Monday, March 23, 2009

in the dead of night on the autobahn with the long ago on the radio

I have found myself mired in a rather formidable rut so far this year, and when that happens my first instinct is to run. However, as I'm finding it more and more difficult to justify pulling up stakes, my new outlet is to plan vacations that I may or may not actually take once I've finally saved up the money (ha).

Anyway, today at work I mapped out two rather extravagant and hopelessly foot-tickling possible holidays.

Trip #1: Split, Budapest, Vienna, Prague
Trip #2: South of France, Barcelona, Morocco

Either would have to be about 10 days long with travel, I think, and therefore would involve expense that--while not bank-breaking--would not be negligible. I am almost 30 and a professional and therefore feel well past the point in my life where I am willing to stay at a hostel. So save away I must, I know not for how long.

I am leaning a bit more towards Trip #1, as it would certainly be less expensive and the distances between all points (other than to Split) are only a few hours by train. I might be overstretching things with Trip #2 anyway, as it's a pretty hefty trek from Barcelona to Morocco (and not one that's logistically pretty).

Anyway, puttering around researching airfares and activities is what's keeping me somewhat sane at the moment. Although who knows what might happen - I could spend all that time saving up for the trip, only to spend it on another flight of fancy.


Oh and also I think it's kind of funnybutmaybealittleirritating that people at work are HORRIFIED that I'm planning on taking this trip alone. Honestly, though, I am way too a) impulsive, b) cranky when hungry/tired/overstretched, and c) self-absorbed to do 10 days anywhere with anyone. I'll probably see if my friends on the other side of the ocean want to come play for the weekend wherever I may be, but I have taken quite a few trips on my own and I don't mind admitting that I relish the freedom and lightness of it. I mean, not to get all Moleskine about it, but there's a reason why people travel when they want to sort out their heads.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

this land was always ours, was the proud land of our fathers

I think my favorite part of St Patrick's Day (observed) is the quiet dignity of the celebration. The green Dr Seuss hats, people swearing, "WOOO!!!"-ing, and occasionally puking or urinating outside my house.

Bah O'Humbug.

Of course I, too, was once 20 and ridiculous (believe it or NOT!). I spent that final youthful SPD in Dublin, staggering around Temple Bar in bright green eyeshadow, singing Pogues songs and drinking whisky. I was flashed by a young man wearing a kilt, threatened at knifepoint by a rather frightening gentleman, and nearly flattened by a double-decker bus. All in all, fun times, but not ones I'd necessarily like to relive vicariously through the people swearing loudly on the street below.

Honestly, I don't mean to be shaking my fist all curmudgeonly over the kids having a bit of fun on an unseasonably gorgeous Saturday in March. And I know this riffraff comes with the territory of living in the East End (as I quickly learned my first night in my apartment when a young gentleman belted out a Journey medley below my window). Yet I can't help but wonder when it became acceptable to be a total douchebag in public.

Ooh, I smell garlic bread.

Anyway, I'll be heading out this evening (against my better judgement). C & A invited me to join them at Solera, and I figure an evening at the wine bar can't help but be civilized, even on SPD.

And, just so I feel like I'm not totally foresaking my Irish heritage, here's some music to drink by. Sláinte!

Friday, March 13, 2009

loosen my lips

I've been meaning to write - truly I have - but as soon as I stand on the edge of that precipice I find myself at a loss for words. How does one catch up after 2 years away?

Well I'm not even going to bother recapping what's happened since my trip to Montreal all that time ago. Most of it was spent in a relationship that didn't quite work out, and nothing pivotal happened apart from that.

So now what?

Twitter has reconfirmed my hunch that I have thoughts I'm eager to share. I've been trying not to be too terribly mundane, but it serves as a daily reminder that I should do and/or learn something worth tweeting. Plus, I can't help but have my fangirlish head 'asplode when I see Stephen Fry, John Hodgman, Bill Corbett, and Neil Gaiman all tweeting away at each other.

I re-read these clockworkbird entries while doing laundry at my parents' house this afternoon and it made me slightly sad that I hadn't chronicled the past year and a half. I have a horrifically spotty memory, so I need things like blogs to remind me what the heck I was thinking.

