Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tricked by the Treaters

Halloween in New York is a bit confusing. I've become accustomed to puzzling outfits and odd looking characters on the street every day of the year, so you can imagine I did double takes while walking to work Halloween morning as I passed a 1970's-ish flight attendant and a bondafide cowboy. Were they in costume or wearing regular clothes??
But even more interesting than the outlandish costumes I saw during the day and on Halloween night were the decorations at several upper east side homes. The frightening displays gave me several small heart attacks when I was out walking by myself after dark a week or so before Halloween!!

Heart attack #1: viewed first from the back, I thought I was about to be pounced on!

Making good use of the wrought iron fences...
Awful creatures hanging from windows and seriously scary zombies!
For real?! Is Sponge Bob supposed to make it okay that the devil is preparing to spear my heart?!
"Welcome home, dearie."

Monday, October 29, 2007

A few days in another world

Truly another world. Narrow cobblestone streets, four hundred year old buildings slanted with age, windmills twirling in the distance, autumn leaves coloring the streetscapes, dreamy yellow lights illuminating canals and bridges, bikes, bikes bikes everywhere! Eating a bratwurst about 30 minutes outside of Germany at a Dutch rock in roll concert; riding my bike over a canal at midnight, hearing only the swooshing sound of the tires and feeling the wind in my face; chimes from the Westerkerk church bells lingering in the air; dancing to techno music in a popular Amsterdam club - the whole experience seemed like a dream to me.

I was lucky enough to have the time and opportunity to visit a friend in Amsterdam for five days in October. A feeling more lasting than my own memories of being there is the feeling of satisfaction knowing my friend is in the perfect place meant for him. Very seldom do I see someone who is exactly where they are supposed to be, living a life they fit seamlessly into. Feels like a dream...looks like a movie...but it's real life!

My favorite picture from Amsterdam.

Our bikes chained up by a canal.

The bike deck by Centraal Station - endless bikes as far as the eye can see!!

I only fell off the bike a few times!! (It's petrifying to pass by cars on the narrow streets!)

Try to imagine the lights of the canal without the blur - so beautiful!

"In De Waag" a wonderful Dutch restaurant in an old weigh station. Interior is lit only by candlelight. We enjoyed yummy mustard soup!

At the University of Leiden where Damion is in law school, about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam.

Streets and rooftops in Leiden.

Damion and me in Leiden - I'm just a little jealous he sees windmills, boats and canals on the way to class everyday!

The Riksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Two really pretty houses across the canal from the Riksmuseum.

By the end of the trip, I was a pro at biking around Amsterdam!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brotherly Love

Spent a glorious fall day in the city of brotherly love with a "sister" I love!

This is the ugliest part of the day - I took the bus from New York to Philly (2 hour ride). We walked all around the historic section (purple and red parts of the map).

View of the buildings in Center City - pointy buildings on left are Liberty 1 and Liberty 2.

Most of the sidewalks were cobblestone, and all the streets were so, so pretty!

Two pretty churches. The weather was sunny and in the 70s with a little breeze - couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day!

An authentic Philly Cheese Steak! The line not only wrapped around the building, but it wrapped around twice inside too! And I ate. every. bite. :)

I love autumn!!


Liberty Bell was not what I expected...seemed fake.

Jan and me at Carpenter's Hall.

Betsy Ross's house - closed at 5 PM so we didn't get to see inside!

City Hall - wow, a bit scary! And Liberty 1 - or the Empire State Building according to Mama circa 1970!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I love plums

One thing I love love love about New York is the fruit stand vendors conveniently located every few corners or so. At first glance you might think all the stands are the same - bananas on the end, bigger veggies toward the back, prices hand-scribbled on cardboard signs - but they are oh so different!

