Best. Family. Ever.

30 06 2010

No one is as lucky as I am when it comes to familes… except for maybe Jill and Scott and Mark, but that’s because they have the same one that I do! Perhaps THEY are the REALLY lucky ones, because I’M their sister?! ūüôā

It was truly a Family-themed trip to Portland last week. There wasn’t any singular occasion that made this a Not To Be Missed weekend in Portland, but a multi-event, multi-city, uber-happy Zarosinski-Grbavac love-fest in the Pacific Northwest!

Event #1: Grbavac Late-Night Happy Hour – Ashdale Drive – Thursday, June 10

My flight left Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. and arrived in Portland at 9:30 p.m. I love flying West! Of course I checked in online (including the $23 checked bag fee… essentially airline piracy) and could drop my bag off at the curb without waiting on a single line! And we all know how I feel about waiting for things! I had a direct flight, which to me is a serious luxury. It took awhile to get off the plane (as usual) but as soon as I came down the escalator to the PDX baggage claim, I saw my bag coming around the carousel! Sweet! Dad and Jill picked me up and we went straight home where Mark and Scott and Isabella were waiting for us. It was SO GOOD to see and hug my brothers again! It’s been 2 years since I’ve seen Scott, and I couldn’t wait to spend the next 6 days catching up. We had cocktails and sat around the kitchen table chatting for a couple of hours, laughing and making our plans for Friday. It felt like a very late night for me, but I like to drop-kick my Circadian rhythms into West Coast time as soon as possible!

Event #2: Grba-Siblings Hiking Adventures – Columbia River Gorge – Friday, June 11

Friday plans included hiking to the top of Multnomah Falls and the Horsetail Falls trail and making handmade pizzas on the grill for dinner. But first, I needed a pair of hiking shoes. And to borrow some hike-worthy clothes. Obviously I was unprepared. We packed a nice picnic lunch and filled the water bottles and were on our way. The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most beautiful stretches of river-side highway in the US. Despite wishing for some whiter clouds in bluer skies, the weather could not have been better for us.

Over a month straight of rain makes for one raging waterfall! I don’t think I’ve ever seen it look like this before! Nor have I (or any of us) ever been to the top of the Falls. But today is the day! It’s not a long hike (probably 1.2 miles) but nearly 1.1 of those miles ascend at nearly a 45 degree angle.

Scott had to be in charge of the camera at this point. The observation platform dangles over the edge of The Falls, and¬†I’m not really a fan of dangling over the edge of anything. The return trip down the now -45 degree angles was fairly frightening due to some painful knees and tired quads. Poor little ACLs!

A few preemptive bandaids and short drive farther out the Gorge later, we were back on the trails to see a few more Falls. First was Horsetail Falls – aptly named!

Next up, Ponytail Falls. I always feel a little bit Last-of-the-Mohicans when I get to walk behind a waterfall!

Finally we made our way to Triple Falls – also appropriately (if not very creatively) named.

Triple Siblings at Triple Falls!

This made a great snack spot for the remainder of our picnic lunch: string cheese, hardboiled eggs, and apples for everyone!

After a delicious dinner of homemade (even the dough, thanks to our amazing Mom!) pizzas on the grill that we ate outside on the new deck, the Siblings headed across the river to meet up with cousins and friends and 25-cent Skee Ball at East Burn. As if there wasn’t going to be enough family-bonding going on downstairs in the TapRoom, another Central Catholic family dynasty was amassing as well. By 11 p.m. or so, it looked like a Harrington-Rice vs. Zarosinski-Grbavac Mafia War Council. *side note: the Zarosinski-Grbavac faction emerged as the clear and decisive winner… They had cleared out by midnight… WE closed the bar down. Bam.

Event #3: Mark’s Graduation from OSU – Corvallis, OR – Saturday, June 12

Closing the bar down at 2:30 a.m. hurt a little bit more when the alarm clock rang the next morning to rouse us for our 8 a.m. departure for Corvaillis. *sigh. But knowing that Grandma and Papa and Dona and Katie and DeAnna and Mary Ann were all going to be there made it slightly easier to get up and going. The weather was PERFECT. Sunny and warm and breezy and simply fantastic!

After the ceremony, we high-tailed it back to Mark’s house in hopes of catching the end of the US World Cup game… we got there in time for the inspiring music and the slow-motion highlight reel. Draw, USA! We soon assembled at King Tin’s Chinese restaurant for a smorgasbord of rice and meat and veggies and delicious extravagance!

