Making Time for the Most Important People in My Life: My March Goals

As I said in my last post, the focus for this month’s personal challenge is “relationships.”

I share a lot on this blog about my relationship with my husband, some of my previous romantic relationships, and, in a couple of cases, how some of my friendships have changed (or faded away) over the years.  I’m not sure if they’re the kind of posts that people like to read, but I really enjoy writing them.  I like sharing these kinds of stories and thoughts, and I always feel so great after I spend some time writing and reflecting on my feelings.  These are also my favorite kinds of posts to read on other blogs, regardless of whether I can relate to what they’re saying.  Sometimes I just like to see how different or similar someone else’s life experiences are to my own.  (Or maybe I’m just nosy and want to read all about other people’s personal lives.)

The point is, I think and care a lot about my relationships with other people.  The problem is that as I get older, it seems to get more difficult to maintain a lot of these relationships.  We all have our own obligations: work, family, pets, hobbies … The list goes on and on.  And since a lot of my friends and family live far away, properly keeping in touch with everyone on a regular basis becomes even more difficult.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with a few simple goals for March to help strengthen my relationships with the most important people in my life.

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Image provided by Unsplash (unsplash.com) and edited by me.

My March 2015 Goals:

1.  Call/text friends more often.  I don’t love talking on the phone, but I’ll definitely at least call my friend Jennifer on her birthday this month.  I’ll also try to reach out to some of my other friends (probably via text) during the month to check in and catch up.

2.  Have at least one friend “date.”  I already have another Skype date lined up for later this month with the same friends I spent 6 hours Skyping with on Valentine’s Day (which, in my eyes, definitely counts), but I’ll probably also try to either set up a one-on-one dinner with a friend or plan a group thing with some of my friends after work one day.

3.  Have a date night with Eric.  We haven’t had a date night since the end of January, and I already have a restaurant in mind to try!

4.  Call my mom at least once during the month.  She and I text quite a bit, but we don’t always talk on the phone (mostly because it inevitably turns into a several hour long conversation, and we don’t always have time for that).  I haven’t called her in a while, though, so it’s probably time for one of those really long phone conversations.

5.  Continue going to yoga classes 2-3 times each week.  This is something I’ve been doing anyway, but it’s definitely important to work on my relationship with myself (and my health!) as well as my relationships with the other people in my life.

I haven’t been doing a great job sticking with my monthly goals lately, but I think I’ll be able to accomplish all of these.  I’m looking forward to spending more time with the people I care most about (even if it’s only via phone, text, or Skype!).

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Playlist: February 2015

Since I tried to make “Love and Relationships” a more prominent theme on my blog this month, it was only fitting that I finish February off with a playlist full of love songs.

Back in November I shared some of my favorite romantic love songs, so I decided to change it up this time around.  If I’m being totally honest, my absolute favorite love songs aren’t the happy “I’ve finally found what I’ve been looking for” songs (though those can be nice as well).  No, my favorite love songs are the ones that shatter my heart into a million pieces.  And, after yesterday’s post, I thought it was appropriate to share some of my favorite breakup songs.

When I dealt with heartbreak in the past, I always turned to music.  There was something so oddly comforting in knowing that someone else could so beautifully put into words the exact emotions you were feeling … That someone really got it.  And, while all of these songs aren’t explicitly about love gone bad, they’re some of the songs that really resonated with me when I was struggling with a broken heart.

Since I’ve been trying to get a little more personal on my blog (and because I’m a total nerd who loves discussing what specific songs mean to me), I’ve decided to share why each of these songs deserved a spot on this particular playlist.

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1. Sweet Adeline: From the beginning of the song, Elliott Smith breaks your heart with simple but eloquent descriptions of the days (or weeks) following a particularly awful breakup with the lines “Cut this picture into you and me/Burn it backwards, kill this history/Make it over, make it stay away/Or hate’ll sing the ending that love started to say.”  A part of you wants to just forget everything to avoid those feelings of bitterness and hate that so often bubble up and take over when someone hurts you more than you ever believed possible.

2. The Walk: This is by far my favorite Imogen Heap song of all time.  The imagery is great, as she finds herself continuously faced with the one person she can never have the way she wants (“Inside out, upside down twisting beside myself/Stop that now, ’cause you and I were never meant to be”).  The song so perfectly describes those conflicting feelings of wanting that person in your life even though you know it will only lead to heartache, eventually comforting yourself the only way you know how: by blaming them for everything (“I don’t want to feel like this, so that makes it all your fault”).

