the time i should have read my email more closely

My trip to Thailand and Cambodia was amazing…and possibly the least planned out trip I’ve ever been on that involved anyone other than myself. When I’m alone, I don’t care a bit about plans. When there’s someone else around and I feel like I’m in charge, then I care a lot. That said, the first part of my trip was pretty well set because I knew I wanted to go diving and I got there the very last weekend the Similan Islands (a national park) would be open for divers. Or at least I thought it was well planned out.


Welcome to Thailand…at the Bangkok airport


My ghetto fabulous room at the dive by the Bangkok airport. Totally worth the $20 it cost which included free airport transfer.

I left Tokyo Thursday evening and spent Thursday night at this crazy/random/cheap h–otel (motel?) near the airport in Bangkok so I could get on my 8am flight to Phuket the following morning. With no ideal flight schedules, this was the best option, and it meant that Friday was spent lying on the beach and getting a massage at the lovely resort where I’d booked myself. This was the most expensive portion of my trip, by far, but it was totally worth it.

flight to phuketQFeEaDZvPMJXdqcgyLdqL4RW7N4xlNvbcXP-UXmdWBA cXYpNEGrbUimX7Kq43YkWMely56O3UlMKjk7PlhP1bs ZeoUHKy9cVf9pYUwWRhXjB2ljFQBDO0DtxlOCLYaHio bZ_t7cmg5Dehc1aXBMLbP5tBO6Qc10oOzp6OIiGBKKA 3XoDOWWM8-YPhEt2xwdqcQ5mwngxABQvfFRYBPJXCiM DSC_0027Saturday, I was set to be picked up between 5:50 and 6:00 am to be transported to Khao Lak (where the movie The Impossible took place, I discovered later) where I would board a speed boat out to a live-aboard in the Similan Islands. I was so excited. I have always wanted to do the live-aboard thing and could not wait to be diving again.

Well, I woke up Saturday morning, checked my big bag with the bellhop (I was going to be staying at the same hotel when I returned from my night at sea…this was good planning on my part). So, 5:50 passes, then 6:00, then 6:10. At this point, I’m starting to get a little panicked. I got to my email to find the guys number from the dive operator and, as I read the email, I saw that his confirmation email was, in fact, confirming the wrong date. I had say the 27th and 28th, he had confirmed for pickup on the 28th. This was not good. So, I call the 24 hour number (bless this diver operator and their 24-hour service) and I’m informed, very nicely, that it’s too late for me to get picked up, but if I can get a ride to Khao Lak, he would call to see if there was room on the boat for me that night.

So, I’m waiting for him to make a couple of phone calls and asking the front desk about a taxi to Khoa Lak. I am told it will be $120. I realize that sounds crazy, but considering how much I’ve already invested and that I have to be on a flight Monday evening to meet my friend in Bangkok and you can’t fly within 24-hours of diving, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t do it. The kicker, though, was that I needed to be there in 90 minutes and the drive, if traffic and all of the elements combined cooperated, would be at least 90 minutes.

Here’s where I do well in a crisis (realizing that this is hardly a crisis in the grand scheme of things, but felt that way at the time). I am a pragmatist. I think through the situation, find the best possible solution, and move forward with it. I may have a moment of emotion, but then my rational brain kicks in and reminds me that emotions are pointless in such situations as they cannot do anything to help.

At this point, the desk clerk is calling the dive shop guy to confirm that I can get on the boat (I could) and where I need to be dropped off so he could explain it to the taxi driver. I confirm that I will pay cash for the ride. The taxi driver shows up and we’re off.

Where I don’t do well in a crisis is when there is driving involved and I’m not the one doing it. But, amazingly, in a world where you can never count on a taxi driver, I got one that drove just as I would drive. And I could see the determination in his eyes to get me there in time. Not because he really cared about me getting there, but because he wanted to prove he could do it. And that was just the determination I was looking for. And 90 LONG minutes later, I made it. I was on the speed boat, awaiting the arrival of the others who were to come as well. Seriously, I wish I had caught the name of the desk clerk and taxi driver (I asked for them, but me and foreign names don’t always understand one another so well…) because they were both champs.

And that covers my first 36 hours of a 10 day trip. More to come…

it’s been a while…

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I lasted posted. In any case, it’s with good reason. My shipment from the U.S. (all my earthly belongings not already here with me) arrived in Japan on April 9th and since then, my life has been a whirlwind of IKEA furniture building, unpacking, and then some serious traveling. I need to get on the blog updates, and they are coming, but tonight I just want to capture how very blessed I feel at this moment.

As I sit here on my couch–my delightfully comfortable and beautifully red sectional from IKEA–listening to the Debussy channel on Pandora via my Roku, looking out my window on this incredible city, with the sound of rain in the background, I can’t help be think of just how lucky I am to have the life I have right now. It’s not without its trials–some of which I brought with me, some of which are new since arriving–but all in all, my heart is full of gratitude for this opportunity that I’ve been given and where my life is today.

And now, as much as I want to catch up on the blog, I need to write my sweet nephew, who’s currently on a mission for my church, a letter and then get to bed. My goal is to get some real updates done this week.

the last brownie

Last week I posted this photo on FB (and Instagram…I’m totally addicted to Instagram)…


…and it was really fun to see all of the comments people left. Obviously, I like this picture. But the comments I liked the best weren’t about what I looked like on the outside, but about how people could tell I’m happy. I feel like you can’t fake that. And I wasn’t. I really am so happy with my life right now.

And since arriving in New York and seeing people I haven’t seen in a while, their reaction has been the same. I’ve received lovely compliments about how happy I look. Could there be anything better than that?

That’s not to say that there aren’t things I think I need to change (there are always things I think I need to change), or that it is all sunshine and butterflies (I just had a mini-breakdown about something totally ridiculous on Saturday night). But the reality is somehow, someway, over the past few years, I feel like I’ve figured a few things out.

The first, and most important, is that life is going to happen and I can choose to be a victim or not. And I am not a victim. Yes, crap things have happened to me in my life. Yes, my life is not exactly how I would want it to be if I had control over everything. But. But! I can choose how I react to what happens.

The second is that I can choose to do everything I can to make my life as good as it can possibly be in terms of the things that I can control. I may not have the exact things that I dreamed I would have when I was 16, but I have done the best I can with what I’ve been given and that’s something I can feel really good about.

The third thing is that friends and family are really what matters. I know that I’ve decide to spend the next who knows how long in Tokyo…on the other side of the world from most of my friends and all of my family, but I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t have their support and know that they were there when I need them (and vice versa). And it has been so nice during this trip to be able to see so many friends and most of my immediate family (as of tomorrow night).


Fourth, I really believe that God wants me to be happy. And sometimes part of that happiness means going through hard things so that I can learn and grow. But if I choose to learn and grow from those hard things, I will be a better person for it. And I will have the confidence that comes from going through hard things and the ability to empathize with those in similar circumstances.

And finally (and maybe most importantly) on those days when all else fails, I can always think of someone who deserves that last brownie more than I do. And sometimes that’s what it takes.

dear you…inspired by the events of the last month (a whole month sans blogging? wthh)

Amanda, our waiter, Kelly, me, and Sarah J. at Graham Elliot
in Chicago for Kelly’s birthday!

Dear besties (all of you),
Thank you for being amazing friends. Thank you for being the types of friends I can see after a week, a month, a year, or a decade, and being able to pick right up like no time had passed. Thank you for not judging my choices. Thank you for always being supportive and having my back. Thank you for listening to get excited about a new boy (and then understanding when I need to talk about why it didn’t work out). Thank you for giving me so many fun memories throughout my life.
P.S. the rest of this post is not so sappy.

