Facebook thinks the biggest moments from 2012 happen only when I’m wearing a Dirndl.
Ummm…no Facebook. I like Dirndls, but I wear other clothes.
I was curious when Facebook enticed me to see my top 20 biggest moments of 2012. Did the social media monolith get my most memorable right? Well from the looks of things, I think it believes that I wear a Dirndl all of the time and spend every day with Emily. Well, no, but I certainly like my Dirndl a lot, and I don’t see Emily EVERY day. It’s more like every other:)
I have been thinking, what are the most defining moments for me of 2012? From my perspective, this is my Top 20; the highlights from the last 12 months. I have the Top 20 as a list, and if you continue to scroll down, you can read my thoughts and see more photos:)
Kara’s Top 20, Year In Review
- Embracing Los Angeles as Home
- Kauai Bike Rides
- Barcelona, Spain (Aussie Rugby Player, Catalan Cafe Moments, & Loving Barcelona)
- Solo Scandinavia
- Missing ‘Sweden’
- Make Space for Mosaic
- The Alaska Change
- “You Are So Cool Right Now!”
- The Bachelor
- Dori, Raggi, & Iceland
- “I always have some place to visit…”
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Nose Piercing
- Munich, Dirndls & Octoberfest
- Base Closing Party & “Of course he’s not from around here.”
- Honest Moments
- Baby Blog
- Dad & Daughter Travel: Vietnam & Thailand
- Incredible Women
- Goodbye Los Angeles.
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My favorite, Mitch and I in Palos Verdes.
I was supposed to move to Oakland in April 2012, and then, I realized that I didn’t want to go. And the reason? Because I just wanted to be “Home.” And, home meant Los Angeles. It was the first time in 3 years that I had actually recognized Southern California as where I wanted to return. That, after a flight here or there, and spending time almost everywhere, all I really wanted was to pull my suitcase through, not just any front door, but a certain front door, in a house owned by a woman that became a second mom to me. Wise, funny, amazing Sybil is a woman that I will miss so much, and as I begin the packing and moving process, I have to take moments, breaths, to keep the tears from bursting.
Sybil with her Grandson Jackson
2. Kauai Bike Rides
There were a few reasons why I went to Kauai a couple of times in 2012. Kauai is enchanting, the chocolate macaroons my favorite treat, and iced lattes better than anywhere (It could just be because of the scenery, I don’t know). And one of the weekends that I was there, someone surprised me by renting bikes, just because he knew that I would like that. I even got a pink bike! He is so sweet, and out of the crazy places that I have been this year, and the amazing things that I have done, riding bikes by the turquoise blue, and having someone be so nice, respectful, and thoughtful was an unexpected surprise that I truly cherish. I learned quickly that an ocean away is much too far, and my love for travel trumps all, so… I’m not a fan of missing, and I seem to have that emotion a lot, but regardless, Kauai is a favorite place of mine, and I have wonderful memories of hiking, cafe mornings, and him trying to teach me to surf.
3. Aussie Rugby, Catalan Cafe Moments, & Loving Barcelona
Yes. I fell in love this year. With Barcelona. So far, my favorite place in the world. I went to Barcelona in January, with my cutie patootie friend Elijah, The Pilot. And when I say with, make sure you note the word friend, and also understand that I was there for a week, spending about four days by myself, and he meeting me for three. Staying at The W Barcelona was a beachside dream. I’m getting too spoiled by this kind of classy travel, turning me from Backpacker to Diva (I blame Jimmy & David). I met an Australian Rugby Player, who turned out to be just that, a player, but now, who cares? The “cheeky kiss” (I’m not sure what cheeky means because I don’t speak Australian) was movie moment perfect. Moonlight. Barcelona. Australian. Muscles. That accent, and the smile? Siiiiighhhhhh. And how is it that when foreigners curse it sounds sexy as opposed to vulgar? I’m not sure, but thank God for a world with Hottie Aussies and a country as magnificent as Spain. You may not believe that I have a more favorite Barcelona moment than snogging in the moonlight, but I do. My favorite time from my week spent in Barcelona was sitting in a cafe with my friend Pep, eating something delicious, sipping cappuccinos, and asking him how to say words and phrases in Catalan. And I laughed so hard! Barcelona, I miss you. Pep, I miss you too. Hope to see you both soon. And Aussie? No…he’s so January 2012:)
4. Solo Scandinavia
I knew I would be safe traveling through Scandinavia for 10 days alone, but the question was, would I have fun? This was the trip that increased my confidence in myself, helping confirm that I am smart and capable enough to handle traveling alone, and that I am outgoing and friendly enough to have fun and make friends in the process. In the book, Eat, Pray, Love, Liz Gilbert says that her travel talent is that, “she can make friends with a tree.” Yeah, that sounds about like me. Scandinavia reaffirmed that for me. And I loved Copenhagen! The bikes. The scenery. The hostels where I stayed. The cafes. The weather was fabulous. It was easy travel. It was fun travel. I loved that I decided what I wanted to do, and I did it.