3. Map of the Problematique: This song could really be about a lot of things, but for me, it’s about the loneliness you’re left with when the life and love you’ve built with someone else disintegrates (“And I feel like everything I sow is being swept away/Well, I refuse to let you go”).

4. Rough Hands: This is one of the more obvious songs about a love lost that covers the feelings from the beginning of the breakup (“Was I left behind?/Someone tell me, tell me I survived”) to the realization at the end that it’s really over (“Two people too damaged too much too late”).

5. Fake Plastic Trees: For me, this song has always been about trying to mold yourself into your most perfect version in order to sustain a love that was never really there in the first place (“She looks like the real thing/She tastes like the real thing/My fake plastic love”).  Everything around the couple seems fake because it is … Their expectations have never truly fused with reality, leaving them disappointed and broken when they begin to see things as they actually are (“If I could be who you wanted all the time”).

6. The Ice is Getting Thinner: This is another obvious song about the deterioration of a romantic relationship.  The beauty in this song lies in its simplicity: from the opening lines “We’re not the same, dear, as we used to be/The seasons have changed and so have we” to the lovely imagery of the death of things in winter (“We bury our love in the wintery grave/A lump in the snow was all that remained”).  And at the end of the song, the inevitable truth that both people need to face is sung: “Then it saddens me to say what we both knew was true/That the ice was getting thinner under me and you.”

7. Lua: I struggled with adding this song to the list because there are just so many Bright Eyes songs that are more obviously about lost love (and this is more likely about a struggle with depression and addiction).  It won out in the end because I literally would spend hours listening to “Lua” on repeat when I was dealing with a particularly difficult breakup.  Conor Oberst has always had a way with words, and this song is no exception.  From the loneliness that comes with no longer having someone special in your life (“When everything is lonely I can be my own best friend/I get a coffee and the paper, have my own conversations”) to trying to move on when you’re not ready (“The love I sell you in the evening by the morning won’t exist”) to trying to find any way to forget the horrible ache in your heart (“Well, we might die from medication but we sure killed all the pain”) to finally admitting to yourself that you’re just not over it (“And I’m not sure what the trouble was that started all of this/The reasons all have run away, but the feeling never did”), he perfectly describes all of the stages that come with the end of an important relationship.

8. The Engine Driver: This song fucking breaks my heart every single time I hear it, yet I’d say it’s my favorite song by The Decemberists.  The repeated line “And if you don’t love me, let me go” is one that anyone who has ever found themselves going back to the person who broke their heart only to leave more broken than before can relate to.  And, as someone who has always found writing to be extremely cathartic, I could always also relate to the line “I’ve written pages upon pages trying to rid you from my bones.”  So true.

9. Himerus and Eros: I listened to this song on a regular basis back when I was dealing with this.  Much like “The Walk,” it describes the confused feelings that go along with wanting to be with someone who can’t give you the type of relationship you want (“And I fight the urge to explore the vastness of your curves I adore/You know I hate you/No, I hate you more/You know I love you/No, I love you more/Yes, it’s true, you’ve brainwashed me and now I’m more confused/I still somehow hope I end up with you/Yes, it’s true, I romanticize every single thing I do/Especially when it comes to you”).  This song takes it a step further, though, since it’s not just about the feelings but also the sexual aspect when you’re unable to break away from someone you’re still in love with and find yourself still hooking up with them long after the relationship has ended (“I hope to God I mean a little more than the sounds that escape your tired 4:00 a.m. lips/Oh, how I wish I meant a little more than a symphony of heavy breathing and the friction of hips”).

10. Cup of Coffee: When I was dealing with the same breakup I mentioned above, I truly felt like this song was written just for me (minus the part about the cigarettes).  It probably sounds ridiculous, but the words just rang so true for me.  From finding myself walking or driving by his place despite actively trying to avoid him (“I’m walking empty streets, hoping we might meet/I see your car parked on the road/The light on at your window/I know for sure that you’re home/And I just have to pass on by”) to the realization that we could never be “just friends” until I actually moved on (“So no, of course we can’t be friends/Not while I still feel like this”) to the black pit of depression I was sucked into for over a year after things had ended (“My friends all say they’re worried/I’m looking far too skinny/I’ve stopped returning all their calls”), this song was one that really helped me work through all of the horrible, confused emotions that went along with that particular situation.

11. Raining in Baltimore: This will forever be one of my favorite sad songs.  Adam Duritz reduces me to tears each and every time he sings the lines “Where you should be, no one’s around,” “These train conversations are passing me by/And I don’t have nothing to say/You get what you pay for, but I just had no intention of living this way,” and “There’s things I remember and things I forget/I miss you, I guess that I should/Three thousand five hundred miles away/What would you change if you could?” … So basically I’m a blubbering mess through this entire song.  It’s so beautiful, though.

