attend graduation and commencement for reasons but when I did make the decision to attend, I'm so glad I did!

On Monday, we had our graduation ceremony for my school at the Grand Hyatt in Midtown. This was the ceremony where they played pomp & circumstance (although they didn't start playing it until after all of the graduates had processed...rude), we walked across the stage to receive fake diplomas and they threw balloons at us so we could all celebrate by not throwing our hats in the air (I didn't understand that one).

Shaking hands with the Dean (and yes, I bought this picture)
My mom and my aunt came to graduation with me and after a loooong ceremony, and some cocktails and h'ours d'oeuvres, we made our way to Madison Square to have lunch at Eataly! I had never been there before and knew that the market/restaurant was right up all of our allies, so off we went.

I had an amazing pasta pomodoro that I devoured within minutes. Seriously, this pasta made me feel like I was back in Rome  (Sorry, I was too busy eating to take pictures of my food for the blog, plus, you've all seen pasta before.)

At this point, it was starting to rain but I knew I wanted to take pictures in my cap and gown under the arch in Washington could I not? It's the center of NYU's main campus and I've walked under it a hundred times to go to the library or to work, so it was a definite must!

I did it!
Fast forward to Wednesday for NYU's official commencement ceremony at Yankee Stadium. My mom came back along with my sister, my niece and The Pilot for the ceremony. We all got on the 4 train and made our way to the stadium for graduation number 2.

Yankee Stadium was an absolute sea of purple. If you've been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that Yankee Stadium is probably the last place I would've chosen to culminate the end of my graduate career but you know what? As much as I hate the Yankees and their stadium, the baseball lover in me had to admit that it was pretty damn cool to be graduating in a Major League Baseball stadium.

The stage was at 2nd base and we sat in the 100 level.
Sonia Sotomayor was our Commencement speaker (which is honestly, the only reason I went), and she gave a great speech. I tried to duck out a few minutes early to avoid the crowds getting out of there but they only had one gate open (for close to 50,000 people) and getting out was an absolute nightmare.

When we finally made it out of there (almost an hour later), we made our way to the Upper West Side for lunch at Pappardella.

Fantastic UWS restaurant!
It wouldn't be a trip to the UWS without a stop at 16 Handles for dessert...which my 11 year old niece had a field day at. From lunch, we took a walk to Lincoln Center and then over to Central Park before my family left for the day.

All in all, it was a great week to graduate. We got so lucky with the weather as it was supposed to downpour all week. It's so nice to finally be DONE. Getting my Master's was hard work...much harder than I ever anticipated it to be, but I did it and I couldn't be happier!

May 20, 2012

Reach the Beach Relay: Team Need for Speed

I have an odd way of celebrating things.

When I finished my thesis, I took off to Spain to run a marathon.

When I graduated with my Masters, I took off to Massachusetts to run a 200 mile relay with a bunch of strangers...kind of.

Don't be surprised if when I get my first job post graduate degree, I go off and run an ultra that weekend. I'm kidding. Maybe.

I signed up for Reach the Beach: Massachusetts a few months ago when Sarah tweeted that she was looking for runners to join her team. Soon after, I posted that we were looking for a few more runners to join us and got Emily and Gia to take the bait and run Reach the Beach with us.

Thursday morning (I know, I have a whole week to recap you guys on), after a busy morning, I met Emily and Gia at the Bolt Bus stop to bus our way to Boston's South Station, cab our way to Boston's North Station to meet up with one of our teammates, and then train our way to Fitchburg, Massachusetts...which is in the middle of nowhere.

Friday morning, Sarah picked us up with her husband, Ruddley and our teammate Eric to head to the start line and start our 200 mile journey. We met up with our teammates in Van 2: Jen, Jill, Carrie, John, Andy and Stacy. After a brief orientation about learning how not to die on the race course, we sent Ruddley off and hopped into our van to head to Transition #1 and start the race.

I was Runner #6 so I had quite a bit of time before heading out for my first leg.

The Start Line
andy and sarah...we all look so...clean
There wasn't much time to decorate our van so we didn't get around to it until Emily headed out for her leg when we had some down time.

Our official Twitter hash tag plus all of our Twitter handles...

Legs to check off!
I was getting super nervous before my leg started, especially when some of the roads we ran on looked like this...

Handing off to Sarah...and not quite understanding why she was bent at 90 degrees...
...but once I headed out for my first run, I felt awesome! The run was challenging but nothing Central Park or Madrid training hadn't prepped me for. It was listed as 6.71 miles but ended up being around 6.85. It's pretty much impossible to run the tangents when you're running across traffic lanes. When my watch hit 6.5 and I saw Assumption College, my transition area, I started sprinting...up and up and up and up until finally, I reached transition and handed off to Jill.

