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  • NYC: Marathon Weekend

    (originally published on December 20, 2013)

    Still catching up here! The Mr. and I joined our friends A and G in NYC last month. G was running the marathon and the rest of us were spectating. Who knew that it took so much plotting and planning and coordination to watch people run? 

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    No sleep til Brooklyn!

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    And G finished under 4 hours! 

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    And this is what we did while he was running 26 gazillion miles. Spectating like a boss.

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    Afterwards, we celebrated at Keen's. We went all out with oysters, thick-cut bacon slabs, steaks, sweets, drinks ... we had it all!

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    This, Scotch-lovers, is the Scotchy Scotch Scotch menu. All. Scotches.

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    And because we were all a little tipsy, we ended the night in the Ice Bar. Complete with man furs, sickly sweet drinks, and an empty wallet. That place robbed us blind. But we do have awesome photos!

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    The next day after A and G headed back home, we took an official tour of Grand Central Station. 

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    I was bummed that The Campbell Apartment was closed for some sort of photo shoot, but we ended up in the Oyster Bar instead.

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    It really is the coolest place and I definitely recommend the official tour!

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    So we also did quite a bit of eating ... clockwise from upper left: 1. Carnegie Deli 2. warm poached pear salad at Robert 3. corned beef and egg sandwich at Carnegie Deli 4. bagels to go from Ess-a-Bagel 5. the super secret Burger Joint hidden in Le Parker Meridien

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    And, of course, we did some sightseeing. clockwise from upper left: 1. inside the Chrysler Building 2. the view from our hotel room at the Hilton, 3. the Empire State Building, 4. the Moleskine "store" -- so disappointed to find out it was a tiny kiosk, 5. view from the R Lounge onto Times Square

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    Thanks A and G for an awesome weekend! We had a blast!

    For your own NYC travel planning, you can take a look at my Tripline with all the addresses and locations of places we visited, including some places not featured in this post. And I've already started a new one for the next trip. So, so much to do in that city!

  • What I Learned at Kripalu

    (originally published on August 19, 2013)

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    I just returned from three days at Kripalu in the Berkshires where I attended a workshop with Martha Beck. Yes, THAT Martha Beck! She's so much more in person than what you read in her books or even as you've seen her on Oprah. A ball of energy, she took us on an emotional rollercoaster filled with so much laughter and, for some, a few tears heaving sobs. Most importantly, she trained us to bend spoons. 

    I also learned a few unexpected things during my time there:

    • I am too old and too me to take the bus. Especially if there is a transfer in Springfield.
    • Having your own room and your own bathroom is critical.
    • If your access to food is severely limited, you will automatically start hoarding it. 
    • The one conversation thread that ran throughout the weekend revolved around how starving we all were.
    • Always bring snacks. Always.
    • Designated silent meals and silent spaces are the best. Except when the person across from you exhales deeply before every bite of food. Jesus.
    • Limit my social media access and I get all twitchy. Tell me I can't take photos and I get mean.
    • Look where you are going or you might step on a snake. Or a frog.
    • Despite wearing no makeup for three days, someone thought I was 32. Must have been my I-am-about-to-pass-out-from-hunger look.
    • When you live in the city, the farthest you can see is the next building. Being able to gaze at mountains over a long distance is strangely soothing to the eyes.
    • Wearing yoga pants all weekend works well for me.
    • There is only so far I'm willing to go with the woo woo stuff.

    And then, there was this:

    All weekend we talked about finding stillness in ourselves in order to access all sorts of things that make our lives better. Martha Beck shared story after story of weird "coincidences" happening in her life (and those of people she knew) after she was able to be open and still. Like crazy awesome stuff.

    On Saturday, Martha instructed us to think about one of our wildest dreams and go do just one thing that evening towards making it happen. So my wildest dream is to be a travel photographer and writer who lives in the Caribbean. (OK, fine, Jamaica. Who lives in Jamaica.) I had been wanting to take photos all day so I knew that I would go down to the lake and do one of my photo walks. (Where you were allowed to take photos.)

