Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A San Francisco Wedding

Well I'm back (in Massachusetts) from my California adventure and trying to dry out after a crazy San Francisco wedding extravaganza. Weddings these days seem to be very long events with many nights of overindulgence. But so much fun! And this wedding (while exceptional and awesome in many ways) was no exception. It was a fabulous time! But let me start at the beginning to give you all a proper update of my California adventuure.

First of all I travelled to California with my parents. This was a strange experience since we had never been on a plane together. Despite the fact that I am an International Woman of Mystery and my brother lives in Barcelona half the time, my parents are pretty much homebodies.Oh yeah - we rebel!

Although a bit strange to travel with Mom and Dad, the experience was actually kind of nice. I felt a small comfort that reduced the fear of flying when I realized if I died on the plane, at least I would be with the people I loved (although I did have a few moments of panic about what would happen to my brother if we all died together on the plane and also a bit of a panic about my brother's flight - he was en route to San Fran from Barcelona at the same time - but overall panic level was down a bit as happens when you are with your Mom). Also, when I couldn't get the top off of my vodka (the family that flies together, drinks together) Dad was there to help me out! Nice.

First stop in California was Sunnyvale where my Aunt and Uncle live. Sunnyvale did live up to it's name - it was sunny the entire time we were there. We took a ride and went out to the Redwood Forest - which I had never seen before - to check out the old and gigantic trees. But mostly we sat around and caught up on family stuff and ate tortilla chips. Not but for real. A BIG BAG of tortilla chips was consumed - see below for a very American image (remember what I said about Americans and their love for the SUPER SIZE)?

Then we headed into San Fransisco for the beginning of the wedding festivities.

Let me start by saying that I thought a lot about Mark Twain while in San Fran (at least the first day). Mark Twain infamously said: "The coldest winter I ever spent, was a summer in San Francisco." Boy did those words ring true. BRRRRRR! I knew that I was going to be clothing challenged when we drove through the streets of San Fran on the way to the hotel and everyone was wearing heavy coats, scarves and even gloves in some cases and the wind was whipping their hair everywhere. People looked COLD! I suddenly had a bad feeling that my suitcase full of shorts and sundresses were not going to cut it. I did not even bring a jacket! I knew it was supposed to be cold, but I wasn't expecting it to be THAT cold! Note to you all: if you are in San Francisco in the summer, bring your winter clothes.

The first wedding related activity was a wine soiree at Terroir - home of natural and organic wines and a very cool place. It was nice to see C and S - the bride and groom - and meet and mingle with the rest of the people in the wedding party - especially the lovely Maid of Honor J. At this point I must introduce the Best Man to the story as every story needs a cute guy as either the hero or the villain - or both (I think the best man could be either one depending on the perspective). First of all. I have known the Best Man since we were very young. Second of all I actually used to BABYSIT the Best Man when he was young. Third of all - boy grew up to be HOT! Imagine Mathew McConaughey (although possibly without the abs - and no, I did not check). Actually, forget that, imagine him with the abs because that makes it better. But seriously, he was totally Matthew McCoounghy in looks and in mannerisms and even voice. Actually, thank you Google image search, he totally looks like the two pictures of Mr. McConaughey below. I did a side-by-side comparison (I don't show people pics here but friends check out my Facebook page if you are curious) and it's eerie:


Unfortunately, as if trying to live up to his movie star look-alike, Best Man was not only was he married, but Best Man brought another woman to the wedding/wedding activities! Thus the hero or the villain comment. I will not comment any further (God knows that I can't judge anyone else) except to say that several things I witnessed on this trip (not just with him) lead me to conclude that relationships in California are a bit more fluid then those back here in the conservative East. Well glad that CA lives up to it's hippie free love reputation. But to me the Best Man was a hero for making some good eye candy and being someone to inappropriately flirt with.

Side note: So, the Best Man kept calling my brother and I the dynamic duo. He reminded us of the fact that we were all in this after school care program (for children whose parents worked - not in any way as common back in those days as it is now) and that my brother and I essentially took over the whole group and made them play crazy games that we invented. We also made them sing a lot of songs if I recall. The adult actual leaders could never actually get any of the kids to do anything because my brother and I were always stealing the show! Well, some thing never change... Ha ha...

The second day in San Fran reared it's ugly head with a wicked hangover - thank you organic wines (although I fared better than most of the rest of the people who were up until at least 4 am with us, my brother was praying to the porcelain God and the bride hadn't slept all night). I decided that I would suck it up and go out and about with my parents - also suffering from hangovers. We went down to the docks and walked around in the cold foggy San Francisco morning weather. Of course I had to take the requisite photo of the Golden Gate Bridge - see below. The amazing thing is just about right after this picture was taken, the fog cleared off and it became a sunny beautiful (almost warm) day.

The evening culminated with the rehearsal dinner - which really had nothing to do with a rehearsal and more to do with gathering family (in our case almost-family) for a pre-wedding dinner. The venue for this event was Millennium which served awesome vegan food (vegans and non-vegans alike should seriously check this out). I should note that the bride and groom are long term vegans and many of the younger people at the wedding were vegans or vegetarians as well. As for me after 15 years of being a vegetarian, a little vegan food is fine with me. As for my parents and the rest of the older generation, I think they were crying a little bit and missing their steak. Oh well. It's good for them to live a little!

But now to focus a bit on the main event: the non-traditonal and very unique wedding of C and S. But first, a bit about C...

C is a very old and dear friend. In fact, I have known C since before he was born - he is four years my junior. He is for all purposes "my other brother." Most of the events of my younger life include C. His parents and mine have been best friends since before I was born. Over the years we have spent a lot of time with him and his family. In fact when we were younger, our parents would hire one baby sitter for the three of us while they went out and partied. I have spent more New Year's Eves with my brother and my "other brother" then anyone else (we even met up as adults on New Year's Eve 3 years back in San Fran - although none of us really remember that night). As adults we have taken over the party train from our parents in a way that we think would make their younger selves proud even though it makes their adult selves not so happy with us at times. But like mother like daughter... like father like son... right? The party tradition between our families lives on!

