Monday, September 28, 2009


They said it couldn't be done.

Well, ok, nobody actually said that. In fact, everyone said it could be done and I specifically could do it. But I have to admit that I doubted my abilities.

For several months now, ever since Chris came up with the idea of walking up to the crown of the Statute of Liberty, I've been doubting and worrying. See, I don't do well with stairs or inclines. Get me on a flat surface and I can go forever, but my prowess with stairs is seriously lacking. That's why god invented elevators, right?

As stair-day drew closer, I had mixed feelings. I really wanted to go up to the crown because it seems like it would be an amazing experience, but I also didn't want to attempt it and then fail because that would make me feel like a loser. So during my trip to New York this past weekend, I kept coming up with excuses. Oh, if it's pouring rain it won't be worth the climb. My legs and feet are already too sore from walking around all of Manhattan. I don't want to get up that early in the morning.

But when it came down to it, I sucked it up and went for it. I imagined increasingly horrifying scenarios of pulling myself up the stairs on my hands and knees, sweating, and gasping for air, until I had to collapse and quit. Or slipping on the wet stairs (since it was pouring rain) and tumbling down flight after flight. But you know what? After psyching myself for so long the actual experience was...not that bad.

I mean, it wasn't easy. My legs burned, I was panting like a steam engine, but so was everyone else. We all had to stop and pause every 50 steps or so but there were plenty of platforms along the way. Just when I was feeling I could never make it and was about to throw in the towel (the words "guys, I can't do this" had just been said), Selvi and Chris pointed out that we were already almost half way up. And then I knew I could do it. Just like that. It felt like we had just started, but there we were almost there!

So we took our time and made it, easy peazy lemon squeezy. The stairs through the pedestal are like normal staircases, if slightly more narrow. But once you reach the actual statute, the stairs transform into a dizzying spiral that is extremely narrow and has only 6 feet of head clearance.

At this point you have no choice but to ascend slowly (or risk slipping or falling backward) and use your arms as much as your legs to pull yourself up. It sounds scary, but I've never been bothered by heights or small places, so it didn't have a real impact on me. I was fully concentrated on the climbing part of it.

And then, you're there. The platform at the top is only about 8 feet long and getting all 5 of us on there to look at the windows was a bit of a challenge. Although you couldn't see anything out of the windows due to rain and fog, but still, we had made it!

At the top!

There are 2 guards at the top who can point out sites of interest (when you can see them, that is), and they answered any questions we had. And then we started back down, being extremely careful since the stairs were REALLY wet and slippery. I actually walked down backwards since it seemed to provide a bit more stability.

When we reached the bottom of the pedestal and were back in the museum, Selvi and I went through with our audio tour which was really fascinating. We learned all about the actual construction of the statue, and its significance as a political, advertising, and patriotic symbol through the ages.

Me, sitting on a replica of Lady Liberty's feet.

The audio tour was also often quite moving, especially when discussing how the Statute of Liberty has stood as a symbol of a better life for those immigrating from Europe and its importance in the aftermath of 9/11. I'm not ashamed to admit that I almost cried once or twice (or thrice).

I wasn't sure if taking the time to ferry out to Liberty Island and tour the statute would be "worth it." But you know what? It so is. If you have the chance, go. When you're there, learn. And if you have been there before, remember.

A remembrance from a journal at Liberty Island left after 9/11:

The Statute of Liberty is a symbol of stability and strength. A chance to remember past struggles and triumphs. A place to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we can be in the future. Only by understanding our past can we build a better future.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Fleming/Miller Wedding

It's really hard to set your wedding apart from other peoples'. I mean, you have the ceremony, cocktails, reception, dancing, done. Right?

Well, leave it to my law school pal, Caroline, to plan a wedding that is special, different, and so her, that it was just perfect. It was clear she had put thought and attention into every detail...except the weather which she just happened to luck out on. Because, seriously, last Saturday was one of the most gorgeous days of the entire year, and it was all for her.

The wedding took place at Glen Echo Park in Maryland, just across the border with Virginia. Despite it being in Maryland (y'all know how I feel about Maryland), the park was lovely, and the wedding took place in this kind of kitschy 1950s era area, complete with carousel, arcade, and bumper car pavilion. Of course many of these places were transformed especially for the wedding.

Site of the ceremony. To entertain the guests before the ceremony, the string quartet played some of Caroline's favorite Sweet Child of Mine. Caroline does love her Guns N Roses.

Chris and I wait for the ceremony to start.

All the William and Mary folks wait eagerly for things to get started!

The reception was held in the bumper car pavilion. Naturally.

Carousel! All of the guests got a ticket for a free ride.

Joe catches a glimpse of Caroline...

