Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gorgeous Morning + a Massage

So... its supposed to pour rain today and be beautiful on Sunday. I've planned all sorts of inside tasks to do today now that I'm back in Boston (fix my bike, finish "The Fountainhead", binge my closets) but its actually quite gorgeous today so far. So I'm glad that I've booked a 9:15am massage at my favorite massage place (more clinical than spa-y) to try to get all those horrible knots out of my shoulders that seem to be multiplying... also because it gives me the reason to go for a great walk before the rain begins today.

Expect more posts from my trip too today if it does actually do what predicts...

Happy weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Japan and other travel photos are posted!

I promise to write more blogs about my specific journeys but in the meantime all my photo albums are live on the picasa site:

Organized into little folders so you can chew on whatever you want, plus the thumbnails are scale-able (in the top right corner) so that way you don't have to click through hundreds of photos!

The "Japan Design and Architecture" folder is duplicates from the other folders but thought I'd pull those out for those who just want to see the cool design stuff and pass on the shrines and other random miscellany...


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vacation 2008: Days 2 + 3 (One Crazy Ass Long Flight and a Night in Tokyo)

So I boarded the flight around 1-ish from San Francisco without a hitch. Still in carry-on mode and I intended to remain that way for all 14 days.

Boarded my lovely Japan Airlines spacious plane and settled into a window next to a lovely Taiwanese man and Chinese woman who moved to North Carolina twenty years earlier. Everyone was so nice but I was already in store for a culture shock since there were maybe two other non-Asians on my entire ginormous plane. To say I stood out (and got a lot of funny looks) is an understatement. But it would be just the beginning.

Love international flights especially on Japan Airlines - plum wine, Asahi beer, sake, green tea. And the two meals we got were both lovely and actually quite delicious. Add to that midway through the most unexpected and delightful treat - ICE CREAM SANDWICHES! Without that special surprise treat, I don't know how I would have gotten through those 11 hours! And on a weird sidenote, for some reason apple juice is RIDICULOUSLY good in Japan. Tastes so different than the U.S.'s version!

Finally (after very minimal sleep), arrived in Tokyo around 4pm (THE NEXT DAY!). Was able to breeze through immigration and Vik was there waiting for me (hard to miss as the tallest man in the airport wearing a bright red shirt he bought in China (which ironically had the Asian character for 'happy' on it -- and most of you I've told my tales of Japan to already know just how hilarious that turned out to be over the next 5 days of crankiness he dished out)). We hopped on a bus and were at our hotel in about an hour.

We stayed at the ANA Intercontinental in Akasaka. And despite my travelmate's suggestion of heading to The Hard Rock Cafe to watch the Celtics game, I was able to find a great little ramen bar in a little side-alley of the very busy Roppongi area (Ippuro? Ippudo?). They didn't speak a stitch of English but they were still very friendly and the photo menu was very helpful! The soba soup and gyoza (and beer OF COURSE) hit the spot to prepare us for a long day of sight-seeing in the very crazy and very fun Tokyo!

Vacation 2008: Days 1 + 2 (San Francisco)

As an addendum to the post I wrote earlier, here are some photos (I can't believe I didn't take any at dinner/drinks with Danielle + Scott!).

The photos are all along my early morning run (6 miles... although as you can see, it was more of a scavenger hunt since I stopped so often to take photos!).

Life List #100: No computer for one whole week

Okay -- entirely unintentionally, I have completed another life list item. As you can tell by my lack of posts, my trip to San Fran / Tokyo / Osaka / Kyoto / Vancouver / Seattle / New York did not include my computer and I haven't logged in for a while. I oddly did not miss it (although i did miss the regular check-ins with the gang) and I know now that I have the capability to wake up in the morning or come home at night and the world will not end if I do not plug in or click "check messages".

I'm so impressed with myself...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Alive and Well!!!

So much to tell the blogworld and literally so little time... I've been seeing pretty much EVERYTHING and its all incredible. But if I don't hit the hay early for a change, I may run completely out of my Energizer Bunny juice!

Tomorrow is my last full day in Tokyo and I just got back from Kyoto and Osaka tonight. Still have lots to cram in but I'm confident I can do it and still have time to have lunch and hang out with a new friend Matsuo tomorrow (not that kind of friend, sillies -- my dad's business associate's son who lives here).

My pictures are incredible and there are a lot of great stories and posts to write! Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vacation 2008 :: San Francisco

Well, I'm just getting ready to leave for the airport to head to Tokyo.

I've had an incredible 14 hours in San Francisco. I had a bit of hairiness with my flight to Chicago -- all flights were delayed about two hours so I tried to get on standby for the earlier flight so I wouldn't miss my SFO connection... to which they said there were only 2 vacant seats and 12 people on standby so they wouldn't even put me on the list... but I proved it pays to be persistent. I stayed near and miraculously was the second to last lucky person to hop on my flight since many people never showed up!

So I made it into San Francisco at about 8:05 to PHENOMENAL weather... hopped in a taxi to Danielle + Scott's house in Russian Hill. Arrived very timely (and HUNGRY)... to be introduced to their cute and cozy apartment (I use 'cozy' as an ambiance and decor description as their place is ANYTHING but small. its in fact very airy and spacious). So we headed down the street to a great small plates seafood place called Pesce on Polk Street. The food and 'refreshing' prosecco was all amazing and the company as well. It was so good to see them after so long and it made me sad that I didn't hang out with them more when they lived in Boston (I guess that mean more San Francisco visits, eh?). Afterwards we headed to Rex bar down the street for some Chimay.

I woke up early this morning and went for a 'run'... I did in fact run but I stopped so much for pictures that my nike ipod says my pace was 18:00 miles for the 5.5 miles I trekked. Funny...

I first went just down the street to the Marina... the sun cast a gorgeous glow on everything even making Alcatrez look picturesque. Went along the bay towards the Golden Gate Bridge and then back-tracked past Ghiradelli square and down the Embarcadero with the sound of the barking sea lions on Pier 39. Kept going until I found the notorious Filbert Steps (which I had never experienced when I lived here in 2000)... my thighs were burning but the views were worth every second of it... as were the unique and brilliant flowers everywhere. Finally made it to the top to Coit tower for more panoramic views...

Then I headed back to Danielle and Scott's house stopping first for some cute white tulips for them and a phenomenal (and well-deserved, I might add) iced coffee and almond croissant from the most adorable French bakery around the corner from them.

Can't wait to show you the photos...what a great morning! I'm trying to edit my sure-to-be massive album already but there are too many great scenes to capture.

Off to Tokyo!!! Syanora!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Good Design

My coworker Ben randomly emails interesting images (such as the world's ugliest dog which I still can't get out of my head)...

I love this little gem. Its hilarious (and sadly true sometimes).

Monday, May 12, 2008

More Photos from my Birthday Dinner

Jen sent a lovely collection of photos... where the heck is she in all of them though?!?

Movies of the Weekend

This weekend (shockingly all on Sunday during a full day of house cleaning, packing, laundry, some miscellanous mending/button-replacing, and mass ironing (its like I have a whole new wardrobe since I haven't ironed literally in about 5 months!))... I did a typical Melissa multi-tasking move and watched TWO movies.

Both excellent and highly recommended...

The first was in preparation of my looming Japan trip. I FINALLY watched "Lost in Translation." I don't really need to explain the plot since I'm probably the last person in the world to have watched it, now do I? In any case, I absolutely loved it and am now even more psyched to for my trip. And now I also really want to wear a pink wig and go sing karaoke.

The second was a spur-of-the-moment OnDemand flick selection. "The General" is on the AFI top 100 lists (which is on my life list to watch all 100). Its a 1927 silent film which I was a bit hesitant to watch with my mass amount of ironing because I assumed I wouldn't be able to focus or catch all the subtitles. But I was fully engaged through the entire film (I guess that's why its on the list in the first place). Its the story of Johnnie Gray, a train engineer (the train is named "The General") who wants to be drafted into the Confederate army to impress his girl. They don't let him in because they think he is more useful to the cause as a train engineer. His girl and her family assume he didn't even go to enlist because he is a coward. Then Northern spies steal his train (while she's on board coincidentally) and so begins the chase! Its a drama / comedy because the man has all the worst luck in the world in his pursuit... but all turns out quite well. I highly recommend adding it to your Netflix list. Let's be honest... it can't be any worse than "PS I Love You."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Week From Today!!!

Woo hoo! A week from today I will be leaving for vacation... this is what I have to look forward to. I'm a little scared.

Holy Who Punched Me in The Face?

Usually, after going for my monthly braces tightening -- I start feeling pain a few hours after. Today, I felt the pain immediately. That does not bode well for the rest of my day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Race Schedule for 2008

So I've had multiple people express interest in running some 5K's (and more!) with me... here is my tentative race schedule for this year. Hope to have some friends running with me on some of these (or any other non-race runs too!). Let me know!

Saturday, May 31 at 8am - Nike 5K for Kids in Franklin Park - $20 (I have to register for this before vacation!)

Sunday, June 8 at 10am - 6th Annual Harbor Walk & Run 5K (possibly?) - $25

Sunday, June 29 - Boloco Heartbreak Hill Grand Prix 5K in Newton - $20 (registered for this already... they also have a 10K and a biking race)

Sunday, July 27 at 7:30am - Nike Half Marathon... I hope! This is a lottery-chosen race so we'll see soon! I ran it last year and I LOVED it (it was my best half-marathon time and favorite race yet). I recommend entering the lottery to see if you can get a bib number.

Sunday, August 17 - Wild Dog Triathlon in Bristol, RI - MY FIRST TRI! Its only a spring - .25mile swim, 10mile bike, and 3mile run - $65 (I'm already registered!)

Saturday, September 6 - Plymouth Run to the Rock in Plymouth, MA - don't know much about this race but I'm keeping it on my list as a possibility - $25

Sunday, October 12 - BAA Boston Half Marathon - ran this last year and I need revenge... it was rainy and gross and I felt miserable for no apparent reason

Sunday, November 2 - ING NYC Marathon - another lottery entry. I won't know until June whether I'm one of the lucky few that gets in. I'd really love to run it but I could always take a year off (or train to run Boston!)

Here's to some great runs (and no stress fractures!) in 2008!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Coincidence that this Happened 2 Days before my Birthday or Not?

Alas, Charles Fuller fell through on my birthday gift... this is hilarious.

Man accused of trying to cash check for $360,000,000,000
07:59 PM CDT on Wednesday, April 30, 2008
From Staff Reports

A man has been accused of attempting to pass a $360 billion check, which he claims was given to him by his girlfriend’s mother to start a record business, Fort Worth police said.

Charles Ray Fuller, 21, of Crowley, was arrested on April 22 on an accusation of forgery, police said.

Police responded to a report of a man attempting to pass the check about 4 p.m. that day at the Chase bank in the 8600 block of South Hulen Street, Fort Worth police Lt. Paul Henderson said.

The personal check was not made out to Mr. Fuller and when the bank contacted the check owner, the woman said she did not write a check for $360 billion.

Mr. Fuller was also accused of unlawful carrying of a weapon and possession of marijuana, Lt. Henderson said. He may also face a theft charge in Crowley.

Lt. Henderson said he did not know if Mr. Fuller and his girlfriend were still together.

(from (via

The Mesmerizing Doors of Home Depot

Life List: UPDATE!

Well, I've checked off a few items in the last few weeks. And my progress is flying ahead! My friends were all great in getting me birthday gifts that were inspired by the list (another of many reasons to have a list bc my gifts were all amazing!)

Check out my updates! Stuff in italics are DONE! Stuff in blue are in the works.

1. run a marathon :: completed on October 28, 2007 (PR 4:42:44). Entered the lottery for NY Marathon in November and will know if I get to do marathon number two Junish.
2. complete a triathlon :: registered for Wild Dog Triathlon in Bristol, RI on 8/17/08
3. buy a bike :: completed on April 24, 2007
4. ride a century (100mile) bike ride in honor of my Uncle Ray
5. run 10 5ks :: 4 out of 10 so far (PR 26:36)
6. learn to swim properly :: finished course at Y on 4/29/08, fluent with freestyle and backstroke
7. surf in New England
8. surf in Hawaii
9. surf in Indonesia
10. go rockclimbing outdoors
11. run in Central Park :: completed on 8/5/07 during NYC Nike Half Marathon
12. run up the stairs of the Chicago Sears Tower :: November 2009?
13. run a half-marathon in less than 2 hours (PR is 2:08:59) :: joined lottery for NYC Half Marathon in July
14. take boxing classes
15. do a yoga 30-day challenge
16. drink 8 glasses of water a day for one full month :: why is this one SO hard for me?!?
17. no soda for a full year :: started 10/1/07 and don't really miss it shockingly
18. compete at least three seasons of tennis league

19. go skydiving for my 30th birthday :: have to reschedule this... my initial attempt on 4/12/07 got canceled because of weather
20. ride an elephant
21. ride a camel
22. go skinny dipping
23. gamble in Vegas :: completed on 5/9/07 on a work trip
24. go white-water kayaking and/or sea kayaking
25. scale/belay down a building
26. climb a volcano
27. target practice at a shooting range :: Liz and I keep talking about going...
28. play paintball :: finished on 4/13/08 with sisters, Bill, cousin Todd, and Tim... want to do it again!
29. go snowboarding out West
30. go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
31. swim with sharks
32. swim with dolphins
33. drive a sportscar around a track
34. go dog sledding
35. climb Mt. Kilmanjaro

36. climb Macchu Picchu
37. go on an African safari
38. visit the Pyramids
39. drive across America from coast-to-coast
40. visit Japan :: leaving on 5/14/08!!!
42. visit 200 places in the "1001 Places to See Before You Die" :: 43 out of 200 so far... I already have a few more spots I need to add and will add more with my Japan and Vancouver trip!
43. visit Stockholm
44. visit Kenya
45. visit Montreal
46. visit Morocco
47. ride a mule in the Grand Canyon
48. go on a mission trip
49. spend a weekend in a log cabin in the wilderness
50. spend New Year's in an exotic location
51. ride in a hot air balloon
52. go on a yoga vacation/retreat
53. visit a rainforest :: completed in Belize on 12/24/07
54. fly first class
55. visit India
56. visit all seven continents :: only 2 out of 7 so far... will add another with Japan!
57. go to Mardi Gras
58. visit Graceland
59. attend Maine's Lobsterfest
60. attend the Head of the Charles Regatta :: completed on 10/21/07 - thanks Jeff & Sarah!
61. watch the sunset on the West Coast in a romantic setting
62. watch the sunrise on the East Coast in a romantic setting
63. spend an entire weekend on a sailboat
64. take a helicopter tour

65. get CPR certified
66. learn to make paella :: completed on 5/26/07
67. read the Bible
68. grow and eat my own herbs + vegetables
69. learn to roll sushi
70. learn to pray the rosary (in memory of my grandmother + with her rosary)
71. bake bread from scratch :: completed 9/29/07 (rosemary bread... mmm)
72. learn to chop food like a pro :: cooking class on 6/8/08 given to me from Danielle, Kristen, + Liz! I can't wait!
73. learn another language fluently
74. read/reread all 100 of the "Radcliffe 100 Best Novels" :: only 8 out of 100 so far, still slowly reading THE FOUNTAINHEAD
75. watch all 100 of the AFI's 100 years, 10th anniv edition :: 31 out of 100 so far, currently have PSYCHO from Netflixx

76. learn more about investing
77. learn woodworking + make a piece of furniture :: finished a lovely teak coffeetable on 1/24/08

78. develop a better/stricter budget and stick to for at least 3 months :: just did this on 4/29/08... we'll see how well I do!
79. pick back up my contributions to my 401K :: soon! have to roll it into an IRA and figure all that messy stuff out!