But as younger brothers tend to do... C has grown up into a very handsome, interesting and just kind of really awesome guy (not that he wasn't when he was younger - but who ever thinks their younger brother is all that cool) who met an absolutely beautiful woman. The irony is that C, the youngest brother, got married first! Who would have guessed (well probably anyone who knows my brother and I).

C and I have not been in touch as much as adults (although he does read this blog) but I absolutely consider him to be family and I hope that I will have a chance to hang out with him much more in the future as well as get to know the beautiful and lovely S a bit better.

As you know I'm very fond of lists...

So, here are the best things about C and S's wedding in San Fransisco in list format:

The amazing wedding venue. It was held at the Foreign Cinema  in a very nice and bright room. If you are in San Fran, I highly recommend that you go to dinner there.

C's amazing Paul Frank very slim tuxedo

S's beautiful purple and black Betsey Johnson dress (that's right, she decided to completely forgo the traditional white wedding dress) that looked fabulous on her

The awesome ukulele music played by my brother as the bride and groom walked down the aisle and the looping later on

The great rendition of "Such Great Heights" by my brother and the Maid of Honor - who by the way also looked fabulous!

C's college roommate serving as the justice of the peace and doing an amazing job at telling the story of C and S while interweaving life lessons learned from C and S. My favorite part was when he described C's progressive taste in music as "robots meeting robots."

Both the bride's Father and Mother walked her down the aisle

The bride and groom said their own vows

The parents of the bride and groom were asked if they approved of the marriage (and of course both said 'we do').

The Best Man's speech which for some hilarious yet inappropriate reason managed to include a story about C crossing the Mexican boarder (and I quote) "with a pill of Ecstasy strapped where the sun don't shine." Luckily I think that most of the adults missed the reference (or at least my mother did).

The long poem read and written by the Best Man about Frankenstein-esq Monster (which he said was NOT a metaphor for the relationship of C and S) meeting another Monster and falling in love. A bit of a strange choice... however, I guess at the end of the day, we are all monsters and love is indiscriminate and can make even the most terrible monsters human.

The amazing tapas style food catering to both vegans and meat eaters alike, that was passed around all night -especially the amazing watermelon dish with pine nuts and goat cheese (sounds gross but was soo good - wish I could get the recipe). The funny thing about the food was in the beginning it seemed that everyone was panicked that they wouldn't have enough to eat so some scavengers were literally standing by the door the waiters were coming out of and grabbing as much food as they could. OK, I admit I was kinda one of those people. About an hour into the food serving I asked my parents who were not scavenging food by the door, if they had anything to eat yet and both hadn't! I felt bad and scavenged them some food. However... there was really no need to panic as the food went on being passed all night and I'm pretty sure that by the end of the night everyone had more than their fill. I swear my dad must have eaten 20 plates.

The nightclub Vessel where we went afterwards where things got even wilder and dancing on the tables ensued. And the best part was that the majority of the wedding (old people included in both the club going and the table dancing) actually joined and we shut down the club! Oh yeah!

The after party in the bride and groom's suite where we continued to dance and overindulge but at the end of the night most passed out in bed with the bride and groom and chatted about the highlights of the night (I told you this was not a traditional wedding).

The only thing that was not fun about the wedding is that I had an 11 am flight with my parents the next day. Mom's wake up call came just one hour after I fell asleep. Ugh. But I survived - and luckily I lived to tell about it.

Congratulations C and S!
Your wedding was fabulous. I had such a great time and it was so good to see you. I'm sad to be missing the East Coast event as I'm sure it will be a good time, but I hope to catch up with you again soon. You are always welcome wherever I am. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rugged vs. Glamorous

I know you are all waiting for an update on my Fab trip to California. But I'm going to keep you in suspense a bit longer as I think that a wedding of a friend who is like a brother to me needs some serious space and by default time spent writing and I'm kind of tired. So, stay tuned for an awesome update on an awesome trip. But in the meantime, I leave you with the following little post about something that happened to me tonight.

But first, those of you who know me, before you begin reading this... please try to think of adjectives that you would use to describe me. Ok. Did you do it? Good (I know you were only thinking nice things - ha ha). But hold that thought and read on.

So tonight... I'm walking through the streets of Northampton, Massachusetts trying to get my burrito fix after a tough gym workout (I miss Mexican food when in Europe so I tend to eat copious amounts of it when I'm in the US to make up for the fact that all Mexican food outside of the US and Mexico is really bad - oh, with the exception of Maya in Shanghai) when a homeless and/or crazy man (as they often are) walks up to me and goes " You are so rugged. So rugged. Beautiful, but so rugged and so beautiful." Umm... Ok...

First of all. It seems like only in America do random strangers on the street feel the need to comment on your appearance, your attitude, whatever... This is a very common thing (especially in the streets of Northampton) although usually people give me positive comments such as "I like your outfit." "I like your shoes." "Where did you get that dress?" "You have a beautiful smile." "A beautiful girl like you should not be walking alone." - These are all comments directed at me that I have heard on the streets of Northampton before. But no one has ever called me rugged.

Second of all. Give me a break buddy. I had just been to the gym where I had a good 2 hour workout and I was still in my sweaty gym clothes with my sweaty hair plastered to my head. I had no makeup on (except for whatever was still smudged under my eyes from the wedding I went to 2 nights ago). I hadn't showered in over 2 days and had endured a long hungover plane ride back from San Fran. And even though it was evening, it was still over 80 degrees and humid out (note that I have manged to convert back to Fahrenheit). Basically, I wasn't exactly looking my best although I also didn't care... I was at the gym!

