Posts filed under 'expatproblems'

The princess, the pea, and long haul flights

I have become one of those people who I used to make fun of. In some sort of defense for myself (that perhaps is actually just stupidity) it took a lot of years. I first traveled abroad at 16 and from 22-29 took yearly trips abroad. But in these last 2 and half years I’ve been flying…a lot. And while not every flight is a long haul over night flight, they are becoming more frequently…several times a year. And with that, I’ve become a princess when I fly.

Well maybe not a princess. That assumes some great amount of privilege/wealth/respect/authority that I don’t have at all. So scratch princess…just a particular bag lady of air travel.

I don’t like flying. I love when I encourage someone to come visit or see a part of the world and they tell me they don’t like flying. Honestly? Does anyone like flying? I mean I know we’re supposed to enjoy the journey and all, but I don’t think they literally mean enjoy being crammed into a flying tin can with 1,000 strangers, confined to a foot-by-foot amount of space, being fed shitty food. And while I’m sure those in first class don’t mind traveling as much as us in steerage… I’m pretty sure there’s about a million things they’d rather be doing. Flying sucks. It it’s a means to an end. And I have finally stopped fighting against an unspoken rule I have in my head that there’s no difference in being utterly miserable and just kinda miserable in air travel.

So here are the changes I’ve made that are making my air travel better.

Headphones – really nice headphones. They were a birthday present and they have now made traveling so much better. I admit I was coming from the ear bud world so there was a lot of room for growth. But now I have Bose Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. THEY ARE AMAZING. First, my ears don’t hurt from wearing them. Second, they really do cancel out ALL the noise. Third, they have Bluetooth and thus can be wireless. They also do have a cord for watching back-of-the-seat movies…. but it’s great to be wireless when I want to just listen to my peaceful piano playlist and try to go to sleep. But really…the noise cancelling is phenomenal! I wouldn’t wear these running, or walking…but for flights (or drowning out a snoring husband) they are amazing.

Eye mask – I’m not picky here. Fancy satin or a cheapie the airline gives you…essential. Because there’s always that one asshole that leaves his window open just sliver on the other side of the plane that lets in a laser beam of sun right into your pupil an hour before you needed to get up. I hate that asshole. Last year E (without eye mask) asked a flight attendant to get said asshole to close his shade, and she came back to say that unfortunately he was sleeping. I wanted to tell her to wake his ass up. Because there were at least 6 other people suffering for his asshole careless slumber…I digress…

Toothbrush – I rarely brush my teeth inside the plane because the tap water is gross and any water I have on hand I think the priority is to drink it. But it’s so nice to be able to brush my teeth right when I get off the plane. Or if it’s a super late one before I get on (extra bonus I’m deterred from eating gummy bears)

Motion Sickness Wristbands – I don’t get “sea sick” in the air very often at all. But when it comes on, it’s terrible. And it’s always the last 10 mins before landing when we’ve needed to circle around the airport before landing. On the plus side, I normally start yawning immensely right before I get nauseous and these are a serious relief. First string of ridiculous yawns they go on and while it doesn’t totally halt feeling crummy, but it really, really prevents it from making me horrendously ill. Bonus – I carry these in my purse at all times because on Scotland roads…. travel sickness sneaks up on you a lot.

Upgraded class – I can’t afford first class…or even business class. But on any flight over 5 hours, I have made the decision I can definitely afford the extra $100-$150 to upgrade to economy plus. A little more legroom goes a long freaking way. And if you are a frequent flier with an airline, you’re more likely to get bumped up to that new level that floats between economy plus and business…where you don’t get to lie down to sleep but you do get champagne. SCORE!

Lounge Access – You’d think we fly enough to be whatever level needed for lounge access right? We don’t because we use so many different airlines. E has a petroleum card for Air France that let’s us cut in line for security and boarding, but he doesn’t get a guest in the lounge with paying extra. Because we always have at least one 4-hour layover in a flight, we have made the decision to get a CC that gives us lounge access. That’s right…we now have the Case Sapphire Preferred. I haven’t been able to utilize this lounge access yet…but I will be very soon. E has though and he loves it.

 

 

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Butt pillow – Not for the every man, but for me. I cracked my tailbone in high school (official x-rays not taken as my parents were away and we didn’t have health insurance and since there’s nothing you can do about a broken tailbone it didn’t really matter) playing soccer. I did sit on a donut at school and I couldn’t play for weeks. Since then my tailbone would act up maybe before a big storm (my butt could tell when it would rain, ha!) but was fine for about 15 years until last year. I know the exact trip home my tailbone started acting up…I’m blaming long flights, hospital chairs, and I’m sure horseback riding doesn’t always help (especially since I really have worked how to sit the canter well or come down lightly over a jump all the time). Anyway, I carry a butt pillow. I don’t care if it’s embarrassing. Ass pain is no joke.

Spotify Premium – In total transparency what I am insisting you have to make your travel more enjoyable, I no longer have. But if you have Spotify premium and can download playlists so you can listen to them without wifi…most importantly, said Peaceful Piano playlist, life is so much more enjoyable. Or maybe it’s a Home Coming playlist that you like to hear to get you in the mood to that beautiful Chicago skyline as you land…I did have premium for 5 months of so…but then I got a horse and E said we needed to cut costs. So my great sacrifice was Spotify Premium…my friends think this is a very funny exchange but shhhh, it seems E hasn’t run the numbers yet.

Neck pillow – I don’t always carry this. To be honest, the ass pillow takes up a lot of space. And if for whatever reason it’s a packed flight and I can’t get a window seat I don’t bring it. And if I am flying with Stella…no way. Because airlines do provide you with a little pillow…but bliss is a neck pillow with the addition of leaning into the little window nook. But to be honest, I brought a neck pillow ONCE last year. Though now I judge less when I see people with them.

So that’s my list of the little things that make a flight that much more enjoyable tolerable. As I stated, I don’t have all the things on the list for every hour flight down to London. It depends on the time I’m traveling, duration of flight, where I’m going, the company I’m with…. but I am over being embarrassed for being a bag lady if that’s what makes god awful air travel more tolerable.

What are your must haves for a long flight?

The Posts Ahead

Even in my blogging hiatus I have thought often about writing, content, etc. And I do have some blog posts already written and ready to go (maybe should take the lapse in time to actually proof read something), as well as quite a few I have wanted to write for some time now. If only I was able to record my thoughts to writing when I was running.

  • A brief overview (mostly in pictures) of what we’ve been up to in the months without blogging.
  • A round up of my favorite cafes’ in Aberdeenshire
  • Carry On Travel Tips
  • Crisp way of life: the UK’s love of potato chips
  • My love-hate relationship with Air BnB
  • 2 Weeks in Croatia
  • Long weekend in Skye
  • A Weekend in Northern Ireland
  • The long horsey road that left me with Hamish
  • The expatriates: expectation vs reality
  • The trailing spouse’s need for an independent life
  • Being an Air BnB host– why not try to make up some of that lost horse money
  • Horsey posts….there’s bound to be loads more horsey posts.

