Warmed and Worn Out


Happy Holidays, friends!  

Ever since Thanksgiving, life has been a non-stop whirlwind of fun and activity that has warmed my soul and also worn me to my core.  In a nutshell, we hosted Thanksgiving; we hosted a gingerbread house decorating party for our nieces and nephews; we did fall cleanup in our garden; I spent a weekend with one of my BFFs imbibing on holiday goodness, booze, and My Fair Wedding marathons; my Mom came for a visit, we started painting and renovating our downstairs apartment; attended various work, friend and family holiday parties; and then traveled to CT for Christmas.  I'm spent!

Now that I'm back home and the holidays are almost over, I am very much looking forward to the deep quiet of winter.  Ideally, I would escape into the woods of Vermont and hibernate in cabin for the next two months.  No tv, no internet, no phone; just books, candles, a bathtub, a camera, and my laptop for writing.  And some wine.  And Jay, duh.  But unfortunately, my employer frowns upon two month periods of isolation and rest in faraway states.  So, I'll have to improvise.

I think what I'm really craving is just good old fashioned unscheduled down time.  I want a weekend with no plans, so that I can wake up and choose to watch movies on the couch all day, or I can choose to go hiking in the woods, or just go for a drive and wander through the small towns of Pennsylvania.  I get this hankering every winter, and every winter I find solace in the quiet, cold of winter.  So, after New Year's Eve, and after we're done working on the first floor apartment, I will take my cues from nature, go underground and hibernate for awhile.  Bliss. 

What about you?  How do you spend the winter?  What do you crave after the busyness of the autumn and holiday season?  Any other hibernators out there? 