Anyhoodle (should I be impressed or concerned that my MacBook does not spellcheck the word "anyhoodle"??), non sum qualis eram. Things can only get better.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

of montréal

Saturday afternoon, after a particularly inspiring walk around Chimney Bluffs State Park, I decided to make a brief, overnight trip to Montréal. Completely spur of the moment, but I needed to get out of town for a day and I'd always wanted to visit. I swung by Barnes & Noble to grab a guide book (not a particularly helpful one, as it turned out) and booked a hotel room when I got home.

I left in the deepest darkness of 4am, zipping down 104 instead of the Thruway. Without street lights, pine forests on either side, my headlights illuminating the thickening fog ahead of me--it was like every fireside horror story you ever heard at camp. I half expected a phantom hitchhiker to appear in my back seat. The sun began to rise a while before Oswego, and the fog lingered attractively among the fields and streams before dissipating.

The rest of the drive was fairly unremarkable, although generally pretty. I needed to stop for gas about 90 minutes outside of Montréal, which proved to be quite complicated as a) I hadn't exchanged any money yet, and b) apparently pay-at-the-pump gas stations have yet to permeate the rural areas of Québec. Thankfully I ran across one that accepted cards as I approached Montréal, so an early crisis was averted.

I dropped my car off at the hotel around 10 but, as I couldn't check in yet, I took a stroll around Vieux-Montréal. Totally beautiful. My spoken French is embarrassingly rudimentary, but I can read it well enough, so it wasn't too difficult to navigate or order food, etc.

Day One

Cobblestone streets, bistros and cafés, terraces, statues, fountains, cathedrals... ah, all the things that I am a complete sucker for! Completely saturated with tourists, obviously, but totally gorgeous.

Château Ramezay
Museum of the history of Montréal, with restored rooms as well as exhibits on life in early Canada (the capital punishment room was quite interesting). There was a modest garden in the back that would have been delightful, had it not been completely overrun with the most bad-ass looking wasps I'd ever seen.

Museum of archeology and the history of Montréal, situated on the precise spot where the city was founded (so they claim). The majority of the exhibits were all right, and there was a lookout affording decent views of the city; however, the truly awesome stuff was down in the basement, where you could tour some excavations of the old city and peruse super-cool artifacts they'd dug up. Old stuff! History nerdgasm!

Place Jacques-Cartier
It tickled me that there is a huge, towering statue of Admiral Nelson in the heart of Vieux-Montréal. Apparently the English put it up back in the day, and there he still stands. Ha! It took a little bit of searching to find a restaurant that served something other than les hamburgers, but I eventually settled onto a cozy terrace for a delicious (if tourist-priced) meal of moules provençales and Hoegaarden.

The waterfront wasn't anything spectacular, but I happily strolled down Quai King-Edward with gelato in hand.

Mont Royale and Oratoire St-Joseph
My guidebook's maps were not the best. For this reason, I ended up trudging up the ridiculous hills of Mont Royale for about 45 minutes to reach Oratoire St-Joseph (turns out, I could have just walked down the road from the Metro station. Oh well). It wasn't a complete loss, I suppose, as the homes there were beautiful (kind of like a Québécois Hollywood Hills, je suppose), but my legs still ache. Eventually I reached the summit and l'Oratoire, cashing in on the payoff of gorgeous vistas in all directions. I didn't see the heart of Brother Andre, but there were a large number of pilgrims queuing up to seek healing. The basilica interior was a little too modern for my taste, I'm generally not a huge fan of mid-20th-century churches, but the outside wasn't too ugly.

Rue St-Denis
Super hipster stretch in the Latin Quarter, full of quirky independent shops and terraced cafés and bistros. I dined on moules mariniere at a small, charming terrace affording excellent and varied people watching. Everyone was good looking, even the homeless people! It was bizarre and very Stepfordesque. Did you ever see the "Arrested Development" episode where Lindsay picks up the good-looking homeless guy, who turns out to be an actor researching a role? That's all I could think about when I passed a handsome, if a little scruffy, guy sitting on a stoop. I thought he was just chilling on the stoop of his building until he asked me for change. Ha!

