Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My First Blog Award!

I'm so excited! I have gotten my first blogger award from Jazz Stanton at the Date Experiment

In order to accept the award I have to:
•Thank the blogger who awarded it to you.
•Sum up your blogging philosophy, motivation, and experience using five (5) words.
•Pass it on to 10 other blogs which you feel have real substance.

So, thank you Jazz Stanton! I'm still new to this blogging thing and maybe it's hard to believe, but I was a blog award virgin so thanks for popping my cherry. I'm super excited. Thanks for reading! And I encourage everyone to check out her awesome blog Date Experiment. I promise, it's a good time!

As for my blogging philosophy, motivation and experience using 5 words. Oh man - this one is a bit harder...

Let me think... I started this blog earlier this year for a few reasons:
  1. I was trying to get over a slightly broken heart (Thank you Beautiful Swede)
  2. I was getting back in the dating game and making my way in the big bad world of Internet dating and some things are just so hilarious they have to be shared
  3. I needed a creative outlet - a way to express myself as I was about to explode from work work and more work - I needed to do something for me
  4. I thought I had some fun stories to tell and wanted to share them out loud with real people (rather than just telling them to the imaginary people inside in my head - I mean that is not that much fun. I was getting kind of bored of them, they never made comments or had their own opinions)
  5. I had been thinking about starting a blog for awhile - so what the hell! 
Initially, my blog was going to be about dating and hopefully eventually finding Mr. Right. But I soon realized that I just didn't date enough to write an interesting and "substantial" blog on just dating. So, while I write about dating and men quite frequently being the single International Woman of Mystery that I am.... my blog has morphed into other areas.* This has ranged from writing about my travels, to observations on returning to the Motherland, to doling out unsolicited advice on the pros and cos of Internet dating, to unfortunate bouts of drunk blogging, to pondering why everyone except for me seems to be getting married,  and of course, dating and meeting hot men.

Ok - that was a lot of rambling when I only was asked for five words. As you might realize by now... I have a chronic case of verbal diarrhea so cutting down to 5 words is really hard for me!

But let me give it a try. My blogging philosophy, motivation and experience in 5 words:

International Search for love and laughs

Damn that's 6 words! Shoot. Does the word 'and' count?

Let me try again:

Actually. Forget that. I like this better:

Random fun international life adventures

Phew... Now that that's over... Moving on to the final point: 10 blogs that I feel have real substance.

Well here goes:

A Mom's Life
One Blond Girl
Sara In Le Petit Village
Date Me DC
Learning From Self History
Jumped the Pond
The Domestic Minx
The Sassy Curmudgeon
Girls are Strange
The Simple Sweet Life

I highly recommend reading each and every one of those blogs! Seriously. Check them out.

As for me... I'm off to Cambridge tomorrow (for a work offsite) and am organizing a pub crawl for the weekend. This International Woman of Mystery will have more adventures coming at you soon!


*You can check out my new "About" page here to see how I am currently justifying defining my blog.

UPDATE: I have been twice blessed with this awesome blog award! The second nomination comes from Jewels at Turning 30 who writes a really fabulous blog. Seriously, stop by and check her out. She just turned 30, so be sure to wish her Happy Birthday! Thank you Jewels for reading and nominating my blog!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paying For Men

Ha! Got you!

Obviously, this is not what you think. I do not pay for sex with men - obviously. But today I did meet two hot men who I paid for their services. Well technically, I paid one of them and the other I agreed to pay next time we meet which by the way is next Thursday at 9.

I'm talking about my hairdresser and my personal trainer of course! What were you thinking?

It all started with a haircut at lunchtime. After my regular stylist left, my colorist had recommended me to a new one!. Little did I know he was the super hot hairdresser who I had been eyeing while I had my color done! Boy was fine.

I spent the entire time he was cutting my hair trying to figure out if he went for women or men. I decided women, although I wasn't totally sure. He spent the entire time flirting with me and also chopping off MOST OF MY HAIR INTO A CROOKED HAIRCUT!

I was so glamoured by him and his stupid boyish good looks that I didn't even notice that my hair was like 3 inches shorter and crooked until I got home. Damn! This is why you do not have a hot guy cut your hair! Way too dangerous. You get a little distracted and suddenly you have a freaking haircut like Pink!* And now I HAVE to go back and check him out again make him fix it.

The second guy came as a surprise. It's been pouring rain here in London for days (seriously, London weather is living up to its reputation - while the rest of Europe and even Russia has had an amazing summer, London has never been more cold and miserable) so I decided to hit the gym rather than brave the rain and run as I usually do. The thing is, I hate the gym. Actually, I just kind of hate this gym I go to in London. And if the weather is good, I would rather be out running.

So, there I am all sweaty and grumpy working the elliptical machine like a mad woman when a trainer comes along and starts a conversation with me.

Let me tell you, I was SO not in the mood. 95% of me wanted to tell him to "Leave me alone! Yes, I know that I could be working out harder and that you could show me cool moves that kill my body and make me look better but I DON'T CARE. I want to read my magazine and do my shitty work out in peace."

The other 5% of me knew that I've been slacking on my workouts lately, not pushing myself hard enough and feeling totally uninspired and unmotivated. Say nothing of the fact that I've spent the entire summer drinking and indulging and my clothes are feeling a little bit tighter than they should and I've really been meaning to get back on track...

