Friday, November 30, 2007

Wanting to Get Back to the Wayfaring

I realized that I've recently lost sight of the wayfaring part of my blog-- likely because I've been getting to do a little wayfarin' myself! Rest assured, dreaming of travel has not waned as a favorite passtime, and I'm still a faithful subscriber/reader of Conde Nast Traveler and the Sunday NYT travel section. Last month's "Top 50 Destinations" issue of CNT was especially enlightening, showcasing (among other things like resorts, skiing, etc.) the top 50 cities in the world, and then ranked based on each continent (well, if you count U.S. as a separate continent-- which I don't, but apparently the U.S.-based pub decided to be, well, U.S.-centric). Topping the 50 for the 6th consecutive year is Sydney, followed by San Francisco, Florence, Cape Town and Bangkok. In any case, more destinations to add to my wishlist. Out of the 50, I've been to 14 (and only 7 in the U.S.)... so a long way to go (although 3 out of the top 5). How about you?

1. Bangkok, 2. Hong Kong, 3. Chian Mai (Thailand), 4. Singapore, 5. Kyoto, 6. Shanghai, 7. Jaipur, 8. Tokyo, 9. Hanoi, 10. Kathmandu


1. Florence, 2. Rome, 3. Venice, 4. Paris, 5. Salzburg, 6. Vienna, 7. Barcelona, 8. Bruges, 9. Siena, 10. Edinburgh

The Americas

1. Buenos Aires, 2. Vancouver, 3. Victoria, 4. Quebec City, 5. San Miguel de Allende (Mexico), 6. Cuzco (Peru), 7. Montreal, 8. Oaxaca (Mexico), 9. Toronto, 10. Rio de Janeiro

Africa/Middle East
1. Cape Town, 2. Damascus, 3. Jerusalem, 4. Beirut, 5. Dubai

United States

1. San Francisco, 2. NYC BABY!, 3. Charleston, 4. Santa Fe, 5. Chicago, 6. Carmel, 7. Honolulu, 8. Savannah, 9. San Diego, 10. Boston


1. Sydney, 2. Melbourne, 3. Queenstown, 4. Christschurch, 5. Aukland

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks the 2 year anniversary of my tip-toe into the blogging world. Who knew? Sporadic at best (and hopefully pseudo-interesting at times), I hope that someone out there has at least gotten an occasional chuckle out of random musings of this wannabe wayfarer. Happy anniversary!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Give a Little Bit

It's officially the holiday season, and with that comes the bombardment of holiday giving-- not only to family, friends and loved ones, but to the all important charity. Red, St. Judes, Breast Cancer Awareness, March of Dimes. The list is endless. We all have our causes, but how do we make sure our dollars are actually supporting the causes to which we're donating?

Well, I do like to think that I learn something everyday, and as a dedicated Today Show watcher, I learned this: This website, along with and, will provide you with a charity report that indicates, along with their annual financial report, a breakdown of the percentage of your dollars actually being allocated to the cause to which you think you're supporting. While some of your dollars will go to administrative and fundraising expenses, Jean Chatsky, Today Show financial guru, says that if at least 80% of your donation isn't going to support programs, you may want to rethink your charity choice. If you're anything like me, I want to make sure the money that I'm donating is actually going to the cause that I'm passionate about. So when you're opening your hearts this season, check out these sites and make sure that your hard-earned money is going where you want it to go.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass is scheduled to be released this holiday season, and it's getting lots of hype for its A-List stars: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Ian McKellan (the reigning king of fantasy movies, it seems), Sam Elliott... the list goes on. Based on a book of the same name, if you liked Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, you'll like this one too (adults, I mean). My friend, e, lent me the book, and I loved it-- can't wait for the movie to come out.

So, the movie website's really cool-- if you haven't heard of the movie, you can view a trailer on the site. If you haven't read the book, you won't get this, but regardless, click below and vote to see if you think that this is my 'daemon' (the site will give more info on what this is). i don't know if i agree with what it's landed on (i'm certainly not known for being spontaneous...). But the fun thing about this site is you can take a survey and transform my daemon! Oh, interactive blogging. Such fun.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanks... And All That Other Stuff(ing)

Turkey. A parade. Football, football and more football. Families-- nuclear and extended. And an obscene amount of food... that someone is always stressed out about making... that leads to more, more, and more... left-overs. A peek into American excess, all at one, happy (or millions, I suppose)... table.

Now, don't get me wrong-- I like Thanksgiving as much as the next person. Except I don't really like turkey, I'm not a fan of football and, I pretty much despise left-overs. I do love the season, though... from October through Christmas, it's my favorite time of year. I love the leaves and the way the air smells... the colors and the decorations; and everything the season seems to represent... family and traditions... even if it's centered around an obscene amount of food.

When my British boyfriend asked me about my American Thanksgiving, I actually had to pause to try to remember the lessons of my elementary school education (which I'm now questioning the quality of due to the next bit that will be revealed). Hmmmm... something about early colonists giving thanks for a good harvest after an unexpected blizzard? Thanks after an averted massacre by the local population? Thanks after some sort of bug killed all the crops and the Native Americans brought food for the neighbors who would later kill them all off, but for one happy meal, they sat around the table in harmony, giving thanks? Sad, yes, I realize. But it made me think-- am I the only one who doesn't actually remember why we're giving thanks? I know it has more to do with the food... seriously. I know there's more than food.

Thanks (haha) to handy-dandy Wikipedia, I was able to quickly study-up on the "true" account of this annual American ritual (I could digress into the whole history being in the hands of the teller, but I'll save that for another post; in any case, it sort of does have to do with food). And reaching back to my pricey college education, and more specifically, Anthro 101 (whoohoo-- I knew I'd get something out of that class), I was able to recall a lesson about rituals and traditions-- and how they become integral to the fabric of culture. But it also made me think of how little meaning this ritual has when you're removed from your traditions-- the ones that are engrained as part of your fabric.

This is the 15th Thanksgiving that I've spent away from my family. I can hardly believe it. I went to college when I was 17, and while I've certainly had wonderful Thanksgivings since, there's still nothing quite like the Thanksgiving you've grown up with. My sister underscored this fact just today-- that she's hosting Thanksgiving for her in-laws in Hawaii again this year, despite the enormous amount of work it takes to execute this fantastic meal, because she wants to have "Mom's Thanksgiving." Sure, the food's the same: turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Of course, there's also the pies... all pumpkin, all the time at my house. And despite the nearly-identical menus, there's something uniquely-- well, unique, about each family's traditions. At my house, it was the homemade pies the night before-- there's nothing like my mom's pie crust; the ritual of waking up to the smell of turkey; my mom spending the day in the kitchen to make an amazing meal (and all the yummy appetizers that she made sure to ply us with to keep us silent)... the girls helping (somewhat), but our main job to set the table with Puna's (my mom's mom-- Hawaiian for grandmother) china and silver-- lovingly laid out for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the very special occasions in between.

Even though my parents have come to Chicago in recent years to spend Thanksgiving with me... my mom slaving away in the kitchen as per usual (while I've gotten pretty good with the sides, I still haven't been brave enough to tackle the main dish), and we've had Thanksgiving for three, it's never been quite the same as the Thanksgiving of my childhood, made lovingly and expressly for five. All this to say, that while the inevitable is here-- we're firmly established as adults, my friends, and we begin to create new traditions, there's always a time to pause and give a nod to the foundation of these traditions. And most importantly, give thanks to Mom.

Thursday, November 08, 2007