Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Slow Motion" in Milwaukee

Sitting bare-foot on a tiny stage in the skylight room of Mi-keys restaurant in downtown Milwaukee, Third Eye Blind front man Stephan Jenkins reminisces about his childhood in the small Midwest town. He recalls his first memories were of skating on a pond somewhere outside the city. Milwaukee clearly holds a special place in his heart. Listening to him speak fondly of the city he spent only 5 short years in, I can't help but relate to his feelings.

I spent 4 years there as I attended Marquette University for my undergraduate education. And--as cliche as it sou
nds--they were some of the best years of my life. I met my best friends there, studied til the wee hours of the morning, drank until good judgment went out the window, and discovered a new part of myself. Going back this weekend for the Third Eye Blind concert, I expected to remember memories from my middle school years, when the band's albums came out and I spent weeks replaying "Semi-Charmed Life" until my family couldn't take it anymore. But instead, the experience awakened thoughts of college. Seeing good friends again who I used to hang out with on a daily basis was bittersweet. I reveled in the chance to catch-up, laugh, gossip, and recount our past days at MU. But it made me sad to think that, even though I only live 1 1/2 hours south of them, I don't get to see them on a regular basis. And despite the proximity of Milwaukee and Chicago, we're still far away from each other.

As I sat in the Riverside theater listening to 3eb, I heard a song I hadn't heard in close to 10 years..."Motorcycle Drive By." And, needless to say, when you're 12, the lyrics don't mean nearly the same thing as they do when you're 22.

And this is our last time
We'll be friends again
I'll get over you, you'll wonder who I am
And there's this burning
Just like there's always been
I've never been so alone
And I've never been so alive
Sure, the song is probably about a romantic relationship, but the beauty of songs is that they are open to interpretation by the listener.

Obviously, I will go back to Milwaukee. I have too many friends--and memories--there not to visit. It's sad that I'm
not near the people I lived with for so long, but I'm in the next stage of my life now. And I'm happy with where I live and what I'm doing. It's all a part of growing up.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A $500 discount and 2 dozen fresh oysters

With a deal like that, who could say no?

I know I would certainly consider taking someone up on that offer. And with elaborate beach front houses on the scenic east coast being rented for cheap this summer, a $500 discount would do wonders. In a New York Times article posted today (which is conveniently located on the left hand side of my blog), rentals for beach front vacation homes is down significantly from last year. The reason for the sluggish behavior is that people are taking their time before they jump into a commitment. They are shopping around for the best deals, more bang for their buck. Luckily for people who are wanting to rent, there are incredible deals right now because people are desperate to get their properties occupied for the summer. Another positive, many locations are still available for holidays--4th of July and Labor Day.

So what about those oysters? Just another perk for the renters. People are thinking of anything and everything to lure in travelers. But the economy is what it is, and it's less likely that beach homes will be rented out for the entire summer as they have been in the past. And with properties still available this late in the game, and at such great prices, it's worth taking a look at the deals you can get.

There is a condo in Garden City Beach, South Carolina, that is being offered for a week as just over $1,000. Even for a graduate student, that's doable. I'm not saying I'm putting the payment in right now, but if I had the money, I would seriously consider it. I love South Carolina, and I haven't been back there since I was a kid. And as for the other various destinations along the east coast, I've never been to Cape Cod or Maryland or any of those beaches. So just for the fun of it, I may look at some of these websites and float away in the hopeful bliss of my imagination. One day in the future I will make the commitment and rent a vacation home on the beach...but I doubt the deals will be this sweet.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

FYI: Newest list of fittest cities

Browsing around MSN's website today, I saw that Forbes has released a new list of cities that rank the highest (and lowest) in fitness. And where does my hometown rank? #3!! Way to be healthy Denver!
As for Chicago, #25. Not bad, but not great either. Perhaps I should run more outside or something to help Chi-town inch closer to the front of the pack.
All this article made me want to do was fly on home to Colorado, but sadly I won't be able to until my classes are finished and I can find a good time to take off work for a long weekend. :( I will make it back there soon, though. Very soon.


Time Travel in Scotland

I am currently reading the novel Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. To give a brief overview without revealing too much, it basically tells the story of a woman from the 1940s who travels back in time to medieval Scotland. I'm a sucker for anything relating to history, especially when written in a fictional style. Because let's face it, it's a daunting task to get through those historical textbooks, no matter how much you enjoy the information. However, the book has yet to provide me with a great deal of historical fact, and rather focuses on this woman's struggle to fit in with the culture she has so spontaneously and eradically been thrown into.

But as I was reading a couple chapters last night--it's a slow process due to a busy schedule and a 700+ page novel--I was pleased to finally read a sample of typical events of the set period: witch trials. Now, being the pop culture enthusiast that I am, my mind immediately jumped to that infamous scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the men bring the alleged witch forward to be tried and burned.

Sir Bedevere: There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
Peasant 1: Are there? Oh well, tell us.
Sir Bedevere: Tell me. What do you do with witches?
Peasant 1: Burn them.
Sir Bedevere: And what do you burn, apart from witches?
Peasant 1: More witches.
Peasant 2: Wood.
Sir Bedevere: Good. Now, why do witches burn?
Peasant 3: ...because they're made of... wood?
Needless to say I was playing the whole scene in my head as I was reading the book, and had to go back through a few pages to re-establish myself with the story. The chapter from Outlander, being slightly less humorous, was interesting to me. I have always assumed witch trials were pretty biased and unfair in those days, and the book seems to support that theory. But what ultimately teased my curiosity was a reference to the place where the people kept the women who were being tried as witches: These muddy, damp, dark holes in the ground. I wondered if those were still around today, possibly in some of the old villages and towns around Scotland. The whole book, in fact, has increased my desire to visit the country. I have always wanted to go and have missed a couple opportunities in the past. But I'm hoping to add it to the list of places I have had the chance to visit. From the green countryside, to old ruins of castles and towns, from traditional Scottish clothing and food, to the tales of fantasy, Scotland is a country worth venturing to for a trip. And if the picture to the right doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jogging at dawn

Running along Lake Michigan early in the morning, I gaze at the crashing waves sparkling in the rising sun. The towering skyline of Chicago glimmers in the distance. And I can't help but think there are runners all over the world who would be jealous of this sight. And then I think...what are runners around the world seeing right now that I'm not? I may be seeing something special, beautiful. But there are so many other places that have breathtaking scenery.

Often my mind wanders to this truth. There is so much to see in this world. A simple run, a book, food... all these seem to spark that desire to see more.

And so I decided to write about my experiences with travel: the places I visit, thoughts about travel, past excursions I've been a part of, and the destinations I hope to someday get a chance to see.