A quick stop at the Woodburn Outlets proved fruitful as I found a light-weight, rain-resistant, wind-breaker type jacket. I was in need of something to protect me (read: my hair) from the sudden summer storms of the South. And it’s bright lime green, which makes me smile every time I see it! Yay for¬†Columbia Sportswear!

Event #4: Portland’s Saturday Market – Sunday, June 13

Portland’s Saturday Market actually runs Saturdays AND Sundays in¬†its new location at the Pavillion on the Waterfront.

The Siblings met up with Cousin Katie to spend a relaxing sunny morning/afternoon perusing the booths and taking in the sights of The Market prior to making our way up to Vancouver for the Zarosinski Family Graduation(s) Party.

There just isn’t a nicer or more beautiful place on earth than Portland on a warm, sunny, summer-y day!

Stay tuned for more stories….





Homecoming

8 06 2010

It is T-minus 44 hours until I’m leaving on a jet plane, heading home to Portland for¬†a multi-event extended weekend – if you count Thursday to Wednesday as “extended weekend.

Any guesses as to the current completion level of my packing…

In my defense, there IS a suitcase on the floor… in the-opposite-of-my-defense, it’s still half-full of the remnants of last weekend’s trek to Charlotte. Tomorrow evening would not appear to rank high on the Fun Scale.

But ready or not (and I WILL be ready – just at the eleventh-hour as usual!) Thursday night will find me heading West. HOORAY!





Summer Begins!

15 05 2010

I. Love. Amphitheaters. Especially those that house such incredible concert experiences as did the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater last weekend.

It was a “homecoming” for the Zac Brown¬†Band and did he ever do it up right! It was just an awesome night – the weather was perfect, the company was wonderful, and the music was absolutely fantastic!

It was a great way to end a very busy (and VERY fun!) weekend with my Dad. He got into town on Thursday, and we promptly dismantled the broken washing machine. After I googled “how to disassemble a GE washing machine” of course!

By Friday at 1 p.m., Dad had already been to TWO appliance parts stores, replaced the broken “rubber-band thingy,” reassembled the blasted thing, and had run a load of laundry! What a¬†guy! And it wasn’t the only home-improvement project – we also added a light fixture to the ceiling fan in my sun room. (which, come to think of it, would have been quite helpful during the poorly lit demolition on Thursday night!)

Not to worry, though – there was plenty of Daddy-and-Daughter fun to be had! We went to the High Museum for the Allure of the Automobile exhibit. Fun to see and hear Dad’s stories of the cars he learned to drive in and the one Grandpa Andy drove when Dad was growing up. We ate well – as we Grbavacs¬†always do on vacation! – Matador for tacos and margaritas on Seis¬†de Mayo, ice cream at Morelli’s, and a lunch at Fox Bros BBQ that ended up being our only meal of the day! Add to that an evening in with wine and some of my favorite friends, and that’s one fabulous weekend! And one that only served to further my excitement for my trip home in June!





Creative Endeavors

30 04 2010

Those of you who know me or my family are undoubtedly aware of the incredible creativity and textile prowess of the generations preceding me… all 17 of the Z-cousins have at least two quilts (regular and Christmas) from Grandma Z, and I was lucky enough to have her make two of my Prom dresses in high school. Mom (or “Aunt Debbie” as my friends refer to her when we talk about her craftiness and projects!) can do just about anything with fabric or thread or food or paper! And it’s been somewhat of a running joke that this sort of talent had so obviously skipped over me!

In doing little projects with friends over the years – pillow covers, the dreaded French-pleat¬†drapes (J, you know who you are), table runners – I started to get that feeling of “Wait a minute… I could do that!” But it wasn’t until I found an amazing deal on a cute duvet cover and pillow shams at the Pottery Barn Outlet (I mean an AMAZING deal: queen duvet cover $9 and pillow shams $2) that I decided I really COULD do that! See, in my joyful deal-finding haze, I nabbed two pillow shams… one of which is standard, the other¬†is Euro. Drat. But the Grandma Z/Aunt Debbie-ness started bubbling to the surface, and I somehow figured out how I could MacGyver a standard sham from the Euro one. So I trucked my project over to Sunni’s house to use her sewing machine… *an extra trip I wouldn’t have had to make, if I had my own machine, my brain told me!*

