Friday, December 28, 2007

My Holidays Unwrappped

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a safe and fabulous time ringing in the New Year and rest of the holiday season. Its hard to know where to begin. It seems like I had about 3 weeks worth of activity packed into my last week! In true Me fashion I am a little behind on some things since Christmas- blogging, cleaning since I have spent most of my days and nights at the in-laws this week with my visiting brother and sister-in-law and nephews. and I am happy to report that I actually ordered my Christmas photo cards yesterday that will now be known as "Happy New Year" cards... or perhaps "Happy Martin Luther King Day" or "Happy Valentines Day" depending how long I procrastinate on writing the letter to go with them.

Paul and I had a great Christmas despite my previous anxieties. He loved his big mystery present which was a handmade wooden bookshelf that is actually big enough to hold his oversized architecture books.

And I could hardly keep from jumping up and down when I opened my graduation/Christmas/birthday gift from him - a shiny, new, incredibly fast MacBook Pro laptop. It is so wonderful not to have to delete a file every time I want to add a new one!

My mom was incredibly generous and went overboard with presents as usual, although she swears this will be the last time (we've heard that before but I think she actually means it this time) and suggested we all go to Maui for Christmas next year.

The arrival of Michael and Jenny (my brother and sister-in-law)'s Christmas card announced the upcoming arrival of a new niece or nephew! They came down for a week to visit around New Years and we re-enacted Christmas once again.

And I turned 29 last week (although it seems like a month ago!). Only one more year left until I enter the next decade, but for now at least, I am embracing my age. I've had a great 29 years. I have a great family and great friends and I am living out my career dream as a University teacher for International students and have been blessed with many opportunities to travel and see the world in out of the box ways and participate in the community around me. 29 is not so bad and I don't think 30 will be either.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tis The Season

...For everything Christmas and all of the parties and gatherings that go along with it. In the last few weeks I have been to both Paul's and my work holiday parties, a "Hootenany" Christmas sing-a-long,

Christmas cookie and fudge baking at my mother-in-law's (we managed to keep at least half of our original batches from burning or mistakenly using the recipe on the page before the intended recipe), a last minute get together with former co-workers and Christmas at my Dad's. So far Christmas 2007 has not been overly stressful, but I shouldn't speak too soon. We've still got two more Christmas celebrations to go.

I made the task of wrapping Christmas presents much more enjoyable by dragging my laptop upstairs to watch my old Sex and the City DVDs and preparing a very healthy breakfast plate of chocolate Christmas cookies, fudge, and cheese and crackers to nibble on between wrapping and trying to keep my cat, Shakira, from chewing all of the ribbons to death.

My biggest stressor this holiday season has actually been trying to find the perfect present for Paul. After looking in every conceivable place both online and in person, last week I started to freak out that I hadn't found anything. I did get a bunch of little things that I know he'll like but nothing big. And then I found it. Something he mentioned that he would really like. Something beautiful and unique and very good quality. And then I looked at the price tag. Yikes! Something expensive. I agonized over this decision for days and finally went back to the place where I could find it and found it was not exactly as it had seemed. Hmmmm. Return to freak out mode. Luckily, yesterday I was able to find something not only better, but also something that will take a little less of a toll on the pocket book. I just hope Paul will like it as much as I did. Want to know what it is? Sorry, you'll have to wait until after Christmas too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shaking Up the Routine

Travel is something that I can always count on to give me a new perspective. When I am stuck in a rut and can’t seem to get out of a nightly routine of sitting on the couch watching Tivo-ed episodes of Ugly Betty and the Amazing Race I sometimes get depressed. While I am comfy snuggled up under my blanket on the couch with the scenes flashing before me, sometimes I feel like there is so much more out there I could be doing. So much I could be learning, even small things that would greatly change my life and make a much larger contribution to my happiness than keeping up with Betty Suarez.

I think about the experiences I’ve had just a plane ride or car ride away when my routine is totally shaken up: stomping on a barrel full of warm squishy grapes that stained my feet purple for a week,

getting a glimpse of the actual John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence,

eating dinner with a Korean woman and a Brazilian woman in Spain who have somehow become friends without even speaking a common language,

picking up my feet and letting myself zip line across the rain forest through a cloud even though I was terrified,

choosing to walk across nearly the entire country of Spain for my summer vacation.

