Beth's Bawlamore blog

Beth's blog about life in Bawlamore with her Brit husband, 2 cats, job, recollections, ruminations, thoughts, travels, things worth writing about, things possibly not worth writing about, whatever comes outta her fingers...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Happy New Year!! in Berlin

Hey blogisphere-
I wanted to post about our trip back to the UK for the holidays and our "lost weekend" in Berlin for New Year's.
The below is taken from an OP I did on Lonely Planet Thorntree in the Women Traveller's section:

One of those "well I'm back" threads....

Yeah, we're back! Had a fabu time on our 2 weeks away.

Initially, the pre-Christmas fogged in Heathrow did not really affect us, as we were on a long haul flight, although we had to circle for about 1/2 hour and when we came in to land, we went from cloud, to, well, directly on the ground, the fog was so thick.

Spent a few days with H's mum, and the down to Surrey for a lovely Christmas w/his aunts and cousins. Then, I flew up to Edinburgh, well, to just outside of it to visit a dear old friend of 17 years. Back on the 27th, then into London for the day on the 28th.

Checked out a photography show and some old oil portraits in the Nat'l Portrait Gallery, then did a little shopping at the sales. I was suffering from a cold (still have the remnants), so was on Lemsip fizzy powder, vitamin C and zinc that whole day.

Off to Berlin on the 28th. Our friend's friend, the expat 'merican, found us a great and cheap apt just north of Mitte in the working class neighborhood of Wedding. Kind of reminded me of Astoria, Queens.
Headed down to Kruezburg- Bergmanstrasse, to be exact, which I think was like the Smith Street or Williamburg (Brooklyn) of Berlin and went to the bar where the other friend works (Atlantic, if anyone is interested, nice place, and looked to have a decent menu). Made it and early night and only stayed out until about 3:30 am ;-).

The next morning, our 2 friends, one from Bawlamore and the other from Bawlamore and TO showed up. We got some groceries and such and H found a tuxedo jacket and white shirt from the thrift store across the street from the apt for the new year's party. (and the whole 30's thing was just an email misunderstanding, BTW, as it turns out, Roody and his girlfriend were really sweet people, kindred spirits, etc... yes, it was meant to be like a roaring 20's party) H's friend, M had a 20p bow tie he could borrow. Finally, the expat 'merican comes around and takes us on a whirlwind tour (in the rain) of checkpoint charlie, where the wall was, etc. He was chockful of info as he used to run tours. He kept saying 'now keep up' and 'gather 'round'. Old habits die hard I guess.

We went to my first German Christmas market, and although I'm not normally much of a red wine drinker, I absolutely adore Gluwien (sp). I think I'll keep drinking it so long as the weather is cold. (Why stop at New Year!?).

Then, back to the apt for a disco nap and to get ready for dinner. We went to this place- a blind restaurant. Gourmet food- you pick from a set menu with hard to decipher "poetic" descriptions of the food and order your cocktails and then a blind waiter leads you in to the dining room. It is absolutely pitch black. You walk in with your left arm on the person in front of you's shoulder. Your waiter seats you. At first it feels rather claustrophobic and disconcerting. I made cracks about being afriad I'd have an acid flashback ;-).

Your salad course is odd- you are encouraged to eat with your fingers if you need to. Mine was odder as he mixed my husband's and my salad. An artichoke heart and reconstituted sun dried tomato is an odd thing indeed to eat when you can't see it. Part of taste for us sighted folk is also visual.Eventually, you start getting used to it, and the din of conversation at the other tables. I started to find it incredibly relaxing, and kept holding my head up with my hands, afraid I was nodding off. We all made jokes about people picking their noses n stuff. During the main, the expat 'merican, G, "stole" my friend Lisa's plate, to play a trick. Pretty funny. As I said we started getting used to it.

Just before the dessert, G's girlfriend, a German girl (and waitress, she works at the Pomp, Duck and Circumstance Circus cabaret), thought she heard some wait staff talking about using infared to be able to, say, see when table 10 was done with their soup. Something to remember should any of you go! No nose picking or clothes removal- some people in there might actually be able to see you! As were were one of the last groups seated, eventually, the supposedly large room filtered down to just us and one or two other groups. Another table started singing Bette Midler tunes (I think with a sense of irony) and we joined in. We all started laughing and as they left, wished us a happy new year. Odd to have a whole exchange with strangers without actually seeing them.