But still... rugged? Please see the description of rugged below. Does this sound like me? For those of you who know me, was that an adjective you came up with?

1. having a roughly broken, rocky, hilly, or jagged surface: rugged ground.
2. (of a face) wrinkled or furrowed, as by experience or the endurance of hardship.
3. roughly irregular, heavy, or hard in outline or form; craggy: Lincoln's rugged features.
4. rough, harsh, or stern, as persons or nature.
5. full of hardship and trouble; severe; hard; trying: a rugged life.
6. tempestuous; stormy: rugged weather.
7. harsh to the ear: rugged sounds.
8. rude, uncultivated, or unrefined.
9. homely or plain: rugged fare.
10. capable of enduring hardship, wear, etc.; strong and tough: rugged floor covering; a rugged lumberjack.

1. uneven, irregular, craggy. 4. austere. 6. turbulent. 7. grating, cacophonous. 8. unpolished, crude.

In fact, I would say that the adjective most used to describe me would be Glamorous... See the definition of Glamorous below. After reading both descriptions, those of you who know me, which one best describes me? Rugged? Or Glamorous?


1. full of glamour; charmingly or fascinatingly attractive, esp. in a mysterious or magical way.
2. full of excitement, adventure, and unusual activity: the glamorous job of a foreign correspondent.

1. captivating, beguiling, fascinating, alluring, bewitching.

Glamorous is an adjective that I try to live up to for the most part - by making sure my hair is shiny and well highlighted (no roots for me), wearing makeup (at least mascara) whenever I go out even to the gym (tonight was an exception), keeping my clothes simple but well put together in a classic yet slightly sexy fashion, tending to er on the side of being overdressed rather than under-dressed, keeping my skin soft and moisturized, wearing alluring scents (vanilla being my all time favorite) wearing high heels... Also glamorousness (which the dictionary is telling me is not a word but I don't care) is a lifestyle that I try to embody: having interesting things to say, being well read, keeping up with the news and pop culture, being well traveled, having an interesting life. As the dictionary says - full of adventure, excitement and unusual activity. I mean what International Woman of Mystery isn't glamorous?

But I do admit, I do draw the line at putting much effort into looking glamorous at the gym. I mean even an International Woman of Mystery like myself can't be glamorous all the time. And getting glammed up and looking beautiful at the gym is just not my thing. I'm not there to socialize - I'm there for a good work out. And in typical American fashion, I often don't shower at the gym choosing to do that at home instead and sometimes I stop for food or something on the way home and I try not to worry too much about the impression I'm making on others because most of time when not coming right from the gym... I know that I am glamorous!

But hey... to put it all in perspective, he did tell me I was beautiful. I guess it could have been worse...

Monday, June 21, 2010

About Americans

I have been in the US for just over a week now. This week I had the pleasure of spending most of the week in Boston. Which by the way was totally awesome. Thanks to my friends L and L for hosting me.

I've therefore had a bit of time to observe Americans and their behaviour. I would like to therefore offer up a few reflections I have "About Americans."

American women all have nicely pedicured toes - seriously, I dare you to find one woman between the ages of 15 and 45 who doesn't have cute little painted toes. The first thing I did upon arriving back in the great old USA? You got it. I booked myself right in for a much needed pedicure! (By the way, I also got an awesome Shellac manicure. It's a long lasting one. It dries in 2 minutes and is supposed to last for 2 weeks. I'm the type of girl who completely destroys my manicure the second I get to the car, but with this - so far, so good. I totally recommend).

Flip Flops are definitely the summer shoe of choice - Havainas being the most popular at the moment. Skinny jeans (finally arriving here in America) and flip flops seemed to be the wardrobe of choice for women in Boston. But both men and women rock flip flops here. They are worn EVERYWHERE and with everything. With suits at the office, with bridesmaid dresses, with wedding dresses, with shorts, with skirts with dresses and now with skinny jeans...

Americans love their sports teams (especially the Bostonians) - I got to watch the final game of the NBA tournament from Boston - featuring the Boston Celtics vs. the LA Lakers. Unfortunately, the Celtics lost, but it was still an experience to watch a Boston team play a game from a Boston sports bar. First of all this sports bar must have had around 40 televisions lining every free wall space in the very spacious bar. Second, almost everyone was wearing Celtics shirts (at least all the men were and many of the women). Third, everyone was drinking beer - out of plastic cups no less... I started to have flash backs to college right especially since by the end of the night my flip flops were absolutely sticking to the floor so bad I had to pry them off with quite a bit of effort with every step.

Americans are SUPER SIZED. Ok, obviously, not all Americans are huge (although that is the stereotype), but you definitely see a lot more super sized (well fat actually) people here. At least once a day when I'm out and about, I see a person who is just uncomfortably HUGE. In Europe, I don't think I've even seen one person who I've felt is alarmingly super sized American fat. But, just in general, Americans are big. Especially the men. Broad shoulders, big arms, big beer bellies - even the guys who are hot and fit (like the American boy who by the way I did get to meet) are still just big... It's just not the same in Europe. As one American man put it - "I just can't wear European clothing, it's too slim fit for me. I can't fit my shoulders or arms or legs in them." Hmm... why is that? Growth hormones anyone? Or possibly it's the SUPER SIZED proportions - seriously the proportions here are so out of control. Please show me another country where a "doggy bag" is such a common necessity.

American men wear very baggy (and bad) clothes. Ok, as I'm in honest person, I'm just going to say it. Most American men dress terribly! Big baggy jeans. Big unflattering suits. KHAKIS! Ewww... Sports T-shirts. Sneakers. Shorts! Yuck! I am already missing the sleek and tailored (ok, yes slightly metro) way that European men dress. My American girlfriends find it hilarious that I prefer this style to the American style (they think it's beyond metro and swear they could never date a guy who wears skinny jeans). They laugh at the fact that last summer the Beautiful Swede showed up at a Boston bar in Southie with white linen tailored pants, a baby blue collared shirt and a pink (yes pink) sweater over his shoulders and then proceeded to order a glass of Rose wine. The even more hilarious thing in their eyes is that I didn't even notice that this might be out of the ordinary until they proceeded to point it out to me. I have become Europeanized! To be honest, the way he dressed (and ordered Rose) was not at all abnormal in Sweden. I guess men there are just more comfortable with their sexuality and well way better dressers! I could never date a sloppy baggy jeaned American man!