12. Hey Jupiter: This was always one of my go-to breakup songs.  Although it’s more about a love triangle than the end of a relationship, the feelings of heartache and loneliness still echo throughout the lyrics.  Tori Amos starts the song off ready to share all of the things weighing on her heart, though she knows she’ll only cause herself pain in doing so (“And this little masochist/She’s ready to confess/All the things that I never thought that she could feel”) and goes on to describe the feeling that goes along with someone leaving their mark on your heart (“Found your writing on my wall/Well, if my heart’s soaking wet/Boy, your boots can leave a mess”).  She ends the song in much the same way as it began, essentially coming full circle in her realization that she’s now truly alone (“No one’s picking up the phone/Guess it’s clear he’s gone/And this little masochist is lifting up her dress/Guess I thought I could never feel the things I feel”).

13. Day Old Hate: This is my absolute favorite City and Colour song because it has always held so much meaning in my life.  As with several other songs on this list, the lyrics are simple but heartfelt, accurately describing many of the feelings I’ve struggled with following a breakup.  The first verse in particular is perfect: “So let’s face it, this was never what you wanted/But I know it’s fun to pretend/Now blank stares and empty threats are all I have/They’re all I have.”  He didn’t play this song when I saw him last, but the first time I saw Dallas Green touring as City and Colour, I was reduced to tears when he sang this.  (Yes, I’m that girl who cries at concerts.)

14. Rootless Tree: This is one of the best angry breakup songs ever written.  It’s not even obviously angry until you reach the chorus, which I used to sing at the top of my lungs while driving in my car, trying to detach myself from the person I needed to get over: “So fuck you, fuck you, fuck you and all we’ve been through/I said leave it, leave it, leave it, it’s nothing to you/And if you hate me, hate me, hate me/Then hate me so good that you can let me out, let me out, let me out of this hell when you’re around.”  Though the song definitely has its sad moments (“What I want from this is learn to let go/But no, not of you/Of all that’s been told”), for me it was mostly a great song to listen to when I needed a release for all of the bitterness and anger that inevitably goes along with the end of a relationship.

15. Get Gone: I had such a hard time choosing just one Fiona Apple song to include on this playlist.  I’ve turned to her music more than any other artist (even Elliott Smith!) following breakups and general disillusionment with various men in my life, and to this day I even refer to When the Pawn … as “the quintessential breakup album” because I relied on it so heavily to get me through the agony of my worst breakups.  As with “Rootless Tree,” this is one of the best angry breakup songs ever written.  And, once you’ve moved past the sadness and loneliness, sometimes you just need to put on a really angry song to put yourself in a “Fuck him, I don’t need this shit!” type of mindset.  If you’re at that point, this is the perfect song for you.  Fiona Apple flawlessly puts into words the feelings that go along with realizing that things have completely gotten out of hand (“How many times can it escalate ’til it elevates to a place I can’t breathe?”) and that he’s just not worth it anymore (“I’ll idealize and realize that it’s no sacrifice because a price is paid and there’s nothing left to grieve/Fuckin’ go”).  But, for me, the best part of this song is the chorus because it took the jumbled thoughts I’d always have following a breakup and pieced them together, ending with a line I’d always find myself repeating in hopes I’d one day believe it and move on with my life: “How can I deal with this, if he won’t get with this?/Am I gonna heal from this?/He won’t admit to it/Nothing to figure out/I gotta get him out/It’s time the truth was out that he don’t give a shit about me.”

I know I wrote a lot about these songs, so if you actually read all of that, thank you!  If not, that’s okay … I know everyone isn’t into reading someone’s personal thoughts on specific songs (especially if they’re not songs they regularly listen to).

Even if you’re not dealing with a broken heart, these are all great songs.  (I listen to all of them on a regular basis.)  And, if you are, maybe you’ll find something here that speaks to how you’re feeling and helps you move past it.

 

Also, if anyone feels like sharing, what are some songs that have helped you deal with heartbreak in the past?

How NOT to Break Up with Someone: A True Story

I originally wrote this back in September, but I was waiting for the right time to post it.  Since I decided to focus a little more on posts falling under the “Love and Relationships” category during the month of February, I figured I may as well share it now.

I was always horrible when it came to dealing with breakups.  Whether I was being overly dramatic when the guy ended things or a complete chickenshit when I did, breakups were not my thing.