Once they lead you back out again, your eyes adjust and they show you, on a menu, what you actually ate. Confirmed I got the wrong salad, but can I blame the waiter??? The guy's blind, fer Chrissakes!

Then we headed back down to Atlantic and then to a place "Shark Bar" after that... home at 5:30 am....Must go run some errands now (the cupboard is bare, actually strike that, the cupboard is okay, it's the fridge and breadbox that are empty) so will tell you about the next 2 days later :-)

Trip to Berlin, continued...

We got back to the apt and I immediately went to bed. M and G stayed up in the kitchen and drank some scotch, I think. Finally woke up about mid day. The girls ran off to do errands and myself, H and M went down to the Potsdamer Platz area and then over to the Brandenburg Gate, which was all set up for the evening's festivities.

We sort of cut through and then out the other end. Its started absolutely pissing down with rain, so we waited under the roof at the back side of the Reichstag, which I learned was like the German capitol buiding. As it as heavily damaged in the war, and then in a fire, parts of it were totally redone, and although the facade looked old, parts of the inside, of what we could see, looked modern. Recently they added this quite modern looking dome at the top. We wandered around the front. Across the top of the door, it said "Dem Deutche something or other". My husband says to me "how bout dem deutche something or other". It's a Bawlmer joke (as in "How bout dem O's") I started laughing, but M didn't get what we were on about. Stopped by the big ferris wheel near the Tiergarten and got a most delicous cheesy pretzel and some gleuwine. (love that stuff). Finally, after many voicemails back and forth to and from M's Barcelona cell phone, fonamac and I managed to fine one another and had about an hour to hang out. We greeted each other with a huge hug- what a feat to actually be able to meet up!

There were some vendors set up selling hats and things. Most sold only wooly hats, but one of them had some vintagey looking brimmed hat. I found a lovely hat to complete my costume for the party that night- only set me back 19 euros- bargain!

We wondered over to the Holocaust memorial at fona's suggestion. Very interesting to wander around inside. Doesn't look like much from the street, but once you are inside, it is similar in a way to being in the blind restaurant. You become immersed in these large concerete blocks and it is easy to get lost and lose those that are with you. Fona said it is meant to to try duplicate the feeling of isolation and loneliness the victims must have felt. Some of the large installation peices I saw a couple of days later at the Jewish Museum were of a similar vein.

As we had to get back to the apartment for a cat nap and to get ready for the evening, we parted ways with fona, and headed back north to wedding.We got all dolled up. Friend K had some sort of vintage animal stole thing, complete with clip mouth and little feet, spat shoes and fab hat. We did Lisa's hair in a kind of Heidi like 'do (although G kept calling her "Princess Leia" all night), and she wore a sort of "Aunie Mame" scarf blouse over a black dress. I wore a silk peplum blouse and a high waisted sort of trumpet skirt in a matching shade, did my hair in a sort of "faux bob" and wore my new hat. H had his faux tuxedo and M wore a double breasted suit he got when he was visiting his Dad at a thrift store in Chelmsford. I drew a little John Waters mustache on him with an eye pencil. G showed up in a vintage smoking jacket and some sort of silly bow tie (with his cowboy boots- he may have lived in Berlin for 19 years, but he grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin).

In Berlin, in the days leading up to NYE, all the little houligan kids light fireworks. They put them in mailboxes. They throw them from balconies. But that night, on the way to the subway, in our 'hood, was the worst I'd ever seen. It was like a war zone. Craaaazy.

