and I’m off…

A week ago, I was going to do a post on summer beauty. But I was too hot to think and realized it’s all pointless when it feels impossible to look fresh and put together in the DC heat and humidity.

Then last night I was going to write a post on packing. But let’s be honest, I suck at it. I mean, I’m good at folding and organizing and remembering everything (and I do mean everything) but I always bring one pair of shoes too many. At least this time I practically (almost willingly) left my precious hair dryer behind, but I more than made up for it, as evidenced by the grunt the driver made when loading my deceivingly small but heavy suitcase into the trunk.

Five dresses (think easy breezy, not work), four pairs of shoes (not including the travel pair), three workout outfits (maybe overly ambitious), two lipsticks (not including lip gloss) and one bathing suit (just in case) later, I’m in a car on the way to the airport.

And where am I going? I almost forgot to mention. San Francisco until Friday. Napa for the weekend. Enough said.

This trip to SF that I used to take quarterly already feels different. For starters, it’s the first time I’m not building a long weekend in wine country around a business trip in the city. Then there’s the whole not flying Virgin thing. (I’m not breaking up with you, Richard Branson… Your flights were just so much more expensive.)

The bottom line is I’m ready to get out of dodge and while Northern California apparently is not welcoming me with the cool weather embrace I crave, I’m thinking that a “heat wave” in San Francisco holds a different meaning from one here in DC.

I may have packed poorly, but I’m getting away. And I hope Napa has a lot of wine to help me drink to that.

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Mahalo, Hawaii

Images of HawaiiThank you, Hawaii. And goodbye. (For real, this time.)

Some of you hid me from your Facebook feed these last 2 weeks (admit it) and one of you (Tim) even jokingly asked how many more months I planned to be here. So you’ll be glad to hear that after the unexpected one-day delay, I’m heading home. Home to unseasonably warm DC weather, Christmas planning, my job, and of course, two cute little boys.

I’m going to miss the Maui Onion flavored chips we ate daily, the Kailua Passions we drank on multiple occasions, sunrise walks/runs on the beach, and the laid back attitude of island life. I’m going to miss wearing flip flops and beachwear all day (and night) long. I’m going to miss fresh Ahi, apple bananas, Shave Ice, the most amazing pineapple ever and the Spam aisle at the Foodland.

I’m going to miss having a new experience everyday. Paddle surfing. (Have I mentioned that I’m a goddess at paddle surfing?) Watching the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing competition on Sunset Beach. Hiking to incredible vistas.

There’s a lot waiting for me back home though. The kids, of course. The Harry Potter¬†Yule Ball my friends are hosting on Saturday. Biker Barre. (Oh, do I need some ass kicking by my friends at Biker Barre.) And George Clooney has already been shipped back to the East Coast where he patiently awaits my return.

The best vacations are those you are bittersweet about ending. You want it to continue – because it’s awesome – but you are eager to go back to your life. Because your kids are amazing and you have seen this entire trip through their eyes.

Except the parts that involved copious fruity cocktails, of course.

a retrospective on packing

It’s easy to find post after post dispensing of (and displaying) advice on how to perfectly pack for your vacation. But do these writers ever follow up with how it all actually worked out?

As I repack my suitcase, I’m struck by what I used and used again and washed and used again. And all those items that I didn’t.

The losers:

Jeans. Why did I bring two pairs? Of course, I needed one for when I was in San Francisco. Two was utterly too many. I haven’t thought twice of wearing denim since leaving the mainland.

Shoes. At the last minute, I threw my super cute Kate Spade espadrille wedges into my suitcase. Where they have stayed for the entire trip with their unworn sister, a pair of camel colored Chie Mihara’s that I brought for SF and planned to use here too. With jeans. (I was wrong.)

The one-piece bathing suit. I thought I might want it for surfing or other water sports. But I committed to the bikinis and didn’t look back.

Two long-sleeved Lululemon half-zips. Granted, they came in handy in San Francisco, but the beach does not cool down at night here, and I should have shipped them home with the work clothes I had my dad send back to DC for me.

Make up. Hair dryer. A navy and white striped cotton pique dress. A stack of bangles. A bunch of condoms? What was I thinking?

What would I bring more of if I had to do it over again? Another bikini. A few more skirts that can go to the beach and transition to dinner.

And definitely, a second pair of flip flops.

skintastic

Photo by chelseachronicl

If there’s one insecurity I grew to overcome quickly here in Hawaii, it’s the exposure of skin. More skin than one is used to exposing in one’s uptight little corner of the world, that is.

Tunics that I normally just use to get from home to the pool and back serve as dresses here and sarongs as skirts. Like, that I have been wearing in public. Not just to the beach either, but to restaurants and bars.

Bikinis are everywhere, so I’m glad I brought four with me. (Though the virgin skin unused to the sun is a little angry with me today when 4 hours on the water prevented my religious reapplication of SPF 50 every hour.)

Espadrille wedges and the one pair of heels I packed remain untouched. I’ve worn nothing but flip flops except the day we went hiking when I wore sneakers. And even worse, because of the sand and the surf, my pedicure is not intact. The horror. I would never dream of exposing a chipped pedicure back home. But here on the island, hang loose.

Photo by chelseachronicl

My runs on the beach I’ve done in a bikini and t-shirt. Not a la Baywatch (I know how you think) but still, for a woman who doesn’t wear shorts even in the height of summer, this is a huge step. It’s too hot for yoga pants, and the one day I wore running crops, they just got all wet anyway so why bother?

