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Categories: Barcelona, Natasha

The balance between dreaming and pre-hatched-chicken counting

September 5, 2015 Leave a comment

I used to be a serious, no exceptions, non-counter of egg-trapped chicks. It was a mindset that came with youth for me, but also one I adopted because of the fear of a jinx – that if I wished for something too hard, that if I didn’t guard it with my whole self, the world would know my wish and that would make it not come true. I guess I thought the world was against me. Typical teenager. Something must’ve happened where I thought I was going to win student of the month or something and so really thought I was going to get it, so I planned my outfit for the announcement day and then the outfit was a waste because I didn’t win that month. Who knows.

But now I’m older and wiser and I know that, for me, jinxes are silly and excuses not to dream, wish and hope. So I thought I’d stopped containing my dreams for the most part. Until last week. When I realised that after seeing a place we wanted to buy (and starting the process and getting thisclose only to have a friend of the buyer swoop in and steal 1st priority) and imagining us in it and the guests we’d entertain and the furniture we’d buy, I hesitated to put pen to paper (or typed words to Macbook sticky, as the case may be) to list all the things we’d need to buy to furnish it. I do think it was less about jinxing and more about controlling my excitement, but still. I did end up making the list, because I realised I was regressing to a pre-teen version of myself, as well as because I WANTED to dream! I wanted to be ready to populate that place with all our new things asap!

Who to believe? A fictional princess who's dressed by tiny animals? Or an Emerald (City)-tinged sorceress with a bad rep?

Who to believe? A cartoon princess who’s dressed by tiny animals? Or an Emerald (City)-tinged sorceress with a bad rep??

I also thought I’d grown to believe that things happen as they do, maybe for a reason, and that of course there will always be factors outside of our control. And that because maybe something better will happen as a result, I should let things go, especially when I can’t do anything about it anyway. C’est la vie, que será, etc. But here also, I failed. I was angry and upset and so disappointed and I let it ruin my mood (and others’) for a day or two. I guess there’s always room to grow and improve and sometimes we need something we don’t want to happen to happen to remember that. To remember that it’s not always going to be a beautiful morning, a beautiful day, that everything won’t always go my way. We don’t live in Oklahoma, after all.

So now I’m just trying to figure out how to achieve that perfect balance, because I’ve heard conflicting thoughts in some of my favorite lyrics!

Is a dream a wish your heart makes? Or shouldn’t you even start dreaming, because wishing only wounds the heart?

To Making it Count

August 14, 2015 Leave a comment


Yup, I know that’s what you thought of too.

The past month has been amazing. No exaggeration. And I think, unlike young me, I did make it count. I didn’t get sad that it was starting because that meant it would end (yes I used to do that. Even up until this past December). I didn’t regret forgetting or not doing small, specific things. I didn’t focus on the small, specific things I did remember to the point of forgetting about the bigger picture. I let things go (! Did anyone know this was possible???) and took things as they came. Yes, that is mostly thanks to my amazing parents and sisters dealing with all those small, specific things behind the scenes so that everything went seamlessly and I didn’t have to worry, but still. I took each and every moment in. I enjoyed each one. And I made each wonderful day count.

So yes, now, I’m sad it’s over and I wish I could rewind and live it all all over again. But who wouldn’t?! Those of you who were there understand. It was such a great few days with family and friends in a foreign place with lots to discover. Speaking of Titanic and people who were at the wedding, this is what walking into the reception between two rows of a lot of your fave people in the world felt like:

As emotional as you think it would be.

Anyway, I digress. We landed in Barcelona (very) early this morning. We live here now, guys. It’s weird. So so weird. I don’t know why, since I’ve moved 1,000 times, but maybe because I have a husband now and stuff? Idk. Irdk. James got out his laptop and got to work lawyering and stuff, and I continued what feels like the fruitless search for a home. We went out to the Meatpacking Bistro around the corner for a quick lunch and when James went back, I decided to embark on a few errands – buying some stamps, depositing cash at the bank and picking up my debit card, picking up Spanish-made thank you cards for our wedding gifts. I finished at the post office and headed to the bank. Closed. Not only was it siesta time, but also summer hours. Doh. Double whammy. Forgot about that siesta thing. Tried the stationery store anyway, but also closed. So I headed back to the hotel to continue apartment-hunting. Siesta. Noted.

By the time James finished work and we started to get hungry for dinner, it was around 7, so we started looking places up. One didn’t open for dinner til 8 and another until 8:30! How am I going to survive these young people hours?! We chose a restaurant that would fulfil my udon craving and headed out. Guess what. Closed. Summer, guys. Headed to the other – closed. Okay, roaming around til we find something that looks good it is! Ended up at a Japanese place, where I discovered that although I usually try to like ramen and fail, for some reason I like Spain’s take on ramen.