Because I'm a total masochist, I of course listened to the annoying 5% of me and let the trainer lure me away from my boring but easy work out and magazine. Plus, he was kind of hot. So, what the hell?

An hour later as sweat poured off me and I marveled at the fact that my legs were for some reason no longer supporting my weight properly, I found myself agreeing to book 6 more sessions with him at 50 GBP a pop! (Today's session was free at least).

So, back to the topic of this blog. Yes, it seems that I do PAY FOR MEN. In fact, it seems I pay quite a lot for men.

The haircut plus the hair revitalizing treatment he gave me plus the 2 products he convinced me to buy came to 89 GBP (and that's with a 20% discount I somehow negotiated cuz I'm good like that). And it was 300 GBP for the 6 personal trainer sessions...

So, in total today I paid men 389 GBP.** And as I noted before, I do not pay pay for sex with men (obvously) but you could theoretically say that I've just paid both of these men to make me more sexy so that I can potentially have sex with more men. Hmm... Interesting way to look at it huh? Sorry... I'm I have low blood sugar after that work out. I may not be thinking clearly... So, let me know if that logic is totally off.

All I can say is OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! WTF MY QUADS HAVE NEVER HURT SO BADLY! No, for real. I'm whimpering and laughing at the same time every time I try to move. It's pathetic. And it's bound to get worse before it gets better. Tomorrow morning is not going to be fun.

And next week the Trainer says he will give me a "real workout.: Oh what have I gotten myself into? This hot trainer guy better make me look freaking awesome.

So thank you hot men that I pay for for giving me a crooked haircut and making it so I can no longer walk.


*I'm totally exaggerating as usual. It's not quite as short as Pink's hair. Actually, I think it's probably a good deal longer. It might still be classified as long hair. It is still below my shoulder. But it is short to me and I'm pretty sure it's definitely crooked.

**Do NOT - I repeat - DO NOT translate this into dollars. And if you do, do not tell me how much money that is in dollars cuz I think it's kind of a LOT of money in dollars. I will try to not think about it. Instead I will focus on how awesome I am going to look after my super expensive training sessions. And I will try to remind myself that my poor poor long hair that is now so so much shorter, probably really needed to be cut off in order to be healthy and look more beautiful in the future (or that's what the hot hairdresser tried to tell me when I almost started to cry). Sob!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Sexy Cop

So, there is this guy on Match.com that I had been writing back and forth with for awhile. He seemed to check the boxes: tall, dark, good-looking, "over-educated" (whatever that means), and to top it all off - he is a cop! And well let's face it, that's kind of hot! Right? We had been talking about meeting up for some time, but as usual I kept being a bit reluctant.

The thing is, as I have expressed before, I'm shy! I get super nervous to go out on dates. So, it takes a lot for me to work up to going out with someone. I don't know how some people can do it. It must be more natural or less stressful for them. I have friends who go on multiple dates per week with Internet matches. I can hardly manage multiple dates in a month.

BTW. If you want to meet a girl who totally knows how to rock a dating schedule - check out Date Me DC's fabulous blog. Her blog is what mine aspired to be before I realized that I neither had the time nor the energy and was too inclined to an overload of pre-date stress to date that much. But she does truly inspire me (and she writes a hell of a blog - so check her out)!

Unfortunately to add to my dating stress, going on a date inevitably involves taking the dreaded subway (or the Tube as they call it here). I think I honestly have a mild disorder. I'm actually sadly serious here. My friends might tell you that I don't take the subway because I think I'm too posh, but actually, it unfortunately goes much deeper than that.

I have never met anyone who dreads the subway more than me. The big factor is that I need space and I need control over my space. I can't stand being enclosed in small  areas with lots of pushing strangers (although oddly nightclubs and bars even when crowded are usually ok - Thank God). I do not like strange people touching me - even by accident. So, being way deep underground on the hot crowded subway with massive amounts of people packed into small fast moving cars with no escape from people rubbing up against me, well this folks is a nightmare for me. I actually have to count in my head the whole time I'm on the subway and mentally calm myself down.*

But really the fastest (and cheapest) way to Central London is to take the Tube and also I admit it does seem kind of snobby and overly posh to tell a guy you are meeting for the first time that you are arriving by taxi to meet him at the subway stop.

So, for this sexy cop, I braved the subway. Luckily it was not rush hour (like the last time I took the Tube and had a small panic attack and vowed to never take it again). So, it wasn't too crowded. I decided to stand as it was just 6 stops. The other reason I do not like the subway is that it gives weird people an opportunity to talk to you. Of course there was a guy standing across from me staring at me who eventually came over and told me that I was "absolutely stunning." Umm... Thank you kind stranger for totally being totally creepy (I moved away from him fast) but also for kind of boosting my confidence before a date. I mean, what woman doesn't want to be told they are "stunning." A compliment is a compliment even if coming from a weird looking track-suit wearing guy of indistinguishable age on the subway.

The Sexy Cop is standing there waiting for me when I exit the Tube station. I always find it so awkward to greet these "blind" dates! And trying to make small talk as you are walking to the "date place" is always a bit painful. To make matters worse, I'm wearing super high heels and we are walking on cobble stones and I'm teetering around and not doing a great job at keeping up the small talk because I'm trying not to fall on my ass!
We eventually make it to a wine bar. As we enter he asks me "You do drink, right?" And he looks relieved when I say "yes." But inside my head I'm actually screaming. "Yes please! Give me a drink now!! I just took the subway and walked over cobblestones in high heels. And I'm nervous to meet you! Yes, I want a damn drink."

