Awkward and Awesome Thursday: It’s Spring Somewhere

Even the ciguenas look cold!


  • It is unusually sunny and warm in both London and Dublin today, but I wouldn’t know because I’m back in Avila where it is inexplicably snowing and raining at the same time.
  • The Hunger Games comes out tomorrow, and I missed being able to go see it in an English-language theater by two days! 
  • Pret a Manger. It’s a really popular cafe chain in the UK. How does one pret and why do it to a manger? And in a cafe, no less!
  • There is no such thing as a double-decker bus in England. All the “buses” are double-decker. If they’re not, they’re called “coaches.” Mind blown.
  • Coriander and cilantro are the same thing. Mind also blown.
  • Tummy ache from too much candy.
  • I’m really not much of a romantic comedy girl, but being in Ireland has me really itching to watch P.S. I Love You again.
  • The horrendous and poorly made boots that (barely) got me through England and Ireland and were sliced into a pair of summer sandals the minute I got home. My blistered and bruised feet will never be the same . . .
  • So, we meet again, London Gatwick, for another rough all-nighter on the airport floor. After all we’ve been through together, you still send your snooty security guards to kick me off of the comfy sofa in the cafe and force our crew to seek refuge (and a precious few hours of sleep in the multi-religion prayer chapel).

  • Hitting up an old time sweets shop in Dublin. Root beer barrels, black cherry sours, and licorice allsorts until I die ❀
  • The Cliffs of Moher. Here is a heavily-censored description of these breathtaking beauties from an Irish friend: “It’s the mother-friggin’ edge o’ the world where they make weather an’ crap!” We’ll just go with breathtaking.
  • Our tour guide on the trip out to Galway. Hi-LAR-ious. And Irish people in general. Hi-LAR-ious.
  • Not getting drunk on St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland :-D. No hangovers. No regrets. Tons of memories.
  • Hubby letting me use his laptop since my keyboard is broken. I’m sure it was a real sacrifice swapping from a clunky Dell to a superfast gaming computer ;-). The mouse works just fine, after all.
  • Free Irish music and dancing. Free! And Irish!
  • British fashion and lifestyle magazines. It’s a whole new world of print media love.
  • This six-level bar in Dublin called The Porterhouse. It has so many staircases, and the live music practically hangs from the ceiling. Plus they have the most legit and delicious-looking cocktail menu I have ever seen. Kristen and I got food instead because we are hungry and poor.
  • The bucketloads of new friends from Madrid, Barcelona, Argentina, Uruguay, France, Canada, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Australia, and China whom Josh and I met at the hostel and whom I hope with all of my heart that we will be able to keep in touch with forever.

"Green With Eyes Between" (London Hampstead)

It’s likely the most common color on earth as long as you don’t venture into the ocean. This being the case, I hadn’t realized how the red clay cliffs and plains of Spain had caused me to miss out on weeks of this budding symbol of vibrancy and life. I hadn’t realized how much the Hampstead Heath in London would remind me of the hills and forests of New York or PA.
In short, I hadn’t realized until now how homesick I am.
On the bright side, Ireland is full of lush greens of every hue. On the dark and gloomy side, every vista I see here will force me to swallow a lump in my throat made up of twenty years of memories from back in the good old US of A.
To all of my stateside family and friends reading this, know that Josh and I miss you more than you may realize.
Title from “Homesick” by The Vines.

"Marching in Milan"

Another view of the Vittorio Emanuele. An indoor/outdoor mall.

Confetti. It’s indoors. It’s outdoors. It’s everywhere.

The Milan Cathedral, also called the Duomo. That’s what I’m talking about!

View from the Duomo roof

The historic neighborhood of Milan

The modern neighborhood. Josh calls this pic “more bars in more places.”

You never get used to cathedral ceilings . . .

The Royal Palace of Italy

The Triumphal Arch of Milan

Castle Sforezco at twilight. Breathtaking. You must visit.

P.S. There was a runway show going on in there!

Title is taken from the song of the same name by Elton John.

Just FYI πŸ™‚

Window Displays in Milan’s Golden Square

I’m thinking of making a it a permanent tradition to follow Fashion Week around the world without ever having the money or connections to get into an actual fashion show . . .

