Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!

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06 July 2012
Photo Friday: independence personified

the funktastic Jacumba Hot Springs, April 2010
the funktastic Jacumba Hot Springs, April 2010

This is a slightly-delayed tribute to my dear, departed crazy aunt, who would have celebrated her "Yankee Doodle" birthday on July 4th if she hadn't succumbed to breast cancer last October. Above is a shot of her at Jacumba hot springs (with Mark and some random scraggly denizens), where she took us in April 2010.

three Gallo sisters
three Gallo sisters on July 4, 2003
I love how nobody's looking in the same direction... typical...

Auntie didn't just march to her own beat, she brought a whole band along for the ride. For her 60th birthday, she threw herself a fabulous party, and she actually did hire a high school mariachi band to play in her backyard. Several years ago she'd already invited the entire family to come out to San Diego to celebrate her 70th on July 4, 2013. She was a piece of work. I miss her almost as much as I miss my mom; both were role models who taught me the real meaning of fierce independence.

For those of you in the US, amidst all the fireworks this week, take a minute to raise your glass to all the Founding Mothers (and Aunties) out there who made us what we are!

For more fabulous travel snaps, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday.

* Bein' the Tía Loca
* California's all right, somebody check my brain
* browse all San Diego pics from 2010 trip

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

13 May 2012
Eat your veggies!

Mother's Day is among the trilogy of bittersweet days of my year. But what better way to pay tribute to my dear ol' mum than get out and garden? Most mothers extoll the virtues of eating your veggies, but mine also instilled in me a love of growing your own.

I'm pretty sure she'd be proud of this monster bok choy in my front yard:

bok choy

...as well as the spicy, garlicky stir-fry we made it into!

stir fry

The recipe is from somewhere on the interwebs, and essentially calls for an intoxicating mixture of sesame oil, fresh ginger, minced garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, some brown sugar, and a little crushed red pepper. Extra points if you toss in other veggies in addition to the bok choy. Om nom nummers!

Happy Mother's Day to all moms out there, past present and future.

Posted by sonia at 9:04 AM | Link | 0 comments

28 March 2012
Five years ago: Celebrating Joan in Paris

sz in Paris

at the Tower

On this date in 2007, five Zs snuck a bottle of red wine to the top of the Eiffel Tower to toast one missing Z. Joan Zamborsky had planned to celebrate her 60th birthday in Paris, but just four months prior she was killed in a bizarre car accident that left us reeling, a bit lost, and unsure how to make sense of it all. Instead of cancelling the birthday trip, my siblings and I made arrangements to travel to Paris with our dad.

Laura, Eric, Dave in Montmartre

Don snaps a scenic shot

We hit some typical tourist spots, took a cooking class, and spent March 28 celebrating the wife and mother we'd recently lost.

Laura at Notre Dame

Don and Eric at cooking class

dinner on the town

A few months later, I quit my job and took off for Central America. Because life is short.


Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

22 November 2011
Unexpectedly thankful for...

November is a dreary time in the garden, at least here on the East Coast. And Nov 21 in particular is one of the toughest days of the year for me. But just when I feel like giving up and burrowing in for the winter, Mother Nature pulls out a few surprises. Here are a few random happy things I found yesterday:

kale, glorious kale!
kale, glorious kale!

unknown volunteer
I have no idea what this is, but it's been growing all year and decided to flower yesterday.

strawflowers, still going strong

pass the peas! we might actually get a few before winter

Thanks, Ma!

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
25 October 2011
If you want to sing out, sing out!
a recap of Meet, Plan, Go! 2011

Does it feed your soul? Go within before you go without. We don't know how long the economy will be down, and in the meantime we need to live our lives!

our kickass panel

Sure, last Tuesday's Meet, Plan, Go! in DC dealt with nuts & bolts issues like insurance, airfare, and finances. But in between the logistics a steady theme emerged. Travel is more than getting from Point A to Point B. It nourishes something deep inside.

a great crowd

For the second year, I had the privilege of assembling a kickass panel to tell their stories and answer questions about long-term travel. In the audience of about 80 people were nurses and lawyers, project managers and artists, techies and cops, past and present and future careerbreakers, all bitten by the travel bug and yearning to see more of the world.

Alexis GrantNancy BeargKimberly PalmerKinnari PatelColey Hudgins 

After a little informal mixing and mingling, and an opening video featuring interviews with many MPG hosts from across North America, our panel of experts turned up the star power:

>> Moderator Alexis Grant backpacked thru Africa in 2008, recently left her journalism job and has just published an e-guide called How to Take a Career Break to Travel. In addition to contributing her own travel tips, she kept the program flowing smoothly and guided the panelists through a wealth of topics.

>> Nancy Bearg, co-author of Reboot Your Life and former National Security Advisor to vice presidents, regaled us with some eye-opening stats about how just burnt out the American workforce is. Did you know we're leaving $21 billion in vacation time on the table annually? Sheesh. Nancy gave us some great tips on how to make your travel work for your career. In 20 years, more than half the jobs out there will be things we don't even know the name of today. Create your own niche to come back to!

>> Kim Palmer, author of Generation Earn, tackled the big issue of money. Before you can figure out how much you need to save for your trip, you need to determine your dream/vision. Do you want to work while traveling? Relocate to another country? Just lounge around? Regardless, get your finances organized before you go, and consider launching a side business to sock away funds for your trip. Craigslist is great place to see what people are getting paid to do!

>> Kinnari Patel, corporate rat race escapee and social entrepreneur, advised us to tap into local hostel staff for information on traveler-friendly job opportunities and volunteer gigs. To find an organization to volunteer with, do your research online but ultimately go within to find a place that's a match your passions.

>> Coley Hudgins represented both the expat and family travel contingents. He's moved his family to Panama, and his youngest daughter will have dual citizenship. (How cool is that?) Kids are more flexible than you can imagine and will roll with anything. Getting your spouse on board can be another story, but as long as he/she has a willingness to get outside his/her comfort zone, you're on your way. He advised us not to  underestimate the "boots on the ground" effect of researching travel deals as well as local employment.

Bob from Hosteling International

Here are a few of my favorite nuggets from the night, as seen around the Twitterverse:

@hungry_wil: search within before you go without.

@pulpologist: You'll come back frm #travel more creative & a risk-taker, and this makes you a more appealing employee!

@CareerBreakHQs: Amen! RT @pulpologist: Wing it! Don't overplan. You'll never have this much freedom again in your life!

@jenniferparker3: Me too! RT @cityandsand Yes. #travel RT @jenniferparker3: Is this something that your spirit needs?

@pulpologist: You will have naysayers. (They're jealous!) Ignore some, let others know how important this is to you.

@BBADWoman: You nvr know the work yr going to get abroad until your boots are on the ground! Good blog name #BootsOnTheGround

annnnnnd prizes!

As a way to unwind after the event, Mark & I watched the classic movie Harold and Maude. If you've never seen it, or haven't seen it in some time, I highly recommend a viewing. It's not a travel flick, per se, but includes lots of timeless wisdom about finding your passion. And it has an amazing soundtrack by Cat Stevens, who reminds us:

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
You see
It's easy
You only need to know

In addition to fueling the passions of future careerbreakers, our DC event raised funds for the Joan Zamborsky Memorial Trust Fund, which provides supplies and enables scientific exploration for an alternative high school in Pennsylvania. Way to go, travelistas!

cheers to a great event!

Many thanks to:
* my kickass panelists, for their energy before and during the event
* DC Travel Tweetup ambassadors Jennifer P, Jennifer L, Kelly, Claudia, and Kim, for helping to spread the word, for mixing and mingling, and for tweeting up a storm
* Lisa & Russ, for rockin' the reg table and icebreakers
* Mark, best.soundguy.ever
* Kelsey, fabulous photog
* Recessions Lounge, for donating the space
* Hosteling International volunteer Bob, for representing HI
* our kickass national sponsors:
Intrepid Travel, Hosteling International, and GoMio

Recaps from just a few of the 16 other events:
San Francisco
* Scenes from Meet, Plan, Go!

To see more photos and get involved in our monthly meetups, check out the DC MPG Facebook page. Oh, and check it out, we made the WaPo!

If you enjoyed this post, please share it!

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
13 October 2011
Bein' the Tía Loca

This week, in the face of some auspicious news (the birth of my first niece, Gwen) and some ominous news (an aunt deciding to accept hospice care for what we think is end-stage breast cancer) I've been ruminating a lot on aunthood.

It has long been my theory that every family has a crazy aunt and a party uncle. Sometimes these characters are packaged together into one person, sometimes the genders are reversed. But they make an appearance in just about every family circus. We seem to have a preponderance in my family, and I'm proud to count myself in the crazy aunt contingent.

Melanie Notkin (aka "Savvy Auntie") wrote an article recently in celebration of PANKs: Professional Aunts, No Kids. Whether childfree by choice or by circumstance, non-breeder aunts play a special role in the lives of their nieces and nephews. Unfettered by rules and homework and other parental structures, we're freer to dish out important lifeskills like how to curse in five foreign languages and the best way to open a wine bottle. There tends to be more negative bias towards the "maiden aunt" as opposed to the swingin' bachelor uncle, but personally I think that just adds to our mystique.

I wouldn't be a proper auntie if I didn't proudly display pics of all my nieces and nephews. So, here, see for yourself how fabulous they all are. :)

James Welcome Rinard
James Welcome Rinard, 4 years
big brother in the hizzouse

Jack Elliott Zamborsky
Jack Elliott Zamborsky, 1 1/2 years
the Jack Attack

Charles Andrew Zamborsky
Charles Andrew Zamborsky, 3 months
aka Charlie, or C-note

Gwendolyn Ruth Rinard
Gwendolyn Ruth Rinard, 1 week
one niece to rule them all

So what advice do I have for these adorable niece- and nephlings?

- See the world, just as soon as you have the inkling to do so! Don't let fears -- your own or the fears of those around you -- hold you back. As Mark Twain famously said, "You will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor." Indeed, stretching past your comfort zone is the only way to grow.

Be radicallly self-expressed
Burning Man 2010, my contribution to the Temple of Flux

- Be radically self-expressed. Speak your mind, even (and especially) when it's unpopular. Be true to yourself, even if it takes an entire lifetime to figure out what that really means.

- Appreciate your parents. They work *really* hard for you, and they put up with a lot of your shit, literally and figuratively. Yes, they're hopelessly uncool, but that's sorta their job. You may think they'll be around forever, and I sincerely hope that's the case, but take it from me, you just never know.

- Love your Mother. And this time I mean Mother Earth. We in past generations have done a crappy job in the stewardship department, but don't let that stop you from getting your hands dirty, knowing where your food comes from, and perhaps even planting your own victory garden.

To my fellow tías locas -- particularly
Tía Laura and Tía Vanessa of my own clan, but also the rest of you out there who are wrong in all the right ways -- I raise my glass. Despite the title of this post, I don't think Ricky Martin is going to write us a song anytime soon. Somehow Pink seems a more fitting tribute anyway.

Any party uncles wanna weigh in with their perspective?

Savvy Auntie: PANKs
* The Truth About the Modern Aunt
* with apologies to Ricky Martin
* P!nk: Raise Your Glass
* Browse all Burning Man posts, view pics from 2010 and 2008
* Celebrate Joan

If you enjoyed this post, please share it!


Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
28 March 2010
Celebrating Joan at the National Cherry Blossom Festival


This year, I decided to celebrate my mom's birthday by volunteering at the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It was a beautiful, if slightly chilly, day to be downtown on the Mall.

The Cherry Blossom Festival lasts two weeks and tends to be one of those things Washingtonians do once or twice and then cross off the list. It marks the official start of tourist season, wherein legions of fanny-packin' clueless zombies invade the National Mall and clog up the Metro by not standing on the right side of the escalators. That being said, it's also a wonderful time to celebrate the classic beauty of our Nation's capital.

NCBF volunteers and our new Park Service friend
NCBF volunteers and our new Park Service friend

The focal point of the Fest is the Tidal Basin, where thousands of cherry trees frame the Jefferson Memorial. (These trees were presented in 1912 by the mayor of Tokyo, to replace the original batch, which all died of disease a few years earlier.) However, this year the organizers moved the performances, and the info booth, to the Sylvan Theatre Stage. You may remember this stage from such memorable gigs as American Giant's May 2009 show. It's at the base of the Washington Monument, which is a pretty kickass setting. There are plenty of cherry trees at this site as well, so even though the volunteers spent our time at this location we were able to see lots of blossoms.

Kyo Daiko troupe from Philly
Kyo Daiko troupe from Philly

All in all, it was a great way to commemorate my mom while doing some community service and getting some fresh air. Happy Birthday, JEZ!

* browse all Cherry Blossom pics
* Celebrating Joan with the first seedlings of the season
* I'm with the band
* Celebrate Joan, a site to celebrate the bright & shiny life of Joan Zamborsky
* National Cherry Blossom Festival official site | performance schedule

If you enjoyed this post, please help us spread the word!

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
28 March 2009
Celebrating Joan with the first seedlings of the season

Yayyyyyy, little green theengs!

Yayyyyyy, little green theengs! The first seeds we started in indoor kits have sprouted. I think these might be the cukes.

What a fitting way to celebrate my mom's birthday, which, when she was around, was practically a national holiday. She was an avid gardener, and I credit both my love of veggies and my love of diggin' in the dirt to her fabulous guidance. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
26 December 2008
Still time to support two great causes

scenes from an American Christmas

Passports With Purpose
Passports With PurposeDidn't get that great travel gadget you were hoping for? Looking for a way to spend some of that Christmas or Hanukkah dough? Need to find a charitable cause to assuage some of that year-end Western Guilt?
Whatever the reason, there's still a week left to support Passports With Purpose, the brainchild of travel writers Beth Whitman of Wanderlust and Lipstick, Pam Mandel of Nerd’s Eye View, Debbie Dubrow of DeliciousBaby, and Michelle Duffy of WanderMom. Surf on over and check out the fantastic prizes, then buy as many raffle tickets as your heart desires. The funds raised will support Heifer International, an organization dedicated to eradicating world hunger. The raffle runs till December 29.

Celebrate Joan
get out and walk to help us Celebrate JoanOn Saturday, December 27, my family will be organizing our third annual Celebrate Joan 4K-ish Walk in Allentown, PA. Proceeds will benefit the Joan Zamborsky Memorial Trust Fund, which supports educational programs for the disadvantaged kids at the high school where my mom taught. I realize that very few of you will be anywhere near Allentown on Saturday. What I'm asking is that everyone get out and take a walk, wherever you happen to be that day, and send me a few pics. We love doing this event every year, and one of our favorite parts is getting photos and stories from around the world. And regardless of which holidays you celebrate this time of year, we could all use a nice brisk walk to work off some of those delicious treats!

Happy Holidays everyone, and thanks for helping to make the world a better place! Here's to a fabulous 2009.

Posted by sonia at 11:15 AM | Link | 0 comments
04 January 2008
Happy New Year!
The more things change, the more they stay the same

I know, it's been a while... but I thought I'd hold off posting until I actually had something to report. After the wedding maelstrom in the fall, things calmed down a bit. November was a very stressful month, with the one-year anniversary of my mom's death sneaking up on all of us. It did provide another opportunity to appear on TV, courtesy of our old friend Liz Keptner, reporter (and now morning anchor!) for CBS News in Philly. Liz was kind enough to do a piece on our Second Annual Celebrate Joan 4Kish Walk/Run, which was a rousing success.

Meanwhile I tackled another item on my list of "Things I Always Wanted to Try," and got a job bartending at Caribbean Breeze in Arlington. How I managed to snag this job with almost no real experience is a bit of a mystery, but I have been learning how to make some killer mojitos and caipirinhas and other fun stuff. The food's pretty good there, too, and they play cool salsa music. Stop by sometime, if you're in the neighborhood. On Wednesdays there are mojito specials all night long! Any flavor! Arrrrriba!

Hurtling towards the end of the year with no hope of selling the house at a reasonable price, it was time to suck it up and start the job search. Yuck! I'd forgotten what a soul-numbing process that is. After a few good interviews here and there, which ultimately led to nothing but a lot of waiting around because nobody is able to get anything done during the holiday season, I happened to re-connect with my former boss at Marriott, who made me an offer I couldn't refuse. (No, it did not involve snakes in a bed! They're not *that* kind of Mormons at Marriott!) I weighed all the pros and cons and wrestled with the idea that this was a step backwards, but ultimately decided that opting for "The Devil You Know" was perhaps not such a bad thing. So I'm basically back at my old job, doing pretty much the same stuff, but this time as a contractor working on a per-project basis. I have to admit, it was a nice ego boost to appear back in the office yesterday and have everyone tell me how glad they were to have me back. And, as my sagacious friend Dan likes to say, I'm not selling my soul, I'm just renting it out for a while at a good price.

So let Plan πr² begin! For those of you who haven't been following along at home, the goal is to save up as much travel fundage as possible in the next 6-9 months, rent out the house, and hit the road. We'll also update this site and post to the blog as our plans unfold, so please continue to watch this space! And kindly register, if you haven't already, so we can get some sense of who's reading this thing. You'll get a notification email when a new blog entry has been posted, that's it, I swear.

Happy New Year, everyone! Here's to a 2008 filled with adventure, prosperity, and passion!

Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment
16 October 2007
Back home again

Whew, it is nice to be back in one place after our whirlwind tour of the Pacific Northwest!

I'll be updating this site in the coming days with tales of our adventures in Cali and Oregon. (Check out my first crack at using Google Maps on the "where" page of this site.) But I also need to spend some time updating my mom's site as we rev up the planning for the 2nd Annual Celebrate Joan Memorial 4K-ish Walk on Saturday, November 24. Mark your calendars! Even if you're not able to make it to Allentown for the event, we're encouraging everyone to find a moment to walk off that Thanksgiving turkey, and send us pics.


Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment