Tuesday, September 30, 2014

2014 -- week 28 of #projectlife -- east coast living!

no matter where i live, the east coast will always be home. it's where i grew up, went to college, became an adult. i spent the first 27 years of my life on the east coast. it's green and humid and is filled with all of my favorite people and places. unfortunately, i don't get home as often as i'd like. but when i do visit, i make my time count. in a week i visited nyc for a day, hung out with my grandmother in new jersey for a couple of days, and spent the weekend in virginia going to the pentagon memorial and a civil war reenactment. and, of course, there was eating!

read more about my trip to new jersey here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

2014 -- week 27 of #projectlife -- happy birthday cornelius!

i got cornelius a couple of months after mildred. my student's cat, mildred's mother, had had another litter over the summer, and my student was looking for a home for one of the kittenz. she said that the kitten, named oreo, had previously gone to her aunt's family, but her niece had been torturing the kitten and they wanted to find a new home for him. i told her, very explicitly, i'd only meet him, i was not taking him home with me. it was a rainy night, in the backseat of her uncle's car, that she introduced me to two kittenz. i was immediately taken with the male version of mildred; he was white with black spots, like a little cat cow. i would have a pair of matching kittenz! unfortunately, he was not up for adoption. instead, if i wanted another cat, my option was the little tuxedo suit cat,  oreo. fine, i said, i'll take him. because, let's be honest, i am powerless in the face of tiny, adorable cats and i knew as soon as i got in that car that i was coming home with a kitten.

as soon as i walked into my apartment with oreo, whose name would be changed almost immediately to cornelius james, mildred was pissed. i'm talking pee in your shoe mad. (luckily, she's a lady and would never do such a thing.) as mildred glared at me and hissed at the new furry addition, the kitten took a cursory look around and settled on the couch for a twenty hour nap. no joke, he slept through the night and most of the next couple of days. he was, officially, the most boring kitten ever. i was less than pleased: i had made mildred irreversibly mad at me and i got a boring, sleepy kitten. i'm ashamed to say that i even toyed with the idea of giving him back. 

by the end of the first week however, all that had changed. turns out, he was so worn out from his previous life that he needed an intense cat nap before he could even pretend to be a kitten. he ran all over that house, jumping on counters, getting into cabinets, refrigerators, drawers, bags, and boxes. he wanted nothing more than to hang out with his big sister, so he followed her around constantly, despite her loud, and less than polite protestations. he talked incessantly, knocked things over, and created mischief. he was a little demon baby, earning his new last name, bodanyi, with flying colors. (we're all a bit nuts. even mildred.) 

that was five years ago, and while he's a giant now, he hasn't grown up too much. he still creates chaos, which is adorable or annoying depending on the time of day. (guess which one he is at 2am?) and he's still that incredibly loving little kitten, curling up in your lap, giving you kisses, or helping out in the kitchen. happy birthday meine fliege!

ps. we also visited LA this week. to read more about our trip check out this post and this post

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2014 -- week 26 of #projectlife -- i'm an american outlaw.

did you watch the world cup at a bar or other public venue this june/july? remember that super rowdy group of US supporters who were yelling and cheering and chanting the whole time? most likely, those were the american outlaws, a US soccer supporting community of hooligans. they were probably decked out in red, white, and blue, wearing american flag bandanas, and rattling off statistics about the players and games. you may have even wished you were one of them; they looked like they were having so much fun. well, i did it; i became an american outlaw. it seemed only fitting since i spent almost every game near a tv or a phone (to check the scores), and my friend and i texted constantly, discussing the players, the games, the scores, and the things we read. she also became an american outlaw, obviously. in fact, it was her idea that we join. and although i don't live close to any of the friendlies coming up, i will definitely be decked out in my red, white, and blue, and chanting "i believe".

2014 -- week 25 of #projectlife -- my triumph at hot dog eating!

any time my family reminisces about the good old days, inevitably my step father will bring up the fact that i was the slowest eater on the face of the planet. he'll get all worked up and tell you how the whole family would sit for an additional ten, fifteen, thirty minutes while i leisurely ate my meal, totally oblivious of them staring at me, waiting for me to finish. (every time we talk about this, my crime of slow eating seems to get more and more egregious; i'm sure it wasn't that bad. maybe.) but times have changed. i am still the slower eater in the bodanzalez household, obviously, but i've made a lot of improvements since the never ending dinners of 1994. like this week, when i sat down, with a friend, and ate 6 hot dogs in 10 minutes. that is, of course, no where near as impressive as 65 hot dogs in 10 minutes, but it's pretty impressive for me. i totally get why people dunk their hot dogs and buns now, it's exhausting have to chew so much and so quickly. however, i will always eat my hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and relish.

ps. i tied and came in 3rd place for the night!

