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Lotsa Love

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

What a day! A bunch of phone calls and emails from one special person after the next — some with tears, all with laughter…an endless stream of virtual hugs and well-wishes. Plus a nice Mexican dinner with Mom, Dad, Aunt Catherine, Roberto and my cousin Christian. I felt the love today, and so many times in the past few weeks…thanks for all the great meals, visits, conversations, comments, cards, laughs…

The mid-afternoon walk I took around Pearl River today was the best thing for me, to get out and clear my head, breath in the fresh air and really feel this — this awesome sensation that I’m on the brink of something I can’t quite comprehend, yet feel oddly at ease with, despite the vast “unknown unknowns” that lie ahead. Baking a batch of biscotti this afternoon in between phone calls was also a welcome activity, as was the 20-minute wait at the post office to buy one 39 cent stamp!

I just finished filing my taxes and am getting ready to tackle the backpack. I’ve got another three hours in me before I’ll crash and sleep. I feel like there is still tons to do, but I’m not super stressed about it…just coasting along, almost floating, still not believing that this is happening.

This is happening, right?!?! 🙂

Snowfall in Spain

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Snow in Spain
It’s been snowing in Spain the past few days, some places reporting the coldest temps on record in 35 years. This is a photo from the Alhambra in Granada, which I hope to visit in early March. More photos here, here and at El Mundo. The wintery wonderland looks beautiful in these pictures, and I’m sure it’s a treat for the little ones who don’t see it too often. But I selfishly hope it warms up some before I arrive in a few weeks. I’m not expecting summer temps or hot sunny weather, but just a tad warmer would be nice 🙂

Movie Night

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

The pre-trip film festival has begun! Last week I compiled a short list of films, mostly foreign, that I’d like to see before I leave for Europe. I won’t get to all of them, and that’s just fine, but viewing a few of these flicks will provide a quick and helpful refresher on the history, culture and landscape of some of the places I’ll visit.

Tonight we (me, Mom and Dad) watched two foreign language films back-to-back. We read subtitles while listening to French, Portuguese, Czech and German, which is another great benefit of seeing these films — I can brush up on European history and practice understanding foreign phrases and expressions at the same time.

First we watched Voyage to the Beginning of the World (1997), a Portuguese film that Mom found. Viagem ao PrincĂ­pio do Mundo seems to capture the essence of the uniquely Portuguese saudade, and although slow going, I enjoyed the simple story, poetic language and scenic shots of the Portuguese countryside. It’s based on the true story of French actor Yves Alfonso, who traveled to Portugal for the first time as an adult to visit the village where his deceased father was born. It was cool to see the last film that Marcello Mastroianni ever appeared in — now I can work backwards and attempt to see some of his other films.

Next we watched a superb Czech film called Divided We Fall (2000), which lost the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2001. MusĂ­me si pomáhat is fantastic, a moving story about a young Czech couple who hide a Jew in their home during WWII. The characters are wonderful — I particularly enjoyed the subtle humor and uplifting spirit that whispers through the film, despite the horrible circumstances surrounding the time period it portrays.

Checking In from Charm City

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

I just finished a cup of yummy beef vegetable soup at Metropolitan Coffee House and Wine Bar on South Charles Street in Federal Hill. My pal CJ and I ate here last night too, when I discovered that they have free wireless access, so I’m back now with my laptop for a quick hour or so of work/email catch-up. I used to live right down the street from this place, when it used to be One World Cafe. It’s funny being back in B-more without a place to call home. I don’t live here anymore, but in reality I have plenty of homes here, because I have so many gracious friends and family that have offered their couches, day-beds and futons. And fabulous food too — lots of great chili, salads, burgers, eggs (scrambled well), pudding pie and double-stuffed oreos!

My hosts have been awesome and it’s been so great to have quality downtime to enjoy each others company, and talk travel plans. I realized today that everyone I’m staying with this week in Baltimore are folks I’ll next see in Europe: CJ will meet me in Spain in March for two months of travel, in June I’ll meet up with T & J in Germany for exciting World Cup action, and then I’ll see my bro and Jo in Tuscany in July. Kinda cool to spend time with them now, before all our travels. And so nice to have comfortable places to stay here that make visiting Baltimore feel like visiting my second home.

This afternoon I’ll visit my former co-workers at their new downtown offices, and try and catch up with one or two more folks before heading back to NYC tomorrow.

Back to B-more

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

This week went fast. I made good progress in the gear department, did some important banking prep, and got ahead as much as I could with my writing work. Mom and I got in another fabu walk yesterday, even though it was dreary and foggy at the lake. Afterwards we had a nice dinner out at Del Arte and enjoyed our leftovers for lunch today, in between errands and Saturday morning chatting…

I’m now getting ready to head out on this cold, rainy, gross day…with my new backpack in tow! This should be interesting, but I’ve got to test things out for when I’m abroad…which is only a month away now. Wow… So, I’m off to Manhattan via bus, trekking the pack on the subway to the Upper East Side, then to the Adventure Travel Expo at Javits tomorrow, then on a Greyhound to Baltimore, where I’ll visit my bro and as many friends as I can from Monday to Friday. I’m pretty sure I’ve secured a car ride back to NY on Friday, but the next two days will be quite a mini-adventure — me, my pack, public transport and a slushy, soggy mess. Fun stuff!