The next project inspiration was Aunt Dona’s wonderful Schlep Bags! Mom sent me the pattern, and one rainy weekend my friend Hillary and I decided to try it. It was a VERY long day. Schlep bags are multi-multi-MULTI-step projects. And we were making two reversible¬†bags (meaning four different “sides” with at least four different fabric squares in each side!)¬†using just one¬†sewing machine. *which wouldn’t have been an issue if I had my own machine, my brain told me again!*¬†While there had to be a few tweaks here and there, the bags turned out so great! I used a lighter-weight fabric, so it’s a bit more delicate than the essentially indestructible one Dona made me. But it looks really good, and I made it myself, and now I’m convinced I need my own sewing machine!

  

So the joke is over! I CAN SEW, TOO!

I got my sewing machine as a pre-Christmas/Birthday gift from Grandma Z and Mom and my Best Friend (Me!) this past Fall. It’s a Singer: Esteem. Which is good to have… esteem of self, that is! And on my fourth re-threading of the needle for some unknown reason, Esteem is a good thing for me to remember! And truthfully, all that (unplanned) practice has made me a very proficient and speedy needle re-threader! (it doesn’t hurt that there’s a very nifty easy-threader device on the machine)

My first project with my new sewing machine was an apron. This is also my first attempt at sewing from a pattern.¬†It turns out I’m a very good visual-learner! All those years of reading the backs of patterns at JoAnns¬†and watching¬†Mom measure and cut out patterns… I already know what to do!¬†And with my friend’s birthday approaching, I thought this sweet apron would be an excellent gift idea! Well, the birthday came and went. Then Christmas passed. And another friend’s birthday. And I was making verrrrrrry¬†slooooooow progress on the apron. Until Mom came to visit in March. No, she didn’t do a single stitch (even though I asked, and might have pouted a little, too) but she talked me through some of the steps that were holding me up, and now I’m just 2 steps away from completion!

One of the steps I’m very excited about… it’s a button-hole! And my magic sewing machine has a special attachment that will do it for me! There will be much practice on many fabric scraps before I try that on my darling apron. I’m not letting myself practice anything button-hole related until after I finish the other step, the one I’m NOT excited about. Hand-stitching the back of the bodice of the apron to the skirt. Booooo hand-stitching! I may or may not have devised a design-alteration that will enable me to avoid the hand-stitching all together… More rick-rack! Haven’t decided if I’m going to short-cut my way out of this… stay tuned.

Pattern-Sewing Project #2 was actually inspired from many sources. Somehow I stumbled across a photo of this cute bag, then (through the wonder of social media that is Facebook) I saw that one of my old friends from high school had made the same bag! So I printed off the pattern, cut and taped it together correctly, and on yet another rainy weekend day my friend Hillary (of Schlep bag fame!) and I each made a fantastic new bag!

Hillary’s (on the left) has a shorter strap that you just wear on one shoulder; my paisley bag has a longer strap so you wear the bag slung across your body, messenger-bag style.

I changed the design slightly from the pattern – originally both interior pockets were to be made from the lining fabric. I immediately knew I wanted at least one of them to be made of the great paisley fabric instead! It was another long day of sewing… but again, we were making two bags, both completely lined, and had access to only one sewing machine and only one iron. We need to start planning our projects better; B.Y.O.SewingMachine. I¬†already have fabric to make two more bags. In fact, all the pieces are cut out and ready for the next step (ironing on the fusible interfacing – probably the most boring of all tasks EVER) so I’m ready for the next rainy weekend day!

The other day I worked a half-day at the hospital. It wasn’t a nice day outside, by any means, so I knew I wanted to work on an indoor project. At the Inman Park Festival last week, WhipStitch¬†Fabrics had¬†a booth and some extremely adorable fabric samples and really cute project ideas. So to WhipStitch Fabrics I went. And found just exactly what I was looking for!

The pattern (from Made By Rae) for an Itty Bitty Baby Dress was simple and darling enough, but it really is the fabric that makes this teeny dress absolutely to-die-for cute!

So… needless (needles?!) to say, I can sew! I have a couple new ideas and patterns in mind for future project-days, and may have reinspired talk of a “Craft Club” with my friends. One thing I know for sure… I’ll be travelling with my sewing machine on road trips, just in case there are any impromptu projects in store!