Occupy 2.0: A Movement at a Crossroads


As the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement turns two months old, and as many local encampments face eviction, and winter, I think it’s time we start re-thinking what it means to Occupy, and planning the next phase of this movement.  Physically occupying public and/or private space was a great tactic, and one that has served its purpose, I believe.  People all over the country have been in a state of crippling crisis, while Wall Street banks have been riding high thanks to our bailout.  People have felt helpless, powerless; like they're mere victims of a system that rewards corruption and seemingly punishes the honest pursuit of the ever elusive American dream.  So having a call to action for a long-term occupation of Wall Street served as a galvanizing force: Off of the couch and into the streets!  That call to action resonated with the masses and manifested in the creation of long-term occupations all over the country.  
I don’t think everyone realized how pissed off they were until they started seeing other pissed-off people gathering at Zuccotti Park and at encampments throughout the country.  Like I mentioned in an earlier post, the more that people participated, the more others began to participate.  So, the  physical occupation was key in creating an actual space for people to come together and start to dialogue about the state of the mess we're in.  That alone is some powerful stuff, especially in this day and age when we tend to gather online rather than in person.  Plus, the encampments were more than a few tents pitched in a common area; they were (are) a self sustaining community that provided a model of radical inclusion, mutual support and direct democracy.  Direct democracy is exhausting, by the way.  Awesome, but incredibly exhausting.  
Aside from the gathering/community building that the occupation of physical space resulted in, these encampments were (are) the visual symbol of this movement.  You cannot ignore the fact that thousands of people are living in tents in cities and towns all around the country.  I don't know about you, but I literally have to walk through the encampment in Philadelphia to get to my office.  I could not ignore it if I tried.  
 You know who else can't ignore it?  The media.  And because the media cannot ignore the Occupy movement, neither can anyone else who's not living under a rock.  Rather than just covering the marches and direct actions, the media have been covering the evictions, General Assemblies, protester/City relations, public health and safety concerns, and anything else that happens at camp.  As the old adage goes, all press is good press, to a point (more on that later).  The end result is that people are paying attention and are talking about this movement.  And not just supporters, either; there are several folks who either don't understand what it's all about, or who totally oppose it.  But the commonality is that just about everyone is talking about what's going on and has an opinion about it, thanks to the media coverage.  
Despite the positives associated with the occupation of physical space, there are also several negatives, especially in the context of a long-term movement.  For starters, the folks who are actually occupying represent a tiny fraction of those of us who identify with and support the movement.  At it's peak, the encampment in Philadelphia had close to 400 tents.  Currently, the Occupy Philadelphia facebook page has over 27,000 "likes", and based on what I hear in my social and professional circles, there are many, many more who support what's going on in one way or another.  So, while the camp is the visual face of the movement, it's really not.  Much of the negative press stems from the actions of a select few, and then those actions become the official soundbites or headlines coming out of Occupy Philly.  And while I do believe that all press is good press as a general rule of thumb, I also think that perception matters, and that too much bad press over an extended period of time is just bad.
 Having the encampments as the loci of the movement has resulted in the following: 1) Many of us are unable to participate in any real way (can't camp, can't regularly attend General Assembly, can't participate in several week-day direct action activities) and therefore feel slightly removed from the action;  2) Onlookers and potential supporters are only getting a partial view of a much broader group, and are basing their opinions of the movement on the actions of the smaller group, and 3) The general public thinks that the Occupy movement is synonymous with the occupation of physical space, and it is not, at least in my humble opinion.  The occupation of physical space is one tactic in a much broader movement, and I personally think that it's time to consider other, more sustainable tactics to pursue as the the movement progresses from infancy to toddler-hood.     
Another negative of focusing too much on the camping aspect of the movement is that it diverts the energy and focus from matters of corporate greed and economic injustice to matters of permits, plazas and police.  Here in Philadelphia, all we've been hearing about lately is whether the camp is moving to a new plaza and whether or not they need a permit.  Personally, I think we have significantly bigger fish to fry.
 And that brings me to the most immediate downfalls of a continuation of the tent tactic: 1) Evictions are plaguing many locales, and 2) winter is upon us.  Many see the recent wave of evictions as defeat, but I see them as an opportunity.  Truth is, voluntarily camping on cold, city concrete in the snow and ice is just not a sustainable idea.  And again, since the encampments are so highly visible, the media will feed on the dwindling numbers of tents rather than report on what's actually happening outside of the encampments.  Let's face it, the physical occupations will probably be fairly lifeless and rather transient over the winter months.  Rather than react and retreat in response to evictions and/or harsh weather, how about we just proactively recognize the strengths and limits of certain tactics, and move on to phase two of the movement. There is no shame in heading indoors for the winter.
Who knows what phase two will look like, or what the goals will be.  Perhaps more coordinated efforts between and among the various Occupation cities; maybe a clear message with specific demands and a strong idea of what success will look like, and hopefully an organized force that continues to influence the political discourse in this upcoming election year.  I don't really know.  But I do believe that the movement is at a crossroads, and we have an opportunity to pause, ponder and progress the Occupy movement in a positive and meaningful way.  Regardless of what happens in the future, no one can deny the power of what has unfolded in these past two months.  

High on Occupy


I wrote what follows a few weeks ago, but never posted because of what happened by the time I was done writing it.  As you'll read, I am a full-on supporter of the Occupy movement and hold a great deal of pride for the Philadelphia occupation, particularly as it pertains to police-protester relations.  As I was getting ready to wrap this entry up and post it, I became quite disheartened by an Occupy Philly direct action: a protest and sit-in against police brutality.  Now, I get that the action was in solidarity with the national day of awareness against police brutality and not against the Philadelphia cops in particular, who, I might add, have been respectful of protester rights and have not abused their power.  But still.  I feel like all eyes were on Philadelphia because we were emerging as this model of police-protester mutual respect.  Then, while the whole world was watching us, we directed our anger and action at the police.  Huh?  The first arrests to occur within the Occupy Philadelphia community happened not as the result of marches against inequality but as a result of a handful of protesters sitting in the street, protesting police brutality, something that has not happened here within the context of the Occupy movement.  I should also note that the arrests were handled with respect and without brutality.   

Even though it was only 10 people who participated and got arrested, this action became the headline and soundbite emerging from Occupy Philadelphia, and it made us look like fools (from my perspective).  It bothered me so much, and created a rift between myself and the movement.  I feel like we (the movement) need to focus on the big picture and not get bogged down by every cause and every injustice that ever was.  Sure, police brutality is a real problem, and is worthy of protests and sit-ins, but NOT this protest.  Especially when the police have been nothing but respectful of our rights.  I signed on to this cause and became part of this movement because of corporate greed and the implications of that greed on the growing inequality between the haves and the have-nots. I want to focus our actions on the root of that issue, not on things that may be tangentially related.

