Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yes.  It's that special time of year again... blood spatters, ghosts howling in the night, full moons rising... I love Halloween!  Candy, costumes, scary stories, haunted houses - what's not to love?  I am also really enjoying the feel of Fall in the air.  I can almost taste a warm apple cider doughnut.  While I have absolutely nothing against Christmastime (my second favorite time of year), I have to say, there isn't a more beautiful season than Fall.  I love the leaves, the crisp air, the colors, the ceremonious bringing out of the blankets, I just can't get enough of it.  And while Christmastime is often thought of as the season of brotherhood, friendship, family, good will toward men, I think that Fall is really when people start thinking about this.  Can you imagine trick-or-treating by yourself?  Apple picking without nieces and nephews?  Cuddling under a blanket without your sweetie?   

Since moving back to Colorado, I haven't had one weekend that didn't involve something amazing and fun with friends and family.  We've had an August Fest party, a Walking Dead Premiere party, I've been out dancing with my girls, I've been to a beautiful wedding, I've sadly said goodbye to a dear friend before she moves.  Even though I'm definitely missing my kiddos at my old school, and I'm at the point where I really want a job - something to keep me occupied throughout the days - I couldn't be happier about moving back to Colorado, and reconnecting with old friends and being so close to my family again.  My mom has come up to have lunch with me a couple times, and every time she comes in for a hug when it's time to leave, she has this look on her face like she's about to cry, and then instantaneously it changes to a great big smile, and she exclaims "Oh!  I forget I'm not having to wait six months before the next time I have lunch with you!  I'm so happy you're back."

I have so many things to look forward to in the next few weeks too: birthday dinner crepes (oui, oui), game night, pre-Thanksgiving party, brunch, Thanksgiving in Vegas...not to be too cheesy, but life is pretty sweet.  I have a great group of people around me, and I haven't been this happy in a long time. 

I think one of the most important things, ok let me rephrase that, THE most important thing you can have in life is a strong support system.  Family that will always be there for you.  Friends that would drop everything they are doing and come see you just because you need them.  Friends that you can go for months without keeping in touch with, and then pick up with again as if no time has passed.  It's weird.  Sometimes when I feel that I am at my most happy, thinking about how great of a support system I have, I think about friends that have left us.  How alone they must have felt.  How much I wish that I could have been a stronger part of that support system.  I think it is so important to show your friends and your family how much they mean to you.  While I know that there are so many other things going on in a person's life before they make that terrible decision, I think it is still important to let your friends and family know how much they mean to you.  I don't know what I would do without mine - they are the BEST!

On the lighter side - I freaking love Halloween.  I really hope that I will have an occasion to wear a Halloween costume - no plans as of yet.  But don't worry, I have been watching scary movies, eating more Halloween candy than any human should, and decorating my tiny apartment as best as I can.  I'm looking forward to more fun, and I wish you all a great Fall kick-off!  Hug your friends and family!

Kate Suarez, zombie?  vampire?  ghost? 

Friday, September 23, 2011

"When I'm Stuck A Day That's Gray"

I've officially been back in Colorado almost five weeks now.  The newness of my return is swiftly running out, and I'm afraid I'm falling back into old habits of pre-move.  I'm settled into the apartment, unpacked, and I've become an official Colorado resident.  I've applied for a job, and I've sent in all of my materials for a Colorado teaching and substitute license.  I'm now in the waiting game before I can apply to districts to sub. 

So now my thoughts have began to wander and I'm constantly in search of something to do.  I keep making mindless to-do lists, and while making lists and crossing items out is one of my favorite things to do, the lists keep getting more and more boring.  Here is the one that I finished today:

1. Go to library and return dvds/books; pick up hold
2. Go to Petsmart for cat litter and food - bring coupon!
3. Recycle ink cartridges at OfficeMax - apply for rewards card!
4. Go to Comcast and exchange DVR
5. Buy a new dress for wedding
6. Buy wedding present

Sigh.  Today I drove into Denver with my to-do list in hand, and got completely turned around - thanks a lot for running out of batteries, Garmin.  Normally I would have really gotten frustrated and scared, but today I just thought "well, at least this will waste some time."  Sad, huh?  I'm so ready to get back into a routine.  I desperately want a cool new job that I look forward to - really any sort of routine would be awesome.

