Pardon my disappearance while the unpacking takes place. It's in the last stages, and the space is . . . well, there isn't much. At all. There are a few things that I've learned, though, so I'll share.

1. Baskets are the ultimate ORGANIZING FRIENDS. No, seriously. The linen closet upstairs is FULL OF STUFF. But everything's in a basket! Result? It looks so nice and organized and pretty! Love.

2. Give moving boxes away on freecycle. It saves the hassle of breaking the boxes down for recycling.

3. Getting rid of all the stuff you haven't used in years is very freeing. This is the ultimate in spring cleaning. I mean, we haven't gotten to the actual cleaning part of it, but whatever.

4. If you feel like you're running around in circles (literally), sit down and watch some mindless TV. This is best done late at night with a beverage.

5. If you have a partner/roommate, 'tis best if you each do separate tasks. I'm currently downstairs, himself is currently upstairs. The conversation went something like this: "This is my dance space, this is your dance space."

6. New-to-you furniture is fun!

The unpacking has been somewhat stalled by visits to numerous government offices and le accountant. The to-do list keeps getting longer. If the boxes can just get unpacked, then I can focus. The goal is by the end of the week. We'll seeeeeeee . . .

What do you hate most about packing/unpacking?

It's Go Time

We were waiting, you see, for a couple of pieces of paper, allowing our lives to continue. So what did I do during this wait? Well, as you know, I spent a ridiculous amount of time catching up on House Hunters. And then I went to New York.

Despite my complete hatred of that city when I first moved there, I came to love the place. I'm tied to it emotionally because I feel as if I first came to my own in New York; it's where I learned to live by myself and actually started to grow up. Himself asks me all the time, "What's so great about New York? It's expensive, it's a rat race, it's everyone trying to be something they're not." To this I say, "yes and no." (Which, lemme tell you, annoys him to no end.) I love how it's like one massive river coursing through the valley of the northeast, taking along anything that gets caught in its path. Conversely, I love how one can stand on the banks and watch the action if (s)he didn't want to get swept away. I loved knowing that I could stay in my apartment, but if I didn't, there would be a gazillion things to do on any given day. I love how for all its pretentious VIPs, it's also a city of students, and for every overpriced exorbitant restaurant/concert/museum/admission, there is an affordable neighborhood place/free night so that everyone can enjoy the good times. I've come to be a city girl, so I love the energy in many cities, not just New York. New York, however, is somewhat unique in that it is a center for so many industries. It's a center for finance, fashion, visual art, dance, music, film, literature . . . and this brings so many fantastic (and weird) people to the same place. I love that the Wall Street guy and the woman who does nails all day ride in the same subway car to work as the student and the guy who walks dogs. I love that, at any given moment, you're never quite sure who you'll bump into. I love the predictableness, the unpredictableness, the energy, the efficiency, the 24-hour-a-day free delivery. Plus, how can you not love a place with signs like this?

Where was I? Oh. So I returned to New York for the weekend for some catching up time with my bitches. Aaaaaahhhhhhh, I had so much fun. The dance party resulted in sweaty backs and painful feet, as all good dance parties should. And I returned to Maryland to find an envelope waiting, an envelope containing a couple of (very important) pieces of paper. Hot damn.

Now it's moving time. Fo' realz, yo. All of that stuff that I had from my apartment in New York will finally be with me in Canada. And don't even GET ME STARTED on all of the wedding gifts that have been sitting in boxes in the garage down here, sad and unloved. They will be loved!! And you know what? I'm thrilled to be heading back to Toronto. I'm thrilled to be heading back to our neighborhood, where you actually know the owners of all of the stores. I can't wait to be back in a city where biking is the norm, especially in the summer. And the summer! Everyone takes summer by the horns and shakes the shit of it for the often-too-brief appearance it makes. How can you not love a place where everyone has outdoor space -- and it's more than a fire escape? It's a place where work matters, but family matters more. It's a place where the highways are to be avoided at all costs, lest you never make it to your final destination on time. It's the place where I can finally call home, and thank God for that.

So. Wanna help move this week?

Life is Just a Bowl Of Cherry Blossoms

Due to the ohsomild winter, the cherry blossoms are blooming early this year. Since the peak bloom dates this year only span a three day period, I got up offa my thang today, went into D.C., and rented a bike (this seems to be my thing here now). This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 3,020 cherry blossom trees that were gifted to D.C. by Tokyo. (Apparently they first sent over 2,000, but they were infested with insects and were burned. Whoops.)

