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Friday, August 31, 2007

Every Street is Beautiful

Photo by myself at Pere-Lachaise, the historic cemetery on the outskirts of Paris.


A big hullo from Paris. Amsterdam is behind us but I have plenty of photos and a few stories to tell, when I have a chance.

Mark has been to both cities many times, but the beauty isn't lost on him. Our typical exchange, while walking is:

'Wow, that's beautiful.'


'Wow, look at that.'

'Oh my god. It's so nice.'

And so on.

At one point, we rounded the corner and he stopped abruptly. 'Hm,' he said. 'Every street is beautiful.'

I guess that's the trouble here. At some point it's useless to take pictures because every street is beautiful. Every rooftop, every doorway, every streetscape shows character and age.

Even the cemetary, Pere Lachaise (pictured), is spectacular. This morning we wandered along the mausoleums, ruins and tombs. We read epitaphs, took photographs and film footage, stalked a couple stray cats and avoided a funeral. After lunch, we walked all the way back to our hotel, near the Louvre. I will have to Mapquest our route, because it felt like 10 miles.

I almost started crying out of fatigue a couple times - my feet hurt, my ankles hurt, my knees hurt, my lower back hurt. Ouch. I've heard the same story told by people hiking the Himalayas, that some trekkers start crying due to exhaustion. Somehow, that sounds different. Trekkers have sherpas to carry the belongings.

Both scenarios don't sound quite right to me. Being on vacation, away from 'the stress'. Hiking long distances in pain, while surrounded by great beauty.



Sunday, August 19, 2007

From New Amsterdam to Amsterdam and Beyond

We will be journeying to Amsterdam this Friday. I've never been there, but Mark visited a couple years ago. He's told me about the narrow streets and nightlife, and promises that I'll love it. He's got the restaurants all planned out, including a 'Rijsttafel' (pronounced 'ryes-stah-fel') that makes him salivate when he talks.

We're staying at the 'Hotel Pulitzer' (pictured) which looks unreal. One of Mark's friends in the business is treating us there for several nights. We are estatic. Both of us have been working very hard and this vacation is long overdue.

After a few days in Amsterdam, we'll take the train overnight to Paris for the rest of the trip. I've been there a couple times and I love it. The last time I went was a cold, rainy November. The skies were continually changing, and I could understand why it this a city of artists. I'm sure we'll only be able to afford eating Croque Madames and soup, and it'll be tough not to overspend. As New Yorkers, Mark and I are used to eating very well for not that much money.

Mark is bringing his new HD camera to film the trip, his latest gadget. I'm posting a short film he created a couple weekends ago showing Brooklyn, mostly Greenpoint, where he lives. Note the abundance of Polish magazines and red sneakers slung up to claim the streets. Clive, the car makes a sneaky cameo in the shot taken across the bridge.


Photo by JimG944. For more great images, click here.


All Work and a Little Play

I apologize for how lax I've been as a writer, and I apologize in advance for how boring this entry is. My life has been pretty monotonous, and I promise to liven things up (without going postal).

The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of days and nights, slaving away until 9 or 10 pm. Sunday, we worked til 2:30 am, only to return early Monday morning to scurry around right up til the car took us to the airport.

Fortunately, our presentations in Aspen were well received. We have a ton of work ahead and a hectic schedule, but that's normal. New York must be the home for workaholism. Some people work hard and play hard, while others just work very, very hard. I reached my limit on this deadline. The upcoming vacation will be the perfect time to recover.

With full day meetings on two days, there was little time to wander around town. When we did wander, we got lost (how does one function with streets that have names?). We were lucky enough to stay at The Little Nell, which was beautiful. The rooms were charming and luxurious, and the service excellent. It seemed like any time I left my room, someone would go in there to clean it up. In high season, my room goes for $750 a night. Whew!

We capped off our trip with a huge, delicious Italian dinner at Campo de Fiori, sitting outside among the wildflower arrangements. We ate until bursting and, braindead, had nothing to say to one another. It was the perfect way to end the trip.

