Monday, July 29, 2013

To Not Fade Away

I think I read somewhere once that you're not truly a writer unless you give yourself fully to the craft.  You give your emotions, your memories, and your heart to the words that you produce on the paper.  In a way, I've been struggling with how to write this or even if I should write this over the last month.  In a way, it almost seems appropriate to let these feelings and words flow out.  If someone can read it and gain something, then Lord knows what things can happen with it.  Here it goes:

One of my best friends passed away a month and a week ago from today.  Today would've been her 24th birthday.  When you get into college, they tell you on your first day that you're going to meet the friends that will last forever and change your lives.  In the occasion that that advice actually does pan out, it's an amazing feeling.
Jumping at Paradise Cove, Hawaii (courtesy of my friend Jenn)
My girl was an inspiration.  She was a friend, a traveler, a sister, a maverick, a sounding board, a singer, a dancer, a purveyor of ridiculous times to be had, and quite possibly one of the loveliest and most sincere individuals you will ever meet in a lifetime.  It was impossible not to like her.  The funny thing is, no matter who you were (even if you were a complete stranger), you'd fall in love with her.  
At her memorial at Georgia Tech
We met 3 years ago in a Financial Engineering class in junior year of college.  It's almost ridiculous to think you could grow so close to a person in a comparatively small amount of time.  From late night study sessions to trips to the local brewery, our friendship grew more as we entered the adult world.  Yes, we and many of our other friends didn't get to see each other much, but when we did, it felt like pieces of a puzzle coming together.  It just fit.

When you graduate, you make promises to friends that you'll keep in touch and see each other often.  I think in reality, it doesn't happen that often.  On the other hand, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing our girl 4 times last year.  With friends or with just each other, we went to Washington D.C., New York City, Boston and Honolulu together.  In Boston, we had brunch together on Charles St (as now remembered in a probably terribly written blog post), and talked about our plans for the future.  She had been living in Hawaii for almost a half year at that point, and shared the amazing goals she had for the next two years.  With those goals, she possessed such a clear vision of how she wanted to help people through her work and inspire passion amongst the 20-somethings of our generation by finding what their own right paths.  In looking back at that moment, I see now how much vitality she always possessed just in that very moment, and what vigor she had to reach those goals.
At her memorial at Georgia Tech
If I could freeze one memory now, it would be the 2nd morning of our visit to her place in Hawaii.  She had woken up early and gone outside, while a friend and I were chatting in a sinking air mattress on her living room floor.  Just the face, the laugh, the smile, the shriek of glee coming out of her as she jumped in on some girl time with us, encapsulated our friendship -- pure joy.  To say the least, she will be missed and remembered for a long time.

If you've managed to get this far in reading this post and feel it compelled in your heart to give back, her friends and family have set up a scholarship in her name here.  In the box that says "in memory of", please type in "Liz Tarpey."  Additionally, in the comment box, please write "This gift is for the Gamma Eta Scholarship Fund and is made in memory of Liz Tarpey."  

If you have made it this far, thanks for reading.  :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Notables & Quotables

It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday-ay -- Oh, you startled me.  Nothing gets me going like the knowledge that I'm going to be back home in Atlanta for the first time in 3 weeks.  Here are some links that have gotten me through the last week, slash month, slash whenever I stopped writing here.

Depending on what you start reading this, be prepared for the gigantic time suck this will take on your day.  Spurred by their terrible dating histories, artists/creative types/adorable human beings/long time friends Tim Goodman and Jessica Walsh challenge themselves to date each other for 40 days, with rules of course.  I (as well as the 20 other sorority sisters of mine that I shared this with) have been absolutely obsessed watching this play out up to today (Day 19).  Tim and Jessica have already finished the experiment in the spring, but are just posting their day-by-day journal entries from now until August.

Candidly Nicole is a web series produced by AOL Video, documenting Nicole Richie as she navigates everything from family life to dating advice, break dancing to pageant queens.  Exactly, how scripted this series is is up for debate, but it's got the crazy comments of the Simple Life with the increasing classiness that comes with maturity.  Not to mention, I'm absolutely head over heels for everything she wears.  Girl knows how to work it.