Anyway, they may not be as famous as Japan's cherry blossom trees, but man . . . aren't they pretty?

While the cherry blossom trees are all over D.C., the most famous area for seeing them is around the Tidal Basin. For those of you not familiar with D.C., it's the body of water right in front of the Jefferson Memorial and now the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and a stone's throw away form the Lincoln Memorial and the Kennedy Center. What's kinda cool is that the trees generally live around 20-25 years (some live much longer of course), but when the trees around the Tidal Basin started to die, splices from the original trees were cultivated and planted, which means that many of the trees still have the same genetic makeup as the ones that were gifted 100 years ago! Isn't that cool?? Well, it's cool to me. In 1965, Tokyo gave D.C. got 3,800 more trees . . . talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

Oh, and in case some of you are pursing your lips and thinking that we take take take and give nothing in return (you know who you are), I'll have you know that we sent them some lovely dogwood trees. So there.

Boring Stuff

Okay, so what am I doing right now?? Well. Nothing but thrills around here. My bag arrived*, laundry has been done, delicious things have been made to eat. In preparation for the big move back north, I've been doing a bit of housekeeping, such as -- gasp -- calling for quotes for car insurance. I've also been -- gasp -- grocery shopping. Until March Madness started, my quality television time has been (voluntarily) limited to DVRd episodes of a) House Hunters, 2) House Hunters International, 3) My First Place, and z) Barefoot Contessa. (No, we're not buying property.) I also went to take my car in, you know, for a tune-up. After they popped my hood, the woman came up to me and we had a conversation that went something like this:

Woman who looks a bit too made up to work at a garage: Um, so, you have pretty much NO OIL in your car. Which means you've got sludge in your engine. And you also have no antifreeze. Your reservoir is empty.
Me, frowning: Oh. Really? Yeah . . . yeah. I thought things felt a little weird. [And had for a very long time.]
Woman who looks a bit too made up to work at a garage: We recommend blah blah blah, you don't have to get this, but we do recommend that, this and that both do the same thing, but that acts immediately. And we'll throw in the antifreeze for free [because you are such a desperate case].
Me, nodding: Right, well . . . since the car is almost 14 years old and close to being effed up, I'd better take care of the problem now.
Woman who looks a bit too made up to work at a garage: I don't know if you believe in God, but He got you here today. Your engine should've overheated, cut out on you, and locked, and you should've been stranded on the side of the road somewhere.
Me, remembering that I just drove it round trip from Massachusetts: Yeah, I'm pretty much an idiot. But it's really my husband's fault, I was under the impression that he took it in to change the oil and get the levels checked before each long trip I/we take, so I'll pretty much be doing it from now on.
Woman who looks a bit too made up to work at a garage: I know that's right.

Okay, I didn't say that last part, but you get the gist of it. And I did pay attention to what she told me in spite of the 'blah blah blah', I just didn't feel like typing it all. So now my car should last long enough for us to resolve our fight ongoing discussion about whether our next car is going to be a VW Jetta or a VW Golf (or maybe it's the VW Sportwagen that he wants? Dunno, some hatchback one). A hybrid something or other might even introduce itself into the discussion, who knows?

On the agenda next: visiting mah bitches and rounding them up for a night out dancing, cataloging all of the stuff in boxes that we'll be bringing to Canada (it's for customs and is singlehandedly the thing I'm dreading the most), and finishing all of those House Hunters episodes.

I am going to do posts about South America, but I want to have pictures, and I don't have any of them on this computer. In fact, himself has everything on our portable hard drive which is -- surprise! -- not in my possession. Just know that I am not leading you on.

*When himself and I checked in for our flight leaving Cusco, Peru, the man behind the counter said that our bags would be checked through to our final destination. We were flying Cusco-Lima, Lima-Quito, Quito-Miami, and Miami-D.C. I thought to myself, there's no WAY that both of our bags are going to make it through four connections -- three of them in South America. When we arrived in Miami, we thought we'd have a look on the baggage carousel, just to be safe. Lo and behold, himself's bag was there. Mine was not. The guy said that it'd probably been checked through. "Is it not strange that the tags on our bags are the same, and his is here while mine is not?" I asked him. "Yeah, it is." But we played it Kool & Associated Acquaintances since we had a long overnight at Miami International Airport ahead of us. (THANK YOU, DUNKIN' DONUTS.) Is anyone surprised that we arrived in D.C. and the bag had not? After a few days of an automated message from American Airlines calling to tell me that "we apologize, we have not located your missing baggage," my bag was found and returned. All looks good, although there may be a couple pairs of damp, smelly socks missing.