I remember envying couples who could break up and remain friends back in high school and college.  I’m not talking about the ones who eventually got past all the pain and bitterness and learned to like each other as people once again … I can successfully do that.  I’m talking about the couples who broke up and somehow avoided all of the emotional anguish … The ones who could spend time together (or even just have a normal conversation!) right after their romantic relationship ended.  That I could never do.

I usually avoided my ex-boyfriends after a breakup because I never knew what to say or how to act.  (Or, in one case, I did the complete opposite and just kept sleeping with him and spending all of my free time with him.  That’s really not any better than completely avoiding the guy … In fact, it’s probably much worse.)  I hated conflict (I still do), and it was usually just easier to hide from these guys than deal with the aftermath.

With that in mind, I’m now going to share the story of how my first serious, long term relationship ended.  I’ll preface this story by saying that it in no way makes me look good.  In fact, I’d say it makes me look like a huge asshole.  And, if I’m being totally honest, I was a huge asshole at the time.  Thankfully I eventually recognized this, made the necessary heartfelt apologies, and now maintain a friendship with the person I’m writing about.  At the time, though, things got really ugly.

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The relationship began the summer before my junior year of high school and ended about a month and a half into my junior year of college.  As I said before, this was my first really serious relationship (any other relationship I’d had before wasn’t with someone I could actually picture spending the rest of my life with), and I was in love with him.

“B” (I’ll keep his full name out of the blog out of respect for his privacy) and I were mostly happy together, but there were a few issues that we just couldn’t seem to work through.  Some of them were legitimate (like the fact that he wanted a big family and I wasn’t sure I ever wanted kids), while others were probably somewhat legitimate but mostly selfish (like my fear that since we started dating at such a young age, I’d probably always wonder if there was something better out there).

But that’s not why I’ll come off as an asshole in this story (though that probably doesn’t help).  No, the reason I’ll look like an asshole is because of the way I ended things with him.

We went to colleges about 4 hours apart.  He drove to visit me one weekend (our last weekend together), and things were really awkward.  We’d fairly recently taken a “break” (à la Ross and Rachel), but decided to try to work through our issues.

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Well … At least neither of us slept with some random person during that time.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t let some of my issues go.  And, to further complicate things, I was attracted to another guy I’d become friends with at school.  In addition, I found out through mutual friends that he was also interested in me.  He even hung out with “B” and me a few times over the course of that weekend (awkward!) because we had plans with a group of my friends and he was invited/included in that group.

I knew by the end of the weekend that I couldn’t be in the relationship any longer.  I still cared about “B” and even loved him … But I wasn’t in love with him anymore.  We had too many problems to ever really work, and though it broke my heart to do it, I knew I needed to end things.

I should have broken up with him at the end of that weekend.  I remember sitting with him in his car right before he left, talking.  I should have been telling him how I felt and given him all the reasons why I didn’t think we should stay together.  I don’t even remember what we were talking about … But it wasn’t that.  I just couldn’t bring myself to say those words.  And so I kissed him goodbye and watched him drive off, knowing deep down that I would probably never see him again.  (I haven’t.  Though we’ve managed to move past all of this and kept in touch as friends, we’ve never made an effort to see one another.  All of this happened in September 2004, so it’s now been over 10 years since I’ve seen him.)

Since I failed to say something to him in person, you’d think I would at least have the decency to break up with him over the phone.  I didn’t.  (I think we all know where this is headed.)

No, chickenshit asshole me decided to break up with him via email.  Email!  I still cringe when I think about it.  I mean, we’d literally given each other years of our young lives.  We’d been through a lot together.  He was my best friend, the one person I felt I could share anything with.  He was my first real love.  And I broke up with him in a fucking email.

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At least I said more than that and didn’t break up with him using a Post-It, right?  RIGHT?!?!  (Okay, no … My way was still super shitty.)

I still feel like a worthless sack of shit when I think back to that time.  I can’t believe I could treat someone I cared about so much with such callousness.  I mean, ending a long distance relationship is obviously not the same as ending a relationship when you live in the same city, but I could have handled it better.  I could have given him an opportunity to tell me how he felt, encouraged a discussion between the two of us.

But I didn’t because I was scared.  I was scared to hear what he had to say.  And, more than that, I was scared I’d be talked out of making that decision.  Even though I knew, without a doubt, that “B” and I had grown apart and were no longer truly happy, I knew he could remind me of the good times and I’d be willing to give it another try.  And I was determined not to be talked out of ending things with him.

But still … I should have handled things much differently back then.

