Tag Archives: packing

London Calling

15 Feb

One of the best things about studying abroad in Europe is that you can just jet off  to anywhere in Europe at the drop of a hat – like some juvenile delinquent who’s just trying to run away from their past and head for a brighter horizon.

As it turns out, I am a pretty sucky juvenile delinquent. I’m more like a toddler delinquent…cute but not very high-functioning. Goo goo. Ga ga.

Seriously, though, you’d think that someone who has traveled quite a bit would know how it works. But there are still some key aspects of voyaging that do not come easily to me.

Let’s start with the packing. Last Friday – two hours before we were supposed to leave for London – I decided to take a little siesta fall into a coma for exactly two hours.

But luckily, I had packed a week before and was all ready to go opted to save packing for the last minute because packing is like a fine, red wine – you have to give it time and space in order for it to be good.

(If this metaphor holds true, then my “packing process” equates to a box of rosé that you drunkenly found lying on the subway and decided to drink anyway because, um, you were drunk.)

Given all the givens, I’m sure you can tell that asking me to pack a *small travel bag* when I’m dealing with post-nap delirium will inevitably result in a bag that looks like a misshapen potato, and a room that looks like Filene’s Basement after a Christmas sale.

What was ironic about my “chic yet practical ‘grab n’ go’ suitcase” was that I packed and re-packed it THREE TIMES so as to really “pair down.”

I had to let go of so many wonderful things…

And yet, I still left for the airport carrying a misshapen potato.

When I got to the airport, my friends just thought I’d “accidentally over-packed” when they saw my suitcase. Probably because I pretended that I really just had nooo idea how my bag had become so full!

It was an Oscar-winning performance on my part. In reality, I knew that I’d packed some highly unnecessary and superfluous things. 

For example, did I need a pair of running sneakers and a full urban-athletic wardrobe? No. Did I need an eye mask, a week’s supply of earplugs, and some mystery vitamins that I found in my desk drawer? Debatable. What about my extra comfy socks with the red frills, my hardcover romance novel, or my pillow that says “Born to Shop”? No. No I did not.


(Can I just mention that Selby had managed to pack four days worth of things – as well as her laptop – into a tiny handbag. I made fun of her at the time, but she ended up really pulling through for me in the end.)

My bag dilemma was just the first of a few travel maneuvers that were less than well planned and intelligent.

The second would come later, when Selby and I decided to go to a night club on our own, without working cell phones, without a set of keys to our apartment, and without any knowledge or understanding of London’s public transportation.

There is such a thing as “spontaneous fun,” but this was more like spontaneous stupidity. The club was great! But when we emerged, it was pouring rain and we had nothing but a hazy memory of a map we saw on her friend’s phone.

We walked up and down the street looking for the correct bus stop…which we conveniently passed THREE TIMES before realizing our error.

Luckily, there was a McDonald’s on the corner, so we could drown our sorrows in a Three Piece Chicken Select, some fries, and a McFlurry. (The McFlurry was kind of watered down by the rain and our tears. They really should put covers on those puppies.)

By the time we finally found our stop and made the long walk home toward the sketchy neighborhood of our residence, we were cold, wet, and sleepy.

And in need of a key, which we obtained after banging on the apartment door and waking up poor, sleeping Alex. 

The next day was bright and sunny! We spent a great deal of time in a market and ate about twelve servings of various free samples. It was a very rewarding experience.

The rest of our friends were due to arrive that evening.

Six o’clock rolled around…then 6:30pm. Then seven.

With no way of contacting our friends, we decided it would be best to just sit in the empty, sketchy apartment and wait it out…

…while drinking a plethora of hard cider and listening to the “What a Girl Wants” soundtrack to quell our irrational fears about kidnapping and train hijacking. 

When Matt and Caroline FINALLY got to the apartment, we were overjoyed! Mostly due to relief, but largely due to cider.

The rest of the weekend was super fun. On Saturday night, Dylan, Stephanie, Matt, Selby and I went to a hookah bar. Or, as the professionals – like myself – like to say, a “shisha” bar.

The art of  “shishing” is not for the weak. It is a pastime that hinges on focus, drive, and finesse.

Here is an example of successful “shishing”:


Just look at that technique. Well done, Dylan.

On the other side of the spectrum, there was Selby:


 A burst of giggles and lung pain.

 And then there was me:


A shameful display of confusion, pain, and embarrassment. I did not have skill. I did not have finesse.

I did, however, have drive and willpower. I continued to shish until I finally mastered this intense poker face:


Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is a shisher.

(As a side note: you know you’ve met some great friends when you yap on and on about “shishing” and make a million and one “shish” jokes, and they still accept you into their social circle.)

When we left for the airport the next day, I was sad to say goodbye to London. It is such a fun, beautiful city!

I was also slightly overwhelmed because the bag on my zipper broke, and the less-than friendly ticket-taking man at the airport told me I “couldn’t have a bag and a purse,” and that I would need to “consolidate.”

And guess who had room in her tiny bag? Selby. So, I shoved a shoe and some miscellaneous beauty products into it, and we were on our way.

I’d say our first spontaneous travel adventure was pretty successful.

Next time I decide to jet off? I’ll shove my stuff in a grocery bag and never look back…

…Unless I forget my “Born to Shop” pillow. In which case, I’ll just have to turn around.



A Word From the Couch

22 Dec

Hello! It has been a really long time since I blogged. Not gonna lie, I felt like a part of my soul was missing…like my world had been shattered into tiny pieces of glass, and someone had swept those pieces under a giant shag carpet and thrown the carpet away because, well, it was shag and had bits of glass in it.

