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Mail Treats

Monday, October 31st, 2005

I was excited to find these two items waiting in my mailbox this evening:

1) The November/December issue of Transitions Abroad (not up online yet)
Among the many articles in this issue are ones about solo female travel in Europe, Slovenia/Croatia, and a series of pieces on “The Changing Face of Travel”

2) My WWOOF Italia membership pass, all the way from Casavecchia. It is so fun to get international mail; the Italian postage stamp on the envelope is very cool.

I just love receiving mail, especially anything travel related or postmarked from overseas. It is such a rare thing these days. I will try really hard to send postcards when I travel, especially to those who love getting mail as much as me. I guess blogs, like email, have probably had an impact on the number of postcards people send when traveling. What do you think? Do you still send postcards when you travel?

Tricks & Treats, Trinkets & Trash

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Another weekend comes to a close with a cup of tea and a sweet Halloween snack – I just treated myself to a pair of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I spent a good portion of today catching up with friends on the phone. October has been a bit haunting on the relationship front, with some weird feelings and tricky situations that had me second-guessing myself. But today’s conversations and chats were good for clearing the air, and understanding where everyone is at in their lives right now.

I also had a chance to speak with my godmother this evening and hear about her recent trip to Italy. Aunt C lived in Florence for over ten years, has many friends there, and is married to an Italian, so I’ll be turning to her for assistance on planning the Dolce Vita leg of my trip.

Yesterday I tackled the simplification process again, tearing apart the kitchen and my bedroom — clothes, shoes, utensils and tupperware — what do I really need to keep? I’ve now got two huge bags for Goodwill and a large pile of kitchen stuff to donate. I also came across some special mementos that I’ve been holding on to because they remind me of places I’ve been. But nostalgia takes up space, so I decided that I had to part with these travel trinkets from the past:

– The empty special edition bottle of Kahlua (in the shape of an ancient Aztec) from my Project Mexico trip to Tijuana in Jan 1996; I remember Bob helped me snag it, but I don’t recall who drank its’ contents….

– The heavy knit wool Quill’s Irish sweater I bought in Cork, Ireland in August 1996; the one I never wear.

– The first bottle of Dos Equis that I drank when we arrived in Cancun in spring 1995; It was still full of sand from the beach, with a Fat Tuesdays necklace wrapped around it.

– The wooden plaque we painted on our Appalachian Spring Break Outreach community service trip to Ivanhoe, Virginia in 1994.

– My faded green Loyola athletic shorts, so worn that the Greyhound logo is completely gone.

I threw these items away, but have mentioned them here, so I’ll remember what these dust-collectors symbolized — special travels and memories from the early years. The rest of the weekend was filled with writing for Gadling, a quick walk, laundry, a little bit of cooking and some travel planning for my trip to New York next week.

Tomorrow is day one of my last week of work. There are more trinkets to bring home from my cube, and plenty to trash there this week. I already brought home my diploma and some photos. Last week I was treated to dinner with some co-workers and a happy hour with my department, and there are a few more on tap for this week. Things are moving at a nice pace and I look forward to enjoying this last week with my colleagues.

This better be true

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.

~ Nietzsche

Well Traveled?

Monday, October 24th, 2005

I’m well traveled to some degree, but it is certainly skewed….and I’m not sure how acurate this rainbow-colored web quiz is, considering that it only listed four places in Africa. But it is interesting to see my percentages nonetheless, there are always new ways of looking at where I’ve been. Of course, it makes me think again about where I want to go.

Your Travel Profile:

You Are Extremely Well Traveled in the Northeastern United States (100%)
You Are Very Well Traveled in the Southern United States (62%)
You Are Well Traveled in Canada (60%)
You Are Well Traveled in the Western United States (58%)
You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in Western Europe (36%)
You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in Southern Europe (27%)
You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in Australia (25%)
You Are Somewhat Well Traveled in the Midwestern United States (25%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in the United Kingdom (13%)
You Are Untraveled in Africa (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Asia (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Eastern Europe (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Latin America (0%)
You Are Untraveled in New Zealand (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Scandinavia (0%)
You Are Untraveled in the Middle East (0%)
How Well Traveled Are You?

