The Bachelorette: This Changes Everything

430.1x1I must begin this recap by saying I am in a terrible mood. As I write this, it is approximately 1,000 degrees in my un-air conditioned, pre-war apartment. My dog is currently sprawled on the bathroom floor, relishing the cool, porcelain tile. And I am upset with myself because in addition to the fact that I decided to cook an actual dinner on an actual stove in this heat, I also stupidly decided to take a peek at Twitter while The Bachelorette was airing on the East Coast. And lo, the news I bring you is sad, and yet…not entirely unexpected. That’s right. Beloved normal person Chris Evans, AKA Ben Z. has been eliminated. Honestly, I have no other reason to continue watching this high production value Valtrex ad other than inertia. He was my favorite, favorite. Like, genuinely. He seemed like a good guy. Who is there left to root for?

But first, before the saddest of eliminations, we pick up where we left off last week, with Walmart Ryan Gosling confronting Kaitlyn about her extracurricular activities with Nick. I don’t think Kaitlyn sleeping with one of the contestants is a big deal, because I don’t actually know anyone in real life who waited until their honeymoon to “do the deed.” But I do think it’s shitty to sleep with someone as fundamentally untrustworthy as Nick, and it is my vain hope that when Walmart Ryan Gosling eventually finds out the truth, he will be upset not over the act of having sex but because Nick is such a POS. Kaitlyn discusses how difficult it is to have such deep feelings for multiple people and not wanting to hurt anyone, and I do feel genuinely bad for her because that can’t be easy and she seems legitimately sad.

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My sunny summer saturday must haves.

Friday Five: Sunny Summer Day Edition

My sunny summer saturday must haves.
My sunny summer saturday must haves.

I am a summer baby. I was born on a sweltering hot day in early August, and my earliest memories involve running through oscillating sprinklers in my grandma’s front yard, and sneaking off to the side of her house where a thicket of blackberry bushes swelled with dark purple jewels of fruit. I live for summer and heat and sun and the feeling of sun warmed asphalt on bare feet long after the sun has set. Fall is fine, winter is terrible, spring is Zyrtec. Summer is heaven. And because my carefree summer vacation days are long behind me, I take my weekend summer days very, very seriously. Here are my must haves.

1. Salt Water Sandals

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet and my generation’s very specific and intense nostalgia, I am now able to wear my favorite childhood shoe as an adult.

2. Acacia Sunscreen

I have come to grips with the freckles on my face, but I don’t really want any more, so when I went to Hawaii in April, I decided to invest in some heavy duty sunscreen. The Acacia Sunscreen I purchased at The Royal Hawaiian’s Rebecca Beach store is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but it did provide weightless, total, and lasting coverage. And it’s odorless.

3. Rainier Cherries

My 2nd favorite summer fruit, after blackberries? Rainier Cherries. Best if purchased local (meaning, here, in Washington) and organic, these taste like summer.

4. Summer Read: Oh! You Pretty Things

Classed as a summer read, this rapier sharp book is worthy of your attention both on and off the beach. It details the life of a twentysomething Hollywood personal assistant and all the trials and tribulations that entails, with exploration of the pitfalls of female friendships, and even a little romance.

5. Kate Spade Le Pavilion Wireless Headphones

These were a Christmas gift and I love them to pieces–the battery life could be better, but they are light, provide excellent sound, and perhaps most importantly, they have polka dots. What more can you ask for in a headphone?

What are your summer must haves?

