Sunday, May 28, 2006

sweet home alabama

Well, I had a somewhat bumpy start to my vacation. I missed the MARC train I'd intended to take up to Baltimore (ooops) and then was 5 minutes too late to catch the bus from Greenbelt, my impromptu plan B. Thank goodness I decided to make a quick run to the ATM when picking up my foreign currency. I don't think the cabbie would take Euros or Swiss Francs... anyhow, smooth sailing from there.

Where the skies are so blue...

I've really enjoyed my AL stop-over en route to Rome! It's been a fun, relaxing start to what's basically my first real vacation in a year. I'm so excited! I even managed to finish reading the Da Vinci Code before my plane from Baltimore to Dallas ever left the ground. I went with my parents to see the movie today. Despite the mixed reviews I know it's been receiving, I thought it was good. There was soooo much to the book that it's unrealistic for people to think it could all be in the movie. So much of the book too hinges on the detailed descriptions of the thoughts of the different characters. I thought the movie took some interesting approaches to capture what Brown communicated in those portions of the book.

Side note -- what do you guys think on all the controversy surrounding the book? I saw at Barnes and Noble today there's a ton of books they've got grouped together on topics touching on things mentioned in the book ... the Priory, Opus Dei, etc. Sometimes I think people are just looking for something to make a big deal out of at every turn. I think people need to learn the difference in fact or fiction. Or even better yet, the central importance of faith in religion in general. Ok... enough on that.

I did get a good book though to take on the plane to read -- Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster. Well, I guess I say "good" as a guestimate. I've only read the first say 10 pages of it (just to see, before I commit the space in my bag to it). It's definitely a "fluff" read in comparison to The Da Vinci Code, but I think it's in keeping with the vacation mode, so I don't feel like I should feel guilty for a light read.

Lord I'm coming home to you...

Monday we're off to Atlanta -- direct flight to Rome from there. I can't wait. I was telling my co-workers this past week that I feel like my response to any questions about my upcoming vacation has been like that of an excited young child who's learning they're going to Disneyworld for the first time. I refuse to be too shameful though. I just can't wait... lots to be seen and done... and, of course, lots of pictures to be taken!Hope all's well with you all... anyone have big & fun plans for Memorial Day Weekend??

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

manolos, gelato & dixie chicks

In the wise, wise words of Carrie on SATC, "The fact is sometimes it's hard to walk in a single woman's shoes that's why we need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun." I just love shoes. And I just loved that quotation -- so had to plug it in somewhere. I'm on Season 6 -- about to start part 2. Oh what shall I do once I'm out of new episodes? Gasp... Anyhow, don't know what got me thinking about shoes. Maybe it's because I'm wearing some of my favorites. Or it could be because I'm thinking ahead to those perfect, fine Italian pair that will soon be my own. Gotta love shoes!

I'm so gearing up for my trip. I've been saying I've had one foot on the plane mentally since the week began. I need to break myself of this onset of ADD though. Soooo much to be done -- almost makes me want to cry. If it wasn't for the promise of l'Italia bella, I might succumb to it... but, alas, no problem with that here.

To top that off, my mom just bought us tickets to see the Dixie Chicks when she comes to visit in August. Floor seats! Woohoo! I'm pumped. I saw them once before and they were great -- and it'll make a great mother/daughter outting. I've also got plans to see the Allman Brothers in June. It's shaping up to be a nice musical summer so far, and surely more opportunities will arise.

Ok -- gotta pry myself away and plunge back into this survey. I just keep thinking -- the sooner I get all this done, the sooner I'll be flying off to another adventure. Did I say I can't wait?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

nobody said it was easy

I'm about to dive into two salary surveys (those of you who don't get what I do for my job surely think it's exciting now, right? but I do love it!). Woohoo it's hump day -- here's to hoping my teacher actually shows for class tonight.

The day's off to a fantastic start... the nice man at the coffee shop so knows me now. Nice to have a spot where amidst the sea of faces, you're remembered. Today he'd started my sugarfree vanilla skim chai before I had the chance to even reach for my wallet. Love that.

