Saturday, July 18, 2015

the gift of gab!

Today started out with quite an adventure! We are staying in a more typical hotel, and it is quite dark and very quiet when it is time to sleep. So, thinking the alarm was set for 8:20 am, I got up to use the restroom and realized it was 10:35 am!

Fortunately, all we had on the agenda today was exploring the Blarney castle, and we were only taking a city bus to get there, so it wasn't a huge ordeal. Though we did not stop for a lovely breakfast like we have been. That being said, MAN, you could spend all day at the Blarney Castle.

Let me start by saying, the weather today was PERFECT. It was wonderfully comfortable for a light tshirt and some jeans since we were walking, that helped keep us pretty warm. The weather really makes a difference at the castle grounds, because there is so much to see! There are gardens everywhere, gorgeous rose and petunia gardens with plants I've never seen before,  and a very interesting poison garden with plants that are deadly if their leaves are crushed (those plants are surrounded by jungle-gym style covers.

In addition to the gardens, there is the Blarney House manor, which we did not get to go into due to time and desire. However, the Blarney Castle is super cool! The castle has every castle-related thing you could ever hope to see. Amazing dungeons, caves, a lookout tower, and an insanely tiny spiral staircase that leads to the Blarney stone, which is, of course, at the top of the castle. For those of you that don't know, the Blarney stone is said to give the gift of eloquence. Cormac MacDermot McCarthy wanted to keep Ireland seperate from England, but wasn't very good at converstaion. An old woman he met on his journey told him that when the castle was built, a stone was put into place and a man said that no one would ever be able to touch that stone again. The old woman told Cormac if he could kiss the stone, he would become an eloquent speaker, and so a legend was born.

We overheard some people talking about the line wait time, and they said that because it was an hour and a half wait, they weren't going to go kiss the stone, they would go instead to the Wishing Steps (you walk up and down these steps with your eyes closed thinking of nothing but your wish and it supposedly comes true). Drew and I thought that to be crazy because why would you take that over the Blarney Stone? Regardless, I'm glad they left, the line ended up only taking about an hour.

The view from the top of the castle was amazing. And terrifying. Because there are "drains" at the top (by drains, I mean GIANT gaps in between the floor and the wall with maybe two iron rods) the wind at the top of the castle is INTENSE. I've never been in one of those indoor skydiving rooms, but it felt similar to what I imagine that to be like. Well, if that wasn't scary enough, the Blarney Stone is located towards the very bottom of one of those rods! You have to lay on your back, over the top of the castle, completely at an angle where if there wasn't a rod and a man holding your feet you would fall. I will be completley honest, I almost chickened out at the last moment! But I'm glad I didn't, I would have been ashamed.

After we returned to our hotel, we spent some time relaxing, I chatted with my sister and Abuela for a little bit, and then we headed out for some chinese! By the time we were back at the hotel, it started to pour down rain, but we are grateful for that nonetheless!

We are currently packing our things and getting ready to leave this beautiful country tomorrow. England, here we come!

Friday, July 17, 2015

nailed it!

Just wait until all of you fine people hear in person the enormous amount of things I have mispronounced or missaid. It's making for some great stories, but I'd rather save those to tell in person. Hence the "nailed it" title.

I reneged on my promise to blog yesterday, but it turned out to be a long and stressful day, so I just withheld all of the information for today!

Our big activity yesterday was the Gap of Dunloe. The gap is just that, a gap in between a valley of many mountains formed by glacial activity in the Ice Age. In typical, European, four-seasons-in-a-day fashion, our weather was TERRIBLE! At first, it was just overcast and dark, which was perfect because it really brought out the green in the scenery. As we began our jaunting cart (horse and VERY SMALL carriage,) it began to rain, and the wind blew fiercly. I was having a ball, Drew later told me he wasn't a huge fan of the cart ride. We chose not to hike it, which you can do, because we weren't sure of the difficulty or type of hike. Truthfully, it turned out to be relatively flat, but there are a few very windy roads. Shockingly, there were cars driving on this road! Every time a jaunting cart passed, the car had to drive in reverse to get out of the way for the horse to move along. The cart took us all the way up and over the gap, and down to a little cottage where you can have lunch before you catch your boat ride across the 3 lakes. That's right. We also took a very long, very cold, windy boat ride through 3 gorgeous lakes on the other side of the gap, where we shored at Ross Castle. Funnily enough, I did not love the boat ride, Drew told me it was the best part of his day.

