19 December 2013

Feeling a Little Bah Humbug

As upside down as I feel
As much as I try, I have a hard time with Christmas. I am not really sure why, but this year especially, I am feeling rather bah humbug about it all. Maybe because it came on so quickly after Thanksgiving? Maybe because my life is in the same place it was last year, when I hoped things would change?

I don't know, but I am definitely in the spirit to opt out of it all this year (feel free to give me a lump of coal, Santa). Of course, that isn't a choice, and I am trying, trying to get into it. This year it has been so cold in SF that it feels almost like it would snow (but we've barely seen any rain even since last year) -- we've gotten to bundle up and snuggle by a fire, so you would think it would be easier to feel the season. I even went to NYC to see the holiday decorations...but, still...

Is there a trick to get into the season?

17 December 2013

About Me

I was zoning out, deep in though the other day, and it dawned on me: I am a romantic.

Not sure from where it stems -- is it being a Libra? A writer at heart? I don't know. I've had a lot of thoughts lately, done a few things, seen a few things, and this has been on my mind.  I've been feeling a bit nostalgic, a bit hopeful and wistful at the same time, and just thinking about things that really confirm this romantic aspect of my nature:

  • Art where you can feel the passion. Most of the wall decorations in my house are pictures I have taken, except two. One, a picture of a statue in the Louvre, literally took my breath away one day when I was walking down a street in Florence. It is a poster of a statue, yes, but the lighting and angle are such that you feel the subjects of the statue felt, at some point, a passion. The other is a print of a painting I saw at the Reina Sofia in Madrid -- two lovers lolling around on the beach. Somehow, in my eyes, the artist was able to capture the feeling of being so enamored with someone all you want to do is be beside them.
  • The Before Sunrise trilogy. These movies feel so natural to me. I feel like many of us that have traveled have had a similar experience (I know I have!). They inspire wanderlust. But, these movies also seem realistic. Sure, it isn't something that happens in every day life, but it happens. And above all, the movies, to me, say isn't it better to take the risk and know, than not take a risk and wonder*?
  • The Look. My first year in college, one of my best friends was super in love with my very good friend. (Of course, I had a bit of a crush on him, but that is neither here nor there.)What I remember most of all was the way that he looked at her. This look -- it was like she was the only person in the room, even if it was a crowded party and people were pushing and shoving. This look -- it was like the sun was shining only on her, and the rest of us were always in shadow. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that, and all I knew was...

    Someday, I want someone to look at me like that.

    A long time has since passed. We were 18 at the time. 18. Life was so full of light, possibility, the great unknown. The Look -- it was full of the hope of an 18 year old. Life moves forward, gets more complicated, a little jaded, a little clouded. But still...THE LOOK!

There are so many other things, as well, but, as I was noodling on a few things, these three came to mind.

*and while I may not seem like a big risk taker on the surface...this is actually how I live my life. Carpe diem.

15 December 2013

In New York City: Empire State Building Tour

One thing I had never done on any of my trips to New York City was go to the top of the Empire State Building. I was lucky enough this summer to go to the top of Rockefeller Center, where I could SEE the Empire State Building, but this time I wanted to go to the place where the affair was remembered, where you could see the top of the shiny Chrysler building, and where Annie and Sam figured out they could make it even though they lived on separate coasts.  

My NYC-based friend agreed to go on this tourist lark with us, and off we went. We booked tickets online, and were excited when we got there and saw no line (this summer, when I walked by, the line seemingly snaked out of the building). This was very misleading, as once we got in, there was a line. A line that moved at a snail's pace. And, while in this line, we were bombarded with weird messaging about electricity. Eventually we almost got to the elevators, and they tried to force us into taking a picture that made it look like we were in front of the building. (I immediately became curious about how many people bought these pics. My friend A predicted 60% of people. If that was the case, they are raking in a lot of dough!). 