Luckily, the drinks come quickly and we settle into a table and being the "first date conversation." But unlike with my last Match date, this one seems to go pretty smoothly. There is no awkwardness or hesitation. He kept up his end of the conversation extremely well. I was really interested to hear about the life of a British Police Officer.

But get this. This guy is no ordinary Cop. His self proclaimed "over education" that he mentioned on his profile... well how about a full on PhD IN ASTROPHYSICS no less! But he said that Academia bored him and working for NASA just didn't really get him going. So, he decided to trade it all in for the life of a London Police Officer.

And now he chases gang members in the bad "hoods" of London. Literally - on foot. He described endless foot chases to me. Do you know that in London, the cops don't even have guns? So, he basically chases gangsters with his baton. Crazy. But he seemed to love his job and it made for interesting conversation.

Anyway, we stayed for three drinks (I was a bit tipsy toward the end of the night) and we there were no awkward pauses or hesitations. All in all, it was a good to great date! Although, I'm not sure we really had any chemistry. And I definitely don't think we have a future. - his face kind of fell when I told him I was not staying in London much longer and he sent me a text message later that basically said: "Was nice to meet you. Good luck with your move." So, it doesn't seem like a second date is in the plans. But I was glad that I went on this date.

*You will be happy to know that I try not to let my subway phobia too drastically affect my life. I just need to live in walking distance of my work (been fine for the past 6 years) or driving distance as you do in the US. I will also tell you that I have been on some of the most crowded subways in the world including Moscow and Shanghai where there is literally someone whose job it is to "push" people in and pack them into the subway... So, I'm not totally dysfunctional. It's just better for me and everyone around me that I try to limit my subway use. And let's face it, I can afford the occasional taxi. So, it's so not a big deal.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Hot German Boy

So, I was getting a little bit worried that I wouldn't have anything exciting to blog about this weekend. I've been feeling a bit blue these days (for reasons I will inevitably address in another post) and the terrible London weather is not helping (I have never witnessed a more miserable summer). In general I'm feeling a bit uninspired.

As of Friday at 5 pm this International Woman of Mystery did not have a single plan for the weekend, but I was kind of feeling ok with that - thinking that I would just wallow around in my misery and spend some time alone. As you do when you are feeling down and at.

At the same time, I was realizing that this might not be a good idea and I should probably find some energy to force myself to do something if for no other reason than for the sake of this blog and my faithful readers (I now have a total of 13 official followers - btw, click follow if you have not done so already) and being able to write about something mildly entertaining.

Sexy Single Friend A saved the night on Friday though, and we decided to meet up for drinks at my favorite Chelsea pub The Phene to celebrate her new job. However, as much as I'm excited for her, it was a low key evening and I was home by 9: 30 in bed catching up on the latest Jersey Shore episode. I love me some GTL!!! Fist Pump!

On Saturday I woke up in a not much improved mood. I had two options for the evening and then the one I was leaning toward kind of fell through (or at least got a bit overly complicated) and I was seriously contemplating just staying in Saturday evening as well. But again, realizing that my days in London are dwindling and I should make the most of my time here, I searched deep inside to find some inner motivation. And then I did the following: went shopping at French Connection and spent too much money, took a power nap, went for an 8K run, threw on a sexy LBD, spent a little extra time on the hair and makeup and locked up my apartment and hit the street!

I decided to meet some work friends for a birthday dinner. The problem with this plan was the fact that the majority were work friends. And while I like most of them very much, we do an awful lot of work socializing in general and sometimes I need a break from work (because inevitably we talk way too much about work). The other problem was that I'm not exactly getting along with a certain colleague right now for reasons that I won't go into as I try to make it a policy not to blog about work stuff cuz let's face it it's boring and I spend way too much energy on work as it is. I knew he was coming to the party and I was so not interested in any possible altercation with him.

In the end it was a nice birthday dinner and copious amounts of wine and sangria helped create a fun party atmosphere and the colleague that I don't get along with made an appearance late and I didn't really need to interact with him. So, all was good.

Then we decided to go clubbing. As we had not put much thought into where we would go (i.e. we were not on any lists for the super exclusive clubs), we ended up at our old standby Valmont on Fulham Road. The scene of last weekend's crime. But I didn't mind. As I have mentioned before, I really like this club. It's small, they play good music and the people are usually ok and it's not as much of a "scene" as many of the other clubs nor does it have the high price tag.

So, there we are dancing together in kind of an obnoxious circle when suddenly the friend of the colleague who I do not get along with approaches me. He starts asking me about living in the US and making some small talk. The conversation doesn't really go that well since he is pretty intoxicated (thankfully, for once, I am less so) and the music is loud. Actually, I realize that he is really drunk. And that he is possibly attempting to firt with me - or else he is just trying to grab my hand to maintain his balance - I'm not entirely sure. I'm a  nice girl and I try to be polite but eventually need to move away from him to the other side of the circle. But suddenly there he is again - crossing the entire circle to get to me so that we can have this conversation:

Drunk Swede: So, I really think that we should go home together.
Me: Oh really? Why's that?
Drunk Swede: It will be a really good time.
Me: Umm... Let me get back to you on that one (walk away - FAST)

So, after that little interesting episode that made me laugh. I decide to escape to the ladies room. On my way back to the dance floor, I decide to stop at the bar to get another drink - I mean I'm going to need it if I have to keep interacting with the Drunk Swede.

