I am finally back in North Carolina and it feels GREAT! It was 70 degrees here yesterday and I was riding around with my sunroof open! But I have to tell you, the journey home was a very long and interesting one!!
I got to JFK around 4:15 PM and after going through the ridiculously long customs line, I got my baggage pretty quickly and met my Aunt Rutha outside. She lives about 5 minutes from JFK in Queens so she didn't even park. Everybody else was like, "Oh Niki, aren't you gonna stay and say goodbye to people??" But I just chucked the deuces and headed on my way! So glad to never have to look at those people again. lol
By the time I got to my Aunt's car... it was already 5:30. We literally left the airport and headed south to VA where we stayed the night with my cousin (her son). We got there around 11, and went to sleep around midnight. I think it was when I got to my cousin Randy's house that I realized I'd left my camera on the plane. :( So there will be no pictures in this post. Hopefully, the airline found it and I can get it back soon.
We slept for about 4 hours and then got back on the road. Now for those of you that don't know.... most people take I-95 south to get from Virginia to North Carolina. But on Sunday, my Aunt wanted to take an alternate route that I'd never taken, which is I-81. She told me that we could take this down to Charlotte and then take I-40 back up to Raleigh. So, I got in the car and let her drive the first two hours assuming she was right, because I didn't know any different.
Little did I know that we would wind up at the Tennessee state border and about 3 hours out of the way. I took over the wheel, found a map at a gas station and chose a highway that would get us back in the direction we needed to go. What I didn't realize, however, is that the highway I chose would lead me over the Appalachian mountains! So I drove about 30 miles and over two mountains before we got back to civilization. lol Luckily, I'm a country girl and I've driven through moutains before. When we finally got over the mountains, I realized we were in Boone, NC... which is about 4 hours from Raleigh. At this point, it was noon, and I had been driving since 8 AM... and I was worried that we would be late to the parties we were supposed to be making that afternoon.
I called my roommate to let her know where we were and not to wait for me. She couldn't believe I'd driven through Tennessee and was now in Boone. haha My dad called a little later and LAUGHED at me over the phone! Gotta love dads ;)
Anyway, we made it back in time to make my cousin Mackenzie's birthday party... and from there I headed to Garner to my friend Bobby's party for a bit... where I saw a lot of my friends from high school and college. I left there and caught up with my Garner Crew and ate MORE birthday cake for Amir's birthday.
By this time, it was like 10pm and I hadn't even made it home yet, I was still rolling around town with my suitcases in tow. When I finally made it back to my apartment, it was so wonderful to just sit down, and be able to sleep in my own comfortable bed.
With that said, I didn't leave my bed until 2pm on Monday. It was fantastic! So so glad to be home, you have no idea!
Tuesday, Christmas Eve and Day deserve their own post, so look for that tomorrow!
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.
Ciao for now :)
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
You may think you have great weekend plans but I GUARANTEE mine are better than yours!!
I have been here in Florence for 3 months and 18 days... and in about 7 hours I'll be heading to the airport to start my journey HOME!!!! It's been a great time here and I'm truly satisfied with the time I've spent here but I have to say I'm so glad that I am DONE!
Wish me safe travels, and I'll see you in AMERICA!!
Monday, December 15, 2008
These images are from photographer Denis Darzacq's "Hyper" series. None of them have been photoshopped and there was no special effects equipment used to create these photos! What you see, is really what he photographed. I'm not sure how he was able to get these people to fall like that, or capture it with his camera, but its pretty amazing to look at! For more on Denis Darzacq click here.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
"I think of the work in that way that you have dream images, and the door and the hippopotamus actually represent the same thing. They’re all stemming from the same impulse somehow, which is something like a will toward chaos..." - Kara Walker
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Ali Cavanaugh is a St. Louis native who uses a unique technique to create these stunning paintings. She applies watercolor to plaster panels, very similar to the tradition fresco technique. (Think renaissance masters Michelangelo or Rafael). Her simple subjects are accentuate with breathtaking light and the result speaks volumes! She's had group and solo exhibitions in over 40 galleries across the US and her work is featured in 300 private and public collections all over the world. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Ali is that she has battled hearing loss for most of her life...
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
In my quest to find Black role models in the field of Interior Design I came across this phenomenal woman and was so inspired by her story! She's worked with a ton of celebrity clients but still targets her design company to the masses. She's done retail design, corporate design, stage sets, furniture design.... you name it, she's done it! For examples of her work and more about Ms. Sloane, check out www.courtneysloane.net. Her website is so cool too. Meanwhile, here's an article I found that pretty much sums up how awesome Courtney Sloane is!
"Sloane, who is as expressive in her language as she is in her work, derives her unique designs from her clients' personalities. "Living spaces and work areas should read like an engaging novel," she says. "Every room should tell a different story, and each threshold should invite new and exciting twists while maintaining continuity."
Alternative Design's revenues tell a story of steady growth, with last year's sales reaching around $350,000, and projections for this year at more than $550,000. Sloane is quick to attribute the company's success to the strength of her design team: seven employees including an architect, a full-time designer and a project manager.
Sloane has come a long way since 1991 when she started the business part-time while working as a design consultant for Formica Corp., a Wayne, N.J.-based building products company. Sloane, who attended Rutgers University, says she never saw furniture design as a career option. The reason was she didn't know of any African Americans in the field. In fact, the Washington-based Organization of Black Designers estimates that only 2% of all interior designers (there are more than 70,000 in the U.S.) are black.
Government contracts sustain most black design firms because they lack networking opportunities. However, Alternative Design has survived solely on commercial clients. "I would never get the opportunity to do what I like to do if I had to follow the specs," says Sloane, who enjoys having creative autonomy.
At one time, Alternative Design relied heavily on word-of-mouth marketing and black clients. Now, roughly half of its clients are white and Asian, and Sloane is getting some major play in the press. She is the first African American and one of a handful of female designers to participate in Metropolitan Home magazine's "Signature of Style" campaign for the Design Industries Foundation for AIDS. Sloane will stand head and shoulders with such industry virtuosos as Vincente Wolf, Glenn Gissler, Albert Hadley and Victoria Hagan.
While Sloane is attracting more sophisticated customers, she says that disparity still exists in the industry. There are no ground rules in the billing percentage of interior designers, unlike in the billing practices of architects, who receive a set percentage. Most interior design firms can command anywhere from 10% to 20% per design gig, averaging about $4 million a year. However, the average black design firm commands less "work for work" and "dollar for dollar" than its white counterpart.
Which is one reason Sloane is going global. Alternative Design was recently commissioned by a licensing company to design a commemorative watch for South African President Nelson Mandela." Source