My friend Olivia, who runs the lovely food blog Olivia's Palate, has been preaching the the gospel of paleo eating for at least the last two years to me.  Finally, after a rather successful turn at dieting, I'm drinking the Koolaid.  In the few weekends that I actually am at home, I go to Multiply Delicious.  If you're not willing to spend the extra cash on things like coconut flour, you can still make some pretty delicious things by substituting ingredients.

This song has remained pretty close to my heart over the last month.  It was a really rough month last month, despite all the pictures from Iceland.  In any case, it was rather cool to discover that this was filmed at the last hostel we stayed at in Reykjavik.  I will admit, it's not the best rendition of this song Of Monsters and Men have performed, so do check out the album version.  However, the filming was done beautifully.

Last but not least, check out something pretty and sparkly.  If I haven't already posted this, then well I'll be damned.  My friend Cary introduced me to a blog of one of her acquaintances.  Messy Wands is an encyclopedia of knowledge for newbie to putting on make up.  The products are a little pricey, but it does provide a good index of how to master certain styles.  Also, sparkly, shiny things are wonderful no matter how you look at it.

If you have any recommendations of blogs, songs, articles, other cool things to check out, let me know below.  I love things that waste time.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sisterly Bonding at the Hester Street Fair

My sister Isabel is one of the most fashionable and creative people I know.  In all seriousness, it's almost as if all of the talent genes skipped me and went straight to her.  During my extended layover to New York City last weekend, I got to stay with her at her recently moved-in and slowly-to-be-furnished apartment in the Lower East Side.  Given the short time that I was in New York for this week (much of it spend nursing my sore legs and avoiding the heat), we walked from the southern edge of East Village to Hester Street, a small street comprised of basketball/volleyball courts and random supply shops.  
That's the thing that I love about Manhattan.  No two neighborhoods are ever the same.  Lower East Side gets a bad rap for being a little grittier by night, with its clubs and bars.  In all honesty, I still can't say it's my favorite.  What I will say, however, is that our walk through the Lower East Side to Hester St. did provide a nice change of pace.  Not to mention, its host to the ever-wonderful Hester Street Fair, which breathed of ethnic fusion foods (Chinese/Indian, Japanese/Kosher, the list continues...).
On me:  Madewell Long Tank Dress, J. Crew Factory Bubble Necklace, Kate Spade Gayla Wayfarers
On her:  Yumi Kim Jayne Dress, Rayban Wayfarers, Tory Burch Reva flats
It's a small weekly event on a small stretch of concrete next to the basketball courts, nearly missable if it weren't for the giant sign at the front of the park.  Filled with handicraft jewelers, vintage clothiers and delicious treats, the fair makes for a quick but colorful Saturday stop.  Not to mention, it made for some fabulous people watching.  There is seriously nothing that delights me more than watching a bunch of New York City hipsters doing their mostly stereotypical thing (looking for outfits I could never dream of accomplishing and eating random foods, like Kosher/Japanese... really?).

Monday, July 22, 2013

Iceland by Food

At last, the grand vacation is over, as I am on a train hurdling towards Providence and scrapping together an article about Iceland for my job council's monthly newsletter.  I'm weighing the options as to what to write about, and none of them seem particularly interesting. Most of what remains of the trip lies in the Lululemon grocery bag of candy and cookies for coworkers and loads of pictures (in addition to the mounds of luggage in my possession today).  Let's be honest here, I've never been terribly good at being an efficient packer, but pictures of what I ate always made a compact souvenir.
Here's what I can deduce about the culinary scene in Iceland in so few words:  seafood, soup, Skyr, and super expensive.  Early on in the trip, Kalie and I learned the hard way that eating cheaply in Iceland was nearly impossible.  The average "decent" meal went for over 2500+ krona at least (about $20).  After gutting out loads of cash on a car and a hotel, it made it a little harder.  The bright side?  When you're cold and hungry, you get satisfied easily by soup and sandwiches, and then when you finally get sick of that, you spoil yourself regardless.
The cost efficient comprised of delicious lamb soups in Gullfoss' park cafeteria, which served all-you-can-eat soup and bread for about $15, to a beautiful egg sandwich at a gas station outside of Skaftafell National Park.  For breakfast, we dined on Trader Joe's/Whole Foods granola bars from home, and along with the national food of Iceland, Skyr, a yogurt.
When we did spoil ourselves, we had whale kabobs and lobster soup at a shack in Reykjavik called the Sea Baron.  My personal food-related highlight had to be the Belgian waffles with rhubarb jam, chocolate and whipped cream with a latte at Tíu Dropar.  Assuredly, I will continue having dreams of that meal for the rest of my life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

We Conquer Glaciers

Alright.  My legs are consumed in some serious soreness right now.  If you know me, you'll know one of a couple things.  One, I'm a terrible driver (but that's beside the point), and two, I'm not an athletic person, though I very well try to be or at people try to convince me into thinking that I am.  