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The Bachelorette: I Want a Rose So Bad I Would Pull My Own Tooth

Remember the Alamo, The Revenge

Our episode picks up in San Antonio, Texas with the men reflecting about how little 1:1 time Ian received with Kaitlyn. Not sure how I missed Nick and his Howdy Doody bow-tie last week, but he and his smarmy face say that he hopes Ian doesn’t insult Kaitlyn. Ian says he came to the show to find love and to find a wife and not to be around men making poop and fart jokes. And it was sweet and sad, until he said that Kaitlyn is shallow, brings up “having her field plowed” (alluding to the joke she made when she first met Chris, Hamster King of Iowa). Ian makes some valid points but then immediately negates every last one of them with his attitude and his arrogance. Why even say these things to her? Why not just leave and voice these opinions in the talking head/post-rejection interview? Nothing is accomplished, Ian gets up and walks away, and he comes off terribly. It’s possible to tell other people that you are intelligent and multi-faceted without also putting them down. You could go the classy, Charlene route. When Charlene was confronted with Juany Pabs, who may have been dumber than Chris, Hamster King of Iowa, she let him down gently by saying there was no intellectual connection. But Ian. Oh, Ian. Last black dude standing. If you were as self-aware as you claim to be, you would know that every single thing you said makes you look like a dick instead of making Kaitlyn look easy or dumb or shallow.

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Finished product!

Sweetness: Rosé Sangria

I imagine having me as a friend could be pretty difficult at times. I’m incredibly hard to read, my sense of humor is basically sarcasm 60% of the time, and I expect instant responses to my text messages. But, one of the many upsides to having me as a friend is my love of bringing delicious booze to social gatherings. Last month, I discovered (read: Googled) this recipe for Rosé Sangria and it is…amazing. I know, I know, rosé is a wine for teenagers and young, urban dwelling women. But I can’t help it. I love it. I suffer from insane post-red wine headaches, and though rosé is, you know, a shade of red, the headaches seem less catastrophic. And because I only drink it in the summer, drinking it instantly gives me that heady anything-is-possible-but-omg-we-need-to-do-that-right-now-because-summer-is-only-2-months-in-Seattle feeling.

I whipped up a batch to bring along to a rooftop get together last month, and it was gone in two seconds flat, so I highly recommend doubling (or even tripling) the recipe if you’re making it for a crowd. It’s easy to drink, not too sweet, and includes all sorts of delicious seasonal fruit. Cheers to you, David Lebovitz, and Happy First Weekend of Summer/Day Drinking Season! And to all my friends–here’s what I’ll be bringing to all the parties I attend this summer. You’re welcome.

 

I washed these after I took the picture.
I washed these after I took the picture.

 

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The Bachelorette: We Have Such a Great Connection…

The episode begins with Nick entering the dudepartment and enduring some actually sane, logical questions about Nick’s motivations for being on the show—including the fact that he was hanging out with Andi a couple weeks before the season began filming, and that all his antics make him seem like a fame/Bachelorette-seeking d-bag. Farmer Josh, bless him, says “is she just a cool chick or an amazing woman to you?” And my heart grew 10 sizes. He will eventually get kicked off the show, but somewhere in America’s heartland is an amazing woman waiting to be swept away by his awesomeness. Nick holds up to their questioning pretty well, and the dudes remain skeptical.

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The Bachelorette: You Gotta Go With Your Gut

Dressed in one of Miss Venezuela World’s cast offs from 1996, Kaitlyn confronts Brokeback Bachelor/Clint. Clint is the best actor this show has ever hired, he stares Kaitlyn dead in her eyes and tells her that no one in the house has a problem with him and that he has never said anything bad about any of the other dudes. Which is patently false. But Kaitlyn blinks slowly at him and sizes him up, and in perhaps the most intelligent move of any early stage Bachelor/Bachelorette, eliminates Clint. Typically, this move doesn’t come until they’re somewhere in a 2nd tier European country in some sort of beautiful lodge, and the contestant with Borderline Personality Disorder has misplaced their meds and gone off the rails.

Kaitlyn brings Clint back inside to say goodbye, and Clint’s BFF JJ turns on him, saying Clint owes everyone in the house an apology. For a split second, Clint looks legitimately crestfallen, and just as quickly as flickers of human emotion spark in his eye, they disappear. Next, we find JJ and Clint in a strangely yellow hallway, standing incredibly close to each other and lobbing insults through gritted teeth. And just as quickly as the flare up begins, it is over, with Clint complimenting JJ on his tie as he departs for the looser cruiser waiting in front of the Valtrex Manor.