I think travel gives me back that childlike feeling of limitlessness. Before being saddled with all of the rules and social pressures of adulthood (“Don’t do that! You could get hurt, get messy, spend too much money, too much time, etc.”) dreaming the impossible and expanding our experience was our number one priority. Lost in a new place without the comforts and routine of my home life I feel free to take more chances, do the things I’ve always wanted to, be the person I’ve always wanted to be.

Even though travel can be the catalyst we need to break ourselves away from our routines in order to try something new, these activities I’ve mentioned above all have something in common that I don’t need to leave my hometown to find. The rush of giddiness doesn’t come from jumping off of a high rickety platform and almost dying, but instead from stretching myself. Its seeing the line in front of me between what is comfortable and easy and what is risky and scary and dancing right over it.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop traveling. I love it way too much. (In fact I already have plans for a ski trip this February with a group of friends, and I am hopeful that we will get to take a trip to Macau and Hong Kong this summer). But in the coming years I want to bring some of the excitement and newness to my life at home. I really want to seek out ways I can participate in my community and live with that traveling spirit right here at home as well as on the road.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Writing on the Wall

The building where I teach 2 of my classes this semester is pretty old. Not beautifully old, made of aging red brick, rich in history with ivy crawling up its sides like you’d see at some New England University. Instead, this building is 1970’s mod style old, complete with peeling stucco. And like many buildings that pass their prime in Las Vegas, it is scheduled for implosion (well, at least destruction of some sort) and rebuilding in the coming years.

One of the interesting features of the 2nd floor ladies room in this building is the writing that covers the walls of the bathroom stalls. I don’t think it has been cleaned for years because I have some hazy recollection of seeing it when I was an undergrad at least 6 years ago. Reading through some of the strange comments the other day, such as a debate over whether or not Jesus was in fact black, I got to wondering what possesses people to write on bathroom walls and how they choose the subject of their bathroom stall graffiti.

The bathroom that sticks out in my memory as being the most actively filled up with comments was at my favorite college hangout Tom and Jerry’s. Sadly, the place is now a Laundromat or something like that, but during my college days, every Tuesday night it was bursting at the seams with underage college students with fake IDs for dollar drink night (perhaps that’s why it was eventually shut down). It was the first bar I ever went to. The floor was always sticky with spilled drinks and packed with everyone I knew at the time. Being thoroughly liquored up with a continuous stream of $1 Captain and cokes or beers, it seems like a brilliant and pretty obvious idea to write on the bathroom walls. Especially when so many other people already had. Most of the writings at Tom & Jerry's were to the tune of Anthony hearts Melissa 4-ever or Natalia is a skanky b**ch and she better stay away from my man. I’m pretty sure I added own my comments at one point.

However, I’m a little more curious about the people who scribble on the walls in the middle of the day at school. Are the authors bored? Are they looking for a forum to express themselves? Who are these people that write on the bathroom walls anyway? Are they rebels? Just ordinary, everyday students? Are they (gasp!) professors? I can just imagine Ira Glass doing an interview with the people who write these comments for This American Life.

There is one bathroom I refer to as the F*** Jesus bathroom. The dialogue in there goes something like this:

Jesus was black.

No, he wasn’t. Jesus was white.

What color is the sand when you wet it?

I have it on good authority that Jesus is purple.

Jesus was Jewish. Cleopatra was Macedonian. Stop rewriting history.

F*** Jesus. (This comment is now scratched out.)

Mmm-kay. I find it funny that their choice of topic for defacing public property is religion.

This made me think of something written in a bathroom wall in the University I went to in Spain. I wrote it down one day after returning to class because I thought it was funny. It said:

Nunca corras detras de un tio ni un autobus.
Llegara otro en un ratito.

Never chase after a guy or a bus.
There’ll be another one along in a minute.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I've Come a Long Way Baby!

My half marathon was yesterday and I am happy to report that I actually ran across the finish line to complete my 13.1 mile (about 21 km for my friends on the metric system) course. I kept thinking as I was plodding along, if only my high school gym teacher could see me now. I was that girl who was "sick" or suddenly struck with a case of debilitating cramps every time we had to run the mile in PE. If those excuses didn't work I would puff and wheeze through it, sure that death was imminent.

