One week more

One week – 168 hours, or 10,080 minutes – is all that separates me from adventures across the pond.

In this last week, people keep asking: are you ready?

The answer: as ready as I’ll ever be.

I’ve already packed my bag twice “just to see if stuff fits”.  My list has been made for months.  I have my passport next to my bed, my peanut butter stowed away in my suitcase (American > British), my itinerary printed and confirmed with my hosts.  I’ve joined my alumnae organization’s London network on Facebook and confirmed that the exchange rate is where I budgeted for it to be.

I’m trying to be realistic while keeping my usual optimism about – sure, I’ll be tired when I get off the plane at Heathrow.  Sure, I’m going to miss being around my Boston friends on my birthday. Yes, I’m positive I will get sick of these clothes.  But all this planning and dreaming has put me in a place where I’m so ready for this adventure, no matter what shape it takes.

Keep following my blog to see what happens next – I’ll be posting at least every few days while I’m in London!

Sally in another city

Two months from today, I will be up in the air, on my way to London for 5 weeks of adventure.  It’s been seven years since I was there last, but I can still picture the winding roads and crowded markets like it was yesterday, and I’m aching to be a part of it again.

Earlier this year, three things happened at once that put this plan into action.

  1. My best friend Sara quit her job to follow her dream of going to a cooking school in France.
  2. I was busy planning bachelorette parties, showers, and wedding festivities for two of my favorite people in the world – my sister, Kat, and my college bff, Priti.  We were having a great time, but it highlighted how long it had been since I planned something incredible for myself.
  3. I got my annual bonus and realized that I never got around to spending last year’s bonus, not really.

I thought back to this amazing book I read last year – Happy Money, by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.  It talked about investing in experiences, and not conforming to society’s expectations for what makes people happy or successful.  Looking at my bank account, I felt like I had a few choices: a) keep saving… forever. b) buy an apartment – but as soon as I said this out loud, I realized how little I’m ready for this long-term commitment and responsibility, and how unlikely it was to make me happier (I love my sweet apartment, amazing location, and awesome roommate!) or c) put it all on the table and have a trip of a lifetime.

I opted for c and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  My trip starts in London, where I’ve rented two different Airbnb places for different parts of the trip – in totally different parts of town – during which time my parents are coming to visit (yay!).  Then the last 10 days, Katie (the aforementioned amazing roommate and high school bff) is coming over and we’re heading down toward France together to visit chef-in-training Sara, have seaside adventures, and then head to Barcelona.  We’ll also have 22 hours in Istanbul on the way home, because if you’re going to have a layover, why not go somewhere incredible?

Now, the countdown is on – I’m figuring out what I need to pack, making a list of what I actually want to do abroad, and buying tickets for the last leg of the trip.  As an added bonus, getting ready for being a tourist again has pushed me to look at my current city in a new way, running down roads I’ve never been on and making the most of this lovely summer.

Look for reports from Sally in another city – Londontown – this fall.  And until then – enjoy the sunshine!

Music Monday: Bringing “home” the gold

You know that song you get stuck in your head after watching the American gymnasts at the Olympics?  You can blame Phillip Phillips for that one.  His hit “Home” is apparently the theme of the Fab Five.  I didn’t hear him when he was on – and won – American Idol this year, but this song is definitely catchy.  What do you think?

Broken records

It’s been a long week, so today let’s reflect on almost one week of Olympic splendor (marred only briefly by some badminton players intentionally throwing a game and rightfully getting thrown out…).  For your Thursday enjoyment, I bring you two articles about all those Olympic records we’ve seen shattered this week.

See how current competitors stand up against past ones, in terms of record-breaking times and expectations here.

Ever wondered why some Olympic records get broken and other’s don’t?  Find out here.

Hope you have a gold-medal push into the end of the week!

Swimmers that make you look twice

… and not because they’re amazingly fit (in the American and British sense of the word), but because of the ridiculous faces some of them make while diving.  My favorites:

 

 

Though the men make some pretty awesome faces too – there’s a larger, glorious collection here.  Hope you’re enjoying the games – slow-motion and everything!

That’s the name of the game

** Spoiler alert, if you have no clue what’s going on in women’s gymnastics.**

For those of you who are upset about Jordyn Wieber not making it into the gymnastics all-around, I suggest you go read Gold by Chris Cleave.  It’s an amazing Olympic novel about a pair of track cyclists who race for their livelihoods when their sport changes to allow only one woman per country to race at the London Olympiad.  Not only does it boast some awesome characters and a riveting plot (and, unlike his book Little Bee, I can read it without wanting to be sick), but it paints a new picture of Olympic competition – and what happens even before medals are awarded.

Because the fact of the matter is, these are sports we’re talking about.  They’re not always fair or objective, and there are made to be winners and losers – sometimes even on the same team.  Yes, Jordyn is the world champion – but that might just mean that on the day of the world championship, she did better than anyone else.  And yesterday wasn’t her day – Aly and Gabby simply outperformed her.  It could happen to anyone.  Whether or not it’s fair to limit each country to 2 max participants in the all-around is another issue, but Jordyn knew that going into it, and probably wouldn’t have cared about the fairness as long as she was one of the two.  It’s not like allowing the top 3 – as in previous years – is inherently more fair.

What do you think?  Was Jordyn scored unfairly?  Do these rules make any sense?  Is it weird that a competition to promote unity and conversation among nations is so focused on winners and losers?  Weigh in below!