Standing at the bar is a guy who from behind looks like he might be interesting. He is tall at least. I decide to go and stand next to him. He immediately notices me says something to the extent of that he can make room for me. He is paying for his drinks and is about to leave. He is GORGEOUS! I do not want him to leave... But what can I do?

I try to think of something quick and witty to say to grab his attention and make him stay... but nothing comes. Oh no! He is turning away! C'mon International Woman of Mystery - say something!!!! But he is already headed back to the dance floor. Damn. I look back at him again and see him hesitate and then turn back around, take steps back to the bar and look at me. The bartender is asking me for my drink order, but I am too busy watching the boy. Oh this is awkward! What do I do? I can't think. But the chemistry between us is so strong it's amazing - I can't let him get away.

He starts to leave again and I turn back to the bar. And finally I turn around again and he is still hesitating. We have to speak... So, I blurt out a very smooth opening line: "What's your name?" (Oh jeez is that all I could come up with)? And of course his name is something difficult to understand in the blaring music and I have to ask him to repeat it like 3 times before I get it. But, he has now come back to the bar and is standing next to me looking at me with amazing eyes. So mission accomplished. 

I am so distracted by his total hotness (seriously, this guy is beautiful enough to rival the Beautiful Swede) that I'm still totally unable to get a drink at the bar. I know I should be ordering the drink and I can tell that the bartender is getting a little annoyed with me as are the people behind us who are pushing to get bar space, but I can't take my eyes off this boy. Have you ever met someone where your chemistry just clicks and you are just really drawn to someone? Well, this is how it was for me in that moment. It was totally overpowering and completely awesome.

We enter the standard conversation of where are you from and what are you doing here and I finally manage to put in the drink order. I find out the hot boy is from Germany and is visiting for Investment Banking training - what else? (Seriously, I sometimes feel like there is no other profession in this city). Unfortunately, he has three checks against him: 1) he's an investment banker (or even worse, an investment banker wanna be), 2) he's German (actually I once dated a German for quite awhile and that was okay but in general they are not really known for being the most interesting or fun people) and 3) he's only in the city until Friday.

But what the hell right? He seems interesting and smart enough. He's young - 27 (perfect age). He's tall. And he is just so damn hot (I realize I have mentioned this before, but had to say it again)! I love the cute black glasses he is wearing (for some reason I find this style of glasses so sexy on men - as long as they can pull it off). And the attraction between us is incredible! When he leaned in to kiss me... well let's just say it was amazing. I actually think there were actual. So, we head off to the dance floor and dance the night away together... (Remember that this blog is rated PG 13).

So, the weekend was a success after all. The only thing that could have made it more successful is if the German boy was not leaving this week and I would see him again. But alas, it was only meant to be a one night fling. But sometimes, that's all you need to get back in the game.

Speaking of getting back in the game, stay tuned for an update on my date with the Sexy Cop!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Words of Wisdom

So, common sense should dictate that the day after the full out raging work summer party, IS NOT the best time to test the fire alarms in the building! Seriously. This morning, while everyone was looking a bit worse for the wear and the office was eerily quiet as everyone tried to nurse their hangover and keep a low profile. When suddenly, weeee ooooo weeee ooooo weeee ooooo - various alarms begin to ring throughout the building. This goes on FOR ONE HOUR! I’m pretty sure that me and everyone else either wanted to die or wanted to kill someone. Whose great idea was that? I mean COME ON!

Speaking of words of wisdom...

There is nothing that qualifies me to give advice to anyone else. But I just felt like writing down some inner wisdom's that I hold to be true. What words of wisdomn do you have? Comments appreciated!

Family and friends are the most important things in life. Happiness comes from your relationships. Family and friends are your connections with to the world.

Sometimes when you are really tired and only have an hour, going for a run is better than taking a nap.

Everyone looks better tan.

When you are feeling sad, pat a cat or a dog - pet therapy really works.

Everything is better when the sun is shining.

Singing in the shower will put you in a better mood instantly.

You should always have fresh flowers in your house.

If you want people to celebrate your birthday, throw a party for yourself - don’t wait around hoping to be surprised.

Time does heal everything but unfortunately knowing that doesn’t help when you are stuck in the moment of pain.

Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes it takes us awhile to figure out what that reason is.

Take the road less traveled - as Robert Frost says: it will make all the difference.

You should always make your bed before you leave the house if for no other reason than the fact that it’s so much nicer to get into a nicely made bed at night rather than a messy one. Actually my host mother in Costa Rica gave me the best reason for making your bed: Bugs get into unmade beds she said. I have made my bed every day since!

Buy expensive sheets with a high thread count. It makes a huge the difference. Your bed should be a wonderful haven for beauty sleep and fabulous dreams!

Follow the rules but know when to break them. Rules are made to be broken.

Try to be a good person. At the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

Don't be afraid to be Glamorous! Embrace your inner glamour as much as possible and always try to look and be your best.

