Music Monday: Here in Neverland

My name is Sally, and I’m addicted to musicals.

There are some that have meant a lot to my life – like Grease, which brought me some of the best people in my life when we did it in high school, or the Sound of Music, which Grandma Sugarplum and I would sing together.

But I can only think of three performances where the show itself – the sheer musical content and drama – kicked me in the gut so hard that I watched with my hand over my mouth, willing time to slow down so I could stay in the moment forever.

The first: A Chorus Line – I felt like had just broken my ankle and lost my life’s dream.
The second: Wicked – in the front row in London, watching Idina Menzel – sorry, Adele Dazeem – take to the skies.
The third: Finding Neverland – here in Boston, with Jeremy Jordan killing it in the lead role. Be still, my heart. But seriously, I was never a fan of the movie but thought the show sounded fun and it blew me away, to the extent that I bought tickets for my family to see it first thing the next morning.

(Later, when I saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London, I held it against this example of unexpected, amazing childhood fun and it came up sorely lacking.)

Don’t take it from me – go see Matthew Morrison take back this role on Broadway, and Laura Michelle Kelly continue her reign of glory as the leading lady. I know I’m going to see it again!

(Ok, the fourth was Spring Awakening – and the fifth was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat – and the sixth was Les Mis – and the seventh…)

Hiking homework

This week was my first lecture as part of the Boston chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club spring hiking course (say that five times fast!).  I expected the class to consist of 30 people who would all become my fast friends over six weeks as we shared stories of blisters and dreams of windy peaks. 

Erm, not so much. 

When I arrived at the AMC office on Beacon Hill, I was one of a dozen people all rushing in slightly late. I paid my $65 fee and was handed what can only be described as a brick of a guidebook, as well as a carefully curated handbook. Maybe this is actually kind of serious, I thought to myself as I looked for any open seat in the room that held more than 125 people. 

The goal of week 1 was to terrify you into never wearing running shoes or cotton in the woods ever again, and it definitely worked. The clothing workshop also made me realize that I need to spend about $500 just to get my basic gear up to snuff – gulp. But everyone was nice and encouraging even as they called cotton the devil. I can’t wait to see what part of hiking I’m woefully unprepared for next! 

 

(Trying not to read too far ahead in the book to keep the suspense alive!) 

Hello sunshine

Spring has sprung in Boston and not a moment too soon. The air is fresh, the snow piles are shrinking, and the Red Sox season opener is Monday. 

  

What more could you want in life? Give me an iced coffee and call this heaven. 

Climb ev’ry mountain

One of the coolest things I did in Hawaii – or maybe in my entire life to date – was to drive to the top of Haleakalā, a massive shield volcano that makes up more than 75% of Maui.  It took hours to get to the top of the crater, switching back and forth slowly up the side (emphasis on slowly – those turns were not for the faint of heart).  But what we saw at the 10,000 foot top made the dizzying drive worthwhile.

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It was like being on another planet – Mars, specifically.  I lost all depth perception in the sweeping hills of red and black dust. Rocks looked like I could reach out and touch them, when in reality, they were miles away.

We didn’t stay up there too long – we were originally going to watch the sunset, but decided it wasn’t worth driving down in the dark.  We did catch a glimpse of the splendor on the way down, but it was really the scene from the top that stuck with me the most.  It was a breathtaking reminder of just how unexpectedly awesome a view can be – and how worthwhile it is to make the trek (though maybe pack your inhaler next time, lady…).

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And it gave me a final push to take on one of the last big challenges I wanted to tackle before I turn 30 in October: Mount Washington.  Despite growing up in NH, I’ve never once set foot on the top of this giant mountain.  My good friend Kate, who rowed crew with me back at Mount Holyoke (aka my twin because our coach thought we were the same person…) is going to hike it with me this summer.  I don’t know what path we’ll take yet (but I’m taking suggestions!) but I’m more convinced than ever that the view at the top will be mind-boggling and worth every step. Leave your hiking advice below, please!

Sunset on our descent

(All photos are my own!)

Vacation truths

When I go on vacation with my sister, some things are guaranteed:


1. We will try – and fail – to stay still and relax.
We did chill out on the beach and at Twin Falls, but we also drove for five hours yesterday. We can’t stop (won’t stop) moving!