Now we're home to scramble and do it all over again.

Photo by Lars Jensen. For more great images, click here.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Say Cheese!!

This is my third (or fourth?) weekend in a row in the office, with a big presentation this week in Aspen. I will spare everyone from my complaints (*&#%!!!) and I'll write more after the deadline. I promise.

Meanwhile, Mark bought a new toy recently and has been playing with it. He walked and drove through Greenpoint yesterday (film to come!). The Canon Powershot TX-1 is a high definition (HD) camera that is unbelievably small and amazing. It looks like any other silver digital camera, but manages to record everything on high def, the medium that all the networks are changing over to.

Mark loves photography and his tv-related job means he's already great at camera work and editing. We're going on a trip to Amsterdam and Paris at the end of August, and we'll be bringing it along.

I thought I'd post a link to a movie on one of the blogs Mark found, which is well done and features New York. You have to download the video from the site. Enjoy!.

Photo by Jamie Marie. For more great images, click here.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Country

Sunday night while in Aspen, I went to a party hosted by a guy whose family made a fortune from spaghetti sauce in a jar. My coworker Sarah and I tagged along with our client to a gathering of random people. We met cousins of Jarred Sauce guy, and a sprinkle of eccentric, wealthy people who spend their time between Aspen, New York and Palm Springs.

Just out of the ritzy part of town, we wound down leafy roads to a folksy iron gate at the property edge. A path wound over a wooden footbridge to a sprawling log cabin nestled around a pond. The lights were on and the door was thrown open.

A few steps through the Entry Hall, and you arrived in the Living Room, with its enormous vaulted ceiling and two working fireplaces. Legally, you're only allowed to build gas fireplaces in Aspen. These were beautiful, real, wood burning fireplaces that must have been a part of an existing house.

The larger fireplace had mantle about 20 feet long, made up of random grey stones. There was a firebox in the middle, and two openings to either side, each stacked with firewood. The mantle went all the way up to the ceiling, and across it, about 8 feet up, was a huge grey timber with an antique shotgun mounted to the front.

Littering the walls of the room were beautiful objects - wood skiis, snow shoes, deer antlers and wrought iron. There were five or six bedrooms (I lost count) that wound their way around the site, a breezeway, an open kitchen, and a game room with a full bar. An outdoor jacuzzi near the Master Bedroom suite faced a brook that ran under the house. Karen and I have seen a lot of fancy houses between us, but this one had a unique rustic charm. We both couldn't stop saying 'Wow.'

I usually take pictures of everything I can, but that night, after a very long day of travel and work over the client's dining room table, we were camera-less. Besides, it would have been bad form to take pictures. We spent the evening standing conveniently close to the homemade tortilla chips and guacamole, margaritas in hand.

And at the end of the evening, we bid our host good night. He pointed to the tattered doormat. 'That's what a bear done,' he said. 'You can't have handles on your doors cuz they're so smart, they'd walk right into your house'.

Darkness stretched on beyond the little footbridge to the car somewhere ahead. I took a breath. 'Okay Sarah, you go first.'

Photo by Penny Sanford Porcelains. For more great images, click here.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007


ORACLE: You're cuter than I thought. I see why she likes you.

NEO: Who?

ORACLE: Not too bright, though.

People tend to describe a person using one overarching adjective. Rarely is it two.

‘I saw Denise last night.’

‘Oh, I like Denise. She is so smart!’

Denise might have placed second in a beauty pageant, but she’s only known for being ‘smart’. Hard to be both.

Men can be 'funny', 'tall', 'loud', 'cute'. Women, on the other hand, are usually identified with either smarts or appearance. I’d probably be described as ‘smart’. More book-smart than street smart. I’d function well in a glass bubble. Folks at work consult me on spelling but never geography.

Recently I walked home from work when it was still daylight out. I passed a man who was standing on the sidewalk. He called out, ‘You’re really pretty, but you’re too serious!’

I guess it could have been worse. He could have said, 'You look smart.'

Photo by Jorenobniano. For more great images, click here.