I think there are way more potential Occupy supporters watching from home than there are folks who are camping and participating in direct action marches, so perception matters!  People watching at home heard about how good the Philly cops have been, and then the next minute they heard about marches and sit-ins against the cops.  As a result, people were confused and began to detach from the movement.  I did too.  Well, I shouldn't say that I detached, I just needed space and time to express my discontent and find a way to re-connect to a movement that I SO believe in.  I've done all that, and am back to my Occupy High.  I now feel like I can post this original entry in the spirit in which it was written. Solidarity to all Occupiers, whether in a tent or on their couch.

I don't know what is happening, but I know for certain that something is happening here in Philadelphia, and I assume throughout the whole country and beyond.  I feel tongue tied, because despite this knowing, I don't quite know how to put words to it, yet.  I am still processing, trying it on, feeling it out.  All I know is that I have never witnessed something like this before, they way it has resonated with the masses and taken root in communities around the globe.  I also know that I don't just want to witness it; I very much want to be an active participant and co-creator of this thing, this movement.  

When Occupy Wall Street began, I had just left on my grand adventure out west and did not read the news at all for a little over a week - talk about liberating!  When I returned home, I heard a little about it but wasn't captivated.  I felt somewhat put off by the perceived lack of direction and overall purpose of the Wall Street demonstrators.  "What's the point?", I thought.  I, like many of us, absolutely understood and empathized with the root of the anger and frustration that was driving the protest, but I wasn't sold on the idea that pitching tents was the best way to be an effective change agent.  Not that I had a better idea, but I just wasn't there yet; I didn't get it, yet.

But then encampments starting popping up in cities and towns all over the place, including right here in Philadelphia.  Once the Occupy movement became local and I could experience it in a way other than through the media, I got it.  It took about five minutes of being at Dilworth Plaza on the west side of Philadelphia's City Hall to feel the wave of this thing that is happening.  Hundreds of people from every ethnic, socioeconomic and political background were there; their presence born out of a common anger about the passionate courtship that exists between our government and Wall Street.  After years of divisive politics and apathy-induced slumber, this peaceful and dare I say compassionate uprising was like a welcome bucket of cold water to my soul.  After that first day at Occupy Philly, for the first time in a long time, I felt the undeniable power of people united.  That's when I got it. 

Lucky for me, the Occupy Philly camp is about a block from my office, so I'm able to spend some time there every day.  I literally walk through it on my way to work, often spend my lunch breaks there, and sometimes linger there after work.  That first week there were maybe 100 tents.  A week later there were 350.  I should also note that Dilworth Plaza was home to several homeless folks prior to the Occupation, and they have remained and become part of the movement.  Occupy Philly has become a self-sustaining community, a model of radical inclusion, mutual support and dare I say, love.  It is the total opposite of greed; it is the antidote to greed.  Occupy Philly feeds every single person there three meals a day, they clothe and shelter everyone who needs it, and most importantly, they provide a safe space for everyone to voice concerns, propose ideas and be an active participant in this movement.  Nobody is an outcast; rather, every single person is a valued member who has something to contribute, and is encouraged to do so.  What a novel concept. 

On that first day, as I made my way through the crowd, I found myself standing on the sidewalk where Market Street dead-ends into City Hall, literally the center of the city.  I expected a lot of support for the movement within the crowd, but was pleasantly surprised and inspired by the amount of support coming from the outside.  Horns blasted and fists pumped in solidarity.  Cabbies, bus drivers, guys in suits, women with small dogs shoved in expensive bags - everyone echoed the sentiments that were taking root at City Hall.  The energy was electric, and literally gave me goosebumps.  It was then that I realized that this thing was real, and was rippling out further than City Hall and the numerous Occupation sites around the country.  

As the days wore on and the reports of police brutality and forced Occupy evictions from other locales increased, something very different was unfolding here in Philadelphia: cooperation and support.  As of now, the City has been supportive and has expressed a desire to work with the Occupiers.  There will undoubtedly be strains in the relationship down the road, as there is a massive construction project planned for Dilworth Plaza (read: eviction) in the very near future, but for now, exchanges between Occupy and the City have been anchored by mutual respect.  The same can be said for the police.  There are many Occupiers who are wary of the police, and for good reason, but I personally feel that we shouldn't be creating enemies where they do not exist.  For now, the police are respecting our right to do what we're doing.  There have been no incidents of pepper spray, no paddy wagons, no arrests.  They are doing their job.  