It's always better to be overdressed than under dressed.

Try to live in the present and enjoy each moment. And don't get too focused on the destination - in the end it's the journey that counts.
Money is important but not that important. Money is made to be spent. Live, spend, have fun. But do make sure that you have some money put away for a rainy day (aka - savings).

Someone once said something I believe to be very true: Life is defined by the places you visit, the people you meet and the books you read. Everyone should try to read a lot, travel as much as possible and make new friends but be sure to keep the old.

Spend time on your relationships with friends and family and those who matter to you. They are important. Email and call old friends. Keep in touch with people you care about. It will make you happier and in our social media world, there is no excuse not to. It’ so easy!

Reality TV can give you a nice break from “reality.” Watch it. But do watch television sparingly. At the end of the day, it’s better to live life than to watch it on TV.

Work hard but be sure to play harder.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. In the end, you will only regret the things you DIDN’T do.

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you all are looking forward to the weekend as much as I am!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Internet Dating Update

Whoa. I left my Match account alone this weekend and now have 64 unread emails since Friday night. What’s going on?

Including two emails from Dr. Manish. Who was begging me to contact him by providing me with mobile phone numbers and two email addresses. How can you even take someone seriously when they sign their emails “manish.” Gentlemen, a little advice, when you seem to desperate, it’s a turn off. One phone number or email address will suffice.

And why do men put lots of X’s in the emails. Like: hope to hear from you x

Or even worse: I thought you were sooo cute xxxxxxx. Ewww.

By the way, i also hate when men use LOL. Actually, I hate when anyone uses that. It’s silly.

And poor Asian 5 foot 6 Phong with the very large ears... I’m sorry. You wrote me a nice email. Thank you for the compliment on my “pretty pictures.” But - no... it’ not going to happen.

But this guy, he had it right:

..yep I know I am too old and ugly for you!
But reading your profile made me smile
Hopefully one day you will meet Mr Right, and you will ditch the international woman of mystery thing :)

Thank you. I hope I find Mr. Right too, but I’m glad that you realize that it’s not going to be you.

And this one was really sweet and he was kind of cute, in a big cuddly teddy bear sort of way, and seemed like a nice guy.... But he is a country boy who doesn’t even live in London and although he proclaims to want to travel, he doesn’t seem very wordly to me. Meeting him would just be wasting his time and mine. But I did feel sad when I pressed delete on this one:

Oh my goodness me, how lovely are you! What great pics and a profile to match. You certainly don't sound like a 'nerd' as you suggest. Your life sounds action-packed. Having read your profile I think I better get back to the drawing board and re-write mine!

Now that I'm back in town for a few weeks, I should probably go out on a date with one of these boys soon. I’m thinking about taking the tall dark and handsome cop up on his offer to take me out. What do you think? Should I go for it?

The problem is, I’m all talk and no game. I’m kind of shy (although you would never really know it if you met me) and I get dreadfully nervous before dates. What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t think I look like my pictures? What if I don’t like them? What if it’s terrible and awkward? What if he's a psychopath?

All you fellow Internet daters, any advice? How do you manage pre-date jitters? Comments highly appreciated!

Happy Monday!


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Adventures in South Africa

I know that you have all been anxiously waiting to hear about last week’s trip to South Africa.

Let me start by saying it was AWESOME! OMG. I want to go back ASAP. If anyone is even considering going there, I say DO IT!

I should also mention that I was there for work and it was a very quick trip. But even so, we managed to fit in a Safari and that was absolutely a top ten life experience! I can’t wait to go back.

Can you believe I ate these?
After a crazy long weekend in Sweden with the girls, I got back to London late Sunday night and then my colleague and I flew out of London on Monday evening, landed in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning and worked Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from the office. Needless to say that after a long weekend of partying and my small problem of not being able to sleep on airplanes, I was VERY tired by the time I arrived. So tired in fact, that one night, our South African host managed to convince me to eat worms! For real. Check it out. I ate one of these. It didn’t taste like anything really besides the sauce it was in. But it was very crunchy. I swear that if I didn’t see or know what I was eating, I would still have known that I was eating a worm.
Overall, despite being tired, we had a very productive time at the office that culminated in a team training and a team bowling activity followed by a fantastic dinner where we got our faces painted with African face paint and listened as the waiters and waitresses formed an amazing drum circle! Totally cool.

On Friday morning, we had a working breakfast on Friday and then drove up to Pilanesburg Game Reserve where we arrived just in time for lunch at the fabulous Ivory Tree Lodge. If you are going to Joburg and don’t have time to get up to Kruger (the really big game park) then I totally recommend Pilanesburg (just a two hour drive from Joburg) and if you are willing to spend a bit of extra cash, then I absolutelyy recommend that you stay at the Ivory Tree Lodge.* It’s a five star hotel and the service was fantastic and the huts we stayed in were so cute -luxurious but simple with a huge bathtub and an outside shower. So great to shower under the African stars. And would be an oh-so-romantic getaway to share with that special someone. I did not have a romantic someone to share it with. BUT there were lots of hot Rangers. If I had just had a bit more time to work it...
Yum! A dead Elephant!

