Friday, July 13, 2012

What are you still doing here?!

This blog has moved, silly rabbit. Come join us over at Life As Always, we'd love to see you!
Sarah and Stewart

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Next Chapter

The time has come to bid farewell My So-Called Life... and to say hello to my new blog: Life As Always. I hope that you will continue to follow along as our lives embark upon some major changes and adventures throughout the next few years. We can't wait to see what happens... Catch you on the flip side!

Love Always,
SarahBeth

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crossroads

My oh my, so much has happened during the past year! It would be far too hard to recap everything that I've experienced in the past 12 months, so I think I will just share a short summary of the main event...

WE'RE ENGAGED!

In October of 2010 Stewart and I embarked upon an absolutely amazing adventure... We spent three and a half weeks winding our way across Europe, with stops including: London and Bournemouth in England – Dingle and Dublin in Ireland – Rome, Cinque Terre and Pisa in Italy – and Paris, France. Many people predicted that Stewart would propose on the trip. I adamantly disagreed, knowing that he was "not ready." However, this did not deter me from tossing ten pence into the fountain at Buckingham Palace with a brief, "I wish he would propose!" thrown to the heavens.

I had to wait almost three weeks for my wish to be granted.

The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of the coast on the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region of Italy and is composed of the coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillside. Stewart has often said that it's one of his favorite places in the whole world, so I was really looking forward to finally seeing it with my own eyes. It was absolutely the most breathtaking place I have ever seen. Over centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea, and part of its charm is the lack of visible “modern” development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach it from the outside. A walking trail, known as Sentiero Azzurro or “Light Blue Trail” connects the five villages.

I was really looking forward to the hike and at this point had put getting engaged completely out of my mind. I was enjoying the sunny day and absolutely fantastic views when Stewart suddenly dropped to one knee and pulled out a gorgeous diamond ring... he had been carrying it around Europe during our entire trip! I could barely answer, "YES!" through my shock, tears, and laughter. It was one of the best moments of my life.

So here we are... happy, in love, and planning our wedding, which we have set for Saint Patrick's Day next year (exactly five years to the day from when we first met).

And here I come to a crossroads. I feel as though this blog is a reflection of me as I once was...

It's been an amazing five years and I've documented almost everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. But I'm not sure if this blog is necessarily a reflection of who I am today and where my life is headed. So I've started a new blog to go along with this new chapter of my life with Stewart. From now on it won't just be about ME, it will be about WE, and all the exciting places that life will take us together. I hope you will continue to follow along with me on this crazy journey.

Stay tuned for a link!

Friday, December 31, 2010

How do you measure a decade?

Instead of rehashing the past year and it's broken resolutions, I decided to take the lead from a college friend and look back over how the first ten years of the twenty-first century have treated me. As the arrival of an invitation to my high school reunion recently reminded me, I’ve changed a LOT.

2000 – I graduated from high school and broke up with my boyfriend of three and a half years. I moved out of an extremely over-protected home in a small town and began college at Western Washington University, where I immediately became overwhelmed by being on my own for the first time. I drank too much, stayed out too late, and dated the wrong guys. After being put on academic probation for failing grades (I had an almost perfect high school GPA), I spent Christmas break nursing a severe case of mono.

2001  I was feeling uninspired by my pre-declared major in psychology, so I decided to pursue a career in the medical field. I enrolled in a local community college with plans to complete my prerequisites and transfer to a nursing school in Seattle. I became involved in relationship where I was manipulated and emotionally abused constantly, but I couldn’t seem to get out. I began taking anti-depressants and struggled to get average grades in my classes.

2002 – I quit my part time job at a restaurant to work in a medical office, but this situation combined with my school courses quickly made me realize I would not be happy in the medical field. People just kind of gross me out. Uninspired, I began working in retail at the local mall and taking generic classes with no specific goal other than completing my associates degree. I continued to let the same bad guy jerk me around, convinced we were meant to be.

2003 – I continued taking community college courses and working at the mall until I eventually became so discouraged and depressed about where my life was headed that I dropped out of school and moved to Waikiki with one of my girlfriends. We lived near the beach and I worked at an ice cream shop and a clothing store to make ends meet. My parents were less than thrilled. I eventually started to feel claustrophobic and lost on the island, so I reapplied to WWU and was accepted to begin classes in the fall. I decided on a journalism focus and for the first time in a long time I started to feel confident about school and the direction it was taking me.

