Magical Sevilla

David and I both fell in love with Sevilla, Spain. Something about that city is magical. It feels quaint and cozy even though it’s the fourth-largest city in Spain. The center of the city is pedestrian-only and here and there you will hear a musician – with actual talent – playing guitar beautifully so it feels like the city has its own soundtrack. One such musician sat in Plaza Elvira (where we stayed) and filmed a music video; we even participated and were filmed as part of the audience!

There is just no way to convey through pictures how enchanting this city was – I hope some day you all can visit and experience it (if you haven’t already). We did our best, though, and her are some of the things that make Sevilla such a charming place.

There are cobblestone streets with horse-drawn carriages
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Ancient buildings around every street corner and off in the horizon
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An abundance of orange trees that are covered in fruit (too bitter to eat, but making for beautiful scenery)
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Buildings and courtyards with thousands of inlaid hand-painted ceramic tiles

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Stone carvings that are mind-blowingly intricate and well-preserved
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Flamenco up close and personal
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Well manicured gardens that seem to have no end
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And city views unlike anything you’ve seen before
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These are mere snippets of all that we saw in our two days in Seville (the whole set of pictures can be seen on Shutterfly). Every single thing we saw there exceeded all expectations, including the people.

Someday, we’ll go back and experience the magic again.

 

I Can’t Write About Spain

I want to write about how amazing last week’s trip to Spain was. Because truly, it was wonderful. I needed that change of scenery. I needed to get away from the stress of day-to-day life. David and I badly needed that time together to be a couple and not caregivers. We got that in Spain and it was lovely. It was so very worth it!

Some day, we’ll go back.

We had a whole week abroad free of worry (for the most part). And I wish I could say that I feel refreshed after that change of scenery, but I don’t. I know I should feel happy – my soul renewed and inspired – and I should be ready to tackle everything all over again. I feel conflicted instead of happy. Less than a day back and the blanket of depression I’d tried to leave behind me when I got on the plane to Madrid enveloped me all over again. Every time I’m asked how Spain was, I say, “it was…good.”

Spain was awesome.

On the other hand, I was not awesome; therefore Spain was…a mixed bag.

I just want to forget the less wonderful things, but I can’t. I’m stuck.

I spent a lot of the week battling a nasty cold that seems to have turned into a sinus infection. I dealt with insomnia (which hit at different times than my husband’s insomnia). Half the time I longed for the comfort of my own bed and an ability to recover from my cold without missing out on a whole world outside the hotel. I was so overwhelmed by many of the wondrous things we saw and yet I lacked interest in other things that I usually would enjoy. I had very little appetite to take full advantage of the foods and wines I had been looking forward to trying. I was so out of it by the end of the trip that I accidentally forgot a painting we had bought in Seville in the hotel lobby before we left on a train back to Madrid. Then on our last night in Spain, David and I argued, my debit card was eaten by an ATM, and I woke up in the middle of the night with a debilitating migraine that had David looking up the cost of medical care for tourists.

There was a lot of bad. It wasn’t all bad and in fact I felt mostly relaxed while in Spain, but there was enough bad to reinforce the feeling that the universe continues to punish me for something that I’m not even aware of doing.

That’s ridiculous, I know. This is life and there are good things and bad things and if I could just remember to think more about those good things than the bad things, I could be a much happier person.

I want to focus on the good. I want to write pages and pages about the magical town of Sevilla and the sheer awesomeness of the architectural details we saw everywhere in Spain. I want to offer recommendations for places to try for tapas and let you know that Spanish in Spain is different than Mexican Spanish. I have lists to share – of American things we’d miss if we ever moved to Spain and things that Spain does better than America. I have nearly four hundred pictures to show off, many of which only offer hints of how mind-blowing everything was and really need some narration!

But I’m depressed. I’m still sick and I had another migraine last night. And it’s December, which has traditionally been a terribly hard month for me anyway.

So instead of writing about Spain, I wrote this.