After probably an hour, we got to the elevators and headed up to the 80th floor...where we were greeted with ANOTHER line to get to the 86th floor. A worker let us know that we were welcome to walk up those six flights -- which we did. Finally being on the 86th floor made the wait (almost) worth it. We got to see a beautiful view of New York City -- from bridge to bridge, Central Park to Brooklyn. It was pretty awesome to see how vast this City is. We also were very lucky that it was a really clear night. Chilly, yes, but the sky was without a cloud and we could see for miles.

We had also paid to go to the 102nd floor -- so up we went. This was cool, though I don't think worth the extra money. You are in a tight space, can't go outside, and I know personally I was affected by the altitude (and saw another woman with her head between her knees so am assuming she was having a worse reaction). It was cool to be up there, but I think the view from the 86th, and being able to go outside, was the better bet.

I am very grateful my friend A indulged me in this activity and didn't even roll his eyes when I asked if we could go, even though I know it probably isn't so cool for people who live there to do these things. It was something I had always wanted to do, and I can now cross it off my list!

13 December 2013

Thoughts on a Dog

Hard to feel sad with this face.
It's been a while since I've talked about Luca, but today seemed as good a day as any.

Much like me, my pooch is a sensitive little thing. This means sometimes he gets a little shaky, and he gets a little scared when I am watching sports and shouting at the TV.

But it also means he is sensitive to how I am feeling, and seems to know when I am feeling low. When this happens, this dog is next to me at all times, generally acting a little self-centered (pet me, pet me, PET ME NOW). But, it works to make me feel better, which I think is his whole point.

I have no real, meaningful insight about this, other than how lucky I am to be a pet owner. The days when he frustrates the hell out of me (read: pees all over my house) are way balanced out by the times he tries to take my sadness and make it better.

29 November 2013

Creepy Family Portrait

This looks like a cover to a V.C. Andrews epic novel.

It is, in fact the Danish Royal family.

26 November 2013

Brew Tour: Cellarmaker Brewing Company

Cellarmaker Brewing Company is the latest on the scene here in San Francisco. It's a definite local place, located off the beaten path in an old warehouse-type space in SoMA.

My friend E & I found ourselves there one mellow Saturday about two weeks after it opened, and it was love at first sight. The tasting room space isn't too huge, and at that point pretty much every table was full but there weren't too many others hovering for a spot (which, for me, I like...I don't like to feel the pressure to have to drink quickly).

The day we were there, they were pouring 8 types of beer -- all super fresh! We decided to taste them all -- which we did. For 20$ you can get a generous sampling of everything on tap. Make sure to save a clipboard listing the beers; there are good descriptions of each. Also, you may want to ask the server the best order in which to taste -- when we were there they gave us the beer in the order the menu listed them, which was not the best order to taste (i.e. you don't want to go from a Saison to a Porter then back to an IPA).

My personal favorite was the Coquette -- a Belgian-ish style, which I always like. Really, I enjoyed most of them, enough to take some home with me. The cool thing here is you can bring in any brewery's growler and they'll fill it, but they also offer two sizes of their own. I got a smaller one of the Coquette, and one of the Hop Slangin' IPA (mainly for my friend who would be visiting me the following week).

This place is definitely gaining popularity, so it'd be wise to get there early. While they don't offer any food on-site, they do have a variety of food trucks visit on the weekend.

25 November 2013

Madrid: In Pictures

Got ham?

Inside the Catedral de la Almudena

A look through the gate at the Royal Palace

Don Quixote

A few of the military watching the Columbus Day parade

23 November 2013

En Madrid: Best Craft Beer - Fabrica Maravillas

After a week or so of pretty much only drinking wine (or Port), it was time to switch things up.

In all my times in Spain -- from living there to visiting -- I can't remember good beer being much of a choice. There were maybe one or two national brands available (depending where you were), and they weren't all that great. So, to say Spain isn't known for beer is an understatement.

But beer is what we (or perhaps just I) were craving, and beer we needed to find. Luckily, times in Spain they are a'changin'.