Americans in general are very polite - this never fails to impress me. They are very curteous, they always give compliments and they seem to go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and at ease.

Americans get married very young and the women wear ridiculously sized diamond rings - I have noticed that I am an anomaly being over 30 and not sporting a huge rock on my left finger. This is less uncommon in Europe and certainly there seems to be less pressure to get married (and spend your entire savings on a ring) when you are young.

Americans are not as crazy about the World Cup as the rest of the world - While people are watching the World Cup here, there is not the same kind of frenzied excitement and activity that surrounds such a momentous event that I have experienced while living abroad during the last two world cups. The last two World Cups I had the pleasure of watching it in the same time zone (i.e. I was in Asia - Bali - when the World Cup was in Japan/Korea and in Stockholm when it was in Germany). There is definitely something to be said for being in the right time zone to watch the games (i.e. it's easier to watch them at the bar). The funny thing is that most children play "soccer" but we are not that used to watching it on television for some reason. I have not managed to watch a single game yet and I'm very disappointed in myself... I have unfortunately not had a free moment since I returned to the US, but that's another story.

Taxis in the USA are not very nice - whether eating in a restaurant, getting served at a bar, buying something at the supermarket or a clothing store, Americans tend to provide service with a smile and assume that the customer is always right. In a country with a strong customer service focus and in general excellent service, the one place where I find it appallingly lacking is when you get into a taxi. (probably because most taxi drivers tend to be recent immigrants...) But inevitably you end up with a driver who speaks little to no English and ignores your directions as he yells madly into his cell phone (yes, here it's a cell phone and not a mobile phone) - which I can't believe is even allowed here! It's not allowed in Sweden or the UK that's for sure. Also, I have to say that in Sweden and the UK, the taxi drivers are always very professional. And even in Sweden they speak way better English then the typical American taxi driver.

Americans have finally caught on to cool phone technology. It was not too long ago that while their European and Asian counterparts lost in their world of "texting," had forgotten that mobile phones can still be used to make phone calls, most Americans didn't even know how to send a simple text message. Times have changed and Americans seemed to have caught with and even surpassed their global counterparts. Thanks to Blackberries and Iphones that is. It seems like every American is typing away all the time on one of those two devices. Even both my parents have Blackberries which is just plain wierd.

Granted these are just my observations from the East Coast. I'm headed out west to San Fransisco for the rest of these week to participate in wedding number 3 of the 5 weddings I will attend this summer. I think it's going to be a great time. I'm looking forward to it! So in case you are wondering if the West Coast is any different (or if I will ever meet any cute boys this summer) well stay tuned for a West Coast update!

Hope you all are enjoying the summer!

Monday, June 14, 2010

USA Update

So, I have officially been back in the USA for 4 days now. I got in late last Thursday so therefore today is officially my 4th day here. It is also my 4th day off of work. I have taken Friday and Monday off as vacation but plan to work out of Boston for the rest of the week.

Because my last post went on and on forever and ever, this time I will spare you the details and instead leave you with a very short list (relatively speaking) about what I've been up to since I landed back Stateside because I'm sure you are all very curious about what I'm up to and if I'm at all living up to my vacation to-do list. So, here goes:

First of all, I'm very happy to tell you all that I got CARDED on the plane on the way to the US! What is going on here? This is the second time in the past month (I must be doing something right). We didn't actually get to the point of me needing to show my actual ID. However, she did ask my age in a very skeptical tone and when I told her that I was the very old age of 32 she burst out laughing (and embarrassingly, so did everyone around me) and she actually said: "Wow. You look no older than 18!!" Well, that might have been stretching it a bit. But it did make my day err.... well, my week actually.

Since arriving home to my parent's house in Western Massachusetts, I have been very disappointed in the terrible cold and rainy weather. Blah! Where is summer? I want to lay by the pool!

On Saturday I attended the wedding of one of my oldest friend S. Despite the pouring rain, the wedding and the reception were fantastic! At this point I have to give a shout out to S. I have known S since we were 3 years old and we went to elementary school together. S and I have a long history that dates all the way back to his first bowl cut (over the years for some reason he chose to sport a bowl cut hairstyle most off the time). In elementary school he was like the way too "cool" kid who was always bullying everyone else. In high school he was the typical popular guy who played every sport. He was the guy who relentlessly teased everyone - although I think that he suffered his fair share of well-deserved teasing back. In college, he was the smart engineering student who knew how to have a good time and still get top grades.

Somewhere between elementary school and high school S and I became good friends and that friendship lasted us all the way to college at UNH. Over the years we have shared a lot of memories and good times (and some bad such as the infamous night that I split my head open at his girlfriend's apartment in college - oops). In high school he was a star basketball player and me being the cheerleader I was always had his name and even made up a special cheer for him (yes, we did relive this at the wedding). In college I remember driving home with S in TRUCK (pronounced loudly TRRRUUUCK) - it was a slow going ride since Truck only had 4 gears. People would joke that one day we would get together (I mean that's what you do in small towns right)? But S and I never had a romantic interest in each other. He is like a brother to me and I hope a friend for life.

I'm so happy that S found a beautiful bride in N. They are a beautiful couple I wish them the best of luck!

The wedding enabled me to to catch up with 2 of my best friends from high school who I went to the wedding with. So great to see them!