Day Two

Jardin Botanique
I almost skipped this on Monday morning since it started to drizzle, but after a brief stop for coffee the clouds parted. The gardens were worth every penny. I only had time to cruise through the rose garden, Chinese garden, and Japanese garden as I had to get back to my hotel across town to check out by noon, but I could have easily spent all day there. Apparently it is second only to London's Kew Gardens in size.

Marché Maisonneuve
On my way back from des jardins, I picked up a croissant and coffee at the historic Marche Maisonneuve. My guidebook made it out to be this amazing, authentic place but I have to admit... it was pretty disappointing. The only kick I got out of it was actually having to use my pathetic French "skills" to order my food. I wish I'd spent a bit more time at the gardens instead, but oh well!

I arrived home last night around 6pm, completely exhausted but so happy and satisfied with my trip. I used to do this sort of thing all the time when I was in the UK, so it was exhilarating to venture out on my own again and just... go. If I had the money I'd definitely do it more often. Now I need to start saving for my trip to Japan next year!

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I could update you on everything I've been up to (mostly catching up with friends at Solera, or saying adieu to coworkers at MacGregor's) but I'm lacking the energy en ce moment. Instead, I'll give you another update of my present favorite things.

1. Alka-Seltzer. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but I can't tell you how many hangovers I've been spared lately, thanks to this fizzy little miracle. Cure for a dodgy tummy and headache all in one! Amazing.

2. J.Crew. Their fall collection has inspired me to flirt with a credit card debt once again. I have a well-documented weakness for tweeds and cardigans that they seem quite happy to exploit.

3. Rome. OB-sessed. I've been watching it on DVD and am presently gorging myself on Season 2, courtesy of Netflix. Sometimes I am so baffled by the actors I find myself attracted to, though. Like, my infatuation with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, I can understand... but Tobias Menzies? Et tu Brute? Random.

4. The Scrabulous application on Facebook. Just like being back at Valhalla! I would also like to state, for the record, that as of this moment I am undefeated.

5. The "Bowie in Space" sketch from Flight of the Conchords. "Whatcha doin' you freaky old bastahd you?" Hee. They have their Bowie pastiche right on, too. The only trouble is that Outback Steakhouse tends to ruin everything for everybody (subsection, Of Montreal) and for the longest time I thought that guy was just a crap actor with a fake Aussie accent.

6. Shorpy: The 100-Year-Old Photo Blog. I am obsessed with all things 19th century - early 20th century. This blog is like crack for history nerds.

7. K and I will be heading to Japan in about 14 months if all goes according to plan. I've never been to Asia, so I'm excited.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

no method in our madness, just pride about our manner

Where the hey is everyone? Are you all holed up reading Harry Potter or something? Not a peep out of anyone this weekend, spare a drunken voicemail message from K (via Northern J) telling me I must go with them to Japan. I think I'll phone her tomorrow and ask her to elaborate.

It's kind of a timely suggestion, actually, as I've taken up making Bento. I even bought myself a rice cooker and have finally, finally learned how to make my own sushi after 10 years of saying I would. Definitely better late than never! I also managed to find an adult Bento Box (namely one that doesn't feature an over-the-top adorable anime cat dressed up as a watermelon or similar).

This morning (waiting for my pre-ordered HP to arrive in the mail... I know, I know), I took an absolutely amazing drive down to Geneseo via East River Road. The weather was unbelievable... I just love driving through the country on days like this! It's very hilly down there, too, so the vistas were quite breathtaking. Anyway, I know I complain about how remote Rochester is, but I am utterly enchanted by the fact that you can drive a short distance from the city and hit open farmland, quaint Americana-saturated Main Streets, and lakes dotted with summer cottages and wineries.

What else is new? I have a new phone, which I am pretty much in love with (although I was upset that they didn't offer it in lime green, like the older version... I bought it in a browny-red though, which looks pretty sexy anyway). Oh, and I was promoted at work... which I know sounds a little counterproductive considering I'm actively seeking employment elsewhere, but a) it will provide me with (a little) more money in the meantime, and b) it'll look good on my resume.

Right, time to join the masses and continue with Harry. How bittersweet, to know this is the last one! I kind of want to take my time with it, but it's so bewitching that I'm gobbling it rather quickly. Probably not a bad thing, as I am dodging spoilers left and right!