It’s really quite funny (and I’m only partially bitter, haha) that last year I spent New York Fashion week in Manhattan with my best friend and obviously couldn’t attend any shows. This past weekend . . . well, you know where I was and what week it was and what certain events I wasn’t able to attend . . .

Regardless, I was able to enjoy Milan Fashion Week in my own little way. I got some photos of several well-dressed models wandering the oh-so-stylish streets, watched live video streams of runway shows on jumbotrons, and saw incredibly creative previews of the Fall/Winter season collections by window shopping in the Quadrilatero d’Oro or Golden Square.

The displays were incredibly creative, and it was pretty exhilarating just to be among all of tantalizing designer names at once. Many thanks to Kristen for letting me use your camera in the absence of battery power for mine and to Josh for escorting us through a thoroughly emasculating evening πŸ™‚

Fashion mixed with film? Now that’s what I call art!
This was cooler in person. It rotated πŸ™‚

Jimmy Choo showcases his shoes with snakes. Blech.

Every girl need an LBWD–little bubble wrap dress.
Other type of bubble aesthetic going on here


This amazing Moschino collection combines the style of the Spanish matador with a little Alice in Wonderland flair πŸ™‚

Lanvin likes Alice, too

Plenty more pics after the jump!

This suitcases overflowing with Hermes ties is worth more than my entire wardrobe

This isn’t as much of a cool display as it is an outfit that I would absolutely love to wear!

Chanel’s display window features a table set for a stylish dinner, complete with pasta with jewels on it!

Dolce and Gabana’s genius retro-themed shop

Flower power suit!

I loved this Louis Vitton display! Isn’t this exactly how so many women view his purses?

Variety is the spice of life

Oh, you know, just designer umbrellas

Hyper-realist mannequins!!!

What I Wore (plus a suprise): Or Are We Dancers?

If you ignore the half-opened eye, this is kind of a cute picture of me “dancing”

I love to dance.

I’m not really sure how to qualify my relationship with dance besides this simple phrase. I wouldn’t dare say that I am good at dancing. Someone in my family might die laughing, as I have a reputation for being quite the klutz. After all, I’ve never even taken a single dance class.

On the other hand, I have choreographed dance teams of fifty K-4 and later 5-8 grade students at the summer camp where I used to work (My team won first place in the end-of-camp competition one year). I’ve danced in talent shows. I’ve taught the electric slide to a wedding party :-), and I’ve ended up in countless photos and videos from weddings, graduations parties, and school dances where I have been gettin’ ma groove on.

Thrifted jacket, gifted scarf, Charlotte Russe T-shirt, American Eagle jeans, Payless slouch boots

Whether or not I’m good at it, dancing is a part of who I am. I often can’t help but break into spontaneous choreography in malls, supermarkets, and the occasional public square in Spain during carnival . . . I think anyone who loves music, is grateful for the healthy body God has given them, and loves to just do feels the same way about dance.

Sometimes you just have to let the joy and excitement out. For example, in the photos included in this post, I am wearing a very sunshiney outfit in some of my favorite colors (with a new scarf from my grandma) that made me incredibly happy. So what did I do? I danced, of course.

In the words of Colin Firth after accepting his 2011 Oscar for Best Actor:

“I have to warn you I am experiencing stirrings somewhere in the upper abdominals that are threatening to form themselves into dance moves.”

To show you that I’m not alone in this love and in this tendency to cast off social propriety in favor of a pop, lock, and drop, I have whipped up a little something extra for this particular what I wore.
The surprise is after the jump!

Don’t get excited. It’s not that fantastic, haha.
In fact, it is a very poor quality video that I recorded of a little boy who jumped up on the stage at carnival and started breakin’ it down to “We Found Love.”
He was moving so much I could hardly get a clear shot of him through the crowd. Talk about being confident in who you are.

The Amazing Husband

I don’t know how it happened, but we are actually in Milan safe and sound this morning. Well, I do know how it happened–by the grace of God and because Josh is my hero.

You might have gathered by now that this post is not about the season premier of this year’s Amazing Race (which I will greatly miss watching each Sunday night in Pastor Wally’s basement with the young adults from Journey.) It is more about that fact that Josh and I are kind of living The Amazing Race right now.

We got on the train for Madrid yesterday four hours before our flight was scheduled to leave. There wasn’t even the slightest worry that we would be pressed for time, as we would arrive in Madrid almost two hours before the plane would leave for Milan.