And Caroline sees all her friends and family. And walks down the aisle to Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. Performed by the string quartet.

A good shot of the gorgeous bridal gown.

Mr. Joe Miller and Mrs. Caroline Fleming!

After the ceremony, the guests took a spin on the carousel. Here's Nate, working the poll.

And me striking a pose.

Arista and Virginia were all lady-like and rode side-saddle. I, of course, just straddled the damn thing.

After the carousel ride, we all headed over to the bumper car pavilion for the cocktail hour. Joe and Caroline were greeting family and having their pictures taken. At this point, I pretty much set the camera down for the evening so I could enjoy myself. I proceeded to drink way too much wine (provided by the russian waiter I had shamelessly flirted with earlier) and catch up with some of friends I don't get to see that often. One of the things I love about weddings is the chance to get all your friends together for a big party.

The food set-up was delicious; it was a buffet of brunch-themed vegetarian foods which meant delicious quiche, firtata, pasta, etc. It was really good and really rich. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, each table had a platter of 8 cupcakes (raspberry, peanut butter, pumpkin chocolate chip, or coconut), one for each person.

There was dancing (duh!) and Monique, Lori, and I tore it up. We couldn't really convince any of the guys to dance (big surprise) but a good time was had by all. Some people left early around around 9:30, but we stayed until 10:45 until they kicked us out. Hey, it's not every day you have the dance floor to yourself so we decided to live it up.

It was a beautiful night, a beautiful couple, and a beautiful wedding. I think it might have been one of the funnest and most original weddings I had ever attended, and I am just hoping that everything goes as smoothly for Joe and Caroline on their honeymoon (in Dublin!) as it did on their wedding day!

Monday, September 21, 2009


When they called me last week, the contractors said they would be here "Monday morning."

When they called me this morning they said it would be between 11 and 12.

And now it's 1:15 and NOBODY IS HERE.

Maggie = not happy cats.

I have a schedule to keep people! I need to call my condo insurance guy, call Sony to have them help me fix something on my computer, go shopping for tile for a backsplash, and get a food processor. And I cannot do any of these things when I am sitting here trying to keep off the phone in case the workers arrive and need to be buzzed in!


UPDATE: Ok, the guy showed up almost immediately after I posted this, but still. My anger has faded somewhat with the joy of having my sink and working dishwasher back. I can do dishes! And cook! Now if I could only decide what kind of tile to get for the back splash...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Victory is Mine!

Fetch me the finest muffins in the land, for victory is mine! For the first time, I have successfully changed my tire. All by myself!

Now, chances are you are thinking two things. If you are a dude, you are thinking: Jesus, Maggie, how could you not know how to change a freaking tire? That is so pathetic. If you are a chick you are probably thinking: OMG, Maggie, that is awesome! I couldn't change a tire to save my life.

I consider myself a pretty independent person, but I've always had a blind spot when it came to cars. It's sad, because I drive around in one everyday, but I really have no idea how they work, how to fix them, or how to do more than check the oil and put air in the tires. I've had probably about five flat tires in my life, and everytime I've had to have them changed by a cop, AAA tow truck guy, or a kind stranger.

But all that has changed. My friend Patrick from LA was visiting and we were headed out to dinner when we walked to my car and saw the flat. Sigh. It was just sitting there all flat and mocking me.

Now Patrick has the worst car luck of anyone I know and has therefore developed extensive automotive repair knowledge. Unfortunately, he had a broken hand. So it was all up to me. But with Patrick's direction, I was able to set up the jack, take off the lug nuts, put on the spare, tighten the nuts again, lower the jack and voila! Changed tire!

I am now confident that I can change the tire on my own next time and will no longer be reduced to a helpless whimpering female just because my tire picks up a piece of metal from road construction. Like I said, victory is mind!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Diary of a Kitchen Remodel: Counter-tops

The counter-tops are in! My handyman, a 70-something neighbor of my mother whose daughter used to babysit me) cut the stock laminate counter-tops yesterday and installed them this morning.

By stock counter-tops I mean that I marched my ass into Home Depot and bought two six foot length laminate counter-tops off the rack. This was WAY cheaper than getting custom counters or using granite (which I don't like anyway) and since I basically blew my wad on the cabinets I needed a cheaper alternative for the counter-tops. Since my kitchen is so small, I didn't need anything fancy, and these just needed a few simple cuts to fit on top of the cabinets.

Enough babbling! Here's how they look!

My contractor is coming back on Monday to take care of the finishing touches and rehook up the sink and dishwasher. Then I'll have a fully functioning kitchen!