2004 – I took huge credit loads every quarter to make up for lost time, and was getting almost straight A's in all my classes! I felt confident and motivated, and all my professors loved me. But I basically lived on campus and my personal life began to suffer. I gained weight (which my boyfriend at the time never failed to point out), and felt left out by my roommates, who were enjoying senior year slack off partying. I went to school full time and worked a part time job on campus while simultaneously completing an internship at the local newspaper. Even though I felt amazing about what I was accomplishing academically, I felt miserable about my personal life and relationships. I graduated in December and was relieved to put this part of my life behind me.

2005 – My boyfriend and I had been together for about two years at this point, and planned on moving in together wherever he got a job. In the meantime, I moved home to Olympia and lived with my parents while working as the city government and health reporter for the Centralia Chronicle. My boyfriend got a job in Seattle and subsequently broke up with me over the phone. So I did what any single, lonely girl would do in this situation... I got a job and moved to the city by myself. I re-kindled some friendships with girls I had known in college, lost about 40 pounds, and started to feel good about myself again.

2006 – In between partying it up almost every night with my friends, I dated one bad guy after another. I quit my job at the newspaper, where I had worked in real estate advertising, and took a job as an account coordinator for a real estate marketing company. It didn't take long for me to realize I was completely miserable working for a crazy husband and wife duo, but I didn't know what to do about it so I stayed. I continued to drink too much almost every night with my friends, and when my rent went up I moved into an apartment with a girlfriend to save money.

2007 – Following another particularly painful breakup, my roommate introduced me to Stewart. We became good friends and soon enough, more than friends. We started spending excessive amounts of time together, which took a toll on my friendship with my roommate. I became miserable enough at work that I quit my job and spent the first part of the summer unemployed. Eventually I began working as an administrative assistant for a real estate development company and for the first time in a long time I was happy with my job. Things with Stewart and I continued to progress even though I was dealing with some major insecurity issues.

2008 – I became totally infatuated by my new relationship and loved spending every single second with Stewart. He inspired me to start doing all kinds of things like snowboarding, wakesurfing, and camping. We spent a lot of time integrating our friend groups together and had so much fun taking trips and hanging out in the city. In October we bought a condo in Ballard and moved in together. Neither of us had ever lived with a boyfriend/girlfriend before so it took a bit of an adjustment period, but eventually we settled in and loved cohabiting!

2009 – I was starting to feel like all my dreams had come true. I had amazing relationships with my boyfriend, family and friends and was filling my time with tons of fun activities (other than drinking to excess in the Seattle bars every night). Stewart and I were experiencing many adventures together and we were both very happy in our careers. I started doing boot camps and exercising more than I ever had in my life and was really feeling good about myself mentally, physically and emotionally. I celebrated my 28th birthday in Whistler with some of my best friends and felt so lucky and in love.

2010 – Stew and I celebrated our third anniversary in San Francisco, one of my all-time favorite cities. We continued our adventures and even went skydiving. We spent a ton of time with our family and friends, and I attended my North Thurston High School ten year class reunion. That summer we also started planning a trip to Europe, which Stew had been promising me since we met. We flew out in October to spent almost a month in England, Ireland, Italy and France, and it was hands down the most amazing experience of my life. We were hiking in Cinque Terre, Italy when Stewart dropped to one knee and proposed. Of course I said yes!!

It's truly amazing how much your life can change in the course of a decade. When I read this summary, it seems like I was incredibly sad and lonely for a really long time, although while I was living through it, it didn't seem that way. Hindsight is always 20/20. Maybe things don't seem that bad until you reach a point where you learn what being truly happy is. But I think that's what being in your 20s is for... figuring out who you are and what makes you happy. What your goals are and how you want to achieve them. What I do know is that I'm happier now than I've ever been, and I can't wait to see what the next decade of my life will bring.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Watch Out, Lance Armstrong!

Today I picked up some new exciting toys… bicycles! I don’t think I have ridden a bike since I was about 12 years old, so this will be an interesting adventure. But Stewart and I have been thinking about getting bikes for a while now, and since summer seems to have (finally!) officially begun in Seattle, we figured there’s no better time than the present.

We’ve already identified quite a few friends who also like riding, so we’re planning some little trips and I’m so excited!

Don’t worry though… I promise I’ll never be one of those annoying Seattle bikers… you know the type. The ones who ride 20 miles per hour below the legal limit down the middle of the street with a line of traffic behind them. Who dodge in and out of cars waiting at a stop sign in order to fly right through the intersection against the light. Who ride down the sidewalk screaming “LEFT” while little old ladies careen to the side, walkers and canes flying. Basically the people who give me road rage on a daily basis. No no, I won’t be that type of bicyclist.

