Everything’s Coming Up Roses…

It’s my birthday today!  Hooray~

I’m having a very musical theater birthday this morning and listening to Ethel Merman’s Everything’s Coming Up Roses.  It feels fitting, especially because on this milestone of birthdays, I surprisingly don’t feel old.  There’s no big age crisis going on over here, and to be honest, I kind of feel like sh*ts just getting good.

Listen to good ol’ Eth –> Everything’s Coming Up Roses

This past weekend, Matt surprised me with a quick trip to Vermont where we stayed at an awesome culinary resort.  We took a cooking class where we learned to make homemade pasta from scratch with mushroom alfredo sauce, grilled romaine salad, chicken, and mini chocolate lava cakes with homemade banana ice cream.  We had a great time checking out Vermont and getting into the culture out there, which is very laid back and a refreshing break from the chaos of New York.  We hit up the little shops, and checked out the beer brewery Magic Hat, which was very cheeky and fun.

On the ride home, I begged Matt to stop in Connecticut so I could see Yale and the theater that I performed at a million years ago when I was in Les Miserables.  So, we took a little detour and walked around CT for a little bit.

Of course we hit tons of traffic on the way home and of course there was tons of rain to boot, but we’re back in Brooklyn and it’s my birthday and I took the day off from work but I still have lots of homework because next week I have finals and that kind of stinks but that’s ok because it’s my birthday and everything’s coming up roses so hip hip hooray.

Well hello, Vermont.

Well hello, Vermont.

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And hello, ice cream. Vermont is where Ben and Jerry’s was birthed. They even have a road called Cherry Garcia. Awesome, right?

Where we stayed

Where we stayed.

The hotel

The hotel

Our instructor for the cooking class.  He told us lots of celeb gossip about people he's cooked for.

Our instructor for the cooking class. He told us lots of celeb gossip about people he’s cooked for.  Shhhhhhhhh….

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Shopping

The Magic Hat brewery

The Magic Hat brewery

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Inside the brewery

Getting crazy.  Not really.

Getting crazy. Not really.

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Goodbye Vermont.

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Hello, Yale, nice to meet you.

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Yale campus at night.

So, this is 30, eh?  I’ve got to tell you, I’m hopeful about 30.  I think this is going to be my year.

And as Ethel would say…

“Curtain up, light the lights, you’ve got nothin’ to hit but the heights.”

~The End.

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Holy Sh*t! Airplane Manners, People!

It leaves you speechless alright, and sometimes not in a good way.

So, yesterday I flew back to New York after a week and a half with my family in Detroit.  The flight from NYC->DETROIT is typically a quick hour and a half flight, and relatively painless: key words being “relatively painless.”  Yesterday’s flight was anything but.

I seriously cannot believe the array of stupidity that I saw yesterday.  People have actually survived in life thus far being so completely unaware and clueless?!  The sh*t show of bad manners was ridiculous, both through normal airport protocol, and simple airplane etiquette.  C’mon these things we should all know by now, people!

First Offender:  The So-Called “I Didn’t Realize I Just Cut in Front of You…” Person:

By now, you have all probably had your own run-in with this type of person.  It’s the person who cuts in front of you, and pretends that they didn’t see you there.  This person might also pretend to be looking at something, than casually inch closer and closer, until they downright step in front of you.  It’s a sneaky little tactic, and most of the time these people get away with it, because the person they cut in front of, is too embarrassed to speak up and say something.

So, yesterday I didn’t have one, two, three, or four people cut in front of me.  I had FIVE!  Yes, you heard me right, FIVE.  It all started when a young woman with a giant suitcase cut in front of me while I was waiting in line to check into my flight.  It bugged me, but I didn’t say anything, because I was there very early and I decided to give the girl the benefit of the doubt.  I kept seeing her look over her shoulder as if she was waiting for someone, and I thought that was odd.  Suddenly a man and a woman, whom I’m guessing were her parents, joined her in line with two enormous suitcases in tow.  Before I even had the chance to process the stupidity of these people, two more young women joined the crew of three.  Each of these girls had enormously stuffed suitcases as well.  As the group stood there, loudly chatting about, I decided to say something.  “Excuse me,” I said trying to match their collective volume, “I was here first, and you…” It was no use, no one even noticed me talking.  They were so engrossed in conversation with each other that I didn’t even get a second glance.  I gave up, but it didn’t stop me from angrily brooding over it for the next twenty minutes, and posting multiple rants about it on Facebook and Twitter.

I watched on in horror as one after another stepped up to the check-in counter, and had to be told that each one of their bags were overweight.  They bitched and moaned about the additional charges of a bag over fifty pounds, and luckily the woman behind the counter  stood her ground.  The whole debacle added close to thirty extra minutes onto my schedule, and I was livid.

When it came time to go through security, I saw the party of five making their way in the same direction as me, so I hauled a** as fast as I could, and managed to successfully get in front of them.  A small victory for such an annoying fiasco.

Second Offender:  The Dreaded “I’m Going to Perform all of my Gross Rituals in Public…” Person:

Being a regular commuter in my daily life has taught be a lot about reading people while traveling.  For example, I can spot someone who wants to talk for the whole flight, and I’m good at predicting whether someone will be considerate.  The minute I saw this man approaching I just knew I was in for it.  I prayed he wasn’t going to be the one to occupy the seat next to me, but of course he was.  It’s always like that, isn’t it?  First of all, he stepped on my toe while getting to his seat, and also hit the woman in the head who was sitting behind us.  He never apologized to either of us.

