Saturday, April 28, 2012

VIVA LAS VEGAS! (the first in a series of some very long posts)

Sooo on President's Day weekend 2012 four bright-eyed, sick-of-Provo girls ventured on their own to the roaring big-time town of Las Vegas Nevada! I was feeling pretty good with a little tax return cash in my pocket and just needed a change of scene. So before the sun was up, we were off to Sin City!
Looking a bit haggard (I am, Tara looks perfect) None of us got much sleep the night before. Ali was getting her endowments out this weekend, so she couldn't be there. We definitely missed her!
We rolled into town at 11 am their time, and we were STARVING for lunch because we had been on the road since 6 and it was 12 our time. We finally agreed upon Olive Garden, but it wasn't open yet. So we sat outside until they opened and then, decked out in PJs, got the lunch special and some funny looks. Let me tell you, though--in Vegas, when you are the first person in this restaurant, they treat you like royalty!! And it was a nice establishment in general. 

We dropped our stuff off at the house we were staying at (suuuuper nice people that are somehow related to Cami) and went to a park to play around a bit. The weather was PERFECT! Then, after getting nice and sweaty, we went and got professional massages. Oh. My. Gosh. That experience is now in my top 10 best of my life. I had been dealing with tension headaches for about 3 weeks at that point, and they were getting pretty severe. But my awesome masseuse just went to town on my neck and shoulders and I walked out of there pain-free for the first time in a while. We all had fun comparing our different experiences and while I felt like I was drenched in oil the rest of the day, it was a seriously wonderful time. 

From there, we hit the town! And by that I mean we hit Fashion Show Mall and spent a long time walking around looking at different stores. We even caught a fashion show and held a few of our own.
I loved these glasses, but they were supes pricey so I had to say no :(

We were feeling a bit like this until we got some food and caffeine in us

From there we hit up the strip, walking through a few casinos and ultimately hit up some of the biggies: 

Caesar's Palace

Tara in front of the impressive Greek architecture. The sky is really cool in person.

 Tiffany's and the Elton John Store for Bri (sorry about the weird alignment, blogger is being dumb)

The truly terrible animatronics show about the sinking of Atlantis. The fire was really hot and scary though
Cam and Pam were being troopers as I dragged them up and down Caesar's Palace. They were exhausted.
Luck was not a Lady that night. Calm down, I only did it once!
We stopped for a picture in front of the fake Eiffel Tower. I LOVE The Paris!

 The Bellagio has THE BEST chocolate shop!! With the coolest fountain (that Tara is pretending to drink from) and it turns out they also have amazing gelato as well.

The Bellagio always has a tricked out display, and this time it was an Asian themed garden thing but there were tons of displays made entirely out of flowers! 
And no Las Vegas trip would be complete without stopping 4 or 5 times to see the Bellagio Fountains! I could watch these all night. At some point in the trip we even got to see the "Time to Say Goodbye" number which is my all-time favorite!
 At this point in the night it was only about 9 o'clock but Cam and Pam were wiped out and our car was at the other end of the strip. So, they volunteered to walk down and get the car while Tara and I looked around some more and then they would pick us up. 5 minutes after they left, we realized we had made a HUGE mistake. What happens at 9 o'clock on a Saturday night? People come to party. The family groups disappeared and people looking for a good time took their place. We popped into Planet Hollywood to see if we could find a present for Cam's B-day (Sunday) and amidst the peep shows and large numbers of somewhat intoxicated, scantily clad young adults we found ourselves in way over our heads. Vegas is not scary in a group of four girls, but in a group of two we felt tired, vulnerable, and ready to get out. So we called Pam and Cam and told them to get there ASAP, and went down a little side street, huddled on a rock, and waited while an exotic dancer got her groove on on the roof of the building across from us. They finally found us and we made our way to the house for a night of much-needed sleep.

The next day we slept in (Tara and I were staying in the CUTEST little girl room on the comfiest beds I've ever seen) and played with the cute family dog. Cam and Pam got a little rough with her, and she hid under a chair and refused to come out. When she finally did emerge, she went downstairs and laid on a chair like this
I was almost positive they had killed her. But she revived once her family got home from church.
 We hit up Sacrament at a single's ward by the LV temple and then walked the temple grounds to give ourselves a little uplift after the long day we had had on the strip.
The four of us. It was crazy windy that day.

Pam and I taking some "we match" pictures. In this one
I'm carrying her with my throat.
Palm tree!

After that we headed back to the strip to catch the places we had missed the day before. We actually walked through the Paris and then went down the other side of the strip to see the MGM lions (which weren't there...HUGE bummer) and go to the M&M store. This was definitely the ghetto part of the strip.