I cannot begin to describe in enough detail how amazing and beautiful the Gap of Dunloe was. We struggled between exploring it, or parts of the Ring of Kerry, but we truly do not feel like we made a bad choice. Our weather could have been better, but for me, it just added to the experience. The mountains are enourmous, more peaked, and not covered in trees like ours are. They are covered in different colors and types of moss, making the colors really stand out. There were also sheep, everywhere! Adorable, precious sheep! They were also spray painted on different spots on their rears, I assume to distinguish the flocks and their owners, or the type of wool, but I could be wrong.

After our tour, we made reservations at what we are told was the best restaurant in town, Cronin's. I was feeling a little light heading from the van/horse/boat ride, but I still managed to enjoy what has been our best meal so far. We ordered a grilled pork steak, with tomatoes, chorizo, and melted cheese on top, obviosuly served with salad and....chips! (fries). We also managed to snag in a Bailey's Cheesecake, which was the moussiest, most light cheesecake I've ever tasted.

Today, our day began with our train ride to Cork, which was relatively short, about 45 minutes. We checked into the hotel, which it very nice and again, well located. We walked through the city center for quite some time, enjoying ourselves and watching some incredible street performers. At one point, after our lunch at Oliver Plunkett's, we were on our way back to the hotel and came across a very interesting group of street performers. They were French, and a band. With trumpets, drums, saxophones, and all kinds of other instruments, but they were all dressed in bizarre garb. Men and women of young and old were dressed in drag, dressed as cows, wearing shark hats, etc. The audience enjoyed themselves, dancing and clapping as the band carried on with their own song and dance.

Tomorrow, we are off to catch a bus to see the Blarney Castle and kiss the stone!

Recommend: Cronin's, The Gap of Dunloe (the walk wasn't bad at all, we would do it over if we could) the boat ride isn't really optional, IrishRail is the trainline and it has been SUPER easy to navigate and manage, and our new hotel, The River Lee, in Cork.

Do Not Recommend: I didn't write a lot about it because we didn't really do anything with it, but yesterday was also a very big horse race in Killarney, and it was ladie's night on the whole town. WE recommend not making big plans to get in anywhere when both of those events are going at the same time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When in Rome...

Except, i'm not in Rome, I'm in Ireland! 

I am struggling to remember the method to making the keyboard on my ipad work, so bear with me on the mistakes throughout. OH, and this is going to be a super long post. #sorrynotsorry

Our journey started off on Sunday with an AMAZING brunch at our favorite Chattanooga location, 1885. We stuffed ourselves appropriately, knowing we were not looking forward to airport/airplane food for the following 24 hours. Well worth it, might I add.

We tooke a Groome's van to the atlanta airport, which was actually not too bad, and we made good time. I would recommend it for that reason, but be careful, you could easily end up in a van that's packed full with smelly people, and we all know that is ewwww.

Anyways, we had no trouble on our flights and getting to our connecting flight was so simple because our flight landed in the gate next to where we were supposed to take off from! Handy, for sure.  We slept a grand total of 15 minutes on the 5 hour 45 minute flight, which made for a miserably long day thereafter.

I knew I would loooooooove Ireland as soon as we landed.  When we got off the plane and into the line for customs, we realized many people around us had these Landing Card papers, which we either didn't see, or were not given, but we were stressing about it for sure. As we walked up to the queue for entrance we told the man (who, was very Irish and definitely had bright red hair), that we didn't have the cards, his exact reply was, "no one cares, go ahead." In a tone that suggested that we were harmless and welcomed like it was no big deal. And so, that was my first encounter with the Irish. Casual, friendly, blunt.