Mistaken Identity

27 01 2010

I live I.T.P.* Which means the urban-sprawl of Atlanta doesn’t really affect me on a day-to-day basis. My morning commute typically takes about 20 minutes. Interestingly enough, the afternoon commute lasts closer to 40 minutes. What this tells me is that the vast majority of Atlantans don’t go into work until after 9 a.m., but still leave by 4 p.m. Slackers.

There are infinite routes I could take to get home from the hospital. Today I was on Spring St. In Atlanta. This is an obvious¬†point, but one that remains quite¬†relevant when you consider¬†what I saw next… I came around a bend in the road and saw Mount St Helens!!! Instant gasp! I’m just slightly embarrassed about how long it took me to realize that it was just the Georgia Dome.

Mount St Helens (as seen from Portland!)

Georgia Dome

That wasn’t the exact view of The Dome¬†I had from the car today… but I hope you get a sense of how I might have been momentarily confused!

Anyway, it made me smile. And then I laughed out loud at myself for the next 10 minutes!

*I.T.P. = Inside The Perimeter (aka I-285)





End of the Hiatus

23 01 2010

Not that there was ever a conscious beginning to said hiatus. Regardless… I‚ÄôM BACK! Back from where, one may query? Back FROM the internalization of the (sometimes) rambling thoughts and commentary on the goings-on of my days, and back TO the e-spilling of those self-same ramblings.

I honestly can‚Äôt come up with a reason for the months of silence… perhaps I talked more (telephone calls, text messages, Facebook posts) or had more personal interaction (West Coast Road Trip, multiple NC escapes) and so I didn‚Äôt focus so much (or at all) on the transcription of the events of the past six-plus months.

Here‚Äôs a Cliff‚Äôs Notes version of the last half of 2009… according to Kristen, of course!

August…

Thus began the first full-month of my “new” job. Not new in the sense that I changed locations or careers, but new in that the fifteen months of working and planning and presenting my (brilliant) ideas to The Powers That Be at work finally paid off. I am now the Lead Orthopedic Therapist at Piedmont Hospital. This role enables me to work full-time on the Orthopedic units of the hospital, which is truly where I am at my best, therapeutically. (if, for no other reason, because of the short lengths-of-stay for even the most challenging patients!) Instant gratification abounds! *It is important to note that this has NOT been the case for several patients in the past two weeks who have essentially taken up residency on the unit.

Not only does this job keep me on the Ortho unit, but it also enables me to make the (long, drawn out, sometimes painful) transition into a “leadership” role – at least as far as the orthopedic realm is concerned. I’m working on a multi-disciplinary team that is creating a Total Joint Replacement Bible (my own working¬†title) that will outline the course of events from “You’ve decided to have your hip/knee replaced” to “Yes, you ARE getting out of bed with the Physical Therapist today” to “No, you can’t stay in the hospital one more night because your wife doesn’t want to make the 27-minute drive¬†after 4:30 p.m.” (in so many words) In addition to the patient-information guide, Piedmont Hospital is looking to become an Orthopedic Center of Excellence, a quest I have sought to be a part of since the day I started working here, and one that I am currently contributing to on the planning committee.

September…

This month brought about a long-anticipated vacation! I flew to Portland and took off the next morning for Ashland to visit my friend Paula who was about to start Nursing school at OHSU’s¬†Southern Oregon campus. The timing of my drive put me smack-dab in the middle of Game Day traffic – for both Oregon and Oregon State had home games. Oregon hosted 6th-ranked¬†Cal, and made very short work of them, I must say! Despite my distaste for traffic –¬†especially on 2-lane I-5 –¬†it was great fun to be in the midst of the pre-game merriment. And Paula was such a good sport, ducking (!) into a dive-y pub in downtown Ashland to let me watch the 4th quarter… little did either one of us know, it was¬†the hub for the Ashland chapter of U of O alumni! Go Ducks!

Ashland was lovely, and the company couldn’t be beat! We went wine-tasting and to the SOU bookstore (of course!) and wandered around little¬†Talent, Oregon. Then it was off on the next leg of my journey: to Eureka!

Now, I’ve made the trip through the Redwood National Forest once before, en route to Arcata for Jill’s graduation several years ago. But I must have been asleep for that portion of the car ride, because I was FLOORED at the majesty of these botanical Giants! Could hardly get enough of them. Wow.