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The Bachelorette: “Stepping Away From My Business, and My Dog, and My Bonsai Tree”

I hadn’t planned on recapping this season of “The Bachelorette” because I find Kaitlyn not very engaging. She is beautiful but seems devoid of personality, and like maybe the body double for Mila Kunis in a role as a manic pixie dream girl/cool girl. But people have asked me (okay, two people—Hi, Anna! Hi, June!) if I’m going to start, and now that all of my stories (rest in peace, Mad Men) have gone on hiatus for the summer, I don’t really have anything else to do with my Monday nights.

First off, let me say—parents of America: please start raising your sons to understand and accept rejection. No one likes hearing no, no one enjoys having their romantic interest thwarted. But it is a fact of life. However, we live in a society filled with men who, when rejected on Tinder, in real life, or on reality television, seem completely unable to process strong, complex emotions and instead resort to schoolyard taunts and insults. And often—without warning. A switch is flipped, circuits overload, and the Incredible Hulk bursts forth from a formerly human body.

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Friday Five: Honolulu Favorites

Friday Five is back! And this time, I bring you my favorite five things from my recent trip to Hawaii.

The Bernice Puahi Bishop Museum

Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii
Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii

(http://www.bishopmuseum.org/)
Hawaii’s history is vastly different than that of almost all the other states–and yet I can’t remember a single history lesson about Hawaii other than Pearl Harbor and when it became the 50th state. The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum makes all those missed history lessons accessible in one easily digestible and beautiful museum (special thanks to Auntie Suzi for allowing me to take a million and five pictures everywhere we went!). The museum itself is spread between several buildings–one devoted to a planetarium, one to the history of Hawaii and the people indigenous to the South Pacific, one that explores Hawaii’s flora and fauna (including a creepy/cool faux volcano), and one that digs into the many immigrants who have shaped the face of Hawaii. The museum is also off the tourist track, which is a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki.

 

#6 from Ono Seafood in Honolulu, Hawaii
#6 from Ono Seafood in Honolulu, Hawaii

Ono Seafood (http://www.yelp.com/biz/ono-seafood-honolulu) So, first off, this restaurant is in the bottom of an apartment building, and is the very definition of a hole in a wall eatery. I paid close attention to warnings on Yelp that said not to pass it by, but when I walked in, was overwhelmed by the prospect of made to order poke and totally embarrassed myself while ordering (a direct quote from yours truly “I just want poke.” The woman taking orders looked at me unmoved while an elderly woman preparing the poke looked at me sweetly, the way you might look at someone you thought was simple), the minor embarrassment lasted only until the first forkful of poke passed my lips. This is, without a doubt, the best poke I have ever had in my life. Protip (aside from learning to read a menu)–I arrived around 11:15 a.m. on a Saturday and by the time I left (close to noon), the line was out the door. There are a couple long picnic tables, but not enough to be shy about asking to sit next to locals or fellow tourists.

Pali Lookout
Pali Lookout

Pali Lookout (http://www.gohawaii.com/en/oahu/regions-neighborhoods/windward-oahu/nuuanu-pali-lookout/) While my Auntie Suzi patiently guided me on a tour around Oahu, she mentioned the Battle of Nu’aunu–in 1795, Kamehameha drove more than 400 warriors led by Kalanikupule off the edge of the Pali Lookout where they fell to their deaths on the valley floor 1,000 feet below. Because of the mass death, the area around the Pali Lookout is said to possess a great deal of spirit activity. And, because I’m a strange person, Auntie Suzi’s story made me want to visit. The vista is breathtaking, in part because it’s impossibly windy, but also because it combines steep, rocky outcrops you’d expect in Scotland, combined with the lush, greenery of a tropical rainforest. And in the distance, the Pacific Ocean dazzles with its various shades of blue. There are also roving bands of wild chickens.