I’m sorry.

BlogHer12 Recap

I’m really glad I got to go to BlogHer this year. It was a great event and I loved seeing New York City again, as well as my many friends who live in the Internets. This BlogHer, as opposed to BH10, was much less overwhelming for me. I don’t know if it was the fact that I had a buddy (Jana), that I knew so many more people this go-round, or if it was the fact that I went in without any expectations or set plans; it all worked out well and I just happened to run into pretty much all the people I had hoped to see!

This is just a brief recap that does the conference NO JUSTICE. But please consider checking out the posts I’ve linked below and enjoy the pics. Maybe I’ll see you in Chicago next year!

Voices of the Year I particularly enjoyed:

Jana: From a Pecan to a Majestic Magnolia (Identity [read at Open Mic])

Jana VOTY

Elizabeth at Flourish in Progress: To the Person Who Stole My Taco Bell Gordita Savings Fund (Humor)

Neil from Citizen of the Month: The Poet at the Geek Bar (Humor)

Dresden Shumaker: Welfare Queen (Heart)

Arnebya Herndon: Walk This Way (Op-Ed)

Best Party:

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Come As You Are – It was hosted by Aiming Low and Mouthy Housewives. I got some pretty sweet artwork drawn on me by Robin Plemmons, plus I got to give out all kinds of compliments on stickers (and got a few myself). And there was the most amazing chocolate covered peanut butter ball dessert thingy…

Connected with and/or hugged (in no particular order and possibly not all-inclusive):

Jana, Issa, Dawn, Cathy, Nona, Alecia, Allison, Katherine, Tanis, Anissa, Julia Roberts, Liz, Andrea, Jenny, Lauren, Frelle, Stacey, Bossy, Christine, Stacey (who also likes ewoks), Robin Plemmons, Angie, Jenny Grace, Julia, EmmieJ, Megan, Kristine, Jenna

Favorite conference moments:

In the “Blogging After Life Change” session, I spoke up to tell my story and was able to connect with another mom whose son had just recently been diagnosed with Leukemia.

When the lovely Robin Plemmons wrote on my arm, “He will be healed,” we both teared up.

Dancing with the very talented Cathy at Sparklecorn.

‘Fancy’ breakfast with Jana and Lauren.

When I drew a schlong on Allison’s moo card during a keynote.

What I did offsite:

Rode the subway, then had ‘fancy breakfast’.
Ate breakfast for lunch at Serendipity3.
Visited Tiffany & Co.

Things I’ll do differently next year:

Go out to dinner.
Buy a memento.
Attend more than 2 sessions.
Pack a suitcase in a suitcase (for swag).
Share a cab to/from the hotel to save cash.
Take an incoming flight that is NOT a red-eye.
Drink more champagne.
Take more pictures!

Unexpected Honeymoon Happenings

  • Losing my passport in Munich
  • Big food portions
  • Italians speaking amazing English
  • Affordable wine at restaurants (like – 8 euro for a bottle!)
  • Throwing up in a bidet
  • Trannies on the train to Florence
  • Peacefulness of Venice
  • Bad coffee…a lot
  • Bad pasta – just once (they took ‘al dente’ to a whole new level)
  • Getting tons of sleep
  • Watching football at an American bar
  • The terrible American food at the American bar
  • Coming home $1000 under budget

Pictures here.  We had a blast!

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Wherein I (Blogger)Name Drop

I haven’t experienced homesickness since I was 11.  That was the summer I was supposed to spend a month with my best friend Kristal down in Fresno-area.  I didn’t last there a week.  The following year I was fine and every year after that I looked forward to that summer escape from my daily life, even if it was mostly the two of us playing pool, eating Kisses w/Almonds and watching bad soap operas.  It’s really hot in the valley in summer, so we didn’t get out much.