    I got back in time for dinner and ended up sitting with a woman I met the previous day who happens to work where I do (this happens all the time, by the way. They spray us with some sort of magic scent so we can find each other.) We spent a couple of hours talking about our respective dreams, something I rarely do with anyone. I usually end up being the listener, but for some reason I felt comfortable sharing my dreams of snorkeling everyday, taking photos, and writing stories about my experiences. Afterwards, she went off to write and I went back to my room for quiet time.

    When I got there, I opened up my email, and there was a LinkedIn request that came in from someone I do not know. (This also happens all the time. Work in HR and everyone wants to be your "friend.") The time stamp on it coincided with the conversation I had at dinner about my dream. And (deep breath) .... the request was from a woman who is AN EDITOR FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.

    Boom. Mind blown. Woo woo!

    If you are interested, read Martha's latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World. For those of you who are ones-and-zeros people, this will stretch you. 

  • 26 Hours in NYC: *part two

    (originally published on April 29, 2013)

    If you missed part one of our 26 Hours in NYC trip, you'll want to read that first here.

    On the second day of our 26 hour whirlwind trip to NYC, we rose fairly early despite staying for "one more drink" at the Top of the Strand.

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    We checked out of the hotel before 10:00 am and left our bags with the bellhop to guard while we ran around the city.

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    We both like the quietish Sunday mornings in NYC and decided to walk towards the Village, where we had brunch plans later. On our way, we passed the Empire State Building.

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    And this moving tribute, outside the Marble Collegiate Churchto those who had lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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    We ended up in Madison Square Park, a favorite spot of ours.

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    On the other side of the park, this wonderful statue, Bird, is temporarily installed across from the Flatiron building. 

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    This is a detail of the nest.

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    It was 10:30 am and the Mr. decided it was time for us to get a hot dog. At Gray's Papaya. We also had the papaya drink. The whole combo was indescribably awesome! Here's a little atmospheric capture on Vine.

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    Brunch wasn't until noon so we wandered around the West Village for a while. 

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    How lovely is this?

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    Next time, Bobo, next time!

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    So New York.

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    Eventually it was time to eat again, and a crowd had gathered outside, waiting for Empellon Taqueria to open its doors.

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    Remember we just ate a hot dog an hour and a half ago, so we decided to stick with the chicharrones with refried beans and cotija cheese and the chips with a sampling of these seven salsas:

    1. Sikil Pak (pumpkin seeds, tomato, onion, garlic, cinnamon, epazote, sour orange juice, serrano) 
    2. Smoked Cashew (smoked cashews, chipotle) 
    3. Salsa Borracha (pasilla Oaxaqueña, orange juice, mezcal)
    4. Salsa Verde (tomatillo, cilantro, serrano)
    5. Tomatillo - Chipotle (chipotle, roasted tomatillos, roasted garlic, honey)
    6. Salsa De Arbol (arbol, cider vinegar, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, spices) 
    7. Salsa Habañera (habañero, orange juice, grapefruit, Mexican oregano)

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    The Smoked Cashew salsa was our favorite! It may sound strange but it is delicious. A must-try if you ever go. All of the salsas were fantastic, although I must warn you about the habañera -- it almost sizzled off my taste buds. Very hot!

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    This drink is the whole reason I wanted to go there. Smoked. Banana. Mezcal. Margarita. 

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    Since we clearly had not eaten enough that day, we left Empellon and rounded the corner towards Magnolia Bakery, which was a complete cluster inside. Cupcakes here, there, everywhere, and no order I could discern. 

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    I went with the Cupcake of the Month, lemon, and the Mr. grabbed a German Chocolate Cake version. 

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    Which we ate here on the High Line.

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    I love the whole idea of the High Line but, in practice, it was narrow in many places, super crowded, and made me want to flee. Especially after I almost broke both legs tripping over one of these benches. 

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    But there were some cool things to see there. I loved this installation by El Anatusui, Broken Bridge II, the best! 

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    Here's where our plans got a little off track. We walked down 23rd street through Chelsea back over to Eataly across from Madison Square Park, hoping to grab a brewski at their rooftop bar, Birreria. I was in full-on introvert shut down mode at this point, so the Mr. decided to stop and get his haircut while I sat outside on the bench. Perfect plan, except I was soon joined by a woman who chatted with me the entire time. And when we finally arrived at Eataly, it was so packed and so loud, I wanted to lay down on the floor, curl up in a little ball, and rock until all the people went away. (Introverts, you know what I am talking about!)