It could have been an accident, so I chalked it up to an honest mistake.  That is, until he proceeded to get himself very comfortable, and one of the ways he accomplished that was by taking off his smelly sandals.  His feet reeked of vinegar, and everyone around us turned to see who was creating the stench.  If that wasn’t enough, he picked and prodded his smelly feet for at least a half hour, while I tried not to gag.

Eventually he passed out into a peaceful slumber, but he was the only one who found peace.  The rest of us had to listen on as he noisily snored, and I personally had to deal with his elbows as he slept with both of his arms up above his head.  Don’t even get me started on the offensive body odor that emanated from his pits.  When he finally awoke, he got up to use the restroom, and stayed in their for at least fifteen minutes.  When he finally resurfaced, I decided to use the bathroom as well.  It wasn’t a surprise to me, when I walked into the cramped space that he carelessly left the toilet seat up, and may or may not have urinated all over the bathroom floor.

The flight ended up being terribly delayed because of rain storms in New York, so we circled around for close to an hour, and until it was safe to land.  For the rest of the flight I tried my best to tune him and all of his bad manners.  I think I actually succeeded at it for a little bit, too, but by that time the flight was over anyhow.

I really thought I had seen it all between the subway in New York, and traveling on the Long Island Railroad.  However, yesterday it became obvious to me that there is clearly still a lot more to see.  Lucky me.

Does anyone else have any bad manner airport/airplane experiences to share?!  Is anyone else disgusted by how some people behave?

~The End

Photo by Pinterest.

Don’t Mess With Texas…

Well, tomorrow Matt and I are off to Houston, Texas for about 6 weeks, where Matt will attend a Kaplan retreat, to prepare for his big medical school exam in March.

I'll be sure to let you know if this is true...

We had an extremely busy holiday season, and it’s hard to believe it’s already time to jet off to the Lone Star State.  To be honest, I feel a little guilty…This will be the third consecutive New York winter that I’ve managed to avoid.  Since we’ve been back in the States, it hasn’t even been that cold, but already I’ve noticed myself daydreaming about the spring and summer in a few months.  I am looking forward to enjoying some sunshine again, and also just seeing Texas in general.

When I traveled in the national tour of Les Miz, we went to Houston, and also Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Dallas.  Because I was so young, though, I really don’t remember much about it, other than the fact that it was extremely clean there, and sweltering hot.  I’m interested to see if it’s how I remembered it.

I have a feeling we are going to enjoy our time in Texas, and for some reason, all week I have hummed tunes from the play Oklahoma (I played Ado Annie in a high school production of Oklahoma.)  Okay, so they’re obviously two different states, but they’re both country, so it felt fitting.

Have a listen and see if you agree..(P.S. This song has a special meaning to me, because a high school friend of mine who played Curly in Oklahoma passed away a few years ago, and this song always reminds me of him.)

02_-_oh_what_a_beautiful_morning_-_oklahoma_(original_soundtrack)

I have every intention on getting a pair of these during my stay…

You can't go to TX and not wear cowboy boots...

I’m also really looking forward to embracing the country culture, and possibly eating some cheesy grits and fried chicken…

Not exactly healthy, but definitely worth the calories...

I may even try out a southern drawl and bust out a “y’all” or “bless your heart” here or there…

Here’s another one…lollygagging…that’s southern, right?  Either way, I better quit lollygagging and get to this packing, because the truth is, I haven’t even started yet!

So, off I go.

Stay tuned for more Sarah Smiles Awhile…Southern style.

~See ya.

Home In The Mitten State!

Hey!  Long time, no see!  Sorry I’ve been a little MIA for the last couple of weeks, but there has been so much going on!

First things first, I finally wrapped up this semester at school, and made the Dean’s List again!  Woo-hoo!

Then, Matt and I spent Christmas in Michigan this year with my family, and have had so much fun for the last week.

Christmas Eve was the big family celebration, and my whole family came over to celebrate.  Matt and I made up for time lost, and ate a ton of food.  I’ve probably gained about five pounds since we’ve been back in the States, but boy oh boy, it feels good!

My Mom's famous Gnocchi

We spent some long overdue time with my nieces and nephews…

Ain't they sweet?

They even got a visit from Santa Claus (aka my dad!) on Xmas Eve!

Rocco (my youngest nephew) with my dad (Santa). He totally bought into it, and thought it was Santa!

Santa's lil' helper, Tootsie (my parents dog.)

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus…

My mom and dad. P.S. Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas, and she told him "diamonds."

From the left...Rocco aka the Roc, Dylan aka Dyl-Pickle, Kayla aka Kooks, and Logan aka Logi-Bear.

My beautiful nieces, Allison and Kayla.

The next day, Matt and I opened presents from my parents and each other on Christmas morning…

A very special gift made by my mom. She saved my bridal bouquet, dried it a special way, and then framed it with our wedding invitation. How cool is that?!

We also got tickets to see my very favorite show, Wicked!

We went and saw the show today, and it was absolutely amazing!! P.S. I had to restrain myself from belting along to Defying Gravity!

My Christmas gift to Matt for our first married Christmas together.