Anyway, I wanted to give a little teaser on the posts that will be coming up in the next few weeks and months. Hopefully this gets you excited and tuned back into Hot Dogs to Haggis, hopefully I start to get some followers back that have forgotten about me, and of course, I hope to get some new followers.

Now those aforementioned are the posts I’ve already written, or are long over due. In addition to those…I have some fun times coming ahead this year and am sure more than a couple blog posts will be coming from them.  So am hoping these adventures on my calendar result in good times and entertaining blog posts if nothing else:

  • A girls long weekend in Porto, Portugal (3 moms + 3 non-breeders = how will our worlds collide)
  • A girls weekend in London (me + 2 single ladies…bound to get into trouble)
  • 2 weeks in Indonesia in August!!
  • My mom’s visit in June with a weekend in Glasgow
  • My father-in-law and brother-in-law visiting in July
  • Wedding in Copenhagen + a uni reunion
  • A weekend on the Isle of Eigg
  • My mom’s return visit in October with a trip to Lisbon
  • A possible weekend up north to Ullapool & John O’Groats
  • 3 Weeks home for Christmas & Megan’s wedding
  • Jumping Hamish – right now we are a LONG way out, but really just looking forward to growing and progressing with Hamish. And I think Jumping him in 2017 is a good, acceptable goal.

And I’m already looking forward to next year’s hols (British slang for holidays). In early chats with some stateside friends about a girls trip- location TBD but there is a lot of Switzerland chat. Along with a possible sailing adventure with other couples around Italy or Greece which is E’s dream. And a frosty trip up to the Shetlands in January for a fire festival. Wanting to come visit us? Time is running out and 2018 is already getting booked.

Anyway, I hope you see more of me and my writing, and I hope I hear from more of you. Let me know if you have an idea for a blog post you’d like to see, if you have any questions, or even some shady hate mail. I do love me some hate mail. Just kidding…well, kinda.

That Time I Ran the NYC Marathon

It’s been a long time…but I actually have not forgotten about my blog. I think maybe I was purposefully avoiding it…. really avoiding this race recap. But here goes nothing…5 months later, in very broad terms about the race, and very specific terms about what I was going through, here is my recap of the NYC Marathon. Why? Because I blogged about all the training, and it needs a conclusion.  The NYC Marathon, and the Marathon Chapter of my life needs a final end.

I was originally set to fly into NYC on Wednesday, Nov 2 (before the Sunday, November 6 marathon) to get settled in American time, be early for packet pick up, relax with my friends, and be an utterly calm Zen Buddha master of life before race day. That didn’t happen. My MIL was moved to hospice the previous week so I changed my flight to half a week early (from Nov. 2 to October 28) and changed to fly into Chicago rather than NYC. (My return flight had always been from Chicago as I had plans to help my mother rehab hip surgery and spend time with my MIL post marathon.) I then spent the week in my hometown’s hospice, trying to support my husband and his family, trying to stay strong and sane while watching a loved one slip away, and selfishly, stressing about the marathon. I snuck away for a few runs but really wasn’t sure if I’d be running the NYC marathon or not. It wasn’t until Thursday evening that I bought a flight to NYC for the next evening (Friday). Sometime in the night Thursday, my MIL passed away.

 

My only picture at the expo.

I tried to support my in-laws the best I could on Friday and then got on a plane to NYC alone.   E had to return to Scotland for work as the funeral wasn’t going to be for another 2 weeks, and he hadn’t been home to Scotland in over 5 weeks (with work trips, a wedding, and being with his mother). It was a whirlwind of feelings I couldn’t process and I just trudged through like a zombie. I got to my brother’s Friday night, utterly exhausted, stressed, anxious. On Saturday morning I got up and got the bus to packet pick up. I had never been to a race expo alone (E has always been my rock…. I’ve never run a race without him cheering me on…ever). It was strange and exciting, but I was lonely and sad. I tried to put on a brave face and enjoy the experience, but I was numb.

 

That night my brother asked if I wanted to go out or pick up pizza- I opted for some chicken and boxed Mac n cheese. I talked to my brother about the schedule for Sunday, where he would be during the race, where I would meet him after. I texted my friends and cousin to arrange seeing them along my route. I stretched, and rolled, and hydrated. I took a xanex and went off to sleep at about 9pm.

I’m trying to remember the timeline of events of the morning of race day. Let me just tell you…. it was a long hucking day. My start time was 10:40am (I ended up missing my corral just by one so I think I started actually at 10:50 or 11). My ferry time was 8am. I think I left Hoboken to train to the World Trade Center stop at 6:40am. I then walked to the ferry…and almost missed it! Oppps! Once you depart from the ferry you are in line, standing, to get on busses that bus you to the start for over an hour. Probably closer to an hour and a half. Then once on a bus…. you are in the bus for about 30 minutes. Made only more excruciating if you have to pee. Which I did. And I mean, I REALLY had to pee. I almost bailed out on the bus. I was rocking back and forth and just trying not to piss my pants because that would make the upcoming 26.2 miles so very uncomfortable.

On the ferry, headed to Staten huckin’ Island

I made my way through this mob of people after about an hour and a half…it was miserable.

It takes so long on the bus (in part) because each bus needs to pull up at a specific spot where a mini police security team is set up. You exit the bus and immediately get metal detected, your bag searched, and possibly a small pat down. Once I get out of this I immediately darted behind a tree (honestly, about 6 yards from the bus door) and peed in someone’s yard. I had TP in my bag because it’ not my first rodeo. Thank god I managed to evade the police because after I did this…I watched another man try to do this and he was practically tackled by police mid-whipping out his junk because they want you to stay on the designated path in case he was going to pick up guns/bombs/heroine or whatever.

Let’s do this!

I then ran into my old co-worker from Qdoba. Who would’ve guessed the largest race in the world and I run into him. Admittedly, he was in a terrible mood. And I was super anxious. And we didn’t even get a picture. Nor did I get a picture when he passed me in Brooklyn ha! So I missed my corral, which was fine, just delayed the inevitable. And so there was some standing at the start of the Verrazano bridge, then there was the star spangled banner, and BOOM. Cannon fire and New York, New York streaming over the loud speakers.

Now my coach came up with very specific pacing for each mile. I created an AMAZING pace band from FindMyMarathon.com. Too bad it doesn’t do much good when your watch loses signal. But what’s worse is when you watch loses signal but you don’t know it and you’re sprinting to get your time knowing you are going way too fast but it’s too late and you want to hit that time on your watch. And then you get to mile 3 and your watch is saying you’re at about 2.3 miles. PROBLEMS. Math is not my strong suit either. So I knew I was too fast, but with all these different paces, there’s no way I could figure out and adjust as precisely. So I tried to stick to around 10:18 mile pace…and I did (even though I knew I was a few minutes early to every mile marker) until I couldn’t. Until I couldn’t push any more, and mentally and physically went from walking and running, from hysterically not being able to breath to solemn faced as I realized I missed my goal time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Highs and the Lows

So happy and naive….