Moral of the story: Don’t be an asshole.  Don’t end a long term relationship via email.

Random Valentine’s Day Thoughts

As I’m sure everyone knows, Valentine’s Day was last Saturday.  If you’re curious about the way we celebrated (or, more accurately, didn’t celebrate), the day began with Criminal Minds on Netflix and bowls of cereal.  I later finished reading The Pilo Family Circus, then took a shower and got ready.  We went to Half Price Books for some book shopping (I had a 20% off coupon), and after spending about an hour or so in the store, I found 4 books and Eric found 1.  It was only about $32 for all 5 books, so I was pretty happy about that!  After the bookstore, we went to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  Eric made some delicious bacon guacamole burgers for dinner, and I didn’t take a picture because I’m a bad blogger.  We watched several episodes of Friends (somehow we’re already on season 5!), and then I had a Skype date with a couple of my girlfriends who moved away last year.  I drank way too much wine (1.5 bottles, to be exact), and had a blast catching up for 6 hours.  I went to bed around 3:00 a.m., drunk and happy.

Eric and I aren’t really fans of Valentine’s Day, so this obviously wasn’t treated as a special day for romance.  It was, however, a really great day spent with a few of my favorite people (even if I only got to see 2 of them via Skype).

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The lighting is terrible in this picture, but it’s the only one I took on Valentine’s Day this year.  I took this right before the Skype date began.

I wouldn’t say we’re anti-Valentine’s Day, but we’ve never considered it to be a special holiday worth celebrating.  I know that a lot of people love it, but we just … Don’t.

Eric and I made our relationship official in June 2007, so we’d been dating for 8 months by the time our first Valentine’s Day together rolled around.  (You can read all about how we met here, if you’re interested.)  Even then, we weren’t really interested in making a big deal out of it.  Back in 2008, we agreed to just make cards for one another.  That’s it.  No flowers, no candy, no special candlelit dinner, and, most importantly, no pressure!

Unfortunately, other people felt the need to make up for this lack of pressure by providing pressure of their own.  Every time someone asked what we were doing for Valentine’s Day and I said, “Nothing really … We’re just making each other cards,” I’d get a response like, “I would be so pissed if my boyfriend didn’t do anything for me!”  I’d then explain that we didn’t really want to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day, so we’d agreed that making something small for each other seemed like the best way to celebrate.  It’s weird that other people cared so much about what we did (or didn’t) do for Valentine’s Day, but, for whatever reason, they did.

Eric put it best when he said, “Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of love, but I think you can show love any day of the year.”  I obviously managed to snag a smart man!

I guess my main point here is that Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a big thing, regardless of whether or not you’re in a relationship.  I get that some people just really like holidays or enjoy any excuse for a celebration … But some of us don’t.  And that’s okay.

I realize this post was mostly a bunch of random thoughts about Valentine’s Day (and a selfie because, well, why not?), so I’ll leave you with this very old picture of Eric and me.  This was taken in the summer of 2007, about a month or so after we made things official.  It was his first trip to visit me (if you’ve read some of my older posts, you may remember that we were in a long distance relationship for a little over 2 years before I moved to Omaha), and I’d taken him for a walk in my favorite park.  Aww, young love (and proof that I should probably always have bangs!).

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Eric doesn’t really like this picture because he’s squinting, but it’s one of the earliest pictures of us I could find so I wanted to share it in this post.

If anyone feels like commenting, please feel free to share your thoughts on Valentine’s Day.  Are you a fan, or is it just another day for you?

And Where Was I Before The Day That I First Saw Your Lovely Face?

I mentioned in last week’s Tasty Tuesday post that I’d be featuring several posts that fall under the “Love and Relationships” category this month.  When I was trying to decide what I wanted to focus on in today’s post, I decided I’d start with something happy and positive (and probably a little mushy).  It’s Monday, after all, and most of us probably need a little boost for the start of the work week.  (I know I usually do!)

As anyone who reads this blog on an even somewhat regular basis probably knows, I love music.  When Eric and I were planning our wedding, this was the one aspect I was most excited about (and probably also the most controlling/Bridezilla about).  That being said, it may come as a surprise to many of you that Eric and I don’t really have a song.

Since we didn’t have a special song, it probably should have been difficult to choose a song for the first dance at our wedding … But it wasn’t.

When we first started planning our wedding, there were very few things I was certain I wanted.  Of those few things, the two I felt most strongly about were related to music (which probably isn’t surprising).  I knew that I wanted to walk down the aisle to the VSQ version of Elliott Smith’s “Say Yes” and I knew that I wanted our first dance song to be “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds.

