Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 52nd Week of the Year

Hey, look at that. 2nd post in 1 month. This must mean I'm finally committed to pursuing my passions and preventing my hobbies from falling by the wayside because of work and other distractions. Or I left work at 5:01 and nothing is on TV during the awkward 5 days between Christmas and New Year's Eve... believe what you want.

The 52nd week of the year - always a wash, isn't it? It's the time when you (I) sit around claiming you're going to be healthy after stuffing yourself on Christmas, but you know you're going to drink and eat much later than you should on New Year's Eve, so why start now, right? Better to kick off the new year with a fresh start (and a fresh 10 pounds around your waist). Nothing is ever accomplished during week 52. No one is at work, so even if you are you can't do much. No one is in the city to play with. There's leftover, stale junk food from Christmas that you told yourself you won't eat, but it's just sitting there.. staring at you.

... The best idea is to celebrate New Year's Eve the night after Christmas. Then we could all just get on with it. Jesus could ring in the New Year... by swinging on a disco ball in the middle of Times Square. Why hasn't the Catholic Church seized this amazing PR opportunity?

L.L. Bean Christmas Catalogue Models

Anyway, the inspiration for this post was actually a really fantastic Christmas weekend. Just like the old days - quiet Christmas Eve at Grandma's and lively Christmas Day at the Roti house (but no meatballs this year. What gives?)

Christmas Traditions:

1. March of the Wooden Soldiers
2. Football
3. Christmas Eve e-mail from Dad: "Kris, do you have anything for Mom's stocking?"
4. Knicks season opener (okay, maybe that's not a Christmas tradition)
5. Grandma's Chocolate Cream Pie
6. Mom's string beans
7. Italian red wine
8. More wine
9. Gift-giving chaos, followed by organized chaos with each gift opened one at a time by the respective family member (Welcome, John) in descending age order
10. And, most importantly, DAD'S CHRISTMAS SUSPENDERS (please note: 52-year-old-Matt really needs bigger suspenders than 30-year-old-Matt).

(was going to try to write this to the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas," but I don't have all day).

Grandma: "Another puzzle? Seriously?!"

So as we enter a new year, here's to celebrating the ordinary; the traditions we've grown to love without rhyme or reason ("I'll build a bamboo bungalow for two..."). Whether silly or annoying, hysterical or delayed hysterical (that's when you don't laugh until you're sure Mom will laugh with you), we can count on the quirks and family oddities. Which means, in essence, we can count on our family to welcome us home.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Just an average Saturday.

My pulse beats to “The Violet Hour” by the Civil Wars -- new favorite band thanks to a music-savvy friend who is much more hip than I am.

Guess where I am? My favorite East Village coffee shop, B Cup Café. (if you know me, then you knew that already. Where else would I be?)

Since i've been irresponsibly neglecting my blog for the past year, will start with a quick 30-second posting on life's happenings. I moved back to the Village in August - best decision i could've made. Was drowning in Finance folks living downtown. If I had to overhear one more conversation in an elevator beginning with "dude, gotta tell you about this sweet deal we closed today..." I might have had to beat someone over the head with my blackberry. I'm back where I belong amongst the East Village crazies. In fact... stepped over a homeless man rolling around near Avenue A to get here today.

Quick side note: don't you just love how un-phased city children are by just about anything? "Mom, what's for dinner?" ***cut to naked homeless man mooning everyone*** "ummmmm not sure yet, honey." ***child skirts to other side of Mom to avoid twirling, spitting woman*** "I want hot dogs!"

... What percentage end up in therapy by age 30?!

Other updates - work is going well. Getting great PR / marketing / Communications experience on a project for an industry i never expected to tap into. Also managing projects myself, acting more "strategically," etc. All in all... long hours, but good times.

Starting NYU Stern for my MBA in T-60 days. Will be getting educated during evenings twice a week. Here's hoping I will Iearn something useful! Will meet some interesting new people at the very least. Not sure I remember how to study either (did I ever know how to study?)

(have been seduced by B Cup's music and have given up on my own playlist. How can you turn down a live version of "Layla" followed by Dust in the Wind?)

So that's life. Work. School. Village.

More interestingly (I hope), i recently took a trip to Peru. I'll start with a clip from a frantic email I sent to the family on Day 10:

So tonight we are staying with a Peruvian family in a small town called Puno. Tourism comprises most of their economy. Tour groups (including ours) visit the town to see Lake Titikaka, the highest lake in the world. We are 4000 meters high. I've been drinking muna tea to avoid further altitude sickness! We toured the floating islands earlier... tiny little islands made of mud and straw. A few families live on each. They have their own gov't and elect a president each year (though I can't imagine he has much power since there are probably only about 5 eligible men on each island). We took photos in traditional dress and I bought a few things.

We then met our family.. Satornino picked us up from the boat and his wife Julia served us lunch. Some sort of potato soup, followed by rice with vegetables, cheese and coca (plant that Coca Cola and cocaine are made from). I did tell Neil I had reached my limit at lunch - we are in nowheresville with extremely underprivileged people, we can hardly communicate (they speak Quechua, language of the Incas) and we are eating foreign food 3 times a day while asking each other "what do you think this one is" and batting away flies. I haven't had to go to the bathroom in a hole in the ground.. But close to it. We've met these two couples who have had nearly the same itinerary as us so we've become friends - Brian says he's proud of me for being a city girl willing to come on a trip like this!

We will spend the night in their guest room (I'm becoming pretty good at making myself look presentable without a proper shower) and then continue down the lake with our tour group tomorrow.

... and that's pretty much how it went. Absolutely incredible trip and an amazing experience, but not something I'd feel compelled to do again. We worked with a tour company that planned our full itinerary (it's pretty necessary for this kind of trip), so had a jam-packed schedule of traveling and touring each day. Most of the towns we visited were touristy because they were home base for travelers who then left during the day to explore. Machu Picchu was amazing (obviously). Learned lots about the history of the Incas, but more interestingly, learned how present-day Peruvians live (outside of Lima, of course). It's not so different from how they lived during the time of the Incas (1400s-1500s). 40% illiteracy, 70% below the poverty line in mountainous areas. Unfortunately, Spanish language and culture were imposed on the Quechuans (the correct name for the Incas. Inca actually means King in Quechuan) in the 1500s when the Spanish explored and conquered Peru. Quechuan culture only survives by being passed down from generation to generation in the home.

Trips like this really put things in perspective for me. People who have so little and work so hard are happy because they have their health and their family. It's a nice refresher sometimes of what is really important in life. But that's obvious! I'm in it for the food. :)

Full photo album to come (it's in the post from London). Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's coming.

It's been almost a year. Way too long. Need to make sure i don't give up writing (even if it's only about silly happenings in my life)! Will post very soon...