Seeing Jill was awesome and getting to spend time in her own town and life was fabulous! I even had the privilege to attend Hot Chick Night! Theme: Goddesses.

We took a day-trip to Petrolia, on the Lost Coast of California where Jill spent three years working for AmeriCorps and the Mattole Salmon Group. It was a stunning drive of cliffs and hairpin turns, gravelly roads and then a sprawling ocean-side highway. It’s totally where you find “Happy Cows are from California!”

We ate lunch on the banks of the (sadly dry) Mattole River after the wind cancelled our attempt to picnic at Strawberry Rock. The wind would NOT deter a photo-op, though!

From Eureka, I headed north along the Oregon Coast Highway. A longer route, but also one of much richer views. I was going back to my old stomping ground in Eugene, Oregon, to meet up with my dear friends Jeff and Laura.

We had a lovely time catching up that evening, and the next morning after tea with Laura and a send-off from Jeff, I went about re-exploring the U of O campus. I couldn’t have asked for better¬†weather. The sun was shining and¬†the breeze was light… reaffirming my stance that there is no nicer place on earth than Eugene when the sun shines in September!

I parked and walked around on 13th, popped into the bookstore (of course!) and got a bagel sandwich that I sat and ate on the Autzen footbridge, just soaking in the sights and sounds of the river and the passers-by.

Go Ducks!

From Eugene, I back-roaded¬†it up to Corvallis to spend some time with Mark before continuing north to Kaiser where I stopped in to see my friend Tiffany (whom I had recently met up with in Charlotte, NC, of all places!) That was my final pre-Portland stop on the West Coast Road Trip. Once back in town, I was lucky enough to reconnect with some of my special lifelong friends. So much “life” has happened since we were all together the last time (a new career, a wedding, a sweet baby boy, a new state of residence) but by some stroke of fate, we were all in the same room again. And (it may sound clich√©, but there’s no other way to put it) it felt like we had been apart for no longer than a weekend. So much laughter and fun times recalled – which only served to incite NEW laughter in this fun time. I am so glad that we were able to share that evening together.

October…

There was definitely a transition-period for me coming back to my real life after such an amazing vacation. But then I got an invite from my writing instructor (from my freelance writing class last summer) for a Writers’ Workshop. So I was back in the swing-of-things, Atlanta-wise.

Jocelyn was in town for her birthday, and there was quite¬†the celebration that ensued. So much celebrating on her part, in fact, that I am completely absolved from all back-lash of the now infamous Ruining of Jocelyn’s Birthday in Paris, circa 2006. Let’s just say that while she had Friday off from work, I (the uber-patient and ever-conscientious designated driver for the evening’s events) did NOT. So the 2:45 a.m. return to my house was all-too-quickly followed by my 6:30 a.m. wake-up call. Best. Friend. Ever.

November…

This month brought another self-improvement opportunity: guitar lessons! Well, I took a beginning guitar class with 9 other people, so I suppose “lessons” is a bit of¬†a stretch. I’m not very good, but I think I want to give it another try. Probably in a remedial beginning guitar class.

My friend Laura was inducted¬†into Western Carolina’s Athletic Hall of Fame this year! She’s pretty much all-everything as far as Lady Catamount basketball goes. I was the rope-holder on Lily-patrol¬†so that her family could bask in the glory and honor of the occasion. Lily and I wandered around the facilities, watching the Pride of the Smokies¬†(WCU’s¬†marching band) practice, the football team’s indoor warmups, and a¬†basketball shoot-around, and still made it back for Dad’s introduction and Laura’s acceptance speeches. Way to go, Aunt K!

I’m really starting to believe that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – behind my Birthday/New Years, naturally! I had to work T-giving day and the day after, as did several of my friends. After work, we went over to Sunni and Brian’s for “Friends Thanksgiving II.” The first edition being 2 years ago, on the day after then closed on their new house. This year was a far cry from that “first” Thanksgiving when we sat on plastic chairs around a “beer pong” table in an otherwise completely empty house! Their home is absolutely lovely, and this was the first time Sunni got to set out her wedding china! I couldn’t be more grateful for the “family” I’ve found here in Atlanta.

December…

The last month of the year opened with a first for me… Jury Duty! I imagine there aren’t too many people who would put an elated exclamation point at the end of that sentence, but I am definitely one of them! It was a very interesting day. Definitely didn’t do much to make “lawyer” look like a trustworthy and noble career path. I just don’t like the idea of your whole purpose being to trick and undermine people and to make them look foolish or wrong. It left a very sour taste in my¬†mouth and I¬†just don’t like it.