Of course, God apparently had some plans to teach us about patience, perseverance and preparing for the worst. And maybe promptness . . .

There are two train stations in Madrid, and we apparently passed the station that was closest to Barajas airport and got off the train a good twenty-minute Metro ride down the line. When we tried to ride back, the train we were on stopped for the day, and we had to find yet another. We finally got on the last Metro we would need at about 6:00pm (our flight was scheduled for 6:45). On the Metro, I looked down at my boarding pass and saw the most haunting words I have ever seen in me life: “Gate closes at 6:15.”

I freaked out! We would land at the airport with a total of five minutes to get our Visas checked, make it through security, and get to the gate before it closed for good!

We arrived at the Visa check at exactly 6:15, and I was beginning the slow and painful process of convincing myself that everything would be okay in light of the missed flight. This is a difficult task for me, as I like to believe that things are the end of the world. Maybe the three of us (our friend Kristen was with us) could buy last-minute tickets on a later flight or a flight the next morning so that we wouldn’t lose the money for the return flight and hostel.

When I calmly explained our situation to the woman at the Ryanair help desk, she replied, “What are you talking about? This flight doesn’t leave for another 25 minutes.” Whatever “gate closes at 6:15” meant, she didn’t seem to think it was a problem. I didn’t have time to question her before Josh was darting back to the Visa check. I tried to tell him that it was no use–that the gate was closed. He wouldn’t have any of it.

“We’re going to try,” he kept saying, “We’re going to try.”

ToΒ my amazement they stamped our visas for us with nothing more than a stern shake of the head for being so late, but as we sprinted for our gate, we saw that the security line was absolutely packed. As we waited impatiently (and hopelessly, in my case), Kristen* suddenly ran up behind us shaking her head and saying “I can’t go.” I didn’t even think to be shocked or sad at the time because I was sure that we would be joining her in a moment.

Security involved emptying our pockets, removing our coats and shoes, and shoving all of this (including our carry-on bags, camera, and packed dinner) into those little plastic boxes and waiting for them to appear on the other side of the conveyor. At 6:35, Josh finally made it through security right behind me–only to be told that he would have to go through again because he was carrying a laptop.

I looked at him and said as maturely as I could muster, “Don’t bother. We’ll get another flight. Don’t worry about it.”

And that was the moment when he set his jaw in the most frustrated yet determined manner that I have ever seen in the course of our relationship, yanked the laptop out of his bookbag, and ran to the back of the security line to go through the ordeal again.

I couldn’t bear to stand there and do nothing while he scrambled for his life, so I raced in search of our gate (without stopping to put my shoes back on, I might add). I was amazed when I finally found it with the door to the jetway still open. The attendant looked at me sympathetically as I skidded to a stop in my stocking feet and desperately held out my boarding pass and passport. He told me to calm down and that I still had a couple minutes. I was stressed beyond belief and in the middle of an asthma attack and gasped, “Yes–yes, I know, but–my husband!” I left both of our passports at the ticket check and sprinted back to security.

Josh wasn’t there.

I stood in the middle of the concourse of the Madrid Barajas International Airport and yelled at the top of my lungs, “JOSH! JOSH THURSTON! JOSH! THURSTON!”

I almost cried when I saw him–at 6:42–appear at the other end of the concourse, bolt past me, and run with everything that he had to the gate where his passport was already waiting for him.

I huffed and puffed behind him. We ignored the gruff female security guard who kept scolding that we were too late, we ripped Josh’s ticket out of the attendant’s hand, and we blasted down the jetway into the arms of a very startled flight attendant who smiled and asked us to take our seats. I paid no attention to the chuckles of the sophisticated Spaniards and Italians ogling at my feet sans shoes as I made my way to a seat at the very back of the plane. We had done it.

Josh had done it. My amazing husband, who has never looked more like a hero in my eyes, kept calm, kept the faith, and kept running when I had all but given up hope. Thank you, God, for your provision, and thank you for this wonderful, hard-working, faithful man who has led me through times of stress in our life even when he had to drag me.

Thank you that he now gets a mini-honeymoon in Milan as a reward.

*Later, I would find out that Kristen had accidentally bought tickets for 6:00am that morning and hadn’t been able to come with us on the flight. She’s going to meet us here tomorrow, though πŸ˜€