Matt’s Christmas gift to me…

Isn't it gorge?! I LOVE it!

We’ve had such a blast in Michigan for the past week.  We’ve done all kinds of fun stuff!

We went to the Henry Ford Museum…

And we got to see the actual bus that Rosa Parks rode when she refused to sit at the back of the bus!

According to the tour guide, this is the actual spot that Rosa Parks sat in.

We saw the infamous car where Kennedy was shot…

And saw many, many more interesting and fascinating things.

Today we went to the Greektown casino in downtown Detroit…

We didn't win big or anything, but we didn't lose any money either!

And tomorrow we say goodbye to a wonderful and fun-filled week with family and friends in my hometown.

It’s been a good trip, and I’m happy I got to spend such quality time with those who are so special to me.

And…

It’s still good to be back in the States, and no, I don’t miss Grenada one bit yet at all!

So, tell me…

What did you get for Christmas?!

P.S.  I will be back to my regular blogging schedule after the New Year.  I’ve missed you all!

~The End

It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want to.

That is, happy tears of course!

So listen to this…

Matt and I flew back to New York on my 29th birthday this past Saturday.  We had a rough night the night before we left, complete with Matt accidentally punching himself in the eye…No, I’m not kidding.  It was crazy, Matt was weighing one of our extremely heavy pieces of luggage, when the luggage scale snapped, causing his right hand to shoot up, hitting himself in the eye!  He had to go down to the university clinic on campus to get bandaged up, and he still has a black eye! 

Thankfully, though, the next morning when we left, everything went very smoothly, and we had a really great flight.  We got off the plane, got all five pieces of our seventy pound luggage, and made our way to ground transportation, where Matt’s parents were picking us up.  When we walked out, I saw Matt’s mom and dad waving to us.  They made their way toward us, and we said our hello’s.

Matt and his Pop.

Then, suddenly something or someone caught my eye…

I looked…

Then, I took a double take…

It was my parents!

My dad is not in the picture, because he was the one taking the pictures!

They came to New York all the way from Michigan and surprised me for our U.S.A homecoming, and for my birthday.

The craziest part is…I had NO idea.

When I saw my mom in her red coat, I didn’t believe it.  For a second, I thought I was just seeing someone who looked like her, but then I saw my dad smiling as big as his mouth could smile, holding his brand-spankin’ new movie recorder, and that’s when I knew it was real.

I was beyond surprised.

Matt's mom, my mom, and me.

Let me say this, it really is hard to dupe me.  Naturally, I am a very inquisitive person, I ask lots of questions, and I easily pick up on discrepancies.  My parents told me a host of lies to pull this thing off, complete with forwarding their house phone calls to their cell phone, so that I wouldn’t catch on.  Last Friday my parents went into the city for a viewing of Regis and Kelly, when I called, and they told me they were out Christmas shopping.  Somehow I fell for everything, and to be honest, I am a little shocked that I did!  P.S.  I am convinced I didn’t catch onto the scheme, because I had been so busy packing and getting ready to move, but everyone else says that they just fooled me really, really well.  Maybe they’re right!

The best part was, Matt’s mom had orchestrated the whole event months ago!  She invited my parents to stay at their house, and my parents took her up on it, and had been visiting for days, before Matt and I even got home.  How cute is that?

I’ve literally never ever been more surprised in my entire life…not even when I got engaged!!

It was my best birthday ever.

Here are some other shots from that day.

Homecoming and birthday dinner.

That's a big bowl of pasta, eh? That's how we Italians do it up.

Did you notice that the name on the bottle says Palma? That's because Matt's dad makes wine. Cool, right?

Birthday cake! My absolute favorite, Baskin Robins Oreo cookie ice cream cake.

Opening birthday presents! That's my dad sitting next to me, and my mom sitting on the floor.

My parents went back to the Mitten State on Monday, but Matt and I have enjoyed some long overdue time with his family, including his twin nephews James and Joseph.  I even had the honor of doing their very first haircut!

Joe-Joe Bear

Sweet Baby James (like the James Taylor song.)

All I can say is, it’s good to be back in good ol’ New York, New York, and on American soil.  Just yesterday, Matt and I walked into a grocery store, and I’m not even kidding, I felt like I was entering the gates of heaven when I saw the enormous variety of food.

I have to admit, it is quite cold here, and I already miss that Caribbean sun, but not enough to give all this up.

Nope.  Not even close.

~The End.

So Long, Farewell, Grenada…

What can I say, it’s been real, Grenada.  We’ve had our ups and downs that’s for sure, but I appreciate the experience.

When Matt and I moved to Grenada in January of 2010, we had just got engaged a few weeks earlier.

December 22, 2009

It was such an exciting time for us, with Matt starting medical school, and the beginning of planning our wedding.  Sometimes I can’t believe that two years flew by so fast, but then I stop and think about all that’s happened since we first got to Grenada, and then I can believe it’s been that long.

As we say our final farewell’s to Grenada tomorrow, I thought I’d leave you with…

Ten Things I’ve Learned Over The Last 2 Years While Living Abroad in Grenada

1.)  I learned how to cook! 