Yesterday, I didn't think I would die even once! That is not to say that it was easy, I think I just had a change of heart about the whole running = torture or death idea. I walked a great deal of it, but Ashley and I did the whole course together and talking and laughing about the running Elvi and the guy in the pink tutu and fishnets and the run -thru wedding chapel made the time and distance go by pretty quickly. We finished with a time of about 3 hours and 30 minutes which was quicker than I expected. Ashley, being the 4 time full marathoner that she is, who actually runs all the way through 26.2 mile courses, I would normally not be able to keep up with her speedy and well trained pace. Because of a calf injury she was taking it easy and went along with my slow and steady pace.

Even though I am extremely sore and shuffling around like an old lady today I am really glad I did it. I even got a cool medal and a t-shirt to prove that I made it through.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Quote for the Day

I just came across this quote and thought it was something that even the most confident among us could relate to. I don't know anyone who hasn't questioned at one time or another if they were good enough.

"Is it possible that you're just not good enough? That you (or your team ) just don't have enough talent to be the best in the world? Sure, its possible. In fact, if your chosen area is the cello, or speed skatinmg, then I might even say its probable. But in just about every relevant area I can think of, no, its not likely. You are good enough. The question is, will you take the shortcut you need to get really good at this?"

-Seth Godin, author of The Dip.

And totally unrelated to this quote - This holiday week has a whirlwind, at times fun and at times stressful. The first half of the week Michael and Jenny, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and my 3 nephews came to visit from Northern California. The boys who are 8, 6 and 3 years old are all brilliant balls of neverending energy.

We spent Thanksgiving at my Mom and Jon's house in Southern, California and got home last night, totally and completely exhausted and ready for a stress free day today.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Washington, D.C.

This is a little late, but better late than never!

The weekend before last I had the good fortune of spending this weekend in my new favorite travel destination (and possibly future home), Washington, D.C. Paul was recently appointed to a position on the national YAF (Young Architects Forum) and had a leadership retreat in DC this weekend to meet all of his fellow committee members and get planning for the year ahead. He was able to get Friday off from work so we decided to make it a mini vacation.

What really struck me was how much I enjoyed Washington DC. I had been there before so the intensity with which I liked the city and everything about it took me by surprise., The rich history and beautiful old historic buildings made with red brick and stone, the energy of the people on the streets, the leaves putting on their red and yellow fall coats the never-ending supply of cultural activities and great little shops and markets and small, cozy bookstores. One great thing I discovered is that contrary to my old opinions I actually think that I would like to live in a walking city. I used to be petrified at the idea of living somewhere without a car. Cities where I had to rely on the metro or the subway or something out of my control gave me a lot of anxiety. Being mugged while I lived in Spain had a profound effect on the way I feel about my personal safety and need to control my environment. However, stepping out for a walk into the nation’s capitol wearing a scarf and jacket to fight off the chill made me feel strong and alive. I wonder if it was the five and a half weeks on the Camino that did it, but I seem to have radically different sentiments now about walking as a mode of transportation. There is something zen about the continual motion and the freedom, not restriction as I previously thought, that comes with being able to get anywhere I want to go without a car.

We were there for 3 be continued with more details about the trip.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Retracing My Steps

Its amazing how someplace you lived during one stage of your life can change by the time you return to retrace your footsteps there. Or perhaps its just the lens we see it through that changes our perception of it.

The bridge over the Rio Urumea in San Sebastian that I crossed everyday to get to school

This summer before we started the Camino, I wanted to take Paul and show him around San Sebastian, Spain, the gorgeous northern coastal city that had been my home during my junior year of college. San Sabi, as the locals affectionately call it, boasts the most bar per square meter in the world and is the only city outside of Vegas that I have called home during my adult life.

Being there stirred up a lot of old memories. The sand and the waves, the bridges that connected my apartment with Parte Vieja where I would spend the nights with friends in the bars or disco and where I would catch the Benta Berri bus to go to school with all of the dirty Basque men who smelled a lot worse on Friday than they did on Monday.

As we walked through Parte Vieja, the sights and smells brought back memories of my younger days. It was strange to go back to such a familiar place, but without any of the familiar faces. All of us were temporary residents of San Sabi who passed through for a semester or 2 and returned back to our home is Vegas or Sweden or Moscow, ID. I started to reflect on how much my life had changed since those days. San Sabi seemed to have changed the same way I had. The basics were still the same. The same rio Urumea running through the town, the same Kursaal, the same beach filled with blue and white umbrellas. Buen Pastor, the ornate old church was right there in the center of town like a sentinel, unchanged since the days that Matt and I ditched Basque folkdance class and shared a bottle of wine on its steps. 33 Zabaleta, my old apartment, probably still houses International students.
Me in front of my old apartment building, ah memories!
Yet, some things had changed, evolved. New movie theaters and botiques and supermarkets had moved into town. The beaches were packed with travelers and students, but they were a new generation of students. It was familiar yet distant. It felt a little like returning home after being away at college for a year, familiar and comfortable, but a little distant from who I had become. Although, San Sebastian will always in some way feel like home, the San Sabi that I hold so dear exists now only in my photo album and somewhere in my memory. I guess the girl I was when I lived there also exists frozen in time in those memories too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Let's Get Swapping