Sunday, January 8th, 2006

This past weekend was perfect. A great mix of work and play, and I know that the energized spirit I’m feeling tonight can most definitely be attributed to the two fantastic walks I took this weekend. On Friday night Mom and I walked Rockland Lake, then had a relaxing evening with Dad. We ordered pizza, drank a bottle of pinot grigio and watched TV for three hours (!!), something I have not done in years (except for football games, of course). I made some phone calls on Saturday morning and then sat down to work for a few hours — I felt like I actually accomplished a lot of important stuff, which felt really good. It’s been hard to mange it all lately. I called it a day after that, joined J & T for an early dinner while we watched the Skins/Bucs game, then veged out again at home with Mom and a movie, then my book. Today was more successful multi-tasking: writing and football watching, which soon became a downer…as the Giants just faded away. Ugh. Thankfully, another walk came to my rescue, this time with cousin T, followed by a cup of tea, church and then yummy soup for dinner. Mom and I are gonna attempt a third walk tomorrow after work, which would put me at 9 miles in four days…more than I’ve done in months. It feels awesome to get outside and move around. I’m upbeat and ready to tackle my packing list tomorrow morning…I have to psych myself up to get my gear shopping list in order…I dread shopping, but its gotta get done.

40 Days…till 5 months!

Friday, January 6th, 2006

As I mentioned over at Gadling today, I’ve finally booked my flight: 40 days from today I will fly from Newark, NJ direct to Lisbon, Portugal. I booked a return flight to the states from Rome through London in mid-July… Soooooo, my 5 month European adventure is almost officially underway.

I’m at a complete loss with how to express in words all that I am thinking, feeling and doing these days: Excited, overjoyed, melancholy and nostalgic at times, motivated, determined, overwhelmed and all that other stuff too. I’m trying my best to balance it, keeping things slow and simple so I savor each step of the way.

Thoughts I’m juggling in my mind right now: the trip planning process (too little vs. too much), the packing challenges I’ve yet to tackle (no backpack or camera yet), how to handle the struggles I am having with my own writing (personal and professional), my desire to be honest with myself and others about certain issues, the valid concerns/worries & wonderful support/enthusiasm of family and friends, and the tough decisions I have to make about how I will ultimately choose to travel. I recognize that these are personal struggles I willingly took on. I’m managing them, learning lessons as I go, and hopefully create a stronger version of myself in the process.

Last night I started reading The Best American Travel Writing 2005. I got as far as Jamaica Kincaid’s introduction. She describes the collection of travel narratives in this way:

“These essays stimulate my curiosity; they underline my sense of my displacement.”

She goes on to say that she likes the feeling of being out of place. It got me thinking…I’ve always had a most wonderful place to call home, in the literal sense — our home in Pearl River, followed by the homes I made in Baltimore. But my internal “home”, my personal sense of place, has never been more out of whack then it is right now. I learn more and more each day about who I am as a person, but I’m just not sure where I’m supposed to be. And I’m not so sure that I like feeling this way. But my deep curiosity to see the world has led me to feel so very Lost in Place. I’ve chosen to put comfortable aside and follow the uneasiness. I have no clue where this journey will take me, but I know it’s necessary for me to live through this self-imposed displacement and see where it leads. And I trust my own judgment that it will do me some good to take this break, so that then I can do some real good in this world.

My tag line for the blog used to read: One woman’s love affair with location, search for vocation and occasional intoxications. I think I’ll have to change it back to that, since it does seem to sum up the trifecta of why I’m embarking on this trip quite perfectly:

Location = Place: I want to explore every nook and cranny of this earth
Vocation = Passion: I want to discover how best to walk through this world
Intoxications = Play: I want to celebrate the simple joys of life

Yikes! All these deep-thoughts aside, I’m stoked, blessed and bubbling with enthusiasm to get out there and enjoy the experience. Thanks as always to all of you who pray, support and cheer me on.

Happy Holidays

Friday, December 30th, 2005

Oh boy. I’ve abandoned my own blog. It’s not such a bad thing though. It’s all about spending quality time with the ones you love at this time of year. The holidays have been wonderful and I will treasure the memories of these cherished moments with my family and friends. It’s all transcribed in my handwritten journal, but maybe some highlights will make it up here eventually. We’ll see. Since the holidays are not over just yet, everything will get pushed back for at least another long weekend. There are exciting developments in the travel planning prep…I’ll dish the details next week.

Happy New Year! Wishing everyone peace and many happy days in 2006!

Two Months

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

Until you try, you don’t know what you can’t do. ~ Henry James

I haven’t bought a plane ticket or backpack yet, and I only have a rough idea of what city I’ll start my journey in, but I have set a goal for myself that I will embark on my European adventure approximately two months from today. Between Feb. 15 – Feb. 18th I anticipate I’ll be flying out of NY/NJ for somewhere on the continent.

I’m currently waiting to find out if I scored World Cups tixs before I move forward with any other major decisions. I’d say there is a fairly good chance I’ve got some, so of course now I’ve jinxed it. (Sorry J&T!) But if I’m going to Germany for an extra week or so in June to see some games, then I’ll definitely have to make adjustments to what I’ve been loosely planning so far. But it will be so worth it. Hopefully we will know more in the next few weeks.

So, the unknowns continue to become a comfortable and accepted part of my daily life as I chart my course. No matter what though, there is one thing I know for sure right now: I’m going. I’ve got my share of butterflies and fears, but only mixed in with these moments of utter peace when I know this is really what I want to do. I’m anxious to buy my one-way ticket to seal the deal. But haste makes waste and I’ve got not a penny to spare.

I’m guessing that one month from today I’ll have hopefully purchased my plane tix or be on the brink of doing so. Until then…writing, reading and good times with fam & friends. I gotta do some yoga soon too.

Portland Pixs

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

I finally got my photos uploaded…backwards, of course. Until I get me a nice Pro account on Flickr, they will remain out of order online, tagged with “Portland”, “Bootsnall” and “BNAparty2o05.” It was a great time, and I’m very glad I made the trip out.

It feels like ages ago…


Okay, back to work on stuff for BNA…Viva Las Vegas, Baby.