We got out in sort of north K-burg a couple of blocks from the party, which was a cool loungy type place. Roody and his girlfriend had spent the whole day getting ready, which included making an impressive spread of hors deurves (sp). Lots of pretty little things on bread and crackers. With the exception of the obligatory bubbly, my drink for the evening was Cuba Libres. With Havana Club. (not available in the US). A friend of theirs, a gal about my age maybe, in a lovely 40's dress spun lounge choons then funk, then anything goes. K's two Brooklyn friends showed up and decided to stay. Everyone else there were designers, artists, what have you... the German version of our group! We all got long great. We all danced our asses off. Ms dj at some point even played "Rapper's Delight", which is an obligatory party song here in B'more.

When midnight rolled around, we headed outside and the scene was crazy- fireworks going off everywhere! Lots of hugs, kisses, etc going on, as it does. Eventually we were back inside for yet more dancing- which we did, pretty much until we gals left at around 4-ish. H stayed until 7. It was really one of the more perfect NYE that I've had. Lisa planted the seed- next year in Havana???

Didn't do much of anything NY Day except run to the Turkish shop for some provisions and cook a nice meal. Our last morning we all split up- I headed to the Jewish museum and H headed to some Technology museum. The gurls headed to see some fine art exhibits.It took me about 2-1/2 hrs to go through the museum. A very interesting building- very modern, zinc covered outside walls. The main entry is an old building but the whole permanent collection, including the two permanent installation peices mentioned above, are in the new building.A couple of things that struck me- as I mentioned in post 1- H and I had wondered round the London Nat'l Portrait gallery looking at old oil portraits. Of course, everyone in those portraits looks very, well, British. In the Jewish museum, in the section that deals with Jews of the court (late 17th- early 18th centuries, age of enlightenment, etc), there they were, hanging on the wall- formal painted portraits of people that looked kind of like me! Or my relatives. Hadn't really seen much of those before.Of course there are sections talking about the Holocaust, but the museum traces Jewish history in that region from the middle ages to modern day, so it covers much more. After the really sad and tragic sections dealing with wwII, there are then a couple of areas that deal with modern day Jews in Germany. In one gallery, there was a temporary show of photographic portraits of modern day young Jewish Berliners. In the portraits, they are all smiling and dressed like people we might know. You leave the museum with a great sense of hope for the future, rather than depressed. Made me think about how the US finally got around to having a Native American museum just a few years ago.

Next, H and I met at a subway station nearby and decided to head over to B'strasse for lunch and so I could buy a couple of gifts in the little indie shops there. When we changed trains, we ran into M! What a coinky-dink!

After lunch and shopping, it was back to the apt to say bye to everyone and collect our bags then train it down to the airport where our plane was delayed 3 hours. Finally made it back to Paul's mum's at about 2 am.

We hung around the house all day Wed and had to wake up at 5:30 am yesterday to get to Stansted and catch the Heaththrow bus. After a 2 hour bus ride, checking in, duty free shopping and boarding the plane, we sat on the tarmac for 2-1/2 hours due to some fuel pump related technical difficulties. Got back to our house at about 8 pm ( 1am UK time!) last night.

All in all, a great couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Even Longer Time, No Post...

I'm lame. It's been just about a year since I've posted on here. Meanwhile, my last "long time no post" post has got like 22 spam comments, what gives? People writing me about lemon laws. Where does that post say anything about lemon laws?

So, here's some highlights (and lowlights of the last year) , and recent memory:
  • Went back to the UK again for Christmas, which included a day trip on Boxing day to Edinburgh, well, just outside to see a dear old friend, spending New Year's Eve in Barcleona with Paul's friend Martin- drinking good wine, eating yummy tapas, and staying out until the wee hours.
  • 41st birthday pretty much came and went without much fanfare- skipped any early spring trips due to money and time contraints
  • We've become good friends with some of the people in Paul's Brit Expat Group. We just went on a reggae sailing cruise on the Clipper City with some of the DC folks.
  • Paul's Mum and brother came over for a visit in June- took them to Assateaugue/Chincoteague, to see the Rockwell Exhibit I managed the installation of, and hung out with them in the new to them house.*
  • Just after they left, Paul and I went to Maine for our 5th anniversary. Ate lotsa lobstah! We gave each other trees. He got a Japanese Maple and I got aMagnolia.
  • Just as I was getting back into working out and actual calorie counting (via an online journal), I got derailed by a stomach flu. :-( Hope to get back at it over the weekend. We both let our gym memberships laspe- they're quite expensive, especially when you don't use them regularly, so I got a DVD, some more weights, one of those balls, and have started walking outdoors again, while the weather is nice. (but not for the next couple of days, the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto is headed our way).
  • My li'l nephew just turned 3. All of the little mini babies born a coupla years ago to friends and relations now all have vocabularies!

