Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Greatest City in America

Or at least....that's what the benches say. I don't necessarily agree with that, but I do love Baltimore. But it's not for the city itself, but a few of it's inhabitants. I've spent a lot of time there in the last year. In fact, I just got back from my fifth trip there....second one in just this month!

Baltimore is the school year home of my best friend Joe. It's because of him that Baltimore has become such a wonderful place for me. He makes sure I always have an amazing time while I'm there.

Most of the time, my trips to Baltimore are just a pit stop on the way to and/or from a bigger destination.... for example, earlier this month, I flew to Baltimore, and we road tripped up to NYC where we met up with another friend, and spent a few days exploring what I have decided really IS the Greatest City in America. This trip was different though. This trip was all about Joe (although he somehow made me feel like it was all about ME).

Tuesday and Wednesday

This past Wednesday was his senior recital (he's a clarinetist). I flew in early Tuesday afternoon. We spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning preparing everything for the reception that was to be held after the recital. In typical Joe fashion, the plan was for it to be the best reception of the year. We ran around getting ingredients for dips and desserts, drinks and more. Oh, and don't forget the sushi platter (who could!?)

The recital itself marked the first time I'd ever heard Joe perform...though I've listened to him practice many times...it never gets old for me, either. Present in the audience were several of his friends, his roomies, and his aunt and uncle, who video taped it for Joe's parents (who unfortunately couldn't be there, due to reasons beyond anyone's control) I thought he sounded wonderful, though he'll tell you he was disappointed. He'd gotten sick the night before, and it's not exactly easy to play a wind instrument when you have no wind.

The reception, as planned, was awesome. We thought we'd bought an over-abundance of food....but there wasn't a scrap left by the time all was said and done! Good food, good drink, and a damn good group of people, in my opinion! I felt a bit....out of place, at first....I didn't really know anyone, and those I did know, I didn't really know WELL. And I was the only non-musical person of the whole bunch, so it was hard to join in on a lot of the conversation. After a while though, things got better, and I really enjoyed talking to everyone.

Thursday and Friday

Aaaaand it's time to relax. After the stress of the days before, Joe took the day off from class. Instead, we hung out and did so many fun things I can't remember what we did on what day....so much of the rest of this entry is going to be a bit choppy!

The weather was absolutely beautiful. As photographers that have been holed up inside, aching to get out all winter, there was no way we were staying inside and bumming around. We walked down to Baltimore's inner Harbor, and over to Federal Hill. Joe taught me how to take panoramic photos....you can see my first attempt here. I'm fairly happy with it. :)

We went to Little Italy and split a huuuuge apple strudel sundae at Vaccaro's (no way either of us could eat it alone) It was DELICIOUS! I will make SURE we go back there again next time I'm there!
We had dinner with Joe's roommates, Jon and Becca, at PF Chang's on Friday night....again, delicious and OH so filling! I felt like my stomach was going to explode by the time we were done! 'Course...it doesn't help that we all eat off of each others plates, too....so you're eating more than just your own meal!

Oh, can't forget the paddle boats! I've never been paddle boating before...I've mentioned it everytime we've gone to the harbor every time I visit....so finally, this time, I was determined. We did that Friday before PF Chang's....we couldn't go very far into the harbor, but it was still a lot of fun! And more importantly, it provided us with new angles of the harbor to shoot! Overall, it was a very relaxing, yet at the same time, activity filled couple of days.

Oh, almost forgot! Thursday night we went to the recital of one of Joe's friends, and to the reception afterwards. I guess I have to admit that Steve's reception one-upped Joe's....but he cheated...he rented out the top floor of a hotel and had it catered. :P I still think Joe's was better....Steve's just had a better view. Hehe.

Saturday and Sunday

Saturday we decided to check out the Walter's Art Museum near Joe's apartment. It was free, after all. ;) I must say, I was quite impressed with the quality of the museum, because I was expecting a lot less from a free museum.