Much like in other parts of the world (or at least here in San Francisco), there is a surge in beer popularity, craft beer in particular. So I took a chance and did a little googling to see what I could find while in Madrid, crossing my fingers that there would be something, and not too far from our place.

And the finger crossing paid off! We came up upon Fabrica Maravillas, located not too far from our place in the Malasana neighborhood. This modern space is where the beer is actually brewed -- as evidenced by the clear casings showing off the tanks. It is modern while still being comfortable, and has a serious neighborhood vibe to it. We arrived just moments before the placed started filling up, and found ourselves a space at the bar.

When we arrived, they had perhaps five beers on tap. There are three different sizes to choose from -- a taster, half pint, and full pint. This is one approach I see very rarely in the States but really appreciate those choices when you just don't want to commit to a full glass. I started with a half pint of the Weitbeir (spelling incorrect, I know), which was very traditional and tasty. My friends had the Saison -- that is not my favorite style in general, but this was a good variation of it. Next I moved to the FL(ipa), which was a pretty nice IPA. I also had the Malasana, a pale ale named for the neighborhood occupied by Fabrica Maravillas. This was my favorite of all of them -- lucky for me this was also one of two beers they had actually bottled!

We liked this place so much we returned the next night just to taste (or heavily drink, depending on how you look at it) again. Thankfully for us, the staff speaks English so we could ask a question or two before the place got too crowded (and be warned, it does get crowded). With each drink, you'll get a bowlful of Spanish green olives or a snack mix. But that is the extent of the food they serve there. But if you want to escape the tourist trail and hang out with some locals and drink some good beer...this is your place!

Fabrica Maravillas is located at Calle Valverde 29 in Madrid.

21 November 2013

Em Porto: Port Tasting

We were lucky enough to spend several days based out of Porto. This beautiful city is, as the name would indicate, a port, and, also as the name would indicate, the hub of port wine.

This city sits on the end of the Duoro River, and served as the transportation point for the port made further north up the river. As such, the port houses have caves and/or tasting rooms, largely located directly across the river in the town of Vila Nova de Gaia.

We were lucky enough to be staying in Vila Nova de Gaia, so we could stare at the beautiful Porto from our windows. It was also fortuitous when it was time to go port tasting.

My friends decided to take a bike ride, but due to our very late start I decided to stay back and hit up some caves. I figured this would be similar to wine tasting here in the States, where you can sit at a bar and learn about the wines, and talk to the pourers or others standing nearby. So, I didn't think it would be a big deal to head off by myself.

I think this was stop 5...the barrell wouldn't dance with me
Unfortunately...port tasting at these houses is way different than what I was expecting. Perhaps it was the places I went, but my experience went something like this:

  1. Pay for tasting -- one place was 5Euro for 3 tastings, one was 20E for 6 (including a few wines). Others were about 2-3E per glass
  2. Go sit down...by myself somewhere on a chair, usually no where near where the drinks are poured
  3. Get drinks brought to me. All of them. At once. With very little explanation and no way to ask further questions.
  4. Drink everything provided. These were not small pours, either...they were what we would get here in SF if we paid for a nightcap. And remembering that port is much stronger than regular wine, and that there was no food other than some chocolates, well...things can get weird.
This is not to say it wasn't fun -- it was just much less social than I would have liked it to be. I had so many questions, and the pourers really don't come back around to answer any. With so much delicious port, the experience really makes the difference in what you'll purchase. In fact, the only bottle I bought was probably mediocre, but we had the most fun tasting at that particular cave (they were open late, and had a fado singer). You really can't go wrong with any of the ports you'll try, and you'll figure out what time you like -- white, tawny, ruby... and you'll figure out just how much you can drink before this happens: 

19 November 2013

Porto: In Pictures

Porto is easily one of the most beautiful cities I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. Vibrant, hilly, and on water? I am sold.

These are a few of my favorite images...

One of my first pics -- the port boats with Porto in the background

Hope it's not time to leave yet.
Sunset on the coast -- edge of the world

One last shot before we go.