Thursday night at BlogHer, in between parties, it hit me again.  I was across the country from David and Jack and wouldn’t see them for days.  I had no one to snuggle with and I was a little out of sorts in an unfamiliar city.  I cried talking to David, called Jack and listened to him announce that he was a magician before fluttering away from the phone, and then wandered around the Hilton…

That was when I ran across Ali sitting in the lobby, and that familiar face from San Francisco made everything instantly better.  Plus (if you’ve met Ali you know) she is the snuggliest, huggiest person ever.  We hopped in a cab and headed to the Schick Party where we were both bummed to NOT be let in because we were so late.  Bummer!  Nevertheless, we waited around outside and were able to meet Angie and Aunt Becky and their husbands, among others that my feeble brain cannot recall at the moment.  (Side note – I had NO idea how best to introduce myself to people…hi, I’m Crystal…um, Ewokmama?  Oh, so you’ve heard of me?  Cool, here’s my card anyway because I bought 500 and I have nothing else to do with them.)  After quick intros, Ali and I headed over to meet up with Countess Mo at an Irish pub.  Mo and I hadn’t met in person prior to this but it still felt like I was seeing someone from home.  It was a very welcome interlude.  When Mo left to chase after a friend, Ali and I wandered back to hang out with Aunt Becky & gang back at the hotel bar where Becky’s husband The Daver and I talked about work and corporate America.  We are Teh Kewl!  Or something.

Not too long after the group headed to bed, Ali and I stumbled into some drunk guy who wanted to party with us “fresh girls.”  Ahahahaha.  Ha.  Countess Mo showed up out of the blue (how does she do that?!) to rescue us because she is totally the mama hen.  She rocks and I luff her.  We took a short trip up to a room where Duchess Mama (I am apparently into the royals) was staying with some other awesome ladies (who were you?  am I following you??) and giggling.  It was funny.  I was drunk, though, so don’t take my word for it.  Oh, that reminds me of a funny story of my actual meeting of Duchess Mama.  It’s good, I promise…

So, we were at The People’s Party earlier that night and the set up was such that there were rugs overlapping on the floor.  Duchess noticed this when her shoe slipped under the overlap.  I immediately pointed out that she could TOTALLY get a free drink for that craziness!  So then she “tripped” over the carpet and the hotel folks swarmed her to make sure she was okay and girly totally got a drink.  Meanwhile the Hilton dudes discussed how best to avoid any future accidents and decided to place two chairs over the overlapping rugs…where a few bloggers proceeded to lap dance.  ‘Twas awesome.  (Did anyone get pictures?)

I can’t really remember what happened after we left Duchess & Co’s room so I will wrap this up.  Suffice it to say that all of this was just one night of BlogHer.  Also, there is a lot missing, like the delicious deli I went to with my roomies, the awesome dinner with my roomies, Nona, and Issa where our Irish waitress showed Issa how to use her iPhone camera, that nap I took in the hotel room, the surprise meeting of Jessica from Oh The Joys in the hallway, and the meeting of Undomestic Diva and Shuggilippo at The People’s Party.

So, yeah, there was A LOT packed into every day of my trip to New York and on this particular day the conference had not even started yet.  Still, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t have time to miss home.  There is always time for that.

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Dating Profile for New BlogHer Friends

Image representing BlogHer as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

I met a lot of awesome people last week at BlogHer.  I didn’t get enough time to talk with those I met and I’m guessing there will be some checking out of blogs this week.  I am still recovering from my trip across the country and the conference whirlwind, so details about the trip may be slow in coming.  In the mean time, here is the profile that hooked me up with David nearly two years ago.  It’s a great way to get to know me!

I am always seeking out new points of view on life from others to test my own opinions. I like to examine the differences and similarities in all people. I love to bounce ideas and theories around. I am playful and not afraid of embarrassment, although I dislike being the center of attention. I am a no-nonsense type of girl who goes for what she wants and I’m passionate about the things that are important to me. Yes, sometimes I argue my point even if I suspect I’m wrong. I don’t give up easily!

