24 Hours in Phoenix, AZ.

We made a pit-stop in Phoenix last year on our way from The Grand Canyon to San Francisco (which is not at all between "The Grand Canyon and San Francisco", for those of you familiar with geography, but it was one of the places that had an airport relatively nearby - and also because, during the planning process, I said, "Ooh! We should go to Phoenix! It's so cool! I was there a few years ago with some friends, we loved it.")

We LOVED IT. In hindsight, I'm trying to remember why we loved it - maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was -2 degrees back home and in Phoenix we got to wear bikinis and drink margaritas all day. That might have had something to do with it.  

But I managed to forget about all of that when I said "We should to go to Phoenix!", "It's going to be so fun!", "They have cactuses there!".... so we went to Phoenix. They have cactuses there. 

How to Shop Your Own Closet.

I was inspired to write this post because I *didn't* buy a jacket. 

Back story - I have fifteen thousand jackets at home. Probably. I haven't counted, but I know that when I open up our "coat closet" (also doubles as our laundry/shoe/vacuum/Swiffer closet) most of the coats that I see in there are mine. Maybe three of them are Kyle's. And one of those I bought for him. 

This post could have just as easily been titled "Confessions of a Shopaholic" or "How to be a Crazy Coat Lady" - but honestly, that's a little embarrassing and - based solely on my experience today - I am clearly turning a corner outside of my consumerism mindset. 

Exhibit A: I did not buy a jacket. I *almost* did. But then, I didn't! Yay! (Isn't this a great story so far?) 

Study Abroad Series | 3 Days in Paris.

There are plenty of great reasons to spend a semester abroad: to study the culture, to further your education, to meet new people and try new things and heck, who knows, maybe you'll even learn another language. Wouldn't that be neat?

That's why I was "supposed" to be going. All of those reasons. Specifically the language one, since I minored in Spanish.

But also, I reaaaaally wanted to go to Paris. I didn't know what I wanted to do there exactly, other than "see the Eiffel Tower", "wear a beret" and "eat a pastry" - but I had always wanted to go. It was a bucket list thing. All of my childhood tv-obsessions went to Paris at some point: Mary Kate and Ashley, the Rugrats, Rachel from Friends -- well, technically she turned down Paris to stay with Ross, but still. She made it seem like it was a pretty big deal! 

I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower. In person. I'd had a poster of it up on the wall of my college dorm room for two years, right next to Audrey Hepburn. It was a cliche - the equivalent of walking into a frat boy's dorm room and seeing a poster of Pamela Anderson (is she still "the hot girl" on posters? I don't even know). It was something I occasionally daydreamed about: walking down a Parisian sidewalk, wearing a polka-dot dress, sitting in a French cafe, eating a scone while reading a book and listening to everyone around me talking about art and culture and fancy-French-stuff (in my wild daydreams, I can speak fluent French, apparently). 

So when the opportunity presented itself - to hit up Paris for a weekend while studying abroad in Madrid - I was like, "YEP! Let's GO!" ... because how often does the "opportunity present itself" to go to Paris? 

Focus on the good.

My flight home from Minneapolis was delayed on Thursday. Actually, my flight home from Minneapolis was delayed three times on Thursday. 7 o'clock, 8 o'clock, "hopefully we'll be out of here by 9," they said, "as long as the weather clears up".

It's always promising when the flight crew uses words like "hopefully" and "as long as".

I texted Kyle. "Looks like we're delayed again." Since he was supposed to be picking me up from the airport that night. "At this rate I won't get home until after midnight." And we both still had to get up and go to work the next morning.

Apparently there were storms in Chicago. At least that's that they kept telling us. I didn't see any of the little-rain-cloud-icons on my Apple Weather App (because as soon as they made this announcement - I whipped out my phone to double-check, like an asshole) - but otherwise, I had no reason not to believe them.

Why would they make that up? It's "raining" in Chicago - aka, the pilot is missing, or the engine fell out, or one of the wings snapped off on our last flight and we've got to duct tape it back together.... but... those things sound scary and hard to explain, so... "There are 'storms' in Chicago." (I don't really know how it all works, but I'm 99.9% certain this is not how it works.)

I tried to imagine a scenario where I walked up to the counter, pulled out my iPhone and said: "Um... excuse me? Hi. Yes." *shoves iPhone in their face* "According to my weather app here, it looks like there aren't actually any storms in Chicago. See? If there were, you would see little-rain-cloud-icons, but there aren't any. So..." *Points to phone, as if talking to my grandma* "Look - you can even scroll out to see the future forecast - this one can predict until 5AM tomorrow. And look! No rain! See?" 