(It’s not dramatic if it’s the truth.)

While I was on my blogging hiatus, I studied. A lot. And when I wasn’t studying, I was asking myself, “Should I start packing my stuff up to facilitate the move-out process? Should I be studying instead of watching ‘The Little Mermaid’ for the SECOND time tonight? Should I close the window because it’s snowing pretty aggressively and the snow is blowing into my kitchen?”

The answer to all of those questions was “yes,” but I conveniently decided against all of them. So, I spent a lot of time watching “The Little Mermaid” while my papers dried out from snow exposure.

Besides that, the semester ended well! I saw The Nutcracker, took a statistics exam that made me feel like my brain was the sand under an elephant’s foot, ate a holiday meal in the dining hall, and hung out with my friends.

Did I bother to pack up my apartment before my parents arrived to pick me up at school the other day? Of course not! That would be responsible and helpful. I decided it would be more fun to surprise them.

And I was right.

When my dad walked into my apartment, he said, “Jesus Christ, Sophie, it looks like a tornado came through here.”

“How so?” I asked, sheepishly.

Maybe it was because I’d emptied all of my drawers onto my bed? Maybe he was noticing the stacks of dishes I’d thrown on the floor as a means to start cleaning the kitchen cabinets (only to stop halfway through to eat some trail mix I’d found and had deemed in need of a new home); or, maybe he was struck by the fact that I had a pile of papers labeled, “To be ceremoniously burned,” in the middle of my living room.

I guess any of these factors could have contributed to his reaction.

But you see, I am a last-minute kind of person. I don’t like doing things until I know they are absolutely necessary.  So that’s why everything always seems messy and disorganized to third-party observers.

My mom always tells me my life would be so much less stressful if I just “made a check-list and did a few things each day until it was complete.”

Well, Mom, do you know what would happen to that “list” if I were to make one? I would inevitably find a way to get chocolate on it (even if I wasn’t even eating chocolate while making it), bury it in the bottom of my backpack, and then find it three years later…And, NONE of the shit I’d wanted to do would have been completed.

So, that’s why I’m always slightly behind-the-curve. But I figured, what could be wrong with making my parents help me move out of my apartment? I thought it could be a kind of “ceremonious bonding activity” for us to enjoy.

(And by that I mean I needed my mom to help me vacuum and I’m not strong enough to carry boxes down two flights of stairs, so, HELLO DAD.)

I’m not so sure they enjoyed my “ceremonious bonding activity,” however. At one point, I’m pretty sure they wanted to throw my SIXTH suitcase out the window as their own personal “bonding activity.”

But then I played some Michael Bublé Christmas tunes, and the mood seemed to settle a bit.

Four hours later, I was officially moved out of my apartment and headed for home.  And then, in a few weeks, I’ll be studying abroad in…EUROPE!

I’ve only been home for about a day, but I’ve already made several observations about being home.

Observation #1:

My room – which has bright PINK wall-to-wall carpeting and bright PINK, flowered wallpaper – is EVEN MORE PINK than I remember. My eyes hurt a little bit as I walked into it. But it was a good kind of hurt, you know? The kind that is uncomfortable in the moment, but that you know you’ll appreciate 20 years down the line when you come home to your parents’ house and immediately feel youthful and rejuvenated because of your pink room.

Observation #2:

We have a “cookie jar.” My mom announced this to me on the ride home, like it was the most exciting thing since sliced bread…WHICH IT TOTALLY IS. You have to understand; I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be one of those families with a constant, never-ending supply of cookies just casually sitting in their kitchen. And now that we are one of these “jar” families, I’m not quite sure how to handle it. It’s a lot of pressure. There’s got to be a “How-To” book on this.

Observation #3:

My suitcases are STILL sitting on my bedroom floor, where I put them after arriving home. They haven’t moved an INCH. I somehow thought they would just kind of unpack themselves, and then I’d be able to call my family upstairs and say, “It’s a Christmas Miracle!” (That was going to be my Christmas present to all of them, but it looks like I’ll have to come up with something else at this point.)

Observation #4:

I still SUCK at baking, so I guess my “I just can’t bake in my apartment because I don’t have enough counter space” excuse is really shot to shit. Last night, my sister and I tried to make cookies to add to our cookie jar. And guess what? I dropped an ENTIRE eggshell into the batter. I didn’t even blink an eyelash, but my sister kicked me out of the kitchen and told me to “go sit on my hands.” She may be a bitch in the kitch, but she knows how to avoid a walking disaster when she sees one.

Observation #5:

Returning to the suburbs initiates a lot of,  “this is not how we do it in the city” comments. None of which my family approves:

“Oh, you don’t walk as quickly out here as we do in the city.”

“Stores close at 6pm here? We don’t go to bed until 2am in the city.”

“The air is so fresh out here! How…quaint. Not at all like the air in the city.”

“You wear pajamas to the grocery store? I would never be caught dead doing that in the city.”

You get the gist. Sometimes, my sisters will stop me mid-sentence to say, “WAIT, WAIT, WAIT. You live in THE CITY??? Wow, we had no idea.”

I can always sense their sarcasm. That’s one thing they have in the suburbs that we also have in the city.

Besides these few observations, being home has been pretty normal. I’ve made friends with my couch again; I’ve reintroduced myself to “el fridge”; and, I’ve managed to craft a little remote control/snack and beverage holder that fits perfectly between the couch and the crook of my arm.

So that’s where I’m at. I hope everyone is having an equally thrilling and intellectually stimulating vacation.

So happy to be blogging again! More to come.

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