The crown jewel of activity for the entire trip was that the latter thought was proven very much wrong.  Kalie and I climbed not only one, but two glaciers, and climbed an ice cliff.  The latter of which again, I'm probably never going to do it again, because as it turns out, I'm incredibly afraid of heights.  Nonetheless, it was absolutely killer to be hanging off of a side of a glacier.

Separated by two days an two different companies (Arcanum Mountain Guides and Icelandic Mountain Guides), we climbed the Sólheimajökull and Vatnajökull glaciers in the Southern part of Iceland.  Both companies outfitted us in picks and cramp-ons, which are used to keep you from slipping into a crevasse.  So now the question is, did I fall into a hole, as some would predict?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chasing Waterfalls (... & Geysirs)

There's a saying in Icelandic that goes, "If you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes."  Coming from someone who has lived in Seattle for three months, the saying is an understatement to the sheer volatility of the weather.  In anywhere from 5 minutes, it can go from rain to sun to torrential downpour.  Not to mention, it's cold!  Hence, this is why I will regard the next few blog posts as my "Bear Grylls" period, and why how terribly happy I am back in Reykjavik with make up and somewhat form-fitting clothing.

One of the main attractions of Iceland anchors in a circular highway system called the Ring Road.  There, you'll find a variety of natural wonders, like Stokkar and Geysir, where the term geyser was derived from, and waterfalls like Skogarfoss and Gullfoss.  Our trip took us through the Southern and Eastern coasts of Iceland, along the Ring Road and Route 1 highways.  For about 50% of the trip, we were blessed with some pretty fantastic views when we visited Pingvellir (a division between the North American and European tectonic plates), Stokkar (Gulfoss (waterfall), and Skogarfoss (waterfall).  For the rest of it, it rained, too much for liking.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hot Springs at the Blue Lagoon

Suffice it to say, as I'm writing in a thin-walled hotel lobby in Vík with a slightly swollen foot, we're in Iceland.  Fully embracing the spirit of adventure in an otherwise corporate world, my friend Kalie and I landed in Keflavik International Airport, about 45 minutes outside of the capital city Rejkyavik.  In as few words as possible, Iceland is cold.  It became quickly evident that despite being chic and incredibly comfortable to wear, my Madewell maxi dress was no match for nearly constant threat of drizzle and breeze.

The bright side?  It did make for an easy to wear dress for our first stop, the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, an almost requirement for all international tourists coming to Iceland.  Built over a geothermal power plant, the spa features huge pools of sulfur-enriched, hot waters and silica mud that smoothes the skin.  Seriously, I couldn't get over how soft my skin was after.

The spa also provides shampoo, conditioner and a hot shower once you exit the warm waters for the ridiculously cold outdoors.  The hitch?  Clearly, the Icelandic have little interest regarding shower curtains, if you know what I mean.  In the anticipation that the showers may have played out like a game of Marco Polo, both my travel buddy and I came out unscathed for the most part, and ready to explore.

Since the lobby is winding down for the night and I'm about to fall asleep right on this couch, this is it for tonight.  I'll keep posting the rest of our adventures, not to mention some sweet photos, in the coming days.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Back to Basics

I'm back from a "soul-searching" hiatus, so to speak.  Have things changed in the last 4 months?  Less than you would think, and more than you could ever imagine.  The intention was to change.  For a while, writing here became all-consuming.  The more that was written, the more superficial it felt, as if what was spilling out of my own fingertips didn't belong.

One of my professors told me once, "Stick to what you know.  The rest will follow."  Henceforth, it'll be less fluff, more meat, more story.  Now, aside for the flair for the dramatic, know well, I'll try my damnedest to keep it going this time around.