It’s kind of funny because prior to getting engaged, I had maybe cooked Matt a real dinner one or two times.  I know, it’s kind of crazy considering we dated for about 2.5 years before getting engaged!  I guess I never needed to learn, we lived with his parents, and his mom cooked delicious meals every night!  Why learn?  It was kind of a rude awakening when we landed in Grenada, and Matt looked at me to fill the shoes of his mom’s cooking (and trust me, those aren’t easy shoes to fill!), but I tried my best, and somewhere along the way I learned a thing or two.  Here I am now, whipping up all kinds of different meals, like chicken parmesan, lasagna, chili, chicken fajitas, an array of fish dishes, roasted whole chickens, homemade banana bread, pumpkin pies, meatloaf, minestrone soup, etc.  (P.S.  I just got really hungry talking about all of those foods.)

2.)  You never want to get sick in 3rd world country.

Matt and I learned this the hard way.  Matt got e coli the first semester we were down here, and it was not a good situation, to say the very least.  We ended up at St. George’s General Hospital in the city of St. George’s, and let me just tell you, it was the stuff nightmares are made out of…cockroaches on hospital beds, extremely UN-urgent medical care, dirty equipment lying around, and generally stuff that you might see residing in Dr. Giggles’ office…Let’s put it this way, I wouldn’t want to get a head injury, or anything extremely serious like that in Grenada.  Get my drift?

3.)  I’m not a very outdoorsy.

I’m pretty sure that I mentioned this already in a post, but here it is again; I don’t like nature.  Okay, that’s not exactly it, I love nature, I just prefer to not be thrust out into it.  Instead, I prefer to observe it from afar, and not be involved in activities such as, getting my make-up/hair messed up, getting sweaty/and or dirty, anything requiring me to trudge through rain or dirt, or any activities involving the ocean (other than lying on the beach and also observing it from afar.)

Exhibit A.

After looking everywhere for me at the Kauai Coffee Plantation on our honeymoon, Matt found me in the tiny section in the gift shop where they sell soaps and perfumes. It goes without saying, that I was not very interested in the coffee beans, but very engaged in the pretty things. P.S. He took this picture without me knowing.

4.)  You might have to bond with a local in order to understand the culture in Grenada.

It’s kind of ironic, that the first time I really started to understand the Grenadian culture was just about a week ago.  Matt and I have had a taxi driver named Bernard for nearly two years now, and he drives us around on the rare occasions that we go out to dinner. Bernard has lived in Grenada his entire life, and has never left the island.  EVER.  Recently on a trip to the Immigration office, it was just me and B-nard (as I fondly like to call him), and we had quite a nice little chat.

Before I get into that, let me explain that Bernard and I often have awkward encounters when it comes time to pay him for the rides.  Usually he says something like, “Just give me whateva you tink (tink is “think” in Grenadian), Saaaaaaaahhhh-rah.”  This inevitably confuses me, and I have no idea how to respond to it, so I usually say something like, “Well, I have no idea, Bernard!  You have to tell me how much!”  Then, we go back and forth, until I get flustered to the point where I throw money at him (not literally), probably over paying him.

So, on our trip to the Immigration Office, we were chattering away, and Bernard revealed to me that he has no intention to ever go to America.  When I asked why, he said it simply.  “In America you don’t get nothin’ for free.  If yer hungry in Grenada, someone will give you some callaloo (a vegetable) for free if you need to eat.  You have to pay for everyting in America.”

So, there you have it.  I finally understood why Bernard and I had all of those miscommunications about paying him for his services.  Perhaps if I had offered him some callaloo a time or two, we may have understood one another a long time ago…

Me, Bernard, the fam, and the infamous taxi van.

Matt and Bernard's child, Jerome. He loved Matt, as all children do.

5.)  You should never go to a foreign country and expect it to be like America. (I learned this one the hard way.)

If I could pass on these words of wisdom to any American traveling abroad, this would be it.  I had a quite the eye opener when I got to Grenada.

Me:  “Wait, there’s no milk for two weeks straight?  Or eggs?  Or chicken?  And this is normal?! Waaaaaahhhhh!! <– (Snookie style.)

Especially when we first got down here, I found all of these things very frustrating.  I didn’t expect Grenada to have the same abundant supermarkets as in America, but I at least thought they would have the essentials.  The lack of food options has been one of the hardest parts about living here for me.  I’ve had to really let go of a lot of my expectations of what I think is normal, and try to improvise more with our meals.  I think if I would have come to Grenada free of expectations, than I might have been pleasantly surprised. Instead, I thought it was going to be something it wasn’t, and it made it that much harder to adjust.

And other non-American things to adapt to in Grenada…

No hot water (or no water at all for that matter, for days at a time), laundry shut down due to water droughts for weeks on end, humongous spiders, centipedes, lizards, and frogs (yes frogs!) in your apartment from time to time.  Ick.

6.)  To be patient.

Okay, so this is probably a blatant lie, but I wish I had learned to be more patient while living down here.  In my defense, I think I’ve definitely had a few break-through moments, in the patience department, but for the most part my New Yorker self (I can call myself a New Yorker since I’ve been living there over 10 years) was astonished at how slow it can take to do a simple task.  I’d be lying to you if I told you that it didn’t frustrate the hell out of me, but I think this also goes along with what I said earlier about expectations.  On a side note, one time fire alarms were going off on campus, and the fire department came two hours later after the students had already put it out themselves!  Now do you see what I mean?!