After lunch we climbed into our jeep for our first Game Ride (aka Safari) that started at 5pm and ended at 9 so we had a chance to look for animals in both the daylight and night. Before starting the ride, the ranger reminded us that this was not a zoo so she could not guarantee that we would see what we wanted to see. But I was determined that we had to see some lions. And boy did we see some lions!!! In fact, we saw 7 lions from 2 different pride - which is considered quite a good feat for a game ride. The first 3 lions were eating a dead elephant -see picture to the right. The elephant had been dead for 7 week and they were still eating the meat! Gross! Apparently the elephant had died of cholic.  

We saw lots of other animals as well (see pictures below) but suddenly the ranger started driving really fast. She said now we are going on a “Ferrari Safari” (ha ha - how cute is that)... Anyway, apparently the other rangers had spotted the lions from the other pride. So, we raced over and there were 4 lions sitting right in the middle of the road just in front of us! And then, the most amazing thing happened! They walked right by us!!! I could have touched them. It is so cool (and so scary) to look a lion right in the eye who is standing 1 foot away from you. Wow! The safari completely exceeded my expectations.
This Lion walked right past me
After the game ride, we had dinner, did some more work by the fire (it’s winter there) and then slept a few hours before a 5:30 am wake up call from the ranger. We piled on layers of clothes. Brrr... it was chilly in the South African winter morning! And then we piled back into the jeep for a sunrise Game Ride that lasted 3 hours. We did not see as many animals in the morning ride but it was still exhilarating. It was lovely to be out in the fresh morning South African air - even if I couldn’t feel my toes for the entire ride.

After the game ride we had a huge breakfast and then took Quad Bikes (also known as Four Wheelers) through an African village. I had never driven one of those before. But after a few mishaps in the beginning, I got over the feeling that I was going to die and got the hang of it quickly.

After the Quad Bike adventure, we headed to the spa and got a very relaxing massage before driving back to Joburg and catching the Saturday night flight back to London. Whew. What a whirlwind trip! We certainly packed as much into the trip as we could. But it was so worth it!

At this point, I have to mention that the main reason that this busy trip was so fabulous was due to our awesome hosts B and W. B is someone who I have worked with for years and we became close back when we worked together in Shanghai back in the day. But it’s been years since we properly caught up. B and W welcomed us in style and were the best hosts ever. B patiently explained about South Africa’s history and culture and answered our endless questions and she was fabulous at spotting animals and birds and telling us their names. We were much impressed with her bush skills. Thank you B for such an an amazing introduction to your country!

And what a history South Africa has. I mean apartheid only ended in 1994 when South Africa held their first democratic elections and Nelson Mandella became President. Other interesting facts about South Africa include that 80% of the country is of black ancestry. South Africa is ranked sixth out of the world’s seventeen mega diverse countries, with more than 20,000 different plants, or about 10% of all the known species of plants on Earth. Yet only 1% of South Africa is forest. Also, despite the fact that South Africa has the biggest economy of all the African countries and is one of the richest countries in Africa, about a quarter of the population is unemployed and lives on less than $1.25 a day. South Africa recognizes 11 different languages in its constitution, has some of the world's oldest archaeological sites and is the most populous country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage throughout the entire territory. Alright. Enough facts for you. Sorry for geeking out a bit but I found South Africa just so interesting. Thanks Wikipedia for your help.

I should also mention that the weather was amazing. A bit chilly in the mornings and evenings (ok it was down right cold on the game rides but that’s because we were driving fast in an open air jeep) but during the day it was warm and sunny. And the air was so fresh and crisp. It reminded me of New England in the fall.

So, without further ado, I will bring you on a photo Oddessy** of my South African adventure! Enjoy!

A big old Elephant
Zebras are really beautiful
Mama and Baby Elephant
Hello Mr. Warthog
A Big Bird
Here comes the Lion!
Time for some 7 week old elephant meat!
African Sunset
Lions on the Road
Sunrise Safari
Herd of Wildebeest
Look carefully at this picture and then check out the next one
Do you spot the difference? He he... he must have realized we were there and
gotten excited cuz this elephant now has a fifth leg!
Sorry I can't resist. Here's an up close picture of his "Man Glory" as the ranger called it. He he..
Mr. Giraffe

He is so cute! I can't resist posting 3 pictures of him
Apparently this is the most photographed bird in the world because it's so beautiful

*It’s recommended that you stay at least 2 nights and go on 4 game rides. I think that’s the perfect amount of time. If time had permitted, I would have loved to stay another night. Unfortunately, work in London was calling so we could only stay 1 night

**I took these photos with my point and shoot camera that I generally use to take party pictures. I have never had a need for a better camera although I seriously consider getting one if I go back to South Africa. So, I apologize for the less than stellar quality. They still came out ok considering... Although I kinda suck at taking pictures. Also, I struggled with getting these pictures up on blogger. So, I apologize for the big old elephant repeating twice. I couldn't manage to delete him! Very frustrating!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Drunk Blog

First of all, I want to start by thanking the attendant in the bathroom who noticed that my skirt was tucked into my underwear (or pants as they call them here in London) and yanking it down for me and saving me the embarrassment of going back into the Chelsea club and parading my goods for all to see! Seriously thanks. I appreciate that small act of kindness. And I’m even sorry that I didn’t tip you.