Hard to believe a whole year has passed.

Is it good to just watch the years go by without momentous happenings? I suppose so, so long as one is fairly happy and contented. I'm still crazy in love with my Mr., happy to pad around the house and play with the cats, and grateful to (mostly) have my health, a job, friends and loved ones.

I'll try not to wait another year before posting again...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Long time, no post...

Well, if there is in fact anyone who is still reading this blog, I thought I'd update what I've been up to since April:
  1. Went to Indianapolis for work
  2. Went to Las Vegas with husband for 4th wedding anniversary (see pix on my photo home page )
  3. Went to Massachusetts with husband to see friends and do alittle sightseeing and eat lovely seafood
  4. Went to New York to see friends
  5. Went to California, Kansas, Poconos, and Ohio for work
  6. Went down to Chincoteaque and Assateague with my husband and saw the ponies, ate more yummy seafood and lounged ocean side.
  7. Have started to get a lot busier with work again
  8. Have started going to monthly meetups, pretty regularly, with Bawlmer based British expats (and US spouses like myself) from the yahoo Baltimore Brits meetup group.
  9. Still going to health club 2-3 times a week.
  10. Was crushed, glued to the news, and moved to tears and donations over the damage (and slow gov'ment response) to New Orleans and the gulf.

Well, that about sums up the last few months in a nutshell. Made an conscious effort to try and "have a summer", as last year with the house buying and the move it felt as if we didn't have one.

Its' Saturday and laundry, chores and errands call.

Later blog and bloggers...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Our weekend away in Mexico City

Hello, and welcome to a special travel edition of Beth's Bawlamore blog. The following is a travelogue of our trip to Mexico City this past weekend:

(BTW, although Paul and I are both fairly well travelled- this was our first (of hopefully many) experiences in Latin America)

Look at pictures from this trip at:

Friday, April 1st 2005
We arrived in Mexico City after a long day of travel from Baltimore. Up at about 3 am Baltimore time. First, a drive to Dulles, then a layover in Dallas and then finally landing in Mexico City at around 3:30 pm. Both landings were rather bumpy due to windy conditions, with the kind of "coming in for a landing" that feels a bit like a roller coaster ride.

We waited in the international arrivals area as instructed by Sebastian. He noticed Paul first from his picture. His girlfriend Monica had to work, so the three of us headed into town in Sebs' big assed Ford SUV. Big cars aren't as common down there, and you even see tiny European models like Smart Cars as well as the much documented original model VW beetles- many of them the ubiquitous "green taxis". However, with Seb's exhibit work, he needs something he can haul materials and finished projects around in.

When we arrived in the Districo Historico there was a kinda small protest on the zacalo, the main square. Evidently, the mayor of Mexico City is accused of mismanaging funds having to do with building a highway. He's very left leaning, and has great support amongst the green VW bug driving taxis, many of whom are unregistered, with non- valid licenses, etc, so he doesn't regulate them as well as he should. Anyway, the situation is warranting some action by the Federal Government- they want to step in and clean up his money managing. On Friday night, a number of the mayor's supporters turned up waving gold flags (the party's colors) and whatnot in show of support for the mayor. The zacalo is often host to political rallies and music performances. It is also the location of an absolutely enormous flag- which would give that huge flag they fly at Fort McHenry a run for its money. Sebs told us that the flags are actually manufactured in the ol' US of A- by a flag maker in Texas.

Also, that was the evening we ate at Los Girasoles Restaurante, which is where we ate prehispanic delicacies such as ant eggs, agave worms and fried grasshoppers, and also drank delicious tamarind margaritas. We then caught some dancers that practice an Aztec like tradition- every Wednesday and Friday, they congregate with drummers and some of them wearing elaborate costumes. It's a school, actually. They do these dances, making a circle around the drummers, some with bells on their ankles, some with rattles, some in costume, some in street clothes. The dance steps almost resemble a type of line dance, done to the infectious beat of a native drummer.