Listen to “The Luckiest” here:

 

I was in college the first time I heard “The Luckiest.”  I remember very clearly listening to it, really listening to the lyrics, and thinking, “I want a love like this.”

“The Luckiest” is, in my opinion, the perfect love song.  The music is lovely and the lyrics are sweet without being cheesy.  The last verse is actually really sad, but it’s also romantic in that “love that will never die” kind of way.  (If you’re not familiar with the song, that verse tells the story of a couple in their 90s.  The man dies, and his wife dies only a couple of days later because she can’t bear to live without him.  As I said, it’s sad … But that’s honestly the kind of “depths of my soul” kind of love I always wanted.  And now I feel so lucky because I’ve found it.)

I like a lot of songs by Ben Folds, but “The Luckiest” is by far my favorite.  And now it will forever be one of my favorite songs because it will always remind me of my wedding day and how happy I was in that moment, dancing with my new husband.

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This was my favorite wedding photo.  It was taken during our first dance, and we didn’t even realize our photographer was taking pictures at the time … We were just lost in the moment.  We ordered a large print of it, and one day we’ll actually frame it and hang it up!

 

The Late Honeymoon/One Year Anniversary Recap Part 4: Paris

It’s now time for the final installment of my 4 part late honeymoon/one year anniversary trip recap, which is all about our experiences in Paris.

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Before we left for our trip, I tried to keep my expectations low when it came to Paris.  This was a place I’d always wanted to visit, and I was really worried that I’d be completely disappointed when I actually got there.

I’m happy to say that I had absolutely no reason to worry.  The city was just as beautiful and interesting as I’d hoped it would be, and I had the best meal of the entire trip there.  The only thing I felt disappointed about was the fact that we weren’t staying there longer!  (And, if I’m being honest here, I was also a little disappointed about the fact that I’m not rich and couldn’t afford a shopping spree in stores like Hermès and Chanel.  But, since I already knew that before we left, it didn’t completely crush my spirit or anything.)

Here are some examples of the gorgeous scenery:

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The Arc de Triomphe was pretty close to our hotel, so this was one of the first major landmarks we visited.

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And here are some pictures of the Arc de Triomphe that we actually make an appearance in.

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I honestly had a really hard time narrowing down pictures for this collage because there were so many beautiful images to choose from.

And, of course, no trip to Paris is complete without a ton of pictures of the Eiffel Tower:

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We took a ridiculous amount of pictures of the Eiffel Tower from different locations and angles.  These were a couple of my favorite daytime images.

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This was my favorite nighttime picture.  You can kind of see just how crowded and crazy it is in that area.

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On the left you can see the obligatory “kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower” picture.  On the right you can see just how excited I was about visiting the Eiffel Tower.  (Okay, I wasn’t just excited … I was really drunk.  Like a bottle and a half of wine drunk.)

Earlier I mentioned that I had the best meal of the entire trip while in Paris.  That meal was at A La Petite Chaise, which is the oldest restaurant in the city.  The three course dinner included unlimited wine (which probably explains the picture on the right above).  I may have been drunk by the end of the meal, but I could still appreciate it … And it’s definitely one of my favorite memories from the trip!

Because the meal was so special, I’m sharing individual photos of the food (as opposed to a collage):

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We started off with an apéritif called “Kir” which is a mixture of blackcurrant liqueur and white wine.  This alone was delicious!

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I went with the very classic French onion soup for my starter.  It was perfect!

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Eric’s appetizer consisted of asparagus and puff pastry with a delicious saffron sauce.

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My main course was duck a l’orange.  The sauce was rich and flavorful, and the duck was perfectly tender.  So amazing!

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Eric had the salmon in a beurre blanc sauce, which was some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  It literally melted in your mouth!

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I had a dark chocolate cake for dessert.  I think the creamy custard sauce made it even better!

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Eric had a panna cotta topped with caramel cream sauce.  It was so thick and creamy … Really good!

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They served coffee with the desserts.  If you know me in real life, you’ll understand just how crazy this next statement is: This is the only coffee I drank the entire time we were in Europe.  I honestly still can’t believe that!

In addition to taking a bunch of pictures of the food, we also got a few of ourselves:

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We took this in our hotel room before leaving for dinner.

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That picture on the bottom right shows the beginning of the end. That bottle was gone in no time (as was a good portion of another)!

