#9 – Go to Bharma in Barcelona. Check.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the television series, LOST. (The only person I know who might be a bigger fan is my friend, Kylene, who named her son Sawyer. That’s right. She did that.) Beyond binge watching the show over and over, I’ve integrated pretty legit lessons into my own classroom (my former 6th graders could analyze and deconstruct literary themes in key LOST episodes as if they were college grads).

You can whine all you want about the last episode not being the epic masterpiece you had hoped for, but realistically I feel like the show gave me years of enjoyment and it really changed the culture of how we watch TV. It was the first show to really cultivate Reddit fan theories and did a lot to incorporate teasers outside of just a typical commercial. LOST even pulled a few stunts to give fans their own twists by sending out fake casting calls and leaking fake episode synopses. You can blame LOST for the reason that no one was surprised William was the Man in Black last year in Westworld. We watch TV differently now. It made us more attuned to plot lines, and pay more attention to foreshadowing and character building.

It’s been seven whole years since LOST ended, and you’ve probably forgotten how great it was. Let me take you down memory lane:

Remember Jack crying in virtually every episode?

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Or Sawyer’s sarcastic quips?

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How about Kate’s inner turmoil?

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And who could forget Hurley and Charlie’s bromance?

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Remember how Sayid could snap a man’s neck with his hands tied behind his back?

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Or how blown your mind was when they found the hatch?

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How about when Sun traveled through space and time to get back to Jin?

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I bet you also forgot that Michael played alongside DiCaprio in Romeo and Juliet.

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So blah blah blah you didn’t like the way LOST ended? Get over yourself already. It was (and still is) a great show.

Now that I’ve gotten that part out of the way, let’s talk about the LOST-themed bar in Barcelona, Bharma, which I have put on my bucket list this year.

First off, I didn’t do a lot of research, for fear of getting my hopes too high. Instead, I knew a LOST-themed bar existed and that I would be traveling to Barcelona, so put two and two together.

Bharma is located somewhat away from the touristy parts of the city (though we still took a meandering walk to find it so it wasn’t terribly out of the way). Straight off, it looks cool.

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And that’s mostly where the fun ended. The hours on Yelp showed that Bharma is open typically from 8:30am – 5pm, and then again from 11pm-3am. As we showed up at 12:30, you would think it was a safe bet. Instead, the place was empty and the waitress seemed annoyed with our entry. She also let us know that the kitchen was closed until 1:00.

Okkkk…we sat to have a drink and wait it out. When I asked for a menu, she said they didn’t have one. Riiiight. The guy behind the bar seemed equally unenthused with our presence. It is literally the only place in Barcelona where we have experienced crappy service.

I spent some time checking out the decor and memorabilia, which was fun but also not mind blowing.

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40 minutes later it was clear that the kitchen was not going to be opening for us and we decided to pay our check and peace out for a lunch elsewhere. Hey Bharma, we traveled 5,500 miles and you are going to roll your eyes at us? No thanks!

Bharma wasn’t a total bust because we still had an adventure and can say we went, but frankly I wouldn’t recommend it – even for someone who is super into LOST. Instead, just come over to my house and let’s marathon a season together; I’ll order some official Dharma logo’d snacks and show you some show memorabilia that I own.

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#21 – Ride a ferry from Maui to Lanai

Originally, I had hoped to ride a ferry from Maui to Molokai. Who doesn’t want a tour of a historical leper colony? Also, having already been to the other main islands many times over, I was hoping for a more secluded experience, if only for a day.

I had a vague picture in my head of what I wanted to do: ride the ferry (seeing a few whales and dolphins along the way), find a lonely beach, eat a picnic lunch and possibly take the official tour of the leper colony.

However, once we arrived in Maui and I started doing my homework, the only ferry I could find was pricey ($125 roundtrip, not including a car rental or shuttle) and it departed at 6:30am and didn’t return again until 7:00pm – that sounded seriously exhausting. But from our hotel beach, I could also see Lanai in the distance, as well. So I did some searching.

For $60 roundtrip, and multiple choices for departure and arrival, Lanai seemed to be the ticket. I read that a great beach was only a ten minute walk from the ferry dock, and that if we wanted to go to town, a shuttle could take us there for $10. So yesterday, that’s what we did.

It was easy to buy ferry tickets on http://go-lanai.com a couple days beforehand, and then boarded the top deck for a 6:45am departure. Once we took off, we caught the sunrise and immediately spotted several whale pods.

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The ride took about 45 minutes and we quickly unloaded at the Manele dock. It really did feel like we were in the middle of nowhere. Hotels and condos did not litter coast line (in fact, there were none at all), and the dock was just big enough for our boat.IMG_6873.JPG

Right down the road, we found Hulopo’e Beach – not exactly super private, as many locals were camping and the Four Seasons guests had fancy lounge chairs set up – but it was still a far cry from our crazy busy Napili Bay beach. The sand was powder fine and the snorkeling was the best of our trip. There were even bathrooms and a shower.IMG_6874.JPG

We spent the day lounging, and even though we could have eaten at the Four Season, we packed sandwiches and Hawaiian Suns and lots of water. When it got too hot we found shade in the grass and watched wild turkeys roam the park until it was time to get back on the ferry. IMG_6878.JPG

Upon further investigation, it would run you about $2000 a night to stay at the Four Seasons in Lanai. Bummer. But I still enjoyed watching the 1% be waited on hand and foot (the beach valet literally set up their lounge chairs, umbrellas, towels, paddle boards, etc).

I totally crashed out on the ferry ride home, and we still had plenty of time. For us, it was a good way to get away from the crowds (these spring break families are killing me!) and get some really good snorkeling in. Thor even said it was his favorite day of the trip (until today where he vegged out endlessly).

More info about Hulopo’e Beach can be found here: http://www.gohawaii.com/en/lanai/regions-neighborhoods/south-lanai/hulopoe-bay-lanai/

#22 – Go Paddleboarding in the ocean. Check.

As I had already found that stand up paddle boarding in lakes and rivers is relatively easy, my next goal was to try it out in the ocean. Surely the waves would make SUP more challenging, and where else to try than in Hawaii?

The thing about paddle boarding is that it’s seriously easy for pretty much everyone…or so I thought. Thor is notoriously better than me (and everyone else on the planet) at just about everything. A couple days ago we decided to play shuffleboard (both of us being equally new to it) and he won every single game. For the last ten years of our marriage, this is the status quo; I’m always the persistent sidekick, and he’s the naturally talented hero.

So when we rented paddle boards ($40 for the whole day) and drug them down to the beach, I was like, “Paddle out on your knees and then just stand up. You’ll get it.” But within the first five minutes, he had already lost his sunglasses from repeatedly falling back into the water. Meanwhile, I was paddling circles around him, “Less upper body; more centered on the board!”

While the ocean waves added a bit of challenge, it wasn’t any harder than navigating a boat’s wake in the river. I paddled back and forth across the bay. Thor, on the other hand, got frustrated and went inside after an hour.

Overall, I’m glad I tried paddle boarding in the ocean, although it didn’t end up being the workout I had hoped for. Also, once he had gone inside and I was all alone way out where the bay becomes the real ocean, I kept thinking, “What if a shark finds me? No one will know.” Then my eyes were playing tricks on me and I was seeing shadows circle my board and I decided to frantically paddle back in.

Sadly, I couldn’t take any pictures because we were in the water but you get the idea.
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How far I’ve come…

In my role as an instructional coach, I’ve worked with teachers across all spectrums of experience and style. I can’t say that I have a favorite “type” (variety is the spice of life), but right now I’m having a lot of fun watching the evolution of my brand new teachers. In the fall, they had so many questions, and so many tears. One of them even shared this graphic with me:

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Ten years ago, I was charged with teaching 6th grade for the first time, and I can vividly remember these feelings. When they said, “You get to spend a week at Outdoor School with your students,” I wanted to run and hide in a hole. An entire week? Sleeping on a bunk? Eating camp food? Singing songs? No, thank you. My (very patient) teammates can attest that I HATED Outdoor School, and made my misery well-known…for several years.