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2. We will get sunburnt – our Polish/ French skin is no match for the morning sun glinting off the ocean, as this week’s snorkel adventure reminded us.

3. We will take jumping pictures. It wouldn’t be a sister-vacation without a carefully timed photo session – we also got into someone else’s cheesy photos when I was asked to be the O in their OHIO!

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4. We will sing show tunes. All those years of practicing our parts in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” really show when you get us alone in a car for hours!

5. We will have a blast. My sister is a badass, great navigator, good meal-sharer, and overall awesome friend, and I wish we could have this kind of adventure every day. For now, I’m soaking up every minute until we go back to our own cities and then immediately planning our next trip. Huzzah!

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Questioning my life choices in Hawaii

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I’ve been here exactly one day, and I get it.

I get why people come to this island and never leave.  I understand the appeal of the sunshine and the clear blue ocean and the fresh fish.  And also, did I mention the perfect 75-degree days and that where I come from, we have had seven feet of snow this winter?

Sitting on the beach today, it was hard not to wonder why this isn’t my everyday life.  Why do I sit in an office instead of a lounge chair, why not trade email for books marked with sunscreen fingerprints? Why didn’t I go to a college somewhere tropical? Why am I not a professional volleyball player (related not to my skill but to the fact that the college women we saw playing today looked like they were having a TON OF FUN!)?

Such is the joy of vacation – forcing you to question the world and your place in it, even if you don’t quit your job (don’t worry guys, I’m not done saving the world – be back next Monday as planned!).  Because really, I loved my New England school and the winter makes me appreciate the sunshine more (or something).

Stay tuned for more deep thoughts and hopefully no sunburns over the next week!

As we say in my family, go if you're going!

As we say in my family, go if you’re going!

Euro Top Ten: #10 – Dinner in Istanbul

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#10 – Dinner in Istanbul

Sometimes, a layover is more than just a layover. And a dinner is more than just a dinner.

Sometimes, a single inexpensive meal can be the perfect bookend on an amazing journey – and open your eyes to a new world of possibility.

Our layover in Turkey, during our flight home from Europe, was a bit of a crapshoot.  It took a while to get out of the airport, and then I thought there was something wrong with my visa (turned out the issue was that the immigration agent was so busy flirting with me, he forgot to save my info and had to chase me through the airport. No biggie…).  We had no idea if we were going the right way on the train, or if our luggage was really safe being left on the plane (we only took carry-ons off), and we were holding fistfuls of money, since the exchange rate in Turkey was in our favor.  But as we got off the train to the sound of the evening prayer, all our anxiety faded away.  It was replaced with awe, and reverence.

Over the previous month, I had danced in British clubs, seen top-notch theater, admired famous works of art, eaten croissants on the bank of the Seine and wine on plazas in France, been massaged on a beach and hustled by someone at a train station, and more.  But the magic of Istanbul made dinner here my favorite moment of the trip.

The restaurant we stopped at, Mesale Cafe, had it all. Cushioned benches.  A cat at the table next to us that was bold enough when it was being fed to jump right up onto the table.  The sweet smell of hookah from people smoking around us.  And a perfect view of the live music and dancing – really spinning – on the stage at the front of the place, which drew us in initially.

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We ate like queens, tasting marinated chicken and meat crepe-like pancakes, made by women sitting mere feet from our table.  We drank literally every tea on the menu, and when we were done, our waiter said “just one more!” and then brought us a syrupy-sweet concoction that was a mix of all the teas together.

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We sat back against the pillows.  We paused and didn’t check Facebook.  We watched the dancers and smoke and shifting lights – and we realized that this was only the beginning.  If this city, that seemed so foreign and daunting, could be so sweet and beautiful and welcoming, nothing should hold us back.  We immediately started dreaming bigger – Katie of Thailand, me of rural Turkey, to visit a college roommate.

By the end of the meal, we were only out about $18 total – and in addition to our full stomachs, we gained an awareness that no adventure is inherently off-limits in this vast and wonderful world.  Even if you start with a layover, getting your feet on the ground is a perfect beginning.

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Spice market, Istanbul

 

Read my initial post about the best layover ever here.

The #10 is brought to you from the streets of Carcassonne.

All photos are my own unless otherwise stated.

Click here to read the other posts in this series.