“I was raised on the internet.”

I have a deep, dark confession to make.

I’m obsessed with gossip blogs. I love reading snarky comments about celebrities. I love going onto TMZ and reading little quips about Justin Bieber supposedly being an ass, Charlie Sheen supposedly going crazy, and all the celebrities in between. I love the critiques on celebrities dresses at awards shows. And I love to hear the comments about what Jennifer Lawrence said on the red carpet. (By the way, I adore her)

But there is a shift. Is it because I am getting older? Am I (finally) growing up? Or am I seeing what these gossip sites are truly about? I’ve become jaded to the internet. I’ve become annoyed with social media, especially Facebook. I don’t like how everything is so close to our fingertips. It is all right there. Sometimes it takes a a bit of research but not much. I don’t find the internet as a whole to be bad, I love following blogs, I love being able to read the news from around the world, and sites like Trip Advisor are a godsend when planning a trip especially when guidebooks are so expensive. I even love Facebook as it is easy for me to keep in touch with family and friends that live elsewhere.

But I feel that a lot of the internet, social media, gossip sites are the bane of our existence. 20 years ago you know what friends and family didn’t talk about? Politics, religion, sex. You know what I see on Facebook on a daily basis? Politics and religion (and sometimes sex). I admit it, I post things occasionally. I have opinions on the Republican party, I definitely have a strong opinion on gay marriage. I have a lot of issues with religion. But I feel like that people are too open now. There is no mystery. There is no wall. I don’t need to know how much a person hates Muslims. I don’t need to know that somebody really hates the idea of gay marriage. And then I think about it, are these people even close friends of mine? When did I see them last? And then I wonder why I am getting so worked up over a very casual acquaintance that I haven’t seen in 10 years? Why do I think I need to comment on their status telling them my opinion? Do they care? No. Or maybe they just care enough so that they know they got a rise out of me.

Gossip sites are truly awful websites and as of 2 weeks ago I quit going on them. Some are funny, some have a bit of snark that is good but some are downright truly evil workings on the internet. I don’t take celebrities quite so seriously but I did enjoy reading about them. But does it make me feel good to see bloggers refer to celebrities as bitches, sluts, assholes? Is it really necessary to call Lena Dunham fat and ugly because she voiced an opinion on something? Is it really necessary to call Jennifer Lawrence an immature bitch because she photo-bombed someone on the red carpet? I realized how truly awful I was for even navigating on these sites, giving these websites a hit all because I thought the comments were funny. And to be honest there is a major shift in these sorts of websites. They used to be funny, some were never downright mean, but now…mean is the new normal I guess. We build people up just to watch them fall. Its truly an awful world we live in sometimes isn’t it?

I need a break from the internet. Or maybe not so much from the internet, maybe more from just social media sites. I quit my gossip blog addiction. Can I quit Facebook next? I don’t know. I consider it a lot and then I don’t do it, I like the idea of being able to keep in contact with people, see their pictures, and some posts I really truly enjoy. I love that my sister-in-law posts pictures of my niece so I can see her growing up in Belgium and being able to talk to my brother without spending so much on phone bills. But sometimes I wonder if its all worth it. Is downsizing the answer? Is it wrong to delete ‘friends’ (or family) that you don’t agree with on the political front? I’ve had conversations about this sort of thing with friends. And some say it’s not a big deal, its ‘just Facebook’. But it’s not just Facebook. Am I to forget that somebody posted a rant against homosexuals? Am I inclined to treat the same as before? Is it better knowing how a person feels via Facebook so that I know what to do in ‘real’ life and exclude them from my life? Or is it better not knowing that family members (or friends) think that your lifestyle is wrong?

Also, how many selfies does one need to post before its too much?

That, my friends, is the real question.

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“Americans know entertainment, but they don’t know pleasure.”

Do you have a ‘go-to’ move when your wanderlust strikes? Do you have a certain film that satisfies your yearning for travel until you are able to go on a trip? The movies I tend to gravitate towards aren’t the best movies ever made but some of them just get me, you know?