In addition to the support from the City, Occupy Philly has received letters of solidarity from the faculty of University of Pennsylvania and Temple University.  The transport workers union donated portable toilets, and several local restaurants have donated food.  People from far and wide have donated tents, blankets, food, computers, books, clothes, white boards, instruments and labor.  The Quaker Friends Center, located two blocks from Dilworth Plaza, has opened their commercial kitchen for meal prep, their bathrooms and showers for Occupiers to use, and their meeting hall for General Assemblies when the weather is crappy.  The support is widespread, and incredible.  

This is not just about unemployed hippies getting high, having drum circles and making empty demands; this is about the vast majority of us feeling ripped off and taken advantage of by our government and "too big to fail" banks.  We are slowly but surely finding our voice and exercising our right to assemble.  Many people want to know what our demands are, what our focus is, and what our next move is.  This movement is young.  Be patient.  Those things will come.  For now, it's not about the outcome, it's about the momentum and the process; it's about the communities we're building, the collective anger and power we're tapping into, and the power of people united that we're rediscovering.  

I'm finding that the more people who participate, whether on-site or online, the more other people feel like they belong too and begin to participate.  I think originally, based on what the media was broadcasting, it was only the young who felt like this was their movement.  But the more other people dig in their heels and contribute their voices, the more the rest of us feel like we belong.  Do not let the media deceive you.  There are young people marching aside elderly people; there are anti-war protestors marching alongside war veterans; there are middle class moms with their babes chanting "We Are the 99%" in unison with homeless men.  That's the beauty of it -- we are all (well, 99% of us) affected by either the economy being in the toilet (and one flush away from being in the ocean), or the housing crisis, or by the student loan debt we're drowning in, or the almost 10% unemployment rate, or the bank policies that penalize us for playing by the rules while they get bailed out by us for engaging in irresponsible behavior, and then further rewarded for being total ass clowns.  Yeah, ass clowns.  Is it any wonder why We The People are angry??    

This is, above all, the People's Movement.  I don't know where this will lead, all I know is what's actually happening right now.  This movement transcends political leanings and individual interests; this is about the people coming together take back their power.  The people are taking it back and are flexing their collective muscle to shine a light on the equally important causes and effects of corporate greed.  For now, as we slowly emerge from our submissive slumber, awareness is good enough.  Action is necessary, and will come in due time.  As for today, people are rising up, and taking care of each other at the same time.  Imagine that.  

Join us, after all, you are us.  No tent necessary. 

119: Living Room Re-Do


After taking the summer off from working on the house, we're ready to begin the next project.  For those who may not know, last January we bought a multi-family home and became landlords.  We live in one of the apartments in the building and rent out the other two units.  We have dreams of one day restoring the home back to its single-family glory, but for now, we're content to keep living in our one-bedroom apartment and collecting that rental income :) 

Since we purchased the house, we've painted the master bedroom; revamped the foyer and common stairwell, which included scraping away years of wallpaper and paint, demo, putting in new ceilings and painting, and installed new gardens in the front yard.  

Here's the bedroom in the very beginning stages of painting:

Here's the bedroom after two coats of Sherwin Williams Enigma: 
Here's the common stairwell during the 3-month long project.  Pure hell:

Here's the common hallway after months of hellish hard work, a few coats of Sherwin Williams Sticks & Stones, and some white trim paint: 

Here's the house with nothing but weeds in the beds:

Here's the new and improved beds, taken Memorial Day weekend.  You should see how much everything has filled in- it's wild!   Currently, you can't see the ground; it's all herbs and vegetables and flowers and total urban jungle goodness.  I would take a picture but frankly, I'm too lazy. 