I also got to catch up with many other friends from high school mostly the high school "boys" at the wedding. Funny how quickly we all revert back to our high school selves and even the way we used to talk... As the mother of the groom said, "You all have such a special bond, and whenever you see each other, you pick right up where you left off." She is right...

As I so often do lately, I managed to feel out of place being one of the only single people as well as one of the few people without children - I guzzled gin and tonics as the couples went on and on about children. Not that I blame them or hold it against them (I'm sure I would be doing it too), it's just that I can't really relate and I certainly have nothing to contribute.

After a night of hearing my friends who are new parents talk about the early 5 am "wake up calls" from the kids and watching the married couples interact (not always in a very encouraging way) I have decided that I am in NO RUSH TO GET MARRIED OR HAVE CHILDREN! Perhaps single life is not all that bad...

I marvelled at the differences between American and Swedish weddings including: at this American wedding most guests (including the Maid of Honor) seemed to be wearing black which is a big "no no" in Sweden, the DJ serves as the person who gets the wedding going rather than the toast master, American weddings tend to have an emphasis on family members while the Swedish wedding has an emphasis on friends, the religious American ceremony vs. the very short and non-religious Swedish one, and the fact that the American wedding ended around midnight while the Swedish one raged on all night. Up next a San Fransisco wedding. We will see how that compares.

I have been trying to wean myself away from work but so far it's only been met with minimal success. Today while I was taking a nap (as you do on vacation) I had work stress dreams the whole time. I also have been unable to stop checking my blackberry (that damn blinking red light) and tonight and last night I actually found myself working for 2 hours! I hope I can find it in me to really leave work behind for awhile once I get through this week.

Today (Monday) the sun peaked its way through the clouds for exactly one hour. Unfortunately, that hour exactly coincided with the contractors who my parents hired to work on rebuilding our barn (no idea why this is important -it's not as if we have barn animals or anything). So, I sat in the house feeling very sorry for myself that I was missing the sun since there was really no way that I could strut out in my bikini in front of the 5 workmen. Thank you Mom and Dad for this great planning. I've been dreaming of a day at the pool for so long! I guess I have to wait a couple more weeks.

In general, I have been feeling a bit stressed and am not in vacation mode at all (probably because I know I have to work the rest of this week) I've been running around trying to sort out things, do work, get to the gym, etc. It has so far been anything but relaxing and so far I have not really crossed a single thing off my to do list and I'm struggling to find time to even sleep. And with this week in Boston and next week in San Fran, it doesn't seem like I will have much down time. Well, I guess that is the life of an International Woman of Mystery. I guess I should just get used to the fast pace.

I'm off to Boston for the rest of the week to work out of the office there and of course - have some adventures. Will keep you posted. So, stay tuned for a Boston update!

Have a great week!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Fantastic Swedish Wedding Weekend

I can't believe that the whole week has gotten away with me and I haven't managed to post my blog about my amazing whirlwind weekend in Stockholm last weekend! I'm now back in the US (more on that later) and have finally found the time to finish this post, so here goes.

Let me begin by summarizing the weekend in some bullet points.
During my Stockholm whirwind wedding weekend I:

  • Grabbed a quick catch up with my Fab friend A by staying at her place
  • Took a massive digger (he he - I love that word - it means fall in case anyone is not up on the American slang) while running in the park in Kungsholmen - amazingly I managed to fit in two long runs on my crazy busy trip
  • Worked out of the Stockholm office for a day and caught up with my team there over a nice lunch
  • Sat outside of Diplomat and had a glass of Rose while watching the crazy student trucks drive by - Gotta love the student trucks*
  • Celebrated my birthday with a dinner at Josefina's followed by dancing at Cafe Opera with my great Swedish friends
  • Attended a totally fabulous wedding of an amazing couple in the Swedish countryside in the bestest Swedish weather ever!
  • Danced up a storm at the wedding
  • Met one ex boyfriend at the wedding
  • Decided that I preferred my 23 year old dinner partner to the ex boyfriend who was at the wedding
  • Suffered a massively delayed hangover that came on in the middle of the wedding dinner (probably caused by the reaction of my body to new alcohol consumption after way too much the night before) so I spent a good hour and a half basically sweating, unable to eat or talk and just focusing all my attention on not throwing up (truly impressing both of my dinner partners)
  • Managed to somehow shake off the hangover and make an amazing come back including finding my way back to the booze, dancing up a storm, finding sustenance at 2 am in 3 sausages (hot dogs to you Americans) and staying up until about 5 in the morning
  • Fended off a phone call from the beautiful Swede who was either calling because he saw I was in Stockholm or calling because it was my birthday (I didn't answer - aren't you proud)?
  • Was so happy for both the couple that got married and also for my friend A who has just moved back to Stockholm from London and started a new life and found a new amazing man - maybe there is hope for me yet!
  • Managed to sleep only a total of 8 hours in 3 nights (and that might even be an exageration - it could have been more like 6)
 And now for the dirty details:

Ok. Let me start by saying. I NEED TO MOVE BACK TO STOCKHOLM! They say home is where your heart is and my heart is definitely in Stockholm with my friends... And yes, I know all you Swedes are probably thinking that I'm just being lured into thinking I want to return by the beautiful Swedish weather that made the weekend so wonderful (and is unfortunately not the weather pattern 99% of the time). Yes... that did have an impact. But those of you close to me know that even in the dead of winter, I was missing Stockholm badly and saying I needed to move back. But more on why I love Sweden so much later. It deserves a full blog post in itself.

Back to the weekend. So I arrived in Stockholm late Friday night and decided to stay with my friend A. Since she had to work the whole weekend (she has some kind of secret life where she rides around in helicopters on weekends, meets celebrities and MC's huge events - who knew!) I decided to stay with her so that we could find some time in between our crazy schedules to catch up. That time ended up being late Thursday night where we sat on her balcony and talked. A is a former colleague who has recently left London to return to Stockholm. She is so happy with her decision to leave London and has herself a great new job and a great new man. Basically a new and fabulous life. She inspires me. I need to make some positive changes like that (but more on that later).