SHAVE ICE! From Waiola Shave Ice
SHAVE ICE! From Waiola Shave Ice

Waiola Shave Ice (http://www.waiolashaveice.com/) On my first trip to Oahu, I ventured up to the North Shore to Haleiwa (which is the most magical little town on Earth, to me), and had my first authentic Hawaiian shave ice. For the unacquainted, Hawaiian shave ice is nothing like our mainland shave ice (for one, it’s not shaved). Instead of the coarse ice crystals, shave ice has an almost ice cream like consistency. And to add to the amazing texture, you can get ice cream added to the bottom of your shave ice. I didn’t know you could get shave ice anywhere outside of the North Shore, but Auntie Suzi, the sage local, took me to Waiola (not far from Ono!) and ordered me a pineapple/lilikoi concoction that I will dream about for years to come.

Waikiki Beach before the crowds arrive
Waikiki Beach before the crowds arrive

Early Morning Swims When I was a kid, my mother forced me into swimming lessons. At first, I really hated them because there’s nothing so painful as being 7 and and lacking the speedy motor skills to peel away a one piece bathing suit when you need to heed nature’s call. But as I grew older, I came to understand that yes, knowing how to swim was important safety-wise, but the quiet tranquility offered when floating along in a pool or, you know, the Pacific Ocean, cannot be beat. So each morning while I was in Hawaii, I’d wake up early and head out to the beach to stake a claim on the cool sand before the crowds appeared. And as soon as the sun slipped above the highest of the Waikiki skyscrapers and began warming the waters off Waikiki Beach, I’d wade out with my GoPro and go for a swim.

Sweetness: The Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Royal Hawaiian Hotel Honolulu
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii

I am not a fancy hotel kind of girl. When searching reviews on TripAdvisor, I scan photos only to be sure there are no bed bug infestations to worry about. I look for clean, safe, relatively centrally located and calm, but luxury resorts are typically the antithesis to both my travel identity and, you know, budget. But during a rewatch of my favorite show of all time, “Mad Men,” I was inspired by Don’s season 6 opener vacation to Honolulu and decided I wanted to stay at The Royal Hawaiian. From the moment I booked my reservation I knew things were different—I received a personal mail from the concierge asking questions about my stay and received no stock answers, but actual recommendations based on my questions. I arrived late one Thursday night on the last flight from Seattle to Honolulu, and decided to take the shuttle offered through Starwood (they welcome you with a lei! Something I secretly wanted on each of my three previous trips to Hawaii but thought I was too cool for). At night, you don’t fully appreciate how much of an oasis The Royal Hawaiian is from the hustle and bustle Waikiki—it’s almost like there’s some sort of biodome fitted neatly around the property. And though I was covered in the scent of airplane and Dramamine, I felt welcomed. Not in the obsequious way that usually occurs at luxury hotels, but in a way that suggests the Ambassadors (Royal Hawaiian staff) are well trained in the art of hospitality.

Historic Wing Garden View Room at The Royal Hawaiian
Historic Wing Garden View Room at The Royal Hawaiian

I checked into my room (Garden View, Historic Wing), a large, l-shaped situation with an oversized fan spinning lazily above my bed. My windows looked out onto the lush drive and entry way to the hotel, and after a restful night’s sleep, I sat in a chair munching the Royal Hawaiian’s trademark banana bread as early morning light transformed into a brilliant day.