  • Going over the Verrazano Bridge was exciting, sunny, and a bit windy. I tossed my gloves immediately. My first mile was a slower pace up the bridge and I was enjoying it, but when I was supposed to up my pace on the downhill my watch lost signal without telling me and I ended up sprinting ridiculously downhill until I get into Brooklyn and the crowds. I saw my mile marker was WAY off…and spent about 5 minutes stressing over it before decided to just try and maintain a 10:18 pace.
  • Brooklyn was amazing. So many people! This is the closest you’ll get to feeling like a professional athlete with hundreds of people yelling your name. My name was written on duct tape and I highly recommend you do the same. If I didn’t have my name on my shirt, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have finished.
  • Around mile 5 my headphones break. Just one of them. No sound comes out except crackling. So I am left running with one headphone in. Thank god there are 2 million spectators screaming my name because if there was a rural marathon I would have quit right then. Even that being said, there are a lot of points in the marathon that would have gone a lot better had I working headphones. I nearly always run with headphones…. especially mentally tough runs. My marathon playlist is an exact science to me. It takes weeks to perfect. I include motivational speeches at difficult parts (when I estimate I’d be on bridges, that last 3 miles). And with only one headphone, the NYC noise coming into my other ear is really too great for me to get an assist from my music.
  • I had most of my friends waiting for me in Brooklyn and they seriously made my day. I mean, I don’t even live in this city; I came to the race alone, and had 4 separate groups of people cheering me on. And can we talk about their enthusiasm and signage?

Mile 7 – On my right hand side was Katie Ly and her fiancé Jonathan

 

 Mile 8 – On my left hand side, my cousin Dylan and his girlfriend I basically ran straight across the road to see them as you can tell by my angle.

 

Mile 11 1/2 – My girlfriend Merima, who actually lives in San Fran, came into NYC to see me and a few of her friends who live there.

Miles 18 ½ and 23 – My brother and sister-in-law! My brother doesn’t do signs but he did suffer through the most crowded points of the marathon, see me at 2 different points, and then find me after the race…. which is no easy feat when there are 50K runners, 2 million spectators, and I am barely moving.

  • Pulaski Bridge into Long Island – Everyone talks about the Queensboro Bridge. How it’s the most soul crushing experience of the marathon. Too bad I had pretty much hit empty on the Pulaski Bridge – THAT I deliriously THOUGHT was the QUEENSBORO BRIDGE. What did that mean?   That I had a lot more race to run, and a hell of a lot of more hilly hardships than I anticipated ahead. I had to stop and walk for the first time on the Pulaski Bridge. But I kept my walk speedy and stayed optimistic because once I got through it, was giving myself a pat on the back that the Queensboro Bridge wasn’t too hard. A mile later I realize that I hadn’t yet met the Queensboro Bridge and doom and panic hit me.

    Over one of those damn bridges.

  • Queensboro Bridge – Eff this bridge. I walked lots.
  • Manhattan – The finish line is in Manhattan but don’t be fooled. You are nowhere near the end. You still have to head up to the Boogie Down after all.   And 10 miles.   I am disheartened trying to return to a jog/run I can maintain. I don’t think I can hit my goal time but there’s still a small chance. The crowds are mental but I’m really down on myself. Can’t let my brother and SIL see me walk though so I pick up a run again. I see them and hug them and they are super encouraging and enthusiastic…. I try and maintain my slow run up to the Willis Avenue Bridge.
  • The Willis Avenue Bridge is a baby bridge (in comparison) into the Bronx. The Bronx actually wasn’t as desolate as I thought it’d be. But by this point there was a lot of walking. It was realized my goal time had slipped away and I just wanted to sit and have myself a pity party.
  • Back into Manhattan and here is the worst part. Worse than that stupid Queensboro Bridge. You’re running down 5th Avenue for the next 3 or so miles at an incline. Sure, it’s not a huge incline, but it’s enough of an incline to break you. I am walking tons. I see my brother and Carly again before I head into Central Park. Of course I make sure they see me “running” but I don’t think anyone would really call it that. They later tell me how they thought I had looked good the first time they saw me around mile 18, but when they saw me now around mile 23 I looked pretty broken. Hey, I’m just surprised they thought I looked good at mile 18. I have lost my goal time, and now I am just trying to pick my sorry self up the ground and beat my Paris Marathon time.
  • Central Park – is a lot of uphill, but some rolling hills and with that at least means some downhill. The park doesn’t have a load of spectators but the ones that do save me.   There is one man on my right, he’s a few yards in front of me and he sees me struggling. He’s looking me right in my eyes as he’s yelling, “Come on Lauren! This is what you trained for! You know you got this! You’re almost home Lauren. Think of your training!! You can do this!” For a moment, I thought this man must know me. He did not.
  • Central Park South – a wee stretch of road where the spectators are mental and you’re almost home free. I’m really trying to turn it up here.

  • Finish line – eerily quiet. They charge money to sit here and watch the elites finish so by the time I finish it’s totally empty. Sucks a bit.

I cross the finish line and everything I’ve tried to mentally muscle through for the last 5 hours, no 36 hours, actually 4 months takes over. I am at a point of hysterical crying that a volunteer grabs me, takes me to the side and hugs me telling me, “You did great Lauren, you did it.” I am so thankful for this volunteer but at the same time thinking, “Man, if you only knew.”

Done whimpering….I have survived.

I zombie shuffle through the maze to exit the marathon. I have a calm, collected weep going on, I’m tired but know if I stop I’ll never move again, I’m cold and I’m hungry. The sun is almost all the way gone. I talk to Daniel and when he finds out I’m not through the maze yet we change our meet up location to one closer to me. I get to the road and am looking for whatever street. I can’t function so I ask a police officer if I’m headed in the right direction. He says yes…but then asks, “Are you alright miss? Do you want me to come with you? Is someone meeting you?”

We end up taking the subway all the way back to Hoboken…the Uber fees are sky high and hey, what’s another couple miles of walking. Crammed in like sardines with a load of other runners crinkling in our foil blankets. Daniel thinks he’s funny complaining about how his feet hurt from spectate-ing, probably because he knows all the runners are too tired to punch him in his smug face haha.

I’m actually feeling better. Get home, shower, put some mousse in my hair and we all head out the door again back to the city for a dinner with my cheering section. Daniel can’t believe I am making it out the door again, but what’s the point of running 26.2 if you can’t celebrate. It ends up being a perfect night…everyone drinks too much, the food is amazing, we’re the loudest table in the place, and I’m pretty sure everyone of had tears in their eyes at one point from laughing so hard. It was definitely what I needed.

Given the fact I had just run a marathon and hadn’t actually sat down since 8 am….I look pretty good!

 

Just last week I had a friend ask me about the NYC Marathon because they were offered a charity spot to run it. It’s really hard for me to separate all the personal shit I was going through, and that affected my race from the race itself. I think the NYC Marathon was the biggest challenge I’ve taken on in my life. I was 48 hours out from my MIL dying, I didn’t have my husband by my side, I was emotionally and physically exhausted from international fights and hospital chairs, the torn labrum in my hip had caused me terrible discomfort throughout training and I knew that this had to be my last marathon. My headphones broke, I missed my goal time, and I walked. On top of what everyone experiences there- it’s ONE TOUGH COURSE! But hey, not only did I finish…I beat my Paris Marathon time.