My holiday season progressed rapidly after seeing one of my dear friends take the stage in The Santaland¬†Diaries! Stuart was a brilliant Crumpet, and I’m already looking very much forward to seeing him in his next role, the lead in the musical “Parade” next month.

It sort of feels like I¬†spent most of December in North Carolina! I drove up surreptitiously for my friend Allison’s surprise 30th Birthday dinner party, and made my way to Charlotte on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas with Jocelyn and Hans and the Marshall family. I even had my very own stocking!

It was the first time that I hadn’t woken up at Mom and Dad’s house on Christmas morning. The whole weekend felt just a little bit… off. Sort of like Christmas wasn’t even happening. I mean, there were 6 stockings up on the mantle, just like at home… there were wonderful, thoughtful¬†gifts, just like we do… delicious food and a beautiful tree… everything that said “family Christmas”… except for MY family. Now, don’t get me wrong – I had a great time and a marvelous Christmas. I couldn’t have asked for a better substitute. But I did so miss Zarosinski-Grbavac Christmas this year.

And with that, I put to rest 2009. This new month/year/decade has reinspired me to do the things I enjoy (writing, traveling), restart things I don’t yet enjoy (working out, limiting coffee intake), and learning new things that I hope to enjoy (sewing, guitar).

2010 has been good to me so far! Mom, Dad, Jill and Mark all came to Atlanta for my 20-10th¬†Birthday Party! Everyone stayed at my house (which, if you haven’t seen it, is quite quaint and cozy!) and we had just such a wonderful time together! We took a field trip to Stone Mountain and the siblings went to an Avett Brothers concert, courtesy of Jill.¬†Scott’s Christmas box arrived on New Years Eve!¬†We got to Skype with Scott on my birthday, and (thanks to the wonders of modern technology)¬†took a fairly impressive Family Photo.

2010 looks to be a great year. After all (thanks, Jocelyn!), it’s The Year of Kristen!





Social Experiment

1 07 2009

Recently my fairly placid life somehow took a 9-day very significant turn toward¬†bustling, busy, and quite full. It was nine straight days of going out every night to a variety of events, goings-on, and other get-togethers. I felt like a very well-rounded socialite by the end, but I’m not sure I’m quite Paris Hilton’s BFF material… at least not just yet!

Day 1 РSunday.  It had been a normal Sunday full of laundry and preparations for the busy week-to-come when I got a text message from my friend Amy that she and Jason and Bethany were at the Glenwood in EAV and that I should definitely meet them. What better way to prepare for a busy week than to start it NOW?! A couple Rogue Dead Guy ales were the perfect kick-off to my Social Experiment!

Day 2 РMonday.  Work has been especially challenging in the past few weeks (ahem, MONTHS) so after a particularly difficult and stressful Monday, a few of my fellow coworkers headed down the street to El Azteca for some chips and salsa, tacos, and, of course, the house margaritas Рon the rocks, no salt.

Day 3 – Tuesday.¬† The “Ortho Dream Team” (PT, OT, PA, and PCC) had been planning¬†to get together, though not in any true work-related capacity! We decided on Flip, the burger boutique in a West Midtown neighborhood close to work. I had the delightful “Butcher’s Cut” burger¬†that was topped with caramelized onion, bleu cheese, and a red-wine jam sauce. YUMMY! Pair it with vodka-battered onion rings and a few nibbles of the sweet-potato tots, and that’s one helluva great evening! What I did have was a Bridgeport Ale… what I did NOT have was a Krispy Kreme milkshake. Hindsight is 20/20.

Day 4 – Wednesday.¬† Tonight I attended a benefit for Music For Tomorrow, a group dedicated to preserving and promoting New Orleans jazz music and musicians. It was hosted by a friend-of-a-friend, and attended by incredible do-gooders, philanthropists, humanitarians, and super-fun people! The music and the company were inspiring, but it was the venue itself that may have been the highlight of the evening. Engine 11is a beautifully renovated and re-purposed firehouse in Midtown just around the corner from the Fabulous Fox Theater… it is also where I will be having my twenty-tenth birthday party in January! Beverage of choice for the evening was Kona Brewing Company’s FireRock Pale Ale.

