Sunday, November 30, 2008

Country Expansion

I just heard this new Blake Shelton song, and I'm already hooked:

Recommended

The NY Times Notable Books is out!

Sunday


We left Virginia at 10 AM this morning and arrived in our apartment at 5 PM - a whole work day on the road! Here's something I composed along the way:
The bus, the bus...
It's the cheapest way.
But man, oh man,
What a price to pay!

Hours and hours in a small seat,
Getting back to the city is quite a feat.

The train is roomy and fast.
Maybe this bus will be our last?

A common refrain while waiting and riding,
But the savings is something we cannot keep fighting.

I'm sure we will ride the bus once more,
And it will continue in family lore.

Saturday

What a day! Coffee with Amber, a hike with Michael's parents, a visit with Michael's grandparents, and a rousing high school reunion...

The hike was a perfect example of what I miss in New York. Michael, his parents, his dog Belle and I slushed around in fallen leaves, up and down inclines. It was a beautiful day - warm enough for the walk to be enjoyable, but cool enough to keep the sweating to a minimum. The sun was strong and sky blue - it was refreshing after the heavy Thanksgiving eating we've been doing and just generally wonderful.




On Saturday night, Michael and I met up with our globe-trotting friend James for their 10-year high school reunion. The whole night felt an awful lot like prom - we all dressed up, ate dinner with a big group of people, stood around awkwardly for much of the night (well, that was mostly me), and went to a diner before taking the long drive home. It was so nice to hang out with Michael and James! Here are some (drunken) pictures from Bob & Edith's:



Friday Fun!

Friday was a ridiculously enjoyable day. It began at 6:45 in New York and ended around 12:30 AM in Virginia. Here are some highlights spots:

1. Michael and I rode a double-decker train out to New Jersey to meet my brother and my dad! It was bizarrely fun to be on the top level, watching the scenery zoom passed us.

2. We spent several hours traveling on I-95 with my dad and brother, talking about how freakin' cool our new iPhones are.

3. We had a blast with Michael's parents shopping for new jeans, watching the horrific "Four Christmases," and eating another delicious meal, this time at Coastal Flats (among other things).

Thursday

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and the official start to the holidays!

For the first time, Michael and I began the day at home, sleeping in and enjoying our usual Saturday morning practices. I made it to the gym and then we boarded the train to New Jersey to celebrate with my Aunt Jess, Uncle Arny, Aunt Ruth, Henry and Dad at my Aunt Jess's house. It was just delightful - delicious food (including a ridiculous turkey and cranberry sauce combo), fabulous company, a constant fire in the fireplace, and a long walk to help digest the meal. Here's a nice pic with my brother and dad from the festivities:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today I've Been Daydreaming...

... about the most beautiful place I've ever been - a bungalow overlooking the gulf of Thailand. And I was able to savor it with my love... The noise in the background is from waves crashing just below our hammock.


video

Say it ain't so, Heidi!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Faux Thanksgiving, Part III

At this stage in my life, "home" can be complicated word. Is Virginia, where Michael and I both grew up, home? We make trips there every couple of months, always referring to it that way when we explain where we were to friends in New York. Many of the most important people in our lives are still in Virginia and its surrounding areas. And in some ways it has an ease of existence that I associate with being at home (i.e. cars, shopping malls, parking lots).

Until Michael and I moved in together, in our tiny and adorable apartment, Virginia was, without question, home.

But these days, as we develop more ties to the neighborhood in which we live, share more milestones here, reaffirm deeper connections with the people in our lives, home is shifting, from Virginia to New York.

Three years ago, Michael and I decided that we wanted to expand our Thanksgiving celebrations to include our New York Family - John & Anna and Ashesh & Mona. This experience - where we all come together to drink wine and eat delicious food - happens fairly regularly. As members of our New York family, they are on speed dial, and share many of our Friday and Saturday nights out and about. But it means something different to me to share a Thanksgiving meal with them. The hours of preparation for and cleaning up after, of cooking and setting off smoke detectors, of thinking about the menu and making holiday favorites, is something you don't do for just anyone. You do it for family.

This past year has been a remarkable one for us all - John & Anna got married and are now expecting a baby, Mona & Ashesh got married and moved in together, Michael and I graduated and re-entered the working world. Faux Thanksgiving III was a special night, and a chance to reaffirm what home really means to me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today's Workout


Carrying 5 bottles of wine, two pumpkins, a bag of potatoes, two onions, a week's worth of apples and tomatoes, and decorative gourds from Union Square back home. Up next: a Thanksgiving turkey, yams, carrots, pecans and other fixings. Here comes Faux-Thanksgiving 2008!

Solice

Yesterday I was feeling blue. In an effort to cheer me up, my husband instituted a policy for the evening: I was not to leave the couch.

Michael brought me red wine. He ordered, signed for, and brought to the couch the Domino's pizza we delightfully consumed for dinner. He brought leftover chocolate cake to our living room and served us both hefty portions. He managed the TV, so that we were able to watch the amazing Thursday line-up: Survivor, The Office, and 30 Rock. He did everything to ensure that I could remain perched on the couch.

It did wonders.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Morning Mix

The best way to spend a Tuesday morning? At Arnold's class at NYSC!


Of course, now I can barely lift my arms or move my legs, but what could be better?

Michael Pollan, Food Policy Tzar

Crazy New Yorkers have started a petition to nominate Michael Pollan for Agricultural Secretary. In this interview with NPR, he suggests an even better position: Food Policy Tzar:



In grad school, I took a class called the Ecology of Food. It was one of those life-altering experiences, taught by Professor Joan Gussow. It completely changed the way I think about food. In both the Omnivoure's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, Pollan thanked Gussow and called her his teacher. That did it for me. Michael Pollan for Food Policy Tzar!

And here's a great piece from the Times that Pollan wrote.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Urban President

Michael and I are happy urbanites. We love the walking, the activity, the vitality of New York. It's such a healthy existence - walking off dinner, moving ourselves to the gym, running errands powered by our own two feet. It's wonderful! And whenever we consider leaving this lovely city of ours, we grieve over the possibility of losing this lifestyle. We wish more towns, more cities in America offered the same quality of life as we experience here.

Barack Obama, the first urbanite president since Nixon, has put forth a comprehensive urban policy, that promotes the development of healthy cities (available here). I'm excited to see how his vision plays out...

In May, the City hosted a conference called Fit City: Active Living Through Design. It was, honestly, my dream. We talked all about how cities can be built to encourage physical activity, the development of community, a healthy life. Here's an interview talking about these ideas from my favorite NPR show:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pride


My stunningly handsome husband just passed the New York Bar Exam!! Shower him with congrats at his blog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feeling Blue?

Start here, with something to match your mood:



And then, go here for a sure-fire pick-me-up!

Recommended

Michael and I had this delicious Warm Potato Salad With Goat Cheese with dinner the other night. It was fantastic!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Outings

One of the greatest characteristics of the City is its walkability. During the summer, Michael and I will take strolls around our neighborhood almost every evening - sometimes to pick up a cupcake or a coke, other times to just get out and be among other people. Yesterday, after spending the morning at the gym and cleaning the apartment, I had to stretch my legs. During my walk to Union Square and back, the Empire State was in full form:


And one of the most pleasant realities of my job is that I often leave our building to attend meetings around town. Today I spent the entire day in meetings, but had the great pleasure to walk to one of them. It was a very relaxing and restful walk - I passed City Hall, walked underneath the Brooklyn Bridge and followed the waterfront down to Wall Street. It's such a pleasure to work in an office that allows for breathing room...


During these walks, I'm listening to the new Taylor Swift.

Callie

Visit Michael's most recent post

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why I Love Tuesdays


Jillian & Bob
Trainers on The Biggest Loser

Veterans

Today is Veteran's Day. It's the first time in my adult life that I have the day off - no work, no school, just me and my free time. Bizarrely, given the fact that we are in the midst of two wars, it seems that observing Veteran's Day is rather optional. As a government employee, I will be at home. But Michael will be slaving away at the corporate firm. Most of my friends are at work, putting in their hours.

Obviously, having the day off doesn't necessarily demand recognizing the importance of - or thanking - our veterans. But I must admit that it did just that for me.

About three weeks ago, Michael had to spend five days in California on business. I really hated it. I consider myself quite independent, and Michael and I have a grown-up relationship. But having him gone for five days just seemed stupid.

I can't imagine the courage it must take for members of our military to say goodbye, to pack up homes and memories, to travel the world without the people they love most, to be a part of some of the most frightening and thrilling experiences known to man. I can't bear to think of what it must be like for the people they leave behind...

On this Veteran's Day, let me thank those men and women who are serving in war, who are away from family and friends, who are on the other side of the world and have no prospect of being home for the holidays. Specifically, let me say thanks to the veterans in my life - my cousin-in-law:


And my friend, Brett Gibson:


It's amazing to me how safe I've been from war, despite us currently waging two... but that's a story for another day.