Anyway, back to making it count. Although those previous 2 paragraphs sound whiny, I was trying to make a point. Because as we crossed the Avenida Diagonal back to our hotel tonight and I saw the almost-empty streets around us, I realized they would be filling up relatively soon as Festa Mejor started and the vacationers returned and that would mean that it would soon be autumn, and then suddenly I saw the 2 years of my MBA flash by. (Yes, my wheels move fast and yes this was all in the space of crossing the street. The Avenida is very wide.) Can’t allow that! So I reminded myself to savor those empty streets and take it all in.

Phew. Glad that happened on our first night here! No chances to regret anything!

So basically, guys:

But maybe tell me ahead of time, otherwise I won’t know when to meet you at the clock.


This post brought to you by: James Cameron ‘s wife and a reminder that life’s a gif…t. 

Riga – Stop 2 of the Baltic Trio

March 16, 2015 1 comment


The Top Line: Yes, I am super-bummed that I couldn’t badge it, but even so, Riga is an old, beautiful city where you can really live like a local so take advantage.

We landed a bit late on a Friday night, so just got a bus to our cute airbnb apartment. Our hosts gave us some good recommendations, but it was beginning to look like we wouldn’t be able to grab anything to eat since it was 11pm. Until we mentioned that we’d read about Folkssklub and they realized that must still be open! So we headed there for a quick bite and got so much more. Though the larger area was super crowded and live music was ongoing, we, being the Olds we are, looked for and found seats in a smaller back room. In this back room, there were competing forces – the Youngs singing merrily around a piano, versus the Olds, at a table with a couple of guitars, who sprang into action when the Youngs went out for a smoke. We seemed to be the only non-natives there and it was just so much fun to watch everyone there having so much fun. We were really glad we immediately immersed ourselves that night so we could experience it!


The next day, we headed to the Kalnciena Street Quarter Fair. We did get a little lost on the bus, but eventually made it. The market had not only Latvian vendors, Read more…

Categories: London, Natasha, Travel bug Tags: , ,

Shakes in Love

July 15, 2014 Leave a comment


Can you love a player?


Indeed, I can! A few, actually.

To be honest, I don’t really remember much of the movie of the same name, so I cannot compare thee to a summer’s day two. But I really enjoyed the play. However, since I’m no theatre critic, instead, I’ll make like Maria von Trapp and simply remember my favorite things from last night’s preview of Shakespeare in Love at the Noël Coward Theatre (a few spoilers ahead):

The Cast

  • Ned Alleyn (played by Doug Rao) – I really enjoyed this character. Despite what seemed a large ego at the beginning, he was a friend to Will and accepted the non-starring role of Mercutio, although it was clear this was not what he was used to, and he proved to be an endearing character. (Also, I liked his eyeliner. I kept thinking about Jack Sparrow and swooning.)
  • Marlowe (played by David Oakes) – You just feel so sad for Marlowe! The way he helps Will – is he that good of a friend? What other motive could he possibly have? Was Marlowe really the voice behind Shakespeare? He is a sweet character that I couldn’t help but pull for.
  • Viola (played by Lucy Briggs-Owen) – I really liked the way that Viola/Thomas Kent was played. The character was developed so well – her love of Shakespeare’s words and knowing them by heart from her first appearance on stage made it completely believable that she could just walk on as Juliet when crisis later struck and she had to be a last-minute replacement. Although I know I should suspend reality when I watch works of fiction whether on stage or on screen, I sometimes struggle to see how something could be at all realistic – but this was not the case at all here. I think the build-up of this character to the point of being able to walk on and deliver lines with bravada was completely believable.
  • John Webster (played by Colin Ryan) – this reference (when a name was given to this character who had been present throughout the play somewhere near the end of the show) went over my head, but I could infer what it was that John Webster wrote about. And the character, though supposed to be a bit crazy, ended up saving the day a little, which I was proud of noticing before it was brought to light, and he really stole a soft spot in my heart as well.
  • Burbage (played by David Ganly) – A rough character at first, there’s always something that softens a person, huh? When this character was given a small role in the play to distract him from other things, he was thrilled. And it was adorable. And he had a special hat that would just fit the part. Love.
  • Wabash (played by Patrick Osborne) – The character evolution here as well was built up so well and when this perennial stammerer was finally triumphant when it was time to take the stage, the whole theatre was so happy for him. It was heartwarming (and I obviously cried).
  • Queen Elizabeth (played by Anna Carteret) – This queen was so sassy (which I loved) and also obsessed with dogs (did I miss something in history class?). But my most favorite thing about her was her outfits. I wish I could wear those giant hoop skirts and vertigo-inducing collars.
  • The quartet (Tim van Eyken, Charlie Tighe, Elliott Rennie, Thomas Padden) – They sang (beautifully) and they provided gorgeous music to perfectly match scenes. The sound was beautiful and almost my favorite part of the whole show.
  • The set – The scene changes, both the set and the rearrangement of cast, were seamless. I really loved the set, so accurately evocative of the Globe. Another favorite part of mine was when they set up a ‘boat’ to row across the water – whilst Will, Viola and the rowing boatman swished and swayed as they ‘crossed the water,’ two members of the cast sat just to the side and appeared to be washing clothes – dipping cloth into a bucket of water and wringing it out. But when you concentrated on the main part of the scene and forgot that two launderers were to the side, the effect was that you saw the oars moving and the actors swaying and you heard the water lapping against the oars! It was amazing. Perfectly choreographed with position of the oar and the sound of the water. I just thought this was such a genius touch and absolutely loved it.

