Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Best Things In Life Are Free

Writing has always been a part of my life, no matter how hesitant I am to admit it. Becoming a writer — and even learning to call myself one — is a dream that seemed rather unlikely to happen, but one that is quickly becoming my reality.

Freelance writing has always seemed particularly unreachable to me. So you sit and write from home? That’s nice, but what fun is that? To me, freelance writers have proven that they’ve made it in the industry and have earned the right to work at their own convenience.

When my former editor at The Poughkeepsie Journal asked me to be a freelance writer, I was shocked and also very excited.

I have always grown up with The Poughkeepsie Journal. Every morning I’d wake up and find the paper sitting on our dining room table.

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I perused it as I ate breakfast. At first, it was just the comics. But when I entered middle school, I started scanning the sports highlights, and by high school, was reading the whole paper.

In college, I began writing for the TeenVerge column. When I graduated, I figured I’d move on to something bigger and better at a different company. But I was wrong; I’m back writing for the Journal.

I’m officially a freelance writer, and I’m a columnist again, too. Now I’ll be contributing to the “Our Turn” column, and this past weekend my first freelance story was published!

My first story features a local couple that met at a roller rink, and who frequently skate there. They decided to get married, and of course the ceremony happened at the rink! It was fun to hear their love story and writing the piece was great.

Check out the full story here:

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2014/10/24/couple-hyde-park-roller-rink/17863179/

Freelancing for the Journal will get me one step closer to reaching my dream of being a writer; I can only hope that this gig will provide an opportunity to meet more interesting people and experiment with different styles of writing — and all while working at home.

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All American

While in Vermont for Alumni Weekend, I had the opportunity to enjoy American Flatbread for the first time with my friend, and former roommate, Amber.

I had never heard of American Flatbread until all of my college friends began talking about the new restaurant opening downtown. Amber and I went on Sunday afternoon, which ended up working out well, as neither of us had dinner plans.

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Since it was such a nice day, we sat outside, which was probably a good thing; I just read an article that claims the building American Flatbread is located in is haunted with ghosts and spirits. I’m not at all a fan of scary movies or apparitions, so I’m glad we had the option to sit outside.

The restaurant asks that patrons do not take pictures, so I was only able to snap a quick one of the delicious pizza we ordered.

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We decided on a free-form flatbread with green peppers. Every ingredient on the menu is natural, as their philosophy is to serve good-for-you and sustainable foods. While their prices were pretty fair considering the quality of the ingredients used, I wish they had put more peppers on the pizza!

Amber and I chatted as we scarfed down our meal. Currently, Amber is student-teaching in a middle school, so I got to hear about her experiences thus far. She sure is busy (especially with all of that lesson planning and reflecting!), so I was super happy she took some time to relax and eat good food!

All in all, it was a great meal, and a great excuse to catch up with Amber. If you ever find yourself downtown, I highly suggest checking out this new eatery!

When You’re Here, You’re Family

Post-grad life was starting to seem the same only five months after graduation. Get up and go to work. Come home, eat a late lunch. Go to second job. Come home. Write. Go to bed. And then do it all over again the next day.

When Alex texted me about possibly meeting up for dinner, I was beyond stoked.

Alex and I quickly became friends a year ago after our mutual friend, Merrill, introduced us. We ended up graduating together, and, fortunately, live only about an hour apart. I saw her once over the summer, but it was only briefly, as she helped me navigate the subway system and find my way to JFK airport.

Alex works in the city and was coming to my neck of the woods for a business conference. We made plans to eat at Olive Garden, one of Alex’s favorites, and a restaurant I had never been to.

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Last week, I picked Alex up from the Culinary Institute of America (where her work gig was) and drove to Olive Garden.

Although I don’t keep in contact with Alex on a daily or even weekly basis (aside from SnapChats), we immediately picked up where we last left off. She told me about her job and how the conference went, as well as how much she loved her tour of the Hudson Valley. I told her about Alumni Weekend (she couldn’t make it) and how different, yet the same, campus is.

There we were, in the middle of Olive Garden at 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night. Alex was wearing a dress and a blazer, and I had on a dressy shirt and dark jeans. Alex’s hair was straight and mine was curled, but we both wore make-up. We looked good, but even more than that, professional.

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Our waiter served us salad and breadsticks, which were softer and more garlic-y than I had expected. And still we talked, exclaiming over new revelations and sharing stories from our work experiences.

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Soon, Alex’s penne & shrimp and my chicken fettuccine alfredo came, followed even sooner by the check. The clock reminded us that Alex’s train would be leaving soon, even though neither of us could stop talking.

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If this is what post-grad life entails, then I’ll take it. I was so happy to see my college friend and to have dinner with her after a long day of work, and all a stone’s throw from where I grew up.

I got Alex back to her train with time to spare. The train station was eerily deserted, yet those high-backed benches reminded us of one thing: the connector in Dion. Someone finally agrees with me that those benches belong in a train station.

Alex and I goofed off, taking random pictures with random signs as I pretended to know which track her train would depart from. It felt like I was repaying the favor for all of her help getting me to my flight on time in May.

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As we hugged goodbye on the cement platform, we promised to make plans to see each other again, reminding ourselves that no matter where we physically are in life, we’ll always be friends.

Beans In Beantown

Last week, I had a job interview for a company located just outside of Boston. Since I didn’t want to spend eight hours in the car driving by myself, my lovely twin brother, Chris (my nickname for him is Beans and I almost never call him by his given name), agreed to adventure with me.

Since moving away to college three short years ago, I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with my brother, who I grew up with and who has always been there for everything. It seemed that every time I came home from college for break, he still had class or work.

I’ve been home for almost five months now and we still haven’t had a whole lot of sibling bonding. Chris and I have very different work schedules, and he’s still in school, so finding time to hang out or do anything together is pretty difficult. To say the least, I was excited for this trip.

Usually when I drive to Massachusetts, I take the Mass Pike. However, Chris and I both agreed that Massachusetts (and New York) tolls are expensive and that we needed a change of scenery, so we agreed to journey through Connecticut. Also, my brother and I really wanted to stop at Trader Joe’s, so Connecticut was the obvious route to take.

I was nervous about taking this less direct route, but excited because I had someone else to share the experience with. I was also curious about what our choice of music would be, since I made Chris listen to an entire Beyoncé album when he drove home with me after I moved out of college, which he did not like at all.

We left our house at 7:20 in the morning, leaving more than enough time to get to my interview, which was scheduled for noon.

Almost immediately after merging onto I-84, we hit commuter traffic and rain. I hate driving such high speeds in the rain. I’ve been meaning to get new windshield wiper blades, as the ones I currently have don’t do a great job clearing my window. To say the least, the rain made me dread the rest of the journey, especially when Chris told me we were driving straight into the storm.

This is what our view looked like:

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I also hate passing trucks in the rain because all of the water gushes at your windshield from their tires. Plus, watching the wipers pass back and forth across the window can become quite mesmerizing.

For a while we drove without conversation, listening to the radio. When that station faded, we scanned for another good set of tunes, all while squinting to admire the beautiful fall foliage.

When we hit Hartford, we arrived at more traffic and an accident. I don’t think it’s ever taken me 15 minutes to drive two miles, but that day it did. I was happy we had left so early.

Chris and I listened to a strange rap song as we laughed at other drivers. When we could finally rubberneck at the scene of commotion, we saw a few firemen, some police officers and one septic tank.

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Three hours and 55 minutes later, we arrived at our destination, with 30 minutes to spare. Our next obstacle was to find a bathroom to relieve our aching bladders. It was still raining, and my brother had not taken his rain jacket with him, an unwise decision.

We jumped over puddles, wandering past high-end boutiques until I spotted a restroom from the window of one café. After using their bathroom, I was informed that it was for paying customers only; since I looked a little haggard in my sweatpants and hooded rain coat, the snooty lady, luckily, didn’t give me a hard time when we silently slipped out the door.

After a quick change of wardrobe, I headed to my interview as my brother went to peruse the bookstore across the street.

I think the interview went well. The guy who interviewed me was easy to talk to and asked a lot of questions about my past work experience. He told me a lot about the company and even several interesting things about the local area.

Over lunch, my brother told me about the investing book he purchased at the bookstore and we discussed my interview.

Soon we were back on the road. The drive home featured much better weather; while it was still raining, it was only a drizzle. Plus, we jammed to Ed Sheeran and saw more interesting things, such as a mariachi band and even a New Mexico license plate!

I don’t think I’ve seen a NM plate before, and it was so funny how many times my brother tried to get a picture of the plate before getting a clear enough one (the one below we snagged while sitting in more traffic).

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And of course we had our Trader Joe’s stop! This was my brother’s first time to the store, and I don’t think he was very impressed by it. I mean, we didn’t exactly have a reason to go grocery shopping, although we did get some trail mix and granola bars.

Finally, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner. I swear our waiter thought we were dating, since we were seated near the window, away from other diners, and by the fact that our waiter left the check closer to my brother than to me.

Even though I can’t remember all of our topics of conversation on the way home, I know we laughed far more than we did on the drive up, and we even took a nice sibling photo to document the trip.

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This is the first time I’ve traveled a long distance for a job interview. I have yet to hear back from the company, but even if I don’t get the job, I’m glad I got to spend the day adventuring with my brother.

I Love Garlic

It’s true. I love garlic on my pizza, in my spaghetti sauce…garlic knots, garlic chips, garlic dip…I’ll eat it all.

So it made sense for my mom and I to visit the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties. This was the festival’s 25th year; what started as a group of 425 garlic enthusiasts gathering to promote Pat Reppert’s herb business has turned into a celebratory event with crowds reaching over 45,000!

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My mom and I entered festival grounds minutes after the gates opened and there were already thousands of people walking around, sampling dips and eating garlic products.

We decided to peruse the garlic vendors before the crowd grew bigger. In addition to various samples of raw garlic, dips and salsas, the vendors were selling various maple and fall (pumpkin) products.

I didn’t dare try any raw garlic at 10 in the morning, but I did enjoy the pretzels and dip. I tried bacon ketchup, and even bought a bottle for my brother.

Next, my mom and I perused the craft vendors. I don’t need garlic t-shirts or cooking aprons, but there was one vendor selling personalized license plate mounts that I really loved. They had several bins of cut-up license plates, and you could pick through them to select whichever state/character you wanted to create your own license plate. It’s an awesome idea, but I wasn’t willing to spend so much money on a piece of art.

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After all of this browsing, we decided it was time for lunch. Since we had to pay to get into the festival, we decided to bring our own sandwiches to save money. We did enjoy garlic fries and apple fritters, though!

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At the end of the day, my mom and I left with some garlic powder samples, garlic dip mixes and pure maple cream. Just as we were about to leave, I decided I wanted to be adventurous and try garlic ice cream.

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That might be the only garlic food I don’t like. I love vanilla ice cream — but add chunks of garlic, and suddenly I’ve changed my mind.

My mom and I had always talked about going to the Garlic Festival; now that we have, we can share with others all of the garlic products available in the Hudson Valley.