80. write a will
81. start a new 111 to-do's once this one is halfway finished

82. learn at least three songs on my guitar
83. take up art more regularly (though drawing, painting, photography, or mixed media)
84. commit at least three balloon animals to memory :: almost!
85. knit an entire sweater
86. sell some type of art/product
87. teach a class
88. be in another play or musical
89. write/illustrate a children's book and submit it to a publisher

90. convince someone else to start a list of life to-do's :: completed on 7/29/07, Lori and Missy
91. adopt a family for thanksgiving or christmas
92. volunteer once a week for at least 6 months :: going to a BostonCares orientation on 5/10/08, don't know if this will be a regular weekly volunteer or more sporadic but its a step!
93. organize a charity event
94. be someone's mentor
95. donate hair to Locks of Love charity

96. give up coffee for at least 3 months :: finished 1/1/08
97. go to bed no later than 11pm every weekday for a month
98. one week without a single curse word :: shit
99. go one week without complaining a single time
100. no computer for one whole week

101. buy a car
102. buy a house/condo/2-square-foot-of-land!
103. own a pair of manolo blahniks or jimmy choos
104. wear a bikini and feel 100% gorgeous + confident with my body
105. eat at a Michelin-rated restaurant
106. be on a silly TV gameshow (reality TV shows DO NOT count)
107. do a keg stand with both my sisters :: completed on 4/12/08
108. kiss someone in the pouring rain (a la The Notebook... *sigh*)
109. throw an old-school all-girls pajama party sleepover :: completed on 4/26/08
110. go to the movies once a month for a full year :: what the hell? I thought this would be easier than it is turning out to be!!
111. go on a picnic complete with basket, blanket, wine, and a cute guy

The Big Birthday ... Continued

The 30th birthday is officially over, I've caught up on sleep, although I'm still waiting for someone to reveal that I am not actually an adult but a teenager in disguise (a la that dumb movie "13 Going on 30").

Last Friday, we went to the Beehive. It was a great time and I had many "Angels" -- a framboise and champagne cocktail. I did not, however, have any food. Apparently, turning 30 does not make one figure those kinds of basics out. Still had a blast, despite Raj getting kicked out for (1) being Canadian and (2) having a disgusting attitude. (Number 2 so not being true ever of Raj). Thanks to all who turned out. And my apologies for being drunk and silly.

Saturday night, the festivities continued. My sister Tessa and friends Jen + Lynn came up from NYC. We went to Stella with Liz, Kristen, Laura, Umar, Pierre, + Danielle for a fabulous dinner (mmmmm), fabulous conversations, fabulous friends, and fabulous gifts (books, a planter, jewelry, beauty products, ANOTHER cooking class and to go with it an AMAZING cleaver! I didn't even know I wanted a cleaver but I was tickled pink over it! Geniuses. My friends and all their amazing gifts (although unnecessary) are all geniuses and know me SO well!). I'm so grateful

The night continued upstairs at my apartment for a pajamie-jammie-jam. Candy, karaoke, movies, champagne, MATCHING PAJAMAS (how did I not get that photo!?), chocolate fondue. It was awesome... and, um, HELLO!?! Life List #109: Throw an old-school all-girls pajama party sleepover... CHECK!

Great birthday! Definitely better than when I rang in my last decade (nothing bad happened - I think it was just uneventful).

Thanks to everyone! Images to come in that sidebar soon!

Life List #6: Learn to swim properly


Finished the local Y's "Stroke Technique" (not as sexy as it sounds, you perverts) last Monday. I absolutely fell in love with that class... and how great a workout it was... and I'm loving my new arms.

I'm not a perfect swimmer -- but my freestyle is fastly improved. On the third class I swam the 25yards in 28 seconds. On the last class, I did it in 22. After already swimming 1000 yards beforehand. And I also didn't feel like I was on the verge of death! And I can now breath bi-laterally (sounds fancy, eh?). And I realized that in addition to freestyle, my backstroke is pretty darn good.

Things I need to work on: breaststroke -- I don't know if I'll ever like that swim. And finding better goggles. I went through three and I hated them all. Even the latest one that I thought was good at first. Suggestions?

Now I just need to practice my "proper" swimming stroke more throughout the summer. (OH! Update! I'm not doing the triathlon now in May as originally planned because I'll be in Japan that week. The local Firm-Racing club that organized it though let me put that registration fee towards another tri in August -- the WILD DOG triathlon. I hope there are no actual wild dogs involved as I don't expect to be able to out-run many folks).