Gearing Up

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

This was the most intense travel planning weekend I’ve has thus far. Things are beginning to gain momentum and fall into place. Progress made since Friday includes:

– I read through all my old Budget Travel and (now defunct) Big World mags. I clipped important tips and articles — the rest got chucked. I still have to read through my Transitions Abroad backlog, but I will hold on to them, as I know they will still be useful to me a year or two from now.

– I joined WWOOF Italy and will probably get an independent membership too, but I’ll wait a bit longer to decide about that.

– I spent a ton of time reading up on the budget airlines in Europe. This is a huge change from when I planned my last trip to Europe ten years ago…this was not a booming industry back then and there is lots to learn. I have to study up on the latest rail options too, so I can begin to decide which of these transport modes (or what combo of both, plus bus) will be used along the way.

– I mapped out a first draft of a 6-month (!!) itinerary for backpacking through Europe, split evenly between eastern and western European countries. I studied up on which countries use the Euro and which are part of the Schengen treaty — this has been a particularly challenging task, as I was not aware of the 15 Schengen countries until a few weeks ago, and it def put a slight wrinkle in my original plan…but I will make it work!

– I reviewed this preliminary itinerary with my friend CJ, who will probably join me for 3 months of the trip. I welcome this traveling buddy (a good friend who has never been to Europe and does not want to do it solo) but it does present some additional planning that needs to be sorted out soon. We should have our timelines worked out by the beginning of November, so I can actively work on booking my flight and first hostel. She will most likely join me in Spain after I have a few weeks on my own first. Looks like departure for me will be late Jan or first week of Feb at the latest. More on that in the coming weeks…

– CJ and I went backpack browsing this afternoon, to REI and EMS (why do all the gear stores have acronym names?) We both have our eye on this Venus pack for women but I’m going to visit Campmor in a few weeks and see if I can find something cheaper. I bought a pair of Tevas (similar to this) that were marked down, but I think I might be able to get them cheaper at Campmor, so I’ll investigate that too. Deciding what size bag to take will be one of the tougher decisions I make…I really want as small a pack as possible, but know I don’t want to cut myself too short on storage. We shall see.

A productive planning weekend comes to a close, and I am beat…but getting really excited too. It is happening! I’ll now turn my energies to writing and work (two more weeks at the office) and I’ll begin packing up more boxes of stuff to donate or store elsewhere.

Learning to Slow Down

Friday, October 21st, 2005

If you divide the distance we travel by the number of hours we spend not just behind the wheel but also working to pay for our cars or doing other things in some way associated with the car, our net speed comes to around five miles per hour. But when you show this to people, they still say, “I’ve got to have a car, because I’m in a hurry.”

~ Jan Lundberg, antiroad activist

NYC All Day

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

We had some fun at Gadling and picked one city to write about for the entire day. This will be a new ongoing feature called CityScapes. We started with one of the best. I really enjoyed writing about a city that means so much to me, sharing personal experiences and thoughts is what it’s all about. Props to mom and dad for instilling a love of city life in us ‘burb kids.

I wrote about:

My tri-state identity complex
Shopping with the Aussies on Canal Street
A few of my favorite NYC memories
My adoration for the Flatiron and Madison Square Park
Pop the Question Paley Park
Some good NYC eats I’ve been to recently

Positive Thinking

Monday, October 17th, 2005

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway to the human spirit.

~ Helen Keller

Lost in Place Housekeeping

Saturday, October 15th, 2005

I did some tinkering with the site tonight, so if you get bombarded with updated posts in your aggregator, sorry! Here are the exciting details of what’s new at Lost in Place:

I updated the About Me section, added the Why Am I Lost? explanation and finally added some photos of me with the folks. (Scroll down on the About Me page to see the pixs.)