Feeling strong on Leg #1!
Leg 1 is DONE and Van 2 is OFF!
With about 4 hours to kill while Van 2 took over, we went and got some food before heading to the 2nd major transition area and resting up for a bit at Hopkinton State Park.

It started getting dark slightly before Ruddley headed out for his second leg and I started getting really nervous about running in the dark. By the time Gia went out for her leg, it was pitch black. I knew I would be starting my 2nd leg somewhere around midnight and had thought about running in the dark but I hadn't thought about running on rural back roads with absolutely nothing around but trees. By the time I headed out for my 2nd leg, I was terrified. Donning my headlamp, reflective vest, and 4 blinky lights, I was lit up like a Christmas Tree but I still couldn't see past the 2 feet in front of me that the head lamp offered. I was trying to run as fast as I could to get the run over with me. When I felt like I had gone about a mile, I looked down at my watch only to find that I had run 0.35 miles...and I started crying. I hated running at night and was just freaking out. I felt completely alone out there. There was one runner ahead of me who I lost pretty early on and through the rest of the leg, I never saw another runner. Just before Mile 1, saw my van and called out to Emily to come join me. About half way through the run, she hopped back into the van and Gia ran me in.

For me, this was the absolute worst part of the relay and the one thing that leaves me hesitant about running another relay. I was so thankful to have such awesome teammates to get me through that leg of the run. When we finished, we headed to our next major transition area and went to sleep.

We transitioned around 5:30am and sent Ruddley off on his 3rd and final leg. I slept through his and Gia's legs (sorry guys) and woke up to cheer on Eric, Emily, and Sarah before running my final leg.

My final leg was a beast of a run. 6.6 miles on some serious up hills. Holy hell was it tough. I found a girl who kept me on pace for about half of the run before passing her and finishing strong. That run was tough. My legs felt surprisingly fresh but it was hot out and those hills were brutal. I was trying hard to run hard and fast. I was in a groove and my legs were just moving on autopilot. I couldn't slow down or speed up. I was just going. I passed my teammates at one point and heard Eric say that I looked strong which made me want to run even harder. When I finally made it to transition, I was flying. I wanted so badly to be done...but I felt on top of the world. I had done it. I had finished the hardest leg of the relay...and I had finished strong.

Climbing a mountain Running up a hill of Leg #3
The final hand off
Once I finished my final leg, we were off to the beach! We made our way to the Finish Line to wait out our teammates in Van 2...which we did by eating burritos and drinking $4 beers. (Making runners pay for beer after finishing a race should be illegal.)

We reached the beach!
Celebratory beers!
When our 2nd van go to the beach, we eagerly headed to the Finish Line to await Jen, our final runner, and run her in to the that we could officially reach the beach as a team.

The Finish Line!
Running Jen in to the sweat pants and sandals...
We had done it. Team Need for Speed finished the Reach the Beach Relay in Massachusetts in 30:04:23 (average pace 8:59).

My Stats
Leg 1: 6.84 miles in 1:01:49 (9:02 pace)
Leg 2: 4.16 miles in 38:11 (9:11 pace)
Leg 3: 6.60 miles in 1:00:50 (9:13 pace)
Total Run Time: 17.6 miles in 2:40:50 (9:08 average pace)

Overall, Relaying was an awesome experience and I was lucky to have such an amazing group of people to run with. A huge thank you goes to Sarah, our Team Captain, for organizing the relay. To anyone not afraid of the dark, I highly recommend running  a relay...if I can bribe you to run my night legs, I'll totally join you.

I'll be back this week with regular posting including graduation recaps, the answers to your questions for The Pilot and more! Stay tuned!

May 9, 2012

Ask the Pilot!

I don't think a day goes by that I'm not constantly asking my boyfriend questions about what it's like to be a pilot, how he handles certain situations in the air and what certain things mean.

Aviation fascinates me.

I've been flying since I was about 3 years old, flying by myself since roughly age 8 and, well, as you all know, I can't seem to get my head out of the clouds...literally.

On one of our very first dates, The Pilot took me flying over the skies of Daytona Beach on one of his flight lessons just before he graduated. Since then, we've taken to the skies for quite a few dates, a few of which he let me pilot the plane myself! (See picture in my blog header).

Part of me wonders if I could do it all over again, if I would have become a pilot. Since flying with him though, I definitely have the desire to one day get my private pilot's license because hey, flying is a lot of fun!

When I tell people that my boyfriend is a pilot, they usually bombard me with questions, many of which I can't answer, so I've decided to give all of you the opportunity to Ask the Pilot!

Have you ever wondered what makes a plane fly? Just what causes turbulence? What kind of schedule pilots work? What kind of routes they fly?

The pilot has kindly agreed to answer any and all questions you have about all things aviation...or anything else for that matter.

So, ask away! Leave any questions you have in the comments and I'll have The Pilot answer them in a post!

Have fun!

May 6, 2012

A Very New York City Weekend

This weekend, Andrea asked me when the last time that I really went out and had fun in New York was.

My answer? February.

You can thank my thesis for that.

But that all changed this weekend when Andrea and one of her friends from her home town of Milwaukee (apparently pronounced Mwaukee) came to New York and crashed with me for the weekend.

It was Andrea's first time and Ange's first since she was 12 or something, so we needed to do things the right way.

They came in on Friday night and wandered around Union Square until I got off work after which, we went to The Heartland Brewery and each ordered samplers of beer.

From there, we made our way to City Hall Park and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge so that we could eat pizza at Grimaldi's. God, I love Grimaldi's pizza.

Best pizza in New York...hands down. 
We took the subway back into Manhattan and came back to my apartment to watch a movie and call it a night. I introduced them to "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging," Nickelodeon's make of one of my favorite YA book series, The Confessions of Georgia Nicholson...which is essentially a British version of Mean Girls and The Princess Diaries.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early to head to Central Park for a run...only it was cold, gloomy and rainy out so we bailed and made our way up town to get waffles from my favorite waffle truck, and walk down 5th Avenue to see Tiffany's and 30 Rock.

Soooooo good
We made our way into Times Square and then hopped on the 7 train to CitiField for the Mets game! Andrea got us awesome seats and the METS WON! It was a great game which was a refreshing change from the last Mets game I went to which lasted 4 hours during which absolutely nothing exciting or interesting happened.

Since the game was at 4:00, we still had the whole night ahead of us, so we made our way to a bar in the East Village to grab some beers. My friend Mike met up with us and we headed to McSorley's, New York's oldest Irish pub, which has played host to Abraham Lincoln and John Lennon. We had a round of drinks there, headed to a few other places and ended the night at Pommes Frites, where we had a very heated discussion about whether pomme is French for apple or not. I don't think we ever clarified that...

This morning, we were up bright and early to get in our Central Park run. It was one of Ange's "must do" things, so I took them for a tour of Central Park. We started at Engineer's Gate, popped onto the Reservoir and jumped out on the West Side before heading south, looping the bottom of the park and then ducking into the Mall, running down to Navy Terrace, back out the Mall and up Cat Hill to finish back where we started.

The Mall at Central Park
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. Now, I'm watching Miss Congeniality and trying to decide what to do with myself on my first Sunday in about 6 months with no school work to do because hey...guess what? I finished my Master's degree and I won't have school work to do again for a long, long time.

And that, my friends, is awesome.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!!!

May 2, 2012

Oops...I went to San Francisco

This weekend I went to San Francisco.


Remember when this past December rolled around and I had finished finals and was jetting off all over the Midwest? In less than a week, I hopped on my boyfriend's flights to Minneapolis, Chicago and Nashville. Going to work with Boyfriend is way fun.

This weekend, The Pilot had off on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. That's the longest stretch of time he's had off since he started his job in July. So when I had an opportunity to jet off to San Francisco, he was more than happy to join me and make his first trip to the West Coast.

We had a blast. It was hands down, the best trip we've ever taken together. When my brother-in-law dropped us off at the airport and we said goodbye, he said he'll be talking about this trip forever.

My big sister Zuzy lives in San Francisco with her husband and my little nephew who is the cutest little boy I have ever seen. I hadn't seen him since he was just a baby and oh my goodness, he was so much fun and absolutely fell in love with The Pilot. If there's one thing my sister and I have in common (actually, we have everything in common) it's that we love to entertain, so when she found out we were coming, she planned a huge weekend for us.

Up first? Hiking to the top of Mount Tam. Lunch at The Pelican Inn. Dipping our feet into the Pacific Ocean.

The Pelican Inn...GORGEOUS English cottage/inn/pub with great food and beer.
Me, Sis and The Little Guy having lunch at The Pelican Inn
Next up, we made our way to Muir Woods to see the giant red woods trees!

I seriously love this picture. Little Guy decided to go explore on his own. 
*Insert cheesy grin here*
After all that hiking followed by jet lag, we were pretty exhausted and called an early night. The next day, we  went out for brunch before the family + boyfriend went off on their own while I took care of some things. When we all met up again, my sis took The Pilot and I for a hike on the trail near her home. 

This hike was no joke.
Taking a breather with Sis!
We reached the top!
After our hike, it was time to get dressed up for a private party on a vineyard in Napa. Tough life, I know. One of my BIL's college buddies was turning 40 and decided to throw himself a birthday party on his vineyard. So off we went! The wine was fantastic, the vineyard was beautiful and I've decided that my new goal in life is to own a vineyard in Napa by the time I'm 40.

Sunday, to wrap up our trip, we took the ferry into the city to head to the Giants game. It wasn't my first trip to AT&T Park but it was my first game during the regular season, rather than preseason and the first time I've seen them since they won the World Series in 2010 so it was a totally different experience!

This is my nephew. I seriously can't handle the overwhelming cuteness of this picture.
It was the perfect weekend in San Francisco! I loved spending time with my sister and having The Pilot there made the trip absolutely perfect. It was the perfect way to continue my post-thesis celebrations. Now I'm back in New York (ugh), back to work (gross) and back to the job hunt (blah). But I finished my thesis. I ran my marathon and I just had an awesome time in Madrid, followed by a fantastic time in San Francisco and hey, until I become gainfully employed post-graduation, I'll just be Oops-ing my way everywhere.

Stay tuned!

May 1, 2012

Adventures in Madrid

Hello Blog Readers! If you don't follow me on Twitter, you missed out on the fact that I went to San Francisco this weekend. Oops. Full details on that to come later this week.

Now that I'm back stateside and on the East Coast, it's time to do a little recapping of my Madrid adventures. It's crazy to think that I was in Madrid only a week ago because it already feels like a month ago. Jetting off to the West Coast less than 48 hours upon landing back in the US will do that to you.

So let's talk about Madrid.

My mom and I flew out of New York on Wednesday night and landed in Spain early Thursday morning. Super jet lagged, we checked into our hotel and passed out before meeting up with Ally and her sister to explore the city a bit.

Wandering the Streets of Madrid

I had read that the best place to start a trip to Madrid is in the Puerta del Sol so we ventured there to get our bearings, do some shopping and wander around the city.

Plaza Mayor
Friday morning, Mom and I headed to the Expo to pick up my race packet. From there, we went out to explore the city some more and just kind of let ourselves get lost meandering through the city. We found the Palacio Real and explored the Santa Maria la Real de Almudena.We went to the Plaza Mayor and had a delicious tapas dinner at a restaurant on one of the side streets off the Plaza. We stumbled on the Mercado de San Miguel and found the after work crowd coming out to play. The Mercado was absolutely incredible and my mom said that she would go back to Madrid just to go back to that market. We explored for what seemed like hours before heading back to our hotel and calling it a night.

Plaza de Oriente
Saturday was a shopping day! I bought a gorgeous dress for graduation and some unbelievably cute shoes for ridiculously cheap. For dinner, Mom, Ally, Rachel and I headed to the top floor of El Corte Ingles, Spain's premier department store, for a carbo loading session before calling it a night.

Sunday...well, you already know about Sunday. Post-race, I passed out. I have never fallen asleep post-race...I don't  nap. Ever. The fact that I slept for nearly 3 hours after crossing the finish at Madrid was further proof that I was absolutely spent going into that marathon and that maintaining the pace I did until Mile 20 was a miracle in itself.

We all went for a post-race celebratory dinner that night and went to bed. I didn't sleep well at all on Sunday. My body was more sore than it had ever been post-race and I ended up sleeping until almost 12:00. Getting out of bed and starting my day was brutal but somehow I managed and my mom and I headed to the Museo de la Reina Sofia to go see the famed Guernica painting, which I did a project on in college. We meandered around the museum and then stopped in the museum's square for lunch. There were a few things that I had seen along the race course that I wanted to see up close so we did that before calling it a day. Dinner was early and close to the hotel as Mom and I had an early flight out the next morning and Ally and Rachel, an early train.

The view from the Museo de la Reina Sofia
Plaza de Cibeles
Tuesday morning, I left Madrid and hadn't even returned to my New York apartment before I was on a West Coast bound plane...but you can read all about that later.

I loved Madrid. If you're looking for a European vacation, I highly recommend Madrid. I had heard that people typically love either Madrid or Barcelona and hate the other and having been to Barcelona and not liking it at all, I can attest to that statement. I had so much fun in Madrid and it was the first time in ages that my mom and I got to go on a nice long vacation together.

Me and Mama post-race
Madrid was unlike any city in Europe I had ever been. It had the charm of Paris, the down-to-earth feel of Prague, the history of had a little bit of everything that made it both similar and unique to all of the other cities I had been. I absolutely loved it. The people were wonderful. The food - spectacular. I'll definitely be back...but next time, it won't be for a marathon. 
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