Eric also got a few really good shots of the exterior of the restaurant while he was waiting for me to get out of the bathroom.  Here’s the thing about really old restaurants (or this one, at least): the bathrooms are tiny and only made for one person.  And if you’re part of a tour group that just finished a large meal which included unlimited wine, chances are you’ll be waiting in line for a very long time.

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At least Eric was able to make good use of his time waiting for me by taking these pictures!

After dinner and some sightseeing, I really wanted some champagne.  Eric and I were initially just going to go to the top floor bar in our hotel for drinks, but after looking at the prices on the menu, we decided we should go elsewhere.  (I’m not exaggerating when I say it would have been at least 85 US dollars for two drinks … And that was if we ordered two of the cheapest options!)

We wound up across the street at a random restaurant/bar, which actually turned out well since we managed to get a few decent pictures of the exterior of our hotel:

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The original pictures of us in front of the hotel show the full name: Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile.  It got cut off when I made a collage, though.

And, of course, we got pictures of our drinks (plus an oh-so-classy shot of me drinking my champagne):

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I love how awkwardly I’m sitting.  It’s almost as though I’m afraid I’ll fall over if I let go of the table.

The next morning we woke up (hangover free, I might add!) and continued exploring the city.  We took a bunch of touristy photos, but, since I figured I shouldn’t add 300 pictures to this post, only some of my favorites are shown:

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This is another postcard worthy image, if I do say so myself.

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This is the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte.

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This fountain was in the city center.  I thought it was gorgeous, so we had to get pictures in front of it!

This was my absolute favorite touristy picture of us:

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I love that it actually looks like we’re jumping pretty high.  We’ve still got it, even in our old age!

We spent several hours in the Louvre that day as well.  I knew it would be huge, but holy shit!  (This made me think about the part in The Dreamers when the three main characters race through the Louvre, and I kept thinking, “They were nuts!  This place is way too big to run through!”)  It was like a giant maze filled with the most beautiful, amazing things in the world.  Every time we’d enter a new room, I found myself saying, “Oh my God!  Look at this!  Wow!”

We both felt like we could have spent a week going to the Louvre every day and we’d probably still miss something.  I wish there had been more time to explore, but we still managed to see a lot of really awesome things.

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This picture cracks me up because it looks like it was Photoshopped.  It’s not.  I did edit it a bit, but I promise I’m really standing in front of the entrance.  There was a pedestal there that I was standing on (you can kind of see it under my feet) which explains why I’m so high off the ground.

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The picture on the right is from Napoleon III’s apartments.  Can you imagine living in a place like that, having a dinner party at that table?  I can’t!

And, of course, the top priority for us once inside the Louvre was to locate the Mona Lisa (and, of course, take a silly selfie in front of it):

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I still think it’s really awesome that we saw such a famous and important work of art in person!

We took a ridiculous amount of pictures inside the Louvre, but I didn’t want to post all (or even most) of them since I’ve already shared so many from our time in Paris.  I’m still going to share one of the pictures we took on our way out, though:

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I was clearly really excited about the time we spent in the museum.  Eric clearly thought I was crazy and was probably sick of selfies by that point.

After our time in the Louvre, we spent the rest of the evening shopping and making our way back to the hotel.  Since it was a decent walk, we decided to just have dinner at a random restaurant we passed on the way back.  While it definitely wasn’t as good as our meal the night before, it was still pretty good.  And that view!

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I hate how chubby my face looks in this picture.  Please overlook that in favor of the Arc de Triomphe in the background (and the food to the right).

Eric had a leg of duck, which was served on a bed of potatoes (bottom right).  I had a small steak in gorgonzola sauce (which was delicious!) and a side of fries (middle right).  And, of course, no French meal is complete without some bread and wine!

After dinner, we picked up a few snacks and went back to our hotel.  And, since I haven’t posted the pictures of our Paris hotel room yet, I’ll throw those in here as well.  (And yes, that is a bidet in the bathroom.  I wasn’t brave enough to try it, but Eric said he tried it once.  When I asked him how it was he said, “I think it requires some practice to do it right.  I’d do it again.”  Maybe I shouldn’t have asked.)

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The biggest image is the view from our room.  I wish we’d been on the other side of the hotel because those rooms had views of the Eiffel Tower, but oh well.

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Our delicious after dinner snacks: a pistachio and white chocolate chip cookie, macarons, and hot chocolate.  Everything was so good!

Before I end my recap, I just have to share one last picture.  I took this from our hotel room window to remember why I will never attempt to drive in Paris:

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Crazy!

In case you can’t see it that well, there are no designated lanes on the road in that clusterfuck of a circle.  (There are also no designated lanes in the circular area surrounding the Arc de Triomphe.)  I find that terrifying!