I’ve decided to keep categories to the bare minimum, so I will only use places, and most posts will be categorized under where I am living or traveling at a particular moment. I’ve done away with “etc.” and other subcategories that were starting to make me feel like I am micro-managing my thoughts. I’ll just use places. It’s just easier, and that’s what this blog is all about anyway.

Also, there is a feed for comments on the blog, just wanted to point that out.

Oh, and as far as I can tell there is no spell-checker on this blog software, so sorry in advance for the typos, I know I won’t catch them all.

Thanks for reading!

Highlights from the Tag Sale

Saturday, October 15th, 2005

We had perfect weather for a tag sale. (Nothing was actually tagged with a price, and nobody calls it a tag sale here, so I should really call it what it was — an urban YARD sale.) My sis-in-law Jo was my partner for the day. Over dinner at Thai Restaurant last night we discussed everything but our plan for today. We had no “sell strategy” and are both pretty horrible at pricing goods — but we make a great team and had loads of laughs.

The first things to go were my old knife set and one of my blow-dryers (!!), and Mike’s blender, toaster and radio. The older woman across the street bought my decorative palm tree hand towels and I gave her a box of crayons for the kids at Barclay School. I sold the pampasan chair to a sweet girl named Claire, who just moved here from Louisiana to begin a history masters program at Hopkins. We chatted while I helped her walk the chair to her apartment.

I gave the neon green boa to another Hopkins grad student, a woman who just started in the nursing program. She could not believe I was parting with it, and promised to wear it proudly. I don’t doubt she will, so I just let her have it. She bought my scale and a small pillow.

The drive-by sale was the best: Today was the Baltimore Marathon, so lots of folks were stuck in their cars right outside my building while traffic was stopped to let the runners through a few blocks south of us. This one woman in her car yelled to me inquiring about the price of the hanging shoe rack. I told her it was two bucks and she nodded that she wanted it so I walked it to her. She then proceeded to buy three more items — a lamp, a standing caddy and a desk organizer, all while never moving from the driver’s seat of her running automobile.

Soon after that, we had an even closer encounter with a car, when some daredevil in a Cherokee decided to drive on the sidewalk going south on St. Paul because he didn’t have time to wait in marathon traffic. Bizarre and dangerous, but I think he got away with it and returned to the street a few blocks south. It is amazing what you witness when you spend time on your front stoop.

It was the most glorious day, with almost too much sun in our eyes early in the morning. By noon we were in shade, having lunch, looking at Jo’s photos from India, and trying to push what was left. A few friends stopped by, which was so nice, and I enjoyed people-watching and talking to folks who walked by. I met one of my neighbors too, a guy named Danny originally from North Carolina.

We made a little over $80 bucks, and I had already decided to donate half of any profit to UNICEF, so I’ll round up and send them $50. Jo and I split up the rest, brought the remaining items to Value Village on York Road and treated ourselves to vanilla shakes and some fries at McDonalds for the ride home.

Things sold that I will miss: my Asian styled table lamp from Target that was bought by a handsome guy speaking French (so I guess that makes it okay), my palm tree monkey lamp and my IKEA walk clock that I used for the past seven years. I might also miss my yellow SONY Walkman one day in the future, but since I have not used it in months, I let it go…

Things that did not sell that I still have: the wooden standing CD holder from IKEA, dining room table and printer. I’ll try to sell these again closer to when I actually move out.

Things that went to Value Village: assorted purses, home and desk accessories, two pink stools, a microwave, stuffed animals, videos and assorted kitchen/dining items.

It’s hard to describe this funny little thing I’m feeling — letting go of all this STUFF was not exactly difficult, but I wasn’t sure it was actually happening as it occurred. It was quite freeing to part ways with things that are not necessary, and the day reinforced just how committed to this new lifestyle I am, whether I like it or not. Luckily, I like it a lot…so far!