One thing that is creeping into routine is my insomnia, though.  I find myself worrying about the house constantly, and I just can't sleep.  I just want it to sell.  We keep dropping our price, and now that I'm so far away, I keep worrying that something is going to happen to the houes, and there's nothing I can do to about it.  We're already losing a lot of money on it, and I'm thinking I never want to buy a house again!  I worry that we're not going to be able to get out of this hole. 

Ok.  Enough.  I know I started this blog as a way to stop feeling sorry for myself, but I'm not writing my worries about the house for sympathy.  Sometimes it just feels better to write down my worries - much like my (sometimes beloved) to-do lists.  I think now that I've gotten some of my worry out, I'll be able to get a little sleep.  I have so many things to be thankful for.  My family, my friends, my husband, my kitty, my health... the list goes on and on.  I feel confident that this mess will be over soon.  As "Annie" said... the sun'll come out tomorrow.  And right now, tomorrow is already today - just a few more hours before the sunrise.  I feel better already. :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mad About Mile High

Well, it's official!  I'm back to being a Colorado resident, and it feels good.  Less humidity, thinner air, glorious mountains....ahhhh, I'm home!  It's been so good to see friends and hang out with my family and not think "well, I better make the most of it since it will probably be a year or so until I see them again."

So far so good, I've done all of the unpacking in the apartment, and we are in the process of hanging our artwork and shopping for some more decor.  Even though the apartment is MUCH smaller than our house (thank you again, Mom and Dad for letting Rob and I store our extra crap in a spare bedroom!), we have much more wall space. 

The past two days have been devoted, and I mean DEVOTED to me officially becoming a resident by getting a Colorado license and registering the Saturn.  Yesterday, I found the DMV and patiently waited for number "D 803" to be called.  Luckily I had a book, because I waited about an hour or so.  When my number came up, I hurried to the counter. 
"Have you ever been issued a Colorado ID?" 
"Why yes, I used to live in Colorado a little over five years ago, and I am so happy to be back!  But it was when I went by my maiden name." 
"Oh.  Well, do you have your marriage license?"
"Well, no.  My current license (and my past 2!) is in my married name.  It didn't even cross my mind that I would need it."
"Well you do!  If you can make it back here before noon with the certificate, you don't have to wait in line, and I'll finish processing the license for you."
Great!  Just freaking great.  So I hopped in the car and sped home and back to the DMV with 20 minutes to spare.  Of course I had to wait until noon because the woman was with someone else, and then the woman asked someone else who worked there to start all over with me because it was time for her lunch break.  Yay.  After all of this nonsense, I finally finished up, only to receive a temporary paper license!  Come on, Colorado!  I want my plastic in hand! 

Today was an even bigger adventure.  I first went to get my emissions test in a part of town where everything was in Spanish, luckily my Garmin helped navigate.  After passing (woo hoo!)  I then went all the way back to the DMV to register the car, (with my marriage license, just in case!) only to be told that I had to go to a different office to register.  After I found the little hole-in-the-wall in a a strip mall, i took a number and waited.  Again. 
"Do you have your VIN sheet?"
"My what?  My VIN number is listed right there on the emissions test."
"I know, but a dealership owner or an emissions tester needs to sign this sheet for you."
Sigh.  "Well, is there a place closer than the emissions center that can help me out?"
I was directed to a place a few blocks away where the scariest looking dealership guy ever said he could help me.
"Who sent you over here?  Was it Sharon?"
"Um, I'm not sure."
"Tall and slender lookin'?"
(All of the workers were sitting down) "Um, she had brown curly hair..."
"And was she slender?  She's the only one there that's slender.  She's my little girlfriend."
(Nervous laughter) "Oh.  Um, yeah, it must have been her!"
"Kath-Er-In-Swar-EZ?  Hmm.  You don't look Spanish."
"Well, um, I'm not.  But yep, that's me!"
After fifteen very uncomfortable minutes or so, I left with my VIN sheet and went back to the registration office, and a little while later, I left with my brand spankin' new Colorado license plates. 

Phew!  I'm crossing off my to-do list, and moving towards a state of stability.  I can't wait to be settled in back to some normalcy - hopefully the house will sell soon too! 

