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Farewell, Charm City

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

I’m lying on the floor of my empty apartment, about to shut down the computer, take out the trash and stuff some final items in my Dad’s car before leaving Baltimore for good. At least for now…who knows what the future has in store. But Baltimore has been oh so good to me, and I love it so and will miss it dearly…and now I’m getting choked up so I’ll stop…there has been a lot of that in the past 24 hours.

Mike and Jo have been an incredible help and support in these final hours…Mike even came by on his lunch break today to help me tie a table and chair to the roof of the station wagon. And last night they gave me the most amazing gift — a small photo album with pixs of every place I lived, worked and played in Baltimore over the past seven years…it is the coolest gift ever. I’ll treasure it, and all the memories it holds, always.

I’ll sign off from B-more with the quote that appeared in my inbox this morning, my Zen Quote of the Day. I like the last sentence best:

Thus we see that the all important thing is not killing or giving life, drinking or not drinking, living in the town or the country, being lucky or unlucky, winning or losing. It is how we win, how we lose, how we live or die, finally, how we choose. We walk, and our religion is shown (even to the dullest and most insensitive person), in how we walk. Living in this world means choosing and the way we choose to walk is infallibly and perfectly expressed in the walk itself.

~ R. H. Blyth

Peace and so long, Hon.

So Much

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

I’ve got so much I want to write here, but I can’t seem to find the time to get any of it organized into manageable pieces to post. There’s been little time to process all that is happening. There are a zillion moments I want to remember about everything that’s been going on, but I’ve been writing most of it in my handwritten journal for now, where I can be sloppy, spell things wrong and doodle in the margins.

Things may be even quieter here for the next few weeks, until I’ve got more specific plans in place for my 2006 travel adventure. In the meantime, I’ve got to move out of Baltimore by this Wednesday, drive all my stuff to NY in dad’s wagon, then board a plane bound for Portland on Thursday night, where I’ve got a full slate of fun stuff planned for the long weekend. I’ll return to NY on a red eye next Sunday, so by this time next week I’ll finally begin to settle in with my folks, who have been so amazingly supportive through all this movement of mine. There is no way I’d be where I am right now without their constant love and understanding of this nomadic phase I am entering. There are just so many who have been gracious and simply awesome recently…

I’ve really got so much to be thankful for — I don’t even know how or where to begin. My family has been incredible the past few weeks especially — making delicious home cooked meals, lending a hand with transporting boxes & furniture and often going out of the way to do so, gathering friends for farewells, letting me borrow their cars — plus an endless list of assistance with assorted odds and ends. Hands down, my brothers simply ROCK. I am the luckiest sister alive to have two extremely thoughtful brothers, who are also funny as heck and so very smart. My cousins, aunts and uncles, colleagues and friends have all been so wonderful too — words of support, hugs and laughs, offers of couches to crash on, and assistance with travel gear purchases, like helping me buy that darn digital camera I need!!!

I’m so grateful and touched by this outpouring of everything. My words of thanks don’t end with the holiday…especially this year.

Give Thanks

Thursday, November 24th, 2005

A thankful person can find contentment anywhere.

Mom gave me this quote in a card earlier this week. I owe a million thanks to her, my dad, my brothers and sister-in-law…and all my extended family, wonderful friends and colleagues. I’m blessed to have each of them in my life, and feel extra grateful for the support, love and encouragement they have shown me during this transitional time in my life. I’m off to give thanks for it all, break bread, share laughs and cherish each morsel of goodness.

Where to?

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Balt Amour

Monday, November 21st, 2005

I’ve spent a fair amount of time with my brother & sister-in-law these past few days, and it has meant the world to me. Mike moved to Baltimore a few years after me, and has really made this city his home, and this neighborhood his community. And it has been so wonderful to be able to enjoy it with him in these final days. He and I did a bunch of stuff this weekend. I also got to share two homecooked meals with him and Joanna this week. On Saturday night, he and Jo made homemade pizzas and an awesome zucchini eggplant casserole. Tonight he prepared a Mom Amabile original: pork chops with carrots, onions and the secret marinade, along with the original egg noodles (and minus the applesauce, of course). Mike has always been a great cook, but this husband thing has certainly domesticated him in wonderful ways that my stomach and I fully benefited from this weekend. He’s also ruthless at Yahtzee, but the three of us had a great time while playing a fun few rounds tonight while listening to Broadway showtunes and Stevie Wonder. We let him win, of course.

Flexible Hours

Monday, November 21st, 2005

I’ve welcomed the alternative work schedule and casual dress code that my part-time writing gigs allow: PJ’s, sweats, jeans and baseball caps are all my kind of clothing, and can be worn morning, noon or night. So I wind up working at some of the oddest hours in some of the wackiest outfits. But being comfortable has done wonders for my productivity, so all’s well. Here’s a recap of what I’ve been working on ’round the clock:


I feel like I’m getting in a good groove with my writing. I’ve enjoyed developing the “One for the Road” daily book feature and am enthusiastic about creating more features. I’ve also figured out how I can get good travel tips for gear purchases from Gadling readers! In the past few weeks I’ve written about Prague (for our second CityScapes day) and explored the branding business as both Baltimore and Jersey seek new slogans. I’ve also started to include posts with my personal take on this whole transition to budget traveler life ‘o mine. The WIN retreat was a great oppty. to meet folks face to face that I’d only emailed with before. I was also quite impressed by the AOL executives that spoke with us, and was pleased to see one of my posts get mentioned on AOL’s live web the day after the retreat.