Moving along (I realize no one wants to read my novel),  everything in Ireland so far, has been pretty stress free. Our Dublin hotel was perfectly centered near everything we wanted to see like the Book of Kells, Trinity College, Stephen's Green, and the city centre. My favorite thing in Dublin was definitely the Long Room at Trinity College, which is the library. We also managed to visit St.Patrick's Cathedral and the Guiness brewery. At lunch one day, Drew spotted one of his former neighbor's from when he lived in Japan, crazily enough. The guy was super nice and invited us out for a pint at a local pub. *side story: on the way to the Guiness brewery I told Drew I would not go down this particularly sketcky alley, and he didn't tell me it was really the way to go, so we probably walked an extra half/ three quarters of a mile to get to the brewery. Lesson learned? Let Drew lead.

This morning was took a 3 hour train ride to Killarney, which is my new favorite place. I mentioned earlier that every country I've been to has one place that I would easily move to. Lisseux, Valencia, Cairns, and Killarney. It's small and quaint, and everything is close by. It's only con is that it is a bit touristy, but not like Gatlinburg for example.

Our hotel in Killarney is super cute and very Irish with it's wooden carved Celtic designs in the banisters, and it's near everything one could want to see. Already, my favorite thing about this little place was the amazing candy shop that is run by a man honoring his grandfather with the shop. He had every candy style and type for every kind of taste you could be looking for. He made us try the Irish version of WarHeads, and that was the most painful experience my poor jaw has ever been through! But, I powered through the sourness, and made it to the sweet part, which let me tell you, is a FEAT.

This evening, we are going out for some Indian food, and then going pub hopping to listen to some live Irish music. Tomorrow, we are off with the group do to the Gap of Dunloe hike. Super exciting stuff!

I am taking pictures, but they are on my "good" camera so everyone will have to wait until I get home :)

Things I do recommend: Groome's, Aircoach in Dublin for getting to your hotel, Bobo's for Irish burgers, Pifko's for a paddle of beer and delicious potato carrot soup, Trinity College. The whole of Killarney.

Things I don't  recommend: the Guinness brewhouse is cool if you've never been to one, but it takes HOURS to go through and you're time would be better spent elsewhere.

More to come tomorrow! Hopefully, if I do this daily it will not be as long!

Monday, February 16, 2015

here's hoping.

I really, really detest that age old tradition that takes place at weddings and baby showers. You know, the one where you write advice for the happy couple or the soon-to-be-parents?

Let's be real. For people like me, that's a difficult feat. What do I really know about keeping a marriage alive? Or a baby for that matter...KIDDING! Sort of. 

I find it hard to give advice (aside from the fact that I have none to give,) because I don't feel like any couple, parent, or individual should try to commit to all of the advice that's given to them. If we tried to do all of the advice we are given all of the time, it's bound to counteract and all of them to be ineffective. My coworker had an experience with this when her throat was sore and she attempted every single home remedy she could find for a sore throat. The end result? Her throat felt worse. 

I feel like in every situation, you have to pick the advice, the remedy, the metaphor, that works best for you. Every couple, every individual, every child-rearing parent is different, and all should be able to deal with their situation as they see fit.

That being said, I also have a strong affinity for Buzzfeed articles. Now, I do not always find them useful or even bother to commit them to memory, but this one really stood out to me despite it's complete sappiness.  36 Invaluable Pieces of Relationship Advice Though a lot of the advice kind of "umbrellas" under more broad statements, there are several that stood out to me. Above them all, however, was the 3rd piece of advice.

3. “There are two boxes in every relationship: hope and expectation.”

“Resentment builds when you put petty things into the expectation box (he needs to give me flowers, he needs to take me places, etc.). Put petty things in the hope box and be clear about what is in your expectation box.”

I found this deeply profound. How many times have I found myself upset with a significant other because he didn't do something that, upon reflection, he probably never knew I wanted him to do? I was always hoping that he would do it. I had no right to be annoyed that he couldn't read my mind. Once I took time to really think about this statement, I realized how important the idea of a hope and an expectation is.