Unfortunately... I had some minor issues with sleeping. First of all A didn't have any curtains in her apartment which is not that unusual for a Swede - I don't think I had any in my apartment in Sweden (at least not good ones that really kept out the light). You do get used to the light when you live in Sweden. But the problem was: I WAS NOT USED TO THE LIGHT. Below is a picture of what it looks like at midnight in Stockholm. This picture was taken from my friend's apartment. Basically that's as dark as it gets. And I usually think this is kind of awesome and it's one of the reasons I love Sweden (unfortunately you do compensate for this in the winter of course), but I learned the hard way that if you are not used to it anymore, it's difficult to sleep. Note to self: bring a sleep mask next time. The whole sleeping situation was not really helped by the fact that I was sleeping on an air mattress that kept deflating. Seriously, I'm starting to hate air mattresses or maybe they just hate me. This is the third time in a row that I have slept on an air mattress that deflated throughout the night. There is nothing like waking up a few hours later on the floor with the deflated air mattress surrounding you.

This was the darkest it got all night in Stockholm:

So, the next day after a good half hour to one hour of sleep, I decided that I would go for a morning jog cuz I'm kind crazy like that. But perhaps because of lack of sleep or probably more likely just REALLY bad luck and because stupid things have a way of happening to me, I manage to get into a small situation while running... Ok - this is for real. I don't know how it happened, but somehow I manage to get both feet stuck in a hair tie on the ground (one of those big headband ones that go around your whole head). Seriously, somehow both of my feet manage to get inside that thing and I go flying up and away through the air landing several feet away on my but and my hand which immediately begins to gush blood. I can't decide at that point whether to laugh of cry. But finally decide that laughter is the only option because I must be a super talented person in order to get both feet stuck in a hair tie while running. I stand up, brush myself off and continue running cuz that's how awesome and hardcore I am!

But luckily the weather was beautiful and that gave me the energy to get through the day despite my lack of sleep and my bruised but. And the Stockholm office and my team had a positive vibe so that helped. We had a nice lunch and then I managed to sneak away a bit early and take a short much needed nap. Then off to meet my girlfriends at Josefina's which is a fun open air bar on the water. The thing about Stockholm is I have GREAT GIRLFRIENDS and I have a LOT of girlfriends. We were 15 girls for dinner. And it was so great to see them all again. I miss them like crazy. After dinner we went to Cafe Opera where A - the girl I was staying with - showed up with her hot new man. Seriously, I'm so happy for A. And I'm so proud of her for figuring out that younger men (she is 7 years older) are the way to go! I have been telling her this for ages.

After a way too brief sleep, it was morning and it was time to wake up up and beutify myself for the wedding for the wedding. The thing is despite a few too many drinks the night before, I felt good when I woke up. But by the time I met my friends to drive to the wedding, I was feeling a bit shaky. Too much champagne and Rose the night before... But I soon forgot about it as soon as we got out to the church. It was another beautiful day and the bride was absolutely gorgeous. And the bride and groom just seemed in a bubble of absolute and complete love for each other! It was picture perfect.

I have to now make a small comment about this wonderful couple that got married. They are the BEST! S was my absolutely craziest single girlfriend in Stockholm. As far as I know, until meeting the guy she married, she had never had a relationship lasting more than a few weeks. She was one of the most fun girls I know (she still is - I don't really mean to be putting it in the past tense here - other than now she is married and I'm speaking of her former single self). She called men cookies and she sure had a lot of cookies around. We worked together and it was always the highlight of my day to meet her over a cup of coffee and hear stories about all her "cookies." She is the only girl I know who had the stamina to go on 5 dates a week. She introduced me to Internet dating (literally, she signed me up for a Swedish dating site one day when I was taking a shower and she was waiting for me because she felt that I needed to meet more "cookies"). You could say that she was my dating mentor or at least my dating inspiration.

And then one day she met her prince - it was at a work party (of course). She was about to move to Switzerland for work and he was living there and working for our company. I obviously kept in touch with her while she was away and based on that they were soon living together, I realized that this "cookie" was someone serious. And when he left his job and moved back to Sweden, she soon followed him. This was not a surprise, but I have to say that when she told me she was pregnant (less than a year after they met) I was a bit taken aback - although extremely happy for her. I'm happy to report that they now have an absolutely beautiful baby girl. My expectations were high for their wedding as they are both such a fun outgoing and kind couple. I have to say - that I was not disappointed. Their wedding was so amazing. And the way they looked at each other! It was as if there was no one else in the room. And he is such a nice guy! I often have said that he is like the boy version of my friend S. I'm so happy for my friend S. I love the story of how she meet her final "cookie" and I love how quickly they decided to build a life together. They just seemed to know immediately that they were meant to be - and it was obvious to everyone else as well. I wish them the best for the future and lifetime of love and happiness. And I wish that someday soon I will suddenly meet "the one" and it will happen just as fast and be just as natural. But as the saying goes, "you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince." Well, I'm still kissing frogs... but I'm hoping that my prince is just around the corner. I'm trying to stay hopeful.

The wedding reception was held at a castle overlooking a large lake and all the guests were staying over in assigned dormitory style rooms. It was a beautiful place for a reception. And a beautiful day - see picture below. We drank champagne outside on the lawn before heading in to dinner. I was feeling much better and looking forward to the rest of the evening and the champagne was going down nicely. But suddenly half way through dinner and after one glass of wine, I got the shakes and broke out into a cold sweat. And just like that a horrible delayed hangover hit me and knocked me out! Perhaps because the room was so crowded, perhaps because I forced alcohol into my fragile body way too early, perhaps because the appetizer course did not sit well with me... I don't know! But I felt BAD. So bad that I considered leaving the dinner and going to lay down. But I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to disappoint my friend. It was a small wedding and I worried that my absence would be missed. So, I decided to do my best to struggle through.