NYC: 4:48:58

Paris: 4:54:38

Overweight Baggage Check: Guilt

Wow, a lot can happen in a month. A lot has happened in my last month. My mother in law passed away, I met my new niece, I ran the NYC Marathon, I’ve been to 3 countries, and I bought a horse. In my husband’s last month he probably spent the equivalent of 5 days worth of air travel time. We’re all exhausted. But I wrote this post on my flight back to Scotland the day after my MIL’s funeral (when I was utterly exhausted but couldn’t sleep). I’ll do my best to get fill in the big gap of how the NYC marathon went and how did I think now was a good time to buy my first horse. Spoiler alert: his name is Hamish, he currently has a cut above his eye, and he really fancies a fur trim hood.15259712_10108084046792289_7333331409225187347_o

When looking to title this post, I found this WSJ article that makes me feel a bit better…that I’m not alone in this.

Although it may be difficult for others to understand or agree with our choices, and we expats may feel guilty at times for missing out on important events back home, the decision to return can only be made by us, those living this unique lifestyle. As Ms. Clark says, “Guilt is a natural part of life, a result of making decisions that are best for you but cannot please everyone. As an expat, this guilt may be heightened because we already get a sense from some people that living away from home is in itself a selfish choice. But you can’t please everyone, so I try not to dwell on the guilt.”

It isn’t the long flights (and accompanying jetlag and dry skin), it isn’t the different time zones with late night and early morning calls (and accompanying bags under the eyes), it isn’t the weakness of the dollar compared to the pound (and accompanying credit card bills), and it isn’t saying goodbye to friends at a summer camp rate (and accompanying hangovers, heartbreak, and tears).

By far, the worst part about being an expat is the guilt. The guilt of leaving your family.

I can only speak from my experience. And my experience is that I lived roughly an hour away from my parents for the better part of my (albeit short thus far) adult life. And my experience is that my father passed away leaving my mother living alone. And my experience is that they found a tumor in my mother in law a few months before we were set to move, and the subsequent 2 years or so she fought, and eventually lost a battle with cancer. And my experience is that if I hadn’t had become an expat there’s a possibility that I would be living an hour away from my little niece and nephew. And my experience is that although both E and I have some years, miles, political views, and lifestyle choices between our families… we are very close to them.

And that’s why in my experience, the hardest part of being an expat is the guilt. Whether or not that’s all self imposed or there’s influencing factors, it’s there and it’s hard. It’s hard when someone tells me they could never be abroad because they’re close to their family (as if I’m not.) It’s hard every time we say goodbye (even if I’ll be seeing them in less than a month). It’s hard when we miss important days or can’t be there where someone needs us (it’s not FOMO, it’s wanting to be there for those I love to celebrate the good and comfort in the bad). It’s hard being happy and loving life abroad (because it feels as though it diminishes our longing for and missing of those we love). It’s just hard.

Expat life seems like a dream. The possibilities of great travel, new and interesting friends, changes in finances, sabbaticals from work, finding yourself. But there’s a price to pay. And although I can only speak from my experience…I don’t know anyone that isn’t a little sad when they say goodbye.

Perils of Country Running

I do really love running in the country. Maybe because this summer was surprisingly nice and dry and about 90% of my runs treated me to beautiful sun shining on amber waves of grain, or wonderful brooding shadows across the Grampian mountains, or at the very least, super cute and curious cows, coos, bunnies, and ponies. But it would be a lie to say it was all sunshine and rainbows. And as much as I love the countryside…. the thought of running south from Lincoln Park along the lakefront path back towards are our home in Chicago- seeing the Hancock, and the Drake, and knowing our little high-rise is nestled in there, in front of the Bloomies building…well, it brings joy to my heart and a tear to my eye. The point? I guess that I adapt pretty damn well to love wherever life takes me. Except San Diego…I don’t know if I just didn’t give it a chance…but I get no warm and fuzzies thinking about there.

How can you not have all the feels when you see this city?!

How can you not have all the feels when you see this city?!

 

I digress.

Country running does have it perils and pitfalls. I thought I’d enlighten you to the somewhat funny and perhaps unexpected problems I encounter.

The biggest issues of country running can be put into one category:

 

FOUR LEGGERS

I know, I’m an animal lover. How could furry little beebeeies be the issue? Well, they are in a couple different scenarios based on the animal.

 

Dogs

  1. They lunge at me and I think I’m going to literally lose a hand or worse
  2. They are off lead trotting along with a massive stick and take out my shins
  3. They are on lead with an owner not paying attention and I am forced to hurdle them so I don’t trip
  4. They are either on or off lead and are complete spazes and while trying to get past them I accidentally step on them or kick them which makes me feel terrible
  5. They are so effing cute I have to stop running immediately and pet them.

Horses

Little paths with big horses...it was hard to get by.

Little paths with big horses…it was hard to get by.

  1. I’m running along a narrow path, maybe my headphones are in or maybe I’m just in the zone, I go round a bend and run directly, and I mean directly into your horse. This actually happened.
  2. As a mindful equestrian, I need to slow down or stop, remove headphones and have at the very least a limited discussion on passing, or move off to the side to let them pass.
  3. Horse shit. Enough said.

Deer

There is only one negative experience I’ve had with a deer running but I honestly almost died because of a heart attack. Seriously, he’s my hear rate monitor. Guess where I encountered the deer?

I’m running alone, in an unfrequented area of trail/path. My headphones are in, I admit. I am on the left side of the narrow path. I see bushes moving (LIKE A LOT OF MOVEMENT) on the right side parallel with me and stop and turn toward the bush (to look my murderer head on obviously) and a stag comes flying out of the bushes. I clearly frightened him while he was sleeping or something. I jump back as his little stick legs hit the pavement and due to it having just rained, the pavement is slick and his legs sprawl out and he’s sliding across, thrashing about until he’s dumped on the other side into grass where he gracefully finds his footing and leaps through the wood to escape me. I cannot emphasize enough, that had I been on the right side (thus closer to those antlers) I would most likely been impaled, or f*cked up on some level most definitely. Luckily I was on the left, which gave me a little extra space and thus time to jump away. I immediately called E because my heart was just racing, he didn’t answer but called me back a mile later…where I answer his call to talk. You can see that’s when my heart rate returns to a normal level.

I have to say it seems my heart rate monitor was very off or I was extreeeeemely chill on this day in general...but the spike's definitely accurate.

I have to say it seems my heart rate monitor was very off or I was extreeeeemely chill on this day in general…but the spike’s definitely accurate.

Although…I guess it could have been worse: Runner Hit by Flying Deer

When you google "runner scared deer" this is the image that comes up, bwahahaha

When you google “runner scared deer” this is the image that comes up, bwahahaha

Okay, moving off of four leggers. The next on the list of perils is…

 

Being Scared Sh*tless

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I wear sports bras so am hoping my boobs do not look like that regardless of the speed Im going…

I know in the probability of me getting abducted or killed on a run is MUCH greater in Chicago…but I just felt safer running there. There were streetlights, and lots of people, and a decent amount of cops….

