Spontaneous Travel Version 2015

If you’re familiar with my life, which maybe you are, maybe you aren’t, you would know last year I took a six-week trip to Italy on a whim. It ended up being one, if not the best, experience of my life. Earlier this year I took a semi-spontaneous trip to visit my brother again in Phoenix, but the travel bug bites, and it bites me exceptionally hard.

Now, this year I’m not as fortunate to be able to take a big trip like that due to several factors. However, one of my best friends Alex had just moved down to Washington D.C. She’s there alone for a few weeks before her boyfriend moves down for graduate school, so she’s been a bit lonely. About two weeks ago the idea popped into my head to just go. I booked my flights and flew there on Monday, July 13. I returned early yesterday, the 16th. We fit a lot into 3 days and it was my first time to visit the capital.

After picking me up from the airport, we stopped quick at her apartment to change and freshen up and walked down to the bus station. The bus ride was a quick ten minute ride to the Pentagon metro station (not to be confused with the Pentagon City station -as she explained). Even during rush hour times the trains never seemed full. As a New Yorker who has commuted on multiple occasions I was astonished that people didn’t need to pack in like sardines. All the trains did seem a bit outdated, there was no ticker overhead announcing what stop was next or a light-up map either. So you do need to pay attention to the stops. I have to wonder what is at the Foggy Bottom stop. Also, the regular fair cards (not the Smartrip cards) don’t tell you how much is left on your balance. And the metro prices on how far you are going so you pay for how many stops rather than just to use.

 

We took the metro right to the National Mall, which is under construction in places. We stopped in the Smithsonian Castle and then headed to the top two museums on our lists (she had been to both before, but they are a must!) I kept getting these names mixed up, but apparently everyone does. First we viewed the National Museum of American History, which had great pieces. The Smithsonian does a superb job of curating. One of my favorite Periscope users is an archaeologist who always talked about being ‘edutained,’ and I certainly felt edutained walking out. This museum has such a wide-range collection, from George Washington’s swords to First Ladies gowns, a slab of the Berlin Wall, and different presidential mementos. There’s definitely an embarrassing video of me at the presidential podium giving John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech. That won’t be shared here, but look for the picture.

The next museum was the Museum of Natural History. Another amazing museum. They have Harry Winston’s Hope Diamond, an Ancient Egypt exhibit and an oceans exhibit among many others. The only exhibit I wasn’t crazy for was the taxidermy animals. I especially enjoyed the Bollywood and African exhibits. It pushes the boundaries of what you thought you knew.

We rounded out the first day with a visit to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. There are no photos allowed in the Rotunda which is for the health of the documents. It was an amazing experience to be in the same room as the most important documents in US history. The Founding Fathers were so intelligent in understanding that times change and so do people’s mindsets. What may have not been okay twenty years ago, is commonplace today, and I think we all need to realize that our freedom is in place to protect everyone’s ideals.

The next day we strapped on comfortable shoes and walked the National Mall, visiting almost all of the monuments, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr., FDR, World War II, and several others. We also stopped to visit the White House, which looks so different in person. While these monuments evoked a sense of reflection and humbleness in me I couldn’t help but think about what could be next.

The third day we took it easy and enjoyed the sweet peacefulness of her town and doing things we normally did when we lived together in college (i.e.: gossip, watch weird/bad movies, and eat food).

There are plenty of things I still want to do in D.C., like visit many of the other Smithsonian museums, and other museums like the Spy Museum, the Newseum, and the Writers Museum. I would also love to visit the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Capitol, the Ford Theatre and Arlington National Cemetery. D.C. is one of those places where you can always return to something new, and it is something I look forward to when visiting Alex down there over the next few years.

 

Geeked Out!

I live a simple life, right? Just filled with personal experiences and making small but wonderful memories.

So when something like Director James Gunn tweets out an article I wrote about it… well… you can assume that I am flipping out! The good kind of flipping out!

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There the tweet is. The director of Guardians of the Galaxy himself.

And, update: he posted it on Facebook as well.

james gunn

And here is a link to the article.

My head is in the clouds currently. I am so gracious. It’s a damn cute article with tons of animals to boot.

New York Comic Con Recap!

Phew! It is a damn good thing today is  Columbus Day because I definitely need a day to recuperate. New York Comic Con was intense! Intense in all the good ways, of course!

My first time at NYCC was in 2011, and I only got a taste of what it was since I was there for a few hours on the final day. This time around I won a 3-day pass from the wonderful Pete’s Basement Comic Book Talk Show and came equipped with a better knowledge of events and the floor layout.

Day 1

I took my cousin Sandra as my first guest (I won 2 passes) and she has never been to a Comic Con. I think she totally loved it just by the sheer volume of pictures she took. We arrived to the Javits Center before 10am in hopes of making our way to the Marvel booth. All went well until we got inside, I wasn’t sure where we were in relativity to the booth (we walked in closest to the Weta Workshop booth) and by the time we elbowed our way to Marvel the line for the raffles was looped around a couple times. We still got on line praying for a miracle. Marvel set up their panels and autographing session with Clark Gregg a bit differently then the rest of the Con, you basically get on line and pick a ballot. Some ballots give you the wristband and some don’t so it is a complete gamble. We were maybe 10 people away from getting a chance to pick a raffle before we were told they were out. I’m guessing you have to seek your first-born child to get into a Marvel panel/screening because I lucked out the rest of the weekend too.