Thanks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today

It was a beautiful, blustery morning in lower Manhattan. How is it that the sun knows just the right angle to shine in order to give your day the perfect pick-me-up?


And a mere two weeks after giving birth, a woman in our office brought her adorable baby boy in to visit. He slept happily, spreading baby fever to all who caught a glimpse of his gorgeous, sleeping face.


And it's just too breathtaking to ignore these trees...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Imminent Demise

After three and a half wonderful years together, my beautiful pink mini is failing me. She'll randomly decide her battery is dead, cut off mid-song or require a reboot after freezing in the middle of a song. Tomorrow Michael and I are taking a trip to the Apple store to find out more about my options. But I must admit I'm sad to see her go.

The other demise that is imminent? Fall. This weekend is rainy and dark (like much of this week). The leaves are falling more rapidly than they have been, and I'm gearing up for shorter days and colder weather.


And yet, even on a dreary day like today, the farmers' market was packed! The first picture is cool, despite the unfortunate look on this woman's face. The second is just to get a sense of how many New Yorkers braved the weather for some fresh produce.



Friday, November 7, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Even Here

One of the greatest tricks to surviving in the City is uncovering enough nature to keep you sane.

Because its the City, we don't fall asleep to crickets chirping or chase lightening bugs during those long summer nights. We don't spend our Saturdays mowing lawns or raking leaves. We don't grill in backyards or grow our own vegetables (much to my chagrin). And we don't spend the winter walking around on frozen, icy earth.

These are things I miss.

But one of the greatest gifts the City provides is the ability to appreciate even the tiniest symbols of nature - green grass, wildflowers, cicadas, earthworms.

This tree is along my route to work. I'm separated from it by a fairly busy 3-lane road. But it makes me smile every morning, nonetheless. It's fall, leaves are changing, and I'm happy to catch a glimpse of it.

Evolution

I made this:


from that:


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let Me Not Forget

From Obama's speech in Chicago last night:
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Beautiful

VICTORY!



And here's a link to a fabulous Washington Post editorial about Obama's success.

And, finally, I know this makes me a hippie, but it feels great to see this again:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This is it!

Lines at our polling center at 6:15 AM.

And again at 11:30 AM.


I can't tell you how good it felt to pull that lever for Obama - I came out of the polling center skipping!

Back in March, as McCain's candidacy became more certain, I thought Election Day would be a bit more conflicted. Obviously, I believe in Obama, his message, his policies and the next chapter of America that he represents. But I also think McCain is a good man, an excellent senator, and someone who has really "walked the walk."

Sadly, after McCain's pathetically run campaign, his manipulation and encouragement of racism and anti-Muslim sentiments, and Sarah Palin (!!), it just felt damn good to vote for Obama.

And a message I can get behind:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vindication!

The New Yorker reviews Taylor Swift's New Album

Perks


As an employee of the city government, I (and, by extension, Michael) benefit from a host of perks. But right now, given how early the sun sets, perhaps the greatest is the view from my office. Here's a picture from my boss's office - the Empire State Building, the Chrystel Building, and the general beauty of the New York City skyline. It seems only fair that city employees are rewarded with this view.

On my walk to work every morning, I pass Magnolia, a floral shop that my mother would kill to manage. No matter the season, Magnolia has stunning flowers that brighten up the sidewalk. As terrible for the environment as selling hydrangea in the winter must be, I can't seem to muster the liberal indignation required to get upset. Instead, I marvel at their beauty and appreciate the pick-me-up.


Another benefit from walking to and from work: the little changes in our neighborhood that I notice early on. Here's a messy picture from the very first winery to open in the city, mere blocks from our apartment. Dangerous...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fall Wonderment

I always feel antsy this time of year... something about the change of seasons, the end of summer, the closing of another year, and of course, the cold weather.

This weekend, Michael indulged my love of country music to an impressive degree. He sacrificed a relaxing Saturday night in the city to travel to Connecticut, the land of very bad radio, to see Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift at Mohegan Sun. The drive was pleasant thanks to the beautiful fall foliage. Here's a quick picture, taken at high speeds from our rental car.

Once back in Manhattan today, I dropped Michael off near 30 Rock so he could head back into the office. It's been happening rather frequently these days, so here's an image of the apartment as I've seen it lately.


Finally, while I walked around this evening, popping into stores and enjoying the pre- Thanksgiving and Christmas excitement, I took this shot of our neighborhood restaurant. Michael and I have enjoyed dinner here twice - a special occasion, to be sure (as so much in our neighborhood is). Anyway, the picture felt like fall -- a cool night outside, but warm where you want to be.