Greetings From Florida

Vacation is almost over :( We fly home tomorrow morning... then it's back to living life in the real world. No more reading by the pool or ordering room service or standing in line for roller coasters. But it's been good while it's lasted.

Me with the topiary Sorcerer's Apprentice in front of Fantasia Golf

Matt doing his part to stop the at-ats from attacking us.

Overlooking Tampa from the hotel's gazebo


The Wilco Concert

As mentioned in my previous entry...

First of all, the circumstances weren't great. It was a Thursday evening and Matt and I both had to take off work early because the tickets and website said that the show started at 6:30 (which I thought sounded crazy early, but I then I thought... well it's an outdoor venue, maybe they want to do it while it's still light out?), and there was no mention of an opening band (again... weird). So we wanted to make sure we got there on time (I know what rush hour beltway traffic is like). And we got there earlier enough to have dinner before hand at the Cheescake Factory. And while we were eating there was a thunderstorm... which could be distressing for an outdoor concert, but I was smart enough to buy tickets for seats under the roof. They weren't great seats, but at least we didnt have to worry about getting wet, and we had actual seats to sit in. We got to the concert close to 6:30 and surprise surprise, there was an opening band, that didnt go on until around 8:00! (so much for me doing research). And the opening band was TERRIBLE. I think they fit in the "post-rock" genre (I've only seen that termed used in DC Metroblog so I'm not sure if it's a real term yet, but it definitely fit this band). Anyway, they were perfectly capable and talented musicians, but the music was BEYOND boring and repetitive and had NO energy whatsoever, which is kinda the point of post-rock I think (with my limited knowledge of it). Anyway, I dont want to print the name of the band here, because, well if you really want to know who they are, you can find out, and if not, I'll spare them the embarrassment. Then after that, Wilco came on. The set was simple, no backdrop or fancy lights, or explosions or anything. In fact the stage was covered in amps, so there really couldnt be any of that (though I joked with Matt that the amps were the backdrop and lead singer Jeff Tweety joked that this small, decorative macrame owl was the backdrop.)

The sound was great, especially for an outdoor concert. The band sounded just as good live as they do on their CDs, which surprised me only because there is a LOT going on on the albums (as in instrumentation-wise... though they do have 6 people in the band, which allows for fuller sounds I suppose). Jeff Tweedy's singing was great, and the song choices were pretty good. I heard a lot of my favorites: war on war, jesus, etc., and was exposed to some songs that I wasn't too familiar with but definitely listen to a lot now: via chicago, hummingbird. I think one of the things I was most impressed by was the audience response. The place was PACKED (including the lawn), and these people clearly loved Wilco. Matt pointed out that because the band really doesnt have a "hit" or popular radio singles that everyone knows a lot of Wilco's material (as opposed to only 2 or 3 songs). And this was definitely true as people were singing along with nearly every song (to the point where sometimes Tweedy would back off and just let the audience take over.) And he invited everyone to sing along with Jesus, etc. which nearly everyone did... and they knew every nuance to the song too. There was one point where the band started playing a slower song and people began sitting down (or going out for beer) and then all of a sudden, while Tweedy and the back up singer continued on with their singing and playing as if everything was normal, the guitarist, keyboard player, and drummer started going CRAZY. At first, I honestly thought they were setting off fireworks in the middle of this tame song, but turns out that it part of the song. Everyone went crazy, and then it went back to the tame mood the song began with (this happened another time or two). I wasn't familiar with the song, so I totally wasn't expecting what happened, and in all honesty, wasn't sure what to make of it at first (it sounded like they band was playing 2 totally differnet songs) but in the end I really liked it. (turns out the songs was Via Chicago). Anyway, the set was full of surprises and they played a mix of new and old, with definite emphasis on their current album Sky Blue Sky and the popular Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. And they played for a LONG time, we defintely got our money's worth even though we left before the second encoure (we did get to hear Heavy Metal Drummer as we walked to the car though).

How on earth could we have left early? Well it was a Thursday and we both had work in the morning. I also had 3 book reviews to write that night (I got a grand total of 1 hour of sleep before my last day of work... wahoo!) But we were trying to be responsible. Though now I think that we'll just have to see them again. Matt wants to do it soon before they hit it big (it seems like Wilco is everywhere we look now... selling albums in Starbucks, #60-something in Entertainment Weekly's "celebrities we like" (or something along those lines) and their music is even being used in new VW commercials-- we found that out AFTER we bought our Jetta-- we're not that obsessed) ) and we can only see them somewhere like the MCI center (or is it the Verizon center now?) so we may be making a trip somewhere this summer/fall.

Anyway, I know that I recently wrote a post about Wilco and how good they are, and all that... but after seeing them live, I think they are on their way to becoming one of my favorite bands. And if you haven't started listening to them yet... you should start... now!

Random 8

I've been tagged (thanks Tom)... here's the game:

a) I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
b) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
c) People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
d) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
e) Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they are tagged and to visit your blog.

My 8 Random Facts:

1. I dont know how to parallel park. And I really dont care to learn either. In all honesty, I think the world is better off without me trying to do it. I count this as one of the reasons I could never live in a city.

2. I dont like being in cars with black leather interiors. To me it's the same as having a bedroom with the walls, ceiling, floor, and furniture painted all black... depressing and confining... not to mention how hot the car would be in the summer.

3. I'm really excited that they decided to bring Vanilla Coke back. I found out about it while watching previews for Shrek 3... I cheered! I also bought a pack for myself at Giant the last time I went grocery shopping... they are just as good as I remember.

4. Last Thursday I went to see Wilco in concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. I considered it to be one of the best concerts I've been to (for several reasons). I wrote so much about the concert here that I decided to move it to it's own post, so you can read about it there if you are interested.

5. Right now Matt and I are in FL. Tampa to be exact. He's here for a conference, I'm here for vacation. In a few days we're both going to Orlando (so we can both have a vacation). Despite being on vacation I still have a paper to turn in by Friday, and another one to start that's due next week. Right now I'm taking a break from sitting out by the pool. It's great to be on vacation.

6. Books I've read in the past week or so: Gossip Girls, ttyl, Plain Janes, As Simple As Snow. All good so far. Especially As Simple As Snow. I highly recommend it (it's a quick read too). Plain Janes is good too, it's a graphic novel, and doesnt take long at all to read. ttyl is all written in IM chat language... which can either be unique or annoying depending on how you feel about sentences like "omg, I cant wait to c u l8r" Personally that stuff drives me up the WALL (granted my grammar and spelling isnt great), but it's for my YA Lit class and my youngest sister is already pestering me to loan her the book, so I guess it works for that audience. Gossip Girls is pretty much what you'd expect based on the title... rich spoiled high schoolers drinking and partying all day. So now the next books on my list are: Coraline (which my youngest sister is reading at the same time as me... i heard it's a fairly disturbing book, but how bad can it be?? it was in the children's section--not the teen section--of the library), The Clique, Toning the Sweep, Kit's Wilderness, The Princess Diaries, and about 7 others. and I have 2 1/2 weeks of class left to do it. No problem... right?

7. I'm debating on which class to take in the fall: Children's Services (to make myself appealing to public libraries, and because I like the YA class and they seem to go together), or Access to Arts Info, which is about visual and performing arts. My only reason for hesitation about the Arts class, is that, in all honesty, after looking at the syllabus, I think I know most of the resources already. Not that I dont have room to learn more, but just that, I think I'd learn more in the Children's class. But we'll see. I guess it all depends on how I feel by the end of the summer. Also, I dont know who's teaching the arts class, since the usual person just quit, so that adds to the hesitation.

8. I'm officially unemployed. My last day of work was Friday. I have to admit I'll miss the response I got from people when I told them where I worked (and they thought I was all cultured and stuff), but I made the right decision. So how am I going to fill my time now? Well I plan on volunteering at a local library (stupid Rust in Leesburg is closed... grr...), hopefully getting some great experience and making some good connections. Also, I'll have time to do things like: laundry, make dinner, walk the dog, actually play the bass (instead of just looking at it), do my homework on time (I've been having issues with this lately), job hunt, and all kinds of things I haven't been able to do in a while. I'm excited. I just hope I'm not unemployed for TOO long...

So there are 8 things. Maybe not too random, but most of my posts included random things about me so it's hard to come up with 8 more. As far as tagging 8 other people, sadly, I dont know 8 other people who have blogs... but I will tag one person... Melissa, if she's up to it :) and anyone else who likes doing these things as much as I do.


Giving up the Commute

Total commute time I've been dealing with over the past months:

School: twice a weeks, 9 hours in class, 8 hours driving

Work: two or three times a week (alternating) avg: 20 hours of work, 10 hours of driving/metro

That's like having a part time job of just commuting. I realize that in this area there are a lot of people who do it every day (and from places even further than Leesburg). My grandpa used to commute into NYC from a little town called Mahopac NY (about a 2 hour train ride... that's a train, not the subway) and he did it for YEARS. I talked to him a week ago at my sisters graduation party and told him that whenever commuting started getting to me I would just think "hey Grandpa did it everyday so why can't I?" and he looked at me and said "grandpa was an idiot." But in all honesty, he and my grandmother had 11 kids to take care of, so they were in a different situation than me. He also told me that several of his children would ask him to get them a job in the city and he always told them no, because of the commute. So I'm taking the same advice (even though I made my decision to quit my job before talking to him... at least after I talked with him I felt more justified in my decision... for some reason I needed the validation that I wasn't just too lazy or something).

Anyway, I understand why some people chose to commute SO far to work, but fortunately, I dont have to be one of them.


Lunch Break

Some pictures from a lunch time stroll (from a few weeks ago) to the Botanical Gardens:

A pretty combination

The boat is a sculpture (the red, yellow, orange objects are made of glass). I got a lot of material at work about the sculpture so I decided to check it out.

View of the Capital just a few steps away from the Gallery.

The National Gallery of Art... if you look about 20 feet underground of the right end of the building.... that's my office!

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth...

... though sometimes I feel like that might be easier.

So summer classes started. I remember last summer's classes, and how I used to complain about how easy and work-free they were (I'm sure I even blogged about it), well, you'll be happy to know that I'm now eating those words.

I'm currently taking a Young Adult Literature class (YA for all those who enjoy acronyms), which is actually really interesting, partly because I genuinely enjoy reading YA materials, partly because the teacher is really good (which is a rare and beautiful thing in my program), and of course partly because my friend Melissa is in it with me (how else would I survive the school library media frustration?). But it is a LOT of work. We have readings and writings due every class... I think when all is said and done I will have read 12-14 books over a (very short) 6 week period (plus boatloads of scholarly articles-- my personal favorite). Not that I mind the reading, I love the reading, but we also have to write about everything we read, which kinda sucks some of the life out of it. But I am in grad school so I understand that writing is an important part of the job. Unfortunately I think that I'm still struggling to recharge my brain's writing batteries after last semester, so most days I really struggle to even write a coherent, intelligent sentence (in case that isnt already obvious in this post).

One of the side effects of the class is that I'm finding tons of books I want to read (once I have a little more free time) which is something I've struggled with in the past few years. Granted most of them are fun easy reads, but I dont care.

Other news:
--I quit my job at the gallery. My last day is next Friday. The commuting has gotten to be too much. And I anticipate that when I am taking 2 classes during the second half of the summer, I wouldn't be able to handle it. But I stuck it out for a good 6 months, and it was great, real life librarian experience, so I'm thankful for that. But when I think about not having to be up at 5:30 to rush and get ready for the day when I dont actually work until 9:00... I am very happy :) And since I graduate in December (and I'm only taking 1 class in the fall, YAY) it will soon be time for me to start my real job search. In the meantime though, I'm going to see about volunteering at a local public library.
--Matt and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary on Tuesday. We both agree that it feels like we've been married for longer. Hopefully in a good way. But we spent most of the day in a car dealership buying a new VW Jetta 2.5 (it's a really great car... and we got a bright red one). Then we went the Lightfoot in leesburg for dinner, which was great. We started off with a glass of champagne, I got something on their list (a name I'll never remember, but it was really good). Matt picked a champagne called Sofia, Coppola something something (served with a straw). It came in a can. Very weird. But he liked it. I thought it tasted like the kind of champagne my mom used to buy. Dinner was great and I would highly recommend eating there. Though it seems to be a place to go for special occasions (as the couple sitting next to us was also celebrating their anniversary).
--At the end of June we're going to Florida for a week. Matt has a business trip down there for a few days (during which time I'll be reading a not-so-short stack of YA books), and then we are going to Disneyland (world?) for the rest of the week. I've never been, and Matt went as a young child, so it should be fun. Anyway, I think we are both ready for a vacation.

That's life in a nutshell.


My summer class starts today. ugh.