 One unforeseen problem I had with day 2 of the strip was that I had packed light--one black undershirt, one pair of jeans, etc. What I failed to take into account was that the strip has a certain smell to it, and after you spend a few hours there, YOU have that certain smell as well. The smell of dirt and cigarette smoke and lots of people in one place and chemicals. And there is a fine layer of grime on your clothing as well. And I got to re-wear some of my clothes the second day and smelled like that. Yuck.

By day 2 the shine of Las Vegas was starting to wear off. We did more walking and pausing than going in and exploring, and definitely didn't take as many pictures. I was starting to rely solely on Dr. Pepper for any energy whatsoever, the billboards and flyers were starting to get to me, and the excessive amounts of down escalators were making me sick (vertigo). It was freezing that day, and while we were still enjoying our vacation, our enthusiasm had definitely hit its peak and was waning. Cami's parents were incredibly kind and gave her money to take us all out to dinner for her birthday, so we settled on Serendipity 3, a really cute, fancy, girly little restaurant right by Caesar's Palace. We made our way back to it, catching some Bellagio Fountain shows on our way. Tara and I opted to wait on our reservation for an hour while Cam and Pam went and explored The Venetian. Then we got some yummy dinner!

Super fun giant menus. It was seriously such a cute place. The waiter was a tad neurotic though.

Frozen Hot Chocolate, yum! Happy Birthday Cam!

We made a point of being off the strip by 9:30, although the Sunday evening crowd was definitely much tamer than the Saturday night one. I slept one last beautiful time in that crazy comfy bed. The next morning we headed home so TBird could go to work that afternoon.

Pam was seriously awesome and drove the ENTIRE trip. 
Headed home looking a little rougher than we started! (Me and Tara, Pam and Cam look fine)

So, all in all we had a great time! We were safe, we all got along just great, we saw lots of cool things, and felt like we'd had a mini vacation from school. And while I consider Vegas to be a place that I only like to go to every few years, and I'm always really ready to leave once I've been there for a little while, it was great to soak up some sun and hang out with my friends. I also always come away impressed by the insanely cool architecture and artwork on the strip. The hotels are HUGE but are constructed perfectly to fit their theme and are often quite beautiful. I was so happy we got to do this trip, and I'll always remember the fun we had!

Friday, April 27, 2012

face lift!

So I've seen a lot of people revamp their blogs lately, and between that and spring fever, I have caught the bug! I wanted a change, I wanted clean lines and bright colors and light. If you don't like mauve then you are out of luck! I'm also adding tabs to the top, but it's a work in progress so don't look at them yet. Hope you like it! I spent all afternoon making this instead of cleaning my apartment/doing homework/doing laundry/sleeping/doing any number of things that I should have done.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

WHOA I'm alive!

Dear 1 1/2 readers,

Guess what! I'm still alive! Yes, yes, I know, I fell off the face of the earth...again. It was just a bad semester to try and get anything done. But now it's over! I'm still going to be busy, but after a bad case of winter doldrums I feel like my life force has finally returned to me and I can start being engaged in my own life again. And now I have a lot to catch up on. So...let's get started!

I don't have access to all of my pictures at the moment so I won't be doing anything in-depth, I'll have to do that later. But here's a little bit of what you missed:

Despite my complete failure to stick to my "new things every week" plan, I still made it my goal/attitude to try new things and to not hold myself back out of fear. Because of that I gained:

A spur of the moment trip to Las Vegas
A trip to San Jose/San Francisco
Great memories associated with both of those trips
A love for Thai food (sooo good! sorry if I mentioned it already, but it's crazy yummy)
An editing internship for the fall (!!!!!!!!!)
Experience interviewing for editing jobs (no jobs though, but its okay, I'll be more qualified soon)
A husband (ok, not really)
More confidence to speak up in my classes 
More confidence in general
Better money management skills 
And basically a lot of good times

What have I learned? To just go for it. Things typically work out for the better. You could be missing out on a lot if you hold back out of fear. 

Next up:

I hit my one-year mark of growing out my hair!!!! Happy Anniversary to me!!! To celebrate I went and got a trim for super cheap and it ended up being a great haircut. 
Forgive my weird face, I have a hard time taking pictures when I can see myself
Unfortunately, from this moment on my hair has not looked this good. I just don't take the time. But it does have layers and lays pretty well! I also think that it is a significantly lighter brown now, and I am a significantly darker pink. But it's getting there! I think in another year or two it will be about where I want it. And so, the journey continues. 

And speaking of pink...
After a day at the beach
Remember I said I went to California? Well that was this last weekend. and I came back looking like this! Not one of my better moments. I would say that on an average day my hair is a mix between these two pics: a little bit wavier/frumpier than the 1st pic, a little more fuller/well-kept than the second pic. I also don't have any makeup on in the second and I look like a LOBSTER. Actually, my poor damaged, peeling, flaky skin has more in common with this guy than anything else:

But with longer hair
Also, as a side note, if you are the type of person who enjoys assisting others in removing dead skin from their back, hit me up. I know, I know, it's super gross. Just thought I'd give it a try. But just know that I'm suffering. 