Second of all, I want to thank my friend M for always insisting we order Long Islands and tequila shots as we did when we were very young indeed. And even though we now laugh and say that we are too old for such shenanigans, we always find ourselves ordering that Shi#$ at the bar. M - you are the best! Thanks for making sure we keep it real.

Third of all, I want to thank the irritating short guy who kept feeling me up all night from behind. Seriously, you can’t handle this! Although I suppose you knew this when trying to cop a feel when I wasn’t looking. Let me give you some advice, next time pick on someone your own size!

Fourth, I want to thank A for having an awesome BBQ with really yummy food and fun people who were all down with being dragged out for some impromptu clubbing.

Fifth and finally, thanks to my fabulous blog readers who are putting up with me as I commit the sin of BLOGGING DRUNK! And I promise that after my hangover (oh yeah, I feel it coming) wears off, I will update you on my totally awesome trip to South Africa.

So laters biatches. Hope you have a good night!

P.S. Shoot - I almost forgot. I also want to thank the DJ at Valmont who played awesome music all night. I danced my ass off tonight and had fun.

P. P. S. Ok seriously. I’m going to bed now.

Night night Y’all!

-International Woman of Mystery

Monday, August 9, 2010

Smögen with the girls

Hi Y’all. So, I’m back from my latest great adventure. Did you miss me? I missed you!

Let me start by saying WHAT AN ADVENTURE these past 2 weeks have been!

I don’t know where to start.

Although South Africa is on my mind having just returned today and visions of lions and zebras (oh yeah - I saw both) are dancing in my head, I guess it’s most logical for me to start with the girl’s trip to Smögen.

And let me start by saying that my Swedish girlfriends are totally awesome. No seriously, they rock. I have never met a group of nicer kinder girls! And on top of that they are all cute too! The best thing is that we travel together at least once a year and amazingly we never ever fight. They are so drama free. It’s very refreshing. I love hanging out with them. This year our annual girl's trip was even more important for me because I don’t get to see them as often now that I live in London.

The only sad thing about the trip is that my oldest Swedish friend (and the reason that I know all the other girls) was not able to come with us this year due to the fact that she recently had a baby. We really missed her!

The other sad thing was the weather. It was oh so cold and rainy the whole time in Smögen. But we didn’t let a little grey weather spoil our fun. Oh no we didn’t!

Let me remind you that Smögen is a small harbor town on the west coast of Sweden. And it’s a major stop on the summer party sailing scene. Swedes are pretty big into sailing and one of the cool things to do is to rent a sailboat (if you don’t have your own) and go out for a week or 2 with a bunch of friends stopping at all the party spots along the route.

As we weren’t able to devote a whole week to sailing, we decided instead to drive the 7 hours from Stockholm down to Smogen (8 girls in a mini bus) on Thursday morning and stay until Sunday and hang out, catch up with each other and of course, party!

Despite the long drive, the rain, the cold weather and the very tight fit in our rented house, we still managed to have a super weekend!

I think the best way to explain the weekend is to revert to list format. So, here we go:

Things that happened in Smögen 

We pre-partied on a sail boat. A BIG sailboat. The first night in Smögen was the best night. It was the night that most of the sailboats came in as it was the place to be on the sailing route. I had mentiond to a Swedish colleague (who I do not know that well) that my 7 girlfriends and I were going to Smögen and he was like “well, me and my 7 boyfriends will be there as well. Come and join us on the boat for pre-party!” Well, ok! And so we did. And it was so much fun. My colleague and his friends were great hosts. They were a very international crowd of young professionals and therefore very interesting to talk to. And he had a particularly cute friend who was Swedish but lived in Dubai...

Blame it on the rain, but I totally had to kiss the cute friend of my colleague. The cute friend of my colleague and I exited the club together into the absolute pouring rain! There was nothing to do except run to his boat which was nearby. By the time I undid the strappy high heels I was wearing, and managed to climb over the boats moored together to get this his sailboat (note to self, do not wear hard to take off high heels when partying on boats -especially iu the rain it's impossible to walk across boats in high heels so you must take the off), we were completely soaked. I’m not sure why being barefoot and soaking wet on a sailboat wuld lead to kissing, but he was cute, so it did! And by the way, he was a good kisser. Admittedly, it was just a bit awkward when my colleague (who I did not know very well) came home later and caught us and laughed at us. I should note that he had been encouraging us all night so I think that he was laughing in a good way - let’s hope!

The girls surprised me with a spa day! I told you that they are awesome! The last time I was in Sweden, they had a birthday dinner for me and had given me a card with an IOU for a birthday gift in Smögen. But then they didn’t say that much about it. On Friday morning we were all feeling terribly hungover from the previous nights party but the girls told me that we were going to go swimming (in the ocean). I went along knowing that there was no way I would swim in the cold ocean on this cold rainy day. We did dip our toes in the cold water. But I was totally fooled. Until we walked into the hotel, I had no idea what we were actually doing! But it was a nice spa with a pool and hot tub and of course a sauna and we had a very relaxing day. The perfect remedy for a hangover.