16 November 2013

Em Porto: Day Trips!

"Here Was Born Portugal"
 We were lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time in Porto -- and I highly suggest at least 2 full days there, if not a third. But it is also a great place to be based, as there are several easy day trips that take you to smaller towns in Portugal -- just a quick train ride away. We were told that we needed more time/overnight stays to visit the Duoro Valley, so we went along with some suggestions provided by the trusty bike rental place guy.

The first we were told to visit was Guimarães, a university town up northeast from Porto. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site (Portugal has a lot of these!). It is about a one hour train ride from Porto -- just make sure you purchase the correct ticket (we didn't), and seemed, to us at least, to be a nice quiet escape from the business of Porto.

Historical Center of  Guimarães
The two sites that we headed off to see were the Palace and the Castle. We discovered that these two terms to not mean the same thing. The Palace was lovely -- it wasn't overly used and then was refurbished and is now just a museum. There is a beautiful chapel full of stained glass windows that was a nice place to just sit a spell. Right up the hill was the Castle...which was largely a shell with a pile of rubble inside. It was perched atop a hill, so clearly at some point it was an important fortress...but now it just looks like a cool place for maybe a live show or a photo shoot!

The town has many cute little shops and restaurants that line the streets on the way between the train station and the Castle/Palace. Also, if you wander a bit around the center, you'll come upon a beautifully manicured street that leads up to a pretty church.

Then, the following day, we headed to Viana do Castelo. About an hour north of Porto on the coast, it is a lovely train ride. For some reason, in my head, I thought we would be seeing a really pretty castle. I was incorrect!

Upon arrival, you can see the beautiful church that sits on top of a very steep hill. We had planned on taking the funicular (the Portuguese love their funiculars), but by the time we got there it was closed for lunch. So we braved a cab ride...and brave it was, as this guy whipped us around the steep hills and curves like they were straightaways. I think we were all holding on for dear life.

Despite the ornate facade, the inside of the church was rather plain. Very pretty, but not crazy. What is really special about this church is the view from the very top. For 1Euro, you can opt for the stairs or the elevator to get there. But, be warned...even with the elevator, you'll still need to climb quite a bit -- including a very narrow and steep spiral staircase. It is worth it for the view, from which you can see the whole city and then some; it feels almost as if, on a clear day, you could see across the seas to the Americas. Getting down from this peak was a little daunting -- I pulled some muscles in my leg doing it! Ouch.

After taking the funicular down from the mountain, we meandered through the old town to find some food and take in the sights. Of all the places we visited, this seemed the least touristed...also the most difficult to find someone who spoke English. My Spanish came in handy, because at least I could read most things, and we found that was more easily understood than our English. This town isn't too big, so it is easy to walk around the old center and see the other churches, municipal buildings, and what not. It felt like siesta time while we were there, but perhaps it is just that sleepy a town!

If you feel like shopping while in Viana do Castela, you're in luck -- there is a large mall right across the tracks from the main train station. If you can figure out how to get over there (read: take the stair overpass or the kind of unsavory looking underpass).

Again, another very worthwhile day trip. While Portugal overall doesn't seem to be too heavily-touristed by Americans (yet), it was fun to really get away from it all into towns that, while they had some tourists, felt more "local."

13 November 2013

Em Porto: A Cruise Down the Duoro

 It is hard to escape the lure of the water when you're visiting Porto. You watch it lap gently against the shore in the morning, and by evening you fall asleep to the stronger waves that have developed.

Easily one of the most touristy things we did on our trip was a boat cruise down the Duoro -- which I highly recommend. It was about 15 Euro (I don't think that was the cost; it could have been between 10-20E so 15 seems like a happy medium).

These are guided to a point...there is someone talking to you, but, it had gotten too windy for us to hear anything. But it is really cool to cruise and see the edges of the city, as well as to get close to the mouth of the ocean. Watching the sunset over the Duoro was truly incredible, as was getting to see the city of Porto drenched in that dusk light.