I often get so enraptured with a subject that I will read everything I can get my hands on about it until I’m an expert. It’s typical of me to read all of the album lyrics and notes prior to listening to a new CD. I am a master googler. I love imdb and wikipedia.

I’ll know I have reached the ultimate in life when I acquire a maid and a cook. I like it when I can pay someone else to do things I don’t like to do; I feel like I’m helping the economy.

I am somewhat impulsive but I usually spend a lot of time planning. I’m contrary sometimes.

I can be reserved at first but if you’re shyer than I am, I might do something outrageous to get you talking. I’m honest to a fault and will answer any question. My answers will probably surprise you.

I hate to wonder if I’m missing out on something that has the potential to be awesome. I am independent and enjoy time alone, but also love the energy of a group gathering. At a party I’m likely to be found in the corner of a room observing interactions or engrossed in a conversation about the merits of various toothpaste flavors and consistencies (cinnamon gel is my favorite).

I’m not much of a cook but I bake fairly well and often. I’ll make you some peanut butter brownies if you prepare the main course. Or you can give me cooking lessons… Dining out most nights a week is perfectly acceptable, as well (as long as it’s not fast food).

I have an amazing son who fascinates me with his passion and his unbridled sense of discovery. He is inspirational and brings out the kid in me. He makes me a better person every day.

for fun:
I love doing just about anything with another person – life is always more fun with friends. Board games, dining out, travel, BBQs, bocci ball… I like dancing around the house (but I’m a terrible dancer) and pondering the oddities in life.

my job:
I’m an executive assistant at a software company. I like the exposure I get to various types of work, the details about the inner workings of a company, and I learn new things all the time. The money isn’t bad, either.

my ethnicity:
I’m so pale I glow. I’m mostly German with a spattering of British and a little part of every other European country that ever existed, except Italian.

my religion:
I’m highly skeptical of organized religion. I focus on being the best human being I can be and don’t feel that I require a set of instructions in order to do that. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is great, though.

my education:
I could never decide what to major in (Sociology, Psychology, Art, Finance, English…so many choices, so little time) and the classroom is set at too slow a pace for me. I prefer to read a book and learn while doing.

favorite hot spots:
It is my goal to eat out at every restaurant in the Bay Area. Okay, I can skip the seafood but I’ll take everything else! I enjoy museums, aquariums, botanical gardens, coffee shops…the Bay Area is a great place for all of those.

favorite things:
I’m an indoors girl generally, but will venture outside for walks or a hike with the right company. I like to bowl. I’m currently having a lot of fun decorating my apartment (retro yeah!). Wine is tasty. I miss the 90s music scene but am adjusting.

last read:
Lately I’ve been reading any vampire book I can get my hands on (anything from I Am Legend to Twilight). Patricia McKillip is my favorite (fantasy) author. I write and read blogs. I eat up Augusten Burroughs. Click Clack Moo gets a lot of play, too.  [Note: I haven't read a book in two years so this part is out of date!)

I’m looking forward to getting to know all my new friends!

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An Object in Motion

Did you know that July is almost over?  Next week is August!  AUGUST!  I am not even sure where this year went.  I’m fairly sure, though, that the next 5.5 weeks are going to disappear along with the rest of the year…so, because I am insanely busy, you get bullet points.

