The girl running through the airport

I have been on two flights per week for the last eight weeks straight.

Every single one of them, yes all 14, has either been on time or landed early.

This is obviously an anomaly, and I’m a firm believer that if too many good things are happening to you in sequence- it means that the universe is getting ready to screw with you.

And I was right.

(For anyone disagreeing with my theory, I never promised to be an optimist so zip it.)

My connecting flight to Atlanta was delayed and set to land at 7:30; my flight to Rio boarded from the international terminal at 7:05.

Now, I’m no mathematician, but let me tell you- that math doesn’t add up.

Here’s something you should know about me: I do not condone running in public places unless you are being chased, or doing cardio. Both equally unpleasant things that I do not wish upon anyone.

I do not chase things.

If you want to get all deep on me- sure, fine, whatever- I chase dreams and aspirations, money and highs. (And fine maybe the occasional boy, but only the really terrible ones after one too many tequila sodas.)

However, I don’t run to catch the elevator, or the train, or the light at a cross walk. There will always be another one. (This applies to boys too.)

But the thing about my flight to Rio is that the next one wasn’t leaving until the next day…

So you bet your ass I laced up my new Allbirds (they’re very comfy and super cute, thanks!) and picked up my suitcase (there is NO time to roll that shit even though AWAY cases roll smooth like butter on a warm bun) and I SPRINTED through Hartsfield International.

And not even the cute “oh I’m going on a light jog in this unsustainably bouncy ponytail and matching two piece athleisure set,” but the ugly and breathless “get out of my way, I will bulldoze your ankles with my suitcase” run.

It was certainly worth it as I made it on my flight with five minutes to spare, and treated myself to a window seat in Comfort Plus (sans neighbor) for my troubles.

And by treated myself I mean I sat down, sprawled across the row and never got kicked out. (Pro tip, no one will ever actually check your boarding zone, or your seat number on a half full flight.)

Anyways, thanks for reading a post that could easily be summarized to “this one time Pauline ran for three minutes.” You all are too kind.

I’ll be spending the next ten days dancing the Samba through Rio de Janeiro and tangoing my way through Buenos Aires so I promise I have some good stories and fabulous outfits coming your way.

(I’ll be in Uruguay and Paraguay too, but I have no idea what they dance there so I had to cut it out of the above sentence for literary purposes, obviously).

Besos!

The Classic Ski Weekend

There are a couple of trips you absolutely need to take in your twenties.

The college euro trip.

The Southeast Asia backpacking trip.

The solo trip to some zen place to find yourself.

The wild Vegas trip with your girlfriends.

And the one that had somehow eluded me all these years:

The classic large group ski trip.

A group of nine of us headed to Breckenridge, Colorado for a long weekend and it was everything my ski trip dreams were made of.

We rented out the most gorgeous secluded cabin in Blue River, with floor to ceiling views of snow covered pines.

We hit the slopes at Keystone and Breckenridge during the day, and drank cheap beers in the hot tub to ease the sore at night.

We cruised through the mountains taking in the views and enjoying the Rocky Mountain high. The John Denver song, of course.

We wore cozy furs and Nordic sweaters, wandered the cute ski town streets, and indulged in buttery crepes and midday wine flights.

Okay, so objectively, I just listed a bunch of clichés and at least three of you are rolling your eyes (even though you know my ski sweater was really freakin cute.)

Yeah, we did all of the things that you should do on a ski trip, but without a key ingredient, I’ve just written out a glorified generic itinerary.

And that key ingredient is actually pretty simple.

Good friends, good fun.

There is no rush quite like speeding down your last ski run of the day, in the dark, surrounded by your best friends whopping and hollering the whole way down.

That’s magic.

Ugly gut laughing as one of your sweetest friends reads off the most dark and twisted responses to Cards Against Humanity?

That’s magic.

Gathering around a big breakfast spread with the gang, grateful to be there with friends that have known you either all your life or at least through the last few years…

Magic!

While I’m certainly glad to no longer be wearing ski boots, which are actually athletic torture contraptions, I’m looking forward to a new tradition with my friends:

The classic ski trip.

Los Angeles and a love note

What if you could piece together your perfect day.

Do you ever think about that?

What would it look like? What would happen to you? How would it make you feel?

What if you woke up next to your best friend, laughing at your miraculously white pillow cases, proud that somehow both of you had managed to take off your makeup after a long night of champagne and warm chocolate chip cookies (gooey, with sea salt.)

And what if you spent your morning giving your old pup obnoxious kisses, and laughing so hard with your brother that you fell to the floor and almost peed yourself.

What if you hugged your mom for a few more seconds than usual, and breathed her in because she smelled like home.

What if your uber driver carried your suitcase from the front door so that you wouldn’t have to drag it in the snow, and gave you a Twix bar for the ride. (A real one, not just a fun sized one.)

And then you surprised yourself and found that the suitcase you had packed hungover, actually had everything you needed.

And what if there were no lines at the airport and your flight left early.