Viva Las Vegas:

For the next two months I’ll also be moonlighting in Vegas….at the Viva Las Vegas Blog. I don’t have any trips to Vegas planned during this time, but it will be fun to help write a bit about a city that’s been good to me. I welcome the chance to work more with Jen Leo and the Boots crew — and will get to hang with them shortly in Portland. I’ll be heading out there for a few days beginning December 1.

Written Road:

Books, writing and travel are at the core of what drives me, so I continue to enjoy my role as an occasional contributor on Written Road, which recently got a face lift, including new About and Fave Links pages. I like when I can wonder about writing or share travel publishing tidbits with the roadies.

Stop. Breathe.

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

Okay. I’ve decided that I’m not going to do anything else until I spend some time decompressing here. The point of having this blog during the pre-trip phase is to chronicle what happens in the months leading up to the big adventure. But it’s been quite the challenge to find time to actually write about any of it. I’ve started four posts in the past week that sit sadly as drafts, ignored and soon to be deleted. But not this one…it is time to take a breather and check in.

So where to start?

Summary: Life is good. Life is full. Life is fun.

Sure, there are concerns, worries, responsibilities and crucial steps to be taken. Everyday. I’m dizzy just thinking about it all. But I’m tackling everything as best I can, while trying to enjoy the whole experience of transitioning lifestyles. I’ve had fairly good success navigating the roadblocks and curveballs that have come my way so far, and will continue to just do my best. It’s all part of this wild ride…



The rest of my week in NY was great — a fun day with dad, dinner with good pals in Pearl River (SB, TT & JG), a much needed heart to heart w/mom, the super successful tag sale, a bit more late-night fun in NYC, plus the chance to meet a group of talented bloggers, entrepreneurs and executives. The Saturday night/Sunday WINstock retreat was an excellent opportunity I’m glad to have had. The Korean BBQ and karaoke that came with it was quite the experience. (Scroll down to find a few photos of me with my fellow Weblogs Inc. bloggers.)


I returned to Charm City Sunday night via Greyhound, had a nice Cafe Hon Bar happy hour with colleagues on Monday night, and have been hard at work juggling writing, trip planning and packing since then. I just finished boxing up my personal book collection. It’s funny how even just the act of moving a particular book from a dusty shelf to a cardboard box can bring back such a flood of memories. Just glancing at the bindings or titles of books as I packed them was like a mini “This is your life” segment. Books I’ve never even read still hold so much meaning, because of who gave them to me, or at what particular time in my life I purchased them.

There will be many more “This is your life” moments for me the next few weeks as I continue to comb through piles and boxes of stuff. I’m afraid there will still be a substantial amount that I am unable to part with — but it will be mostly books, letters, photos, journals and my scrapbooks. There are very few material items left, besides the odd trinket, vase or paperweight given by someone special. My most valued possessions are mementos and memories, pages and photos, which unfortunately still take up quite a bit of space.


Stay tuned for news about where I’m headed next, and what I’ve been up to with work.

Things I’m Thinking About

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

Mindful Travel:
Explore the world smart and slow.

Planning Tomorrow vs. Living Today:
Not knowing where you’re going, you pay more attention to where you are, wherever that is.

Spending Time Wisely:
Just because technology makes it possible for us to work 10 times faster than we used to doesn’t mean we should do it.

Simplifying Can Be So Fun!

Monday, November 14th, 2005


Here’s Uncle B and I reveling in the joys of slimming down. Even though he kept the pirate hat for next year’s Halloween costume, my straw hat, blue wig and purple boa — plus a boatload of other stuff — did finally disappear during the huge tag sale we had at my parent’s house this past Saturday. We unloaded a ton of stuff between four families — and had a ton of fun doing it.

On the topic of slimming down, here is an interesting opinion piece by Gothamist’s Jake Dobkin about reducing material needs. Jake focuses on NYC, where he lives and works — I think there are unique and special challenges to simplyfing life in such a huge and expensive city, but the spirit of his article is right on — reduce stuff, do what you love, spend your money wisely. It just makes sense, and can make you a happier person too. I’m living proof of that.

To more happy days…

[The hot pink glasses belong to Aunt C — a definite fashion statement but NOT a tag sale item]

Busy Bee

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

It’s been three full days without an office job, but I’m still keeping very busy. In fact, I’ve been getting up earlier than I did when I had an office to get to. I love having a flexible schedule and freedom to do my work whenever the time is best for me. And I love feeling productive and passionate about what I am doing.

The NYC excursion was a nice mini-vacation before jumping straight into all my writing and trip planning. The rest of my time in the city was spent catching up with N&P over dinner Monday night at Walker’s in Tribeca, followed by a nightcap at anotheroom. Great places and such an awesome area of the city that I’d love to explore more…

I left Manhattan early Tuesday morning and have been working and writing from my parent’s house ever since. We’ve also been gearing up for the big tag sale this Saturday — I’m helping mom and dad weed through a plethora of stuff that just needs to be unloaded. This is perfect timing, as I’ve got lots of things from grade school and high school just hanging around here that can go, and it will be good to get rid of it all before I bring my Baltimore belongings here to Pearl River.

Today I’m venturing out with Dad, for a belated Father’s Day gift visit to Dia Beacon, about an hour north of here. It should be a great day for a drive through the Hudson Valley — the sun is shining and it’s windy, so the colored leaves will be flying everywhere. I’ll see what I can capture on the camera phone…I really gotta buy that digital camera soon.