Day 5 – Thursday.¬† GO YANKEES!!! It’s that time of year when the American League graces the dirt and grass at Turner Field. And this year the Braves played host to the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. I was absolutely not going to miss it. We had awesome seats about four rows back off the left field wall and four yards inside the foul pole… perfect home-run-catching seats! (side note: I did NOT catch a home run… nor am I happy about that.)

 Derek Jeter

Of course I had a delicious hot dog and a $7 (only at a ballpark) Bud Light. The game itself was remarkable! Tons of hits, lots of runs, and the Yankees scored more times than the Braves, so all-in-all it was a pretty successful night!

Day 6 – Friday.¬† Back to the ballpark. If last night’s dense humidity and stagnant air taught me anything, it was that we would have battery-operated mini-fans for tonight’s game. Life-savers! It was still just-this-side-of-miserable to sit packed into that stadium with no naturally-circulating air… but it remained tolerable with the use of the mini-fans and another hot dog-Bud Light combination! Plus, there were Friday Night Fireworks at the end of the game!

post-game fireworks

Day 7 – Saturday.¬† Had to get up early to hit the road. I was taking¬†my Social Experiment on the road,¬†heading up to North Carolina for a 3-day weekend. First stop: Shelby, NC, where there was a tasty steak lunch and birthday cake waiting for me (not my birthday, but cake is cake) before Laura, Allison and I got dolled up and took off for the Belk Theater¬†in Charlotte where we were seeing “Phantom of the Opera” in honor of Laura’s birthday (which was in March.) The show was aMAZing, and we are considering that 2009-2010 season tickets might be our birthday and Christmas presents to and from our best friends! We had cocktails at half-time –¬†red wine for me, white for the other girls – followed by rounds 2 (for all of us) and 3 (for them, as I was driving!) at dinner before heading home to Shelby.

Day 8 – Sunday.¬† In this wondrous age of technology, communication, and the ever-shrinking world, I shouldn’t be quite so shocked when serendipitous moments occur. I was about to turn my computer off in preparation for the early morning departure for NC when¬†I saw that one of my friends from the U of O (Go Ducks!)¬†had posted a Facebook status saying something about how much she was enjoying Charlotte… WHAT?! I’m leaving for Charlotte in 10 minutes! (That might have even¬†been what I replied!)¬†She was in Charlotte for a conference, and I was staying at Hans and Jocelyn’s (also in Charlotte) Sunday night. So I drove into the city and we spent several hours catching up and chatting, reminiscing and laughing at BlackFinn. I had the sliders sampler – one each of southern-style (aka deep-fried) chicken, beef, and pulled pork – to go with my Sam Adams Summer Ale. It was just wonderful to reconnect with an old friend – and we have the Internet, Facebook, and cell-phone text-messaging to thank for it!

Day 9 – Monday.¬† *I feel that it should be mentioned that my Social Experiment was initially intended to encompass only Monday through Saturday, but due to unforeseen (and, let’s face it,¬†fabulous!) circumstances, it was extended on both ends of its time-frame.*¬† Monday I took my time waking up at Jocelyn’s. Hans was long-gone to work and Jocelyn was upstairs in the home office waiting for confirmation or cancellation for a few morning meetings before we could go out for lunch. We tried Zoe’s Kitchen after wondering about it during yesterday’s successful guest-room lamp-procurement endeavor. I had the Greek Pita sandwich consisting of grilled chicken with caramelized onions, feta, and tomatoes – except they were out of pita, so it came on regular bread. Regular bread didn’t end up working, so I turned it into somewhat of a Greek non-Pita salad instead. Thinking my Social Experiment was over, I opted for a very large glass of water! I spent some time laying out by the pool before hitting the highway, and to make sure I avoided Atlanta “evening” rush-hour traffic (which starts at 3:30 and might end around 7 p.m., depending on the Braves home schedule) I detoured at Hartwell Lake State Recreation¬†Area, right at the border of South Carolina and Georgia.

Hartwell Lake 1

The reason Monday counts in my Social Experiment is that I met my friend Amy at El Matador Cantina in Glenwood Park for their crack-tacos (real names: Texas Taco and Taco de Carnitas) and house margaritas. You know, to prepare myself for back-to-work the next day!

Conclusion.¬† I can be a socialite and go out every night… or I can go to work every day… I cannot do both. But I sure had a great time trying!