Then off to the Hotel Majestic top floor, which overlooks the zocalo, for a drink or two, and a good view of the protesters that remained.

By this time, Paul and I were pretty much tuckered out, so we headed down to Sebs neighborhood- which is sort of the south end of Coyoacan. Paul and I stayed in his studio, in the guest room. He lives 2 doors down in one of the family homes, but is in the process of moving into the studio. His brother, sister in law and sister (and her Dalmatian, Bella) live in the house, too, so he is planning to move into the studio- as he spends all his time there anyway, and to give everyone a bit more room.

We get back to the studio and his cousin and friend are there (they work for him), having a late evening snack. Nice guys, clever, too- they did a temporary fix on the upstairs plumbing as well- although we’ll end up needing to use the downstairs bathroom because there’s not much in the way of water pressure upstairs. The upstairs sink is fine, though- and decorated with little clay birds and trompe l’oeil by his dad back in the day. The studio is filled with art and books and computers and tools- just as you’d expect it to be. Sebs puts on some Muddy Waters and I make a cup of manzanilla/chamomile tea. Paul tries out a little mini bike that Sebs had. He bought it during the scooter phase. Remember that? I take a couple of pictures of Paul, as he looks pretty funny maneuvering round the studio on this tiny little bike.

Eventually we totter off to bed. We stay in the upstairs bedroom. Very comfortable, with a loft like double bed, fresh towels, lighted vanity, small couch, and more books and art.

Saturday, April 2 2005

We wake up, make some coffee and when we’re all cleaned up, we head off for brunch at a nice place with delicious home made bread and pastries in swanky San Angel. This is the kind of place with local clientele – the majority women and families- where the women have perfect manicures, designer clothes and every hair in place… sort of a Beverly Hills of Mexico City or something. It’s about as far from the “bad rap” Mexico City of one’s imagination that you can get. The meal is delicious. We share pastries and have fresh squeezed mandarin juice and cappuccinos. I have a crepe filled with spinach, cheese and béchamel sauce. Paul, of course, has something with sausage. Monica meets us there and ends up spending the rest of the weekend with us, which is really fab. It was great getting to know her.

After brunch, we head on over to the Saturday craft market on the square there in San Angel. Local artists, artisans and craftspeople are displaying their wares. We buy a couple of naïve paintings one the square, in addition to small red “devil with willy” wall sculptures. We head on into the main building where Sebastian’s brother and sister in law have a space. They do really unique painted pottery- in beige, brown and blue. A unique style, I didn’t see any like it duplicated while I was there. We got a few things, and Sebastian surprised us later with some shot cups and a little cat figure. We have a look round a small church with a lovely garden. A girl having her 15th birthday celebration (a big deal in Latin American culture) was there in the garden getting her picture taken in her big bride like dress. Judging from the looks of her, her parents better watch out- she’s lovely.

Then it’s off to Coyaocan, first visiting the Frida Khalo’s “blue house”. I love looking in historic or preserved houses. Each one tells a story and it brings to mind the fun part of dressing movie sets. Putting yourself in the head of the owner, and seeing them through their living space. Her bed with the mirror was there (a tiny twin bed), and a number of her braces, along with brushes, letters, photographs and additional personal items. A number of cats were wandering the courtyard, and I wondered if they were like the cats at Hemingway’s house in Key West- descendants of the original owner’s pets. The cats at the blue house, however were not in possession of the sixth toe, like on the paws of the cats at Hemingway’s, from all those years of inbreeding.

Next, we go to the main square in Coyoacan, which has yet another market. This one sold mostly hippie tat and not the unique goods of the San Angel market. More street food, and we have some fresh potato chips and some other fried snack served with lime and chili. We also had some soft, flat, and round caramely cookie type things that were quite tasty. Have a look around another church- nice churches and cathedrals here!