The thing about Swedish wedding dinners is that they are LONG and full of entertaining toasts and speeches (in Swedish - which means they are not that entertaining to me) about the couple from the friends and relatives. There is an assigned toast master and they guide you through the dinner and keep the pace between the different coarses and the toasts. The last Swedish wedding I went to, we sat down for dinner at 6 and got up at 1 am and witnessed THIRTY toasts! (Ok - I guess even by Swedish standards that wedding was an exception). But still... I knew this would be a long evening so when I started to feel bad, I began to panic.  

The other thing about Swedish weddings is that you do not sit with your date (which was fine for me since obviously I didn't have one). It is customary to spread guests out guy, girl throughout the room and Swedes tend to put a lot of thought into who sits with who. Between toasts, you are expected to talk to both your dinner partners on either side as the bride and groom have usually put them next to you because they think you have something in common. This time was no exception. I had great dinner partners. On one side was the best man who had lived in Boston for years and had previously worked for my company - he was very interesting and had lots of energy and enthusiasm. On the other side was a hot 23 year old guy who was also interesting and engaging but in a very different way - mostly being that he was cute and single and smart - although oh so young. I felt absolutely embarrassed by the fact that suddenly I went from being my usual social (and flirty) self to being almost dead silent. I ended up having to apologize to both my dinner partners and embarrisngly had to admit to them that suddenly I didn't feel well so I was sorry for being so quiet. They seemed to forgive me but both continued to pepper me with questions to which I gave one word answers while trying not to upchuck my dinner all over the table. Although determined to make it through dinner, at one point I was sure that after the dinner I would have to sneak away and go to sleep and skip the rest of the evening. Seriously. It was THAT BAD. I was suffering big time.

But, I'm happy to report that as quickly as my delayed hangover came on, it went away. I suffered through a terrible hour and a half of cold sweats while focusing all my attention on not being sick. But by the time the cake was cut, I was able to actually have a piece although I continued to have to forgo the alcohol for small sips of water throughout dinner. But after dinner I joined the rest of the guests in the journey down to the cabin on the water where the dancing section of the evening was to take place. I am proud to say that I traded in my heels for flip flops and danced like a maniac until 6 in the morning (gotta love the party all-night aspect of the Swedish wedding). And the evening, couldn't have been more beautiful. We experienced a beautiful sunset and an even more spectacular sunrise (see picture below). All in all it was perfect. Say nothing of the fact that the 23 year old who was my dinner partner seemed to forgive me for my weak dinner banter and decided to flirt with me. This was extra good since I then had a reason not to engage too much with my ex-boyfriend the slightly older Teacher who I had dated for a few months a couple years back (not THE EX) who was at the wedding (the bride had set us up once upon a time). Ha ha... what can I say? I love younger men. And turns out, they are not bad kissers either!

All in all it was such a beautiful wedding and a fantastic weekend - one of my top ten weekends in the past years for sure. I have to say that I love the simplicity of Sweden. The wedding was simple yet elegant. The emphasis was on the party and not on the decorations, or the DJ or the bar. It was just good fun with great people. Say nothing of the fact that we partied all night (American weddings tend to end around midnight). I hope the other 4 weddings of the summer can live up to this one. 

*The student trucks seem to be a truly Swedish phenomenon. When the students graduate from Gymnasium, the tradition in Stockholm is to rent a big truck with a flat bed in the back (I think that's how you describe it - basically like a big empty space behind the truck where in this case, around 40 to 50 people can stand and well party) decorate the trucks with birch leaves and the Swedish colors red and blue and usually a handmade flag from the school, and drive all over the city spraying champagne, beer and wine all over yourself and sometimes over the people passing by. They also tend to blare music as loud as possible, wear horns and other noise makers around their neck and just drive through the city getting totally wasted and screaming and yelling and shouting out to everyone. It's a hilarious tradition. And it's so fun to watch. It doesn't matter how old you are, you can't help but smile when the student trucks drive through town and you look at all the young kids laughing and partying and having a good time. The best thing of all is that I GOT TO GO ON STUDENT TRUCK! Unfortunately, I wasn't actually mistaken for an 18 year old and actually invited onto a student truck (that had been my dream since moving to Stockholm). But the second best thing happened and my work had a summer party one year which involved all of us oldies getting on a student truck and driving through town. SO MUCH FUN! One of my top 10 memories of Stockholm for sure!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Vacation To-Do List

I just returned from the most amazing Stockholm weekend. I have lots to write about it, but am too tired right now. Instead I leave you with my vacation to-do list (a post I had written already). That's right. I'm headed back to the good old US and A on Thursday. I have to work some the first week but I'm home in the US for a month and I plan to do some serious relaxing in between the following things:

Go to three weddings - that's right THREE weddings and even more important they are three weddings of three of my oldest friends. Two of them I have know since I was 3 and we all went to pre-school together. One wedding is in W. Mass and the other is on Nantucket. I'm really looking forward to catching up with my high school girlfriends who will also be attending. And I can't wait to see my old friends get married. The other person who is getting married is someone I have known since he was born. He is my parent's Godson and essentially my "other brother." He's getting married in San Fran and my family is flying out for the week. My brother is even flying home from Barcelona. Should be a good time - they are a fun and trendy couple and the wedding seems like it will be quite the social event. In other weird mentionable events... my parents and I will fly together to San Fransisco and it will be the first time in my life I have been on a plane with my parents. Weird huh?

Meet the American boy in Boston - Remember him? Well... I hope to see him again in Boston. And let's hope he's still single! Although I wouldn't be surprised if he's not. He's way to good a catch to be single for long.