And you landed in Los Angeles, and it rained and you didn’t care because you got to see an old friend.

And then you hugged her tight and you cried because you had missed her, and because a sad thing had happened to her and you were there to try to make it all better somehow.

And what if, and what if, and what if.

And what if those “what ifs” weren’t “what ifs”, and you didn’t have to think about what the perfect day might look like, because the perfect day had already happened.

I spent five days last week in Los Angeles (half pleasure, half work) and it took me a few days to sort out my mixed feeling.

I don’t love LA. I still don’t.

But last week, I loved the way it made me feel.

I now realize it was never LA. It was the people, the moments of joy.

I got to spend time with one of my best friends, cozied up in the most charming boutique hotel, mending a broken heart with shoe shopping, chic cocktail bars, and soul cycle.

Her strength, her positivity, her relentlessness and new found motivation to seek her own joy- that gave me joy.

I saw another old friend from college, a woman who I am incredibly proud to know, who now lives in LA. She loves LA. She is LA; all the good parts, none of the bad: she is the California sunshine, the Pacific Ocean calm. Her energy and her joy being there, that was contagious.

It reminded me of the time I spent in Los Angeles last year, strolling Venice beach and cruising the California coast with another close and wonderful friend. And yes, the coast was beautiful and Venice beach was fun, but it was the person who I shared it all with that brought me my happiness.

Dear readers…

What started out as a commentary on the concept of a perfect day, has now ended up a love note of sorts to the incredible women in my life.

And while it bothers me at my very core that there is no clean tie from beginning to end in this piece, I’ve decided not to mold this musing into some neat literary formula when clearly my heart had other things to say.

It’s Valentine’s Day, after all, and I’m using that as my excuse for why I’m writing with my heart today, and not with my head.

To my friends, to my family:

Thank you, I love you.

Go with the flow

We travel for a lot of reasons.

We travel for work. We travel to relax. We travel for adventure.

To learn. To grow. To escape.

And sometimes, we travel just so that we can sit and have a beer in Mexico with people who are important to us.

Once a year, I visit La Ventana, Mexico to hang out with my friend Peter, whom I met four years ago while trekking the Camino De Santiago in Spain, and his lovely wife Susan.

It’s always such a joy to be down here, in a place that feels like a home away from home, with people who feel like family.

La Ventana is famous for being a kitesurfing Mecca, and as a non kiting Chicagoan, I often get asked why I’m here. (Politely of course, because everyone down here is so kind and cool as fuck.)

Well #1 is of course to visit my loved ones. (Unofficially, #2 is to ogle kite surfers since they’re all smokin’ hot and usually half naked.)

But one of the things I love most about being here is that it’s an exercise in being human.

Okay, okay, hear me out (and no I haven’t been drinking. Well, maybe. But just a Pacifico, and that’s basically bubbly water.)

Life is just “go with the flow” here. And I am not usually a “go with the flow” kind of gal. I must direct the flow.

I am the captain of the flow, in command at all times; a high functioning humanoid, who plans and optimizes every minute of every day.

But here, I kind of just…chill out. Like I imagine normal people do.

(Or people with good xanax prescriptions or expensive therapists. But I fired mine for asking too many personal questions, so I have to make do with a passport and credit card instead. Which, I might argue, is all you really need in life.)

When I’m here, I drink cappuccinos (slowly!) and watch the sunrise. I do yoga. I lay out on the beach. I watch the kites. I nap. I visit with people. I eat tacos and drink beer (and I don’t even like beer.)

I don’t feel the need to be doing something purposeful at all times. I can just…be.

In fact, right now I’m laying on the outdoor couch at Peter and Susan’s gorgeous home and I’m so relaxed that I don’t even feel the need to end this post in some clever or insightful way.

I’m going to nap now.

Little Luxuries

I’ve spent the last two weeks answering the same question, “How was your trip!?”

And while I usually consider myself an articulate person, my reply to this question has been, without fail, some version of the word vomit below:

“Hi! Thank you! It was super fun and really cool and different, and everything is shiny and luxurious and there are Bentleys everywhere and when you go to the mall a man in a top hat opens the door and serves you coffee and a date. I loved it, I loved everything about it. Alas, I could have been an Emirate princess and now I’m just another girl answering emails. *heavy sigh*”

I mean really, is it too much to ask for me to find a beautiful Middle Eastern Prince to marry?

Then inevitably leave him two years later, taking our pretty little blonde Arabic speaking children, my fine China, and half of everything he owns?

I’m just kidding.

He can keep the fine China.

I digress, back to my trip. Dubai is basically Vegas on steroids- high-tech, luxurious, futuristic and blinged out.

Often, people write it off as a “fake city,” and I had a few folks tell me that they didn’t like it there. I understand that it’s polarizing in that it’s all very superficial- Dubai doesn’t have much culture or history, and malls are one of the main attractions the city has to offer. However, the beauty of traveling the world is finding something to love in every place you go.

My advice to anyone hoping to visit, is to live a little- bask in the luxury and INDULGE.