I'm sure that would go over well. They would probably say, "You're right! Thanks for bringing that totally-accurate-weather-app to our attention! Our high-tech-weather-checker-thing must be broken. Alright, ya'll - hop on board!"

And then we would all die because the plane tried to land during a storm in Chicago. And the CEO of the airline would go on the news and say, "Yea, look, some girl told us it would be okay? She said this app on her phone was TOTALLY trustworthy. She looks at it every day to decide what she's going to wear! You know, like jeans, or a sweater- And it's only been wrong, like, ten percent of the time. We thought those were good odds!"

What to Pack: Beauty Essentials For Your Carry-on.

You know how grocery shopping has that cardinal rule about "never go shopping when you're hungry"? God forbid you end up with an extra bag of potato chips.

Sephora should have the same rule. Never go shopping when you're... feeling... shall we say, less than confident. Like, super-model-hot confident, particularly about your face. Because once you get in there.... well, that's it. Suddenly everything you see becomes THAT THING YOU NEED to be mistaken for a dewy-glowy Victoria's Secret model.

This concealer is $80, and claims to have "pore vanishing" powers? It also has the word "clinical" on it, so it must be legit. Everyone knows 'clinical' means 'doctor' - so buying this is kind of like having plastic surgery - for ONLY $80! That's a bargain!

This stuff is called "Poreless Finish Airbrush Powder"... Airbrush powder! Like how they airbrush supermodels on magazines? So if I wear this, people will believe that I look like a supermodel in real life? Well, YEA, duh.

I'm not making fun of people who shop in Sephora like this. Because I genuinely shop in Sephora like this. 

This foundation is called "Your skin, but better". So, people will think it's MY skin - just, better. Natural. Naturally flawless skin. This foundation is going to CHANGE MY LIFE... Face. It's going to change my face. Yay!

I'm not saying I'm PROUD of it, I'm just saying... I am easily swayed by marketing. 

Exploring the Grand Canyon.

I had been to the Grand Canyon once before. Which is not to say that when Kyle and I discussed visiting the Grand Canyon on our trip to Vegas last year, I was like - "yawn, snore - seen it, no thanks" --- but I figured you should know this for two reasons: 

1) Because I - for some completely stupid reason - believed this made me an expert on all things 'Grand Canyon'. At least once I said, "No, we need to go this way. I remember from when I was here before." (Keep in mind that I can barely remember where I parked my car in the Target parking lot after thirty minutes - but, sure, I remember this dirt path from my two hours spent at The Grand Canyon four years ago.) And also -

2) I was the WORST  tour guide. For someone who has actually BEEN to the Grand Canyon before - I know shockingly little about it. We pulled up to the entrance where they were doing helicopter tours, and I actually said "Oh wow, they do helicopter tours?! That's so cool!" So. There's that. *Also - in case you didn't know, they do helicopter tours. 

I won't bore you with details about my trip there from 2014. Mostly because it was two hours spent walking around with my friend saying, "Oh, will you take a picture of me by this rock?" and then taking pictures of my friend when she asked, "Hey! Will you take a picture of me on this ledge?" And then we left. Because once the profile-picture-taking-game was over, we ran out of ways to entertain ourselves. "The Grand Canyon seems like more a 'family' vacation spot," we said - whatever that means. Like it's the equivalent to Sea World.  

Study Abroad Series | Packing to Live Abroad.

I signed up to study abroad during my junior year of college. An entire semester in Spain designed to immerse students into the culture, learn about the history, and live with a host family who spoke zero English.

Literally, zero. No habla. Just a Madre and a padre who discussed current affairs every night at the dinner table (I'm guessing, I actually had very little idea what they were talking about. Like I said, everything was in Spanish, and they talked so fast!), and a host brother who was super into Shakira. My roommate and I heard the song Rabiosa through the thin walls of our piso AT LEAST once a day.

Spending a semester in Spain sounded like a great opportunity. I mean, yea, my Spanish skills sucked - even after two semesters of the basics, my ability to string a sentence together usually went like this: "Hola. Como estas? Chaqueta, biblioteca, gracias, tienes un pluma?" Which Google Translate will tell you means: "Hi. How are you? Jacket, library, thank you, do you have a pen?" Clearly, I was ready to navigate a foreign country.