I found this website, Gimme Your Stuff. A Cultural Exchange, a couple of weeks ago and fell in love with the idea. Basically, you post a list of stuff that you would be willing to send to someone in another country and peruse posts from others all over the world doing the same until you connect with someone to swap with. One of my favorite things to do when I go to other countries is check out the grocery stores and see what different goodies I can find. Some of my favorite snack discoveries from the past few years: Cafe Britt's Guyabitas (chocolate covered guava jelly - yum!) and Lizano salsa from Costa Rica, and Cola Cao (Spain's hot chocolate) and Zazamoros (little raspberry shaped gummy candies) from Spain.

Gimme Your Stuff

So here goes:
I'd really like to customize the package to whatever my swap partner would like but here are some ideas of what I've got for you:
  • books
  • magazines - fashion, architecture, design, travel, gossip, whatever you like.
  • any fun Las Vegas stuff
  • candy, snacks, coffees or teas
  • paper or scrapbooking supplies
  • fabric or yarn
  • postcards or photos
  • flip flops
Here's What I'd Be Thrilled to Receive:
  • A unique journal
  • candy or snacks from your part of the world
  • stationery
  • a CD of music with your favorite songs
  • jewelery
  • hot chocolate mix
Interested? Leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Month in Pictures - Part 2

Pictures from October continued-

Girl's Book and Wine Club - take 2
I want it to be book club day every day! I love our meetings. This month's book was Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, the true story of Chris McCandless, a young idealist who, at 22, gave away his savings to charity, cut ties with everyone in his life and set off in search of an authentic existence. His pursuit of an authentic life turned out to be a fatal one as he met his end in the Alaskan wilderness. This book provided a lot of good discussion although we all agreed that if Chris McCandless could see us now, a girls book club discussing his life over mimosas and mini crab cakes, he would probably be pretty pissed. Our next book selection - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Halloween and Birthday Weekend
Where did this weekend go?? I can't believe its Monday already. Paul and I had a little too much fun on Friday night that resulted in a Saturday full of sleeping. We went to dinner and a charity event for Abby's birthday and then met up with some other friends at Cherry nightclub for our friend Marianne's birthday. We are not generally big on the club scene, but this was a blast. We had our own section with a few tables and I mixed a lot of drinks and took a ridiculous amount of pictures.

After a day of napping and eating KFC to absorb the alcohol from the night before we were ready to suit up for Marissa and Jeff's costume party. I was pretty happy with how my costume turned out. Here's some pictures from the party:

The Month in Pictures - Part 1

October is drawing to a close and I haven't been able to post as much as I'd like, but wanted to share some pictures from the main events in October.

Anniversary Dinner and Spamalot! at the Wynn
The first weekend in October Paul and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I was looking at our wedding pictures the other day and it's hard to believe that a year has already flown by since our wedding on the lake.

Dinner at the SW Steakhouse was delicious and Spamalot kept us laughing. A word to the wise though, when in a steakhouse, you should probably get a steak. I had some so-so snapper, but Paul's ribeye was fantastic (and enough to share with me!) The atmosphere was nice too. One wall of the restaurant opens up to the outdoor pool and waterwall. It was a perfect night to let the outdoors in.

Its a little hard to see up close in the photo here but I've got my anniversary present from Paul dangling from my ears. He is so good at finding clever and thoughtful presents! I had saved a bunch of pink shells we'd picked up on the beach on our honeymoon in Costa Rica with the idea that I 'd someday make them into earrings. Well, they were too delicate and I had given up, but Paul took them to the jeweler who made our wedding rings and had them made into beautiful earrings for me for our anniversary.

