May 9, 2010

What it was like to be stranded (near Paris)

Posted in travel, vacation at 3:59 pm by Marise Phillips

We spent exactly one week longer in Europe than originally planned. We were due to fly home (from Paris to Heathrow to SFO) on April 15, the day the volcano blew up, and the airports began to close just as we got on our plane that morning — only to be asked to get right back off. Boo.

Being stuck was equal parts annoying and interesting.

Annoying because neither of us could spare the additional vacation days from work, especially not Jason, having started a new job just a month before we left. We basically spent the entire time on pins and needles, wondering when and how we would be able to get back home. Early reports emphasized the fact that this volcano erupted for months on end last time, which made for a very unsettling first couple of days.

Moreover, we were a bit sick of Paris by the time we were due to fly home (crazy, I know!) plus not entirely happy to have to spend more money on lodging and everything. And due to the massively increased demand, we couldn’t rent a car to explore the surrounding area, which is a bit of a shame because there were some nice day trips we might have been able to take advantage of.

All the same, some very good things came out of being stuck: my (relatively new) manager was kind and supportive throughout, as was the friend of my parents helping to take care of our house and cats. Jason and I bonded strongly with a few fellow stranded travelers, not to mention one another. We found it amusing how well-balanced our stress reactions were; in other words, when he was freaking out, I was calm and vice-versa.

We were very thankful to have chanced upon a fantastic B&B near the airport, with wonderful hosts who bent over backwards to help us in a variety of ways. Best of all, they invited us over for drinks the last night we were there, which extended into a lovely impromptu dinner. They gave us a gorgeous hardcover book of the town we were staying in (as our hostess is a 4th-generation resident and town mayor), which all three of them signed (including their sweet, shy, handsome son) — all in French of course. So that one exceptional evening, in and of itself, more than made up for the impersonal/harried feeling we got from our week in Paris.

In retrospect, it’s been interesting, having taken part in an historic event — and we have certainly added some cool stories to our repertoire.

And strangely: no, my French did not improve at all, I don’t think. I’m in such a frustrating phase with it, kind of like I am with skiing. I barely ever get to use either skill, and so when I do, I just end up falling flat on my face. Ah well, at least I can still understand when I read and listen to it!

January 1, 2010

Things that didn’t suck about 2009

Posted in dieting, health, lovey, nostalgia, self-improvement, travel, veganism, vegetarianism at 12:58 pm by Marise Phillips

Although it has been a trying year, 2009 was also full of some truly memorable events in my life:

  • New Years Eve/Day in Amsterdam, followed by an outstanding week introducing my lovey to Paris
  • Successfully tapering off the evil antidepressant
  • Selling my money pit of a car and “making it work” with public transportation
  • Going back to the gym and attending regularly, then finding joy in bicycling and yoga
  • Giving up (for the most part): meat, sugar, alcohol, dairy, caffeine
  • Losing 30 pounds, and holding steady for 3 months (though it is high time to re-commit now that the holidaze are over!)
  • Getting my finances in much stronger shape during very difficult economic times

Thank you 2009 for all the tough love 🙂 I am more than happy to carry on!

September 7, 2008

turned that frown upside down

Posted in self-improvement, travel at 10:35 pm by Marise Phillips

apologies for whininess of that last one.

i’m happy to report that i was able to create a pretty great last-minute vacation for myself last week. it  combined a lot of the elements i missed out on when i cancelled all my 40th birthday plans: solitude, beauty and health-centricity.

the plan was able to come together thanks to two important events:

  1. selling the condo in Telluride (and freeing up some much-needed discretionary income)
  2. giving notice at my job (and gaining a nice two-week break before the new one begins)

wanting to make use of all the camping gear I’d recently gathered together for macrobiotic camp, i reserved two nights at oceanfront campsites: the first at Manresa near Santa Cruz, and the second at Refugio near Santa Barbara.

on my way down to Santa Cruz, I stopped at the world-famous Mystery Spot and took the guided tour. nestled in the redwoods, the crazy gravity-defying wooden shack was fun to walk through and marvel at. after proudly plastering the bright yellow bumper sticker on the back of my car, i drove out to the campsite, set up my stuff, and walked down to the beach for some sunset photos.

the new camp stove worked great for a quick vegie stir-fry, which i enjoyed with a glass of white wine at my picnic table. i also appreciated the cute little kerosene lamp someone had left behind — a pearly white porcelain thing in the shape of a sea-urchin.