5. Meeting & Missing ‘Sweden’
This story has to be one of the craziest things that I have done, and the person I am now, even only 6 months later, balks a little by my choice. Maybe a little too risky. Too trusting. To meet a Swedish guy, share hours of conversation, a couple of kisses, and then find myself on a plane from Stockholm to a small town that I had never even heard of prior to meeting the blonde and gorgeous Scandinavian. I didn’t know much about where I was going. All I knew was that I wanted to see him again, and this was my chance, so I was going to take a chance. He turned out to be the good person that I was drawn to when we had first met in Copenhagen. I’m glad that I made the decisions that I did, but God, help me if I ever have a daughter that is anything like me, for I shall worry. But I stayed true to my beliefs, not compromising who I am, and embraced taking chances. That’s how I want to always live. I do not want unwarranted fears to limit my life. I got back to Los Angeles, and I hoped that I would see him again. Someday. I liked him, but he disappeared. Shrug my shoulders in a, “What can I do?” I don’t know where he is or what he is doing, but I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’m glad we met.
Paparazzi shot. Sweden and Me
6. Make Space for Mosaic
I’ve grown up going to Church. Every single week. I can’t say that I looked forward to sitting for two hours in a pew every Saturday (yes, Saturday). But, in a bit of providence, when I first moved to Los Angeles after getting the job as a flight attendant, my apartment happened to be a block from where a community of faith called Mosaic met. It was in that first year, of transition and stress, that I found a group of friends, amazing and genuine individuals that gave me a sense of stability. And this last year, I found that I was working most Sundays or traveling so much that my attendance to the weekly gathering turned into an every three months type of event. And one day, I just said, “I need to make space for Mosaic.” And that was that. For the first time in my life, I looked forward to Church, and I was blessed by the time commitment that I chose to make. The friends that I have met through this community, even though I’m gone more than here, have included me and are always excited when I show up to parties or get togethers. And this is an example of who they are: They surprised me with a Sprinkle’s cupcake and a happy birthday song at the NYE party, and many of the people there, hadn’t even met me. I’ll miss them, and I’ll miss Mosaic, but I truly believe that God does replace what has been lost.
7. The Alaska Change
I went from despising Alaska, to Alaska being one of my favorite places. I went from thinking that I would never like someone, to looking forward to spending time with them. To actually missing them. I never thought that would happen, and I am so happy that it did. So, so thankful. It’s just a testimony that time does heal, that people change, that I’ve changed, and that impossible can happen. It reminds me to keep an open mind.
8. “You Are SO cool right now!”
I met this guy that flies to Space. Major celebrity crush.