I got a hot stone massage from an 18 year old boy. Before you jump to conclusions, this was actually a gift from the girls and the 18 year old boy was a certified (I checked) masseur at the spa. 18 is even too young for me. the hot stone massage was a new experience and not something I would have necessarily picked for myself but it's good to try everything once. I’m not sure I would do it again. But the whole massage situation was made slightly hilarious because this 18 year old boy who was giving me the massage, basically proceeded to talk to me the whole time while rubbing hot stones all over my body. So, it was kind of awkward and not that relaxing. But definitely an experience. It would have been a better experience and definitely more fun to blog about if he had been a totally hot and hunky 18 year old. But unfortunately, he truly looked 18 with the spots and the awkwardness to go with it. However, he seemed like a nice boy with lots of potential cuteness and I do think that he will grow out of it and become a heartbreaker someday. Maybe I will check up on him when he is 23 (that seems to be my lower age limit).

We ate so much amazing seafood! Smögen is famous for it’s seafood. We ate lots of shrimp, lax, crayfish, crab, and fish soup. The only thing that was oh so good but also oh so not good at the same time was the aioli. Shrimps in Smögen are uusually consumed dipped in aioli. I love aioli. I could eat it plain. And eat it I did. A lot of it. The problem was that it was not so conducive to kissing meeting men.

Seafood market

Räk Mackor (Shrimp sandwiches)

Dinner at the house

We ate this amazing sandwich called landgård! It has shrimp, crayfish and lax all on a piece of bread. Seriously this was the most amazing thing I have eaten in a long time. And we had fish soup on the side. Yum!

 Landgård = Yummy!

We enjoyed walking around the quaint town of Smögen and checking out the small shops. Seriously, how beautiful is this place:?

We partied with lots of boys boys boys... The best part about being in a sailing town was the fact that the guy girl ratio was way off. There were so many boys! And so few girls. My sexy single friend H and I were the only single gals in our group and we got lots of male attention. So much so that it was almost not really a good thing. Especially the first night when I was hanging out with the cute Swedish friend of my colleague. He seemed irritated by the boys grabbing me - it was irritating. I enjoyed the attention at first but it got annoying quickly. 
 A scene from a Smögen nightclub: lots of party! And lots of BOYS!


Of course here was a little fun boy drama. And for once it wasn’t my drama. But my Sexy Single friend H who had the drama, has agreed that I could share her funny story. After the nightclub one night, H and I were for some reason sitting on the bench outside the nightclub. And of course due to the dispraportionate ration of boys to girls ratio as mentioned above, we did not manage to sit alone for long. H started talking to kissing this guy who flat out told her that he had a girlfriend but that he really wanted to kiss her anyway. I guess H decided that the girlfriend was his problem and that kissing on a bench was harmless enough. The drama ensued the next day when we went for lunch and the guy and his girlfriend were sitting at the next table! Ooops! The guy had forgotten to mention that his girlfriend was actually WITH HIM. We all had a good laugh about this. The always calm H, thought the whole thing was hilarious and didn't seem phased at all. We did joke about her going up to him and his girl and introducing herself as "the girl from last night.:" But, we aren't really that mean. We left the guy alone. Although poor girlfriend. Someone should tip her off that her boyfriend's a creep.

I met a boy who wanted to make me his partner in crime. Literally. While my sexy single friend H, was talking to kissing the boy on the bench with the girlfriend. Another boy was speaking to me. At first glance, he seemed like a very good looking boy. But he soon proved to be crazy. Literally. This was basically how our interaction went:

First we had a very annoying conversation that I tend to have often with very annoying Swedish men which involves me convincing them that I really am American (usually by showing them my American driver's license) and them still doubting me and thinking that I'm really Swedish and just pulling one over on them. I should have walked away then because the conversation continued to detriorate from there:
Him: Let’s commit a crime. I’m feeling crazy tonight.

Me: What do you mean? (realizing that he MIGHT really be crazy but still hoping he is joking)

Him: I mean, I want to rob a bank or something... Do something crazy.

Me: Well... I don’t see any banks around... (fortunately)

Him: Let’s rob a store then (tries to kiss me)

Me: (pushing him away) Sorry buddy, but my crime committing days are over. This one is all you.

Him: No seriously. Let’s rob a store together. I want you to do this with me. C'mon!

Me: I don’t see any stores around anyway... but if you feel like committing a crime, I’m not going to stop you... I’m not going to participate either.

Him: C’mon. I need a partner. (Tries to kiss me again with way too much force)

Me: (Tiring of the conversation and him forcing himself on me) See ya. (Grab sexy single friend H and run away from the crazy guy).*

We danced and danced and danced. The dance party started at the house fueld by glasses of rose and then we continued dancing each night in the clubs on the watefront. The second night, we went to a plac with a particularly good DJ and managed to find a small stage in front of the air conditioning unit to dance on. It was so much fun - although we had to keep getting rid of annoying men who wanted to join us - beat it boys! This was a girls’ night. The following songs will forever remind me of summer 2010 - if you don’t know them, check them out:
  • Stereo Love
  • Alors on Danse
  • We Speak No Americano
  • Dancing on My Own - Robyn
  • (One) Your Name - Swedish House Mafia 
We had a great time with great friends. We all missed the party in Visby a bit. But it didn’t matter where we were because we were all together and that was what mattered. Thanks for yet another great weekend girls. You are the best! Krammar!

*I swear that this ridiculous conversation really happened. In fact, it lasted for around 10 minutes and was even more ridiculous than I managed to represent here - but I had also consumed high quantaties of rose wine so my memory did not allow me to take down the full 10 minute conversation so this is just a high level recap.