The Year of 30: Part I

Well, I suppose Part I was really South America . . . but let's not get bogged down with semantics. Seeing as how himself officially reached the next decade, we had to mark it with the appropriate level of celebration. I use the word "appropriate" quite loosely.

For the weekend, we went to Massachusetts. The surprise par-tay included a limo, high heels and a borrowed dress (yes, it was his birthday but I also made the most of it), and Lady GaGa. (No, not in person, dammit.)

For his actual birthday, himself was craving sushi. And what himself asks for, himself gets.

One of us down, one more to go!

So, peeps, how was your weekend?

They're baaaaa-aaaaack

I'm talking about us, obviously.

We got back from South America yesterday morning. My bag is still in South America. Whatevs.

Today is himself's birthday, and we've been spending it lazing about, planning our return to the Great White North. Fantastic dinner to happen later.

I've succeeded in catching up on my emails.

I have not yet begun catching up on my blogroll. But just wait, oh you guys wait, it'll happen.

We haven't really processed everything yet -- it's kind of like we're back but . . . wait, we're back? Wasn't it just a few days ago that we were walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu? Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that we were in the Galapagos Islands? Wasn't it just a month ago that we were on the largest salt flat in the world? It's been incredible, so incredible. So I'm just gonna hang out and get settled back in and take a moment to reflect and breathe and think, "Holy crap, that was awesome!" We've been so incredibly fortunate to be able to have taken this time out and traipse around a different continent for a while. I'll share more, I promise. Maybe a series of favorite moments? Gaaaaahhhhh, so many. And pictures, there will be pictures.

But for now . . . I have a lot of House Hunters to watch.

Drama on the Streets of La Paz

While in La Paz, we were staying in what I like to think of as the garment district. Mommy -- and you, Mrs. V, and you, Aunt Wanda -- would've spent hours poking around in the gfabric stores, gawking at the bright colors and some of the gaudy materials.

But this isn't a story about fabric.

One evening I was walking back from the Black Market (which is totally legal, p.s.) when I turned up a side street and saw a rukus. So of COURSE I went to see what all of the fuss was about. A middle-aged woman was standing in the middle of the fray, yelling at a younger man. Behind the man was a young woman, who was taking every opportunity to yell back at the other woman. A middle-aged man was standing slightly to the side, piping up every now and again. Interesting, but not earth-shattering. Then the older woman took a swing at the younger woman, and things stepped up a notch. Hair was pulled, there was swinging and shrieking, and they had to be pulled off of each other.

Things continued in this vein for another little while, and then another woman came yelling up the street. She stepped into the circle and started screaming at the man in the middle of the fray, hands up in his face, to the point where her knees gave out (or she was milking the drama for all that it was worth). The man carried her away by the elbows to the other side of the street.

By this time, the street was packed. Cars had to honk to get through, and observers were starting to chime in with their two Bolivianos. A random man even took a punch at the man who was trying to subdue the woman who had come in last, and he had nothing to do with it! I couldn't stand the suspense, so I asked a girl (in my busted Spanish) what was going on. Apparently, the man in the middle had cheated on his wife with the woman who he was initially shielding. The kicker? The mistress is now preggers.

It was like watching a soap opera. But in real life. And in Spanish. On the streets of Bolvia.

Happiness = ?

We were going to dinner the other night in La Paz and the woman behind the desk where we were staying offered to help get us a cab. We were walking down to the main street and she asked us if himself and I were married. We said yes, and then she asked if we had children. We said no, and she said "Ah, okay." She paused for a moment, and then she said, "So . . . you are happy!"


And Another Thing

In case you haven't noticed, I've given up on attempting to keep up with all of you on your blogs/tumblrs/etc. I did alright for the first week or two, but as the posts soared into the hundreds, I decided that it wasn't gonna happen.

This is all to say that I miss what's happening with you guys, and you can expect lots of comments on your old posts come March.