7.)  How to KIT

Prior to moving to Grenada, I’ll admit that I wasn’t always the best about keeping in touch.  I was always working, working, working, and it was typical for me to not see or speak to my girlfriends for weeks, or even months, at a time.  I’ve always made a point to call my parents every day, but I didn’t always go that extra mile for my friends.  So sorry friends!

When I arrived in Grenada, I realized how much I needed those people in my life, though.  I began working harder to bridge those gaps, and found that it was essential for me to do so.  Thankfully I had Skype, to stay connected with family and friends for the entire two years we’ve been in Grenada, and I also utilized Facebook to send little messages here and there, or an email just to say hello, a postcard, or a phone call.  I really do think that all of these things help you to stay grounded when you are so far away from home, and I would recommend it to anyone traveling abroad.

8.)  To not be alarmed if you cross paths with a cow…or goat…and one time, a bull.

Yeah, I just stand in fields in wedges and mini's while bulls are a few feet away. <--Not so much. This photo was taken by a good friend and photographer named Ashley Willis, somewhere in upcountry Grenada. P.S. Yes, that's a bull. When he started charging me, I ran like wild banshee away from that sucker it as fast as I could.

When we first got to Grenada, seeing random cows crossing the road, alarmed me.  I was sure the bus drivers were going to hit them, and each time, I would clench my eyes closed and pray I wouldn’t hear a thud.  Poor cow-ies.  Instead, I never heard anything, but I did feel my head jolt forward, as the driver swerved to maneuver the bus around the huge cattle.  Cows, and array of other animals crossing busy roads, are as common as deer running out in front of you on a highway in the dead of winter in Michigan.  It took me at least three months to get used to it, but when I finally did, I had a peaceful bus ride.

9.)  It’s totally normal to see machete’s.

People walk around wielding machete’s like they’re Rambo here!  It’s kind of rad, actually.

Oh you know, just a little ol' machete...

The first time I saw a Grenadian man with a machete, I was out for a run.  I totally thought I was about to murdered, but when I saw him happily chopping down some kind of pickery bush, and paying no mind to me whatsoever.  I realized then, that he was not interested in killing me at all, so I let out a huge sigh of relief.  I blame all of the shows like Disappeared, Dateline, and 48 Hours Mystery, for my hysteria.

10.)  How to Write!

It all started with a little blog called “Sarah Smiles Awhile…and sometimes not so much.”  (By the way, I recently asked Matt if I should change the name of my blog, and he said, “Well the ‘and sometimes not so much’ part sounds a little bit like you’re depressed.”  I thought that was so freaking funny, and brutally honest, that he would say such a thing!  Then, I explained to him that the ‘and sometimes not so much’ part is supposed to communicate my sassiness to the reader, to which Matt replied, “Well, you are quite a sassy little broad.”  Bwaaahahaha!  Love him.)

Anyway, I learned to write, by writing on this blog…and taking two novel writing classes in one semester (<–P.S. What was I thinking?!)  I really, truly don’t think I would have ever started writing if it hadn’t been for Grenada.  Like I said, before living here, I rarely ever stopped to smell the roses.  Grenada gave me the opportunity to discover new hobbies and ambitions.  (Hint, hint: More to come on that later…)

I think my entire experience in Grenada can be summed up in these lyrics to the Paul Simon song…

“You Can Call Me Al”

A man walks down the street
It’s a street in a strange world
Maybe it’s the Third World
Maybe it’s his first time around
He doesn’t speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen and Hallelujah!

Have a listen…23 You Can Call Me Al

So, Grenada…

Here we are.

What can I say?  It’s been real.

We’ve broken up and gotten back together quite a few times.

But I’m sure at some point, somewhere…

I might even miss you a little bit.

xo

Sarah

~The End

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

I can’t believe it’s already December, and that Christmas and my birthday are right around the corner!

On Saturday, I am getting the best birthday gift of all, which is to fly back to New York…ahem… first class.  Woo-Hoo!  I seriously cannot wait!

It’s crazy to think that today I spent one of my last days in Grenada soaking up some sun, but by Saturday, we’ll be back to the blistering cold again.

Here’s a shot from the beach today…

Grand Anse Beach

And how appropriate that we should return back to a New York winter, considering the first time we arrived in Grenada, we were escaping one of the worst New York winters ever!

January 2010. One of our first days ever in Grenada.

I guess you could say, we are coming full circle.

I’m definitely looking forward to some snow, which I can’t believe I actually just said, but I truly am.  I think what I’m really excited about is just being back in the great U.S. of A, and being with our families for the holiday season.

I have to give it to Grenada, they really do a great job bringing the holiday vibe to the island, despite the uncharacteristically hot, balmy weather.  Since mid October (yes, mid-October) all the workers in the local shops have been sporting red Santa hats, and everywhere you go, they play Christmas music.  Get this, one of the most popular albums they play is Dolly Parton’s “Home For Christmas!”  If that’s not random, I don’t know what is!  Let’s just say, I’m thrilled about it!

Snazzy outfit, Doll.

I have to admit, though, it definitely hasn’t been easy to get into the holiday spirit, even with Dolly on my side.  That is why I cannot wait to soak up all the holiday season has to offer in New York with Matt’s family, and Michigan with my family.

I fully intend on watching some of my favorite holiday flicks like…

1.)  Serendipity

This movie captures the holiday’s in NYC perfectly, complete with a glove war at Bloomingdale’s, and ice skating at Rockefeller Center.