Lay around at the pool and do NOTHING! My parents live in the middle of the woods and have an amazing huge pool. It's up on a hill and you can't really see the house or the road. The landscaping around the pool is very natural with lots of wildflowers. You are more likely to see a bear (seriously, a big black one walked right by me one day) then other people. It is the most peaceful place in the world and I love going home to my parents in the summer and just chilling at the lovely pool.

Turn off my computer and my blackberry - I have not really had a vacation where I have been able to do this, but this time I'm serious. Work be damned. I have worked like a crazy person all year and I'm taking time off! My usual vacation day consists of waking up at 7 to bring my dad to work so that I can have the car for the day, then I usually log onto my computer and start tackling my emails. Before I know it, I'm in one conference call and then another... And then it's more emails and suddenly it's 4:30 and I have to go pick my dad up at work. And I realize that I have not moved ALL day - nor did I really need the car! And then there was that memorable Christmas vacation where I spent the first Sunday morning of my vacation speaking for hours with my colleague while my parents tried to get me to come and spend time with them. Or last Christmas where the President of our company called me like 5 times a day during my first week off... So, this time I'm making it very clear to everyone. I'M GOING ON VACATION! DO NOT CALL ME AND DO NOT EXPECT ME TO RETURN YOUR EMAILS! I feel that if I say this enough times out loud to myself I will actually maybe enforce this rule. I have to say that turning of the Blackberry is going to be a tough one.

Catch up with great friends - the best thing about weddings is it makes it easy for you to see everyone at once. I will have a chance to catch up with school friends and old hometown friends. I can't wait.

Read lots! I love to read but lately have had trouble finding the time. So, I can't wait to catch up on some good books.

Figure out "what next" - shh.... don't tell anyone (that I work with) but I'm planning on making a major life change soon which may even include trading in my international jet set lifestyle and heading back Stateside. Although I would totally prefer to head back to Stockholm if possible. Since I have no time at all to think or figure out what next (my favorite and only fantasy of the moment is running away to Bali and writing a novel - I'm not sure how realistic this is), I plan to use some of my vacation time to do some soul searching and well... job searching.

Go to the gym and work out A LOT! This is always on the agenda when I'm on vacation. It feels great to do a little extra burning and toning while on vacation and you have a little extra time.

Spend quality time with my family. I love my family. I miss them. It's nice to see them. It will be fun to be in San Fran all together. I'm so glad my brother can make it. It will be our first family "vacation" since the Stockholm trip 2 years ago.

Get lots of "pet therapy." Since an International Woman of Mystery like myself sadly can't even manage to even keep alive a plant, pets (although I would LOVE to have one) are totally out of the question. But, my parents have two cats and one dog. One of the cats has some serious problems such as when you try to pet her or pick her up she squirts horrible things from her bottom that make you smell terrible for hours (he he - the Beautiful Swede Ex learned the hard way). I don't touch her anymore. But the other cat and the dog are great. The cat is black and called Batman. He is such a little lover. Actually, he's a total brat and hates new people so last summer when the Swedish Ex came home with me, he refused to surface at all. But this year the Swedish Ex is back in Sweden probably having babies with his new Swedish girlfriend. So, I will get to pet my cat. And then there's the dog Jacoby. He is really cute. He is still kind of new and we are still bonding (which is hard to do when we only see each other twice a year). But isn't amazing how smart animals are? He totally recognizes me and gets all happy and tail waggy every time I come home. So, I plan to spend lots of time talking to and petting the animals: pet therapy.

Take up a new hobby like Yoga or Pilates - seriously, yoga and pilates are always on my "to-do" list and as my body is getting older and my back is giving me more and more problems (although my awesome new Danish Physio therapist here in London has taught me how to stand and breath properly and this is making a huge difference). I wish I could see myself as one of those really toned spiritual women like Madonna... (and hopefully with a hot younger guy like Jesus although hopefully without the scary manly arms). But I can't. I'm sure I will try yoga and pilates and hate them. But I will try anyway. Wish me luck.... Maybe I too will be a convert.

Eat Lobster - I LOVE New England lobster. My mom is usually nice enough to make a home cooked lobster meal for me at least once when I am home (this is usually the ONLY meal she cooks for me when I'm home) - if I beg her enough.

Have my "favorite" day - my favorite day consists of going to the beach in Rockport, Massachusetts. And stopping at Amelia's to have fried seafood (scallops, clams fish) and french fries and onion rings. AND THEN having a peppermint stick ice cream with chocolate sprinkles at the Dairy Queen. Ok admittedly, the ice cream and the fried food don't go so well with the bikini. But it's my favorite day and calories definitely do not count on my favorite day! By the way, my favorite day derives from the fact that my family used to vacation in Rockport when I was younger so rather than having a week long vacation on the beach with my family. I settle for cramming it all into my on "favorite day."

Celebrate my Dad's 60th - that's right, the old man turns 60 on the Fourth of July (and every year he still thinks that all the Fireworks are just for him). This will most likely be celebrated in my family's true style with a pool party and a keg! Gotta love it!

Read other people's blogs - I find it fascinating to read other people's blogs and get inspiration for my own. Unfortunately, this is time consuming and it usually means that I find myself still awake at 3 am when I need to get up at 6 am.

Get more people to read my blog. I have decided that I need to pimp out my blog a bit more and get more people to read it. I have no idea how to do these things... So, I probably need to first spend some time researching and then doing some shameless self promotion. Hopefully I can also find some time to WRITE MORE as I have heard this is also a key factor in writing a successful blog - kinda makes sense I guess. If you have any suggestions for me or my blog - please let me know.

Try not to think about the Beautiful Swede... He came home with me last summer... It was fun until he broke up with me directly after (serious jerk). However, I secretly sometimes wish he was going to come home with me again. In other moments I'm very happy that he's not because I can do whatever I want and not have to worry about him. And at least my cat will come out and play as the Beautiful Swede won't be around to scare him off!

And of course, I'm going to blog more! So, stay tuned!