So that's a little taste of what we've been up to.  More detailed pics are here, if you're interested.  When we first bought the house, we were all excited for projects and couldn't wait to dive in and get started.  Painting the bedroom was fun, mostly because it only took a weekend to complete.  The hallway project, on the other hand, took us several weeks and made us realize just how time intensive and all-encompassing these types of things are.  We thought we were just going to paint, but one thing led to another and before we knew it, we had a full blown demo and construction project on our hands.  This was tough because the weekends were our only time to work on it.  Gone were the lazy rainy weekends and spontaneous Saturday nights out, and in rolled the monotonous routine of scrapping, more scraping, and even more scrapping.  It was at least a month before we saw even the slightest improvement, and even then, it still looked like crap. 

Once we finally completed that project- well, it's not actually complete yet, we still have to deal with the floors, but it's just about done.  Anyway, once we felt done enough, we agreed to take a break from house projects and focus on other stuff.  Jay had a lot of side work to take care of, and I really enjoyed spending time in the garden.  We also wanted our summer weekends as free as possible for beach trips, spending time with family, and just not being bogged down when it was so nice out.  

Now that the "brisk" winds of autumn are blowing in (it's in the mid 80's as I write this) and we'll be spending more time indoors, we feel ready for the next project - the living room re-design!  This is my kind of project, as it's mostly cosmetic and design centric rather than construction-heavy.  Our current living room is fine, but I want a space that reflects our style and personalities a little more.  I want a room that is designed without being too design-y, you know?  Kinda eccentric, cozy, playful and relaxing is what I'm going for; a room that has style but doesn't take itself too seriously.  I want someone who has never met us to be able to walk into the room and get a total sense of who we are. 

So, all that being said, here are the colors we've chosen:  

The main color will be Sherwin Williams Alpaca, a warm grayish/tanish neutral , and the accent wall color will be Sherwin Williams Peacock Plume, a blueish/greenish beauty:

We had some difficulty deciding between a cool gray and a warm gray, but ultimately we decided to go with the lighter, warmer one (Alpaca) on the right.  Thanks to Mom, Sara, Jenny M. and Simone for their votes.  Just about everyone voted for Alpaca

I'd also like to throw in some pops of green, magenta and/or orange, if possible.  Here are a few things that I'm inspired by.  And yes, that is a cat on the pillow.  I'm inspired by her nap habits. 

Pillows with general color scheme found at Marshalls.  Cat not included.  The blue pillow is a perfect match to the accent wall color.  The green is along the lines of the "pop of green" I referred to above.  There are also pops of magenta and orange in the white pillow
40 x 28 Koi fish painting by Ben Will.  Note the pops of orange and green.  Note the awesomeness.
Letter blocks made from vintage maps of Ireland, perfect for on top of the bookshelves.
8 x 10 graphic map of Philly, comes in a variety of colors.  Did I mention I love maps?  May get a few from different cities we've visited and cluster them together.
16 x 20 print of classic Banksy gorilla graffiti.  I LOVE this; not sure that it will work in this space, but it belongs somewhere in our home. 

So that's where we are right now.  This color scheme is based loosely on what we already have, so I know certain elements will work.  I'm just so excited to put fresh color on the walls, throw up some new art with our existing stuff and hang curtains.  Right, curtains.  I haven't started looking at designs I like yet, I kind of want to paint and accessorize first, and then deal with window treatments.  Not sure if that's a good strategy... what do you think? 

The only thing we've actually done so far is pick and purchase the paint.  I say only as if it's simple to pick paint colors.  Nope.  It's super hard, especially when you're as indecisive as I am and as indifferent as Jay is (about the paint color).  Now that we've decided and locked in, I feel like I need a few weeks off.  I'm exhausted!  :)

I'll keep you all posted on the project as we make progress.  Here's hoping that it's a relatively easy project and that we're not opening Pandora's box again!  Hell, even if it does turn out to be a long, drawn out mess, at least we'll have this guy to entertain us.  

10/1 - Awkward & Beautiful


I'm feeling a bit awkward tonight.  The Phillies just won the first game of the National League Division Series, Jay & I just had a fun night out, and it's the weekend!  All in all, life is good and I'm riding high on both post vacation and real life goodness.  I think I may be getting sick, but other than that, I have no real concerns.  I do have sadness, though.  

One year ago today, my Dad went from actively fighting cancer to receiving a prognosis of 4-6 weeks to live.  Read more about that here.  October 1st is permanently etched in my mind as a horrible day, yet October has always been one of my favorite months, so it's left me feeling totally awkward.  On one hand, October is the gateway to autumnal bliss; the temps cool down, the landscape turns from green to vibrant shades of orange, yellow, red and brown, and there's just an undeniable feeling of comfort and change.  But on the other hand, October has come to represent a time of suffering, sadness and great loss.  

How do I reconcile these two coinciding and competing feelings?  I have no idea.  All I know is that I have to honor both; I have to love October 1st like I always have, yet I have to hate October 1st, as I now do.  It's not just the 1st, either; I'm gonna have a tough time with all of October and November.  So that's what I'll be up to for the next few weeks; simultaneously loving and hating autumn.  I'll be clinging to memories of loss as I watch dead yet beautiful leaves fall from trees, and I'll be loving it for it's transformational, awesomeness.  What a beautiful, awkward mess.

Girl's "Weekend" - San Francisco edition

Tuesday, 9/20 - To pick up from where we left off, Simone picked us up at the Emeryville station just across the bay bridge from San Francisco.  We were whisked straight away from coach class and delivered to high-rollin' deluxe classOur accommodations were posh to say the least.  We stayed with a friend of Simone's, who hooked us up with a gorgeous house complete with bridge and bay views. Check it.

We put our bags down, popped a bottle of bubbly, and watched the sun set over the Golden Gate and into the Pacific (see pic above).  I was deeply exhausted from the lack of sleep on the train, not to mention deeply grimy from the lack of showers on the train, but despite all that we decided to wash up and head out for dinner.  We went to a great place called Absinthe which, for all you Top Chef fans, is where Jamie Lauren used to cook before she moved to LA.  I ordered a cocktail called "The Agent", spicy pork meatballs, and heirloom tomato gazpacho - all delish.  The food, the booze and the laughter amongst old friends created the perfect storm of sleep-inducing goodness.  We took a cab home and had a roller coaster of a ride, complete with several "woo!"s.  That was my introduction to the crazy hills of San Francisco.  Woo!  

Wednesday, 9/21 - I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to explore.  We decided to walk around different neighborhoods, do some shopping, check out some scenic viewpoints, and just do whatever came our way.  One of the best things that came our way was PikaPika, a nothing-but-photobooths store in Japantown.  Jackpot!  We picked our booth, our backgrounds, our poses, and then got to decorate each photo with props.  Have a look at the awesomeness that is PikaPika, and the awesomeness that is Sara, Simone and I.  Take note of the little guy in the pink, in the lower left hand corner of the bathtub, as well as in several other pics.  If this Girl's Weekend had a logo, it would be that little guy, and the motto would be: "Hey Girl."


These pictures are by far the best souvenir from the trip.  So, after the hilarity that ensued as a result of these pics, I was high on silliness and friendship; I doubt there's a higher high.  Maybe not a higher feeling, but there definitely exists a higher place: Twin Peaks.  See below for breathtaking views of San Francisco, the infamous fog, and the waters that surround.  Do you see the bridge popping out of the fog in the last pic? 

After these pictures were taken and after a little more shopping, we headed home for cocktail hour with our gracious host, Stewart.  It was my first cocktail hour with a venture capitalist, and I learned a great deal about the world of wealth and venture capitalists.  I've always been drawn to that term not because it's associated with wealth but because the word "venture" sounds an awful lot like "adventure", and I'm all about having adventures.  I could take or leave wealth, but I could not do without adventure.  Anyway... I digress.  After cocktail hour, we went out for sushi (by way of a failed attempt at Burmese food) with Simone's friend Franco.  Again, the food was scrumptious, and we even got to listen to Journey on the drive home.  After a few classic Journey tunes and the Night Ranger tune "Sister Christian" thrown in for good measure, I was ready to rest my weary head and call it a night. 

Thursday, 9/22 - We woke up and decided to escape the fog and head to Marin county for the day.  The fog followed us to Muir Beach, so we continued further onward to Muir Woods.  We had stopped and picked up lunch along the way, and had the intention of picnicking in or around the park.  Once we arrived, we realized that the parking lot was the best bet for a picnic (no picnics allowed within the actual park), so we set up shop atop a mound of hay in the parking lot and enjoyed our salads and Sofia Coppola bubbly cans. 

Once inside the park, we were under the meditative spell of the redwoods.  The woods were lovely, dark and deep, and left me feeling like I had their secrets to keep.  Alright already, I'll share one secret: "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." ~ John Muir

After the woods, we drove through some quaint Marin towns and wound up at Scoop in Fairfax, where we indulged in freshly-made coconut, strawberry, lavender vanilla honey, and chocolate ice creamI could have died a happy and fulfilled woman after my ice cream cone, but something told me there was even more delicious food to be had in my near future, so I held on, and forged ahead.   Such a trooper I am.  

On the way back into San Francisco, we made a quick stop at the Marin Headlands, which is another gorgeous overlook that offers spectacular views of the bridge and the city... or the fog.  Because the Headlands sit right on the border between SF and Marin (basically on the fog-line), it offers a unique perspective on the interplay between the two different micro-climates.  Look behind you and you see sunny blue skies; look ahead of you and you see a wall of white on the move.  It's an excellent place to experience the fog not as something lurking in the distance but as something that is alive and active and in constant motion.  I could literally see the fog swooshing over the hills and blanketing the bridge; there one minute and gone the next.  And the wind- oh my goodness it was so incredibly windy!  I thought my sunglasses were going to ripped from my face.  Because of the fog, it was the first time I felt like I could see wind.  Fascinating stuff.

After the Headlands, we crossed the bridge back into the city and slipped back into the fog.  Later that night, we succeeded in our mission to have Burmese food at Burma Superstar.   All I'm gonna says is this: pork belly.  I'll also say this: food coma.  

Friday, 9/23 - I forget to mention this above, but when we arrived at the house on Tuesday, there was a basket of goodies at the foot of our bed, courtesy of Simone.  Inside the basket was an array of bath and shower goodies, including homemade lavender vanilla salt and sugar scrub, shampoo and conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, bath robes, cozy slippers, chocolate, and a little mini wallet/business card holder type thing.  Inside the mini wallet/business card holder thing was... drumroll please ................................
............a gift certificate for a massage!  Not a five minute massage, not a chair massage, but a full body, full hour massage.  I felt like I had won the showcase showdown on The Price is Right!  Seriously, what an incredible treat, especially after days of uncomfortable sleeping (or not sleeping) in a chair on the train.  

So anyway, we woke up Friday morning and went to the spa for our appointments at 11:00am.  I knew my body would be jacked from the train experience, but I didn't anticipate just how tight it was, or how difficult it would be for my body to release that tension.  The massage felt pretty damn good; I could feel some of the tension in my upper back and shoulders melt away as my therapist worked it out.  It wasn't until the post-massage lunch cocktails, however, that I truly felt all of the tension leave my body ;)

After the massage and the cocktails and the lunch (what a fabulous life!), we spent the rest of the day running some errands and taking care of loose ends.  We wound up over at Simone's house that night for a cookout with Simon, Franco, and Franco's parents John and Sue, who were in visiting from New York.  We wound up having way too much fun (shocking!) and could not drive ourselves back to the posh pad.  So, we just kept on having fun until the wee hours.  I think we got maybe 3 hours of sleep at Simone's before we had to return to the posh pad so I could pick up my bags and hop on my flight home.  

Getting out of the car and saying goodbye to my best friends at the airport was hard.  Not because I love them and didn't want to leave, but because we were all hungover and any type of movement hurt.  I kid.  It was hard because I love these two girls so much, and despite the number of years we've been apart and the number of miles between us, we always have a blast together.  Always.  We've grown from kids to adults- well, that's debatable, but we just fit perfectly together.  So it's hard to walk away from that, not knowing when the next get together will be.  

Also, boarding that plane and heading home signaled the end of this latest and greatest adventure.  Travel changes you; it awakens you and opens new chambers within yourself that you never knew existed.  I think the challenge, for me anyway, is fitting this new self and perspective into my existing world.  Going back to work was the biggest challenge, by far.  But it's okay, it's been a week and I'm starting to feel settled.  Mostly though, I just feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience this adventure in the first place, especially with people whom I love.  I can think of nothing better.  

Thanks for reading these lengthy recaps, friends.  If anything, I hope they've planted a seed for you :)