Instead, I plan on some leisurely afternoon trips up the Burke-Gilman Trail to have lunch and drinks at the Redhook Ale Brewery. Or an evening ride down to Golden Gardens Park for a barbeque. Or hauling our new fancy toys across the state to ride around on one of our many camping trips.

So basically… watch out, Lance Armstrong!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A promise is a promise.

When Stewart and I first started dating, he promised to take me to Europe someday. Unfortunately for us, planning vacations around our busy schedules has been really hard throughout the past few years, and we’ve barely been able to organize some long weekends (Las Vegas, San Francisco) and camping trips in the three years we have been together.
But now that I am officially done with school and will not be attending law school in the fall (more on that later), and Stewart is no longer a probationary firefighter, so we decided to take the plunge and really make it happen.

We bought our plane tickets today (for a steal of a deal) and I could not be more excited! We fly into London on October 17 and fly out of Paris a little more than three weeks later, on November 8. I know this isn’t enough time to get even a snapshot of everything that I want to see, but at least I will be able to get a little taste of Europe… finally!

I am one of the only people I know who has yet to travel abroad. Stewart is a seasoned veteran. A British citizen, he’s had a passport since the day he was born and traveled to Europe every couple years as a kid. He even lived in England for 15 months shortly after graduating from college. So I will have a very experienced tour guide on my hands!

So now, we’re at the point where we need to start making some plans and developing a realistic itinerary. We know we will start in London and the surrounding areas, where we will visit Stew’s family and friends, followed by Dublin (which I am desperate to see since my mom’s side of the family is 100% Irish!) and then from there we need to prioritize. Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna… I’d like to see them all. Rome is on our “must see” list and we will at some point make our way over to Barcelona to meet up with my friend who will be living in Spain at the time. And of course we will have to eventually make our way up to Paris and will spend a few days there before flying home.

So many amazing places, so little time. It’s really overwhelming at this point, but I’m sure that over the next few months we will settle on a good schedule. My organizational nature just can’t have it any other way, even though I’m sure Stew would prefer that we just head over there and travel by the seat of our pants.

Bon voyage!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HACKED... sort of.

As most of you know, I updated the URL for this blog a few months ago. When I started My So-Called Life in 2006 I was a novice blogger who had no idea that it probably wasn’t a good idea to have the site address contain my real first and last name. So at the risk of losing loyal followers I posted a warning, waited a week, said a prayer, and switched URLs to something a bit more generic.

I’ve been really happy with the new address and it seems like I’ve somehow been able to retain the majority of my readers. THANK YOU all for sticking with me! Especially Bek from Australia, who sent me the most thoughtful message via Facebook last night...

Bek alerted me that something strange has been going on over at my old URL. Apparently, those who still have my previous site address in their feed readers suddenly began to see postings again… WHICH WERE NOT WRITTEN BY ME. Apparently, “Paul” has obtained my old site address (did I mention that it contains my first and last name?) and is using it to post his “Insurance Thoughts.” Strangely, when I go to the link I can’t see any of the posts, just the headline.

WTF?!

“Paul” has no email address linked to his profile and no information listed other than that he is a male Leo, aged 36, from the Bronx.

I find this whole situation to be a little weird and frankly quite aggravating, because I made the decision to switch URLs specifically because I do not want a site address out there containing my real FIRST and LAST name! I have no idea what to do about this. I used Blogger’s Help feature to report it as a spam blog, but I don't know if that will really accomplish anything.

Ugh, I’m annoyed.

Does anyone have any advice or can you tell me why or how this happened?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On Marriage...

My parents celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary today. Now that’s an accomplishment to be proud of, if I do say so myself!! They’ve had their ups and downs over the years, but I really admire them for sticking it out, and these days their marriage is stronger than ever.

Sometimes I feel really terrified about the prospect of getting married because I don’t want to fail. Two years ago I was a part of four different weddings, and since then half of them have ended in divorce… there’s that 50% divorce rate you're always reading about, I guess. Statistics like that, especially when they hit so close to home, just make me feel slightly wary about the whole situation. Almost like… why even bother if your chances of making it are so slim?

But then I look at my parents and the life and family that they have built together, and I think that maybe someday I can make it work, too. Here’s hoping…

Congratulations, Mom & Dad, on 31 fantastic years together!!

Are your parents still married? What are your opinions on marriage in general?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Adrenaline Rush

I jumped out of a plane on Sunday, and lived to tell about it. Yep, that’s right, I can finally cross skydiving off my Bucket List!