Denied but not defeated, my cousin and I perused the showroom, gaping at the ginormous Bumblebee at the Chevrolet booth (real person in there too). I bought an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. t-shirt from the Super Hero Stuff booth and I made it my mission to also track down a Funko Pop Vinvl of The Winter Soldier. That figure has been just as elusive as the character is and I finally found him an hour before we left. I also bought an original Winter Soldier paining by Tony Santiago and a Hello Kitty style Winter Soldier from I believe Tom Kelly. It’s pretty evident that I really love this character and I am so glad there was plenty of great artwork that has interpreted him.

Comic Con also has a lot of fun photo booths scattered all over the place. My cousin and I took lots of them and had lots of goofy faces to give the camera. Artists Alley was also another highlight. We spent a lot of time just watching these artists at work and admiring their craft. I know who to keep an eye out for as I learn more about comics and what I like in reading and viewing comics. It was really something special to meet Allen Bellman who drew for Marvel in the 1940s and 1950s.

Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) was doing his signing at the Marvel booth. We were able to watch him and got some photos of him. Gregg has one of those demeanors that make him look so warm and caring. Two of the people getting autographs signed had a phenomenal cosplay of Captain America and The Black Widow and Gregg jumped up to take a special picture with them. He is a total fanboy and proud.

Our day ended around 4:30/5ish. My cousin had to leave to go to work and I left with her because I needed her 3-day pass for Saturday since I was bringing a friend.

Day 2

Saturday was easily the busiest day. My friend Cat and I arrived about an hour in and it was already bustling. Unfortunately, it had been a very rainy morning and while I kept my Winter Soldier metal arm dry, putting it on my own wet arm was a bad, bad, terrible idea. I suspected the top part was beginning to crack the night before when I was trying it on one last time but I felt it crack more on this morning. There is still no visible crack but it is going to need a Franken-fix on it. The water also smudged some of the paint. I couldn’t get the arm up to my shoulder due to my arm being wet so it didn’t look right in its placement. Also, I need to make the cuts better so I can have some mobility with it. ONE MORE THING: A lot of people kept bumping into my arm. Dear people, please try to respect anyone wearing a homemade costume, it is likely that we spent a LOT of time and MONEY on it and even if it’s not that good it is still near and dear to our hearts.

Despite my cosplay snafu I enjoyed the rest of my day. I didn’t buy much except for lunch, beer, and an Agent Jemma Simmons identification card. My bank account needed a rest from how much I spent on Friday. We tried to get into a couple  panel’s such as the Mary Sue one on women in comics but we were shut out. We even showed up an hour before it would start. I guess I just don’t know how to get into them!

We met up with some other friends who had taken advantage of the fact you can buy alcohol. It was fun to talk with them and hear about their Con stories. I ended up taking the same train ride home with them which was definitely nicer than traveling by myself.

Day 3

I arrived on time and by myself this time. My friend Erin was caught up in an assignment and didn’t make it until the late afternoon, but I am so glad she got to enjoy herself for a few hours. I did bring my nice D-SLR camera so I roamed the floor taking shots of people cosplaying. I’m always in awe over these costumes. The time, love, and craftsmanship that goes into them is astounding. It’s interesting to see what people chose to cosplay, to see what’s important to them.

Erin and I had a lot of fun trying on silly hats and goggles. We had a really awesome conversation with one of the guys from the Weta Workshop (post will come later). I bought some cool prints made from a 95 year old press machine and also a Doctor Who tumbler so I can enjoy my pumpkin spice beverages any time I want.

There was a guy outside of the Javits Center dressed up as The Doctor and he brought his own Tardis. He was a great sport and a fantastic Ten impersonator. He definitely put a lot of smiles of peoples faces that day, including mine.

∇∇∇

New York Comic Con was a blast and I wish it was every month. I barely slept with how excited I was every night. There a few things left in my adulthood that cause that kind of reaction. It had a way of making me feel so relaxed. I was surrounded by things I love and people who love them just as passionately as I do. And like the heroes we admire, I had no fear.

Well, there’s now less than 365 days until next year, time to get planning!

Here are couple pictures I took throughout the weekend:

What I’ve been up too.

I’ve been busy, and then not-so-busy. I’ve been playing catch-up with personal business but am finally seeing the light of it and I’m able to balance my private and public matters better.

 

As of late I have been freelancing for a chain of local papers. It’s been great learning town codes and the ways towns work.

To see some of my work visit here.

On top of that I’ve just started writing for a digital music zine called Deep in the Music Media. My first album review was just posted and you can check it on on their Tumblr. This is the website and this is a direct link to my album. Be sure to follow them on Twitter and Instagram too! I haven’t written an album review in a very long time so it was nice to stretch those muscles out!

I’ve also been scribbling some non-fiction and fiction pieces, nothing is cohesive enough to post yet but I may crack one out in a few days. This warm weather is inspiring me to write, just got to remember to write it down and not store it in my head.

Hope you are all doing well and healthy!

 

Paper comes out tomorrow!

I’ll have another article in the printed edition of the Long Island Press, but here’s one that I covered today.

The new Barclays Center in Brooklyn is sure to attract a lot of Long Islanders to its concerts and events. The Long Island Railroad is adding more trains to the Atlantic Avenue terminal.

 

Check out my coverage here!

 

Major Article!

For my Spring 2012 Ottoway Seminar class at New Paltz, with New York Times investigative reporter Andrew Lehren, a group of classmates and I worked on and article about retiring NYS Representative Maurice Hinchey and his earmarks.

You can read the article here.

I’m very proud to have worked on this and to have learned so many research techniques, especially using databases and fiiling for information and FOIA’s…

So much learning = so much loving!

 

Back from vacation

Came back from vacation today and saw that one of my articles was put up.  You can view it here.

Let me know what you think! This was a lot of fun to cover.