  1. When the sun goes down, it’s dark in the country. Real dark. Even with a head torch…it’s dark. Therefore, I can’t be running more than 20 mins post sunset time. And sometimes, it’s even too dark in the woods to run if it’s a grey day. No joke. I get freaked out.
  2. It doesn’t help now I’m really into unsolved murder podcasts…not helping the situation, I know.
  3. The lack of people I see on a run…it makes me super jumpy. I nearly pee my pants or have a heart attack (see deer heart rate pic) every time an animal runs out, or I get the sense someone’s behind me, or a bird flies out of a tree, or a cyclist sneaks up on me….it’s traumatic!
  4. The people I do so, can be a little unnerving. Again, I’m sure I was way likelier encountering weirdos with weapons in Chicago…but then again, I always had my posse of homeless friends within earshot I like to think and the possibility of carrying mace. I think I only did like 3x but still. Anyway, sometimes I’m virtually alone other than a troop of young boys that look like they’re up to no good. In football kit on a bench, drinking out of 2 liters of Strongbow, giving me the side eye. Scares me. Then there’s the incident that happened on my Sunday run. I’m about 5 miles out (11 miles into my run) and the path is sparsely populated due to crappy weather and being 5 miles out from the big central park. A guy on a bicycle rides past me going the opposite way and gives me a strange look. 20 seconds later I hear his brakes squeal and I turn around to see he had slid to a stop (it was wet and there were a lot of leaves). I take my headphones out of my ear to be more aware and pick up the pace. I make it around a corner and up ahead I see a man walking his dog and feel pretty relieved. The cyclist (who wasn’t in like workout/spandex cycling attire) had changed directions to be going the same way as me and shortly passes me. Up ahead I see him pull off to the right on a ramp to exit the path. As I get to the ramp, I look and he is heading up and off the bath. But I’m pretty alone again and freaked out so pick up the pace. In about 4 minutes I finally see someone else and feel a little better…and about a minute after that the cyclist passes me again. It was creepy.

 

Bugs (and spiders)

When I trained in the winter I didn’t realize what a big problem bugs would be in training during the sprint/summer.

  1. Running through spider webs sucks. You can’t get em off. You think spiders are in your hair. It’s really unsettling.
  2. Little bugs that get stuck in your eyes. It hurts. They’re hard to get out. And I’m temporarily blinded. This has happened at least 3 times in this training cycle.
  3. Big bugs that go down your throat. And then I’m left hacking either trying to get them out or go all the way down. Either way, it’s not pleasant and it happens all the GD time.

 

Ridden off the Road/Path/Trail

  1. I’ve written about the lack of driver’s consideration/vehicle right of way previously (find it here). But going further, running on super narrow, sometimes one-lane country roads with no gutter…it sucks! I do NOT wear headphones in these situations because I seriously would die. I also can’t do these runs without sunlight, and preferably, mid-day before people are commuting back to work. It’s really unnerving. More unnerving is when it’s about a lane and a half width, and I hear the car coming up behind me, and I am literally running on the edge where the road meets the grass/drop down to the ditch, and the driver decides to HONK AT ME. WTF IS THAT BUDDY?! I can’t get over any more, I know you’re there, and there is room for you to scootch over and pass without any problems. And even on 2 lane roads I find drivers are just unwilling to really move over despite the fact there is no one in sight coming towards them in the other lane.
  2. Now, there’s the issue of horses on trails getting right of way (see above).
  3. There are cyclists that go whizzing past me, heaven forbid they give an extra inch.
  4. I had some airing of running grievances (i.e. #sorrynotsorry) last week here…. and I won’t harp on it. But I’ll just restate it in case you missed it.

    Can't really just run past this guy...

    Can’t really just run past this guy…

 

And finally…

No water fountains! Gahhhh. The night before every long run I drive (or make E drive me) dropping water bottles in strategic spots for me to pick up along my run the next day. Hoping I don’t forget where they are, are covered in dog pee, or misplaced.  I know it’s only Scotland….but I can still get quite parched…dangerously parched you could say.

 

Ugly American and UK Customer Service

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In America, I find my behavior acceptably, slightly a bit pushy, American. But I knew going into expat-ing, that that behavior is not acceptable. You don’t yell at the cable company when you don’t have Internet for 3 months. You don’t freak out on your rental company when you don’t have a fridge for 2 months. You don’t write angry emails when you order something online and they let you know two weeks later that they actually don’t have that in stock. You don’t complain when you come at your exact appointed time for a click & collect grocery order and they make you wait 25 mins in the parking lot. You either don’t order changes to your sandwich (no mayo, with avo, just a little bit of beet root, easy on the cheese, and please no weird tangy jams and/or chutneys that come out of nowhere) or if you do, you don’t send it back when they get it wrong and just bring you out white toast.

The ugly American is entitled and demanding…mostly in regards to customer service. But customer service isn’t a priority in the UK the way it is the states. It’s not as if the slap you across the face with your sandwich, but they don’t hustle for tips in the food service industry, and in all other industries, they don’t care to go above and beyond for a customer. They can take you and your business, or leave you. As mentioned with the cable company…for the first time I had a cable company tell me if I wasn’t happy that I could take my business elsewhere. That would never happen with Comcast.

I am happy to say, I turn off the entitled American 99% of the time in interactions with the outside world in Scotland. In my personal life of friends and family relationships, I am however, still probably an ugly American. There have been just 3 times I have gone off the deep end and became the ugly American here. 3 times in 2 years, I think that’s a pretty great track record… The first time was going insane at the aforementioned cable company where the man on the phone told me he would report me for verbal abuse (I seriously wasn’t even Lauren at peak craziness…I had toned it down, honestly, I just have a mouth like a sailor, and I don’t call names…. ever…. so don’t think I’m calling some man on the phone an idiot or anything worse!)screen-shot-2014-08-29-at-8-46-36-amThe second time, is a long complicated story, which did have me go absolutely ballistic at the inefficiency, miscommunication, and complacency of a company…. and I did go absolutely ballistic. I demanded to speak to managers, I exaggerated the outcome of their terrible work ethic, I was enraged. But I am not totally embarrassed to say that it got the job done.   And if I hadn’t had gone ballistic…. it wouldn’t have happened.

This weekend came my third bout of ugly American. Though it was a very tempered version of it…I’m actually not embarrassed, though E is a little. Maybe it’s because I was face to face with someone, maybe it’s because I was in a crowded location. Either way, I didn’t go absolutely nuts….but at the same time, I didn’t get the outcome I wanted. So maybe if I had gone ballistic I would have…something to think about. But I’m sure to this man I just fulfilled every idea he had about demanding ugly Americans.

What happened?

