Brooklyn to Illinois, Part I (Or, That Time We Got Hit By a Bus)

Moving is pretty much always the worst. If it’s not a rival moving van blocking the service drive you have reserved (which happened during my second Chicago move), it’s your movers perilously hoisting your couch over an indoor courtyard (which happened during my move to Manhattan).

Our move was more complicated than a normal move since we weren’t simply moving to a new location. It sounded easy enough: sell the furniture, donate some stuff, ship some things.

Of course, it was more difficult than we had imagined. We had trouble finding buyers for some of the furniture, and then we had to schedule the service elevator (a task which proved more difficult than I thought was warranted). We were more emotionally attached to some of our stuff than we had expected, making the donation process difficult. And shipping things required either renting a Zipcar and driving to the post office or using a hand truck to move boxes down the Fulton Mall (both methods which we employed), and then waiting in line at the post office.

Photo Feb 25, 12 18 04 PM
our IKEA bed, heading downstairs to its new owner

But we persevered, and, by noon on Thursday, less than 24 hours before we were to begin our move, we had just a pile of boxes sitting in the middle of our living room, destined to be loaded into a minivan and driven to my mom’s house in Illinois. Continue reading Brooklyn to Illinois, Part I (Or, That Time We Got Hit By a Bus)

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10 Things I Will Miss About New York

With our time in New York quickly drawing to a close, here are 10 things (not people, obviously, as I will miss all our friends & co-workers!) I will miss most about New York, presented in no discernible order and with the acknowledgement that this list is pre-coffee and therefore probably incomplete:

1. Having the ocean only a short train ride away

The Rockaways

2. Seeing the Statue of Liberty on my commute every single morning

Liberty Island
Statue of Liberty

3. Eating take-away from Cong Ly outside

Grilled Pork Bun from Cong Ly (not pictured: outside)

4. Spending cold/rainy/generally inclement days wandering around MoMA

"limbs unfurled for action"
MoMA artwork

5. Absolutely everything about Brooklyn Bridge Park

Jane’s Carousel at Brooklyn Bridge Park

6. Living near an amazing yoga studio

7. People-watching in Washington and Union Squares

random pianist in Washington Square Park
Random pianist in Washington Square Park

8. Shopping at the green markets

colorful tomatoes
Tomatoes for sale at the Union Square Greenmarket

9. Browsing at the Strand

I had to grab this image from the Creative Commons; my only picture of the Strand was of a BarBri book for sale, which no one wanted to see. | source

10. Waking up to a view of the skyline

Oh, New York.
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T-minus 16 Days

In just sixteen short days, we will be leaving for Africa.  Please allow Jessie Spano to illustrate how I feel about all the things that we must accomplish between now and then:

Fairly accurate rendition of how I feel this morning | source unknown

The main chore standing between us and Africa is figuring out what to do with all of our stuff. You would be amazed at the amount of stuff we have managed to squirrel away in this one-bedroom apartment.  We discovered stuff that we didn’t even know that we had, some of which was useful (an old iPhone plug underneath some shoes in our closet, score!), and some of it which was decidedly not (my pre-BAPCPA copy of the Bankruptcy Code that is helpful to exactly no one).

We devoted a large chunk of last weekend to sorting our stuff into six piles: take to Africa, store at our folks’ houses, sell, donate, give to friends, and throw away. There were a few minor disagreements (I didn’t think we needed to retain free hotel shampoos, Marc didn’t think we needed to keep the Twilight books),1 but we managed to sort a good percentage of our stuff.

But you know how, when you’re cleaning, things get worse before they get better? That’s the state that we’re living in right now. It’s time to execute on the piles: carrying the sacks of give-away stuff to Goodwill, boxing up our books, selling our remaining furniture.

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.  I think we’re going to need a lot of coffee, and to keep our eyes on the prize:

eyes on the prize: Mozambique | source
Prize: Mozambique | source

So … is anyone interested in buying a bookcase?

1 Admittedly, Marc is probably right on both counts. Miniature  items from hotels are probably useful for traveling, and I think it goes without saying that reading Stephenie Meyer’s saga about sparkling vampires once is more than enough.

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#tbt: Sun & Beaches in Koh Pha Nagn

With a winter storm warning in effect until tomorrow morning and huge, fluffy chunks of snow coming down hard and fast, a nice beach scene seemed particularly needed for this #ThrowbackThursday.