Dear Girl Scout cookies (particularly Samoas and Tagalongs),
With much regret for the number of you I’ve consumed in the past two days,
My arse
Dear Delta Airlines,
I understand why it takes so many trips/miles to get Medallion status, but that doesn’t mean you should board your planes in the MOST backward way possible. It’s faster for everyone if you just board the plane from back to front. Also, your terminal at JFK sucks. I mean, water catches and hoses to deal with a leaky roof? If I make Medallion status this year, it will be worth it, but only by a little. 
P.S. I’m only doing this because I’m hoping to move far away in the very near future and think it will be worth it since my company uses your airline.
P.P.S. Do your flight attendants really let people paint their nails on the plane and then ask me if I’ve said anything to the woman when I complain about the smell? Isn’t that what they are paid to do?

Dear lady painting your nails on the plane,
Seriously? Il y a des limites, quand même.
A girl who takes personal maintenance seriously, but realizes there are limits

Dear college band on my flight Sunday,
Was it really necessary to travel in your matching outfits on a red-eye? A RED-EYE?! And your outfits…not super attractive. And why were you all so chatty? Thank goodness for noise canceling headphones and Tylenol PM.
With hopes that you don’t bug other people as much as you bugged me,
A normally pleasant traveler (okay, maybe not lately, but Delta and their stupid boarding and ghetto JFK terminal make me mad!)

Dear 55+ year olds currently hitting on me online,
You are all old enough to actually have sired me. Yes. That word is gross. And that’s why I’m using it. It’s gross that you are hitting on me. You have children old enough to be my siblings and none of you have enough money to make me consider marrying you for it. What I’m trying to understand is how it is you think that I would actually be interested? Especially since I’ve clearly stated on my profile what the upper end of my age limit is in terms of a potential future spouse, and you are well outside that range. You like to say that age doesn’t matter, but when was the last time you went out with a 76+ year old woman? And I think I’ve made my point.
Thanks but no thanks,
A woman who still feels anything over a six year age difference is inappropriate
P.S. For those of you paying attention, there was a boy…there no longer is a boy (by mutual decision)…so it’s back to the drawing board (or internet, as it were).

Dear Spotify,
I’m pretty sure I’ve written you a letter before, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to adequately express to you just how much I love you. I LOVE YOU!

Dear Broadway,
Thank you for giving me a reason to love you once again. Seriously, it’s been a very dry year, but a few weeks ago, when the lovely Sarah J. (Sare, that’s your new nickname, btw) and Co. were in town, I got to see both Newsies and Once. I realize that Newsies is kind of a silly show, but oh how I loved it. So entertaining. And so fun to see some of the great Broadway dancers from SYTYCD. And then there was Once. I was worried I would not love it as much as the movie. I was worried that no one could be as good as Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. I had no reason to worry. Wow. Just wow. I can’t wait until I can see it again. 
With a song in my heart and a smile on my lips just thinking about you,
there are a number of things I would change,
but not bad for two hours start to finish

Dear Art Studio NY,
For many, many years I have believed that I have very little artistic ability, so finally, I decided to conquer my fear and just take a painting class. And while I definitely don’t think I’ll be winning any art competitions any time soon (are those even a thing?) or selling a painting, I had a fabulous time learning a little bit about painting and feel pretty good about my two hour painting. Hopefully I can find the money to take some more classes in the near future.
The girl who is so happy she manages to find 20 seconds of courage to sign up for things that scare her

best pea soup ever

Dear Graham Elliot (and Kelly),
Thank you for what was probably the most amazing dining experience of my life. I knew I was in for something special for Kelly’s birthday dinner, but I had no idea just how amazing it would be. And with the best company in the world (Kelly, Sarah, and Amanda) how could it not be enjoyable. But the food. Oh, the food. Fourteen glorious courses and several adult beverages (mine were of the virgin variety, but still pretty special) and I am forever changed. 
With much love (and much higher expectations for future tasting menu experiences),
A wannabe foodie

dear you (brought to you by the fact that i haven’t posted one of these in way too long),

Dear Instagram,
Thank you for helping me stay connected to people through photos. While my blogging has been rather neglected recently, I still have documentation of my life because of you. And thank you for making it so easy to post photos to Twitter and Facebook, too. And finally, thank you for enabling me to take a selfie that made me look so great. Pretty much, you are my favorite app ever.
I love, love, love you! 
P.S. In case you had forgotten since yesterday, here’s the pic I was referring to.