On my first morning, I decided to indulge in a very good

Waffles with Coconut Syrup and Whipped Cream at The Royal Hawaiian's Surf Lanai Restaurant
Waffles with Coconut Syrup and Whipped Cream at The Royal Hawaiian’s Surf Lanai Restaurant

(if, admittedly slightly overpriced) breakfast at the on property Surf Lanai restaurant. Breakfast was pricey but the view was priceless, and allowed me one of my favorite pasttimes in Hawaii—watching people take in the site of the ocean for the first time. You can almost see when vacation mode clicks on in people’s brains as they stare, unblinking into the impossibly clear and turquoise blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Children, released for a few moments from the protective grasp of their parents’ hands and frolic in the surf while their parents’ feet sink into the soft sand. The same slow, genuine smile spreads over every face, and it is an amazing sight to behold in this time where our eyes are almost always cast down, lit by the eerie glow of an electronic device screen.

Archway at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel
Archway at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel

The six-story Moorish architecture inspired resort opened in February of 1927, and with its trademark pink façade has been dubbed “The Pink Palace of the Pacific.” And while the color pink is omnipresent (chairs, towels, umbrellas, toiletry bottles, hats, rugs, etc.), it never becomes overwhelming and is instead just a neat, vintage quirk. With the exception of the Moana Surfrider, all of the big Waikiki hotels are enormous skyscraper structures, and while The Royal Hawaiian recently opened a tower of its own, the intimacy afforded by the historic wing of the hotel is unparalleled. Almost every hallway ends in a beautiful vista of either the grounds or the ocean or the gardens, or an intoxicating blend of all three. There are also quiet seating areas tucked around most corners. One night, I sat with my notebook and a can of Hawaiian Sun and wrote for a couple hours, listening to the waves crash against the shore and the gentle murmur of the two nearby restaurants/bars. The hotel has played host to Hawaiian and Hollywood royalty, but is equally welcoming to a regular vacationer like yours truly.

View from a beach chair at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel
View from a beach chair at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel

One of the other splurges I made on this very #treatyoself trip was renting a chair on the beach. For $40, you get two chairs (I used one) and an umbrella from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (which is actually a really good value, I’ve seen resorts on other islands that charge twice that). Ordinarily, it takes me a good two to three days to train myself not to check mail on vacation, but a solid four hours of sitting on the beach doing nothing convinced me that, yes, unplugging was best. The people watching on Waikiki Beach is unparalleled. Though I did not take advantage of this, the Waikiki Beach Boys who staff the chair rental area will get (non alcoholic) drinks for you and help you order food.

After a day of doing nothing, I worked up quite a thirst and found my way to the Mai Tai Bar, which also boasts views of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is such an effortlessly beautiful place, one that begs for constant photo taking and selfies, but the longer you stay, the less likely you are to want to take pictures. On a busy Friday afternoon, I spotted not a single iPhone out (I did see a lot of GoPros, but I give those a pass). Instead, everyone was either amiably chatting to their travel companion or, if solo (like myself), trying their level best to absorb the salt, sea, sand, and sunshine by sitting perfectly still.

The Last Cocktail and Haupia Cake at The Mai Tai Bar at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel
The Last Cocktail and Haupia Cake at The Mai Tai Bar at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel

On my last night in Hawaii, totally overwhelmed at the prospect of leaving paradise behind, I sidled up to the bar for a slide of haupia (coconut) cake—pink, naturally—and a cocktail fittingly titled “The Last Cocktail.” Behind me, two musicians and a hula dancer entertained the mellow crowd, transporting everyone, even just for a few minutes, not to a simpler place, but into a state of total traniquility, right where they are.

With carefully cared for vintage architecture, furnishings, displays (old school long boards, dresses worn by Hawaiian royalty), and outstanding service, it’s easy to understand why the producers and writers of “Mad Men” chose The Pink Palace of the Pacific as the location of an episode. Everything about the hotel is transformative, and forces you to take a few minutes to relax, and enjoy your surroundings. And for me, it taught me that while my budget hotel tendencies make sense some times, it’s okay to splurge on a place as unique and spectacular as The Royal Hawaiian. I’ve been back for less than a week, and I’m already saving my pennies and thinking of when I can return.