Everyone has asked me what my favorite part of the trip was, and I honestly never know what to tell them.  I enjoyed every city we visited, and would love to spend more time in each of them.  After writing these recaps and looking through my pictures again, though, I think I’d have to say that Paris was probably my favorite city.  (It was Eric’s favorite too, in case anyone was wondering.)

I’m so glad that Eric and I were able to take this trip.  It was so much fun, and I know we’d both go back in a heartbeat!  I’m really hoping we’ll be able to take some sort of anniversary trip next year as well (though I know that realistically it won’t be another extended vacation like this one).  A girl can dream, though!

The Late Honeymoon/One Year Anniversary Recap Part 3: Brussels and Bruges

I can’t believe I’m already on the third part of my late honeymoon/one year anniversary trip recap!  While these posts take a while to write (mostly because I’m not that efficient when it comes to editing pictures), I’ve enjoyed sharing my pictures and experiences on this blog.  Hopefully those of you reading this have enjoyed these posts as well.

Today I’ll be covering our time in Belgium.

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Our time in Belgium began with a trip to Brussels.  First on the agenda: the Atomium.

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Not the most attractive picture of either of us, but it’s better than the other ones we took in front of the Atomium!

We then checked out The Grand Place, or the main square in Brussels.  We took tons of pictures of the buildings because they were gorgeous, but I won’t post all of them.  (I mean, I doubt anyone really wants to see that many pictures of the same few buildings!)

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I know the pictures of Eric and me are really tiny, but I wanted to show off the buildings in the background.

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The first two pictures were taken on the drive in to The Grand Place.

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Awwww.  (I know some people hate pictures of people kissing, but whatever.  I don’t!)

We also checked out the infamous Manneken Pis.  I would have liked a picture of us in front of it, but there were just too many people around it.  Oh well.

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We took a few pictures and this one was the best (a.k.a. there weren’t a bunch of random people in the shot).

We weren’t in Brussels for very long (just the afternoon), but thankfully we were there long enough to grab a delicious (and oh-so-healthy!) lunch of waffines filled with dark Belgian chocolate.

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I’m not kidding when I say that the streets smelled like delicious waffles, chocolate, and fries.  It was amazing!

After our afternoon in Brussels, we traveled to Bruges.  We spent a lot of time walking around the city.  Once again, we took a ton of pictures of the beautiful buildings and scenery, but I’m only posting a few of my favorites.

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I don’t want to sound conceited (and, to be fair, Eric and I both took some of these pictures), but I think this looks like it could be a postcard.

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Up the nose shots are always sexy.

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Seriously … This city was beyond gorgeous!

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I also had to include a few shots of the area at night (and, of course, another one of us).

Here’s a great picture of Eric:

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Hopefully you can see the Marilyn Monroe mannequin in the window (otherwise this picture wouldn’t really make much sense).

Here’s my pathetic attempt at a fashion blogger pose:

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If you ever wanted proof that I could never be a fashion blogger, here it is.  I mean, where is my hand?  You’d think I would have pushed my jacket sleeve back for the picture, but no … I didn’t even realize it turned out this way until I was editing.  Major fail.

As with all of the other parts of our trip, I took pictures of our hotel room:

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Eric and I were really surprised by how modern our hotel was (considering what the rest of the city looked like).

And, of course, pictures of us in front of the hotel:

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My jacket sleeve seemed to cover my hand a lot during this trip.  Oh well.

We also had to get some goofy pictures in this funky chair in the reception area because, well, why not?

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Yes, we’re actually this silly in real life.

We also had a delicious meal of more traditional Belgian fare:

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The meal came with a large bowl of fries to share with your table.  We also had an appetizer of mussels in cream sauce, beer braised beef stew, a hazlenut/chocolate/ice cream dessert, and (of course!) some Belgian beer.  It was a delicious meal!

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This is a picture of the dining room we ate in.  It was really nice and intimate.

Oh, and then we had more beer because you can’t go to Belgium without drinking tons of beer!

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The stores there are crazy … That’s just one wall of beer!  The bottom picture was taken in our hotel room after we drank a few beers.

And finally, the many faces of Eric in Bruges:

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Cute, right?

Belgium is such a stunning country (which is why this post is mostly filled with pictures and very little writing).  And any place that loves waffles, chocolate, beer, and fries that much is awesome in my book!

We only spent about a day and a half in Belgium (which is why we’re wearing the same clothes in most of these pictures), but we managed to get quite a few great pictures and see a lot of cool shit.