Marc kayaks
Koh Pha Nagn, Thailand, September 2008

While in Thailand on our bar trip in 2008, we spent some time relaxing on the beach at Koh Pha Nagn.  One afternoon, Marc took a kayak out onto the water.  I stayed ashore because I was helplessly engrossed in a copy of Special Topics in Calamity Physics we had picked up at a book exchange in Chiang Mai, and I turned into a snarling animal if anyone suggested that I set aside the book for anything longer than a minute.

Stay warm today!

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Anywhere But Here: How We Chose Africa

In less than a month, we will be in Africa.  I know, I kind of can’t believe it myself.  Our itinerary is far from set (note the conspicuous absence of any “Our Itinerary” posts or pages), but we’ve drawn a fuzzy, imaginary line through Southern and Eastern Africa in a close approximation of a Cape Town-to-Cairo trek.

One of the questions we are most frequently asked (besides “Have you gotten all your vaccinations?”) is how we chose Africa.

The answer: not easily.  When we first began seriously considering the idea of taking a career break to travel, we didn’t have anywhere in particular in mind.  When friends would ask where we were going, we would shrug and respond, “Anywhere but here.”  (Such responses were usually given on days when the Q train was running with delays, we couldn’t find anywhere to eat that didn’t have an hour wait, and/or some sort of cartoon character had impeded my path through Times Square to work.)  

Beyond not knowing where we would go, we didn’t know how to go about making the decision.  In the past, our destinations have been driven largely by how long we have to get away and the cost of the plane ticket to get there (see our trips to Guatemala in 2008 and Istanbul in 2013).  Now, with nothing but time and the price mitigated by the length of our intended stay, we found ourselves unable to make a decision. Continue reading Anywhere But Here: How We Chose Africa

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The Guidebook Question

I love a guidebook.

with my nose in the guidebook
nose in my guidebook, Venice, March 2011

My guidebook series of choice has always been the Rough Guides. I’m partial to the maps of museums and other sites of interest (the map of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo was an absolute godsend, or I might still be lost in its halls) and historical and cultural notes.  On the other hand, Marc prefers the Lonely Planet series, and I admit that these sometimes have the edge over the Rough Guides in terms of locating accommodation and dining.  We usually travel with one of each, allowing Marc to find dinner and me to anoint myself as our unofficial tour guide.

Our usual isn’t going to cut it for our trip to Africa.  For one,  our rough plan will take us through perhaps 15 countries, and carting around 30 guidebooks between the two of us is just a hilarious idea.  When we traveled through Southeast Asia in 2008, I carted the Rough Guide to each Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia (not to mention some pages I surgically excised from an old Rough Guide to Southeast Asia), and that was almost too much to carry around.  (Marc took a much more reasonable approach with a single copy of the Lonely Planet Southeast Asia on a Shoestring.) Continue reading The Guidebook Question

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#tbt: Great Wall of China + Beijing Olympics

Olympic pride on the wall
view of Olympic propaganda from the Great Wall of China, August 2007
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It’s Probably Not Snowing in Africa

Us New Yorkers woke up this morning to find our city covered in alternate piles of dingy snow and shin-deep lakes of slush.  I have a pair of fairly serious snow boots, and not even they permitted me to make it through the enormous slush puddle that had accumulated on the street next to the my apartment.  I had to toddle in traffic alongside its edges like everyone else.  For reasons that mystify me, the snow/slush also threw a wrench in the public transportation system, and this morning’s commute was one of the worst in recent memory.  (I’m adding Sorry My Arm Is On Your Head, and Other Stories About the Suspension of Human Dignity on Public Transportation to my list of imaginary subway-related books titles.)

By the time I got to work, I was a bit frazzled.  “You wouldn’t believe the subway this morning,” I complained to a colleague.  “It was so crowded, this woman just wrapped her hand around mine on the pole like my hand wasn’t even there.  And I couldn’t even cross the street because of the slush!”

“It’s probably not snowing in Africa,” my colleague reminded me.

And she’s right.  It’s 81-degrees with 0% precipitation in Maputo, Mozambique right now.

And do you know where we’ll be in just over one month’s time?  If you said Maputo, Mozambique, you’re right!

After months and months (if not years) of idle dreaming about escaping the corporate grind, we are finally leaving our large law firm jobs and embarking on some traveling.  We don’t have a definite itinerary (which, after years of deadlines, is something of a relief, even for a Type-A Virgo like myself), but we’ve got a vague plan of exploring Africa.  We have ample time and curiosity, so we’ll see where things take us.

Have suggestions for Africa?  Leave us a note in the comments!

image source

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