I spent my evenings in Dubai being wined and dined with fine champagne and lobster poutine, exploring swanky bars and clubs, sipping 24K gold cappuccinos (I don’t recommend them though, the gold flakes get caught in the back of your throat and it’s really unpleasant actually) and giving myself full permission to have all the lovely things.

That’s what credit cards are for, amirite?

In fact, I stayed an extra day after my father left and treated myself to a day at the Versace Palace Hotel in Dubai, one of the most opulent places I have ever stayed. My room was complete with a white marbled bathroom, baby pink silk sheets and accent chairs, and a balcony overlooking the marina.

It was a Barbie dream house. Or shall I say, a Pauline dream house.

For a girl who has no problem crashing in a shack in Nepal or a hostel in Cairns, I really do love my luxury hotels.

All in all, I know that the UAE hasn’t seen the last of me- in fact, I can see myself moving there for a short stint in the Middle East. I think the glamour of Dubai suits me well.

But for now...khallas.

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Be a Dolphin

On the heels of my previous post detailing my dislike of camels, I spent today mesmerized by the dolphins that swam alongside our boat in the Gulf of Oman.

Yesterday afternoon we crossed the UAE border into Oman, and spent today in Khasab sailing on a traditional Dhow boat through the Musandam Fjords. And by sailing, I mean my father fished shirtless having displaced the captain at the back of the boat, while I took selfies and napped in the sun.

The dreamy orange tinted rock formations complemented the cloudless blue skies, and the bright blue sea, which in places shined in neon green where there was an abundance of algae.

Yikes that was a really annoying sentence- so back to dolphins we go.

What I like about dolphins (and bear with me here I’m only a glass of wine in and already philosophizing) is their attitude.

In any country where I have ran into dolphins, I’ve more often than not seen them come right up to boats, playing and swimming along.

Even the wild ones.

I think that we could all be a little more like dolphins.

(More intelligent, for one, since people can be idiots and dolphins are way smart. But that’s not what I’m getting at here.)

I think people need to be more like dolphins in that we need to be more willing to play, and to be less afraid of the big boats, approaching them with curiosity and not fear.

Dear friends, that is what we- in literature– call a metaphor.

Feel free to adapt it to whatever your big boat is. Maybe your big boat is traveling outside of the country, maybe it’s social anxiety.

Or maybe, you’re actually really afraid of big boats in which case you’re welcome to take this literally.

Imagine a world where we approach the things that are objectively frightening, with playfulness and curiosity instead.

How else do you think I end up at a breakfast with Warren Buffett’s former private pilot, or sipping fine champagne and eating lobster poutine with an oil tycoon?

(Y’all, it’s been a long few days, ask me about it over a glass of wine sometime.)

Point is: the cool shit happens when you’re a dolphin.

Or you get hit by the big boat and your little dolphin self gets violently torn to shreds. But how boring would life be if we let that hold us back.

I was having dinner with my father the other night and after I told him my plans to move to Dubai, he gave a great piece of advice.

“If you feel. Go.”

It was so simple, incisive and so profound.

Granted, was that because he was three glasses of wine in and English is not his first language? Perhaps. But, that doesn’t matter.

If deep down in your soul you feel you need to go do something, go do it.

Be the dolphin, and swim towards the big scary boat.

Who knows, it might just be fun.

How many camels?

Wanting to get away from the modernity and hubbub of Dubai and check out some of the more historical sites of the UAE, my father and I headed to Al Ain for a day trip.

Al Ain is about an hour and a half hour drive away and is one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We visited the former home of the late UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (which was lovely because palaces make me feel at home) and the Al Ain Oasis which houses a 3,000 year old irrigation system and beautiful date palms.

This day trip was all fine and dandy until we made our way to a camel market (because camel markets are a wonderful immersion in traditional Arab culture and who am I to argue with that.)

Now, something that very few people know about me is that I am not super fond of animals.

I just don’t feel any warm fuzzy inside feelings around them and prefer to keep a distance. Exception being my dog, Champagne, who is the most precious gremlin in the world and shrimp mantis cause they are really cool.

Anyhoo I have a particular disdain for camels. They are large, scary scraggly toothed beasts – and my theory is that God got tired after devising their magnificent water holding abilities and was just like “it’s fine just add a sloth face to the rest of it and call it a day.”

Not to mention, they have been known to spit on people and that is just rude.

Nevertheless, after the amount of jokes I have heard about how many camels I might sell for in the Middle East, I figured I might as well be a little cheeky and take a photo with one.

So that is how I found myself in arguably one of the most stressful animal situations of my life.

This means a lot coming from a woman who did a night dive with sharks in the Great Barrier Reef cage-less.

All of my efforts to stand close enough to the camels to take a photos ended with me shrieking anytime one of them got to dangerously close to my hair.

I not only gave the local men their daily dose of free entertainment, but I also gave myself a stress headache and have decided that I will from now on be opting out of camel related activities.

Bottom line is, if you’re ever in the market for a camel- please don’t ask me to come with you.