In August when we went to Edinburgh I forgot my running shoes, but had to get training runs in. So Friday night we swung by Scotland’s running shoe store-chain: Run 4 It. I had called to say I was coming, could they have a pair of UK size 7 Asics Gel Nimbuses for me. They did, great. I ran 6 miles the next day and my feet burned. I ran Sunday, feet still hurt, a little less.   I then spent the next 3 weeks wearing them a fair bit, on up to 10 mile runs, only to have my feet hurt, burn, and get blisters. These were not working.

I asked a FB women’s running group I belong to how long do they give a new pair of shoes to break in and comfortable and work? Maybe I needed longer than a month? Maybe I was being picky and demanding on my shoes? The response was no, I had given them plenty of time to break in, these weren’t working, I should return them. It was then that I was looking at my old pair vs. my new pair, and I realized I don’t wear Asics Nimbuses…I were Cumulus’s (for the love of Christ could they not find names that didn’t sound so similar?). Whoops. Had got the wrong shoes. I reach out to the store and explain that I bought the wrong shoes and these aren’t working. That I didn’t have the receipt, but I have the CC statement, and I know which day I went and who I bought them from, etc. I get a phone call from the manager saying to go into my local store and they’ll sort it out, that I shouldn’t be getting blisters. Excellent.

So I went to my local store and explained the situation, they should have received an email, that I was here to switch out the shoes. But they would not let me return the shoes, or do a 1 for 1 switch out (even though the shoes I want are £40 cheaper)…they could only give me a discounted rate on another pair. I went a little ugly American. The manager on the phone wasn’t clear at all…I assumed I was trading in the non-working shoes for another pair. And when explaining this, the man at the shop just kept looking at me and saying, “But you’ve worn them!!” Which was obvious. I had worn the shoes at least 50-60 miles running on paths, trails, and country roads. I said as much. He couldn’t grasp returning something that had been worn and thought I was being ridiculous for implying they would. He kept implying that I was being an absolute nutter for thinking that would take the shoes back.

I had said I didn’t think I was being ridiculous, because this is the first time I bought shoes in the UK, all my other running shoe purchases were in the United States, and EVERY. SINGLE. RUNNING. STORE. I had ever been to and bought from offered any where between a 30-day to 90-day return policy on worn running shoes. How else would you know if they work for you or don’t? They only way to test running shoes is to actually run in them! screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-3-05-35-pm

 

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-3-05-07-pm

I was pretty annoyed but I thought hiding it well…until he said, “Well if that’s the case I’m going to move to America.” Which I think was quite sassy and further implying I was lying and making this crazy excellent return policy up. My response was, “Well pack your bags then buddy.” At this point I knew I wasn’t going to get to exchange the shoes….and I wasn’t fighting for that anymore. I am stubborn and felt insulted and at this point I really just wanted this man to: a) acknowledge that I’m not lying or crazy in thinking that I could return running shoes, b) That I’m not insane for thinking they would return a pair of used running shoes, and c) that in comparison to American running shoes their return policy sucks (ugly American wanting foreigners to succumb and admit America is the best).

yes!

yes!

So yeah…I didn’t win the battle. But I also feel that while being an ugly American, I was a pretty toned down, well-mannered ugly American. It’s funny because generally I am the first person to air grievances on why America sucks. There’s a big joke here that I’m a wanna-be Canadian (it’s true!) but yet in these certain situations I am left longing for my homeland. Where the customers are always right, and customer service is second to none (you think returning used running shoes is revolutionary, one of my clients is a medical marijuana dispensary and we return and exchange WEED for the love of god).

So I wasted £145 on running shoes that hurt my feet. And now am praying these newly ordered shoes work (because it’s a new model of course and that changes everything). I let the ladies on my online running group know that the UK return policy is not as generous as the American one. And have wised up and added “running shoes” back to the list of things I only buy in American…. along with any electronics (Apple, Garmin, Bose), Mexican food items, and pumpkin scented everything.

Wah-bulance

older

Quickly becoming the worst blogger out there. In my defense…I’ve had my usual busyness, with a bunch of extra nuts on top: a trip to NYC for my brother’s wedding, entertaining our first 2016 visitors, trip planning, and a last minute trip home. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time searching for a horse to loan (which only resulted in bruises, no horse to call my own), going to doctors, and trying to sorta kinda start marathon training.

I know I’m a shite blogger…and I’d love to be a better one. But honestly, a lot of the time I just don’t feel like blogging. Why? Because there’s a lot of other shite going down that takes up my time, emotions, and energy. But because of that, I wanted to take a quick moment to dispel the idea that twitter, facebook, instagram, and many blog posts might suggest: that life is a rose garden. I’m not looking for sympathy, and I’m not out to share all my grievances (no one has time for that list). I just don’t like feeding into the hype that everyone is having these kick ass lives that you see online, leaving you feeling inadequate and sad. We all know social media only highlights (or exaggerates) the good in everyone’s life. No one is out there bragging about washing their running tights with gum in the pocket, their favorite, most expensive dress not fitting, all of a sudden having a complexion that resembles a 13 year-old, being over budget for the month, feeling like their college education was a bit of a waste and not knowing what the eff to do with their professional life, and their husband coming home at 2am drunk as a skunk. It makes sense though, people either don’t want to be brought down by the Debbie Downer side of life or they don’t want to have to call the wah-mublance for someone who can’t suck it up and move on. But at the risk of seeming like I’m digging for some sort of attention… life isn’t all sunshine and sheep over here.

face-book-pic-screenshot

 

My mother in law has been ill for quite some time now. Which makes being thousands of miles away all the more difficult. There’s a lot of stress, worry, guilt, last minute flights, and overall sadness.

We’ve had a very tragic, untimely death of a family member. Death is never easy, but when it’s someone so young, kind, promising, admirable…. it’s really unbearable. Emotionally, I’m exhausted.

I need two surgeries. They aren’t huge, but they both need me to go under, experience immense pain, and continue with pain and hard work for 6 months of 3x a week PT and rehab. As if that doesn’t suck enough…I can’t get them done at the same time, and each surgery would remove me from everything that makes me happy in my life for 6 months.

Aberdeen is an oil city, and oil prices are in the shitter right now. There’s also the whole Brexit thing. Most things are uncertain in North Sea oil and even more uncertain in the UK, and the things that are certain are a lot of my friends are leaving Scotland.

Gun violence is running rampant in my home country, and as is the case every summer, especially abundant in my favorite city: Chicago.

Trump is the republican nominee. People from my home country agree with the hatred he spews.  Enough said.

Those are my qualms.  So I’m sorry for going MIA, lame content, and a huge lack of specific blog posts I’ve been meaning to write because lately…it’s been hard. My heart’s heavy right now, and that’s okay, that’s life. I am fully aware that I haven’t exactly drawn the short end of the stick and there are thousands (millions?) of people going through much worse. But now you know it’s not all drinking cocktails on a beach/brilliant sunshine hikes/fabulous vacations…that’s just what I choose to share on social media. Because even though you wouldn’t feel any jealousy reading about my hurdles, I’m sure you’d get over reading about my pity-party too.

American TV Hack

It’s been about 18 months since I gave my tips and tricks to watching American TV in the UK. See the original post: HERE. Seems about time for an update, don’t ya think.