    We exited quickly and wandered up the street to The John Dory Oyster Bar.

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    Where it was quiet. And there were fish tanks to watch. And I could get myself back to neutral. I even captured the fish on Vine. Soothing, right?

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    We still had a little bit of time left before we had to pick up our bags and head to the LimoLiner for our trip home. I was still exhausted so the Mr. thought we could just grab a beer at one of the Irish pubs near our hotel. Truth be told, it smelled like a frat house and the bar was sticky. But look, it's Happy Hour all day!

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    We then grabbed our bags at the Strand and headed towards the LimoLiner pickup point. Realizing that despite all the food establishments we had been in that day, we were still hungry for a little snack before the bus left at 6:15 pm. Bellies full, we climbed aboard, and I snoozed the whole way home!

    To see all the locations we visited on our 26 Hour Trip to NYC, click over to Tripline and watch the animated map I created for you! (Press play in the upper right-hand corner.)

  • 26 Hours in NYC: *part one

    (originally published on April 26, 2013)

    I wish I could say things have completely returned to normal here in Boston. They haven't, but things are better. Much, much better. Thanks for asking.

    The weekend before all this madness overtook our lives, the Mr. and I had a wonderful whirlwind 26-hour trip to New York City. 

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    Our LimoLiner tickets were about to expire (left over from our Hurricane Sandy-cancelled trip to watch our friend run the NYC Marathon back in the fall) so we decided to make use of them as we could. A last minute idea, we could only find room on the 12pm bus to NYC on Saturday. I work on Patriots Day and the Mr. wanted to be here for the Boston Marathon, so we had to return on Sunday. 26 hours was all we had.

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    The LimoLiner is quite nice and only accommodates 28 people. It's spacious and comfortable, has free wifi and snacks, and drops you off conveniently in Midtown.

    We stayed at the Strand  (also in Midtown) and it was perfect for our short stay. The rooms are tiny, but if you are only going to be in it to sleep for a few hours, who cares? Plus it had a fabulous surprise I'll share with you at the end of this post! 

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    I keep ongoing lists of things I want to do in places I want to visit so it was really easy to plan out this trip for maximum capacity. Our first stop after dropping off our bags was Laduree, of French macaron fame.

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    There was a line there, of course, but it was well organized and they gave us a laminated sheet of all the flavors available so we could select them easily. Look at all the pretty boxes and ribbons! The people working there seemed to be trained in a special placing-of-macaron-in-box flourish they did with their hand. Totally intimidating and if I didn't want those pretty little cookies so bad, I would have ran out of there.

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    Gorgeous, right?

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    We ended up with a box of six. Basically because the Mr. suggested four and I always want more than whatever he thinks is appropriate. It's a little thing we have going. My favorite was the lime basil version.

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    We passed this awesome place on the way to our next destination. A "snack bar" with a fuzzy flying pig sign? Going on the next NYC visit list!

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    Our next location was the one thing I wanted to do for sure while we were here because it is number 68 on my Mother List -- drink a martini at Bemelmans Bar in The Carlyle.

    Here's the Bombay Sapphire martini, which came with a giant pitcher of martini refills. OK, it was just the extra liquid from the shaker but seriously, it never ended. The Mr. said to me, "I've never seen your face get so red." He's never seen me drink 6 gallons of gin. 

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    My low tolerance for martinis aside, the place is AWESOME! The walls are painted by Madeline artist, Ludwig Bemelmans. Right in front of us was this familiar sight. The place filled up quickly, started to buzz with conversation, and then a pianist started to play. I was swooning, or maybe just swaying at this point!  He even played Take Five, which I captured for you here on Vine. Make sure you turn on the sound!

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    As soon as we finished our drinks, we grabbed a cab to Ray's Pizza for what my husband promised would be fantastic New York pizza. He grew up in Jersey, right outside the city, and will fold in half anything that even slightly resembles pizza. I've seen him fold one appetizer barely two inches in diameter. "When in Rome," I said, and joined him in the folding. (Although I would like to point out that pizza tastes better when the first thing that hits your mouth is cheese. Just sayin'.)