Sebastian suggests we drive on over to Chapultupec Park to check out a few of the exhibits at the most excellent Anthropology Museum. Both Sebs and his dad worked on many of the permanent exhibitions. He was full of facts, as usual, and we learned much about pre-hispanic Mexican history and saw many interesting artifacts, including the famous Aztec calendar, and figures used as stands where the shaman would place the fresh heart from a human sacrifice victim. One of them was even stained a slightly rust color where the heart would have gone.

We stop by a posh lounge in a hotel nearby and order snacks and drinks while we chat and listen to lounge music. Eventually, we head back south again, back to the studio and a night’s sleep.

Sunday, April 3rd 2005

We get up early for a Sunday, but not too horribly early, pack up a cooler with cold drinks and head on north towards the pyramids at Teotihuacan. These things are massive and climbing the two main ones- pyramids of the sun and moon, is a huffing and puffing feat. The view from the tops are worth it, though. On the very top of the pyramid of the sun, a local will strike a Tibetan (?) bell and then run the wood mallet around the outside of the bell so that it rings out like a glass being played by a wet finger, whilst the participant raises their arms to the sky in hopes of receiving positive energy. I raise my hands to the sky and get a funny feeling in my hands, but I suspect that it’s just my circulation, in the heat, at this altitude (much higher than Baltimore, of course), reacting to having my hands in the air. Or maybe not. A couple of elderly ladies and several people with tiny babes in arms make the journey, hoping to absorb some of this pyramid energy.

People on the ground try to flog blunt play arrows and repro artifacts, along with tacky figurines, lace Aztec calendar tablecloths, and glass pyramids. Oh- and some much needed cold bottled water. We go through the couple of bottles brought from the car quickly in the heat, so the water hawkers are welcome.

The complex is massive. The views from the tops almost don’t seem real. I feel so far away from an ordinary weekend, sitting in the red chair at home reading the New York Times, that I feel compelled to comment on it.

After we finish, we head off to a little village called San Miguel, which is right next to the town Texcoco. This is where Sebastian’s brother and sister in law live and have their studio, and where his parents have retired to for a quieter life, and where today’s lunch is bring served.

We arrive and meet some of the rest of his family. The house and property are lovely, and his family are friendly and polite. His sister speaks good English so we joke around with her and hear about the Paris marathon she plans to run the following weekend. She’s a stunner- we have a friend who lives in Barcelona who would go for her in a big way- he’s got a thing for tallish, beautiful Mexican girls. She’s got a boyfriend though, who seems nice enough. He does yoga (more on this in a bit). There’s lamb and sausage (which Paul eats), a beef salad, veggies, guacamole, these lentil cornmeal thingys, pasta and sauce, seafood salad, and some other usual cook out staples. We drink horchata and tequila with fizzy lemon and hang out. There’s 3 hammocks. It’s very relaxing there in the backyard. They pull out his sister’s trampoline. His sister jumps up and down whilst her boyfriend sits in the middle in lotus position- her jumping sends him flying up and down. Very funny. At some point Sebastian puts on the Mexican wrestling mask he picked up at the Coyoacan market the day before (Paul got one, too) and hops up and down on the trampoline. More hilarity ensues. Eventually, out comes some coffee and dessert. Something called an “impossible cake” which has a bottom of moist chocolate cake and a top made of flan with some whipped cream on top. Just delicious!

Eventually Paul joins in a pick up game of soccer/football with Sebs, his nephew, his brother and Monica. The light starts to fade so we dismantle the trampoline, and put away the chairs and tables that were under the killer backyard patio (with built in brick bar b que!). We say our good bys. His dad tells us in halting English that it was great having us there and we are always welcome. His family is really quite special.

Leftovers for Sebs in tow, we ride back into the city. We head to San Angel to a swanky Mexican Spanish French place and get Sangria and snacks. I get another crepe. This one stuffed with mushrooms and gruyere. It’s yummy and creamy.

