I have forgotten how to shop

Me in the last place I’ve purchased clothes.

It was a year ago on July 11 in Paris that I bought a blue shirt with satin ribbon at the neck. Odd perhaps to have such a strong memory of a shirt, but it wasn’t long after that purchase that I made the decision to go a year without buying any new clothes.

I figured it would probably be a good way to save money, and I kind of just wanted to see if I could. Underwear, socks, and scarves were my exceptions, and, as of yesterday, I had met my goal. I’d gone 365 days without buying myself any new clothes. Now, it’s 366 days.

I didn’t mean for it to be 366 days; I was going to buy something new for myself in honor of my accomplishment. Continue reading

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Sandhill Crane Migration in Nebraska

Spring break. The time for heading to warm climates and relaxing. Since I have the dubious honor of still “celebrating” spring break, I decided to take my own vacation. I got up at 5:00am everyday, stood in the cold for up to 2.5 hours without talking, and got to see one of nature’s most amazing migrations – the sandhill cranes staging along the Platte River between Kearney and Grand Island, Nebraska.

The cranes are coming from the south and headed as far north as Siberia. They stop in this area to feed for about a month; they put on 2-3 pounds of weight before they wait for a warm, southerly wind and take off. The waste corn in the fields seems to be a favorite treat. The cranes roost in the river at night, gathering in huge groups at sunset and then taking off in the morning near/after sunrise. They trill and warble loudly – they talk to each other. All in all it’s a pretty amazing sight (and sound).

Here are some of the photos from the blind at Rowe Sanctuary. At the bottom is a short clip. The production of the video isn’t great, but the sound is there.

If you want to watch the cranes, check out the Crane Cam. Keep in mind, the cranes are in the area from mid-February to early April, so it’s a limited window.

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California, I miss you!

I had a chance to visit southern California for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It was balmy weather that I’m dreaming of since it’s below freezing and snowing in New Jersey.  I had a job interview and my first ever press trip – it was quite the five days! Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip. Enjoy!

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No Fear

I was in New York City this past week, “the city” for those in the know and/or those who live in Jersey. I was waiting for the 1 train to head uptown, and it was taking an inordinate amount of time. I kept looking at my watch, getting increasingly annoyed. I was tired, and I was ready to get to bed.

As I was standing there, a woman, dressed in mismatched clothes and carrying an unwieldy looking tote bag, lumbered down the stairs. As she got to the bottom, she dropped her bag and she started to stretch. She reached towards her toes, not able to touch them, reached her hands to the sky and then began to dance. Her movements weren’t graceful; she wobbled, stumbled, but she kept going.  Continue reading

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More Questions Than Answers

I am sitting in my studio apartment in Jersey. I have ignored the handful of kids who pounded on my front door, desperate for Halloween candy. I hadn’t bought any – this isn’t a community or a neighborhood where I want to put down roots. If I hand out candy, I’m becoming a part of the life here. And I don’t want that. (That and I couldn’t be bothered to go to the store.)

As I hide out from candy hungry youngsters, I realize with a sinking feeling that today is the last day of October. Tomorrow starts November. My self-imposed deadline to have things sorted out for 2011. But I find myself in the same position as the end of the summer, when I came back to my little apartment in the middle of a state that I have grown to, if not hate, definitely have disdain for. Continue reading

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Print vs. Internet; Books vs. Laptops

This is going to be particularly rambling, so strap in!

I was watching The Colbert Report last night, because, well, I love it, and the guest that was on was Nicholas Negroponte. He is heading up the foundation: One Laptop per Child. It’s a great idea – get laptops and technology into the hands of children in developing nations. It helps with education and empowerment. However, he mentioned it as the death of books, saying that if you can hold 10,000 books in one laptop, you would never need an actual book. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.

A friend of mine who’s currently traveling is considering buying a Kindle. At first (and sometimes still), I thought that was a fantastic idea. Continue reading

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Every Friday afternoon, I’m reminded why I dislike New Jersey

New Jersey is the most populated state in the country. According to the latest census information, there are 1,134.5 people per square mile here with 8.7 million people in total. And it seems as though all of those people, once they get behind the wheel of a car, become psychotic, selfish, ego maniacs who don’t know how to read – STOP and YIELD – what do those mean?!  (I would argue that any who chooses to live on the Jersey shore, is on the Jersey shore and/or watches the Jersey shore is that all of the time…)

I have been cut off, yelled at, flipped off, etc. for following traffic laws in this state. It seems to be commonplace here to drive along the shoulder, not pull over for emergency vehicles, make left turns from the right hand lane, and treat yellow lights as a sign to accelerate. Continue reading

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Money. That’s what we want.

This past week, I came face to face with rampant consumerism. I spent about four hours at the mall as I waited, yet again, for my car to get repaired.  Two floors of stores, a fairly typical spot for America, filled with people spending money. I suppose this is a good thing as far as the recession goes, but I couldn’t help getting annoyed.  Perhaps I was jealous – I wasn’t there to buy anything, and I don’t have extra cash to toss around. Or perhaps it was the crowds of people bumping into me with their bags full of stuff.

The place, like all malls and stores, are designed to get people to spend money and to enjoy themselves as they do so. The displays are set up to draw you in, the salespeople are trained to remind you of the current deals and sales, and the rate of fashion and style changes so quickly that there is always something new and more desirable around the corner. Continue reading

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Car Trouble

My car’s check engine light came on last night as I was driving home from work. Of course. Stanley (name of my car) has managed to drive from Kansas to New Jersey, then back and then back again.  I took my car into the shop where I was greeted with, “It’s been a long time!”  Yep, they know me at the repair shop.

It turned out to be a fairly simple fix and not the dreaded transmission failure that I feel may still be in Stanley’s (hopefully very distant) future. As I left the mechanic said, “It was good to see you.  See you again soon!”  Fantastic.

Then I wondered how much I rely upon my car. I drive it to and from work. Just me, no carpooling. And really, this semester I could walk at least to a nearby bus stop to get to work, but I find it easier to drive. I use the drive to think, sing along with the radio, and learn about the world. (It’s the only time I listen to NPR, from which I get most of my news.)

But could I not do the same things while walking? I would be forced to wear comfortable shoes to work, and then be able to get rid of all the shoes I have that are cute and yet painful and no good for walking in for more than 5 minutes at a time, if that.  I would have to carry a backpack to haul student papers around; no more feeling off-centered and sore with my over the shoulder tote bag. I could have even more time to listen to my tunes, though singing along might get me some weird looks.

So why am I so relieved that my car is up and running again?

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Museum Pass Day Two

Last night, I headed to the show “How to Become Parisian in One Hour” by a French comedian. He did the show entirely in English, which was quite helpful! It was pretty funny – how to be Parisian in the metro – pick a spot on the floor and glare at it while looking depressed.  That’s a fairly good description of any big city subway system!

So after my night at the comedy show and my tromps around Paris and museums on museum pass day one, I was frankly not that enthusiastic about getting up and about and wandering around more.  But I had paid for my pass, so wander I did. Continue reading

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