Uuuummmmm I also finished my awful semester and am now waiting on pins and needles for my grades. But really, I want to know what I got! Here's the rundown of my classes:

Creative Writing: LOVED! much harder than expected. learned a lot. wrote some good and really bad stuff.
Writing Literary Criticism: Loved my teacher, was bored with the class. Mostly a review from previous class/building on those skills. Not a huge fan, but did learn good things. 
Grammar: Hard! Great teacher. Not great test scores. Learned a lot.
Modern American Usage: Interesting! not always easy. learned lots and lots. loved my teacher
French: Tricky. Hard at first, got easier, then got hard at the end. Great teacher. Passed. One more french class to go, c'est vrai! Semi-beginning-oknotreally fluent now. I can read about 85% of Le Petit Prince with little or no difficulty, which is exciting. 

And now that we have had a nice 4 day break, classes have started up again! This time it's

Brit Lit: The Victorian Era-my fave period of Brit Lit. I'm doing my capstone in the fall in this period so I'm excited to learn more and more about it. I also just LOVE learning about literature! teacher seems cool, i know quite a few people in my class. classmates seem cool. 
Basic Editing Skills-THE class to learn how to be an editor before anyone will hire you. really excited to be taking it. Teacher is a really nice guy as well. 
Computers and the Humanities: Print Publishing-basically an intro to design for people who don't design. and  I do NOT design. I am the antithesis of visually artistic. But I like the teacher so far. 4 days a week (yikes). Who knows, maybe my blog will get cooler as a result? not likely...

They all promise to keep me insanely busy with homework, but i'm learning about things that I want to/must learn about, and it only lasts 2 months, so I'm pretty pumped. Also, upper-level classes are slightly intimidating. 

Also in the last little bit I have...

Fallen in and out of love with this song
The music video is cool (and i think it illustrates the back and forth, both parties are to blame-ness of the relationship) but I think I almost prefer the Glee version. But seriously, California only plays 3 songs on ALL of their radio stations, and this is one of them. And this happened after I binged and listened to it on repeat 980 million times. So I definitely got my fill/never want to hear this song again. Also, this version is just insanely cool because all the parts are played on one guitar with 5 people. 

Gotten antsy over the pending graduation of half the glee kids
Ok, I will be the first to admit that glee is a sucky show. The writing is terrible, the plot is unbelievable, and characterization changes at the drop of a hat. But I can't stop loving it. I've been invested in these awful awful people for 3 years now, and now they are splitting up (supposedly. the nerve of Ryan Murphy knows no bounds) and I'm a little bit heartbroken. It's been fun. 

Gotten antsy over the immediate dispersion of my real friends
Last night I watched (yep, and sure did not help. I hate packing and she had a system, it was okay) the second to last member of my group of friends that I've lived with for two years pack up her stuff in preparation to peace out on me. In June the last one will leave. Some are coming back, but not until after I'm gone (graduation is in the foreseeable future, CRAZY!) so our little group is finally splitting up for good. It's so sad! I'll miss them all. We had some awesome times, that's for sure! Love you girls!

The dream team
(Greta [white coat] didn't live with us but she can still be in our group cause she's pretty great!)
 Watched the worst movie in the world
In an attempt to indulge our slightly inappropriate obsession with Josh Hutcherson, Bri and I watched "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" a pre-Hunger Games film featuring the object of our admiration. And it was the worst movie in the world, even given a "child's-movie" handicap. And it had really good actors in it. And they all sucked. Terrible acting, terrible lines, terrible movie. I would periodically bury my face in a pillow and chant/groan, "I hate this movie," but finished it out of spite. And I still don't know what even happened other than the main boy got hotter and the movie progressed and his friend (Josh Hutcherson) got much less attractive. Dear movie makers: don't have the actor with the super thick Asian accent explain your main plot points. It took us two days and lots of physical pain to finish it, but we did it. And I had to give myself a few days of space from Josh Hutcherson afterward because his image was tainted for me. Enjoy!

Revived my love of what might be one of the best songs ever
When Heath Ledger died, we had a candlelight vigil that ruined our table. When Whitney Houston died, we sat in stunned silence and then we watched the Bodyguard and sang along and cried (kind of). And I remembered how completely AWESOME this song is:

Well friends, I think that might be good enough for now. I'll get back with the deets of my trips and other fun things later. À toute à l’heure!

At Santa Cruz Beach in NorCal with Bri--the scene of my sunburn