9. The Bachelor
Before the interview
I’ll admit it right now; I did have alterior motives when I clicked submit, sending the electronic application to the minions at ABC’s The Bachelor. Although the chosen stud is so gorgeous, I was more taken with the concept of traveling on someone else’s dime to gorgeous locations compared to dating goregous. Let’s face it; I don’t really find the thought of dating a guy on TV appealing, but it’s true, I’m such a girl, and I love watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. And when I got a call back for an interview, who was I to say no? But then I got sick, and I probably said all the wrong things, talked too much, and was very fidgety…I was nervous. Very nervous. The outcome of the experience is that I won’t be on TV to fight and claw for Sean Lowe’s attention. Fair enough. I can’t say I’m too disappointed with how I ended up spending my time; fearing the Turkish mafia in Istanbul, nose piercings, to the craziness of Hanoi, and the friendliness of locals and travelers in Pai, Thailand, I certainly didn’t sit home and cry over being rejected. And, the fact that I completely love heels now…all good things! Hey, Bachelor? Call me
maybe when you and your soulmate break up, yeah?”
10. Dori, Raggi, & Iceland
Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland
I met Dori at my friend Tim’s “New Apartment Welcome Party” in Hollywood. Dori lived in the building and had stepped into the elevator with me and two other people. The four of us began chatting during the short ride. He had an accent, and I quickly discovered he called Reykjavik home. Fascinated, I pestered Dori with questions. I had thought I would like to go to Iceland sometime soon, but it was just a passing thought. Passing thought no longer, two months later, an Iceland Air, 757 dropped me off on Icelandic ground. Dori “Facebook Introduced” me to his brother Raggi, who still lived close to Reykjavik, and Raggi took the time to meet me in person and show me Iceland, with me, clutched to the back of his motorcycle. It was fun. It was a little crazy, but that’s just what I like; sensible enough to be safe, but risky enough to make me giggle. I love that out of anyone that I meet in Hollywood, I meet a native Icelandic man, and I love that travel, mutual friendships, and being interested in different cultures can create connection.
11. “I always have someplace to visit…”
“but I don’t always have someone to visit.”
This year, for the first time since starting “The Flight Attendant Life,” I realized that I was sad to be alone. I’ve always liked the idea that I can go anywhere, and I haven’t much thought about the fact that I don’t have someone to share in these experiences. I have friends and great travel buddies, and that has been enough. Realizing that I’m not ok with this aloneness is not something I like to acknowledge because it makes me less adventurous. I was faced with this aloneness in September, after not making a flight to Los Angeles, leaving me stuck in Paris. Stuck and alone. Well not exactly alone. The Air Maroc pilot (or that’s who he claimed to be) that wanted to show me around the city and offered to share his hotel room with me, gave me MORE than enough motivation to drop a 125 euro for my own room, at a different hotel, far, far away from creepy. Sometimes alone is the best option. But, being stuck in Paris, unsure of where to go next, made me just wish that I had someone that I couldn’t wait to see, or more importantly, who couldn’t wait to see me. How different it would be if Sweden still talked to me, or London, but that is not the case. Not having someone lead me to Ljubljana, Slovenia, and to describe my experience there is difficult, because it encompasses a lot; being sad to be alone, but absolutely so happy I didn’t make it on the flight home. I had so much fun. I rode bikes. I laughed with the people that I met. I ate gelato and walked the adorable canal streets. I loved that I was more thankful for plan two. What I really love is that it seems that the Universe conspires to make my wishes realities. I had written in my notebook that I would see Slovenia in September, and I landed in Ljubljana, September 30, 2012. I wasn’t supposed to go back to Los Angeles. Be careful what you hope for. It will probably come true when you are least expecting.
So excited that I can’t even hold still!