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    This dog with the interesting fashion accessory was waiting outside the entire time.

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    The Mr. and I then walked a few blocks and encountered more interesting creatures on our stroll.

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    I really wanted to see the scales of the universe at the Rose Center for Earth and Space at night. We must have walked around in circles for over an hour while we waited for the sun to set and the planets to illuminate. I thought the earth would look a little more earth-like so we waited much longer than necessary. Thanks to the Mr. for indulging my little obsession.

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    We then headed back to our hotel, where we took the elevator to the roof.

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    Where THIS was waiting for us! The retractable roof was open at the Top of the Strand and a really awesome DJ was playing. I think he was 12, but who isn't these days? Here's a little snippet on Vine.

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    And that was only Saturday! Look for part two next week!

  • Mementos from Mallorca

    (originally published on April 10, 2013)

    I've been reading this book* about a Scottish couple who bought a citrus farm in Mallorca (Or Majorca. Mallorca, Majorca. Potato, Potato.) It's been reminding me of our trip there, the first week of our honeymoon (the second was in Rome.) I had forgotten that I brought home some things from that trip that have just completely melted into our everyday lives. 

    Like the siurell below. No one seems to know the actual origin of these whistles but they are everywhere on the island. I bought mine in the city of Palma but the whistle part doesn't work. (I mean really, I was't about to test it before I bought it.) Ours sits next to the olive oil tin and the salt and pepper mills in our kitchen.

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    We saw this yellow and green patterned bowl in restaurants everywhere we went. It usually contained the aioli that was served with bread. I bought this smaller version in a total tourist trap place towards the end of the trip. I've used it pretty regularly when I want to feel like I'm eating something special -- just a few chunks of parmesan and a drizzle of honey or some olive oil with chili flakes for dipping bread.

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    And then I almost completely forgot about this bowl, even though I see it every day. It sits on the counter in our kitchen and holds our small collection of matchbooks. We took a wonderful trip to the northern coast of Mallorca through the blossoming orange groves, something I wrote about in an earlier post. This small bowl was found in a tiny pottery shop in Port de Soller, a just gorgeous little seaside town.

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    Sadly, I haven't been buying souvenirs like these in recent years on our travels. In fact, I rarely bring anything home with me anymore. But it's really important to meld your travel memories into your day to day life. I'm going to make an effort to start bringing things home with me again. Good thing, our next trip is this weekend!

    *Book in question: Snowball Oranges by Peter Kerr, the first of five books about this family's adventures in Mallorca. Laugh out loud funny!

  • Land of the Lost in Palm Springs

    (originally published on November 26, 2012)

    One of the mornings at Camp Mighty, I had an hour to kill before the first session. I had just finished breakfast where Nicole had shared with me that the neighborhood right next door had some awesome mid-century modern architecture. Yippee! I was off.

    I quickly realized that every person I passed on the street was a gay man. A gay man with a dog. A gay man with a dog who lives in a mid-century modern house. A gay man with a dog who lives in a mid-century modern house with a palm tree in it's yard. And they all were friendly and said hello. Even the ones on their bikes. One even stopped for a  conversation with me. It was SURREAL. And joyous. I kept thinking, "I LOVE it here!" The photos that follow speak for themselves. Except for that last one. I shall comment on that.

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    The font! The screen fence! The sun pouring out from behind it! The mother-effing PALM TREE! To quote one of my least favorite people on the planet, "I die."

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    Moving plans are in the works.

  • Camp Mighty: The Images

    (originally published on November 21, 2012)

    Yesterday, I shared my thoughts about Camp Mighty. Today, the images ...

    The Location: Ace Hotel, Palm Springs, California

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    The Organizers

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    The Speakers

    Derreck Kayongo, Global Soap Project

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    Jordan Ferney, Oh Happy Day

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    Jihan Zencirli, Geronimo Balloons, and Phillippa Hughes, The Pink Line Project

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    Maggie Mason, Mighty Girl, and Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess (!!)

