Category Archives: Travelling: The Love of my Life

The Sweeney’s and Beer: One More Week!

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SPRING BREAK IS COMING. This teacher is definitely more excited than her students about the one week countdown. Oh goooooodness, I can’t wait. I’ve had itchy feet for a while now. Dying to “get outa town” as they say. Took a quick trip to Fredericksburg recently, but that didn’t really do the trick.

Six more days and it’s NYC (purposely lengthened our layover so we could squeeze in Aladdin on Broadway) and then Dublin for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Apparently if you go overboard with green and leprechaun mentions, you will be judged and shunned, hard. Glad I learned that. Who woulda thought that Americans have warped other culture’s traditions into their own versions… Strange.

Anyway. Guinness tour, Jameson distillery, St. Paddy’s parade, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, and more. GET HERE, SPRING BREAK, GET HERE NOW.

I should also mention that this intensely awesome and affordable Groupon deal comes with a rental car—so we will be driving ourselves all around the Irish countryside. What the. I know. I’m not very good at driving here in Texas so I can only imagine the danger we will surely be in with me behind the wheel in a foreign country.

But then again: beer.

Not to be combined with the driving, geez. I’m just saying: beer.

It’s going to be in the 40s and 50s and rainy the entire trip: beer. That one makes more sense I guess.

Also, it is imperative to tell you that we will be staying at B&B’s across Ireland, most of which are your average European hostel-type stays, HOWEVER, one of them is a legit farm overlooking the sea, owned by the cutest old couple named The Sweeney’s. I cannot express how excited I am to meet The Sweeney’s. I also may ask them to adopt me, if they’re as adorable in person as their picture and description portray. Isn’t it crazy how some people’s “norm” is feeding their donkeys, drinking coffee while gazing over the Cliffs of Moher?! Just, ya’ know, another day in the life. Meanwhile I’m over here in Austin, scraping myself outa bed and shuffling out of my crappy apartment complex onto I-35, realizing that I put in my left contact but not my right.

You know what, though? Even if The Sweeney’s turn out to be super creepy Roald Dahl’s “The Landlady” types: beer.

Uncomplicate

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This past weekend was one of those happy-exhausting blurs of laughter that you don’t want to end yet simultaneously can’t wait for it to be over so you can sleep!

It was a much-needed celebration—officially off of work for 2 weeks YAASSSSS. But also…and more importantly believe it or not, it was a celebration of living in the present.

Let me explain: I feel like I’ve lived my whole life living in the future—planning and plotting and manipulating every situation to best fit the needs of my impending blueprint. I will definitely shy away from some of the blame and say that my parents have always been quite…pressuring. However, I’ve placed a lot of that pressure on myself and as a result, there have really only been small windows in which I’ve let myself enjoy the moment—without thinking about the next 5 minutes, 5 weeks, or 5 years.

When I travel, I live for the present—I eat without thinking about carbs and I breathe in the sunsets without thinking about writing my next novel. When I graduated from UH, I lived for the present—I decided to skip commencement entirely and drink beer on the beach without thinking about the sand on my borrowed robe or getting my PhD. These are the happiest moments of my life and yet…it takes extreme effort to be able to shut my mind off and live that way. To think about what I want NOW instead of what my family/friends/future-self want down the road… It sounds absurd.

Saturday morning, I treated my best friend’s little brother to brunch for his 21st and around mimosa #3, he said something so funny and wise that I had to write it down before the champagne made me forget: “Alysha, you remind me of the rabbit fwhiterabbitrom Alice in Wonderland. Never has anywhere to go but always in a hurry.” I laughed my ass off—he’s right! I am on constant GO-GO-GO! mode and there’s just no reason for it…

It would be foolish to say, “So I’m done with that way of thinking. I’m going to live in the present from now on.” No. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m Type A. I’m an ENTJ. I know that I can’t change the way I am—I love planning! I love list-making! I love bossing people around and making decisions and getting things to go my way. BUT. I also love when someone or something slows all of that down and just, simply: Makes. Me. Happy.

Sometimes you have to take a breath and choose to uncomplicate your life—choose the path that makes you feel free. Light-hearted. Giddy. Happy—the most basic form of happy—not “Oh my goodness this will fit so well into my 5-year plan” kind of happy. NOT the “My parents will love this” kind of happy. NOT the “WWFAS: What would future Alysha say?” kind of happy. I’m talkin’ the right here, right now, I’m smiling and all I want to do is keep smiling kind of happy…I want to be this kind of happy always.

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So yes, “live in the present” and “do what makes you happy” and blah blah blah. But also…realize that you can’t change who you are, but you can change how you think about your happiness… I caught myself choosing what my future thought it wanted. If that makes any sense. I caught myself and I turned it around. I feel like I can breathe. I feel like I’m traveling. I feel like I’m drinking beer in Kailua, wearing my sandy, borrowed robe. I feel so simple-happy.