I'm partial to the stand closest to my apartment on 57th and 1st, and my second favorite stand is on the corner of 72nd and 2nd - it has the best variety and the stock is displayed so nicely. The guy at the stand by my apartment is nice, the stand is open until late at night, the selection is great - strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, bananas, carrots, eggplant, apples, potatoes, and lots of stuff I never buy - and the price deals are great. For example, my most frequent and favorite purchase is bananas. The stand by my apartment has bananas 25-cents each or 5 for $1.00. The stand by my office has bananas 25-cents each or 4 for $1.00. Where's the bargain??

No, you can't beat the price deals on street vendor fruit and flowers - a pound of grapes is $1.50, a box of strawberries is $2.00, a big bouquet of white daisies is $4.00. But even better than the deals is the freedom of being able to grab a snack on your way wherever - without the hassles of going into a store or waiting in a line - and discover you love the way a juicy plum tastes. Have never even looked at them in the grocery store...

Fruit and vegetable vendors make the city a nice place to live! :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Sweet Home Alabama

Coming home for the first time after being gone for FOUR months was so exciting! I'd been anticipating it for several weeks - making plans to see friends, shopping for cute outfits, and trying to rest up so I could be on the go while I was home. The rest request was definitely answered because I got sick about a week and a half before the trip home. For days all I felt like doing was lying around and blowing my nose!

October 4th finally arrived! I left the office at lunch time to get to La Guardia for the 2 PM flight to Birmingham. My coworkers escorted me down the office elevator and to the street - giving me hugs and well-wishes home...I guess they were as excited as I was for the trip since I'd been talking about it so much!

My flight arrived around 4 PM, so I thought the plan was for Daddy to pick me up since the rest of the fam would be at work. But, come on people, this is the Mummert's we're talking about!

As I walked up the terminal, there stood everyone in the same spot as I had last seen them four months ago! I was a little bit embarrassed to see that in addition to the cameras and video camera there were also "Welcome Home" signs! But the little gang looked so cute I just had to laugh!

This is classic!!!

Julie and her "Welcome Home Beta!" sign...the glitter, flowers, and meowing cat are too much! :) (And I love Elizabeth's "Razzle Dazzle Returns", but I don't have a good picture of it!)

I spent Thursday evening at home...drove a car for the first time since I left!, twirled baton in the driveway, ate lots and lots of food Mama had spent the week preparing, and loved hanging out in my bedroom which felt so HUGE I could not believe it!

Friday I went to Tennessee to see my Grandma Mashburn, and I stopped in Cullman to see my Mummert grandparents. That evening I met up with a bunch of girlfriends - it was so, so sweet to have everyone together in the same place! I talk to them by email and phone so much I didn't feel like anything was "new" between us - just good to see them in person!

Spent Saturday at the Alabama Homecoming football game and was so happy to see all my Crimsonette and Million Dollar Band buddies. Sunday I went to Briarwood and got to have lunch with a bunch of those sweet friends. Later that afternoon I visited Elizabeth and Chris at their new house - it was so cute! Sunday night my girls came over to the house to visit and eat, and we had such a good time.

I couldn't believe the whirlwind weekend was about to be over. I didn't want to look at the clock and see it was getting late - my flight left Monday morning at 6 AM, and I still hadn't repacked my suitcases with winter clothes! Thankfully, star packer and organizer Julie stayed up late and packed me once again for New York...what would I do without you, MBB?!

The main thought from the weekend at home was that I didn't feel like I'd been gone for four months. I did, but I didn't. It was so weird. For the most part, things looked the same and felt the same - I enjoyed driving too fast with the radio turned up; I enjoyed having my own big bedroom and bathroom; I enjoyed being around my family and friends. It was like nothing had changed. But Saturday in Tuscaloosa as I sat enjoying the football game just like "old times" in surroundings so familiar, I got two phone calls from New York friends inviting me to go out later that night. It was the first time I realized New York was real and not just a dream I'd been in the last few months. With a little bit of saddness I turned down the invitations. I looked around at my family and all the football fans, and I smiled knowing I have two lives I really love.