We were starting to run out of things to do...as we were a tad bit limited as to how far away we could go, due to Joe having a concert that night. So, we hopped in the car, and drove out in the country to a nice farm area, full of horse pastures and rolling hills and winding roads. It was BEAUTIFUL! It was also a great place to practice panos!

Saturday night was Joe's concert with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. I feel it's part of Joe's plan to expose me to as much musical culture as he possibly can. :P I'm not complaining. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance.

Afterwards, it was time for another kind of culture.....appreciation of fine beers at Max's on Broadway. And yes...I actually drank beer. Two of them, in fact. Me!!! Beer! And I didn't hate it!!!! It was loud, but the music for the most part was good...and I think we all had a good time.

Sunday....Joe had another concert in the afternoon. This time it was for the Peabody Camerata. This was a bit different than the others...Camerata is pretty much all new music...only one of the four pieces played wasn't exactly new. The other three were new enough that the composers for each of them were in the audience! I thought that was pretty cool.

The conductor seemed like a very interesting man, too. You've gotta be, to have the guts to wear a cream colored pin striped suit!

That night was dinner at Olive Garden with Joe's roomies and one of their friends. After a looooooooong wait, we were finally seated. We ordered right away...and after another LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG wait, we finally got our food. It's a damn good thing that food was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING....or I might have been annoyed with that restaurant! I now know what alfredo sauce is SUPPOSED to taste like! And I'm addicted. Joe and I also got Tiramisu for dessert...I'd never had it before.....but I WILL have it again! (I'm noticing this whole post is about music and food!)


My last day. :( Joe actually had things to do on Monday, too. I was alone for about 4 hours of that day...but I made the most of it. I did some exploring of Baltimore on my own....didn't really go to any new places, but I still enjoyed it. I walked down to the harbor and stalked some ducks...shot some more panos that I REALLY home come out....and started packing to go home.

It was a gorgeous day out, so when Joe got home from class, we heated up our leftovers from Olive Garden and ate out on the deck...and spent the remainder of my time there relaxing, watching really bad 90's music videos on youtube, winding the dog up, and just goofing around.

So, as you can see, I had a pretty full week. And this post only highlighted the bigger things we did. I said very little about some of the parts I liked the most....the times where we just hung out, watching stupid videos on the internet...watching Scrubs....seeing what silly things we could make the dog do (I totally almost got him to sit down on Joe's face....it was cool....good BOY Oliver!)

I tried to describe above what a great time I had...but honestly, it's un-describable.

And I swear I didn't cry at the airport. Not one bit.

Home sweet home?

At approximately 1 o'clock this morning, I stuck my key in the door to my apartment here in Smalltown, Illinois. Home, after spending a week in Baltimore visiting my best friend. I was greeted by my two mischievous felines (the canine was still at the sitters..) .....and not much of anything else. A floor that needs to be vacuumed. Two litter boxes that need to be cleaned. A whole lot of junk that needs to be organized. A computer that is awaiting parts before it can once again be a productive part of my household.

...and what awaits me in this town beyond the apartment? A job I hate. A family that hasn't exactly been supportive in my life. And.....well nothing.

I've spent several days of the last month LIVING LIFE. Here, I'm simply in hibernation....just doing what I need to get by. I've gotten too much of a taste of real life now to continue to hibernate. I want out. Now.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's in the cards just yet. But at least it gives me the motivation to start working towards finding that winning hand.

This fall, I plan to start college. I'll be 25 by then....and I'm finally starting college. At the moment, I intend to go through a 2 year program, but I may change my mind and go for 4 years. We'll see. As I'm finding out....things change...so you just never know. After I graduate, and hopefully find a job, I will work for a year and save all my money...unless I find a way to make it happen sooner, of course....after that, I'm out of here. I'm going to live life. Not just a week here and a week there, when I can escape hibernation for a tiny period of time.....but for good.

I just don't fit here anymore. When I leave, I feel like new life is being breathed into me....and when I come back, it gets sucked back out.

So that's my plan. And I fully intend to carry it out. I just wish I could make it happen sooner.