 

Turkey: The Country and the Lunchmeat

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In three days, I’ll be traveling to Europe 🙂 Rome–>Athens–>Santorini–>Mykonos–>Istanbul–>Capadoccia! One of the things I’m most excited about is the Blue Mosque in Istanbul (the beautiful thing shown in the picture).

I’m not sure what I’m more nervous/anxious/thrilled about: this amazing summer trip or my new teaching job starting as soon as I get back. I am officially moving from 7th grade English to 9th grade English. I accepted a position at Hays High School, my alma mater! To top it off, I’ll be teaching alongside my mentor, my real-life Dumbledore, the guy who’s responsible for me writing and teaching (thanks a lot, I’ll be poor forever). My novel is actually dedicated to him! So hey teachers, feeling down? You never know, maybe a student will dedicate a book to you one day.

I’m really gonna miss my squirrely middle schoolers though. Not to mention my coworkers here in Del Valle that I’ve come to deeply love and respect.

Hence my clever title…lunchmeat, cafeteria….high school? Ok, so maybe the dots aren’t as easy to connect as I’d like to think, but whatever.

Why am I writing one blog to talk about two completely different topics? I’m lazy, y’all.

In fact, I’ve said all I wanted to say already.

Let me sum up (I just love making lists, to be honest):

1. Rome- I guess that coin I threw into the fountain a few years ago for “returning” worked. Now about that other coin…

2. Greece- Was anyone else obsessed with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when they were younger? Yeah, I’ll be on the lookout for Kostas.

3. Turkey, the country- Please send good, safe vibes since it’s not exactly a prime time to travel there… Also: we’re going on a hot air balloon ride. Be jealous.

4. Turkey, the lunchmeat- Bring it on, freshmen.

 

Sidenote: it’ll be really nice to get away from all the book marketing exhaustion. THE WAITING ROOM is my baby and I love her…but she has been a real pain in the ass! Sorry to my WordPress/Twitter amigos- if I’m silent for a few weeks, it’s because I’m tanning on a Greek island. NBD.

Sandfest

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Sandcastles pretty much never stop being cool, am I right?

At least that’s what I was raised to believe—I didn’t say building your own sandcastle; I just said sandcastles. This obvious fact is proven by Port Aransas, TX—a seemingly unremarkable Texas beach. I mean sure, the Gulf of Mexico provides somewhat…shall we say murky waters and its coast is anything but “powder white sand”…but Port A has its own charms! Sandfest is one of those charms.

Every April, sand sculptors from all over travel to “that tiny beach next to Corpus Christi” and they create pure magic. Masterpieces like these:

Sand Wars?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used to go every year as a kid, and honestly, I have had more fun the older I get. Obviously, now I can combine drinking with sunbathing, which is a major upgrade. But also, I think that the art is more meaningful now. At this age, I feel like I can fully appreciate the sculptures. Don’t get me wrong—kids are just as enchanted. But I remember seeing them and just being blown away that there was a castle in front of me, ten times my size, made completely of sand. Whereas, this year, I found myself in all kinds of psychological debates (in my own head…hmmm…normal?) about the possible messages. Such an English teacher. But seriously, ponder over these for a while:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alas, I still bought a toe ring from Ring Around the Toesies. Don’t judge me, I like foot bling.

My friend Brian spent many hours digging a hole that my friend Pete would later ecstatically build a campfire in. Johanna was over the moon about Winton’s, the local candy shop known for their “Good”. Stephen even checked out our condo’s gym (Sandcastle Condominiums are right on the beach and pretty dang awesome). Some people preferred lounging by the pool and hot tub; others just sat on our balcony and relaxed. My mom and her friends were there too—getting sunburned and sipping vanilla rum.

It was an amazing trip. So start planning now for next April—hotel rooms fill up fast! And next time you’re building a sandcastle, try not to feel too inferior.

Yeah, Mon!

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You know you’re officially old when you opt out of going to the Ochos Rios Margaritaville with college boys and instead head up to your room, piña colada in hand, to read and pass out by 11 pm.

Ah, Jamaica. I’ve never had so much fun doing so little. Let me tell you, I didn’t get hit on ONCE. My younger self would’ve thought a vacation without vacation romance would be no vacation at all. Pft, who needs a man when you’re at an all-inclusive resort, sipping on rum from morning til night?

Don’t get me wrong, we swam with dolphins and climbed Dunn’s River Falls, but we spent the majority of our spring break working on our tan, our appetite, and our alcohol tolerance. I gained about six pounds and three shades of brown.

Jennifer, my co-teacher/co-captain/co-pilot/co-whatever else you can think of, DID get hit on. Hard. I literally thought they were going to kidnap her (and by they, I mean every Jamaican man in sight). The man driving us to the airport grabbed her arm and said, “I don’t want you to go. Stay here with me.” I thought I was going to have to go all BACK OFF SHE’S MINE on his ass. But most of the men just smiled and winked at her, gaping at her curvy figure. Our tour guides at Dunn’s nicknamed her Shakira (I definitely called her that for the rest of the trip). Then they’d glance at me and occasionally offer to sell me weed.