Until next time!

Kate Suarez:  Non-Spanish Colorado resident!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action!

So, even though the house hasn't sold, I am packing up the house and moving to Lakewood, Colorado!  While packing isn't always the most fun, I am having a fun time going through things, reminiscing, and marveling at some of the fun things Rob and I have collected through the years. 

Today I packed up my movies, and I started thinking about my all-time favorites, and I separated them into categories.  This may explain some of my quirks to some of you:

Movies that make me pee my pants:

  1. Heavyweights (“Anyone who brings candy into this camp is not your friend.  He is a destroyer!”)
  2. Superbad (“It’s you!  McMuffin!”)
  3. Coming to America (“Sexual Chocolate!”)
  4. Dumb and Dumber (“Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?”)
  5. Monsters, Inc. (“I’m watching you, Wazowski…always watching you.”)

Movies that make me crap my pants:

  1. The Descent (Tight spaces in underground caves + creepy humanoid creatures = no thank you)
  2. Saw (Ok, it freaked me out when I saw it in the theaters.  They ruined it by making it into a franchise, but the first time I saw it – totally needed diapers)
  3. Signs (Tried to watch this alone on my computer with headphones so I wouldn’t disturb anyone one night when I couldn’t sleep – big mistake)
  4. Poltergeist (Watched this when I had a friend over for a sleepover, and my parents secretly stacked the kitchen chairs on the table upstairs to “surprise” us.  Did you know this is only rated PG?!)
  5. The Strangers (My worst nightmare realized.  Period.)

Movies I can watch anytime to make me feel good:

  1. Grease (Know it word for word, note for note.  Love love love.  Judge me all you want)
  2. Heavyweights (Again in my top movie list, but it’s seriously the greatest)
  3. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything!  Julie Newmar (John Leguizamo, Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes as drag queens traveling by car across the US?  Yes please!)
  4. Bowfinger (Happy Premise #3: Even though I feel like I might ignite, I probably won’t)
  5. The Karate Kid (The original, of course.  “Put him in a body bag, Johnny!”)

Movies that blow my mind:

  1. Being John Malkovich (Malcovich Malcovich? Malcovich!  Malcovich Malcovich!)
  2. Arlington Road (Rob was with me the first time we saw this.  Blew me away!)
  3. The Departed (Twists and turns galore!)
  4. Balada triste de trompeta (Clown love triangle en espagnol.  Seriously F-ed up.  Still trying to figure out if this was supposed to be funny or serious or scary.  And no, it’s not the language barrier)
  5. Jurassic Park (Even though this movie is almost 20 years old, the computer animation is still great, and I’m on the edge of my seat the whole time!)

Movies that get me teary-eyed at just looking at the title:

  1. Titanic (I’ll never let go!)
  2. The Notebook (Um, the ending.  Yeah, that’s all I’ve got to say)
  3. Dumbo (Seriously, writing this is making me misty – the mother rocking Dumbo on her trunk while she’s caged to that song “Baby of Mine”.  I challenge you not to sob)
  4. Life is Beautiful (Wept the whole way through)
  5. E.T. (Anytime there is a dying alien/child/animal, it’s hard to watch)

Movies that I know are horrible, yet I love anyway:

  1. 3 Ninjas (“Slurpee?” “Radical!” “Slurpee?” “Dude!” “We’re outta here”)
  2. Evil Dead (Wimpiest ‘hero’ ever)
  3. It Takes Two (Mary-Kate and Ashley and Steve Freaking Guttenberg!)
  4. The Willies (“Scary” story vignettes with many early 90’s tv stars)
  5. Baby-Sitters Club video collection (Say  ‘hello’ to your friends)
Well, I suppose I will get back to packing.  Sigh.  Maybe i'll start thinking of some of my other favorites to put into list-form.  I do love lists.  (Nerd alert!).  I can't believe that summer is pretty much over...

Kate Suarez, movie buff, packer extraordinaire, COLORADO BOUND!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Day Trippin'

Summertime... and the livin's easy.  A little too easy.  I'm feeling a little confined at the moment, and in desperate need to get out and about!  The bad news: this heat wave is, well, HOT.  I don't even want to go outside and get my mail!  My favorite summertime activity is just not possible at the moment, so instead I will give you a visualization....