  • Jack is taking another trip with his dad so I won’t see him until next week.  I am honestly too harried to dwell on missing him right now, which is kind of a blessing?  Still, I wish I could hug him and snuggle with him every day. He is even more amazing every day!
  • Way back before I had a kid, I used to be a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator.  To get back some of my creative time and be more social now that Jack is getting more independent, I decided to see what the company is all about now.  I received a postcard from them telling me about an incredible deal that would allow me to sign up to be a demonstrator again at a very small price just a few weeks after I started thinking about it…so, I am back at it, albeit with a slow ramp-up period (I’m doing very little except networking until after my wedding).  While I’m not doing workshops right now, I can take orders through my website so I’m not completely stagnant.  Come October I’m going to rock it again!
  • Next week I’m going to BlogHer!  I’ve gone back and forth on whether I should really go but obviously I haven’t decided not to go…I am way too excited about the content and the people I will get to meet!  Plus, it’s New York!!!  (By the way, I’m looking for a rideshare from JFK to the Hilton on Wednesday around 5:30…let me know if you’re around.)
  • Our wedding is in 5.5 weeks!  We have most everything in place and yet it feels like it will never come together.  There is still so much to do and so many things going on in the mean time!  I am keeping my mind set on the honeymoon and trying not to worry about getting everything done in time.  I know both David and I are in desperate need of a real vacation.  Hopefully relaxation and sleep will come with it.  I feel like I could sleep for a year right about now.
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Prepping for BlogHer

Plans are in full swing for BlogHer.  I have a hotel room with roommates, my flight is booked, and I’ve RSVP’d to many a party:

I'm going!I'm going!I'm going! People's Party BlogHer 2010I'm going!

Next I will print out the insane very rich and full agenda to determine which sessions I’ll be attending.  I am open to suggestions since I’m a first timer.

Are you going to BlogHer?  Let me know so we can meet!  So far, besides my roomies, I expect I’ll catch up with Caitlin, Emmie, Megan, Kat, Lexi, and Dawn…I think.  My memory is not so good so I probably forgot someone and/or included someone on accident.

Have I mentioned I’ve never been to New York?  Not even the airport!  Wheee!

Time Out For Me

Recently my mom suggested we plan a trip together.  We’ve never gone on a trip together, so  I was surprised by the suggestion.  I was also delighted, of course, and much in need of a break, so I agreed without delay.

My mom has this whole week off work and Friday is a holiday at my place of employment, so this seemed like the perfect time for a mini vacation.  We thought about flying somewhere at first, but I was finally able to figure out that if we stay close to home (mine being in SF and hers in Sacramento) we can get more for our money and actually be relaxed afterward.  It didn’t take us long to pick Napa as our destination, which will also help me achieve my goal to go wine tasting this year.  The hotel where we are staying offers in-room massages, so I booked that for the night we arrive.  (Getting a professional massage also satisfies one of my goals this year!  Woot!)

I haven’t spent much time in Napa before, so I’m open to suggestions from you fine folks.  So far the only things we have scheduled are massages, a dinner at Celadon, a dinner at Cuvee, and a brunch at Angele.  Wine tasting is on the list – including the free one offered by the hotel – and we have a few wineries within walking distance to check out (Gustavo Thrace and Stonegate).  There may be some shopping and we’re planning on checking out the scenery on our way out.

It’s taking every bit of reserve I have to get through this insane week.  Napa is my reward for slogging through.  I will make it to tomorrow afternoon!

Goal #102

I’m moving right along on my list of 110 in 2010.  So far, I’ve completed fifteen items and have fourteen others in various stages of progress.  (At least two have been eliminated from the list – wear a skirt once a week and participate in project 365.)  Hopefully I’ll be up to 25% by the end of March, otherwise I’m going to have to work double time.

#102 on my list is “Attend a blogger based social event.”  This is how I convinced myself that it is imperative that I attend BlogHer ’10.  Well, that and the fact that I’ve never been to New York before (which is really insane because I even have family there).  I registered to attend at the end of February so that I could get the discounted pricing and thank goodness I did!  The conference is sold out now – five months early.  I’ve arranged to room with Jenny, Julia, and Lora, and to be honest I think they are all going to out-party me!  I’m totally up for the challenge, though.

Are you going to BlogHer?  If so, let’s arrange to meet.  For those of you who have been to the BlogHer conference before, can you tell me what I need to bring?  I’m the type to only pack essentials and take as small a suitcase as possible (so that I can carry it on the plane).  The last conference I went to was for Stampin’ Up! back when I was a demonstrator; I attended three of those and had a blast every time.  I may be a convention/conference junkie…