Dear body,
Thank you for somehow managing to deal with the sleep deprivation currently being inflicted upon you. It came to my attention last year that your ability to function without sleep had deteriorated significantly, and yet somehow, over the past few weeks, you’ve hung in there like a champ. I think the late nights might slow down eventually because even I know this isn’t sustainable, but thank you, thank you, thank you for pushing through. 

Dear obnoxious lady at the laundromat last week,
Yes, I did know that I set the dryer for 56 minutes. In fact, I set it for 70. And the reason I know that is that I put the quarters into the dryer to set it for 70 minutes. And the reason I set it for 70 minutes? Because I go to this laundromat every week. Because I wash my own clothes so as not to have them thrashed by sending them out to be laundered. Because I dry them on low to preserve the life of my clothing. Because I had towels in the load. Not that it was any of your business, but there you go. And when I explained that all to you (much more succinctly), you acknowledged that it was none of your business. And I agreed. 
With hopes that you learned your lesson, but suspicions that you did not,
The woman who’s been doing her own laundry since she was 10 years old
You have made it so I don’t think I can happily live anywhere but NYC as a singleton. And it’s not like I use you that often, but just knowing you’re there makes me happy. And tonight, you came in so handy. I’m knee deep in cleaning (um…and blogging obviously) and I don’t have any desire to leave my apartment looking the way I do and all I have in my fridge are applesauce and myriad condiments. Until one has experienced the convenience that is food delivered from just about any restaurant in a 20 block radius, one just cannot understand how easy life can be. 
I thank you and my soon-to-be-clean apartment thanks you!
Dear Julie (and Greg),
Thank you so much for letting me come hang out with you last weekend. It was exactly what I needed. Life has been a little stressful and chaotic the past couple of weeks and I just needed a break. I love my family and the new babies and helping out with them…which is why I just needed to reset. Because I had been helping out with them. And it is so nice that you now live in Boston and have a lovely home where I can just chill for a weekend. Thank you for the wonderful trip to the Finnish sauna and for allowing me to not do anything else the whole time I was there besides talk your ear off about a boy, eat ice cream and caramel popcorn, watch movies, and sleep. I’m so happy to finally have you on the east coast!
Love always,
P.S. Your home is dreamy! 
You can see why it would be so easy to just chill all weekend.
I’m not sure how you became The Bachelor, but somehow it happened. Thanks to you, this season has been, quite possibly, the most ridiculous one to date (I admit, this is based on my limited experience–I’ve only watched four seasons) and yet I can’t help myself. A few words of advice once this whole thing is over and we all find out that it didn’t workout with whomever it is you chose to propose to because I’m guessing you’re just dumb enough to choose Courtney. Cut your freaking hair!!! There. I said it. And now, in case you want to know what’s so bad about it, I give you this picture.
Best of luck,
A girl who actually hopes you find love eventually, which is why I gave you the advice I did
Dear Primary kidlets,
I adore you and I was so excited to see you after four weekends in a row out of town. Thank you for being so good upon my return and so excited to see me, too. And tomorrow I have a special treat for you. I’m bringing salt dough. It’s going to be so much fun! I can’t wait to see you. 
Sister Andersen
What a perfect season finale. Thank you for being such a joy to watch and having such interesting and complex characters. Thank you for proving that good entertainment doesn’t have to be crass or edgy. 
Until I decide to start watching you on Netflix again,
Dear soccer,
Thanks for making me feel so tough even though both my teams are relatively crappy this season. There’s something about having a ball shaped bruise with a hexagon imprint on my quad that just makes me feel really good about myself.
With hopes for a better season to come,
See the lovely hexagon. This was the night it happened.
And three days later there was a bruise showing exactly where the ball had hit.