Picture me:  sitting in a patio chair on my deck.  Feet up.  Cool bottle of beer in my hand, condensation dripping down my arm.  Some Sublime or Jimmy Buffet or CAKE or other low-key summertime music playing from the kitchen.  Grill lightly smoking with juicy hamburgers cooking inside.  Cicadas singing.  Fireflies beginning to lightly dot my backyard.  Citronella candles keeping the mosquitoes away.  T-shirt and shorts on.  Flip flops resting on the ground next to me.  Cornhole and redneck golf games  awaiting on the lawn.  Laughing, talking, singing, eating, drinking and game playing with friends all night long.

Sigh.  Summertime, before you go away, please cool off and bring my friends back to town so I can make this happen!  I'm cravin' an Augustfest with my Colorado buddies!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Foodie On The Block

So my EPIC summer continues with the finale of Harry Potter, and the fulfillment of my childhood fantasies - New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys in concert!  My sister Mary and friends Maddie and Joann joined me at the Sprint Center for an unbelievable show, and then we jetted down to the VooDoo Lounge at Harrah's casino for the after party.  I must say, I am totally impressed with my sister's networking skills, as she finagled her was past security and got a photo taken with Howie D. and Nick Carter.  Alas I was only able to take creeper pics and squeeze their hands like the desperate fan that I am from the dance floor.  Oh well - it was awesome, and one of the most fun nights of my life!

In other news, the house STILL hasn't sold.  So I am STILL in Kansas City.  Someone tried to break into my neighbor's house last week, and I've been hearing scary sounds at night lately, so I've officially gotten to the point where I am tired of being in this big (to me) house all by myself.  I'm ready to move to Colorado to be with my hubby!

I've been trying out the whole Skype thing a lot lately, and I must say it is one of the coolest inventions.  It is so fun to be able to video chat with your buddies - especially when your thousands of miles away from a lot of them!

One a completely different note, I've been thinking a lot lately about my dreams and aspirations - not a full-on existential crisis, but definitely a "who am I?" moment or two.  As some of you know, my dream of dreams  is to write books or articles about my traveling experiences (whether they be near or far), emphasizing food and local everyday things that make destinations so special.  An "outside the box" of the super touristy things but "inside the heart" of what makes a city tick.  I went solo to Blanc Burgers & Bottles for lunch today (if you haven't tried their sweet potato fries with their housemade ketchup and chipotle aioli dipping sauces, you are missing out!), and I was flipping through a KC freebie magazine about food and restaurants around the city.  Big buzz words that jumped out at me repeatedly were "local" and "organic" and "grass-fed" and of course, "Trader Joe's".  Don't get me wrong, I have NOTHING against any of those words!  I love to support local businesses, and of course organic produce and grass-fed beef seem to be better for you than a lot of crap you can (and I usually do) buy.  I have yet to try out Trader Joe's (I peeked around on the opening day, but felt like I was going to have an anxiety attack when I saw the sea of shoppers in the checkout lines), but I am sure that it has a lot of good things to offer.  My point is, does all of this hype really mean it's the best?  Or have we just been so bombarded with the message that it is the best, that we delude ourselves into believing it?  For instance, is In-N-Out burger really that amazing, or is it an American institution that we have to love because it's In-N-Out.  I must say, I prefer Kraft blue box mac-n-cheese to Annie's Organic any day of the week.  Are the hipsters at American Apparel sipping their PBR's and rolling their eyes at me?  Am I being hypocritical?  Probably a little bit.  But to come full circle, I am making it a goal to seek out the best-of-the-best food joints and fun stuff to do when I move to Lakewood, and I'm going to try really hard to ignore the hype.  Even though I haven't officially moved there yet, I already know of one spot to avoid if you value your colon, but check out if you want a slice of Americana: Casa Bonita.  While yes, it is a kitschy cult classic of a restaurant (hello, South Park even made an episode about it!), it's more of an experience than a destination.  However, the sopapillas aren't bad - and you just have to put up a little flag on your table and the servers bring more to you.  That's half the fun!  See you in Black Bart's Cave...

