Reminiscing About La Tour Eiffel

If you googled something today (I guess it's not really today anymore for you east coasters...oops), you saw Google's header was something honoring the Eiffel Tower 126th Opening Anniversary. Since I'm practically obsessed with the Eiffel Tower and I'll take any excuse to humbly gloat about seeing it in person, I'm forcing my terrible four year old photos on you now.

Will it make it better if I tell you I waited in the wrong line for about an hour and never made it to the very top of the tower because I had to catch the RER (I think) back to my host-home?

It's one of my life's biggest disappointments.

That and this photo of me looking like a total goober.

On to the decent stuff!

That blue sky is something else over there.

View from the first level.

I spared you a photo of my feet on the first step. Because I care that you don't care to see my sandal-walking tourist toes.

My favorite memory from this day is the dirty bonheur puns one of my classmates/groupmates kept making (I'll let you read bonheur in English and guess what kind of joke bandwagon we all jumped on).

Also the view of Montmartre was insane. That's the Sacre Coeur.

I can't end this without including the group photo that was not taken on my camera and that I totally downloaded from Facebook four years ago.

Hashtag take me back immediately please.

♥ Alex


San Jose

It was our last day in Costa Rica and I'd saved the capital, San Jose, for last. That morning, we woke up, grabbed some McDonald's for breakfast and wifi, and caught the bus into downtown.

The whole experience was trippy for me. I don't know if my sister really caught on to how many memories I was reliving just while riding the bus. I was definitely in my own little world.

The bus stopped at its usual spot by la caja which is just a big, boxy, concrete government building that has lots of bus stops around it. From there I oriented myself and we headed for the national theater

I'd been to the cafe inside the theater only once in my time in Costa Rica. Funny enough, my first visit there was also towards the end of my time living in San Jose, when it felt necessary to go do something with the one roommate you got along with because you both knew this would be the functional end of your friendship.

I ordered some latté and Andrea got a white hot chocolate or something. The coffee was good but our server was so not about indulging us. I ended up getting out of my seat to ask what the pastry options were. If I remember, we got some sort of delicious cake (which should not be a surprise since we're Pinedas).

Do you ever feel like you don't look like yourself in a photo? That's what this is for me.

We took a tour of the theater shortly after our mid morning treat. Fun fact: the theater is a to-scale smaller replica of the national opera in Paris. At least the inside is. I'm going to majorly plonk* right now and tell you that I love that I saw the original theater one summer and sat in a concert in the replica not three months later.

But I digress.

Auditions for something were happening as we were taking our tour so we got to sit in the dark and watch dancers be amazing. We reminisced about high school theater auditions and rehearsals and how we miss it all (OK not all of it).

I know this photo is pretentious. I don't care.

I was antsy to show Andrea my neighborhood and host home, so we jumped on the bus my expired instinct told me to take. Sadly, my instincts had us take the express bus which meant we got off pretty far away from where we should have. Andrea was a total trooper. It was hot, there was a World Cup game about to start, and here I was forcing her to walk all over an area even I hardly remembered when we could have just taken the correct bus or a taxi!

We eventually reached my host university, Universidad Veritas. A bit had changed around the campus, but I took Andrea all the way up the stairs to where I took my Spanish class and explained to her the details of what the food court area used to look like (did I mention she was a trooper?) and then took her to see where I learned how to Latin dance.

All the furniture would be pushed aside and we'd get to dancing. I miss those days and what it did for my waist.

My host home is literally around the corner from the university, so I took Andrea to go see it. I hadn't contacted my host mom, who I'll now refer to as my mama tica, so she had no idea I was coming over. I had no idea if she was home or on vacation. I knocked on the door and...she was there!

Outside my bedroom window!

I had to jog her memory a little bit about who I was. It's completely understandable: she hosts one to four students each semester, so she has lots of names to remember and forget.

Anyway, I showed Andrea my room, which looked almost the same. She saw the kitchen where my roommate Devin and I once ate cold leftover lasagna after a night out at the bar. I'll never forget that she called my pairing of lasagna and orange juice "gnarly."

I knew I had totally interrupted her day, so I took a quick photo with her and said goodbye. It was time to go back to the home bar of study abroad: Los Pros.

The bar's technically named Los Profesionales but us milens (translation: millennials) dialed it back to Los Pros. Now, the place has changed significantly over the last three years, but luckily, Edgar, the owner has not. He comes across tons of people, loads of students every semester, that I was sure he wouldn't remember me. Maybe he didn't. As I remember it, I don't think he knew my name, but he remembered my face thanks to -- wait for it -- Facebook. So did the main bartender, Monica, who is now all sleeved out and fab as ever.

I ordered my study abroad usual: rum with pineapple juice and Andrea finally got to try the Costa Rican beer. I'm talking about Imperial. I'm not a beer girl so I won't pretend to know how to describe the taste, but Andrea said it was like a Corona, but better.

I'm getting off topic! The point was to tell you that my drink was basically rum with a splash of juice.

Edgar had hooked it up as usual.

We needed to go souvenir shopping before sundown, so we sadly said our goodbyes to Edgar and jumped on the bus back into the city. We got to the mercado artesanal and had a ball picking out all the things. I bought huaraches as a consolation for not being able to replace my beloved purse. Andrea bought herself a backpack and we spent all our colones except for enough to buy airport food the next day.

The dark came too quickly and we headed back by bus to our friend Monika's for dinner. She took us to see her parents, who knew Andrea and I before we had memories. We picked up Monika's daughter Dani from school and grabbed a final dinner at a local spot with awesome fried food and a cool environment. (Legit almost just typed in Spanish...what is my brain?!)