Conclusion: Jamaica is amazing. Side note: I do not recommend going “off the beaten tourist path”…as amazing of a country as it is, it’s still extremely impoverished and therefore, well, just scary in parts.

I dedicate the rest of this blog to random highlights that I typed in a note on my phone. Feel free to stop reading here.

-Jennifer hadn’t been on a plane in ages and was also a little sleep deprived. She rambled on and on when we were landing…it went something like this: “I feel like we’re floating. You know how when it speeds up and then it stops? Now I feel like we’re on a bungee rope. This would be a lot harder to park than my truck.”

-We witnessed a random drunk man stand on top of the hotel’s fake waterfall and throw his flip-flops into the pool below. He wound up walking downstairs to retrieve them and I said, “Excuse me, why do you hate your shoes?” He slurred that he just did it to do it, considered jumping in the pool to get his flops, then said, “Fuck it,” and stumbled back inside, barefoot.

-We went out on a small sailboat one day and the driver kept repeating over and over, “I’m going to get you ladies so wet.” Yeah…awkward.

-There was a snake in the ocean one morning! Freaked us out. The workers said, “No problem, mon, they don’t bite. They’ll just wrap around you.” Cool.

-We had an omelet man who we absolutely adored. As in, the same man made us a gourmet omelet every single morning. My breakfasts will never be the same.

-Jennifer was too lazy to keep walking back to the bar, so she would usually show up with four drinks in her hand. Then she discovered what a Hummingbird was, and all hell broke loose. Crazy lady. She would also frequently order in interesting fashions like this: “Can you just make me something blue? I want something blue.”

 

Conclusion #2: Jamaica is the most affordable paradise I’ve ever been to. Highly recommend! And all-inclusive is definitely the way to go. I can’t even explain how awesome it feels to walk up to a bar, order a beer (Red Stripe, mon!), and not have to even think about presenting an ID or money OR tip—tips aren’t allowed! They win coolest accents, yummiest jerk chicken, and most rum-filled island.

Ugh, Resolutions

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Diet, exercise more, and get skinny? Nah. Been there, done that, I think I’ve peaked, people. I’m over it. I don’t want it as badly as I want cheeseburgers anymore. Sorry ‘bout that future hubby, ya’ shoulda hurried the hell up!

Cuss less? I considered that, but let’s get one damn thing straight—I don’t give a fuck.

Write more? I considered that too, but one blog a month is already getting to be a pain in the ass and the novel needs at least a full summer of attention, so that’ll have to wait.

Something gross and relationship-y? Like “be more open to love” or “stop being so open to love” ha! This could work. But ick. Who wants their resolution to be about boys…doesn’t enough revolve around those bastards already? Let me tell you something ladies, if you haven’t already figured this one out: even the ones that seem nice are disgusting pigs. You just gotta wait for the one whose disgustingness doesn’t make you wanna puke (now that’s a resolution).

Get a tattoo? Clean more? Pay off my loans? Apply to a PHD program? Yawn. I can’t think of anything worthy.

When I was in Sydney for New Years, my friends said that 2013 was the best year of their lives, hands down. That worried me…I mean, I definitely did the most I’ve ever done in one year in 2013, but I’d never say it was my BEST. I spent time in Hawaii, Japan, Thailand, Texas, and Australia. I was published, I got my masters, I got a new job, met new friends…but I feel like I’ve been happier. A long time ago. A year that I hardly traveled anywhere or did anything at all…but I was carefree, I was content without trying to be, without thinking about it at all.

 So I think that’ll be my resolution. To make sure 2014 is my BEST year yet. To make sure that on NYE this year, I can say that without a doubt. Should be easy enough, right?

Aussie Christmas

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That time I peaced out of the country for the holidays. Oh yeah, that’s in two days. This. Is. Happening.

No awkward family Christmas photos, cold nights, or boring days lying around my apartment.

I’m planning on 12 full days of beaches, booze, and other Australian shenanigans.

No disappointing New Year’s Eve this year—not that last year was a total bust—this year I’ll be at Shore Thing watching Skrillex and dancing like a fool in the sand.

Get me outa’ Texas, I’m ready for a tan and a beer and my crazy Aussie friends whom I adore. But seriously, how the hell am I gonna keep up with them? They drink like fish.

 Oh, and I forgot to mention—Christmas Eve in Sydney with a house full of Colombians? Yes please. Badass. Get me there now!

Can I keep going? Boxing Day races in Newcastle the day after Christmas. Horses. Pretty dresses. More drinking. That’s all I need to know.

I want to hold a kuala and pet a kangaroo and find Nemo. In that order.

And I’ll be 17 hours ahead of you guys so I’ll letcha know what 2014 is like 🙂

I’ll be arriving back in the States with style, brown as a graham cracker, and probably hungover as hell on Jan. 2nd.

Short post, I know. But I’m sure I’ll be able to fill out pages when I get back! Until then, friends.

Happy Holidays mate!

P.S. Don’t be surprised if I buy a flat and stay forever… Oh wait, I’m broke, nevermind.

 

 

And this.