Though what is petty for some might be an expectation for another is irrelevant. It's important to be upfront about what is in your expectation box, and maybe give your partner some ideas for things that would be in your hope box. Things are much more likely to be pulled out of your hope box if people know what they are, obviously.  Even after you've discussed what is in your hope and your expectation box, it's always nice to verbally say the words when you do the action. Last night, we went to an event that is not particularly of any interest to me, but is to my beau. While we were there, he looked at me and said, "Thank you for coming with me, this was in my hope box." (Which I of course, already knew, but still.) I am also aware of his expectations and he is of mine (fortunately, they're very similar.)

So, here's my advice to you. Make a hope and an expectation box. Write down what's in yours. Share it with your partner, your kid, whoever. Maybe make goals out of it. But always remember that the expectations are just that. Expected.

Elle Goulding: Love Me Like You Do
Lil Wayne: How to Love
Katy Perry: Fingerprints
Jewel: You Were Meant for Me
Trey Songz: Neighbors Know My Name
Billy Joel: Piano Man

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

not sure if...

Things are going pretty well in Alicialand. My work life has been so much easier without school to deal with, I never realized doing assignments was really taking up that much of my time and stress level, but I am certainly glad it is gone.

That being said, this newfound freedom and free time has made me truly evaluate my stress level and stress management.

I have known for a long time now that what stresses me out is not usually what stresses other people out. In high school, I never flipped out about college applications, and when it came time for interviews for big girl jobs after college I rarely got anything more than normal interview butterflies. For the most part, the fact that what normal people stress about doesn't bother me has been a blessing.  It allows me to remain calm and optimistic in a world surrounded by friends that are stressed. I can still be lighthearted and make people forget their worries every now and then.

However, it can sometimes suck to not stress about the normal stuff. Because the things that I do end up stressing about do not make sense to a lot of people, I hear a lot of, "you're fine", "that shouldn't stress you out", "it's really not that big of a deal." Which let me tell you, does not help someone like me. When I am already aware that what I stress out about may be dumb, my anxiety about it will be what it will be, and people telling me that it's not a reason to stress does NOT help.

Currently, it seems some people in my vicinity of life are stressed, and because not only am I not stressed, but I'm rather pleased with life which makes me wonder if i'm doing well or if I'm missing something major...

Anyways, this doesn't exactly sum up how I feel, but it's a little closer and more edited than the other ones I would post :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

my (not so big) secret.

I generally like to find some research to back up my blog posts, especially the ones where I have an opinion or feel a certain type of way about things. Unfortunately, the only research I was able to find (granted, I didn't comb through the internet like I would for a major paper) implied that there is something mentally unstable about people like me.

Ha, ha. Go ahead and have your laugh, but this is not true.

People tend to think, especially with women, that if you do not show affection you are cold, uncaring, mad at them, or "you weren't loved enough as a child, and therefore you must not know what love is because why won't you give me a hug/kiss/hold my hand" and any other equally wrong assumptions. People just can't understand that cold, hard facts.

Some people just aren't physical touch oriented. Or maybe they are, but just not with everyone. But it certainly doesn't mean that the person isn't capable of love. Or that they aren't showing it. Maybe *you* aren't showing *them* you love them in a way that they can feel it.

I, for one, was raised (mostly, my siblings were born when I was 8-ish) as an only child. I was loooooved, doted on, and the apple of my (respectively, divorced) parents/stepparents eyes. On my mom's side, I was required to kiss my aunts on the cheeks and go hug everyone in the room every time I arrived somewhere and again when I was leaving. Needless to say, I was not neglected. But I did it because I was told, not because I wanted to. And when people stopped telling me to, I stopped doing it. This ended up blowing up in my face because then people caught on to my not living for hugs and kisses, thus establishing my reputation as a heartless bitch. My wonderful sister did not help this at all when announcing to my family once that "Alicia doesn't like to hug or give kisses." I could hear the crickets chirping that day. Sidenote: telling people I don't love hugs always reminds me of the episode of Friends where Chandler has to admit that he doesn't like's hysterical.

Let me clarify. I do not dislike physical touch. I'll never turn a hug away, and I'm much better than I used to be about understanding that others need this kind of affection. I'm also much better about it with people I'm extremely comfortable with. But I'm just not very likely to initiate it, and by not likely I mean, it won't happen unless something traumatic has happened.  I am a words of affirmation person through and through, which most people know about me. I will compliment and consistently reminds people of their positive qualities until I'm blue in the face.