As a graduation present for Stewart’s stepbrother, we made an appointment at Skydive Oregon last weekend, and by Sunday morning we were on our way to the jump zone. Surprisingly, I didn’t even feel that nervous. We arrived at 10 a.m. and less than an hour later we were walking across a field and climbing into a teeny, tiny airplane. You’d think panic would have started in by this point, but I was actually feeling great! The short flight to 13,000 feet went by quickly while we enjoyed the gorgeous views and got some last-minute pointers from our instructors. Then the door opened and it was time…

All of the sudden, Patrick was gone. As I inched my butt forward on the narrow seat as Stew looked back, gave me a thumbs up, and then he was gone. I scooted my toes toward the edge, looked to the right and gave my photographer a big smile, and jumped. (Okay, my tandem instructor might have had to give me a little push…) But there I was, experiencing the thrill of freefall for almost a full minute! I’m pretty sure I had a ridiculous grin on my face the entire time. The sensation wasn’t even like falling at all, it was more like flying. All I could think was, “Is this really happening?!” Then, the parachute opened and we began our swaying decent, enjoying gorgeous views of the mountains and Portland on the way. My instructor even let me steer! Awesome.

I am so excited that now I can say I have been skydiving! I never thought that I would do something like this, and I even paid an extra $95 dollars for photos and a video of the entire thing, figuring that it was a once in a lifetime experience that I would want to remember forever. However, now that I’ve done it, I would definitely say I would go skydiving again at the next opportunity! Woo hoo!

As if that wasn’t enough, I decided to max out my adrenaline for the day and sign up for another first… riding a motorcycle. I’ve always been terrified of these death machines, but Stewart’s dad rides and since it was such a gorgeous day we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and he offered me a ride. This is going to sound strange, but the motorcycle ride was much scarier than skydiving! I felt way more out of control flying down the highway on the back of that bike than I did jumping out of an airplane. Very weird. But when you skydive, the ground is so far down that it’s almost like your body can’t process what’s happening… it doesn’t even know to go into panic mode. But on a motorcycle, the pavement is just a few feet away, and it’s absolutely clear that if the driver loses control, death is right there to greet you in the form of smashing into the pavement. Yikes!

So I think I’m done defying death for now. I’m still coming down from my adrenaline high and I’m sure this feeling with last me a while. I still have bungee jumping to cross off my bucket list, but that can wait… for now.

Have you ever skydived? What are some items you’d like to cross off your Bucket List?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I got VD in Portland

I have been wanting to go to Voodoo Doughnut ever since I saw it on Man v. Food last year. Voodoo Doughnut is a little independent doughnut shop in Portland that is known for its unusual doughnuts and d├ęcor, and when Man v. Food host Adam Richman visited he sampled treats like the Bacon-Maple bar, a traditional maple bar topped with strips of fried bacon, and the signature Voodoo Doughnut, a gingerbread man-shaped pastry with a pretzel stick stabbed through its abdomen and red jelly “blood” filling. I just had to check this place out.

A trip to visit my sister and her husband outside of Portland last weekend provided the perfect opportunity. Late Friday night we headed into downtown Portland in search of Voodoo magic (the shop is open 24 hours a day). About 11 p.m., as we drove slowly past our destination, I noted a huge line of people stretching down the block and around the corner. “There it is,” my brother-in-law exclaimed. I insisted that could not be the line for the doughnut shop; there must be a new nightclub opening next door or something. But no! Another drive-by revealed that the line was for Voodoo Doughnuts, and it was getting longer by the minute! We decided to drive across the bridge and check out Voodoo’s second location, hoping the wait time would be a little more realistic. 

At Voodoo Doughnut Too, things weren’t looking much better, but that just made me all the more determined to find out just what is so special about these doughnuts! Even though the line was almost out the door, we entertained ourselves by checking out the shop’s eclectic decorations which included a photo booth, pinball machines, and a bench made out of a coffin. As we gazed hungrily into the display case, the sweet smell of sugar and fried fat tickling our noses, we were completely overwhelmed. In the end, we decided on a Baker’s Dozen filled with traditional varieties.

I was in love with the Bacon-Maple bar (it was just like dipping sausage in your leftover pancake syrup!) and the Grape Ape (a raised doughnut with vanilla frosting and grape powder). We also tried an Old Dirty Bastard (a raised doughnut covered with chocolate frosting and crushed Oreo cookies and drizzled with peanut butter). Unfortunately, we never did try the Cock and Balls doughnut, featuring cream filled “balls.” Too bad, I would have loved to watch Stew enjoy that one, ha!
Have you ever been to Voodoo?