I have grown slightly accustomed to UK TV. They have pretty great game shows- the Chase and Pointless, some fun UK spins on shows like Bargain Hunters and House Hunters, still loads of reruns of the Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons, and my new favorite show: This Farming Life which follows, “the struggle and triumphs of five very different farming families in some of Scotland’s most beautiful and remote landscapes.” I mean, hello…. my new reality TV dream is to be on that series.Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 7.05.44 PMAnd if you can get cable TV (we can’t because we live in the middle of nowhere) you can get better (read American) channels, and Sky Atlantic is basically HBO a day later…. but you can find all that on your own. This is a tip of those Americans craving our biased morning news programs, over-the-top juicy dramas and weight loss challenges featuring the most cringe-worthy Americaners.

So my first post was all about a VPN and either watching your TV programs on an ipad/computer and/or using an Apple TV airstream to watch them on your TV. Which is all right but not always the best quality because you’re VPN lessons your quality, and then air streaming lessons that a step further.   My new find is Unlocator. Another VPN service that you can use on your tablets or computers, but even better, is designed to be used with your Apple TV.Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 9.01.02 PM

There’s a free week trial, but after that it is about $50 for a year of VPN service. You are given a DSN number to manually input in your Apple TV settings, and then as long as you have an American Cable TV login (Comcast, Direct TV, etc.) can now unlock all the American TV apps on your Apple TV. I will admit the apps are a little limited. But E gets to watch Pardon the Interruption and Sports Center, I start my day with the day prior’ Good Morning America, and we both love having HBO Go.IMG_3334

As with most bootleg ways to beat the system and pretend you’re still in America…. there can be frustrating flaws and hiccups you have to work around. Most notably, HBO Go is really picky and if the weather is not perfect, doesn’t work for some reason. I don’t get it because ALLLL the other apps work, but c’est la vie. How else would I get to maintain a front row seat to the demise of America politics with Donald Trump leading the march?Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 8.57.10 AM

What do you do?

It’s a totally normal question, but I feel it comes with some weight in my present life. “What do you do in Scotland?” I always assume it initially means, “Why do you live in Scotland” and the easy, normal response is, “My husband’s work brought us out there.” Maybe, or maybe not a follow up with what he does. Then there’s the variety of follow-up questions from “Are you working there?”, “What do you do all day?”, “Do you have kids?”, and “So what do you do all day?”

I know these are probably innocent enough questions, and I’m probably more sensitive to them from my vast amount of time unemployed mixed with a preconceived idea that a housewife without babies sits around and eats bon-bons all day. Back when I was not-totally-intentionally unemployed, my life wasn’t glamorous in the fact that I was actually dedicating about 6-8 hours a day job searching, applying, and interviewing…. but of course it did have a lot of extra padded time for the gym and meeting for lunch. But people always asked, “Aren’t you getting bored?” No. I never got bored. There’s always stuff to do and fill the time productively.

But it seems from my encounters, people have a really hard time imagining how they would spend their time if not slaving to the man or changing diapers. I don’t really get it because isn’t that all what we’re working towards…getting out of the grind? Well I’m out baby, and this is how I spend my time.

IMG_2141

Horsey selfie.

I do work. Just a wee bit. I have two clients whom I manage their social media and create content. So that’s creating a two week calendar every week, scheduling all the posts, responding to consumers throughout the day, writing blog posts, and a once a week call with my employers. I also work Friday mornings at the stables I ride at in exchange for a lesson, because as it turns out, horseback riding is an expensive hobby. This is not easy work as it turns out…. filling and hanging about 60 hay nets and 30 water buckets, grooming and tacking up the school horses, sweeping the yard, etc.

Speaking of horses…beyond my stable job, I spend a lot of other time horsing around. I volunteer every Tuesday with the Riding for the Disabled Association (The RDA) for about 3-6 hours (depending on need). I take 2-3 riding lessons a week, and take a night class for a general certificate of Horse Care on Thursday nights. The class is two hours long and an hour away. So that’s a pretty large chunk of time where I’m busy and smell like horseshit.

For the last year and a half I also volunteered on the board for the American Woman’s Association. This commitment was 3 Wednesday’s a month: a board meeting, a general meeting, and my position, hosting/welcoming newbies to Aberdeen for a coffee.

Then all my other hobbies: book club, golf lessons every week, actually going out and golfing, running/working out/training for stuff, planning travel and holidays (more time than always anticipated), writing personal blog posts, entertaining guests, meeting friends for coffee and/or lunch, staying in contact with friends stateside, attempting to sew, taking pictures of sheep and coos, and walking my dog an hour, if not two hours every day.

How appropriate...our bookclub book for the month.

How appropriate…our bookclub book for the month.

I might also spend a fair bit of time trying to get Stella to pose for pictures.

I might also spend a fair bit of time trying to get Stella to pose for pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These coo pictures won't take themselves.

These coo pictures won’t take themselves.

Walking Stella is such a chore.

Walking Stella is such a chore.

Leaving the last bit that takes up my time…. Domestic Goddess/Manager of the Fellowship of the Babcock duties. I meal plan for the week, grocery shop and cook. I clean…not well or consistently, but it’s there! I fight with the gym to change membership rates, waste hours rearranging my day for a plumber that never shows, figure out the process of renewing car tax, sort out the weird expenses and bills we still have in the states, help my mother book her travel/figure out instagram, and engage with the neighbors. Phew.

AND. I tend to average about 8 ½-9 hours of sleep a night. WINNING.

So for the past (nearly!) 2 years…that’s what I’ve been up to. It’s a tough life I lead, but have faith I’m never bored and always well rested. Unless we have a 6 am flight…

Travel Trials & Tribulations

Ask people what they would do if they won the lotto or didn’t have to work anymore and a lot of them would say “travel”. Obviously, there are a lot of great benefits to travel, one of which is it sure isn’t work. It’s easy to think travel is…well easy. The gorgeous photos, the limited mention of funds spent, the adventure…. I totally add to that delusion in my blog posts. So I want to set the record straight. Travel is fantastic, but don’t think everything goes as planned. And I tend to plan EVERYTHING. I’m pretty Type A when it comes to travel with restaurant reservations, itineraries; I even make lists of what I’m wearing on which days. It’s kind of surprising I even like travel…. given that no matter how well you plan, shits going to go wrong.

So, for your amusement, and perhaps a dose of reality, here’s a sampling of the shit that has gone wrong when I’ve traveled.

♠The most recent travel woe was when our flights to Tromso were cancelled, 2 hours before take off. Resulted in an unexpected night over in Oslo, frantic rearranging of our schedule, and E taking an extra day off work. Flexibility is key!

♠The trip right before Tromso, we got to Chamonix and didn’t have any luggage and made a rookie mistake of not having a carry-on bag. Lessons learned!

♠My first trip abroad was to Paris with my parents and friend, who was sustaining off of Coke Light and baguettes. When she finally did brake and need some real food, she ordered a sausage. Once she cut into it, this awful smell hit all of our nostrils. She took a bite and nearly gagged. It took a while, but finally through language barriers, came to find out the sausage was made out of intestines.