And maybe Matt and I might finally make it into the city for some frozen hot chocolate at  the famous Serendipity 3, where we’ve meant to go since we started dating 4.5 years ago!  We haven’t made it yet, but here’s hoping.

Serendipity 3, where the film Serendipity was shot. P.S. It's right around the corner from Bloomingdale's, too, which could be dangerous...or fantastic!

2.)  Little Women

Don’t make fun!  This is one of my movies ever, mostly because I remind myself of Jo.  By the way, I took a Facebook quiz not too long ago called, “Which March sister are you?”, and I got Meg!  I was seriously so mad, I took it 3 more times, until I manipulated it to tell me I was the most like Jo.  True story.

Oh Marmee...P.S. I think I might have my future children call me Marmee, how cute is that?

3.)  Love Actually

Does anyone remember the scene from this film where Keira Knightly marries her husband, and he surprises her with a gospel choir singing the Beatles tune “All You Need is Love?”

Well, Matt and I thoroughly looked into getting a gospel choir our wedding, but after some in-depth research on YouTube of other people who apparently thought it was a cool idea too, we decided against it.  Let me just say, some things are just better relayed on film than in real life, but I fully intend on reliving that moment watching “Love Actually” this Christmas.

4.)  A Christmas Story

This movie is such a gem.  If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it.

“You’re gonna shoot yer eye out!  You’re gonna shoot yer eye out!”

Poor Randy...

5.)  Meet Me in St. Louis

Come on, you knew a theater nerd couldn’t resist a musical to get into the holiday spirit, right?

Wasn't Judy G. a total betty in her day?

I don’t know, there’s just something about the way Judy sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” that gets me every time…

Anyway…

Hmmm…other things I’m looking forward to this holiday season…wearing my new down coat, sporting my Uggs with chunky sweaters, getting my huuuurr did, eating lots of cookies (particularly the sugar cookies with frosting that my sis-in-law makes), spending time with family and friends, eating my mom’s stuffed peppers, eating my mother in law’s meatloaf…I’m starting to notice that most of the things I’m looking forward to revolve around food…not done yet, though…drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream, pumpkin spice Coffee-Mate coffee creamer, Starbuck’s chai lattes, the sugar cookies with the Christmas tree’s and bells in the middle, my dad’s egg “mcmuffins”, pizzelle’s, and maybe some banana pancakes (made by Matt hopefully!).

So…

What are you all looking forward to this holiday season?

~The End

Photos by Amazon, IMDB, Wikipedia, and bytesdaily.blogspot.com

The Road to Hana = The Road to Hell…

Hey, did I ever tell you guys about the time Matt and I almost died on our honeymoon?  No, that’s right I never did, because we vowed afterward to never tell a soul.  However, I now have permission from the hubby to openly talk about the time we almost went kaput.

P.S.  You might want to grab some snacks because this could be a long one…

It all started on the sunny island of Maui…beautiful white sandy beaches, double rainbows, endless sunshine, and friendly locals.  We were having a wonderful time beaching, eating like there was no tomorrow (can you feel the foreshadowing?), and taking in authentic luau’s.

Nothing could go wrong, right? I mean, we even match.

So, on the fourth day of our trip we decided to take a day to do the Road to Hana.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the Road to Hana is a stretch of winding highway with over 59 narrow bridges, 46 of which are only one-lane bridges. There are about 620 curves, and almost all of it is through lush tropical rainforests.  It takes about 3 hours to get to the end of the Road to Hana, and once you get to the end, it takes about 3 hours to get back to where you started.  Along the way, there are beautiful waterfalls to see, hidden secret pools to swim in, and lush botanical gardens to feast your eyes upon.  You don’t see any of these things by simply driving along the road, you have to pull over (basically on the side of a mountain with no railing) and find somewhere to park.  The thing is, everybody has the same idea, and there is virtually nowhere to park, so you find a small little nook anywhere, and pray your car won’t topple over a cliff.

I thought I’d give you a highlight reel of all the sights we saw before we almost died.

(If you don’t care, feel free to skip over this part…)

Road to Hana = Road to Hell

A botanical garden within the Garden of Eden.

We hiked a short trail to find this waterfall

Changs Pond. This is a hidden pool of water, that only the craziest locals jump into. Why? Because there is only a tiny patch of water where you can jump that is deep enough. If you miss the mark, then you are dunzo. Matt and I just happened to be there when this man made the jump. He was accompanied by his mother (as pictured) and three young daughters who were all screaming, "Please don't die, Dad," as he was jumping.

We drove along the highway took lots of pictures, and were having a great time.  We probably started the trip around 9 in the morning, and had every intention of being back at our hotel by 4 in the afternoon.  However, because we went on our honeymoon in July, which is one of the busiest times of the year for tourists, there were immense amounts of traffic.

The Road to Hana was packed, and it was taking much longer than we expected.  It was nearly 4 o’clock already, and we hadn’t even made it to the end, nor started the trip to get back.  The one thing we agreed on before this excursion even began, was that we didn’t want to be driving the Road to Hana at night under any circumstances.  However, we really wanted to get to the end of Hana, because there were still a few more things that we were dying to see.

For example…

The beautiful and infamous Black Sand Beach

A trail led to this cave on the Black Sand Beach

To be honest, even now I think we are really happy we decided to see the Black Sand Beach, because it was one of our favorite things about the Road to Hana.