Americano (2005)

Joshua Jackson, Leonor Varela, Timm Sharp, Ruthanna Hopper, Dennis Hopper

Chris McKinley, recent college graduate, is backpacking through Europe with 2 friends and is in Pamplona, Spain for the Running of the Bulls. There he meets Adela in his last few days of ‘freedom’ before he starts his career. In the film he participates in the bull run, sees a bullfight, has his backpack stolen, and deals with an interesting (to say the least) owner of a bar, played by Dennis Hopper. He has has to deal with his friends, Ryan and Michelle, a couple that are at the end of their relationship. He falls for Adela, in between calling the US and receiving voice mails about his new 9-5 job. *Spoilers* In the end he leaves Adela and his friends go back to the US. You don’t see Chris going home, you see him walking, in an ambiguous ending that leaves you wondering, did he go back to Adela or did he go home to start a career, a job that he didn’t seem to be that excited about? I like to think that he went back to Adela and and said screw the man! The movie inspires me. My favorite line is “Promise me…Do what scares you.” Really, do what scares you. Because even if it scares you…no, terrifies you, it is more than likely exactly what you want. But do you have the courage to do so? I hope Chris had the courage to do what terrified him and staying in Spain with Adela was what scared him.

The soundtrack is great too. So fun and upbeat, my favorite track is “Si, Si, No, No” by Maria Conchita Alsonso. The part of the movie that song is played is, ahem, pretty damn sexy as well. You won’t soon forget that song or that scene! Besides the obvious reasons why I love the movie the scenery is stunning! It was filmed in Pamplona during the actual Running of the Bulls and then in the Spanish countryside. Spain is such a gorgeous country and every time I watch this movie I am inspired to go and enjoy that same scenery. The only issue I have with Spain is that I want to see all of it and it will be hard to narrow it down in a 2 week vacation! Before seeing Americano I never had a desire or yearning to see Spain. I figured I’d go eventually but it wasn’t at the top of my list. It is right now, in this moment, my number 1 spot to see after our Belgium and Netherlands trip this year.  I am inspired to know more about Spain, to understand the history and customs. When I think about Spain it makes me feel like I could be going ‘home’. That may sound crazy to some of you but I don’t care. Everyone is a little crazy, right?

“The story of our life, in the end, is not our life, it is our story.”

I have left my heart in so many places

I’m an awful blogger. But it is a new year! 2014 will be the year of change. Out with the old and in with the new. 2013 was a good year, it was a fulfilling year and a year of major decisions. Lots of change already and it is only the 5th day. I got a new job! I’ve said this for about a year now but I’ll say it again: “Only until you work for the government do you realize why the government is so screwed up.” I’m happy to be leaving my job with a facet of the government. I will be going to a private hospital and my commute will be 10 minutes instead of the 35 minutes I now drive! What will I do with that extra hour every day? Maybe blog? Great idea.

I finished up my first semester of school. I finished up with 2 A’s and 1 B. After 12 years out of school I could not be more pleased with myself. Yes, I’ve patted myself on the back a few times. School starts up again on the 13th so I hope to keep the momentum going. School is honestly very easy for me. Maybe because my degree is a field I have worked in for years. But I found it laughably easy at times. Maybe I will continue to be lucky in that respect.

Another change we made for 2014 is our New Zealand trip. As in…we aren’t going to New Zealand (insert cries and wails here). It’s just too damn expensive for us at the moment. The flight alone will cost close to 2000 dollars. So we decided to be smart. And go back to Europe instead (insert squeals and laughter here). I LOVE Europe. I could live there (as most of you know). We are going back to Belgium to see family and see more of the country. I want to take Angie to Ghent, Bastogne and I’d like to finally see Brussels. We are going the first 2 weeks of October which should be good. Hopefully the weather will be nice. I looked at weather for this past October and it was really nice so maybe we will be lucky. We will be in Belgium for 9 days and then off to Amsterdam for 6! I love Amsterdam but I’ve only been one time and it was for maybe 10 hours. This time it will be for 6 full days! We are staying in a cute little rental apartment there, right on a canal (which isn’t so hard to come by in Amsterdam). The hotel in Belgium (Martin’s Bruge) and the apartment have already been booked thanks to generous amounts of Christmas money we received. I have a huge list of must-see’s in Amsterdam we have to attend to plus I want to see Haarlem, The Hague, Gouda, Delft, the list goes on! I also have a friend who lives about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam so that will be nice to meet up with her as well. Its going to be an amazing vacation, I’m really looking forward to it. Any Netherlands recommendations for us novices? Must-see’s or must-avoid’s? Let me know in the comments!

Will write more soon. Right now we have a blizzard outside our doors and I’d like to sit in front of the window and watch the snow blow everywhere. Stay safe everyone!