12. Lisbon, Portugal
Jimmy, one of my favorite travel buddies and I hanging out in The Bairro Alto, rockin’ our party glasses
If I tried to explain how it is my airline travel companion is who it is, it wouldn’t make sense, because it’s an, unlikely-for-most-people-story, but a very probable scenario for such as me. Let’s just state the facts as: I have some of the coolest friends ever! This year, Jimmy, said travel buddy and I, spent a week in Portugal. Lisbon surprised me with its class and friendliness. Jimmy and I had so many moments of laughing to tears, eating gelato, or enjoying the sunset views of the city while sipping a drink at the hotel rooftop bar. And can I say that I kinda love The Bairro Alto? I can’t explain why Lisbon was so special, because I don’t really understand it myself. Maybe it’s because I’m so thankful that Jimmy is in my life. That we can have serious conversations, but also fall on the floor cause we can’t stop laughing over God knows what. Or that I can get so pissed at him when he teases me over being lost, and I think he’s being serious, cause I don’t get New York humor! It’s is a bit too East Coast for this blondie Californian. I just can’t explain why Lisbon was so incredible, and the weird part about it is that, many places that I fall for, I want to return ASAP, like Croatia, but Lisbon, I’m ok with not seeing it for awhile. Everyone must travel; because explaining post experience is a feeble attempt at the actual. If I told you that my favorite moment in Budapest was standing in a laundromat with David, or in Munich, when Emily and I bought our Dirndls, you would wonder if I was feeling ok. Well I’m more than ok, actually. Just travel. And you’ll get it.
13. Nose Piercings
Getting my nose pierced in Istanbul is something that I will always remember. Mostly because of the little story that weaves it’s way through, and the characters that are too interesting and odd to be fictional. It’s not the nose piercing that is the highlight in itself, although important, and as I said memorable, but of what it represents to me. It represents an independence that I am searching for. Independence from past limitations. Independence from how I think I should act. Independence from what I have always been taught is right and wrong. “It’s wrong to wear jewelry.” “It’s wrong to drink alcohol.” “It’s wrong to…” And naturally, I take these statements and cross judgements on myself and others for acting in ways that don’t coincide with what I have grown up to believe is true. I’m opening my eyes and mind to the fact that there are other ways to think, believe, and behave. And this year has been an exploration of what it is to think for myself. A year of learning and understanding myself.
It’s a fact that this photo is not attractive, but it’s just how I look after getting my nose pierced.
14. Munich, Dirndls & Octoberfest
I don’t like beer, but I discovered that I like Oktoberfest. I like Dirndls. I like German men in Lederhosen. Emily’s ultimatum for getting out of Istanbul was either New York, Los Angeles, or Munich, which left basically only one option in my mind; Munich. I didn’t want to leave Europe yet, and as it turned out, the Munich stop was a good decision. Our attempt at getting into a beer garden at Oktoberfest failed, but the day was overall fantastic. We had the brilliant luck of meeting a group of Germans; five very attractive guys, and three very nice girls. I think the scenario went that Emily and I were trying to push our way through the crowds, suddenly stopping, not because we weren’t actually moving anywhere, but because four gorgeous, fair skinned, blue-eyed, very tall boys were staring down at us…or Emily’s…?? (hmmm…bwahaha. Inside joke. Sorry Em. Couldn’t resist). Well, I definitely stared back. It was like my stereotypical idea of what German Lederhosed (not a word, and I’m fairly certain about this) boys look like. Cute. And cute. The guys, AND the girls, were so very nice (this is not how LA girls generally are), and actually “adopted” Emily and I, making sure that we didn’t get lost in the crowds and crowds of people. I’m definitely thinking that Oktoberfest will be part of Emily and Kara’s Annual Adventure.
What’s not to like about this?
15. Base Closing Party & “of course he’s not from around here.”
Colleagues and BFF’s
You know you have a good job when you like to go to work because you get to see your best friends. I have built deep friendships over the last 3.5 years with my coworkers. In October, my base, threw a base closing party, because, if you didn’t catch that, the base is closing, or closed now. It was a one last time, everyone get together for the drama, the fun, and a few last goodbyes. And since we could, a few donned Lederhosen and Dirndls (I guess can we say, my favorite outfit of 2012? More like, that outfit was expensive, so I better wear it often). And I had fun. I found myself a crush. A foreign one. What are the odds? Well, for me, odds are pretty high. To be honest, it makes me smile. I see a little humor, the ironic sort, in all of it. I’m actually hanging out in my neighborhood, and I meet someone who is DEFINITELY NOT from my neighborhood. I don’t know what it is, but when I’m not even trying, I get a bit spellbound. There’s the accent. There’s the smile. And he, or me is going to the airport to catch a plane home or away the next day. Not my favorite part of the scenario. Oh those goodbyes…
16. Honest Moments
I told someone how much they meant to me this year, deep down knowing that the feelings weren’t mutual. But, I had to tell them. For me. I did something that was scary. I told the truth. I didn’t ignore, but I acknowledged, and this made a statement to myself that my thoughts, concerns, and feelings are valid. This is what I began learning in 2012; the value of me. Of honoring myself with honesty. Of being kind to myself. Of giving myself some slack. Each honest moment builds my courage for the next. I want to continue to be honest.