I’m relaxed. I’m comfortable. I’ve adapted. I can’t believe that next week I will have to wear heels. And bras. And dress clothes. But vacation wouldn’t be vacation if it happened all the time.

I mean… I don’t know what I mean. That sounds pretty awesome.

on Hawaii

IMG_2284I love Hawaii. I feel at home here. I’m not a beach bum by any stretch of the imagination, but I have enjoyed wearing nothing but a bathing suit since I’ve been here. I haven’t missed heels (did I just write that?) and I don’t mind so-called “island time” which would drive me nuts back in DC.

With the days of my vacation winding down, tonight I let myself be overtaken by emotion. After my friends went to sleep, I walked down to the beach by myself. And while three nights ago the moon lit up the sky, tonight it was nowhere to be seen. I sat in the sand, looked at the cloudy sky, listened to the waves crash, and I cried.

I cried for the remaining days (too few). I cried for the days away from my boys (too many). I cried for the fact that I have the wherewithal to be here (grateful). I cried tears of thanks to my friend Malia for providing the house we’ve called home on this trip (more gratitude). I cried for the uncertainty of when I can return to Hawaii. I cried for the challenges that await me at home. While Month of Chelsea was a resounding success, there is much to be settled still and in Scarlett O’Hara fashion, I’d rather think about it tomorrow.

I haven’t done any of the things I told myself I’d do here. I haven’t finished the sequel to My Night with George Clooney. I didn’t blog until tonight. I took two runs on the beach and a death-defying (maybe breathtaking is a better modifier) hike but other than that I haven’t worked out. I’ve read some books, but not at the speed I intended.

I relaxed. I ate. I drank. I slept like a baby.

I know the right thing is to make the most of my remaining days, so I will be counting each minute and making it count. And then I’ll be planning my return next year with the boys.

 

on bikinis and such

I’m just going to admit it.

I don’t hate myself in a bikini right now. (Thank you, Biker Barre!)

In fact, I so don’t hate myself in a bikini that I ordered five for my upcoming trip to Hawaii.

This’s not to say that I wasn’t more than slightly stressed about making these purchases. My friend Katie told me that the best bathing suit she has ever owned came from Target. I took her advice and ordered several mix and match pieces for a grand total of less than $35. I kept three interchangeable components: two bottoms and a top. Because the available sizes and colors were limited (at $6/piece, most of the stock had been snatched up) I also ended up ordering additional suits from J. Crew and Zappos. The one from Zappos was returned, as were some of the components from J. Crew, but now that I know what styles I find flattering and styles not, this whole bathing suit thing feels a whole lot easier.

But that’s not all I need for 12 days in Hawaii. While I admire how some of my friends look in shorts, I can’t carry them off with even an ounce of confidence. Rosanna totally rocks a tomboy look. DC Celine can pull off the dressy short. And Wardrobe Oxygen is so rock and roll in her cutoffs. But shorts are not in my comfort zone, whereas skirts and dresses are. Luckily, even though it’s early for resort wear, I managed to find a non-budget-breaking convertible skirt-dress combination (the tag demonstrates seven ways to wear it) at Nordstrom. I bought it in three colors. I also found a cute basic black pareo at Lands End and already own many large scarves that will perform similarly and pair nicely with the bikini colors I chose.

Now the next step is figuring out whether all my items fit in my suitcase once I add shoes (shoes, glorious shoes) and five days worth of clothes for San Francisco. Clearly it is not going to be bathing suit weather there.

43 by 43

Celebrating the big 4-0 in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Thursday at Biker Barre, one of my new spin sisters mentioned that she had created a list of 40 things to do by her 40th birthday. I like a good challenge (as we all know) and I like birthdays even more (as we also all know) so while my birthday is a mere 140 days away, I have spent a great deal of time coming up with items to put on my own 43 by 43 list.

Here are the first five goals:

1. Spend my birthday not in DC. This one should be easy since I have tentative plans to be in Hawaii, but you never know what shenanigans by a lame duck Congress might tether me to my desk. I haven’t managed to be out of town on my birthday since the epic 4-0 celebration in Copenhagen, so I think it’s about time to make a December beltway escape.

2. Roast a duck. For years I have been saying that I’m going to cook a duck. This fall, I’m doing it. And I’m going to serve it with a nice Chateauneuf du Pape. Inquire within if you would like to come over for dinner that night (or shoot me the honored duck).

3. E-publish at least one short story. The one have been working on is essentially finished and its sequel is half done. I just have to have the courage to turn it over to my editor, Caitlin. (You know I have been dying to say that.)

4. Launch in an official capacity¬†Cloakroom Style, my new side business that I am finally positioned to get off the ground. It won’t replace my day job, but if I can beautify Capitol Hill, and in the process, earn extra shoe money, I will consider myself a huge success.

5. Take the boys to a city they have never visited. The obvious choice is New York City, so Colin and Jack (but Colin, especially) can finally see all 1250 feet of the Empire State Building.

Those are five rather significant goals, so the remaining 38 will have to include such pledges as don’t overreact as frequently, pick up items from the dry cleaners on time, and think before speaking (or emailing). Not that those challenges aren’t as meaningful, but they are easily (i.e. subjectively) measurable (by me) and do not require as much planning, cash or creative energy.

Except the think before speaking/emailing part. That’s going to require some serious concentration.