Read more…

citizen*N* says

June 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Earlier this month, Sarah and I pretended we were livin’ the dream and were travel bloggers. Thanks to the Tumi Golden Ticket competition I’d been trying to win, I found out about a new branch of the trendy boutique hotel citizenM opening in Paris, and they were offering free nights to ‘test sleep’ at their newest hotel in exchange for feedback. Sounded good to me!

The Top Line: If you’re looking for a hotel in the CDG airport area for a good price, citizenM is a great option with its cute, creative and modern set-up and very friendly staff.

Here were our top ‘liments and ‘laints: Read more…

A Glacial Adventure

June 12, 2014 1 comment

This guy’s gonna be a long one because I want my oldie self to be able to remember as much of this as possible, so let me give you the bottom line first (hey. I am an accountant after all, okay) – aka

The Top Line: You should go to Norway. And climb a glacier. Asap. (PS Don’t forget to drink glacier water and eat whale and/or reindeer while you’re there.)

I mean, look where we got!!!

I mean, look at this!!!

As previously documented, although I don’t purport to love outdoor activities, I do participate because James loves them, and I end up liking them in the end anyway. I guess I just like to whine 🙂

James had been talking about wanting to camp wild in Norway last summer when we struggled to find places you’re allowed to do it in England, so I decided that it would be a pretty cool birthday present. One of the hardest parts of planning this trip was probably keeping it a secret until March 13! I gave him a map to figure it out because we’re fun like that 🙂

Anyway, a few Fridays ago, it was finally time to set off. It was nice to be able to fly out at 8:45pm because it meant I could still work a full day, which was good since it’s been a bit crazy over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, when I booked the trip, James hadn’t even applied for the Cambridge job yet, so Gatwick wasn’t the most convenient airport for him to leave from, so he had to take the day off so that he could make it down to London and then Gatwick in time (in a relaxed manner). At work, we ended up getting an email from HR saying we could leave at 3:30 if our work permitted, and miraculously, mine did, so I headed off to meet James at a sports shop so I could pick up some appropriate shoes (unlike other hiking or climbing expeditions) for our weekend adventures. I ended up choosing some pretty quickly because they would serve the purpose, they fit and they were only £20. Thanks, Sports Direct. Had to get the hiking socks to go with, of course, though I didn’t know it was an ‘of course’ until I tried to wear the shoes ‘a short distance’ from my apartment to the train station (a 10 minute walk) with just short socks and ended up with a rubbed raw part on my ankle from a shoelace hole. Lesson learned.

We got to the airport and James shrink-wrapped his brand spanking new Osprey backpack to protect it from the trauma of international travel in the bulkhead. We had time to sit for a bit before boarding, so I gave Mummy (who was conducting google image search research on Jostedal(pronounced: Yosstehdahl)) a call to brief her again on our planned locations and activities. Then we had on-board wifi. Sweet.

With the one hour time change, we landed at midnight and just went straight to bed at the Clarion hotel airport so that we could get our rental car bright and early.


In the morning, we headed to Hertz to pick up our rental car. I don’t rent cars often (actually, I’m not sure if I ever have. I think I somehow always weasel my way out of the actual booking part because I get worried about which extras cover what.), so I was a bit shocked to find out that we had to pay 300 NOK because we had booked the car for 8am, i.e. ‘out of hours’ instead of 9am. So that was annoying. But after that, the car was good (upgraded from a VW to some Volvo) and the GPS worked, so no complaints. We headed to Bergen, but since it was a bit early, not many places were open for breakfast/brunch and we needed to grab a bite and head off so we could make it to Flåm in time. We headed to the Fisketorget on the harbour and surveyed both sides of the row to see what the vendors had on offer—smoked salmon on a bagel; salmon tartare marinated in herbs and spices on a bagel; whale on a bagel…plus fresh fish and eel and giant shrimp everywhere. (Our choices, for brunch and the rest, get their very own post elsewhere.) Not to mention the landscape. So beautiful! Mountains! Water! Blue skies and fluffy clouds!

We took a quick spin around the monthly market that happened to be up that day as well — most notably, I got a giant pancake as big as my giant face and we picked up some reindeer meat for our camping sandwiches — and then we were on our way!

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