17. Baby Blog
My blog turned a year old in 2012. This is my story in a public forum. I have known that I needed writing, but I have been surprised at how much I love to write. My blog has become an extension of myself. I have been touched at how people tell me that the stories inspire them. That they can relate. That it reaches their soul. It connects me to people and gives me a purpose within my travels. It’s given a shape to my life and a consistency to my inconsistency, marrying my creativity, with entrepreneurism, and love of new adventures. Even though it’s what I have created, my blog is such a gift. I am so thankful:)
18. Dad & Daughter Travel: Vietnam & Thailand
My dad went on a trip with me this year. The first trip that he has ever taken with me. He, and my mom, don’t take that much interest in where I am going, where I am currently, or where I will be next. This isn’t to say that they don’t love me, because they absolutely do, they just aren’t the worrying types. After being on a trip for twelve days with me, he’s seen a different side of my life. He and I can relate in a way that we couldn’t before. And he was the one that, when we parted ways in Bangkok, me to travel for a week alone, he to go back home, cried. He’s such a softy, and I adore my dad. What a way to fill the last month of 2012!
Our Cat Ba Island Scooter Rental
19. Incredible Women
My life has been blessed with meeting and knowing some of the most incredible women. Women that inspire me by their adventures, or sense of humor, or their ability to be a friend. Women that do things that most are afraid to do. Women that are just as kind and caring, genuine and sincere, as they are beautiful (which can be a rarity in a superficial world). I have been so thankful for women like Catherine, who despite an insanely busy work schedule, emailed me a detailed list of things to do and places to see when in Vietnam and Thailand, and always has a hug to share when, on the rare occasion, we actually get to see each other. I’ve been lucky enough to have made close friends in Los Angeles despite a schedule that constantly takes me away. To have women like Julie, that are quick to listen, but hesitant to give advice too quickly, wanting me to come to my own conclusions. I’ve began to understand the bravery it took for Michele to live in Nepal for a year, and the heartache she must have felt when she had to leave. I admire her. I admire all of these women. I adore Laura, and the standing joke is that we are bff’s that never hangout, which is true. Her quirky sense of humor has me entertained for hours. I love Jill’s heart for non-profits and the maturity that I see she has gained through her time living abroad. And I love Emily for her loyalty. We have shared so many experiences; our Flight Attendant interview, training, 3.5 years of working, and two trips to Europe together, and much more. I just love that girl! Then there is Sybil, and my mom, and list could really continue for as big as the world is wide. There are just so many amazing women that have entered my life. Thanks for making 2012 beautiful.
Catherine at The Taj Mahal
Michele with her Chickadees in Nepal
Laura, Tiffany, Jill, and Julie
Adore this girl: Emily & I in Istanbul
20. Goodbye Los Angeles
And, after 3.5 years, I packed my bags, and not just a few. All of them. I turned in my key, left the garage door opener on the counter, and moved out. Bye Los Angeles. They say that moving is stressful like job changes and divorce. Well, I can say I’m overwhelmed, and sad, and wish that I could stay, but I’m also excited. Los Angeles has been so character forming for me. I’ve experienced so much personal change and growth while living in a city that I never thought that I would like, let alone love. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back to live there again. I can’t say where I’ll be, but that’s the excitement in it all. The excitement and the beauty of it. The surprises of the future. So it’s one month in Ft. Lauderdale, and then living in Hawaii for at least six months follows after…
Beach bike ride sunset
What a year this has been. Here’s to 2013! Happy New Year:)