So, back to the story…

We were forced to decide whether we should forgo the Black Sand Beach and other sights still left, or just turn around right then, and make it home before dark.  As we were discussing our options, we happened to notice that our trusty GPS said there was another way to get back, that didn’t require us to turn back around and follow the highway all the way back to where we started.  This route would also take half of the time, than the standard way we had planned on.  Too good to be true?

Well, we weren’t convinced, yet.  So, we pulled over and investigated the route in further depth, and even took a look at one of the maps provided in our guide book.  Sure enough there was a trail.  It looked like lots of tight turns, but what was the worst that could happen?  We had been driving along winding, narrow roads already all day.

This is pretty accurate...

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  (Insert a DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN right about here.)

Silly tourists…

But we carried on as normal, took our time and saw the rest of what there was to see along the Road to Hana.  Soon enough we made it to the end, and the part where you normally would turn back around to where you came from.

Matt asked me one last time, “So, are you sure you wanna do this?”

“YES!” I agreed enthusiastically.  Anything to get me back to the hotel sooner…I was starving, and I had to pee really bad.

So, off we went…

As we started driving, we noticed that we didn’t see any other cars around.  Hmmm…that was odd.

All of the sudden the paved road turned into a gravel road, but we were still okay.  We had a Wrangler, and that kind of car should be able to handle gravel roads, right?

We kept driving, and I started getting really nervous, because as I looked behind me and in front of me, there still weren’t any other cars on the road…

We started to make our way on the gravel road up a mountain, with no railing may I add, and the road got narrower and narrower.  My heart was beating out of my chest, because the road had tapered off so much, that our car barely fit on this road.  We kept climbing up the mountain, getting further into danger, and where there was no room for error.  The slightest mistake would have sent us tumbling off a cliff.  When Matt started to panic, I knew that I should be worried, and when he said, “I think we better find a way to turn around,” I was downright terrified.

We kept driving for about three more minutes, all the while breaking no more than 3 miles per hour.  We came upon a tiny place in the road where we thought there might be enough room to turn the car around.  He started to make a three-point turn, but soon realized there wasn’t enough room.  We were almost hanging off the edge.  He quickly turned the car back around, and we were forced to keep going.

So, we did what we had to do, and kept forging ahead.  In silence.  We were both too scared to speak.  I looked at my phone to see if I had any service.  There was no service.  This made me panic even more, but I didn’t say a word.  As we continued, we got further and further up a mountain, and that was when I heard a crashing.  I couldn’t help it, I had to look over the edge.  There was water, lots of it, crashing up to heights I’ve never seen before.  Water was splashing into our car.

Holy hell, this might not be okay…

I started to think about what would happen if our car went over the edge.  Would we be able to escape the car, if we even survived the crash?  Or would the violent waves keep knocking us into the sharp side of the rocky mountain?  I worried that our families would never know what happened to us, and I worried that no one would ever find us.  I prayed over and over that we would make it home okay.

I noticed along the way that the only signs we saw said “Service Road.”  Well, that wasn’t right.  These were not roads that you were suppose to travel on, but how were we suppose to know?  The GPS led us that way.

Eventually the road wound back down and we were on solid land, but it was only temporary.

Here are a few shots from what we saw when we were briefly on solid ground…

Solid ground but only for a moment. Now imagine this road getting narrower and narrower, and turning into the side of a cliff. Scary right?

Just a cool shot

Me and the Wrangler...

The road kept winding back up cliffs, and then winding back down to solid ground.  Eventually it got dark out, and that was probably the scariest part.  We simply drove slowly, took our time driving no more than about 6 miles per hour, and the whole process beginning to end took about 6 hours to complete.  Thankfully we also gassed up before starting the ride back, or else we would have ran out of gas…and that would have been worse.

Through our entire drive we never saw another soul on the road.

I was proud of Matt for staying so calm, and proud of myself for navigating us through the ordeal.  Even though it makes me extremely nauseous to read while riding in a car, I was able to read a map through all the twists and turns of the road.

I obviously don’t have pictures of the scariest parts of the trip, because we were both concentrating too much on not dying.  Though, I kind of wish I had a few to look back on now…

For the next two days of our honeymoon, we stayed on flat land, ate flavored ices on the beach, and thanked our lucky stars that we lived.

Ah, relief!

On the last day of our trip, we stopped in a jewelry store.  I wanted to open up an oyster to see if I would get a pearl.  I’ve always wanted to do that.

So, the saleswoman got out a big bucket, and she told me to pick one.  I selected one from the top.  She pried it open with a special tool, and it cracked open.

Inside of it, was not one, but two light pink pearls.  Besides the fact that my favorite color is pink, the saleswoman told us that pale pink pearls mean Protection, Life, and Love.

And how ironic that there should be two?  One for me, and one for Matt.

And two for Protection, Life, and Love.  Enough for the both of us.

~The End.

Photo by Bluntcard.

There He Blows!

Today started off like any other day.  I went to the gym for a quick work-out, I did some homework, cleaned the apartment a little, made lunch, etc.  It was raining all day today, which was a nice break from the sweltering past few days we’ve had.  It was just your typical tropical rainy kind of day.  The kind of day where the rain can fall down in sheets, the next minute the sun can be shining through the clouds, and then back to a rain storm again.