Here's the deal: Kate Suarez, aspiring foodie, NKOTB fan for life!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

An American Girl in Paris (and Avignon, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, Tournon, and Nice)

While it's only been two weeks, I feel like I have been gone for ages!  Jet lag reared its ugly head, and I have been awake since about 6:00 this morning catching up on the ole DVR, cleaning, and returning emails - and what a perfect time for a blog! 

I left two weeks ago to chaperone a trip with a teacher and 15 high school girls from KC.  Chaperoning this trip was fulfilling one of the career goals on my bucket list, but man, it was a lot of work.  The lead teacher and I worked on coming up with an itinerary, attended seminars, and planned the crap out of this whole shindig.  But the real work came abroad.  While we had fun, it was exhausting and hard to enjoy when your mind is concerned with so many other factors.  But on the bright side, I have many more ideas of places I want to see when Rob and I take a trip (hopefully next year!) back.

We started our adventure in Paris, and saw pretty much every major monument/site you can think of:  the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, Eiffel Tower, the Rodin Museum, Versailles, Sainte-Chapelle, Arc-de-Triomphe, Père Lachaise Cemetery, we went to mass at Notre Dame, and took an amazing Pont Neuf Vedette boat on the Seine around the city.  I became a pro deciphering that Metro system, saved the girls from some drunk French boys, and ate crèpes, croque monsieur, quiche, couscous and more fromage than a person should.  It was fantastic. 

After Paris, we headed down to Avignon where we visited the Palais des Papes (Popes' Palace) and of course, the Pont Bénezet (come on, anyone who has taken a French class remembers that song "Sur le pont, d'Avignon, on y danse, on y danse...").  We enjoyed the "Fête de la Musique" and rested up before we took a bus toward Aix-en Provence, where the girls were to begin a five day home stay with French families.

On the way to Aix, we took a bus and stopped by the Pont du Gard, the most amazing bridge I have ever seen (yes, Rob's enginerd ways have rubbed off).  We then continued to Arles, which has some gorgeous Romanesque ruins, les Baux de Provence, and St. Rémy. 

While the girls did their home stay in Aix, I was fortunate enough to take a train to visit my cher ami, Monsieur Zac and his family in Tournon-sur-Rhône.  Now when people usually think of France, they think Eiffel Tower.  Tournon is the France I will think of from now on.  It is beyond breathtaking.  Nestled along the Rhône River, surrounded (and I mean surrounded) by mountains covered in vineyards is Tournon.  Zac began my visit with a walk around his town and a delicious meal with his parents and brother.  The next morning, we rode bikes to the pâtisserie to buy croissants and pain au chocolat.  Divine.  We lunched at his grandparents' home and then visited the chocolaterie Valrhôna (I can't think of an adjective to describe this chocolate) and tasted wine at Cave de Tain.  I had an incredible time visiting with his family and seeing my beloved Zacharie after a year of being apart.  We then headed together to Aix and spent the last two days of our visit exploring the city.  We even saw two films: "Omar m'a tuer" and "Balada triste".  It was heartbreaking to leave. 

After a sad goodbye, the other teacher and I picked up our girls at the train station and we headed to Nice to spend our last two days.  We visited the Matisse museum, ate wonderful seafood, enjoyed the beautiful views of the beach, and did a little shopping before we headed back to the good old US of A.  Yes, the airport did lose my bag.  I am waiting for it to make its way back to me, but I am glad to be home and start a real summer break. 

I had a great time with those girls, and it made me remember what it was like to be 16 again.  Being able to wear cute skimpy little outfits, have very few responsibilities, steal looks at cute French boys, bend the rules, and being able to eat 6 ice cream cones a day and not gain an ounce - I need to call my mom and apologize for my teen years. :)

I can now breathe a sigh of relief.  I am home, in one piece (minus a suitcase), and my cat is purring next to me.  This trip was a learning and growing experience, and it was neat to see how different each time France has felt to me.  When I was 14, I barely knew how to say "bonjour", and it was a beautiful place that I didn't understand a word of.  At 20, I was able to figure out my way around a bit, but I still felt nervous.  I learned more on the trip than anything, though.  At 26, I felt confident and in a way, very at ease.  I didn't have a problem talking to others or figuring out my way around.  Hopefully I won't have to wait another 6 years to visit. 

Kate Suarez:  francophile, mère poule, and exhausted.