♠While driving across Italy, E stalled a car right around a corner from a busy round about. We were all screaming since we were sure a car was going to slam into us…E couldn’t take the pressure and just jumped out of the drivers seat and abandoned us…. In correcting that error (with my brother now driving) we nearly got stuck (literally stuck) in an alleyway. We had to fold in the mirrors and we all held our breath…some guys on the street were nice enough to move ladders, garbage cans, and cats to make sure we could fit through. Come to think of it, there are about 4 other “incidents” with that car in Italy. Let’s just say, we all actually thought we were going to die or have to pay for extreme amounts of damages at least once.

One of the many times we almost died...here we were in Austria, before we got to Italy.

One of the many times we almost died…here we were in Austria, before we got to Italy.

♠Last year we were in Croatia for my birthday. For my day, I planned a nice hike up to a cave. This was on the way to another destination, and so there was only this one-day to do it. Nature had other plans and as soon as we came into the town it started hailing so hard we had to pull over on the way there. We tried to wait it out but after 30 minutes there was no end in sight so we carried on…to celebrate my birthday with (surprisingly good) pizza – that I accidentally dropped half on the floor of the restaurant. Happy 30th.

This is the storm the came in on my birthday in Croatia.

This is the storm the came in on my birthday in Croatia.

♠In high school I had a teacher who had gone to Rome the summer before. It’s all she could talk about and spent a full class in detail of the Vatican, passing around a book and doing a slideshow of her pictures. I was religious (catholic) at the time and I wanted to see the Sistine Chapel more than ANYTHING. Years later when studying abroad in London, I took a trip to Rome with a guy I hardly knew (un-romantic) who was a huge douche bag. We stayed at an awful hostel, got lost/trapped at some insane only-in-Europe Rave, and I had a splitting migraine the whole trip. Alas, I was going to see the Sistine Chapel. We were going to do it on Sunday, and we flew out Monday morning. We get to the Sistine Chapel and it has closed 30 minutes earlier for the day. I sat on the ground and wept. It felt like I got sucker punched and someone was playing a mean joke. This is probably the reason I am so insane in my travel plans and probably why I gave up on god.

Finally made it to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel

Finally made it to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel

♠Also in studying abroad…. I spent 4 nights in Dublin without pajamas. Which shouldn’t be that big of a deal…but I was in a cold hostel and only had skin-tight jeans that had booze, and more than likely some remnants of puke on them.

♠On our honeymoon in South Africa, E got “mugged”. It’s in quotes because it wasn’t a mugging in the traditional sense, it was E being a chump and inadvertently giving a guy his atm card AND the pin code. Luckily, it was a bank we didn’t keep much money in and after a lot of stress and tears, got it all sorted away…and eventually got refunded the money despite the fact that basically all banks declare if you’re a dumbass in South Africa, it’s not their problem.

♠Oh you think that’s the only bad thing that happened on our honeymoon? Think again. The last bit of our honeymoon we were in the Seychelles. We had hired a private tour of the island that ended with a few hours on a private beach and a picnic lunch. At some point…. right about here:

Lovely photo...E's ring was probably sliding off his finger right now.

Lovely photo…E’s ring was probably sliding off his finger right now.

E lost his wedding band. The white gold, engraved, not-yet insured wedding band. Poof. Floated away in the sea. There were a few hours of a seething newly wed there.

♠When we went to Turkey, we forgot our real (or any) camera. We only had our phone to capture the memories. Thus, no photos can be blown up and displayed.

Would be great if we got high quality pics of this experience...

Would be great if we got high quality pics of this experience…

♠We went to London to meet up with E’s friend who was to be in town (from Texas) to see the Dallas Cowboys game. He had a bunch of friends in the UK, so through his organization we all got tickets together. Then he realized he couldn’t come. Luckily, his friends were nice and we got along swimmingly…otherwise it was going to be a real awkward night.

♠The same trip to London, we had tickets to see Phantom of the Opera. I dressed to the nines. It poured down rain that night. Umbrellas broke. Streets are flooded. I showed up looking like a drowned rat. Still…a great show!

♠I think the most recent time this happened was in Istanbul…. but it’s definitely happened prior to. When you put your bank card into the cash machine and it gets flagged and not only do you not get money, but you don’t get your card back leaving you with no access to paper money. ALWAYS bring back ups and alert your banks people.

♠Using expired sunscreen and burning to an absolute crisp in Turkey. And before the burn totally settled in, going to a weird chakra massage where I was put naked on a table with hot oil water boarding me. I smelled (and felt) like a fried chicken by the end. The oil trapped in all my internal body heat and I spent the night with E putting cold towels on me, and having them turn actually hot to the touch every 5 minutes. Then the next day, despite painfully running through Charles De Gaulle, missing a connecting flight and suffering with my third degree burns in a shitty hotel until I could get on a flight the next day, and find some aloe vera relief.

♠Flying across the Atlantic when you realize that new prescription for your dog has a domino effect, and she now has to pee. Badly.

"What?! I would never disrupt a flight with a need to pee."

“What?! I would never disrupt a flight with a need to pee.”

♠Thinking that you’re checking into an amazing AirBnb…. only to arrive to a slightly dirty, slightly moldy, room with weirdly stained towels. But the view is great….

♠When E came to visit me in London (when studying abroad), we took a weekend trip to Paris. Our first night, even though it was late, I wanted to show him the Eiffel Tower. We got on the metro, and somehow read the map wrong, we went all the way to end of the metro- the wrong way. And it was the last train of the night. We had no idea where we were or how to get home. We tried to hail a cab but none would stop. We found a restaurant that was open and tried to figure out a cab but no one spoke English. This was before smartphones people! We went out and just started walking, eventually stumbling upon a cabstand and finally getting a cab home.

We finally made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower

We finally made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower

♠That same Paris trip…we were broke college kids and booked the cheapest hotel we could find. It was on the 5th floor, of course no elevator, in a pretty rough neighborhood. And better still, the metro stop closest was closed down for construction, so we had to get off a stop early and walk up a massive hill every time. It was just a warm up for the 5 flights of stairs. I swear I lost 5lbs that weekend.

♠And my own fault, there are have been a couple times when I let my guard down, and became a little over-served. This resulted in hellacious days on holiday the following day. Glad I got to see the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, but I barely pulled it together and would have had a better time if I didn’t have to put my hands on my knees and my head in-between my legs every 10 minutes to stop from passing out. And it probably wasn’t my finest moment, and definitely one of the most painful travel days returning from Lisbon after staying out until the sun came out, running to the hostel to get our things (and puke) and then head to the airport. Not sure how many germs I picked up lying on the Lisbon Metro floor but…. let’s not think about that.

So yeah, travel definitely has its downsides. But like seeing how other people live, eating new foods, speaking a new language…there’s plenty to learn from the nightmares of travel. Like be careful with your debit cards, don’t buy your husband nice jewelry, always have a carry on bag, sunscreen expires after a year, you can’t control the weather or the airlines, and how to adapt to change.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened to your on a trip?