Tequila, London and a 21st Birthday

This story is from a few years ago, but it’s one of my favorite stories from my time abroad so I though I would share.

When I studied abroad in London, I knew that I would be turning 21 while I was there. Not a huge milestone in the UK, since the drinking age is 18, but to me, it was a huge deal. I knew that I wanted a party that would rival something I’d have in the States, but I just didn’t know how.

Now, Mexican food is my all-time favorite food ever, and there seems to be a huge shortage of somewhat authentic Mexican food in London (or at least I wasn’t going to the right areas). After months and months of searching, my friends and I stumbled upon a place in Leicester Square called Loco Latino. I took one glance at the menu outside and saw they had tacos, enchiladas, guacamole, and most importantly, an extensive tequila bar. Done and Done.

My friends and I sat inside, and found out from the waitress they had only been open for a week. She took our orders and as she was walking away she overheard me telling my friends that I should have my birthday party at the restaurant. A few minutes later, the manager of the restaurant came up to us and told us that since they just opened and really needed the business, they could cater and set up my party for me. For £10 a person, we could have a buffet of Mexican food, two bottles of tequila and a pretty awesome discount on all the other drinks we ordered. I thought it was too good to be true…but it wasn’t. Each person invited would just pay their £10 and have a Mexican food feast. It was the greatest idea ever. I reserved a spot in the restaurant for around 25 people (everyone in the study center), and anxiously waited a week until my birthday.

Best 21st birthday EVER!

So, on December 3, my friends and I all headed down to Loco Latino. I wasn’t really expecting much, they were already providing the food and alcohol. But when I stepped inside the restaurant, they had completely transformed the entire place. “HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY” banners were hung from the ceiling, balloons were everywhere and confetti was on the floor. Not only that, they had shut down the restaurant for 2 hours while we were there, so we could all eat and be as loud as we wanted without disturbing everyone else. The tables had happy birthday table cloths on them, there were confetti poppers on the table and they also had provided the cutest disposable cameras on the tables for all of us to take pictures. It really was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.

Oh, but it didn’t stop there. The waiters broke out the tequila, and we all had shots. Multiple shots. Margaritas were being passed around and we pretty soon we were all buzzed. Then, out of nowhere, they start bringing out appetizers. And not just chips and salsa. I’m talking about calamari, taquitos, mini tacos, guacamole, mozzarella sticks, chicken wings. And it just kept coming! Just when I seriously thought there couldn’t be ANY more food, and then the waiters started bringing out the entrees! Enchiladas, fajitas with all the fixings, grilled chicken and rice, burritos, it was the most magical and awesome thing that’s ever happened in my life. But the whole time I kept thinking that there’s NO way they were still only going to charge us £10 a person. Not for the decorations and the massive amounts of food and the tequila that just seemed to appear out of nowhere.

This is probably the most sober I looked. tragic.

By the end of the 2 hours, we were all full, drunk and happy. No one had even attempted to come into the restaurant, so the manager started to play some music, and we all just danced, took shots, and danced some more. While everyone was dancing, the manager pulled me aside and let me know that nothing was an extra charge, and they were actually making more money from the party since business had been so slow. He told me one of the waitresses had the idea to decorate and everything had been really inexpensive. He kept thanking me for having my party there and for helping his business out, but the whole time I kept drunkenly telling him that I could never repay him for this, that he had made my 21st birthday the most incredible night of my life. I seriously couldn’t have imagined myself having a better time.

All of my friends added tips, so the owners probably made a killing off of us. I felt really good because not only did I have the most awesome 21st birthday party ever, I helped out a local business. I will never forget the generosity, kindness and hospitality of the staff at Loco Latino; it really was one the greatest nights of my life! Maybe I’ll have another birthday party there again someday 🙂

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The Wanderlust Project Fitness Challenge

As I previously mentioned, I have gained around 30 lbs in the past year or so. In an effort to get in shape for my upcoming trip to Thailand, I’ve decided to document my journey to the best body and health possible for me.

I’ve been working out, but I’m not really motivated. I’ve changed my diet, but not to the point where I’m really seeing a difference. I’m ready to take the next step and put everything on the internet for all to see. Not only will it keep me motivated, but maybe I’ll inspire someone to get into the best shape they can be in, whether they are going on a trip, or they’re just trying to get healthy.

No, I’m not trying to be skinny. I’m not trying to have the “perfect body”. I’m traveling to Thailand in like 8 months, and I can barely climb 2 flights of stairs without getting winded. How am I supposed to hike or climb stairs or even walk for a long distance when I’m completely out of shape? And I’m not going to lie, I just wanna fit into my Joe’s jeans again and feel comfortable in a bathing suit.

I don’t claim to be a nutritionist, a dietitian or a personal trainer. I’m doing what I know is good for me and my body. For me, this means consistent cardio training, less carbs and cheese, and good old fashioned yoga. What’s good for one person may not be good for the other.