I know I've blogged about this topic before, and I'm sorry for boring your to death with it again, but it keeps coming up in my life and that of people around me.

If you're not sure about your Love Language, I HIGHLY recommend you take the test and then read the book. But at the very least take the test.

Here's the link to the test:

Mine are:
Words of Affirmation
Gifts of Time
Gifts of Service
Physical Touch

Blog Playlist:

1. Garth Brooks- Low Places
2. Dixie Chicks- Cowboy Take Me Away
3. The Cardigans- LoveFool
4. Tracy Chapman- Give Me One Reason
5. Alanis Morissette- You Learn
6. Backstreet Boys- I Want It That Way

Saturday, July 26, 2014

the C-word you weren't expecting

I generally have words that I love and hate, or love to hate, or just hate in general. Every now and then, these words rotate out.  These days, I have a whole new perspective on one particular word. Comfort. Comfortable. Comfortably. Comfortableness. Comfortability. Today, I dislike all conjugations of the word. What I've discovered is that being comfortable makes you lazy

Example. You go to work in your regular work clothes. Nice, pressed, perhaps attire that fits you better than your regular non-working attire. Then you come home from work and change clothes, into something comfortable.  What happens next? Are you productive? Do you go out and garden? Do you then go to the grocery store? Do you crack open your computer and work some more? Generally, the answer is no. (Note: there are exceptions: many people come home and change into their yard/house working clothes. This does not constitute into something "comfortable" as you have changed into a different type of work clothes.) 

When you allow yourself to get comfortable in your clothes, you become more lax in your behavior and actions. You pile up with the book, netflix, or pinterest. Now, before I continue, the afore statement is NOT a slam. If you've ever met me, you know the first thing I do when I get home is change clothes. But, the fact remains that it makes you lazier. 

Now, take this same idea of being comfortable and let's apply it somewhere else. Oh, I don't know, let's say...relationships.

When you first start to date or get to know someone, you are on.your.toes. You are aware of what comes out of your mouth, the thoughts you share, and if you're interested in the person, male or female, you display actions that show you are interested in furthering and investing in the friendship/relationship. In a relationship this could be the flowers and the "how was your day?" texts or phone calls, in a friendship it might be a consistent conversation through texting or time on the phone, getting coffee, or other activities. But, as the relationship progresses, so does time. 

Suddenly, you don't have to work so hard because you already know that person. You know how they feel about certain topics, you know how their day was before you see them, because you talk to this person on a regular basis. And because you know these things about your person, you become comfortable. Furthermore, because you are comfortable and no longer have to convince that person that you like them, or that you are invested in your relationship, you become by default, lazy. 

I ought to say, that there is an enormous difference between being comfortable with someone and being comfortable or complacent in a relationship. You should always feel comfortable with your person, you should not feel comfortable with your relationship. It should be hard, and you should have to work at it. 

Being too comfortable with your relationship leads to being complacent. Doing things because they are a habit, without really thinking about why you do it anymore. Complacency leads to people who miss out on their lives because they are no longer sure what their life would look like without that relationship, or that person. Is it really worth it? Is the ability to stay in a long term friendship/relationship worth missing out on doing what you as an individual want to do with your life? 

Not to me, finally. That's a lesson I learned the hard way, and as my daddy would say, "That's not something I learned in a book." Truth. Staying in a comfortable relationship after the relationship has run it's course is NOT worth it.

Watch the link below. It's 40 seconds of your life. Don't be a Karen. Don't change clothes and get comfortable :)

Blog Playlist
1. Everclear- Santa Monica
2. Matchbox 20- Push
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers- Dani California
4. Jimmy Eat World- The Middle
5. Everclear- I Will Buy You a New Life
6. Weezer- Beverly Hills
7. Stone Temple Pilots- Interstate Love Song
8. Blink-182- What's My Age Again
9. Everclear- Father of Mine

P.S I'll be happy to listen to song requests. Clearly, I love Everclear.