The last step will be repainting and installing the backsplash, due to happen at the end of the month. Hurray!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Diary of a Kitchen Remodel: Door and Crown Molding

....And then the next day I came home and the cabinets had doors, the crown molding and toe kicks were up, and I had what felt like an entirely new kitchen. A grown-up kitchen. A kitchen with lots of wood.

And I mean LOTS of wood.

That's what she said. Heh.

But seriously folks, the change was a little overwhelming. I just kind of stood there speechless (does manic giggling count as speechless?) because everything looked so different. It's one thing to see the plans on paper, but to actually walk in and see the new look. Shocking. But in a good way!

Although now I realize how drabby the wall color looks, and I think I'm going to have to add a backsplash, just for funsies. I'm going to chat about it with my handyman guy when he comes to this afternoon to install the new counter-top. After the counter-top goes in, the contractors come back, make sure everything looks good, and then reconnect the sink and dishwasher. And I'll finally have my kitchen back! But better than ever.

Pics of the cabinets with doors, molding, etc:

Align CenterI think the wine rack on the top makes it look kind of like a castle.

And my contractors clearly have a sense of humor since they left me a little gift in the dust on my coffee table:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Diary of Kitchen Remodel: Cabinets Go Up!

It's always nice to come home to a surprise...especially when that surprise is new kitchen cabinets! Although I wasn't home to observe the details (I have this pesky thing called a job), it was very cool to leave an empty kitchen in the morning and return to beautiful cabinets in the evening. Check it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Diary of a Kitchen Remodel: Demolition

This is what happens when you watch too much HGTV. I had all these visions of a crew with sledgehammers pounding the crap out of my cabinets and ripping them off the walls in a cloud of dust and dirt. The reality of demo day was much different.

Two guys showed up with their tools, unpacked the new cabinets, and unscrewed the old. They came out from the wall easy, no mess, no fuss. They swept up after themselves, and the kitchen is now devoid of cabinets and counters. The whole thing took maybe 4 hours, tops.

While much more convenient, it is much less exciting.

Tomorrow the plan is to mount the upper and base cabinets with the crown molding, toe kicks, and end panels going in Wednesday. By Wednesday evening I'll be able to put everything back into the kitchen!

The new cabinets, unpacked and waiting in the living room.

The old cabinets lined up on the way to the elevator.

The now empty kitchen!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Diary of a Kitchen Remodel: Delivery

If there is one lesson I can take from my life, it's that things are never easy. No matter how well you prepare, no mater how much you plan, you cannot account for everything. The real key to success is to prepare, adopt a come-what-may attitude, and be ready to react to the unexpected quickly and calmly.

But that's not really my style. I prefer to prepare and then constantly worry and freak myself out about all the things that could go wrong. And when it came to the delivery of my cabinets, there were many things that could get screwed up.

But the one that kept me up at night fretting had to do with my building's elevator. They are quite Nazi-like here when it comes to the elevator. You must reserve it in advance for deliveries and you need to leave a deposit check in case you manage to damage the precious elevator. As soon as Kraftmaid (the company that manufactured my cabinets) called me to set up a delivery date, I went down to talk to the management office about the elevator. Turns out, someone had already reserved the elevator for that morning until 1pm for a move out. Whoops.

So my only option was to pray that my delivery window would fall in the afternoon, or that the person moving out would be willing to share. And then I found out that my delivery window would be between 10 and 2. Double whoops.

So Friday morning, September 11, dawned rainy and miserable. Around 9:00 Kraftmaid called and told me that they would definitely be coming between 10 and 11. So I began to hope that the person who would be moving would be delayed somehow and there would be no problem with the elevator.

Thankfully, the guys with the cabinets came on time, and by some miracle, the move-out had not yet begun, so there was no problem with me using the elevator. For about 20 minutes. Then the lady showed up with her U-Haul and was, shall we say, quite put out that the elevator was in use. I decided to stay (i.e. hide) in my condo so as to avoid a confrontation, and let the management office deal with her. After all, they were the ones who had locked down the elevator for me and let me go ahead and use it.

My dining room quickly filled up with boxes, and as soon as the delivery guys had departed, I cracked that shit open so I could check out the cabinets. And hurray, they look beautiful! Cherry with cinnamon finish, just as requested. Of course I haven't had a chance to look in all the boxes, but I'm going on faith here that the others look just as good.

My dining room = the box room.

And as I walked out of my apartment later that day to run an errand, I realized that the woman moving out was moving out from my floor. But since she's leaving the building, I don't really give a crap that she had to wait 10 minutes to use the elevator. There was a ton of stuff she could have done in the meantime, like stack her stuff at the elevator bay to speed things along. But instead she decided to delay my delivery-guys by bitching at them. Which means she is clearly not as adaptable as me, and that means I win!

A pretty, pretty cabinet.

Coming next: demolition day. Otherwise known as SMASHY SMASHY!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Comic Con: Saturday

And here we come to the classic problem with blogging. Once you lose momentum, the show's over. Do you realize that I never even got around to posting all my pics from my cruise last year? I know you all can't wait to see the pictures of me pretending to tip over the leaning tower of Pisa. Classic.

But I've also neglected to finish my Comic Con posting (here and on the tv blog, much to my chagrin). So I haven't told you what happened on Saturday, my last day of attending programming.

If you recall, on Friday night we were pretty wiped. I was really shocked by how tiring sitting on your ass all day can be. So on Saturday we decided to skip the morning panels and sleep in. After we dragged ourselves out of bed, we decided to continue the laziness by enjoying the hotel pool. Of course the one cloudy day in San Diego would be the one where we wanted to just soak up some rays, but the pool deck was so nice and the hot tub so relaxing that we didn't really care. Oh, and the sun came back as soon as we went back inside. Figures.

The first few panels I wanted to see on Saturday weren't actually in the Convention Center. Due to Comic Con's increasing attendance, the organization has started holding panels in the ballroom of the Hilton next door. So to get to the Glee and Heroes panels, we walked around the side of Convention Center and into the lovely hotel.

At first blush, Glee doesn't seem like it would be a logical fit with Comic Con. There's nary a comic, spaceship, or dragon in sight. But since Comic Con is basically a celebration of all things pop culture, it makes sense to me. Still, I was surprised by the turn-out. Glee has really struck a chord with a lot of people (including me) and there were hundreds of people there wearing red Gleek t-shirts. And most of them seemed to be high-school age.

After Glee, we stayed right where we were for the Heroes panel. This was probably the most unruly crowd, people were out of their chairs taking pictures (and blocking the view) as soon as the cast started appearing. And the screams for Zach Quinto were embarrassing; I mean I love him a lot too, but get a grip ladies. Oh, and on the whole I was not impressed by the Heroes panel. I mean, seeing so many of the cast was cool, but promises that Hiro would be time-traveling even more next season? Lots of new cast members? Jesus, writers, have you learned NOTHING??

Then it was back to the Convention Center to snag a spot for True Blood. On the way we passed Jimmy Fallon randomly roaming the halls (in a robot costume or something) and Selvi did some light heckling. As one does. We were back in Ballroom 20 for True Blood and got there early which meant sitting through most of the Fringe panel, which was cool. Josh Jackson = hot and John Noble was pretty funny. I mean, I watch the show, but I'm a casual viewer, not a real fan. And then. True Blood.

The best part of this panel was the news that they would actually be marketing True Blood (as a blood orange soda) and seeing the preview for the second half of the season. Good stuff. And if I thought girls went crazy for Zachary Quinto, they were basically rabid for Alexander Skarsgaard. The guy is certainly good looking and charismatic and is clearly the fan favorite. A lot of people in the crowd were excited to see the author of the Sookie books, Charlaine Harris, and to hear that she had been contracted to write three more. Having only read the first and finding it ok but fun, I was kind of meh to this news.

As we sat listening to the fan questions, I realized that this was my last Comic Con panel. The four days had gone by in a blur, as I knew they would, but I couldn't believe everything we had seen. But while the panels were over...there was still Saturday night's parties to visit!

Carly had met a guy during one of her panel (as Carly always does) who worked for Cartoon Network, and he invited us all to the Robot Chicken party being held at Skate San Diego, a roller rink. After having the WORST TAXI DRIVER IN SAN DIEGO, seriously, the dude had no idea where we were going, and I had to take the CB and talk to the dispatcher myself, we made it to the skating rink. Where we were met with tons of awesome Star Wars themed costumes, including a roller-skating Storm Trooper. How cool is that? Also, we saw Seth Green who is even tinier in person that I was expecting.

The party was kind of lame (too loud music and no booze) so Carly's dude drove us back to the Convention Center where we watched the Masquerade Ball on the big screen set up in the Pavilion. The amount of time and effort that people must have put into their costumes and skits was, frankly, staggering, but it was kind of cool to see them. And after the show they cleared the tables, set up a DJ booth, and we all got down and dirty. Ah, geeks dancing. Love it!

And then it was back to the hotel, collapsing into bed, and in the morning packing and flying home. Thus endeth the Comic Con adventure.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Even though my computer is not totally back to normal (the USB problem is fixed but now I can't burn any CDs...argh), but you know what makes everything better?

Home-made alfredo sauce that is the most AMAZING THING OMG.

Seriously. I found this recipe for alfredo sauce on and it is the best thing of all time. It's super easy, not really good for you (heavy cream, anyone?) but I used low fat cheese, so that counts for something, right?

Anyhoodle, things are looking up!