Before I Go on Staycation…

June 21, 2012, Washington, DC: I’m planning to take a little staycation. I’m not going anywhere and I’ll most certainly be back — just taking a brief hiatus from regular blog posts to reflect on this year’s project and collect my thoughts concerning what happens next. New ideas are keeping me up at night and I couldn’t be more excited. I look forward to sharing them with you soon.

Before I go, I invite you to participate here on Neighborhood Nomad. Your stories about why you love where you live are intriguing and inspiring. They reinforce the power of place and they remind us of the extent to which our geography shapes us. Collecting and producing reader interviews has been one of the best parts of this effort so far, and every single one of you has distinctive stories to tell about the rhythms of your home, your neighborhood, your town or your city. Shoot me a note. Tell me more about your hometown.

More to come! As always, I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday in Eastport

April 21, 2012, Annapolis, MD: We’re not in Eastport much anymore, not since we moved from Annapolis back to DC. Just across Spa Creek from historic downtown Annapolis, the Maritime Republic of Eastport as it’s called these days is a place with a rebellious spirit much like my birthplace of Westmount on the edge of Montreal. Legend has it that Eastport residents here on the peninsula called Horn Point declared their independence from Annapolis over beers at a neighborhood pub in 1998. That fall, Eastport residents challenged Annapolis residents to a rowdy tug-of-war stretching across the water in a show of strength that has since become a local tradition. It was the first tradition we witnessed here the weekend we moved to Annapolis back in 2009.

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Hidden Beauty & Unnoticed Oddities

February 28, 2012, Washington, DC: We tend to see it when we travel, but not so much when we return back home. Hidden beauty just around the corner. Unnoticed oddities right under our noses. Rarities we tend to forget are not the norm as they gradually become a steady part of our everyday scene. We notice these things away from home. We’re less observant back on familiar ground.

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Winter in My Native Montreal

December 28, 2011, Montreal: If there’s one thing I’ve heard over the years about what it means to be from Montreal, it’s that Montreal winters don’t get you down. Nevermind the weather; those from Montreal get out. They go about their days. They are outdoorsy people passionate about winter sports. The evidence is clear in my parent’s photos from the 1970s of sledding by Beaver Lake, playing hockey in Westmount, and meandering between ice sculptures downtown. To visit in summer and declare you understand what it’s like to live here would make you a liar. You need to see for yourself that a little snow and ice isn’t enough to shut in the residents of Montreal. Despite many years spent south of the Mason-Dixon line, today — well, I guess that includes me.

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Observations From 100 Posts

November 30, 2011, Washington, DC: This morning marks a milestone: My 100th blog post. Not only have I made it this far, but the list of ideas for future posts is longer than ever. Funny what happens when you dip a toe in the water.

What have I learned through the course of 100 posts? Have there been many surprises? Unexpected challenges or observations? Several of you have asked. Read on for lessons and reflections 100 posts in. (Then come back for blog post 101.)

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Perfectly Peregrine

November 23, 2011, Washington, DC: About once a week, I stop into Peregrine Espresso by Eastern Market on my way out of the city. With each early visit, I grow more envious of my neighbors who spend the morning here, hunched over their laptops, strong coffee in hand, comfortably working in the bright shop surrounded by wide, lime green, horizontal stripes adorning its walls. Some coffee shops are afternoon joints — rainy day places that lure you in with big armchairs, dark furnishings and quiet strength. Peregrine is most certainly meant for mornings. Its floor-to-ceiling front window, its hardwood floors, its geometric artwork, and its limited, cut-to-the-chase drink menu welcome you to wake up. Here is an atmosphere that encourages you to caffeinate. To sit up straight. To stay sharp. I always hate to leave with coffee to go rather than dive in right here.

This morning, I am one of the lucky ones. Today I am working from home.

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Neighborhood Nomad: Sara’s Brooklyn Ballroom

This is the first in a series featuring the neighborhoods and living spaces that readers call home. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomad.

November 20, 2011, Washington, DC: Sara is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met in the first grade in Baltimore, Md., stayed in close touch after my family moved away, and eventually became college roommates in two adjoining 80-square-foot dorm rooms in Manhattan. When Sara first emailed me this summer about her new place in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, I couldn’t picture it. “I found a new apartment just a couple of blocks away from my current one,” she wrote. “Let’s just say I think my new apartment used to be the ballroom!”

Then she sent a photo. Wow. Then I saw for myself last weekend. Double wow.

Read on for an interview (and photos!) with Sara about her Brooklyn Ballroom.

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