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    The Sponsors

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    The Parties

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  • Camp Mighty: The Words

    (originally published on November 20, 2012)

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    I'm pretty sure this post about Camp Mighty is not going to be like any of the other blog posts about Camp Mighty. My fellow Campers have already expressed different experiences -- a few shared their disappointment and others thought it was the best thing that ever happened to them. Here's where I stand. And what I learned:

    • Bloggers have the same way of talking. Like their own language, which involves saying "whaaat???" a lot and acting out conversations while using special voices. And the word "totes." I noticed everyone was doing it and I was all like "whaaaat?"
    • Bloggers have a uniform. Glasses. Stripes. Brights. Signature jewelry piece. Wait. That's my wardrobe. Minus the stripes. Damn horizontal stripes.
    • We're neat. I ordered room service and the man who delivered my tasty grilled steak sandwich told me we were the neatest group that had ever stayed at the Ace. He said every one of us had a super tidy, organized room. Usually, he can barely open the door. I guess we are all neurotic.
    • Groups of women make me uncomfortable. I seem to have completely lost my tolerance for it. And these ladies were super cool. I mean, super cool. Cooler than me. And I still wanted to get away from it as quickly as I could. Next time, I'm bringing my gay boyfriend. He's like my Linus blanket. And he can dance!
    • Even though I can pass for a 30-something, I am not a 30-something. First time I realized there is a difference.
    • This weekend reinforced that I am not a DIYer. As soon as the crafts came out, my throat closed in on itself, my stomach went into knots, and I started to sweat. I hightailed it outside.
    • The West Coast is totally totes different. In an amazing and open way. Most of these ladies knew each other or knew someone who knew someone. Many of them were in on things before they were even things. There's clearly something happening in California that is not happening in Boston. Maybe it's all the open space and sky they have out there.
    • Speaking of, those mountains! Whaaaat? I have to admit they wigged me out. I could not get over them. Pretty sure people got sick of me talking about those mountains.
    • I always end up being the therapist. Someone always bares their soul to me, no matter where I am or what I am doing. To which I have decided to say, "$%@& it, I'm going to the pool."
    • I knocked off two items on my Mother List (#103 wear a crazy wig in public -- not at Halloween and #231 attend Camp Mighty) and added four more (live some place where there are palm trees, get paid to be creative, find a group of like-minded creatives, and make friends with a drag queen -- cause I really, really needed help with my wig, glitter makeup, and false eyelashes!) 
    • I have now been to California only three times and each time I've gone to Palm Springs. That's weird, right? Or a sign of something.
    • My life list is longer than anyone else's life list and I am completely unapologetic about it. 
    • And ... sigh ... I'm not a hipster. The Ace was cool but some of it was also crusty and gross.
    • Camp Mighty was awesome. Mostly because I chose to check my issues at the door. Most people I talked to were open and friendly and interesting. Some less so. But I chalked that up to their nerves or a hangover. Either way, I came back to my life with a little swagger in my step.

    Next up: Camp Mighty: The Images. Because you have to see it, to believe it.

  • NYC: The Best of the Rest *part two

    (originally published on October 15, 2011)

    And the rest of the few other things we saw in NYC ...

    Love this photo of the Chrysler Building!

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    St. Patrick's Cathedral.

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    St. Patrick's, interior.

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    St. Patrick's -- I love the staggered heights of the windows.

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    Hearst Tower.

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    Closest I've ever been to a traffic light.

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    Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

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    Riverside Church.

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    Grant's Tomb.

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    Apollo Theater, Harlem.

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    The building with "Roos" on it is Chef Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster in Harlem.

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    Hee. Hee.

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    Guggenheim.

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  • NYC: The Best of the Rest *part one

    (originally published on October 14, 2011)

    So we saw a few other things in NYC ...

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    Times Square.

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    My travelling companions in Times Square.

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    The Naked Cowboy posed for me! 

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    He insisted I take a picture from the back as well! (And when I turned around I seemed to have lost my family. Hmmm ... wonder why they kept walking?)

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    The Fashion Center.

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    Gateway to SoHo.

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    One World Trade Center/Freedom Tower construction.

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    Occupy Wall Street, occupying Wall Street.

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    Love the guy in the corner!

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    Brooklyn Bridge.

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    Staten Island Ferry ....

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    ... heading into the city.

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    Miss Liberty ...

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    She's worth at least 4 photos!