[…more soon…]

April 3, 2007

last day in amsterdam

Posted in internets, lovey, restaurant review, travel at 12:35 am by Marise Phillips

last day of vacation… and it’s grey and cold after 6 straight days of lovely sun. oh well!

we rented bikes and are thoroughly enjoying our increased range of travel around this thoroughly lovely city. today, we’d planned to go to the botanical gardens and the zoo, but not sure if that’s so practical now, with rain so likely.

last night, we went to a great-looking place in the Jordaan called “restaurant tante agaath” – but the service was deplorable. a party of four blowhards (two tiresome Cockney businessmen and their dull Dutch hosts) sat right next to us, getting louder and louder with each drink and cigarette.

even worse, our entrees took literally an hour to arrive (and we hadn’t ordered appetizers in order to save room for dessert!) needless to say, we didn’t stick around for that, and just got some pastries at a stall closer to the center of town.

we ended the night at “rokerij” coffeshop, probably my favorite establishment of this entire trip so far. great interior design, dark and tribal, comfy wall benches, cool music.

piccies so far are up on flickr.

March 18, 2007

sad but true

Posted in pets, travel, weekend at 9:22 am by Marise Phillips

I am a lousy blogger. I get so humbled by “the greats” – Crazy Aunt Purl, Dooce, Sundry, Kiki, etc that it just makes me clam up.

Also sad but true is the fact that after 6 weeks of doing really well on my nutrition plan, i started fucking up on it, leading to a snowball effect of disappointing proportions. fortunately, my acupuncturist was marvelously positive and encouraging. i was able to be 100% up front with her as a result.

So sigh. I got lots done yesterday on my own as J was at work til 9pm. I managed to run a good 75% of my pre-trip errands: getting travel-sized odds and ends, preparing the pets for our absence… I don’t mean preparing them verbally – hehe – but rather, making sure they had enough food, getting a new cage for Winkle the hamster, now that her babies are weaned (yeah – she had 2 babies about 3 weeks ago!! eep!).

I also finally came up with a plan for segrating the cats and the hamsters that doesn’t involve putting the cages on high shelves. While that works for me & J on an everyday basis, reaching up that high is just not safe for my mom. So I decided to keep the hammies in the living room, closing the pocket doors and blocking the other door with the heavy wooden screen. I just hope Sweet Boy doesn’t miss his perch too much! He’s got plenty of others…

I’ve also been fairly productive already today. I’ve taken a bold step and decided to touch up my highlights at home. Wish me luck 🙂

Later today, I’ve got a wedding to go to — some friends of J’s — and I have to go by myself because he has to work again today. BOO. But instead of feeling glum about it, I decided to make myself look as gorgeous as possible, and have as good a time as possible. It’s all about attitude and approach!! I say this because I’ve just realized that I actually wouldn’t have had a *better* time if I’d gone with J — it’s been ages since we’ve gone to a party and really enjoyed ourselves. I find that I’m actually more outgoing and friendly when I’m by myself (cause I have to be).

Interesting. More later – cause now I have to rinse.

September 6, 2006

Film Fest Fun

Posted in movie review, travel, weekend at 9:55 pm by Marise Phillips

Telluride Film Fest 06 – 52.jpg, originally uploaded by RiseyP.

J & I spent 5 days in Telluride for the film fest. I only got to see one movie cause i am a big loser. Every time we go, I’m affected by the altitude change in a different way, Last time, my head really hurt – like it was caught in a big vice grip. This time, I was just listless and antsy. Sigh.

Regardless, we still managed to have some fun – and the film we saw was fantastic – a world premiere of Fur with Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. Also, we made some new friends: a documentary-filmmaking couple who live 6 blocks away from us in SF!