Monday, April 4th 2005
I wake up in the night not feeling so hot. I either have caught the stomach flu that’s been going around or I’ve got a touch of Montezuma’s revenge. Sebs runs out and gets me pepto and orders me to take some right away. He also gives Paul and I each a CD of Mexican and latin music to remind us of our trip. We’re already talking of the next one and maybe going to Oaxaca. We make our way to the aeropuerto, and two flights and about 12-1/2 hours later we’re home.

Tuesday it’s back to work. Now, only 2 days after our return and I stay up late to finish this entry before the memory starts to fade. The pictures turned out great. I viewed them as “slide show” at least twice before finishing this entry.

To Sebs and Monica- It’s your turn next- nuestra casa es su casa!

Adios for now,

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Thrilling Thursday

Very, very excited today as we are off to Mexico City for long weekend tomorrow! Yay! We have to get up at the ridiculous hour of around 4am (3am Mexico City time!) for our flight.

Had to leave work a little early today to meet a delivery truck with a box of Paul's old junque and also his dad's old flip top desk, which is now under the window in our dining room (a place to hide mail! Instead of thrown all over the table!)

Oh- and I have to move offices when I return from the trip (4.5 years here, the whole time in the same office, so yes, I guess I will miss it
alittle...) Fortunately, I think that will happen for me second week in April so at least I didn't hafta start packing today.

I am hoping to post a nice, lengthy travel post when I return on all we've been up to.
hasta la vista, mi amigos y amigas!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Sickie Saturday

Ugh- managed to go all winter without fully succombing to whatever scourge was going around. Not this time... woke up Tuesday wif a sore froat. Throughout the day it started to feel worse, then the body aches started. Came in on Wednesday because I knew a project at work needed my input and it was on a tight timeline. Thursday, however, took a much needed sick day. a real sick day where I stayed in my pj's all day, watched a girly movie in the morning ("Little Black Book", fyi- Holly Hunter was great as usual, the rest was rather amusing, but not earth shatteringly great or anything), ate leftover garlic-loaded chicken rice soup that I made on Tuesday, drank tea with honey and slept. First on the couch, and then in bed. Made a real difference! Yesterday, feeling significantly better, I cleaned the house, did laundry, took a nice bubbly whirlpool bath, ran errands and went to see the Oscar winning documentary, "Born Into Brothels".

I could see why this won so many awards, including the Oscar. I've been thinking about it a lot since I saw it yesterday afternoon. Wanting to purchase on of the photos, done by Suchitra, entitled "cat" (click on the second page and the picture of the cat), but it's $250 for the smallest print. I think I will have settle for purchase of the book, instead- plus it'll have photos taken by the other kids as well as helping out with their education. What the founder/documentarian Zana Briski did kind of reminds me of what my friend Gin started right here in Baltimore with Wide Angle Community Media (see "links"), which is to take at risk kids and teach them a format to express themselves through media- whether it's photography in the case of Kids With Cameras, or video and film in the case of Wide Angle.
A big difference being the state of poverty in which these kids live. But is any one state of poverty any more palitable than another?

After all those years dressing sets in some pretty bleak locations in Baltimore and DC- housing projects, crack houses, etc... what I saw in the Red Light District of Calcutta very much reminded me of blighted areas right here, closer to home, where drugs, prostitution, filth, and destructive life patterns and poverty is passed on from generation to generation like some tragic legacy. As far as schools... although I was a product of Baltimore City Schools, as were my brothers, and we all came out fine- what about the state of them now, some 30 + years later? They are on the brink of bankruptcy, with teen pregnancy, firearms and hard drugs are commonplace. Yeah- we might've smoked some weed out on the playground on occasion, but we also brought home A's & B's and expected that we would go on to do *something* with our lives.

A big influence for me was attending the Baltimore School For The Arts- their motto now is even "Where the Arts change kids' lives"- and how true that was. I went to High School with kids from really rich tony neighborhoods like Roland Park and Homeland, along with kids from the O'Donnell Heights projects and blighted areas in Penn North. I'd been in homes in both, seen people being brought up in ways I couldn't imagine- both more opulent and also much poorer-but all of us kids were friends- rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight, it didn't matter, we were all bound by our passion for our various artistic endevours. Much like the scene in the film, where young Avijit goes to Holland for a special exhibition and meets kids from the around the world. These other children are fascinated by what he sees with his camera's eye, as he is by seeing his breath in the cold Amsterdam air. In one scene, you see him having fun and joking around with the other children. There they are- bound together by their universal humanity, and by their art. Coincidentally, I now work a block away from my old High School. They are expanding into the building next door. I wish them well.