Monday, September 22, 2014

when in virginia... visit the blue ridge mountains!

nine times out of ten i'll choose the city over the country, but then there are times that i think i could be a country girl instead. visiting my dad's house in sperryville, virginia, was one of those times. his house, nestled in the foothills of the blue ridge mountains, backs up onto the shenandoah national park, and is a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of washington dc. there is no cellphone reception in this part of the world, but there are wineries, farm stands, and cute little towns with quaint restaurants, most notably the inn at little washington. and the views are stunning: if you have the time take a ride along skyline drive; it's definitely worth the trip.



Friday, September 19, 2014

when in virginia... watch a civil war reenactment!

during the civil war, there was never supposed to be a battle for washington dc. dc was heavily guarded with forts, batteries, and rifle trenches, but that didn't stop general jubal early from marching into town july 11, 1864. he got as far as fort stevens, a mere 7 miles from the white house. a battle took place and the union army defended dc with the confederates slipping away in the night. that was 150 years ago. this year, fort ward, not fort stevens, hosted a reenactment of the battle. the two day long battle was narrated and compressed into an hour, with an appearance by president abraham lincoln. in addition, both the union and confederate armies had set up camp and were answering questions for visitors. it was a uniquely southern experience and an educational afternoon!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

when in virginia... visit the pentagon memorial

thirteen years ago, i was sitting in art class when we heard the news about two planes crashing into the world trade center towers. time stopped. the school went into a lockdown and we turned on the tv. shortly thereafter we heard that another plane had crashed into the pentagon, less than 15 miles away.  students started to panic; many of their parents worked at the pentagon. it had been years since my mother had worked at the pentagon, but she still worked for the department of defense and often had meetings there. no one's cellphone worked, so i had to call from a school phone, but i finally got through to her office where a gruff man told me she was ok. she was doing the same thing we all were doing, standing around her office watching tv, seeing the smoke out of her office window. i found out later that my dad had been on his way to work, driving right by the pentagon, when he found out what had happened from a truck driver; he'd been on his motorcycle in the stopped traffic and had no access to the radio, but he also saw the smoke. and possibly most terrifying, my stepfather was in a plane, flying back to dc, when the news broke. his plane was rerouted to dulles airport, slightly farther away from washington dc than national airport, and sat on the tarmac for hours until they let people deplane and figure out a way home. it was a scary, sad time. 

the pentagon 9/11 memorial, however, is a beacon of hope. it is a beautiful, contemplative place surrounded by crepe myrtle trees. the memorial benches are positioned to distinguish who was in the pentagon and who was on the plane at the time of the crash, and victims can be located by their names and ages at the beginning of the memorial. additionally, you can see the distinct line where the pentagon has been rebuilt. take a few minutes to walk around the memorial, remember those who died there, and remember those who sacrifice daily to fight for our rights and freedoms. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

when in virginia... eat crabs!

washington dc, and the surrounding area, is home for me. i was born and raised in alexandria, virginia, and anytime i go home, which is not nearly often enough, i insist on doing one thing: eat chesapeake bay blue crabs. they're dirty and you smell like old bay for days, but they taste like home. rcg is king of the crawfish, but he'd never had steamed crabs, and i wanted to share that experience with him. so we drove out to kent island, maryland, and visited fisherman's crab deck, a cute restaurant situated on the chesapeake bay, and indulged!



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

hackensack water works, oradell, new jersey

there are two ways to get my grandmother's house, the front way, down oradell avenue, and the back way, where you pass the hackensack water works. the water works, a magnificent complex of buildings, built between 1882 and 1911, was one of the first of its kind, supplying clean drinking to bergen county for over 100 years. the site closed in 1990 and was donated to bergen county in 1993, at which point it was abandoned and left to ruin. the weeds took over and the windows were boarded up; the county had no interest in preserving or showcasing the water treatment technology that was housed there. and slowly, the site was forgotten about. 

in 1996 the hackensack water works was placed on the ten most endangered historic sites in new jersey, which led to the creation of the water works conservancy, an organization dedicated to the preservation and reopening of the site as an educational and historical attraction. bergen county, however, wanted the place demolished so they could build an amphitheater. in effort to keep that from happening, the wwc got the site listed in the state and national register of historic places. even so, the county is still dragging their heels. despite having won numerous grants to clean the place up, nothing is being done. in fact, money that had been earmarked for this project was recently redirected to build a parking lot, thereby losing funds from a matching grant in the process. as a result, the place remains boarded up and closed off to the public, with nothing but a flimsy gate to keep out looters and vandals. 

despite the no trespassing sign, i couldn't resist the opportunity to take photographs of this beautiful place. my grandmother, who's been involved with the water works conservancy for years, was my lookout while i spent a half hour poking around. over the years i've heard a lot of stories about the place and what a travesty it is that the county doesn't want to take care of the space, and after nosing around, i have to agree completely. the building are spectacular and a lot of the equipment is still present, albeit broken. it enrages me that this lovely piece of history is being left to nature, with no one enjoying it and learning from it. my grandma and i even had a discussion about her calling the cops on me, just so i could arrested for trespassing and bring a little noise to the situation. ultimately though, we left the place in peace, hoping that someday, someone will realize the treasure they have and will spend the time and money to preserve it.