July 22, 2006

spoiled rotten

Posted in travel at 9:57 am by Marise Phillips

the view from my bed at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

I stayed there thursday night as a nice treat to myself, got a spa treatment, swam in the pool and had a lovely dinner at the girl and the fig restaurant.

mostly, i watched crap tv on the huge screen from my luscious four-poster bed. hooray for days off between jobs!!

November 27, 2005

Breakfasts in Tokyo

Posted in travel at 4:03 pm by Marise Phillips

The night I arrived in Tokyo, I went out to the Okonomiyaki restaurant across the street with Ryan and Susan. The food was fantastic and the atmosphere was fabulous: lots of hip young things drinking beer and sake and cooking their own meal, all around us. I felt like I was in the Japanese equivalent of the Lower Haight (the bleeding-edge ‘hood I live in, in San Francisco).

Susan, putting up with having her photo taken (But not for long…)

Ryan’s hand, making the stir fried vegies we got.
We found out much later that the ginger goes in last.
We put ours in way too soon and it ended up getting all burned and inedible…

But anyway, I digress. This post is about breakfast.

While we were at dinner, I asked “the kids” (J’s name for them, which I quickly adopted) how the breakfast at our ryokan tasted, as J & I were going to have it for the first time the following morning. (R&S were staying in the same ryokan we were, and had gotten there two days earlier, while J & I were visiting my brother in Seoul)

They told me they didn’t like the breakfast much at all, that it was overpriced and weird. Stuff like fish and soup and this bizarre jelly-like molded meat thing. So after the first morning, they’d begun to branch out and eat at other places in the area, like Denny’s, which they swore was much better than Denny’s at home. Hmmm.

Their reviews convinced me that I would actually probably like the ryokan’s breakfast (having gotten used to jelly-like meat molds at Vietnamese restaurants and really starting to dig them). So when Jason & I woke up the following morning, we got dressed up in our yukata (the robes provided in our room) with the green housecoat thing on top…

…and took the elevator downstairs. After a bit of manhandling of the automatic door leading into the ryokan’s restaurant (derrrr, Risey, press the “Open” button!!) we sat down and were served the various bits and pieces comprising a traditional (big) Japanese breakfast.

Of course, each thing was served in its own ceramic container. Little tiny plates and bowls for everything, perfectly designed. Some roasted nori in a rectangular, covered dish. Miso soup. Rice. Pickled vegetables. A small piece of cold roast fish. A side of soy sauce. Slices of sweet tamago (omelette).

I don’t know why, but I loved it all. Simple but delicious. Food that makes you savor each bite. Definitely worth the 1,300 yen per person.

Although I must admit, by the end of the week, we couldn’t get ourselves out of bed early enough to get to breakfast on time, and so we did end up trying Denny’s with the kids. It was actually surprisingly good. They served mostly Japanese food, along with very Japanese versions of traditional American breakfasts, and it was all really tasty. Funniest of all, the disposable chopsticks they gave you were the best we got in Japan. Instead of having to break them apart, they came pre-separated, and they were made of a much nicer, beautifully-grained wood. Strange.

November 22, 2005

more monkey goodness!

Posted in travel at 11:57 pm by Marise Phillips

Per Foo, who had an even worse day than I did…

Nellie, the dog I'm sitting, escaped from my friend Dana's nearly-dogproofed backyard. Which led me on a three-hour hunt around her very hilly neighborhood around which idiots like to drive their sports cars far too fast. Fortunately, I found the escapee, but not before much hysterical sobbing and gnashing of teeth ensued.

…I am to upload more monkey photos. Pronto.

Here they are!!

November 21, 2005

so. tired.

Posted in travel at 10:14 pm by Marise Phillips

i saw soo much of japan in the last two weeks, all of it via public transportation and my own two feet. nary a taxi and despite my best intentions, i did not manage to pack very lightly.

and since i suffered very little jetlag on the trip out, i'm getting it all full force now.

but before i pass out again, i wanted to share a couple VERY QUICK highlights…

Museum Ghibli, Mitaka
Torii (Shinto Temple Gates) on Miyajima Island

A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima

Feeding Baby Monkeys in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto

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