As I also wish well those kids in the film. I do hope that they manage to open the "Kids With Cameras" school. I most worry about Suchitra. It was her photos that appeal to me most (could it be the cats? ;-) ). I suppose I like her concise, well composed, clear shots. At the end of the film, it said that she was not enrolled in school. The right schooling, the right encouragement, can change everything. Art can change kids lives.

Please take the time to visit the websites linked above. If this film, "Born Into Brothels" is playing in your city, go see it. If there are similar programs set up in your city, contribute when finances allow and/or offer your time and expertise if you have it to offer.

My next post shall be more personal, but I just had to put this one "out there".

Happy Easter for those that celebrate it,

Monday, March 21, 2005

Monday Monday

Yay! Short week this week and today is almost over... Have I accomplished everything on my "to do" list for today? Er, no, but have done some of it...

Had a weekend filled with social engagements. Friday night instead of heading to the gym, I headed for 2 for 1 cosmos with some work mates at the hotel bar down the street. Then it was off to stop by and see a friend. As I was in the neighborhood, afterwards, I had to head to La Sirenta for some carry out tacos- 2 chicken, 1 ceviche tostada and a quesadilla. Oh, and some gaucamole. Brought them home and shared with Paul who was sleeping on the sofa, lazy sod. ;-)

Then, Saturday it was all about the laundry, loading up the iPod with more choonz, and various other around the house stuff. Went for a run/walk in the hood and discovered that the high school up the road has got a track. Took a few spins around. Then, that night was Lisa's going away. She's moving back to TO this week. Found out she's been dating this guy who looked familiar- turns out he's a friend of Sheila, which is how I know him- from her parties. Saw Paige who is heading off to India for 3 months- had to beg off her going away invite as we're flying to Mexico City early the next morning.
Ramon was there, and made some pretty tasty paella- just like his daddy taught him in his restaurant in Valencia. Lisa and Kelly told me he rode around town all day looking for the ingredients. He had to beg and borrow a proper paella pan off the folks at Tio Pepe. It was like a cooking show in the kitchen there for awhile. Had a pleasant time.

Next morning it was off to Mama's on the Half Shell for brunch with the family (sans Bill, Diane and Juliette). Nice place! Worth a trip back for brunch- was very heavy on brunchy stuff with seafood (my fave). Had eggs benedict with crab and spinach, hash browns and raw oysters. Also a bloody mary (a proper one, with Old Bay) and coffee. Mom gave me a cute purplish purse/handbag (not sure what I'll wear it with though..) and Dave and Erin gave me knitting stuff, including the feminist knitter's manifesto "Stitch and Bitch". Hope to learn to knit sometime in the near future. I think it'll make a nice hobby and maybe keep me from snacking in the evenings (can't unwrap chocolates and knit one, purl two at the same time ;-) ).

Picked up a NY Times and went home and read and napped and generally got some well needed loafin' time in. Went to Dan and Spoon's last night for the Pachyderm Pot Luck. The parade to the train cars was very brief, though. Seems it's only the elephants they walk that way anymore- no more horses, zebras, llamas, etc. to be seen... we were thinking of writing Ringling Brothers and asking them what was up!

Met a nice girl, Mindy, who moved here a couple of months ago from Austin (by way of North Dakota, Japan, France and Spain). A real kindred spirit. It's been awhile I realize, since I've met new people and chatted away merrily like that. Dan had a fire going in an old Weber Grill, which was nice- as were the "fill your own Vaccaros cannoli" someone else had brought. Yum.

So tonight we may be going to a britishexpat meetup if Paul get out of work in time. I hope he does. Don't feel like cookin' and missed the last one as I was painting the downstairs bathroom.

Okay, that's enough of my ordinary life for today...
signing off,