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President and secretary of the Kona welcoming committee.

When we arrived yesterday, it seemed like a family’s cat had wandered onto the resort property. I pet her–she looked a little dirty and on the thin side, but feral cats don’t approach people and press their forehead against ankles and knuckles and purr. But it becomes apparent when we wake up and see the young orange tabby sitting outside our sliding glass door on our little first-floor balcony that perhaps this cat has nowhere else to be. We see a dumpster not far off, and near it, another cat. In all, there are three, who we’ll come to refer to as Nice Cat (ours), Not As Nice Cat (same orange and white stripes, but not as nice), and Mean Cat (a true black and orange tabby, who sometimes bullies Nice Cat). A well behaved stray, Nice Cat never tries to come inside our condo–she just wants us to come outside and pet her. She probably wants food, too, but we see that there’s a food dish near the dumpster. (Not to mention the dumpster.)

We establish our morning routines–mom with her prayers and walks, my sister with her runs, dad and me with our, sigh, work email. We all take turns sitting on the patio, listening to the birds, and probably watching the cats more than we’d like to admit. Read the rest of this entry »

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A string trio in Central Park.

Almost a year to the day after my last carload of belongings disappeared into the Lincoln Tunnel and left Manhattan forever, I found myself approaching the island on the Z train from Jamaica with just a small suitcase at my feet, gazing out the window at the Empire State Building as I had on so many arrivals before. I’d always thought the best ways to experience the Empire State Building were from the observation deck on the 86th floor and from a great distance. Even from my apartment building’s rooftop on 29th and Lexington, just a few blocks away, it never seemed as tall and majestic as it did from Queens.

I needed to see New York again. Living there was never going to be permanent — I had eyes for California — but my fifteen months there inevitably felt like a negligible scratch compared to the deep etchings so many others leave on New York’s weathered surface.

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Reading about Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter’s new Midtown venture, Monkey Bar, situated in the Elysee Hotel, I was enticed. By some accounts, it’s his tour de force in Manhattan scene (if not cuisine?); by others, it seemed like a voyage to turn-of-the-century Bombay, an intriguing move, if of questionable taste. Ultimately, Ruth gave it the nod. And I love an adventure. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve been driving back and forth between Fredericksburg and Charlottesville to do my restaurant reviews and see friends since I moved.  I wish I had photos of every unusual sight I’ve come across–I will never stop appreciating the eccentricities of the city and the mountain landscape –as this autumn has been particularly scenic.

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Long story short: I canceled an event in Houston on the Monday following Hurricane Ike’s tragic path through east Texas.  I could postpone my flight and arrive on Tuesday, but any other changes to my schedule would cost me at least $600.  So I went.  I landed and immediately drove to Austin, and then on to San Antonio.

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Please click on this one and enjoy my newest html skill, ANCHORS! Rock.

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Chicago

I arrived in Chicago on a Monday morning. It wasn’t particularly painful to leave Charlottesville this time. I had time to clean my apartment over the weekend, so I did not have the sinking feeling of knowing I would be greeted with a chore on my return. But it had been a tumultuous week leading up to the trip, and I needed the kind of distraction travel uniquely forces on someone. Between New Orleans and this trip, I’d snuck away to Los Angeles to spend the weekend with someone–for a second time in two months, actually. (Neither trip is documented here.) At the end of the trip, I initiated some kind of discussion of whether or not we were dating, and he said it wasn’t something he would consider, and despite all we’d gone out to see and do that weekend–from horse racing to gallery openings at the Brewery, the world’s largest colony of artists–it cheapened the experience for me a bit. I’d seen it coming. So going into this trip, I had a fresh start for, essentially, everything. Everything except, of course, my job.

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I was nervous about going to New Orleans. The alumni I work with are so proud of their city, protective of its reputation against outsiders the way an older sibling might defend a younger. But at the same time, they’re frustrated with it. They’ll say that they’ve moved on and that the city and its spirit would need a lot more than a hurricane to be raveled, but that a day doesn’t go by that they don’t feel the damage of Katrina. I hear that the residents unite in solidarity despite socioeconomic disparity and difference of race, but I know that the population is not even two-thirds of what it was before Katrina, and that the remaining homeless are predominantly African-American and very, very poor. Was the gap narrowed or exasperated? I don’t know. The city is encouraging tourism to reinvigorate its economy, and it is working. Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest still attract spring breakers and music lovers in strong numbers, and convention facilities are booking well. But it feels a little forced. These are survivors and victims.

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I flew in to Nashville and immediately set off for Louisville by car. My flight was a bit delayed, and I’d arranged a formal evening meeting. I was cutting it very close for my arrival. I’d done the drive before, though, and I knew it should take three hours. It’s mostly remote blue hills; only the occasional truck stop and Dinosaur World, a park with plaster dinosaurs.

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Minneapolis

Everyone has something good to say about Minneapolis.*

* In summer.

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