Words for Maya Angelou

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Maya Angelou over the past 30 hours or so since I read the report on her passing.

For some of us, there can be a desire within us to pay tribute to someone who influenced our lives, even if it is after the fact or something we fear will never reach the ears of those its meant for.

I choose to write of her, and for her, as my tribute to a life well-lived.

I grew up in a small New Hampshire town, fortunate in my family and finances. No sob story of any magnitude to be found in my childhood. No background of struggle that would lend to identifying with a life so affected by adversity and pain. So what happened when I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? Did I complain about it being boring required reading? Put up a fight that it was outdated or dull? Nope. Not once. I was blown away. I was moved. I was furious, hurt and scared. I was proud and then I was empowered. I connected with young Maya, with our shared love of the power of words and I felt her pain. I felt her anguish. How could I possibly feel that I could see so clearly through the eyes of someone so removed from my own life experiences? What right had I to feel like I could understand? Me, with my so-called-life and her, a vision of courage and strength?

Herein then lies, for me, the magic of Ms. Maya Angelou. She possessed the incredible ability to reach through the circumstances of anyone’s life, grab them by the heart and pull them directly into her writing. It didn’t matter where I came from, or what color my skin was, whether I was a boy or a girl or an adult. The burning desire of freedom from injustice can be felt by any human; if one can manage to pull back the curtain of differences that separate us and get right to the heart of it.

We are more alike, than unalike.

What is most often remembered about any incredibly influential author are the soundbites, the short quips and quotes that define a legacy. Ms. Angelou has hundreds, shared and re-shared across social media like wildfire over the past two days. And yet, are these the most profound words ever written? Maybe, but maybe not. Do they dazzle with complexity and mastery of language? Actually, they don’t. They are simple. Some of them are quite raw. But these words contain more power than literary prowess.

Maya Angelou understood how to turn her words into a mirror, so that each sentence became a reflection of your own knowledge. She could reveal to the reader truths held as self-evident, merely dormant, waiting to be uncovered.

A quick Google search presents two of her most oft-quoted idioms:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

I find it difficult not to clench a fist and exult an emphatic “YES!” after reading these sentences. Because I understand them in my heart to be true. I’ve always known them to be true. Ms. Angelou reveals to us the wisdom we hold in our own hearts and allows us to move into the space to embrace these truths and apply them to live a path we are proud of.

I have always respected Maya Angelou for her courage. I respect her for her wisdom. For her passion. But what I appreciate now is how much she has influenced my life, helping me find my strength as a woman, teaching me to ignore the comments of others seeking to belittle my choices. What I have come to know is how she believed in me. She believed that a little girl in a small town could understand the adversity she faced throughout her life, regardless of the perceived gap between us. She believed that I would find her messages reflected in my own heart and use them to shape my journey through my own life.

I remember reading her poetry aloud in a middle school performance, clad as Harriet Tubman, in unison with girl friends of mine filling the roles of other notable women through history.

I am a Woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal Woman,
that’s me.

I have learned much from this sage author, and I continue to find truth in her words today. I’m sure I always will. Her wisdom in words have been a gift to me, and the only way I feel I can show my gratitude is to continue in her medium. Ms. Angelou: Here are some of my own words to interpret one of your lessons.

To know another person’s struggle separates you from the person you are, thus revealing the path to the person you’re meant to be.

Thank you for the guiding light: past, present and future.

-Meagz

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Thanks Goodreads.com!

If you love to read, Goodreads.com and their subsequent App will be a remarkable discovery. It is an incredible tool to sort your literary chaos. You can sort books into categories of your choosing, rate and rank and recommend. Use the scan feature on the App on your smart phone to instantly add books to your virtual library. Anytime a book is recommended to me, or I discover something I desire to read (usually while listening to NPR), it goes right onto my To-Read “shelf.”

I enjoy using the site to connect with friends and send my recommendations to them after I’ve finished something I really liked and know they will enjoy. And then there’s the reading challenge. At the start of 2014 I committed to read 60 books in the course of the year, and Goodreads tracks my progress. It even gives me updates on my progress and lets me know if I am on schedule to finish before the end of the year. After hitting 60 last year, I’m bumping it up for 80 this year. Thank goodness for the library (because buying 80 books in the year would get expensive and my husband my kill me for adding 80 books to our already-crammed shelves, and for Goodreads in helping me achieve this feat!

