Category Archives: meta

Motown love: Why I’m (still) on the D(etroit) train

Me and baby Vera at the old Tigers' stadium, Corktown, Detroit.

Me and baby Vera at the old Tigers’ stadium, Corktown, Detroit.

This is a post I’ve been kicking around for awhile, and with the news of Detroit’s sad but not unexpected bankruptcy, it seemed more important than ever to get off my chest. I have a feeling about the city that I can best describe as visceral, fierce, and sometimes unjustifiable. It is not a place for those with delicate sensibilities or without serious street smarts. I’ve written a bit of background on why we are thinking of leaving NYC after nearly fifteen years and what we are looking for in a future home, and some musings on what life might be like in another place. Detroit was the city that started our NYC “expat fantasies,” starting as a cheap real estate joke (“Why don’t we just buy a house rather than get a hotel room for the weekend?”), evolving into an appreciation of “ruin porn” and pioneer spirit, and occasionally a bone of contention over its inherent dangers and drawbacks. Despite its fairly serious issues, I have a deep and complicated crush on Detroit I can’t shake off, or even explain easily. While I was originally planning to write a straight-forward list of how it fit my personal qualifications for a home base (the excellent airport and proximity to water are two big pluses), Motown’s charms are less simple and quantifiable than that.

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Escape from New York (?)

My family at Brooklyn Bridge Park, where we were married June 6, 2004.

If you’ve been looking for me on the interwebs, you might want to direct your browser over to KnockedUpAbroadTravels.com, or better yet, Facebook or Twitter.  If you’ve been wondering about all the Detroit links and thoughts about other cities I’ve been posting on those social networks, keep reading. We arrived back in Brooklyn on Labor Day, after a month of travel in New Zealand and South Korea, and over two years living in Istanbul. Since arriving back, in between trips to Target and IKEA (moving back into an apartment after a few years away is nearly as much work as moving anew), we’ve been pondering what’s next for us. Ideally, we’d be packing and planning for another overseas assignment, but as life rarely happens as you plan, we’re looking for a plan B as well as a new place to call home, whether it’s in between expat stints or for the long haul. My husband’s consulting job has moved from client-side to pre-sales, and he can now pretty much work in his underwear from a coffee shop or from home anywhere in the US. Since moving abroad and having a baby, I’ve been working freelance in travel writing (need an article about Istanbul or travel with a baby? Email me) and public relations, and hope to stay more or less at home for a bit longer, especially  in a place where daycare isn’t on par with college tuition.

Perusing real estate ads and feeling a bit confined in our one-bedroom in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, we’ve come to the conclusion that IF we a) sell our apartment with a decent profit AND b) I go back to work full time, we can maybe afford a decent two-bedroom and be slaves to a mortgage and exorbitant NYC daycare costs. OR we could move to Detroit (yes, Detroit, really). But before I get to that, here’s some background on what we are looking for in our next city: Continue reading

Knocked up abroad: the baby travel round-up

Yesterday, I wrote about why I’m traveling with Vera. Since I began traveling with her four months ago, my Knocked Up Abroad column on Gadling has grown up too. What started as a chronicle of my experiences being pregnant in Istanbul and traveling in each trimester has now become an attempt at showing that it is possible to still travel with a baby. I’m fortunate to reach an audience that is already traveling and may also have a baby, and I hope to inspire more parents to travel.

Here’s a quick round-up of my travel-with-baby stories so far:

-The baby-friendly difference: How Turkey is one of the most baby-crazy places in the world and why it makes every day easier.

-Applying for a baby’s passport: The comedy of errors we went through getting Vera’s passport and that silly picture that will serve as her primary ID for the first five years.

-Planning travel with a baby: Choosing and researching a destination, packing light, scheduling around baby, and the merits of an apartment rental.

-Flying with a baby: Going stroller-less, making friends and getting help on the plane and at the airport, and ensuring baby doesn’t cry (much).

-International travel with baby: On-the-ground advice about attitude, planning and then letting go of your itinerary, conversions, and other lessons learned.

-The young family gift guide: The (mostly) Vera-tested, Meg-approved guide to gear and gadgets that make baby travel easier.

Next week, I’ll get into specific destinations like Istanbul, Venice, and London, and how to tackle them with a baby.

Knocked up abroad: into the home stretch

If you’ve been following me on any sort of medium that I update regularly, you’ll know that I’m expecting a baby here in July (just under 7 weeks away now!). H and I haven’t quite decided on what to call this baby girl yet, referring to her as Rasputina or the Young Turkess (though she’ll be as Turkish as I am, which is to say, not at all). I’ve been documenting the pregnancy on Gadling on a series of posts called “Knocked Up Abroad,” a name inspired by our favorite documentary series ever and conceived long before the actual baby. Here’s a recap of the posts so far:

As I head into the home stretch and don’t have any further travel on the horizon, I’m debating on what to post next. I’ll have plenty to share about childbirth and traveling with a young baby (we are already planning trips when she’s 6 and 10 weeks) but not for another few months. My third-trimester travel consists mostly of subway rides to the grocery store, though the Southeast Asia trip was right on the cusp of seven months. I’ve yet to do any actual baby shopping as I haven’t decided on what we need and it’s baffling enough for a first-timer, let alone in a foreign language, but that might come up. Also have been thinking about attitudes toward pregnant women and babies in various countries (Turks LOVE the babies, New Yorkers can’t be bothered to give you a subway seat and sigh loudly at the sight of a stroller), though I’m reluctant to start any debate after reading all the hateful comments on my first post. Anything you’d like to read about being pregnant abroad?

Now even more Notorious on Gadling

As of today, I’m pleased to join the team of one of my favorite travel blogs, Gadling.com. I’ll be writing about the Istanbul expat experience as well various/sundry travel news. I’ll still be posting updates on this blog regularly but please feel free to subscribe to my Gadling RSS feed here. My first posts included a Q & A on my travel favorites and a look at expat bloggers and how they can help travelers. Stay tuned for more!

Week of travel, social media, and being social with (travel) media

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking on a roundtable on travel and social media here in NYC along with travel/Twitter savants luxe travel planner Stacy Small, Kim Mance of Go Galavanting web travel videos, and Brian Simpson of Roger Smith Hotel, all moderated by AnneMarie Dooling from FrillSeekerDiary. Though I’ve gone to theater school and done comedy improv, I was nervous as hell before the panel, as it was hard to think and answer in a remotely insightful way about something I use mostly  to share animal videos and snarky comments, but I think it went well. Excellent recaps have been written up on Sosauce and GoBackpacking, I mostly talked about using social media (primarily Twitter) as a “watercooler” to talk with media/friends (the two groups overlap) about travel news, trends, and the odd viral video, sort of like note passing for adults who sit at desks all day.

The night after the roundtable, I organized a casual bowling night for some travel friends at Leisure Time Bowl in Port Authority (chosen for its central location and transportation offerings, but also rather spiffy). Why bowling? It started last fall when I happened to spend an afternoon bowling downtown and noticed a remarkably diverse crowd of bowlers: children’s birthday parties, NYU frat kids, hipsters, etc. I spoke to the waitress who told me it’s also popular with foreign travelers, particularly with kids, as bowling is the same in every language. This is just the sort of quirky travel fact that would appeal to my friend Robert Reid of Lonely Planet, so we began talking about a travel meetup/Tweetup with bowling. Good times ensued over a yard (or two) of beer, Bulgaria talk, and bowling lore. Shouts out to Paul Brady, who tried to teach me how to to do that leg lift thing that guys do when bowling; Erik Trinidad of the ever-brilliant Fancy Fast Food, who made sure nachos were ordered; Jauntsetter Dorothy with her sparkly new ring; Sean O’Neill of Budget Travel, who bowled an impressive turkey or two; Robert for being my Brooklyn subway home buddy, and Sam for spending part of his first trip to the US in a bus station.* Post script: While looking up the leg lift thing, I found this fascinating article on bowling for amputees, but the always-delightful Mary Roach.

That weekend, I found myself braving the snow to the Javits Center for the New York Times Travel Show to visit a few clients with booths on the showroom floor, attend a few seminars, and avoid the swag-grabbing masses. Last year, I took H. along to the show who made me sign up for every free trip at the show, causing me hours of time “unsubscribing” to newsletters and emails the following week. Also last year, I saw a sloth at the Busch Gardens booth and it started an obsession (who knew they were so cuddly and sweet looking?!), but this year I only spotted some penguins (arguably cuter, but much more common). Travel swag and animal displays aside, I attended a few seminars of interest: What do Women Want in Travel? and Travel Through the Eyes of Travel Writers. The audiences and messages could not have been more different: women apparently want security, bonding with other women, and some sort of indulgence (i.e. spas, Italian food) and travel writers like to get to know a place by getting lost, drunk, and friendly with locals. Of course, that’s a massive generalization but I almost wished that the two groups could have listened to each other: maybe the 60-year-old widow traveling independently for the first time *should* try riding a public bus or visiting France just for the cheese, and maybe the travel writer should spend a weekend doing a cooking class with a multi-generational family to see how and why the vast majority of non-industry people travel.

After a visit to meet and pet Mike Barish’s new dog Heath (hey buddy, hope you are less scared next time!), I rounded out the night with David Farley’s Restless Legs Reading Series, which I’ve attended with religious fervor for the past year and a half. Blogger Chris Gray Faust wrote up a great post about it here (I’m happy to have been the person who invited her), and notes how Farley called it an “after party” for the NYT Travel Show. It’s a good analogy in general for the series, while I’ve gone to drink and chat with dozens of writers over the series, I don’t see it as a networking event as much as a chance to be introduced to travel writing I may not have known about and talk with like-minded people. As much as social media has given me a way to meet journalists and other travelers it’s never going to take the place of happy hour or making an ass of yourself in rented shoes.

*Lack of bowling shout outs for Rachel, Greta, Anna, Ashley and Chris due to lack of blogs to link to, doesn’t mean I don’t love you or you did not impress me with your fine bowling skills! The two strikes bowled in the 10th frames bowled by Rachel are not likely to be forgotten in this lifetime.

New (blog) home

After several years of erratic blogging on Vox, I decided to bit the bullet with an official domain to embrace the silly internet username I’ve used since Biggie Smalls died. I’m anticipating some big adventures this year and intend to document frequently.

At least, more frequently than usual.

My 15 minutes

Husband has been away for the last three weeks on business in Japan and will be gone for another two months (I’ll be visiting him in May, expect a recap sometime around December, at this rate).  Rather than writing blog posts (like a boss. Sorry, can’t get that out of my head) about recent trips to Istanbul and Cartagena as I planned, I’ve been furthering my Twitter obsession and enjoying a bit of fame as a travel publicist, writer/blogger, er, the Notorious M.E.G.

Recently, serious travel journo Rolf Potts started a debate about whether or not to tweet* while traveling.  I felt the need to contribute my two cents:

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I Heart My City – Brooklyn

National Geographic Traveler‘s excellent Intelligent Travel blog is doing an awesome series on “I Heart My City” with residents from all over the world filling out a questionnaire on their city faves.  Inspired by some excellent entries on Minneapolis, Baltimore, Santiago, here is my city.

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Tweet in Review

Okay, so I’m a little late to this, but feel I can’t go forward without reviewing last week’s Twitter posts (notice I’ve added a feed to the side of this page):

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