Last Comic Standing Tour
I generally don't like stand-up too much, but my friend Marissa got me hooked on the Last Comic Standing show a few years ago and I've kept watching ever since. I think I like that the contestants are getting a shot at their dreams. This year my favorite was female commedienne
Amy Schumer (the tiny figure in the picture on the left). I thought she was original and hilarious in almost every case, but I was kind of disappointed in her set on tour. It was a lot of the same material she had already used on the show.

Lai's Visit
Less than three weeks after relocating to Macau, Lai missed us so much that she had to hop another 15 hour plane ride back to Vegas to visit. Actually, she is in the process of becoming a US citizen and this is the first of several visits she'll have to make over the next year as a continuing part of the naturalization process. It almost seemed like she just went on a quick vacation! It was really good to see her, even if it was just for a few days. She's almost convinced Abby and Paul and I to move across the ocean with her. I miss you Lai!

To be continued...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ugly is the new Beautiful!

It's Halloween time!! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Ever since I can remember I have loved to dress up and, thanks to my multitalented Mom, who, even when she was working three jobs and taking care of my sister and I just after she and my Dad divorced, always made sure that we had the best costumes on the block. I've got to see if I can scan some of the old photos because they were always incredibly detailed and simply amazing to me. I was a butterfly, Canary Yellow (Rainbow Bright's side kick) a mermaid (I had to be pulled in a wagon to go trick or treating that year because of my fins) and countless other characters I was obsessed with during my childhood.

In my adult years, although I don't have my Mom's prowess for the sewing machine, I still feel like I've got to carry on her legacy of creativity and make a fabulous costume, even if I do put it together with hot glue and hand sewing. This year I have decided to dress as my TV heroine, "Ugly" Betty Suarez. Today I am off for Nevada Day so I am going to finish off the costumes for Paul and I for Marissa and Jeff's party tomorrow night. I'm going as Betty wearing her lovely Guadalajara! poncho. Here's some pictures of what I had finished as of last night:

Here's my recreation of Betty's fabulously tacky "B" necklace. I made the B out of some FIMO clay that you bake in the oven. I'm not sure why I never discovered the stuff before, but I want to make everything out of clay now. Here's a fun fact for history buffs about the real necklace Betty wears in the show: it is a replica of one that Anne Boleyn wore.

And here is the beginning of my Guadalajara logo for the poncho. I thought the sequins were a nice touch to add to the tackiness. I attached them to some felt with tacky glue and I am sewing them down too.

So now I am off the Joann's to find some last minute crafty stuff to finish off the costume today. If I could only come up with a good way to make some faux braces...Ugly- here I come!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Spanish Song of the Week

The last two weeks have been so crazy at work. Crazy. I've got a new modular class (less than 3 credits so its taught on a modified semester schedule) that I am teaching that started this week. It is an experimental class with all different English proficiency levels and each student gets individualized instruction.

And do you know how many students I have? 22. Ay Dios Mio! This will be an interesting rest of the semester! Right now I am so exhausted I can barely type or put together an intelligible sentence so I will post something I was working on last week, my new favorite video that Paul came across surfing around YouTube:

"Ya No Se Que Hacer Conmigo" by Cuarteto de Nos

I can't stop watching this video. When it gets to the end I just push play again and get mesmerized watching all of the new Spanish words whizzing across the screen. I get so excited when I find a new Spanish speaking group to listen to. Well, I suppose technically El Cuarteto de Nos is not exactly new. The Uruguyan quartet has been performing together nearly as long as I have been alive, but they are new to me and I love them. If you like this video they have another inventive video, "Yendo la casa de Damian," that you can find on YouTube too.

For all of your Spanish speakers or learners, here are the lyrics and my attempt at translation into English. This is a great video if you are learning because all of the words are displayed in the background so you have multi-sensory input for your learning.
*I am not finished with my translation yet, but I'll do an update hopefully later this week.

"Ya no se que hacer conmigo”

Ya tuve que ir obligado a misa
ya toqué en el piano “Para Elisa”
ya aprendí a falsear mi sonrisa
ya caminé por la cornisa
ya cambié de lugar mi cama
ya hice comedia ya hice drama
fui concreto y me fui por las ramas
ya me hice el bueno y tuve mala fama
ya fui ético y fui errático
ya fui escéptico y fui fanático
ya fui abúlico fui metódico
ya fui púdico fui caótico
ya leí Arthur Conan Doyle
ya me pasé de nafta a gasoil
ya leí a Bretón y a Mollier
ya dormí en colchón y en sommier
ya me cambié el pelo de color
ya estuve en contra y estuve a favor
lo que me daba placer ahora me da dolor
ya estuve del otro lado del mostrador


Y oigo una voz que dice sin razón
vos siempre cambiando ya no cambias más
y yo estoy cada vez más igual
ya no sé que hacer conmigo
ya planté café en Nicaragua
ya me fuí a probar suerte a USA
ya jugué a la ruleta rusa
ya creí en los marcianos
ya fui ovolacto, vegetariano, sano
fui quieto y fui gitano
ya estuve tranqui, estuve hasta las manos
hice el curso de mitología pero de mi los dioses se reían
orfedrería la salvé raspando
y ritmología aquí la estoy aplicando
ya probé, ya fumé, ya tomé, ya dejé
ya fimé, ya viajé, ya pegué, ya sufrí, ya eludí
ya huí, ya asumí, ya me fui, ya volvi, ya fingí, ya mentí
y entre tantas falsedades
muchas de mis mentiras ya son verdades
hice fácil las adversidades
y me compliqué en las mil edades

Y oigo una voz que dice con razón
vos siempre cambiando ya no cambias más
y yo estoy cada vez más igual
ya no sé que hacer conmigo

Ya me hice un lifting, me puse un piercing
fui a ver al Dream Team y no hubo feeling
me tatué al Che en una nalga
arriba de mami para que no se salga
ya me reí y me importa un bledo
de cosas y gente que ahora me dan miedo
ayuné por causas al pedo
ya me empaché con pollo al spiedo
ya fui al sicólogo, fui al teólogo
fui al astrólogo, fui al enólogo
ya fui alcohólico y fui lambeta
ya fui anónimo y ya hice dieta
ya lancé piedras y escupitajos
al lugar donde ahora trabajo
y mi legajo cuenta el estrajo
que me porté bien y que armé relajo.

Y oigo una voz que dice sin razón
vos siempre cambiando ya no cambias más
y yo estoy cada vez más igual
ya no sé que hacer conmigo

Y oigo una voz que dice con razón
vos siempre cambiando ya no cambias más
y yo estoy cada vez más igual
ya no sé que hacer conmigo

Jessica's English Translation
I already went to mass out of obligation
I already played "Para Elisa" on the piano
I already learned to fake a smile
I already walked through the cornice
I already changed the location of my bed I did comedy, I did drama I've already been clear and I've beat around the bush
I've pretended to be good and had a bad reputation
I've been ethical and erratic
I was skeptical and fanatical
I was apathetic and methodical
I was modest and chaotic
I already read Arthur Conan Doyle
And I passed the NAFTA gas oil
I already read Breton and Mollier
I already slept on a cushion and on a sommier (not sure about this word - might be French?)
I already changed my hair color
I was already against and already for
What used to give me pleasure now only gives me pain
I was already on the other side of the counter

And I hear a voice that says without reason
You're always changing yourself, don't change anymore
And every time I'm just more the same
I don't know what to do with myself

I already drowned in a glass of water
I planted coffee in Nicaragua
I already went to try my luck in the USA
And already played Russian Roulette
I already believed in martians
I was a vegan, vegetarian, healthy not sure on this one either, do we have a word ovolacto?
I was quiet and I was a gypsy
I was calm and I was manic
I took a mythology course but the gods laughed at me
I already experimented, smoked, drank and quit
I already signed, traveled, hit, suffered, eluded
I ran away, I assumed, I went away, I came back, I pretended and lied
And among so many falsehoods
Many of my lies are still true
I made easy

***To Be Continued

Monday, October 15, 2007

Signs of Spain

I am feeling a little nostalgic for Spain at the moment so I decided to look through our massive amount of photographs and find all of the random signs we encountered along the Camino this summer. Here are some signs we saw and Paul's and my guesses at what they might mean.

Squid??? Huh??

If you must hover, please don't do it over the vehicles.
Moonwalking on Cars Strictly Prohibited

Caution: Break Dancing Ahead

No big hands here!

Dancing puppets ahead

This was painted on a wall on the side of the road. It says "Love Is Not the Shit"

Leave me a comment if you've got an idea for a better caption!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Let the Training Begin

Maybe I should have considered a 5k or 1 mile run before the half marathon. I went to the gym on Friday totally determined to start "small"and breeze through 3 miles of running with no problem. Ha ha ha. I finished 3 miles all right, but it took some time... like an hour. Damn!

My friends Ashley and Marissa who run marathons as often as I eat ice cream like to tell me that anyone can run a marathon or any kind of race if they try. I'll give them that. I like to think that with enough effort and determination, people can pull off some extraordinary feats. However, I also think that it is a human tendency to believe that the tasks we are personally good at are easier than others.

Each of us is biologically predisposed to be better at certain types of tasks. For example, Paul is constantly inventing things and thinking about how to make the world and everything around him better. I happen to be freakishly good at remembering people's names when I meet them. I also love and am good at making friends and learning languages. Marissa and Ashley, among other things, are really good at running. This is not to say that no effort or perseverance is involved in any of these tasks, but they are abilities that come more naturally to us.

While I may be able to discuss the effects of the media on body image in Spanish and tell you the name of every person I have met since the fifth grade, I will probably never be a great runner. I started to think about this and I couldn't help but wonder (here comes my Carrie Bradshaw moment), should we stick to developing our natural abilities and leave the hard stuff to someone else or should we put on our running shoes and run against the wind towards something further outside of our reach?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

LV Half Marathon

I can't believe I am actually going to do it, but I picked out a new challenge for myself. I officially signed up for he Las Vegas Half Marathon last Sunday. Its December 2, so I have a few months to train, but I have never ever even thought of doing something like this before. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Looking forward to the weekend...

Want to know what the two greatest things about this weekend are?

First of all, when I wake up tomorrow morning I don't have to rush around like a mad woman trying to do my last minute packing and then jump into the car and drive for 5 hours. Or even drive to the airport to catch a flight. After four solid weekends of traveling, this weekend I am staying home. I feel more relaxed just thinking about it. Here's my plan for tomorrow morning: sleep in, cook bacon and eggs, watch bad TV and under no circumstances will I vacate my pajamas until at least noon.

And second, Sunday will mark Paul's and my 1 year anniversary. I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by. It seems like just last week that all of our friends and family were in town getting ready for our crawfish boil rehersal dinner and I was freaking out trying to coordinate with the caterer and the florist and hair and make-up person. And finally the ceremony arrived, I saw Paul standing up by the lake waiting for me to walk down the aisle in my pretty white dress and all was calm and right once again.

To celebrate, we are going to see Spamalot, a Monty Python twist on Camelot (which I have been dying to see and for some reason is the only show I haven't somehow managed to get free tickets to) and have dinner at the new steakhouse at the Wynn hotel.

Here's a little wedding slideshow from this time last year to commemorate the occasion. The professional wedding pictures are courtesy of the fabulous J&J Photography here is Vegas.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Time for the Grape Harvest

Who needs a spa to relax when you can spend the evening stomping and squishing around with your friends in a gigantic barrel full of cabernet grapes? Well, here I am three weeks into my four weekend traveling stint. I am exhausted from the constant running around in the last few weeks, but not too exhausted to partake in the harvest festivities that I have been looking forward to for the last month.

When Marissa first started talking about the festival in Temecula, she had me at the grape stomping. Sign me up! I was immediately fascinated. The grape stomping didn't hold the same allure for Paul as it did for me, but he had a good time nevertheless.

Here are some of the highlights from the trip:

Harvest Festival at the Callaway Winery
The Callaway harvest festival was the main event in Temecula for the weekend. We weren't really sure what to expect, but between the wine tasting, Italian dinner, grape stomping, Lucy and Ricky look-a-like contest, live band and cork tossing game (which Paul won), it was a great time.

Paul and I met up with the rest of our group at the winery : Marissa, Karie(who subbed in at the last minute for Marissa's husband Jeff who was stuck at home with some work responsibilities) and Marissa's law school friend Brooke and her boyfriend, Matt. The event room was lined with barrels, all of which were full of fermenting wine. There were people of all ages there including a group of red hat ladies and two women dressed like Lucille Ball. The cost of the event got us a delicious Italian dinner and 6 meticulously measured one ounce wine tasting pours which we quickly learned was not going to be enough to last us the evening. We'd all planned to buy some wine to take home with us anyway so we headed to the Callway's wine shop and got a case to share between the 6 of us. Matt even managed to charm the lady in the shop into giving us a free corkscrew.
After that it was into the barrel for me where Paul brought me refills in between cork tossing. He won the cork tossing game with 1,000,010 points and got to bring home 3 bottles of wine as his booty.

Grape Stomping
While most of the crowd jumped in the grape barrel for a few minutes and a quick photo opp. and quickly got out, I on the other hand, was completly enthralled by the whole grape stomping experience. I spent nearly an hour in the barrel stomping and squishing the warm grapes, making new friends and cheering for everyone next to me doing the cork toss. I, being my gracefully clumsy self, managed to spill half of my glass of chardonnay all over my pants when I slipped on the way in. Unfortunately, the grapes we stomped will never be fermented and made into wine. I thought it would be neat to be able to buy the wine that we stomped, but I guess people don't want wine that has been touched by hundreds of dirty feet. I guess I don't really want to to drink wine that has been stepped on by hundred of dirty feet either.

The Stellar Cellar Wine Bar
I have to say I really wish we had places like this, or even a place like this back home in Vegas. The Stellar Cellar is a cozy little wine lounge in the middle of Old Town Front Street in Temecula. The ambiance was great, it was a small a softly lit room with wine bottles crammed into every nook and cranny and saxaphone player and floutist playing jazzy melodies . My favorite wine of the trip was one I found here - J Pinot Gris. I have never heard of Pinot Gris before, but I'd like to hear more of it.

Tasting Wine Straight from the Barrel at Leonesse

On day 2 of our trip I learned a new expression - hair on the dog.
In the morning, the phone rang about 8:00. It was Marissa and Karie. They had already been up, showered, gotten completely ready, gone to eat breakfast, practically had time to read War and Peace cover to cover and were getting bored sitting around the room.
I should have known. While I thoroughly enjoy luxuriating under the covers as long as possible in the mornings, especially on weekends, especially after a night of drinking and especially on vacation, Marissa has to restrain herself to stay in bed past 5:30 am. We had planned to go tasting at a couple of other wineries this morning while Paul, Brooke and Matt went golfing. "There's no chance you're ready a little early, is there?" Marissa asked me. Still tangled in the covers I laughed. Um, no. They decided to go to Starbucks and grab some coffee to stave off the boredom while I got ready.

By the time we were headed out to Wilson Creek Winery for their awesome almond champagne, I was still feeling sick and trying to chase away my thundering wine headache massive amounts of water and Advil. Going wine tasting in the morning had sounded like such a good idea last night. This morning not so much. The mere thought of more wine was enough to make me nauseated. "Come on," Marissa and Karie told me, "Hair on the dog." Huh? Hair on the what? I had never heard this expression before but apparently it means that the best cure for a hangover is more of the hard stuff. Uggh. I have never subscribed to this theory and wasn't about to, but I figured, hey how often am I in wine country? I steeled myself and decided to try some wines at Wilson Creek. The lady running the tasting room was teasing us about being there so early. "You girls decided to skip church this morning and come worship at Our Lady of St. Wilson, didn't you?" We got five tastes for our $10 fee and I gave up after the first two reds that were making me sick. I told the lady at the counter that I wasn't feeling so hot after the harvest festival at Callaway last night. "Hair on the dog!" she told me. How have I never heard this expression before?

After that, I went straight to the almond champagne which was a welcome change. I guess champagne seems like a more acceptable morning drink, you know with mimosas being a brunch drink and all. Maybe the hair on the dog was working, I just needed a different breed.
Next up was Leonesse. This was my favorite winery by far on our February visit. I was especially looking forward to going there today because, as newly enrolled Leonesse wine club members, Marissa and Karie (and up to fours of their friends) got to go to a special tasting in the barrel room and try wines that aren't even released for sale yet. When we arrived we hopped on a golf cart that took us through the twisting vineyards where we got to eat cabernet grapes off the vine. Then our young driver took us to the barrel room, a building hidden from view of the main tasting room where all the winemaking magic happens.
Stepping into this room felt like some kind of backstage pass to the wine world. It was so much fun. We tried a 2006 Savignon Blanc, Four, a Cabernet Zinfandel Limited edition that had been sold out for months
and the mother of all red wines on the trip, a spicy and bold 2005 VS Cabernet straight from the barrel. This is a wine that won't even be bottled until next month and won't go on sale until next June! I'm not the biggest red wine fan, I usually prefer white, but this was unbelievable. Norma, our wine tasting guru used a contraption that looked curiously like a turkey baster to transfer the wine from the barrel into our glasses. I'm not sure whether my opinion of this wine was clouded because of the coolness factor that came with drinking it straight from the barrel or whether it was just that good, but I ordered a bottle that will arrive in June so I guess I'll get to find out.

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