IMG_4127

Pros

  • Location, location, location
  • Architecture
  • History
  • Service

Cons

  • $35/day resort fee includes free long distance phone calls, but do people really use their hotel room phones anymore? So it seems like a waste to say that’s a bonus since most people are not using it.
  • The food is very expensive (good, though). I would not recommend eating there every day, but a couple special occasion meals during your stay are well worth the $$$$.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel
2259 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
http://www.royal-hawaiian.com/

Bittersweetness: The Fear

Waaaay back in 2011, I received my master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern. The program itself was difficult and intense, and there were times when I hated it more than I’ve hated anything in my life. I’ve been a decent writer for as long as I can remember, and skated through high school and college with essays penned in the wee small hours of the morning before they were due. I can count on one hand the number of times I did not get an “A” on a paper in high school and college (because I collapsed into a puddle of tears each time).

So, studying something I felt skilled at in one of the best schools in America seemed like it would be a natural fit. Except no one tells you how daunting it can be to go from being the best writer in your class to a room full of people who were all the best writers in their respective classes. It’s humbling, in a good way. I got the famous Medill “F” on my very first day at Medill, and immediately after, made a tearful call to my mom, announcing I’d be home in a couple weeks because obviously I was going to flunk out. I didn’t. But I didn’t do much better. Most of my classmates readily accepted the challenge of becoming better writers and cub journalists, but I was paralyzed by fear of failure, or a fear that I wasn’t actually as good as I thought I was. No English teacher in my life had ever challenged me to become a better writer, and when faced with the chance to become better at it, I took any critique as a sign that I wasn’t any good at all. There were glimmers of hope, and occasionally, I would turn out articles that even surprised me for how good they were. But time and again, my instructors would take me aside and say the only thing keeping me back from not just being a good writer but a great writer was my self-confidence. Which, in and of itself, is something that doesn’t necessarily make you feel better and increase your confidence. For someone paralyzed by fear of failure, it only serves to highlight another something you’re failing at. But it’s something that has stayed with me.

When I set up this blog, I was filled with courage. Almost certainly it was liquid courage, but I felt like this was my chance to take up something that I loved to do and that made me extremely happy, even if I couldn’t make a living off of it. At points, I set up editorial calendars and came up with regular cadences for updates. I set up a Facebook page, I changed the name of my Twitter account, and one of my Medill classmates even approached me about writing posts on The Huffington Post’s blog. I recapped The Bachelor/Bachelorette. Occasionally, my work schedule or family commitments would get in the way, but the huge chunks of time between posts very often have little to do with my schedule, and everything to do with me being terrified. What should this blog be about? What’s my voice? What’s my brand? Is anyone reading? I came up with a million excuses for why I couldn’t do it, why it was pointless, and why I should abandon the blog entirely, or just pretend it didn’t exist. I don’t travel enough to make this a travel blog, and my life of 9-5 is nowhere near glamorous enough to warrant a lifestyle blog (Sample post: Secrets to my skin? Genetics). I read lots of blogs and feel twinges of jealousy—it’s not that I don’t have the skill to write, it’s that I haven’t decided that it’s something I need to do and committed myself to the hard work that needs to be done to become a better writer. None of the questions that have hobbled me and served as excuses for not writing actually matter—no one is going to read my blog if I haven’t written anything, and there’s no voice to worry about if there are no posts to read.

Time and white wine have made me understand that my relationship to writing is a metaphor for many facets of my life. Scared of not doing well makes me do nothing at all. One of my biggest regrets in life so far is that I didn’t take full advantage of my time at Medill because I was scared that I wouldn’t be great. I remember all the classes, the pro-tips from instructors, and the hours I spent in class studying the art of storytelling, and I’m hopeful that this blog will give me the opportunity to finally apply those lessons.

Long story short—I need to write and mom, please feel free to harass me if I haven’t written recently.