 

Palpable Magic

My previous post covered how fun the wedding was, and I’m still aghast that it lasted less than an hour. What powerful emotion can emanate from such a blip in our lifetime! Now I’ve had time to process the events that came after the ceremony, it’s time to try to put into words what happened next. We had a little interlude between the ceremony and the reception, some rum punch and steel drums to fill the ‘tween time. Lots of pictures and hugs from our guests, James and I took a turn on the steel drums and Max told me (after some confidence nudging from his mom) that I “looked pretty.” My feet floating on air had been touch and go until this moment. I was now positively airborne. What followed next was really nothing short of the best party ever.

The path to the beach reception was lit with luminaries and the guests made their way to the site while James and I hung back for our grand introduction. It was even more exciting because we hadn’t seen the set up and Nadia had been hinting about all kinds of surprises in store for us. The wedding party was introduced and James and I snuck around the back end of the beach where an awesome set of stone steps afforded us a secret entrance to take all the guests by surprise when we were announced as Mr. and Mrs. Brogan. Awaiting our debut, this was the first moment when it was just the two of us for more than a day and words can’t express the wonder with which we stood and stared at each other for a solid three minutes of silent expression. We were speechless as we beheld this beautiful beach that held the most incredible group of people, all of whom came together for us. The silent electricity passing between us grew as we stood there on the bluff hand-in-hand, already aware this night was the best of our lives to date, and reeling from the knowledge that it was just about to get better. That moment hangs suspended in time for us, and then the snowball began to gather speed. Next thing we knew we were arm in arm down the steps, surprising the guests, hugging everyone, dancing to the full steel drum band and then whoa, it was time for dinner!

The food was incredibly good, all full of caribbean flavor like I hoped it would be. I ate until I was beyond stuffed, but the genius of the corset dress worked its magic. Shortly following dinner it was time for speeches, and to cut the cake. Truthfully, the night was such a blur the order of events is slightly fuzzy. At least I think we did the speeches first, so as to let our Best Man get his over with. Unbeknownst to me, our Kyle (always the life of the party) is deathly afraid of speaking in public, and hadn’t been eating for the two days leading up to the wedding. Good heavens. We’d only asked him to say a few things and make a toast, but facing his fear like a true hero, he went above and beyond and shared wonderful words of friendship that brought laughter and smiles and a thunderous round of applause. My sister Laura was genuine and loving and the tears were welling up before she finished her first sentence. Then Matthew and Laura sang a duet for all of us and the well of tears overflowed. Years of adoration and love tumbled out of our eyes as we all realized this was a moment we’d talked about since we were young and green. “Someday we’ll sing at your wedding” they used to say, and this was it. My wedding!

I was as full as I could possibly be, both in my soul and my stomach. Time to cut the cake. It’s a god thing I have a dessert shelf, because that cake was magnificent. So beautiful to behold, even more incredible to indulge. James behaved himself and didn’t cover me in cake, so I followed suit, if only to make sure no bit of that deliciousness was wasted. Hit fast forward again because my next fragmented memory is Matthew calling us to the dance floor for our first dance. This was a particular delight for me, as James had been alluding for months how much he was dreading it. The first dance song we managed to keep a secret from all but each other and I wish I’d looked around to see everyone’s reaction to our choice, but when I heard Jason Mraz’s voice begin our anthem I Won’t Give Up, all I saw was James.

The song seemed to last forever and yet I feared not blink to miss it. It wasn’t until after our dance that I discovered how many of our dear friends were brought to happy tears watching us share that moment. Then James and his wonderful mother Ada danced to Rascal Flatt’s My Wish and my father and I had a medley of songs special to us ending with John Hiatt’s Have a Little Faith. The moments were so special and kept bringing us higher and higher. The dance floor opened up to some fierce dancing, and many drinks imbibed. Matthew and I devised the signature drink for the evening: a blue curaco, coconut rum and pineapple masterpiece Matthew dubbed: “I’m Ruined.” It was a huge hit and cups of blue surrounded us all evening.

A particular favorite dance floor moment was James and my dedication to all the couples there for the evening, our unusual rendition of (of all choices) Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, performed quite romatically by Boyce Avenue. I have snapshots in my memory of our three honeymoon couples Jenny & Trevor and Matt & Callie and Laura &Gary holding each other close and all of us singing aloud with the utmost joy. Oh what a night it was!

The excitement continued with great music, fun dance antics, more drinks and plenty of cake. But the night still hadn’t reach a pinnacle until it was time for the favors to be released. James and I first released floating wish lanterns in Thailand and we found the experience so moving and romantic, we knew we wanted a part of our day. We managed to find 100% biodegradable white lanterns and had them shipped to St. Lucia. They’d already traveled the world before they made their way to our beach, having bounced around cargo bays throughout the US before heading south to Central and South America, then Turks and Caicos and finally St. Lucia. Just in time for us to send them on their final voyage.

We knew they’d be beautiful, but we could never have predicted just how much all of our guests loved the releasing of the lanterns. There is no word in any language that can capture the joy in each of the faces as they watched their lantern soar and join the others in the night. Decades fell off of faces, as each was filled with delight and rapture. The magic of these moments was palpable, we held real magic in our hands and then sent it aloft. We were a swirl of carefree believers, a community of dreamers that just watched dreams we didn’t even know we had take flight. Very few words were exchanged between the exclamations of happiness but I know this experience made the greatest impact of the evening for all. Epic joy, true love and real magic are the three ingredients for our greatest adventure yet.

I Got Rickrolled at My Own Wedding

November 10, 2012. James and I planned for nearly two years to make our nuptials something truly special to us. During those 2 years we attended a combined total of 9 weddings. Needless to say, we were feeling pretty seasoned in the weeks leading up to our own. Pretty much feeling like Wedding Warriors actually. So between the 2 years of planning, the assistance of our incomparable on-island wedding planner and our warrior mindset, we were feeling ready for our big night.

The truth is, nothing you can do ahead of time can truly prepare you for the axis-bending experience of your own wedding. It feels like a surreal vortex. It’s impossible to describe the multitude of unique emotions: the lightness of pure joy counterbalancing the weight of your awe and the depth of the humility you feel. The emotions combine with a warping of time and space, where everything happens at lightning speed but you are somehow able to zero-in on moments that went on and on into the night.

It was awe-some.

Our ceremony was magical. We picked a location that was earth-shatteringly stunning. Our wedding planner Nadia added the perfect touches to make it incredibly romantic. Our most favorite people in the world filled it up. We then threw in some unconventionality: we began the ceremony with each member of the wedding party ‘walking’ down the aisle of the ruins to the tune of their own chosen ‘theme song.’ We thought it’d make everyone relax a little and bring smiles all around. Instead, it was like a powder keg explosion of awesomeness. Our friends came unleashed at each solo entrance, dancing their faces off with their own unique styles. I thought my heart was going to burst with a mixture of delight, pride, and good old-fashioned, soul-deep laughter. From Macklemore to Queen to Steve Wonder, each new song brought new antics and a new level of delight. We were like little kids, reveling in the magic of music and friends, everyone downright giddy with the fun of it all. And yes, my little sister, ever the clever one, finished off her Matron of Honor entrance with a Rickroll just as she hit the altar. It’s a good thing I had a long walk ahead of me, so I had time to compose my hysterical laughter and take the walk with composure, as it was the one moment I wanted to savor seriously: the chance to walk with my Dad, my first hero, toward the man I’m going to spend a lifetime trying to deserve. We shared words that meant the world, our sisters shared messages of love and my beloved Godfather read our favorite message from A.A. Milne about being two balloons with our direction going up. We shared our commitments to each other, our dear friend Trevor bound us to each other by the power invested in him by, as he likes to say, “the internet,” and then James kissed me with a sincerity women (and men!) the world over spend lifetimes longing for, complete with a shower of flower petals and thunderous applause.

Magic. Brought to us that day by the letters B and C, our families, friends, music, St. Lucia, and yes, even a little Rick Astley.

-M

*Photo by the incredible Samuel Wright

Krems, Austria – 15 Photos to Take You There

One of the most surprising and breathtaking towns to stumble upon, Krems an der Donau is a hidden gem in Lower Austria, bordering the Danube and comprising the eastern part of the Wachau Valley.

A departure point for riverboat cruises of the Wachau region; Krems harbors many wonders that emerge with a mix of adventurous wandering and a healthy dose of curiosity. The following fifteen photos toss you into the magic and mystery of Krems and will spur a desire to personally explore one of Austria’s oldest treasures.

-Meagz

Laura gets us to Krems!
Colorful houses adorned with beautiful flowers. It must be summer in Austria.
The winding and narrow streets of Krems
Cobblestones and gorgeous facades

Strolling through the streets in awe
A tower to climb to, with a view
Made it to the tower, but still feeling small
Hallowed grounds
Hauntingly beautiful
Window to the world
Let no home be not beautiful
Oops, I shot the photographer! http://www.patcorlinphotography.com

 

A street? Or a driveway? How about both.
Krems an der Donau

…back! (Part Vier- 4 of 4)

On your marks, get set… GO NYC!

Thursday: More butts off at the Works, this time with Laura too! Melissa was tough on the three of us and we were a little nervous for our immediate departure to Connecticut from the gym to board the train for Grand Central in glorious NYC! With plans to stretch it all out on the train we showered and piled in, ready for the most ridiculous 28 hours of the trip to date. Made it to CT, caught the train and dumped out at Grand Central- how fun to finally see the legend! (Strange how many trips to NYC never led me there until now). I have to say, THIS part of the trip, the NYC whirlwind was my surprise gift from Laura-Li and Mumusmurf. Not only did they book the three of us a SUITE at the St. Giles-The Court Hotel (sharp!), but the reason for the trip was a Friday morning appointment at none other than the world’s largest and most famous bridal salon: KLEINFELD’S! (Of TLC’s ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ fame). While getting ready for dinner, the man of hour arrived to meet us: my best friend and creative director Matthew G! We had drinks in the lobby bar downstairs (LEX) then went off to dinner at Rare. Matthew flew off to work at Industry, where he’s the lead bartender. We headed to a convenience store where Laura marched up to the counter and demanded two AA batteries and an Aquafresh (toothpaste). Then it’s off to Industry where the night is a bit of a blur between the crowd, the drinks, the drag show, the shots bought for us by the leading queen in New York, the man from Morocco, ENOUGH!, looking at pictures of the bouncer’s wedding on his phone (Randy’s the best!), faces down in the bed at 2 a.m. with Laura viciously grunting to set the alarm for 8:45 a.m. with a mouthful of feather pillow. I’m surprised the front desk didn’t call to ask us to settle down as we laughed hysterically for goodness-knows how long.

Fast forward 6 hours of sleeping like dead women… to 9 a.m. AWAKE! KLEINFELD’S DAY! Got dolled up and cabbed our way to the grand doorway, the excitement rising to giddy levels as we approached the reception desk. The lobby was crowded with anxious brides and entourages and seating was scarce. Not to worry, it gave me the chance to have a corner vantage point to take in the bridal madness. Before long, my consultant came over and introduced herself and swept us to our room to begin the appointment. There was a certain level of nervousness lurking behind my confident smile when I was introduced to Christiane, my personal dress consultant. I can’t give out too many details about the whole event (James does read these posts after all) but I can say that I am officially a Kleinfeld bride. We had not intended to find the dress of my dreams, just wanted to experience the legend of the world’s largest bridal salon and get swept up in the bridal planning… but I also hadn’t planned on meeting the perfect person to find me the perfect dress. I’ve bought a lot of gowns in my day, and have never been welcomed so warmly and made to feel like my happiness was the only thing that mattered in the whole world. Not just by my team, but everyone in the shop. It didn’t matter that they see 90 appointments a day, they made me feel like I was the only one in their world. I was listened to-really listened to-and Christiane used her skills of finding exactly what I described to her. Not only did she take the time to totally understand my vision of the dress and whole theme of the wedding, she took the time to get to know US, and when I left I felt like we’d been friends for a long time. She told me I was one of the most interesting brides she’d ever met and that I shouldn’t be surprised if I find her lurking in the bushes in St. Lucia during the ceremony. HAH. She won’t need to lurk in the bushes if I just send her an invitation! She made such an impact that we may do just that. I’m sure she’ll be a hoot on the dance floor too, and that’s really what it’s all about anyway. In addition to the true love stuff. Ah, Kleinfeld’s. I would recommend it to any and all and it’s worth the trip to NYC, even if you are only there for 28 hours.

Departed NYC for a long but wonderfully happy ride home, changed out the bag and then it’s straight to the marina at Lake Winnipesaukee for a long overdue weekend of REST. Well, as much rest as one can get when hanging with the redneck yacht club on the WAM’s Gold Coast…

I DID get to sleep late on Sat and Sun and indulged in breakfast ala Scrappy and Chuck (which means an epic omelet bar and even custom-made pancakes for the non-egg eater=me). My incredibly awesome cousins Scott, Michelle (and husband Eric:) and even Mama Peg (my grandmother, but don’t let her hear anyone call her that) arrived for a glorious day on the lake complete with laughter, summer drinks and a Pole-ish Horseshoes tourney. Next time Scotty, we’ll get ’em next time.

Another epic day of boating was the hilarious day spent at Braun Bay, where boat after boat anchor up close to each other and engage in water sports, eating and drinking in the sun all day. It was a very crowded scene and I was exhausted by the revelry and the sun so I laid down on the bow to take a nap. I awoke with a start, thinking it must have been the world’s longest nap because suddenly before my eyes: spring break was in full swing. There were boats blasting thumping beats, girls selling fluorescent Braun Bay t-shirts from floaty rafts and an enormous custom crafted water slide boat. Literally, it was a modified pontoon boat with a bar with bar stools and a giant pool slide perched atop. The throttle was built into the side of the bar and it somehow has a license to drive around Lake Winni. Go figure. Polish horseshoes continued to entertain, groups of guys were doing beer bongs out of a hollowed-out flamingo, and the area around our boat was jammed up with rafts, floating coolers, beer pong tables and scantily clad college-aged party animals. What the heck….? Cabo in New Hampshire? There was little to do… but have a drink and go down the slide! Woohoo!

Wrapped up at the marina and headed home to pack for Vienna. Whoa. It’s a little hard to conceive, but that’s the rundown of my trip for just the first TWO WEEKS. You may have just aged a little if you made it to the end of these four posts, but I’m grateful that you made it through. Maybe you’ll have a better understanding of what I mean when I say the trip was crazy-wonderful-quick. I brought you up to the point of our departure to Europe, but that’s an entirely significant series of posts and I’m going to break that up with some reviews and Great Eight listings. So bless you for following my adventures, and here’s to the next! Love also to all my family and friends that made my time on the mainland such a treasure trove of memories.

-Meagz

…She’s back! (Part Drei- 3 of 4)

Continued…

Laura and Gary are in the Corlin homestead and we’ve had the fun reunion of family and animals. Tuesday arrives and Mom and I head to the gym to work those butts off, Laura scoots to the dentist and then we reconvene at the house to put on some PanAm faces. Yup, Laura and I donned the fantastic uniforms and jetted over to Concord Airport for a photo shoot with the real PanAm pilot, Miles (captain hat and all!), with Mom working magic behind the lens and Stacy keeping our smiles wide and genuine. Go for liftoff, it’s time to head to Portsmouth for the night.

Catching up with old friends and coworkers at RiRa Portsmouth, Laura and Gary were the talk of the town and the main event upon arrival. We grabbed a few Guinness and Magner’s there after a glorious dinner and killer Yuzu Caipirinhas at Brazo. On our way out, we stopped into Fat Belly’s where we ran into DANIELLE and Laura and I screamed and did some reunion hugging and hopping, to the embarrasment of Danielle’s friends and the Irishman. Good times and good friends in one of the best towns on the planet… made me miss living on the seacoast quite a bit.

Wednesday: back to Boston by way of Newburyport, MA for an adventurous breakfast with the most wonderful Sonja J. Never underestimate the power a short visit with the people you care the most about can have when you miss them so much. Especially the people who never let time or distance come between your friendship. Love you Sonja-hope you’re getting more beans for breakfast! Depart Newburyport for Boston and the very first bridal boutique experience as a bride to be. Priscilla of Boston. Fancy. Stunning. Spendy. Laura and Mom got a little sniffly and we found a few beautiful frocks, but not the proverbial “one.” It was a lovely introduction to what I believed was going to be the most arduous part of planning the wedding… finding the dress.

We rendezvous with Gary who’d gone off to haunt an internet cafe while we went off the girly deep end; jumped back into the car just in time to make a late lunch with Mama Peg and Auntie Peggy at the Irish Rose in Burlington, MA. Got back to NH and then made our return to P-town for laughter on the decks at Poco’s, and back to RiRa for Murphy’s 50th birthday toast at midnight. So much fun with miss Alana traversing memory lane and plotting for the wedding! When did I get any sleep on this trip?? Oh wait, that’s right, I didn’t.

I apologize for the installments, but I need to eat something again, and the Thursday/Friday trip to NYC is a doozy. Stay tuned!

 

…She’s back! (Part Zwei – 2 of 4)

Lunch was fabulous. I mean, why wouldn’t it be when you’re with Jeff Sean?

Picking up where I left off…

New Hampshire: June 21. A whirlwind family and old friend chronicle unravels. Straight away I get to spend two incredible days with my best friend Carolyn who rove all the way from western MA to spend some rainy NH days together catching up and laughing our butts off. Lots of the usual scheming to take over the world, and even some wedding planning too. Speaking of ‘butts off,’ Mom also managed to schedule me in for some team training with her and her awesome personal trainer at the Works in Somersworth and we worked our, you guessed it, butts off. Next up, “a vedding!” Saturday we drove up to Portland, Maine for the gorgeous ceremony and kick-ass reception of my cousin Jeff and his stunning bride Jess. After dancing like mad fools with the Kennedy clan, Mom, Dad and I set off in search of preventative measures in the form of late night pizza. Jeff sent us to Bill’s on Commercial Street and we couldn’t have been happier. Just what the doc ordered! Note: Don’t try to break open a giant chocolate ball with a steak knife. *This went in here so I don’t forget that hilarious episode with Mom and Dad. We stayed the night in the almost certainly haunted (I’ll have to do some research on that) Eastland Park Hotel. My favorite part was the original lift buttons next to the elevators that are no longer functioning. We inadvertently made a gentleman feel very silly who’d been standing there for 5 minutes repeatedly pushing the old buttons to no avail. Oops!

No rest for the weary; we bid farewell to Portland and headed home, only to pack another bag and head up to Lake Winni with the redneck yacht club.  And the trip marches on… that night I headed south solo to Boston to meet up with DRiley32 to rehash life, Leroy Jenkins and HP^7.2. Monday I reunited with Elle, Erika and baby Ella at Simmons College, had a yummy lunch at Chipotle and then drove to Scituate to have more playtime with the baby genius. Couldn’t stay too long though, I had to be at Logan Airport at 5 to pick up two very special deliveries. I had one more hug to get before heading to Logan however. A stop in to see B-rent and explore his east coast digs, with just enough time to share a freeze pop, was so good for my soul. We miss you out here Brenty, just in case you haven’t heard us for the past 754,678,946,409th times. Deep breath, time to battle traffic into Logan. About .25 miles from the exit I’m fairly sure my charges flew overhead in that bright red and white Virgin Atlantic awesomeness and I raced to the gate. After an hour driving around Terminal E because of some cross-communication and lack of cell phoneage,  I FINALLY get my Laura and Gary hugs! Booshas unite! Then it’s back in the car to go meet the parents at the Lazy Lion in Deerfield, NH for dinner. Are you exhausted just reading all this yet? Quick break for this girl before I launch into the week leading up to 4th of July. If you think things relax a bit, FAT CHANCE. We’ve only just begun.

…and BAM! She’s back! (Part Eins – 1 of 4)

Some you may have noticed I fell off the grid for a bit. Well, I was writing all along but without the ability to post for a myriad of reasons. Here’s the rundown of where I’ve been, a collection of miles, mishaps and memories.  I will follow this post with a series of posts from home, Austria and the in-between. For now though, let’s get you up to speed with the most recent itinerary of adventures.

June 13th- Departed Honolulu for Las Vegas. Had an absolute ball working at the International Licensing Convention as a spokesperson for the amazing company PanAm Brands. Yes, it’s true, PanAm Airlines no longer flies commercial, but the original company still thrives in a multitude of ways: including the production and marketing of an awesome line of designer luggage, handbags and fabulous accessories. The clever crew at PanAm knew how to make a real impact in a sea of 18,000 attendees: they commissioned the production of three authentic PanAm flight attendant uniforms and outfitted Emily, Carly and myself to not only talk about the brand, but to be the brand. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had as many pictures taken of me before this event.  The responses from people who approached us with an almost fanciful nostalgic look on their faces was worth every blister from the horrific shoe incidences. Everyone we met had a history or a moment with PanAm; whether it was their first time on a plane, a frequent route they flew, the first time they got their wings, their adoration of the elite flight crews, and more. I’ll share some of their stories in a separate post. But, like my trip, we’ve got to move on quick!

June 17th- Shift gears in Vegas completely. The PanAm Brands crew made their way home and I remained, with Mom #1 and Mom #2 as my partners in crime. We stayed for a few more days in order to attend the Miss USA pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino with the intent to scream our faces off in support of the radiant and wonderful Lacy Jane Folger, Miss NH USA 2011. This girl and I have history, and I mean HISTORY. We have been friends for nearly 23 years! Wow, I think that’s the first time I’ve written that down and suddenly I feel older than I did two seconds ago… interesting… but I digress. Lacy Jane has always been one of most favorite people in the world, a fun-loving, great friend who never lost touch with her values and has been a role model for others to follow since the tender age of 5. (Probably even earlier, but I met her at 5 when she first started volunteering with the service projects my sister and I created oh-so-many-years-ago). The fact she made it all the way to the grand stage in Vegas and represented our humble state in a way that brings tears of pride to my eyes was a surreal time-lapse moment for me. I kept flashing between her performance at the little stage at the Lilac Mall and then the Rochester Opera House and then Hampton Beach and then Vegas… Lacy, you did it! I lost my voice in all the revelry but was so lucky she didn’t win… it meant we got to have the best dinner ever at the Sugar Factory after the show. 🙂 So happy you managed not to get hit by flying chairs backstage… phew! Pageant girls are crazy. Good thing we stayed on the fringe all these years and only go crazy for shoes and rhinestones. Love you Lace, you’re a rockstar!

Departed Vegas on June 21, New Hampshire bound. Next post coming soon, but I’m off to lunch with the fabulous Jeff Sean!

Las Vegas Great Eight

The Great Eight: ‘cuz Top-Ten lists are tacky

1. See a Cirque du Soleil show
 
All of them will blow your mind and the real trouble is choosing which suits your fancy. The combination of a great recommendation and being a lifelong Beatles fan led me to see ‘Love.’ Located at the Mirage (coincidentally my favorite hotel in Vegas, or is it coincidence? Hmmm jury’s still out), the whole night of seeing ‘Love’ is an experience. Go eat at one of the incredible restaurants: Stack, BLT Burger, California Pizza Kitchen, Fin…(good luck choosing)…and then head over to Revolution, an all sensory stimulating bar rocking the Beatles pre and-post show to get you all kinds of in the mood for the Fab Four.
 
 
2. Tour the City Center
The largest privately funded construction project in the United States ($9.2 billion, according to Wikipedia); my jaw hurt from hanging open while exploring this massive complex made up of Aria, Vdara, the Mandarin Oriental LV and Crystals. Vdara and Aria are both LEED certified hotels (bonus!) and look and smell amazing. Yeah, I said smell. The Aria and I are linked for eternity by the olfactory sense. Walk into the lobby and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Also, Cafe Vettro has the best boneless buffalo wings in Vegas. (Sorry Hooters, you and I are quite incompatible) Aria’s restaurants and shops are breathtaking and I cannot wait to go back and spend more time exploring.
The Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan

Make sure you also pass through (and spend time at) The Cosmopolitan hotel and casino (adjacent to the City Center). My mind is still reeling from the contemporary luxury the place is literally “dripping” with.

3. Le Village Buffet at Paris for breakfast

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast and my favorite place to get breakfast is in Paris for Cabernet soaked pear halves, custom-made crepes and mouth-watering croissants. Sometimes I wake up at home and think about buying a ticket to Vegas… just for breakfast at Le Village Buffet.

4. Stay at Bally’s
The hotel with the most bang for the buck in Vegas: Bally’s. It’s the diamond in the rough of the dated hotels. The central location on the strip is excellent. The rooms are very basic and nothing special, but the beds are comfortable and clean. Who’s hanging out in their room anyway? It’s Vegas, baby!
blu pool @ Bally’s

The amenities are sweet: the blu pool @ Bally’s is bumpin’ on the weekends with loud jams poolside (although the drink prices are outrageous). If you’re on a tight budget, the buffet has an express buffet breakfast for $11.99. Ask for Alice at the reservations desk. She’s friendly, genuine and jovial; she’s been working in Vegas for nearly 30 years and kicks butt at her job.

5. Fremont Street Experience
There’s something so-very-nostalgic about taking a trip down to the Old Strip. Getting to see pieces of the The Golden Nugget opened in 1946 and it’s a staple of Vegas lore. I wandered the Golden Nugget a few years ago for historical value, and didn’t think it needed to be revisited. Boy, was I wrong! It has been completely renovated and it is the most unexpected surprise in Vegas. What a thrill to see the new life in the old place. Gorgeous updates inside and out, the entire place has a fresh, hip vibe. Our dinner at the Chart House with the gorgeous aquarium in the center was fantastic. I recommend the Edamame hummus and the Hot Chocolate Lava Cake haunts my dreams.
6. Bellagio dancing waters

One of the most famous shows in Vegas doesn’t feature the scantily clad or a rhinestone King impersonator or even a price tag. This free show flows with an unrivaled magnificence: the famous dancing waters at the Bellagio. You saw it in Ocean’s 11, and the movie magic isn’t even as cool as seeing it live. If you can only see it once, check it out at night.

Image belongs to Angie's Reviews - click to go to her site
Bellagio Dancing Waters

Enjoy the time portal transport you’ll ride on the way back to your seven-year-old-self, agape in wonder at the power of the water.

7. Take Time for Tequila
Go find the Tequila Bar tucked in the back of Bally’s.  It’s like a hole in the wall with a great happy hour, decent prices for food, excellent fare, a margarita in a fish bowl and it features the biggest plate of Nachos I have ever seen. (Note the size of the salt shaker for reference). Yes, please!
Tequila Bar at Bally’s
 
 
 
 
 
 
8. Diversify your dining and do different dishes at different digs
(How’s that for alliteration? Snap!) There’s no way to choose the best restaurant in Vegas. It’s an impossible feat. Instead, try a self designed “Tour of Vegas Cuisine.” Do a different course at a different restaurant in one night! It’s the perfect way to see and taste as much of Vegas as possible, while going on a grand adventure. My “Tour” looked like this: before dinner drinks at Le Centre bar in Paris-featuring 2 for 1 martinis (raspberry lemon drop is the bomb! Thanks Mr. Joshua!). Then we cruised for appetizers at Aria-flashback to the heavenly buffalo wings; then entrees at Cafe Bellagio where I loved the yellow curry salmon. Most important: dessert. Serendipity 3 at Caesar’s Palace. The Frozen Hot Chocolate seems like an oxymoron, but I’m saying you just have to overcome the double negative and just it. If I had room I would have loved to try the fried oreo sunday, but that just means I am destined to return.

Until next time… M

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