These are the kinds of days that I’d normally stay in all day, unless there are errands that absolutely need to be done.  I was just figuring out what to do with my day when Matt asked, “Are you going grocery shopping today?”

“I wasn’t planning on it, but do you need something?”  I replied.

“Nah, not really, I just need eggs and wraps,” he said.

This is code for groceries are desperately needed.  Matt goes through about a dozen eggs a day, and as I glanced in the fridge to see there were only about five left, I knew it was essential that I go.  Plus, I was out of coffee cream, and my day just does not get started off right without it.

So, I put a hoodie on, closed in shoes, and off to the grocery store I went.

I shopped with plenty of elbow room, which was a bonus.

I waited in line, checked out, and had my groceries bagged up within five minutes.

This was a record fast shopping excursion for me.  I was pleased.  Very pleased.

Well, you all know where this story is going right?  Yeah, you know…I mean you have to know.

I cheerfully go outside to wait for the bus that takes me back to campus, and even thought to myself, “What a pleasant day this has been.”

Then, it happened.  I saw the guy who stands outside day in and day out selling mango’s, making his usual rounds and giving each and every other person his schpeel, “I’m the local fruit man, wanna buy some mango’s?”  To which nearly everyone says no, except for the occasional taker.  Today there was a taker.  He made a sale, and was quite jolly.

He went to sit back down on the curb, which is his usual perch and proceeded to eat his lunch out of a Styrofoam container.  All was normal with the universe, that is until he decided to…

Rip a HUMONGOUS fart.  Now this wasn’t any old fart.  This resonated, even outside, it sounded like a fog horn that had trill-like quality to it.  At least four other people turned around to see who had done such a repulsive thing in public…and there he sat…happy as a clam, grinning brightly with his only two teeth.

Did you really just do that? Ugh. So nast.

If that wasn’t enough, he proceeded to then FART AGAIN.  Yes, you heard me right, he actually farted again.  This one was significantly smaller, but still.  Who does that?!

So you see, what started off as any old day, turned into quite a farty old day.

I should have figured.

P.S.  Matt came up with the name for this blog.  Isn’t that cute?

To Run Or Not To Run, That Is The Question?!

When I don’t have any new music to work-out to, I inevitably become unmotivated.  It happens to me all the time.  When there isn’t anything new pumping me up, I end up just watching the little timer on whatever machine I’m on, tick-tock-tick-tocking away, until IT’S FINALLY OVER!  There is no greater moment, than when I’m done.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy exercise, I really do, but I’m one of those people who needs to be distracted while doing so, or else I become resentful of the whole idea to begin with.  However, when I have new and exciting music to inspire me, I can work out for hours without even thinking about.

Lately I’ve tried EVERYTHING in seek of new things to preoccupy myself with while exercising, but I’ve come up totally empty.  I’ve solicited music recommendations on Facebook, and I’ve even tried listening to audio books on my iPod, which began a whirlwind love affair for a minute, until one day I was so over audio books that I never want to hear one ever again.

Today, I decided to do something different with my work-out regime, and attempted to go for a run outside, instead of my usual elliptical routine mixed with weight training.  I’ve been feeling cooped up inside lately, and I thought that maybe it might be nice to not listen to any music and to just enjoy the beautiful sites of Grenada.  I don’t run very much at all anymore, with the exception of the 5K I did on September 11th, but it’s something I used to do all the time.  As I was lacing up my sneakers, I couldn’t remember why I hadn’t been running in so long?

I went outside and began what was supposed to be a lovely little nature run, and I got about twenty minutes in, and I remembered why I had taken a hiatus from running.

Because (pardon my french) running sucks.

At least in my opinion, it does.

Ugh.  I hadn’t been running, because I freaking hate running!  How did I fail not to remember that?

Here’s the kicker about running…

Ummm...So I kind of hate the term "FML" but this deserves a big ol' FML.

Just like this picture says, by the time you realize you’re not in shape for it, you’re past the point of no return.  That’s exactly what happened to me.  I was jogging along, until I realized I was totally and utterly over it.  Now if I’m honest, I probably realized I was over it about .5 seconds into it, but I was in denial.  I tried to use reverse psychology on myself, and when my mind started gearing toward the negative thought of, “This kinda blows,” I tried to tell myself it was so wonderful to running outside with all these lovely sites to see, and I even tried to think happier thoughts like,”Hooray, what a marvelous run this is!”  However, it was not working.  Not one bit.  I was over it, and I knew it.

Now I’m not sure if it was the uneven ground that I almost broke my back on, or if it was the strange man across the street carrying a machete (Btdubs, don’t be alarmed at this at all.  I swear it’s totally normal for people to carry around machetes here) but something made this experience hit a sour note.  Maybe it was just simply the fact that I was sweating profusely and tired as hell?  Yeah, that was probably it.  Either way, all in one moment, I was done.

So, now what?

I almost hailed a reggae bus (which is basically equivalent to a cab around here), but I realized I had no money, hence the work-out clothes.  Ugh.

I had no other choice but to walk the whole way back (which now in retrospect wasn’t all that far), but at the time, I was not in the mood.  The whole way home I cursed running, and vowed to never ever embark upon such a wretched journey ever again.

So there.

Oh yeah, and me and running?  Well, today we broke up.  Forever.

~The End

Photo by someecards.com