Before I knew it, the trip had come and gone and it was time to give back all the joys vacation lends you. We turned the car in, ate a ridiculously overpriced lunch, and sat in the terminal to watch Costa Rica play the Netherlands in the World Cup. The game went to a shoot out that CR just wasn't able to win. That part was sad. It helped distract me from the sadness of leaving.

I'm trying so hard not to get all philosophical and lofty so I'll just say this: I felt like I got to go home for a little bit, and I'm thankful I was able to share it with Andrea. Study abroad can feel unreal. It can feel like you fell asleep for a semester and only dreamed you saw and ate and did what you did. Going back and sharing it with someone who only interacted with my experience via Facebook photos solidified that I did do this. It was real.

And that is cool.
♥ A

*Plonk: the travel equivalent of name dropping. Origin: Barbara Gausewitz


Miserable Magical Monday || 3-9-15

It's Monday. Are you miserable? Maybe some of this will make it magical.

1. I'm watching the Sharks play the Penguins as I type this. So if at some point there's a random typo or if I sound randomly flustered it's because something exciting is happening. Something intense enough to make me say "Come on, boys." That's my personal cheer. I never shout it, but whisper it like they'll be able to hear me through the TV or something. Like there's something magical about a whisper. Or a point, for that matter.


2. We celebrated my dad-in-law's birthday on Saturday with lots of good barbecue, apple pie, and the Live Aid DVD. I guess the Queen performance there was frickin legendary, but I'd never had the pleasure of watching it until then. Brandon and I later marveled at how commanding Freddie Mercury was. The clip below is still relatively early in the 20 minute performance, but the fact that Freddie doesn't at any point ask the audience to chant with him is amazing enough. They just listen! It was amazing and I'm pissed I never got to see Queen live.

3. I read this article on NPR. It's short and just a nice story, but sometimes a nice story is all you need on the mediocre days!

4. I listen to the Coffee Break French podcast and this week's episode was soooo good. There was even a Friends (FRIENDS? What's the consensus on the formatting?) reference made by one of the hosts. I blurted out a "HAAA" when I heard it. Besides that, the vocab was stellar and the grammar was intense. Which is great because my French has taken a huge hit thanks to all the Spanish I speak and write at work.

Did that sound as annoying as I'm reading it? I swear I'm not trying to be impressive or cool.


Alright, that's all I've got for today. I hope your Monday (or Tuesday) is a good one.

♥ A


12 Things: Results

It's been a few months since my 12 Things deadlines came and went. Here's a quick overview of how I did.


7. Bake a cake/cupcakes from scratch - I made an apple crumb cake for Thanksgiving (along with my cappuccino cookies). I completely spaced and didn't take a photo, but according to my sister it was pretty delicious. I (of course) didn't have a bite because I was too nervous it would be disgusting.

9. Complete 5 of my pins on my Learn/Make/Do board on Pinterest. 1 2 3 4 5

Half Done

2. Read 6 books - Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, Mindy Kaling and Divergent, Victoria Roth are as far as I got before my birthday. BUT! Since then, I started and finished A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans and I've moved on to Gone Girl. Also, The Shining is still sitting on my side table, half read, but I feel like it's so dark it might be better to store it in the freezer (newbie Friends reference, anyone?) for a while.

3. Explore a part of San Francisco I've spent little time in. - This did not happen to the extent I wanted it to, but I did get to spend a surprise afternoon in the city to get my passport. I was totally unprepared for it clothing-wise. I realized this once I was at the BART station. All I had to keep my lizard self warm was a light blazer. But I made the best of my procrastination by finding a hidden Blue Bottle Coffee near the processing office. I sat there and enjoyed my pretty latte, wrote in my journal, then moseyed on outside to sit in the sun. Not a bad way to kill time!

6. Make coffee art - Honestly, I've just uploaded lots of photos of coffee art. Maybe we can make that count. At the very least I should get credit for rediscovering my french press. Kona coffee made in a french press...now that's a work of art!


4. Finish organizing/uploading my Project 365 - It turns out working on a project you know you never finished is too much of a hassle for not enough pay off.

5. Practice French everyday for a month. - I know I said April, but it turns out April had other ideas.

8. Watch 10 classic movies I've never seen before. - I added nothing to the list of movies I've seen after the two from last update. I've realized that movies are not my thing. I like to think they're my thing, but when push comes to shove, I'm gonna sit at home and watch HIMYM or New Girl or Gilmore or Friends before I pop in a movie.

10. Hand letter something. Turn that something into art. - I'd like to actually know what I'm doing before I commit to the creation of art. But this is definitely on my radar.

Completely Missed

11. Volunteer at Coastal Cleanup Day - It's hard to be in two places at once, and I ended up volunteering my time at a debate tournament that weekend.
12. Decorate the apartment - Curtains. I need to buy some darn curtains.

Ok, so I didn't do as well as I'd planned. But I'm not stressing about it. I mean, I definitely was stressed about completing my things on time. Then one day, I realized that I created the list because I needed a push. I didn't want to lose the motivation that kept me growing and learning. And you know something? The list did exactly that. I might not have been able to cross everything off the list, but I did do some other cool things like:

learned to make a soup other than chicken noodle (no shade)
styled a bookshelf
started learning to play ukulele
experimented with makeup and hairstyles
turned 25

I think that's a fine list.

♥ A