Doubt I'll have time to make time today, but perhaps tomorrow I'll get everything over to the Copyright Office. I've finally scanned all my pics in and am ready to start putting up my website and moving forward with the photography business. What an exciting place to be .

Now I'm just holding on for vacation. So close, I can smell the gelato, fresh pasta, and fantastic wine. And, of course, practically feel the Spanish Steps. Maybe I'll just be a professional traveler when I grow up...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

belles & road tripin'

Well, I was supposed to have photo class tonight, but our teacher no-showed. On one hand, it was a nice surprise to have the unexpected downtime. It's put me here, sitting on my bed - crying, ummmm I mean relaxing, as I watch the Grey's Anatomy season finale. Good stuff. But on the other hand, soooooo could have used the extra time at work. Oh well... not my choice, so no sweat there.

What a good weekend it was. Pessimists thought not a prime weekend for the beach. I beg to differ. What a perfect weekend. It's been a long past few months. It does wear on the soul a bit, but perhaps it's that career-focused-passion I just can't give up that keeps me going. I know that I'd do it again in a second. I tell you, if anyone would have ever told me I'd be this career-focused, I would have argued. Sometimes I guess you surprise even yourself. Anyhow, it was the perfect weekend to break it up a bit... get out of the city and explore a new area. Loved it.

I headed out with the girls -- nothing ahead but the open road. I'll have to ask TX again the name of our beloved weekend auto. Whatever her name was, it was such a relaxing ride. Sunroof cracked... miles and miles of open road ahead... great tunes cranked up... perfect!

The plan was no plans. That was the perfect plan. Friday night Dr. P introduced the TX Democrat and I to her cousin. We went out to her place in Lewes, DE -- close to Rehoboth Beach. She had the cutest place and was such a fun spirit. Like the Peach, she's a Georgia girl. She had fresh brownies complete with Georgia pecans waiting for us. We stayed up telling stories and just hanging out.

Saturday Dr. P showed us over to Dewey Beach, where we're already planning another summertime excursion.In Dewey we spent a good hour at the Rusty Rudder. It was beautiful -- sitting outdoors, overlooking the weater as the sea gulls drift down effortlessly of in the distance. It was perfect. The rain holding off on Saturday was just icing on the cake.

Dr. P had to go back and help her cousin organize, so she dropped off TX Dem and I to explore around downtown Lewes. Okay, so not your booming metropolis, but it was so nice. We checked out the local shops and boutiques and relaxed beside the water at the marina.

That night we went to Dr. P's favorite, the Buttery. It was fun to get all dolled up for a night out with the girls. We sat at the bar and enjoyed some appetizers -- some tapas and even some pate (verrrrry little for me -- definitely not my cup of tea). After that, it was off to Dogfishead for some local live blues. Just because I'm not a beer fan doesn't mean I didn't love my trip to Dogfish!

Thanks girls for a great weekend. Much needed and definitely much appreciated. It's just such a nice breather from the daily city life. I'm definitely a city girl, but I loved the escape.

Monday, May 08, 2006

fine hats, sundresses, southern food, and horses

I finally got to experience the Virginia Gold Cup first-hand, after having heard about it practically since I moved here. Some of you will appreciate that the event was Daily Candy worthy as well It was so fun to have an excuse to get all fixed up in a dress, complete with hat, and bask in some of the finer Southern things.

We had a big group of us that caravaned out in 3 cars to Warrenton, VA. It was a long day of hanging out with friends. Thankfully, the rain held off. We had quite a spread set up though... with ham & biscuits, homemade derby and sweet potato pies, cheese... you name it. Lots of great Southern comfort foods. Only the mint juleps seemed to not make the trip from car to our spot, but we didn't let that put a damper on our day! Tx Dem's friend - CanChef, who's the executive chef at the Canadian embassy, even rounded out our assortment with some Canadian food, including some great smoked salmon.

It was basically upscale tailgating where the sport of choice happened to not involve touchdowns. We did go down to watch a little of the races and I happily snagged some great photos.

I would say more, but I'm pretty beat -- but just thought I'd share some background on the new photo of me in a hat. Hah. I always hate the way I look in hats, so to throw this one up in everyone's faces means I think it's pretty darn nice. If you disagree, shhhh... no room for your negativity here.

And now, off to crawl into bed (yesssssss...) and watch some Grey's Anatomy.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

new york state of mind

I'd feel cliche for my choice in subject... but I've got the song in my head between Big singing it as he's wallowing this season around and my recent escape to the Big Apple.

I just got home about a half an hour ago from work. Looooong day. Wow, guess today I was there 13.5 hours. Yikes! I guess it's the small price I'm paying for sliding out a bit early to catch my bus on Friday. Oh well -- I'd do it again in a second.

The trip was so much fun -- just what I needed. Couldn't have come along at a more perfect time. It was still a bit chilly -- being early spring and all -- but I definitely was successful in avoiding the real cold and managed to catch all the flowers in full bloom. Lovely.

Friday night we arrived into Penn Station around 9ish. Dr. P was my bus buddy for the trip up. It was definitely nice to have a partner for the journey. She was off to visit her friend from grad school. I finally got to meet LV in person. We met up with a couple fellow AGDs out nearby in Chelsea (LB & Lindsay... just realized we're all L's ). We made it a low-key evening, not staying out too too late and finishing off the evening with a couple of episodes of SATC.

Saturday was the NYC area IRD (International Reunion Day -- each local metro area or college campus holds an annual alumnae brunch. This weekend happened to be NYC's). It was held at Trattoria Dopo Teatro in the Theatre District -- a lovely restaurant which was vibrantly decorated inside to live up to its name. There were some 36 ladies who attended and it was so much fun to meet all the local area alum.

Saturday afternoon we were off to wander around Union Square, checking out the local farmer's market and the street fair with vendors ranging from those pedaling vintage signs to arepas. We even made time for a quick visit to Mister Softee. I did also find my perfect green hat for Gold Cup at Filene's -- I'm officially ready!

Saturday night we were off to the Lower East Side, which was a first for me. We did some bar hopping, checking out a few stops up and down one of the main areas (La Caverna, the Rivington Hotel, and some other spot -- Johnson's maybe?). We did run into some random guy at one bar wearing an AGD shirt! He was much more amusing until he randomly told me I could crash at his place for the night. Note to guys -- generally considered a bit creepy to make that oh the second sentence you say to a girl.

Sunday we made a late morning breakfast/coffee run and then I went on a stroll around the neighborhood while LV prepped for her cook-out/luncheon. I hadn't had a chance to take too many pics, and it was a perfect day to correct that problem. She lives in North Chelsea (I much prefer her acronym of NoChe, though!), so I ended up checking out a new area to me.

For the past few months, I've found I haven't had the same eye for photos like I felt like I used to. For as long as I can remember, I've sort of taken in the world around me and seen a natural frame for where the view finder should go. Somewhere along the way in the past few months, I think I sadly lost some of that... somewhere amidst trying to scurry to complete this or that assignment and hurrying to finish it by shooting whatever happens to be in my natural path throughout the day.

Sunday morning I think I found my way back...

I snaked my way up and down the streets of Chelsea and was silent and observant. It was wonderful the things I started to notice that I would not have if I'd have walked at my typical leisurely (AKA break-neck) speed. Two different little league games in Chelsea Park. The young boy pouting over along the bench -- perhaps having been told he wouldn't get to play. The small son running ahead of his father -- and his father quickly picking up the pace as he finally realized that his son's pace had exceeded his own. The beautiful but simple church, framed to the left by the Empire State Building off in the distance. The fresh smell of bagels as NYC wakes up with one of its staples of life. It was only an hour and a half, but some 40 shots later -- I felt fully awake, alive, and like my photo appetite was back in full force.

The trip back was comparitevely brief, largely consumed by watching The Aviator. It was not too long before Dr. P & I found ourselves back in Downtown DC and on our way back to start the week. Such a fun trip though. Thanks again LV for letting me visit (and tell Isaac he's welcome to visit & sleep in my sink, anytime!) and, no worries, I'll be back again soon!

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