So here is the deal. Every week to  2 weeks, I will post a picture of my progress on my Facebook page (like me!). I’m posting it there so I can have an entire album of my journey, and I can see my progress for myself. I’ll let you know what works for me, what doesn’t work for me, and everything else in between.

I told myself that one of the main points of this blog is to be brutally honest with myself and the people that read. For so long I’ve denied the fact that I am unhealthy and out of shape. It wasn’t until I got out of this depression that I realized I not only have to work on my mind, but I also have to make my body the best it can be. We only have one 🙂

So, like me on Facebook and see the progress! I’ll also be doing posts on the blog to about my journey. Let’s all get healthy!

photo: flickr, creative commons

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It’s The Simple Things

I had an epiphany today at Ross.

Since I’ve been saving so much for this trip, I’ve learned the real value of the things I choose to spend my money on. In college, I spent with reckless abandon. Drinks every night, eating out everyday, clubs, parties, clothes, shoes, you name it. Since I’ve been in LA, it’s been a lot more difficult to go out, let alone go shopping. And since I’ve been saving for this trip, it has have decreased even more.

At first, I was upset that I had to let go of luxuries like mani/pedi’s, getting my eyebrows done, shopping and the nights of partying. But since I’ve decided to go to Thailand and starting saving, I’ve realized it’s the little things that matter.

I don’t really go out, I don’t do much shopping. I don’t eat out very often. But when I do, I make sure that it really does count. I am obsessed with soy chai tea lattes; I used to drink one everyday. Now, I make sure that I only have 2 a week, and now those chai lattes are much more appreciated. The $6, black, lacy tank top I bought from Ross today means so much more, because I haven’t bought a shirt in who knows how long. When I do go out with friends, I have so much of a better time because it’s really special to me, like a little present to myself.

I’ve learned that just because I’m saving for my trip, doesn’t mean I have to be stuck in the house every weekend. It doesn’t mean I can never buy a chai latte again. It doesn’t mean that I can’t eat at Souplantation every now and then (which is my favorite place ever of ALL time…I could live there). It just means I have to do less. And by lessening those experiences, I’ve learned to appreciate them even more. My life has become drastically easier and simpler just by planning this trip alone. You know how they say that when you finally find your passion, or you’re doing something you love, everything just aligns itself and comes together to make it all work out for you? I feel like that’s happening to me now.

Sometimes, it really is just the simple things.

photo: Creative Commons, flickr

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How I Didn’t Let My Quarterlife Crisis Ruin My Life

Allow me to be completely open and honest.

When I graduated from college, I thought the world was in my hands. I managed to graduate a semester early and moved to LA with my boyfriend. I found a job within the first two weeks. I quit. I had 2 really shitty jobs at Sunglass Hut and a local West Hollywood restaurant. I quit both of those. I finally found a job in my field, a talent agency. I loved it. but I realized I wasn’t going to move on in the company. So I found my current job as a receptionist at another talent agency and I was determined to move up in the company. By now, I could’ve been a Jr. Agent.

But then I got depressed.

Really depressed. Depressed to the point where I could barely force myself out of bed. I didn’t care about how I dressed for work anymore. I stopped wearing makeup. I didn’t care if I was late. I’d frequently take breaks to just go cry in the bathroom. I’d eat lunch by myself and cry. I’d go home and cry. Then I would eat. Then I would sleep. I would ignore calls from friends. I would never go out on the weekends. The depression had completely cut me off from society.

I could never really explain WHY I was depressed exactly. I just…was. I had a inkling that it had something to do with my job and with my life goals, but how could that be? I was making money and I was paying my rent on time. I was getting set up for a great career I had always dreamed of. I was in a great relationship. But I was lonely. None of my friends felt like me. All of my friends had great careers and were having children and getting married. Is that what the next step was for me? I didn’t want that. But for some reason, it made me terribly sad to log onto Facebook day after day and keep seeing those stupid “engaged” and “marriage” updates, seeing pictures of friends with their adorable babies.

It seemed the joy was just completely sucked out of me. I was a zombie. I was numb. I had this giant black cloud over my life. The colors were dull. Due to emotional eating, I had gained over 30 pounds, which made me even more depressed and that made me eat even more. I couldn’t focus enough to watch a movie or read a book. I couldn’t go to the gym. I couldn’t do anything but sleep, eat, and cry. It was a vicious cycle that I felt I was trapped in. I couldn’t seem to make myself feel anything at all. My boyfriend, seriously worried I’d suffer a complete mental breakdown, suggested that I start seeing a therapist.

It was the best decision of my life. The first day I saw her, I just cried like I never have before. But for the first time, I actually felt something. For so long, I had felt so numb, no feelings about anything at all. Talking to her was like an emotional waterfall; all my feelings just poured out of me. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’d uncovered a lot of pent up feelings. I realized that I wasn’t happy with my life. I didn’t want to be an agent. I didn’t want a 9 to 5. But I didn’t know what I wanted. She explained that I was going through a “quarterlife crisis”, or a scary transition period people my age go through when they’ve graduated from college, but are just…lost. Stuck. That was me. Exactly. For so long I had wondered what was wrong with me, and this whole quarterlife crisis just made complete and perfect sense. Now that I knew what was wrong with me…I could start getting myself healthy again.

Then one day she asked me a question that would change the course of my life. “What is your passion?”.

…My passion. Well. I told her I loved to travel. and I’d love to travel again, but I just didn’t have the money. I would never be able to leave my job. I had rent and bills to pay. I couldn’t just…leave. She told me the words I needed to hear, “Of course you can!”. I went home that night and started research. I found out things  I had never known before. It’s not THAT expensive to travel…and people, just like me were going through the same situations and just…going. They weren’t letting  social conforms keep them from living their lives. I wasn’t alone.  It was the push I needed to help me start to get myself out of the depression.

Once I finally made the decision to go to Thailand, I actually starting feeling again. The numb feeling was gone, and I started to have other emotions besides sadness. I started going back to the gym. I started eating healthy. I stopped crying. As scary as it was, I started a blog. I stopped letting my depression and this quarterlife crisis control me. I started to take back control of my life.

I thought that the depression was going to ruin my life. I thought I’d never be happy again. Reading about other people who felt the same way I do helped me so much. I realized I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t lonely. I was part of a bigger group than I could have ever imagined.

For the first time in a long time, I can genuinely say… I Am Happy.

And it feels fucking awesome.

photo – creative commons, flickr

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Dream Destinations

I’ve started to make a list of places I’ve wanted to visit in the world for quite some time now. Some of the places have emotional ties, some of them I’ve just always dreamed about. Since the starting of this blog, I’ve slowly been compiling a “Life List”, or a list of all the things I want to do and places I want to go. These 5 locations made it to the top of the list.

1. Madeira, Portugal – Oh Madeira, the little island off the coast of Portugal…While I was studying abroad in London, I almost went to Madeira. No one wanted to come with me, and I should have just gone by myself, but at the time I didn’t think it was a good idea. Looking back on it, I should’ve just gone alone. My boyfriend is Portuguese and his family is from Madeira, so I’ve always longed to see the place his grandparents grew up.  It’s also amazingly beautiful and I’ve longed to go to a place where I can hear people speak Portuguese all day. It’s the most beautiful language!

2. Maldives – If Johnny and I ever get married, we’re going to the Maldives for the honeymoon. Well… even if we don’t get married, I’m still going. End. Of. Story. I’ve always been fascinated by these tiny islands, the little bungalows on the water, and the bright sunny skies. I know it’s ridiculously expensive, but it’s one of the places I have to go to one in my life. Whenever I feel sad or down, I just look at pictures of the Maldives and I instantly feel better. A picture of the Maldives is the desktop wallpaper of my work computer too :). It’s absolute paradise.

3. Côte d’Ivoire, Africa – When I was in 3rd grade, our class had pen pals with a class in Côte d’Ivoire. Ever since then, it has been on my list of places I have to go to. I remember being so excited when we would get our new letters. The students would send pictures, and they were all just so beautiful. I was obsessed with the French influence of the country and how the students actually spoke French. It was one of the reasons why I decided to take French in high school. I know that it’s not safe to go to Côte d’Ivoire now due to political unrest, but I hope one day I’ll be able to visit the place I’ve dreamed about since 3rd grade.

4. Buenos Aires, Argentina – Johnny and I almost decided to go to Argentina over Thailand. There were a lot of reasons we wanted to go to Argentina. We want to learn Spanish. We both want to learn how to tango. I want to go because people call it the Paris of South America…and so far Paris is my favorite city I’ve been to. There’s good food, booming night life, gorgeous architecture. I think after I get back from Thailand and get ready to plan my RTW trip, Buenos Aires will be the first place I go.

5. Stockholm, Sweden – Fashion is something I’m really passionate about. Most of the amazing street fashion seems to come out of Stockholm, and it’s originally what sparked my interest in going. Just Googling “Stockholm Street Fashion” brings up dozens of sites. The people always look so laid back and so put together, I just want to jump in all of their closets and steal their clothes. It’s also the headquarters for H&M (SCORE!) Not only to the people and their fashion sense interest me, I’ve read about the many parks, the beautiful architecture, and the cleanliness of the city. Seems like a place I could just have a coffee and people watch all day long.

This list is constantly growing and changing. But these places all hold a place in my heart for different reasons. What are some places you’ve always dreamed of going?

pictures – creative commons, flickr

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