The boat we were on also had a bar, however, it was barely staffed, and not worth our time to try to get a drink. We did end up with a few glasses of wine...of which we could barely choke down two sips. It had definitely turned and was no good! 

Taking one of these tours is definitely a great introduction to this beautiful city.

11 November 2013

Lisbon: In Pictures

The sun set too quickly on our time in Lisbon. Here, pics of our journey.
Artwork in our apartment

She was enjoying the show going on below her window
View from right outside of our apartment 

Placa Comercio and the hills of Lisbon

The "other" Golden Gate Bridge

Some street art off the funicular Gloria

Real-world I Heart Lisbon

One last sunset

09 October 2013

Em Lisboa: A Run Down the Tagus

Perhaps going on vacation the two weeks prior to a half marathon is the not the best timing (or, I guess in this case, signing up for a half marathon the weekend after returning from a trip!),but that is the way things fell for me this time around. Doing any sort of training meant wrapping things  up and starting taper while out of the country,including my longest run while in Lisbon.

Luckily, this is a great place to get that done. The topography is similar to San Francisco's,including some long,flat stretches. I woke up on Saturday morning, tired (we walked about 11 miles on Friday, then drank a lot,then I watched the A's game until like 4am),dehydrated, and determined together this long run over.

I set off right around sunrise, headed from the Bairro Alto towards the water. As much as I had wanted to get some hill training in,the prior day's activities had rendered this a less-than-desireable option, so I headed west (I think) from the Praço do Comércio along the Tagus (Tejo) River toward Belém. 

This is an ideal route for visiting runners -- it is flat and very straightforward, with little chance to get lost. On the outbound, head towards the Ponte de 25 April. The footpath is well marked... The only drawback is there is some cobblestone that makes running a bit uneven... In many of the cases, inlaid with the cobblestone are some flat stone details, which everyone competes to use. This makes the running a bit more comfortable. One of the nicest things about this route is that you can go almost any distance...From the Praço to the tower of Belém is somewhere between 9-10 miles round trip,but I think you could even further. 

The most challenging part, for me, anyway, was a stretch after the bridge but before the Padrão dos Decobrimentos...the cobblestone was severe and there was only one little strip, right on the edge of the water, that was flat. We all -- and there were a lot of runners out there, we're jockeying for that strip. One false move and you were tumbling down a steep sea wall and into the water. So, be careful!

Bring a euro or two with you, as well, to get water on the route, as there were no water fountains  as far as I could tell. There is a little store/deli along the waterfront, as well as a gas station about a mile before the Tower where you can pick some up.

This run along the Tagus was of the more incredible I have had the luck to do -- had it not been for the huge blister on my toe and the fact that the temperature hit about 80 by the time I was done, I would have liked to go a little farther...but, wow...it was something else to see. It was also fun to feel a part of the vibrant running community of Lisbon (the shirt I was wearing had a silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge, older sister to their Ponte, so I got plenty of double takes and big smiles). Walking back up the hill to Bairro Alto may have been a bit of a challenge, but one well worth it!

(I also got to run by this party?rave?weird gathering of late teens/very early 20-somethings, who were still partying/starting to head home at 8.30am)

Em Portugal

Apologies (mom) for the lack of posts...Internet here in Porto hasn't been that great -- we essentially have to go into the hall outside of our apartment and pray that we hook into it. I wanted, however,to provide a quick update.

We left Lisbon on Sunday afternoon (after a beautiful sunset on Saturday night, above) and headed up to Porto. This city is amazing. I will write more about it later, but...not sure it could be more picturesque. We've been so very lucky with the weather, as well -- hot but not too hot, a little humid but overall really pleasant. Sweaters haven't had to come out until about 9 at night (or 21:00, as they call it here (I think)). 

That pic above is from my window here in Porto -- not sure we could have a more amazing view! We spent some time here in town, which included a river cruise for allows us, some port tasting & exploring for me, and a bike ride for the other ladies. We also visited the towns of Guimarães and Viana do Castelo. It was great to see others parts of northern portugal, but I do think Porto is my favorite! 