The thing is, I like my life. It’s just the way I want it to be. Having grown-up living in joint custody, where I schlepped my stuff from house-to-house every few days, I developed a keen sense of what I wanted in my adult life: STABILITYCONTROL. COMFORT.

If you grew up consistently sleeping in one bedroom, eating out of the same fridge, and taking the same route to-and-from school everyday, you’ll never know what it was like to basically live a vagary lifestyle of unknowns. Now, I want to eat the same, bland breakfast everyday; marathoning The Young & the Restless afterwork; play video games in bed; you get the idea.

So a couple weekends ago when I was being dragged around Barcelona with 49 other teachers on zero sleep and strange food, I asked myself, “What the hell am I doing here?”  Most everyone else seemed pretty content to let someone else decide when and where we went, what we would eat, when we would go to sleep; but I kept finding myself sneaking away from the group, and at one point I ditched them to go running and eat salami from the supermarket. (It was a very freeing moment).

There’s a misconception that I am so particular because I’m high-maintenance, or inflexible. That’s not it at all – I grew up constantly experiencing change based on the whim of my parents. In fact, that has made me so incredibly flexible in the workplace (which I think my teammates can also attest to). So when they said, “Go to Outdoor School,” it wasn’t that it was cold and muddy and the bunk was hard as a rock and the food came out of a can or the camp staff are insanely perky at 6am – it was that I had no control.

That being said, I know that I can’t hide in my shell for the rest of my life. I signed up to take my students to Greece in the summer (with a teammate who will help calm my anxiety) because HEL-LO it’s a free trip. At the same time I was thinking, “What the hell am I doing here?” in Barcelona, I also thought, “Look how far I’ve come. I can do this.”

The kicker? Even though I’m no longer teaching 6th grade, I volunteered to spend a week at Outdoor School in place of a teacher who has an infant at home. An entire week. Sleeping on a bunk. Eating camp food. Singing songs. And I’ll probably enjoy it.

 

#22 – Relearn how to speak French. C’est fait.

Non, mon français n’est pas bien, mais je peux survivre…je pense…

I haven’t talked much about this goal since the summer since I really should have checked it off back then, but it’s the end of the year so better late than never. I studied french formally in a classroom from 7th grade until the end of college – in fact, I had so many credits that if I had taken just two more classes, I could have majored in it. But could I really speak French fluently at that level? Meh, not like you would think.

Regardless that I could get by in conversation, I still didn’t really have anyone to speak French with (since Portland, Oregon isn’t exactly brimming with French speaking opportunities). Also, it’s not like I’ve really had the money to travel to France – so that left me with a slowly diminishing language base.

This year, when my mom offered to take me to Paris, I thought it would be a good goal to refresh what I knew and try to put it into practice. I prepped by listening to hours and hours of podcasts on my work commute, and subscribing to some French news on Facebook.

When we got to Paris, my French was definitely rusty. Like I knew what people were saying, but at the same time it took some real brain power to listen, comprehend, and possibly respond. That being said, I felt my reading skills were off the charts. Things like street signs and menus were child’s play, but in museums, pieces of artwork are accompanied by passages that describe the scene, as well as the history or unique perspective of the artist. I was impressed that I could accurately read most of them.

Listening to peoples’ conversations was hit or miss. Interestingly, children were the easiest; their pronunciation was so specific (and vocabularies limited). Although there were times when I was like, I don’t know what the hell that person just said. There was still validation when one Parisian shopkeeper did respond, “Your French is very good!” after I had explained that we were Americans who were sort lost, but thought her shop looked interesting so we stopped in.

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I learned it can be high pressure (and high exhaustion) to be the translator for a traveling partner who has no experience with the native language. After several days, I was reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story, Tender is the Night, when he describes a mother and daughter traveling in France: “After lunch they were both overwhelmed by the sudden flatness that comes over American travellers in quiet foreign places.” Truly, I needed a power nap after navigating us through the streets, responding to testy cashiers, and then reading about tellement d’histoire en francais.

Although I’m certainly not a fluently speaker, that was never my goal anyway. I went to France, spoke some French, and learned some more. Oh, and I can definitely understand this: