Words of inspiration: Carpe Diem

While the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ can be both beloved and dreaded in the travel community – it is equally a call to arms and an overused ideal that people either want to kill or scream at every chance – what I am talking about is a book that inspired me to travel over a decade ago, but one that I think many may have missed out on: Autumn Cornwell’s 2007 debut novel, Carpe Diem.

I don’t want to go into to much detail on what the book is about – that’s what a google search is for – but in simplest terms: A type A, overachiever – Vasser, 16 years old – wants to stay home and study all summer, but instead gets whisked off on a crazy, trouble filled adventure across Southeast Asia.

I read this a decade ago and still when little things go wrong in any trip I take, this is the book that I can’t stop thinking of. Mostly, this is a scene almost half way through the book and is a fairly long running crisis where Vasser has some …. intestinal distress. This chronically instances from socks lost to toilets and how you try to explain this to cute fellow travelers to the worse possible places for vehicles to have bathrooms – waist-high boxes with circular openings that you must climb in a moving vehicle will always give me chills!

I love books and when an author can make me remember one specific scene and have perfect detail and emotional recall that always finds me when I am in similar situations, it is a book I want to keep around.

Carpe Diem was this book to me and I can never recommend it enough. I laughed, I hid, I fell in love and I was inspired to get out of my house and more than ever, make sure I was out in the world.

So go out there and bring your book and inspiration with you.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Words of inspiration: Carpe Diem

Book Nerd: Kansas City Public Library

… Kind of…

The Community Bookshelf. Kansas City Public Library, Central Branch. Kansas City, Missouri. 1 July 2017.

Welcome back, my lovely book nerds and tack another quick stop (if only to enjoy some time with pictures) into your Global book nerd to-do list. For those following along as more than book nerds – ie. the current Kansas saga or my life and travels in general – this is a continuation of my odd-date involving Ryan driving me around Kansas City and following me around odd places, like this book wall.

The first thing you ought to know is that you need to research which branch you are visiting within Kansas City. This book wall is located at the central branch, but we accidentally hit another before we made it there, but the branches are relatively close by car so if you get a little turned around, it’s not too bad.

Also, while this wall is lovely (and I loved playing around with it), there have been changes since the pictures that pop up on Google were posted and, truthfully, the book-wall is not actually part of the library, but the parking lot located next to the library. The trees have grown a lot which means there is a lot of shade, but the view of this amazing wall is really obstructed, especially in whole. Still, I loved looking at these large spines and the staircases into the parking garage – usually overlooked – which are a pile of stone books (yes, I definitely took pictures on them – I am a nerd), even if it had nothing to do with physical books or reading.

This being said, I will never say no to popping into the actual library when you are here – every place like this deserves all the love they can get.

Again, this is a quick stop and a quick post, but if you are in the area, stop by and enjoy yourself!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Book Nerd: Kansas City Public Library

For the Want of a Tech-Plane…

It seems odd in our day and age of everyone from our oldest citizens to our youngest plugged in at all times – smart watches to mini-computers on our phones and tablets to digital book readers to individual TVs on airplanes – that any planes that travel across the country (I’m talking the 5 hour flight across the continental United States or the equivalent LA to Hawaii plane ride) could not be built to keep up with us.

The majority of  planes will have all the extravagances we’ve come to somehow need from an USB port to your individual television that allows you to pick your own entertainment – whether games, shows, movies or radio – but, as I learned coming home from Boston, not all these planes have been updated. Again, I’m not talking the dingy plane from LA to San Francisco here (this flight is an hour so, of course, you don’t have time to use the extra amenities).

With this in mind, it’s important to always have some back up supplies whenever you are planning on getting into an airplane – especially if you have little ones! And I know that I have spent the last two weeks talking about what a pain it is to have stuff in a carry-on bag when space is limited, but if you pick well, these are a few things you really should have.

1. Book/Book Reader.

Personally, I am a classic book person – paper and weight – however, I fully understand peoples love of electronic book readers that allow you to bring as many books with you as you want with none of the heft to worry about. If you bring the electronic version (and this really goes for anything that needs a plug to charge), you must, must, must pre-charge! Not to mention bringing all of the needed chargers so you have something to read on the way back. Again, I love a book-book – no need to charge, worry about the charge, and I love the feel of weight transfer that happens once you get passed the center of a novel.

If you don’t remember to pack one – or if you haven’t hit a book store in time for getting to the airport – stop by the airport bookstore. Many novels have started getting their start here and the variety is seriously worth looking through. I have worked in publishing and the airport novel is a real thing!

2. A portable battery pack.

These come in all shapes, sizes, and loads now and, if you plan on using your phone, you will really want one. Again there are things you will really need to check here. Just like any other electronic, you must charge this before hand or it really won’t do you any kind of good. Remember that the charger for the battery pack is not usually the same as the chord you use to charge from the pack but you will need both. Finally, remember that these really are necessary when you’re on a lower tech plane since they won’t have the installed USB ports!

3. Sketchpad/Notebook.

If you are stuck on an airplane for hours, why not let yourself get creative? Take the time to unplug from everything – for me, this excludes music – and just go for it. If you want, here are a few ideas to get you going. First, on one short ride (an hour which was more like 40 minutes with take off and landing) I did a sketch page of character poses and designs – no erasers and just go. Don’t forget to write the start and finishing time as well as your when and where.  My second suggestion is for sketching or writing. Put your music on shuffle and for every song write a small ficlet or a small sketch inspired by the song but only lasting as long as the song plays (this means 2-5 minute outputs) and again, title and date them.

This mean you most definitely need to remember your supplies (whatever those may be), including sharpeners, extra lead and erasers, just in case.

4. Downloaded movie.

Sometimes, despite all the data telling us we should, we just don’t want to unplug. Our lives are so busy, all we want is a few hours we have to spend on a plane catching up on a new movie we missed or an old favorite that just lets you unwind. Again, you have to bring your charger because you will definitely need it – and remember that you’ll have to really think about your device! Everything from storage and data needs to size may cause you issues. You can also look at what your airline offers. You may not have all the built in tech features but you may get wifi and some have downloadable offerings – all you have to do is bring the device to play the features.

5. A personalized Sleep Kit.

Another way to unplug is to just take a nap. This isn’t always easy with aisle sizes shrinking, more people in the plane, and all the other noises that are just part of plane travel You can customize this for your own particular needs. You can pack everything from melatonin or other sleep aids, eye mask, ear plugs, ect. Then if you want to really use the time to get in the beauty routine, consider adding in your favorite, hard working moisturizer, eye cream, and lip balm. Flying is rough on your skin and it’s a flight, not a runway show; why not use the time to your benefit?

That’s it for my suggestions. And let’s just be honest, whether you flight is tech’ed out or not, if you pack well and make your choices based on your needs, are any of these really a problem to pack?

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

For the Want of a Tech-Plane…

The Fable, London….

A book-nerd AND foodie paradise.

Sorry it’s a little blurry! The Fable, London. January 2016.

I’m back in London!

Okay, well I was. This week is quite hectic – well, the next two week really. This week I’m graduating with my master’s degree (today in London) after spending a day in Cardiff and (re)wandering my old London haunts. Now I’m writing from a Paris-bound train for a four day stop over. Then it’s home to LA for a day before flying back east for three(!) job interviews.

I’m tired just typing that!

Anyway, on to the books and food:

Last time I left London (a month ago), I was a bit disappointed that I never managed to hit any of the amazing looking bookstore bars listed on Chelsey Pippen’s Buzzfeed article.  While a good chunk of these were hard/impossible to hit due to distance, timing, or inaccessible to the public (private clubs with higher pay-ins than I am ever expecting to be able to shell out), I was over the moon to be able to hit the trendy and book themed The Fable Bar and Grill. Absolutely everything about this location has me raving!

There are three levels to this space – the upper floor bar, the middle floor which looked like an event space, and the lowest level which serves as the grill and where book nerds will want to spend most of their time.

Pictured here and on the gallery portion of the site, Fable houses some awesome décor which surrounds you while you get to dine on beautifully crafted dishes.

IMG_8206.JPGWe entered the top-most floor and took the inner stairs down to the grill following this whimsical neon sign, ready to be Alice once again whisked down the rabbit hole.

As we were dinning early on a Monday, there wasn’t a crowd but they do recommend making a reservation just in case. The site has a reservation form online which is easy to complete but you should call ahead at least the morning of or day before depending on which meal you are looking for as sometimes thee forms don’t make it through – this happens everywhere, of course, so nothing against Fable.

IMG_8210 (2).JPGWe were tempted to cuddle into the amazing book nook – who wouldn’t! – but decided to save it for a larger group,opting for one of the tables near the windows so we could people watch.

The food was amazing – tasty and well portioned for every dish we ordered. I got the butternut squash risotto followed by a brownie a la mode and was more than happy with both the price and that ‘just right’ full feeling.

You should definitely read all of the menus including the descriptions because there are some truly awesome details and titles in there. Even If you don’t drink, the drink menu is well worth the gander – like the “Winter is Coming” cocktail and the Tipsy Affogato, an alcoholic pour-over coffee dessert which is presented in a pair of tea cups!

The whole look of the grill begs for pictures and, as long as you are respectful of servers and other diners, the staff won’t say anything about you taking a quick wander around the dining room for a few pictures – as long as you are a customer obviously! In fact, all of the staff we talked to while wandering and eating were awesome.

This is one stop in London I would recommend to anyone, but to book-nerds in particular. It’s a treat that you can go to over and over again!

But that’s all the raving I can do for now, so below I’ll add in any last pictures as they say so much more than I ever could and until next week,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

The Fable, London….

The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles….

Not really (or not yet and hopefully it won’t be) but isn’t that a catchy name?

Whole gallery. Los Angeles, California. January 2016.

This past weekend my dad (FINALLY!) drove us down into the city to visit one of the most amazing bookstores I have ever seen (and I’ve gone to quite a few): The Last Bookstore.

This bookstore, located at 5th and Spring in downtown LA, is a large two story building which, beyond just selling books, houses small art boutiques and other varied nooks.

What I loved about this building’s construction is it’s not built like a regular two story shop. Rather, you have a first story which for the most part looks like your average bookstore – there are books lined up on rows of bookcases, but the second floor has a balcony view down to the shopping floor. This second floor houses the boutiques as well as a book section called “The Labyrinth”.

The Labyrinth is made up of sci-fi and fantasy books (as well as other related genres), then the “decorative books” which are colorful books which you wouldn’t read but look fun on the shelves. This floor made me feel like Alice lost in a wonderful Wonderland of books. They were configured in an enclosed hallway as well as a looking glass (aka a nice book frame perfect for getting your picture taken through). The stacks on this level a staggered rather than organized rows which leads the search for your next read to fell like an adventure all your own, wandering through this labyrinth.

Within the labyrinth is also one of the stores many themed nooks—the horror nook. The door to this section is a vault door!

There are a range of book nooks organized by genre with fun labels done up in creative ways, making these sections so much fun. A few of these include the graphic novel and rare book sections. The main stacks also have fun shelf labels (though I can’t name any for the life of me) as well as great section signs which are hung from pipe rails. I loved the industrial designs contrast with the Grecian/Roman pillars.

The stairs up to the second floor, as well as a few other places throughout, have book and paper themed art littering the walls and almost everything is free for you to photograph (some of the galleries ask you not to for obvious reasons). I love the large Mammoth head mounted on one wall off set by twinkle lights hanging above on the second store railing. Let’s not forget the checkout desk which is designed to look like a huge stack of books!

This whole store is so eclectic! I just wanted to live here!

There are also couches and armchairs on both levels which you can stop and take a break at, however, they ask that you don’t take a nap or use the space as a library, again for obvious reasons (it’s still a store!).

This is another cool bookstore which offers to purchase your good condition, used books so you can come prepared! You will also have to check bags and show your receipt when leaving but it’s all worth the hours you can spend here.

This is an amazing store which brings in a lot of people both interested in shopping and in exploring and taking pictures, and both are accepted. My final plea if you do get the chance to visit is to purchase at least on book and help keep The Last Bookstore running—it really is a treasure worth keeping around!

All in all, I’m a happy book nerd!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Ps. here’s a gallery of pictures from our adventure!

The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles….

Alice’s Adventures Underground…

And everywhere else!

Flamingo walls. Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Since September, I’ve been feeling a bit lost in Wonderland—or, in my case, London. It’s a place so much like home and yet so strangely different in its details that I find myself feeling a bit like a wandering Alice in a new mad world where I’m never quite sure if I’ve slipped through the looking glass forever or if I’m just searching for the best path home.

And then, within my wanderings, I began to notice that London has developed its own Alice fever… the girl is everywhere from emerging patters and silhouettes and color themes in fashion to afternoon teas (1,2,3,4), to advertised events across the city (1,2,3,4,5), even stamps! It’s only recently that I discovered why:

2015 is the 150th Anniversary of Alice and Wonderland’s first publication.

The celebrations are bigger than any un-birthday the Hatter and Hare could ever come up with, but many are probably just as mad.

Of all these events, the maddest of them all would have to be the interactive experience worth visiting again and again: Alice’s Adventures Underground.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.
Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

I was able to attend this event a few weeks back, in what one website led me to believe was the last weekend, and it was an amazing evening. And, luckier still, the event is NOT over. In fact, it’s running through August, which means I’ll be lining up to go at least one more time-seriously, I’ve booked the tickets!

This event has multiple parts from a children’s show, a literary talk series, the interactive experience for the more grown up folk and a club area that stays open later, each of which has a separate ticket and therefore price—make sure you’re buying for the right thing! (The children show is for children; no adult permitted without child—check that ticket!)

In this post, I’ll be focusing on the Interactive show.

Since this is ongoing and who knows which of you might be gearing to go out, I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll tell you a little more about what you are in for than the main website does:

So, what you’ll learn from the website is that this is an interactive show based on the works by Lewis Carroll. You’ll get to explore a unique version of Wonderland by being part of it, all located within the bowels of The Vaults under Waterloo station.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

When you pick your time, you should be aware that you MUST arrive 15 minutes before that allotted time (again, this is on the site), however, if you want to have something to drink when you get to the in-world tea party (you must prepay and pre-order before going into the show), get in the right mind set, have a pre-show drink, go to the bathroom, check your coats and bags (it costs 1 pound for each checked item), or anything else you feel you need to do, get there even earlier. It’s also a little bit crazy trying to find the entrance so set out earlier than you think you need to; you’ll thank me later.

There is also a dress code: you are in the land of the Queen of Hearts so it’s all red and black here.

Please, guys, for me (yes, this is begging) stick to the dress code! One thing I hadn’t realized before this adventure was that I’m an Alice. My wardrobe would be fit for playing the character, all blues and collars and, with my blond hair and petite frame, even the actors played with the resemblance! Still, there were a few blues popping in and out of groups and it was the biggest pain as someone who was embracing the whole experience. Seriously, enjoy the night and go all in—it’s more fun that way!

Like I said, you have to check your coat and bag, but I encourage you to keep cash on you. You are let out into a great club space where you can get more drinks and some food, and while you can go back and get your stuff and return to eat, it’s just easier if you have the cash stashed on your person. And it’s hot down there, so keep your layers light.

Now, onto the stuff they don’t tell you:

The set is amazing and you will have choices as you interact within it. You enter in through this maze of boxes which let out into a room full of artifacts; pictures hanging from the ceiling, book shelves climbing the walls at impossible angles, mirrors and toys. Take a wander and explore—it’s not exactly a museum so you can touch, just don’t disrupt anything. Beware: don’t get too close to the walls as the doors are hidden and spring open to let you down the next passage ways.

Storytelling wise, you are entering Wonderland after Alice has come and gone, her name and person is a banned subject. The black cards (the clubs and spades) are part of an uprising in Wonderland, fighting to take down the King and Queen of Hearts. The reds (Hearts and Diamonds), on the other hand, are solving the conspiracy against said royals. Each suit will follow its own adventure—even coming in a group won’t guarantee you’ll all stay together, so you should choose if you want to try sticking together as much as you can or all meet up at the end of the line.

If you are anxious about talking to characters or being approached, you should be aware that it’s possible that this is going to happen. You can either fight through or, if you are struggling, an actor will help you out. Even then, you very rarely have to do anything completely on your own. Don’t not go because you don’t want to be singled out—it’s worth it, I promise.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

When you do get to the end, don’t think this is just a room with a band. Besides the wandering characters (who are definitely worth having a chat with), live music, and food, there is a maze that leads through to a second bar as well as the makings of a royal flamingo croquet course for you to play with some friends (through the “PIES” door and up the stairs). This is also the only space besides the pre-show room that you are allowed to take pictures in—yes, of and with the wandering characters as well.

That’s all you’re getting from me, at least, for now. Let me know with a comment if you have any questions and I’m sure to answer what I can. Also, here’s a master list I found with other Wonderland inspired events going on in and around London, so check your local listings.

Remember: It’s a mad world and we’re all mad here, but the best people usually are…

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Alice’s Adventures Underground…

Book Nerd: Hatchard’s, Piccadilly

The first to visit, the last to post… for a little while, at least.

These are really worth a read as you wander! Hatchard's, Piccadilly, London. January 2015.
These are really worth a read as you wander! Hatchard’s, Piccadilly, London. January 2015.

If you guys have been tracking, I announced this Book nerd adventure back in January and since then I’ve definitely been in and out of a lot of book sellers—and I’ve loved it. But in my haste to get everything else done for my travels and keeping you up to date on other things, I skipped the first store that actually got me started on this –now global—adventure: Hatchard’s in Piccadilly.

The Piccadilly store front’s claim to fame comes down to being the UK’s oldest book shop (established in 1797), but wandering inside, you would never know that this space was anywhere near that age.

Growing up in LA, the only bookstores I had really available to run around in were chains like Borders and Barnes & Nobles that were attached to malls—and even those numbers are dwindling. These major retailers housed their wares in open plan spaces where the only divisions of the room—except for floors—were the book cases breaking things down by genre. These were not interesting architectural places or mazes to lose yourself in, in a nod to Alice wandering the expanding world of wonderland; they were simply spaces you went to get the books you needed before continuing along with your shopping needs.

So, while I am now quite used to the world of creative book spaces and aesthetic draw of the booksellers I’ve looked at so far, walking into Hatchard’s was my first real experience of a bookstore as more than a building to buy a book or two.

I’d chosen this shop as my first for a few reasons: I was in need of books to read on the trains and such before heading out to France for reading week; it’s the oldest bookshop in the UK (!); I knew the general area and it wasn’t too far from where I live; and, finally, I had a class assignment where I had to go and observe a space and the way people interacted with it—a bookstore seemed like just the place to get everything I needed in one go.

Like I said, this was my first trip, so (after a few minutes of searching for the shop and getting turned around in the little streets surrounding it on the way) when I walked in and began to wander, I was pretty much floored.

A glimps of the lovely little details. Hatchard's, Piccadilly, London. January 2015.
A glimpse at the lovely little details. Hatchard’s, Piccadilly, London. January 2015.

This store is pretty much the opposite of open planned. Rather, each of the 5 floors (3 up from the ground floor and one below) is made up of rooms and passageways for customers to wander through.

And, boy, did I wander.

I found myself loving the feel of this store with its great central staircase and the quality it held, less like a maze (like Shakespeare and Co in Paris or the mammoth which is the Strand in New York) andmore like a labyrinth, where each room falls into a path which has a clear pattern to wander through.

It’s been a while since I visited the shop so you’ll have to excuse some of my lack of details, but one thing still stands out to me: there were a few areas that had chairs and even a couch where shoppers had set themselves up to work. Unlike most establishments where people congregate, this wasn’t a café setting one would see in any other bookshop. Rather these were small niches throughout the store where people were working on various project, none of which had anything to do with being in a bookshop. Again, coming from the dwindling market of Los Angeles, this was a completely foreign sight to behold.

But to wrap this up: Hatchard’s is a great space with a lovely and large range of books as well as an easy air which makes you understand wanting to sit down and stay for a while. Although—as my teacher felt compelled to remind—this is not a discount bookstore and, for where it’s located, you can definitely see why keeping the aesthetics at top marks would be so important.

Still, if you are in the area, this is a stop I’d recommend to you fellow bookies, there is an atmosphere, books, and some history in these walls—what else do you need?

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

ps. As I said, this’ll be the last book nerd post for a little while, but we’re not closing the book on this chapter forever. So, next week we’ll get back to other travel stuff. But for now: Love you, awesome book nerds.

Book Nerd: Hatchard’s, Piccadilly