05 October 2013

Em Lisboa: Day 2

Our second day here -- and our first full one -- saw us one quite a trek. We headed from our home in the Bairro Alto and walked down to Belem -- a little over five miles. This would have been fine if it weren't so hot, and if all of us brought proper footwear (I have some really lovely and ginormous blisters!). 

When we finally arrived, it was definitely time to eat.  We found a nice outdoor cafe, and proceeded to wait to order...and wait...I always forget I need to pack my patience when dealing with service in various European countries. I think it wouldn't be so bad if I had a drink, but often times we're just sitting there, hoping someone will finally stop by our table.  When we were finally able to order, one friend & I got our meal super quickly, while the other two didn't get theirs until after we were done eating (we were starving and couldn't wait).

We made sure to stop by Pasteis de Belem after -- these tasty pastries were a favorite of mine last time and they definitely did not disappoint this time! 

Rather than walk all the way back, we hopped on the 727 bus to take us back to Centro. It was getting a bit desperate for us to find good shoes! Of course. It was El Corte to the rescue!

Later that evening, we had the most fun of our dinners so far, at El Gordo Bar 52. We'd passed this little tapas restaurant several times, and thought it looked fun and a little different. Despite being in a heavily tourist neighborhood, the place had a ton of locals...one of whom, after telling us how sexy she thought Jack Nicholson is (there was a pic of him on the wall), became our best friend. Kristina is a proud Lisbon native, an expert on the town, and I would say she was rather drunk. Her husband tried several times to get her away from our table, but was not successful. Instead, she gave us her number. 

It was soon about midnight or later, and the party was just starting in our hood. It felt a bit like we were in the marina, if it closed down the streets to traffic; the folks were so young and so drunk! We, too, decided to join in for a bit -- when booze is this cheap it is hard to pass up! We somehow found our way home around 2am...I had some important business to attend to!

Bom Dia, Portugal!

We have arrived!

Our first day in Lisbon was a short one... After an Ambien-laden flight or two, we finally got into town in the late afternoon. We were met by a great driver, Kiko, who gave us the low down on this weekend in Lisbon -- apparently it was to be a very busy one.  Three cruise ships had just arrived, and there is a Rock 'n Roll Marathon & "Mini" (half marathon) on Sunday. So basically, it will be a little cuckoo-crazy pants with tourists. 

Once he deposited us near our apartment in Bairro Alto, we decided to eat. And, like all newcomers after a long journey, we chose the place that: 1. Wasn't empty, and 2. Had a lovely, translated-into-many-languages menu. We just needed easy, regardless if it was screaming tourist. 

The food was fine, and not super expensive. Definitely not anything to write home about, or something I would necessarily recommend,but it did the trick.  We were all quite tired, but decided ton walk around a little bit and check things out.  We stopped for a bit at an overlook with views of the whole city, and then off to a park where we learned the price of alcohol here is really low! 

On our way back to our apartment, we heard the low rumble of a massive crowd. As we got closer, we could see that crowd start growing bigger and bigger...and closer to home. The rumors are true...Bairro Alto is the spot for the youngins to come get their drink on.  Kids filled the street, sang songs, and did lord knows what else until the wee hours of the morning. Luckily, I was in the back room, in yet another Ambien-fueled sleep... My friends were not so lucky.  

16 September 2013

She's Crafty: DIY Wall Decor

 I have been in the processes of redecorating my front room since sometime in early 2013. One thing I had decided to do was decorate wood letters with maps -- ideally, spelling HOME and showing all the places I've lived.

Doing this myself, I figured, would be the most cost-effective way of doing it (also, at that point I hadn't seen these in stores...that has since changed); it would also be the best way to personalize them.

The first thing I did was head to the craft store to find my wooden letters. I was a bit disappointed to see that the thick cut letters I wanted were not available in wood, so I had to go with paper mache. Ultimately, this was the better choice -- they were fairly inexpensive (plus my mom had coupons...thanks mom!), and they were super light to hang on the wall. Unfortunately, they were also out of the letter "H," which is a rather critical part of spelling HOME. So, I went with what was available, and spelled CASA...same meaning, different language.

Then,  I figured out what maps I wanted to use, which places I wanted to represent my life. I then ordered them from AAA, because, as a part of my membership, I get maps for free. I had some older ones, also, from these areas, so...recycling!

Next, I took a rather long hiatus. Funny how life gets in the way! I stared at those non-covered letters, and the maps sitting on my counter, for probably over three months. It got a little ridiculous!

Finally, I was fed up with the mess, the blankness, and, on a nice Sunday while watching football, I decided to tackle my project!

I took all the maps and laid them out, figured out the order, and then started cutting. There was a little bit of moving things around, and tilting the letters just so -- it was important to me to get particular towns/cities represented. I used a straight edge razor to cut the maps...if I were to do it again, I would use a razor pen; my lines were a little uneven and not as exact on the letters as I would have liked. Lessons learned.

I then painted the letters. I used a darker color -- the leftovers I had from painting my accent wall. I painted everything but the side that would be up against the wall. In doing this first, it added a background to the letters in the case my maps didn't fit perfectly (which, they don't) or I cut things a little off (which, I did).

After letting the paint dry, it was time to start putting the maps on. I used Modge Podge (leftover from a project I did a few years ago). I covered the front of the letters liberally, then worked quickly to get the maps lined up and stuck on. Modge Podge starts to dry quickly, so there isn't a lot of time for readjustments.

I quickly realized just how poor my cutting had been...because of this, I had to do a lot of trimming on the letters (I used a sharp pair of scissors, and snipped slowly). I also had to add a bit of map to parts where I had undercut. I tried to match the color/terrain/routes, but they are not perfect. I know this will end up bothering me, but I don't think it is super visible unless you're looking for it.

I again let this all dry before hanging it on my wall. To try to ensure that everything lined up correctly, I measured from the top of each letter, then poked a hole at the same spot on each letter. Actually hanging the darn things was tricky...being short and only having two hands made measuring a challenge. But I did my best to line them all up on the wall, and then center each letter.

I've got them up, and am going to let them sit for a bit before moving things. I am pretty sure my S is upside down, and they are a little more squished than I would have liked. But overall -- not too shabby!

Total cost: Approximately 15$.

Represented: San Leandro, San Luis Obispo, Sevilla, San Francisco

11 September 2013

We Remember

It is hard to believe -- 12 years have passed. 12 years since the relative ease of the world I lived in changed. The day that made it impossible to look in the sky at planes flying over my city and not to wait to hear if it crashed into a building, to wait for the boom.

I've already talked about my experience on 11 September 2001 -- 9/11. The feeling small, the feeling lost in it all. And, above it all, the kindness of people.

I recently came across these pictures again, and was again kind of tripped out by them. One of my first trips to New York was apparently in September 1999, and I went a day or so early to check things out -- that day being 11 September 1999. A few coworkers and I went to Ellis Island, and were treated to this spectacular view of the NYC skyline. I was (and continue to be) amazed by how tall the buildings were -- I had never seen them so tall! And, standing above the rest, were the Twin Towers.

Later that week, we actually went to the top -- there was a bar and a viewing area. I stepped out to look but almost got sick when I realized how high up we were, so I quickly stepped back. Who knew that, just two years later, this view would no longer be available? That I should take advantage of it right then?

I'll never forget that experience, of seeing the one of the greatest cities in the world from that perspective. Just as none of us will ever forget the experience of watching that view topple down, a massive crunch of steel and concrete collapsing upon itself.

And we will always remember the innocent people who were taken from this world that day -- the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, grandparents, sisters and brothers, best friends, husbands and wives. Some taken just by the circumstance of where they work, or happen to be, and some because they went to help, or took down a plane to save others.

We remember. #911