Tonight marks the first night of the Democratic National Convention, a night that I would typically avoid like the plague. But tonight, I just happened to be stuck in the car for a 45-minute drive. I tuned in public radio and the Democratic National Convention actually pulled me in… speech after speech. Finally at home, I watched Michelle Obama’s speech on television. She said everything that I had hoped to hear. And actually it was everything that I needed to hear.

I became a reluctant supporter of Obama only after Hillary threw her support behind him. But tonight, my reluctance melted away. I finally understand the enthusiasm of the Obama supporters. These words from Michelle changed my view:

They’ll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming.”

John Mayer rocking at Merriweather

John Mayer rocking at Merriweather

Thanks to my friend and fellow blogger Jenny from the Farm, I got my first taste of John Mayer last night at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.

The night started with a traffic backup as I tried to get into the Merriweather parking lot. Next came the people backup as we tried to get to the gates. Jenny even got bumped by a distracted driver, literally hit by a car! It all happened when we were staring at the underage, drunk teenagers getting citations from an undercover police officer. The girls were bawling, just feet away from big jug bottles of rum and vodka. Boo hoo!

We finally got inside the gates and dashed to our seats, hoping to outrun the rain that started falling. Little did we know that the rain would follow us to our seats. Yes, for $70, you too can get dripped on at Merriweather! The center seating is covered by wood, but the wings are covered by industrial tent-like tarps. And apparently Merriweather owners haven’t done any maintenance. When the torrential downpour started, the hole above my head just started dumping rain on me and my seat. Luckily, there was no one in the seat to my right, so I sat there and covered my actual seat with a raincoat and umbrella.

The actual concert was great fun. I always pictured John Mayer as a mellow rocker, especially after my friend caught him in concert a few years ago opening for the Rolling Stones. She called him the most boring concert singer ever!

Well, John must’ve turned over a new leaf. He couldn’t stop rocking out. Literally, he kept running to the front of the stage just to show off his gleaming guitar and to do the usual lead-singer-with-guitar moves. And it helped that he was wearing a tank top, just to show off all his tattoos.

John Mayer even talks about it in his blog, saying he got the chance to fulfill his rock band dreams at Merriweather when he turned over the microphone to his backup singer/guitarist David Ryan Harris to sing the Van Halen oldie, but goodie “Panama.” John took his shirt off just for the song and proceeded to show off his underlying rock star persona.

Here’s a video of “Panama” from that night… just listen to the crowd roar when he takes off his shirt.

And thanks to John’s baggy, low-riding pants and slipping underwear, I got to see more than I bargained for… a little of John’s patootie crack during the song. I gotta say it made up for the $70 dripping wet seats.

Seriously, it was a fun concert and made me rethink my notions of him and his music. I couldn’t stop saying, “He dated Jessica Simpson?”

I gotta say I’m a fan now! Thanks Jenny for the introduction to him and his music!

I saw “Sex in the City” again this weekend. My friend hadn’t seen the movie and I couldn’t let a “Sex in the City” fan go without seeing the movie, so I offered to join her for the flick, part deux. And I’ve got to say… the movie is still good the second time around! I still laughed. I still cried. I just can’t help it… the movie offers it all.

Now, if I could just dress like Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte or Samantha… anyone want to treat me to some Manolos?

Okay, I just wanted to muse about all the Canadian geese around Montgomery County. Geese fly, but they never, ever take flight when it comes to crossing the road. Seriously, why is that? They line up in a perfect straight long and walk across the road. And they do it so slowly!

It is hilarious to see motorists come to a halt, just to let the geese pass by. Literally, traffic comes to a standstill for these geese, which most people consider a nuisance. But no one would ever consider hitting them with a car. Some motorists try blasting their horns to no avail. Geese just seem to be in their own world, living for the grass in the median strips of county roadways.

I went to see the “Sex in the City” movie this weekend with my friend Amy. In the theater, we were surrounded by women of every race, culture and age because “Sex in the City” is ultimately about two truths – love and friendship. They are what every woman wants. And I am no exception. I have the friendships down pat and feel blessed to have such wonderful women in my life, from a dear sister to sorority/college friends, work friends, high school friends and now grad school friends.

But I am still searching for love and the movie fed into that fantasy. Yes, I know it is just a movie. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha are just characters as are their men. But there is still something to be said about romance, passion and friendship all found in that special someone who pledges to love you and be your partner in life. I want my own Mr. Big (plot spoiler warning: without leaving me at the aisle), Steve (plot spoiler warning: without the cheating) or Harry! But like the early Carrie Bradshaw, I’m still a single girl in the city, building my career and spending time with my friends. I hold out hope that my search for love will end much like Carrie’s in the movie… happily ever after.

While most people camped out next to their BBQ over Memorial Day weekend, I joined my sister and a friend for a tour of Central Virginia wine country. On the way to Charlottesville, we hit Keswick, Horton and Barboursville Vineyards and had completely different experiences at each one.

Keswick offered one-on-one pours from one of the winery’s employees. We didn’t have to battle for attention or space at the tasting room. The employee knew his wines and the vineyards, giving us background on the owners and the site’s history. The vineyard also managed to keep its wines unique in flavor, focusing on quality rather than quantity. I purchased the Verdejo for its crisp, citrus flavor; the Trevillian for the smooth, berry finish; and the Norton wine, featuring a native Virginian grape in a deep red color and fresh taste.

And then there was Horton. My advice… stay away! We walked in, not to the sweet smell of wine, but to the owner’s cigarette smoke wafting from his ashtray next to the tasting room. While there was no charge for the wines, we quickly learned why… they all tasted the same. With 25 or so wines, nothing separated the first white from the second, third or even tenth wine. And the winery had absolutely no consistency in the labels. Every single one looked completely different, giving you no indication that the labels came from the same place. We kept tasting, hoping to find a gem in the mix, but the search yielded nothing that made us smile or want to buy. We walked out and didn’t look back.

We got to Barboursville Vineyards as soon as possible, hoping to remedy the bad experience at Horton. We found another gem, but while the wines tasted delicious, the crowds were a bit frustrating. The first employee, who poured the whites, kept asking us to step away from the bar so that others could walk up. This did not allow for any type of conversation or interaction with her. When we did try to engage her, she did not seem to be especially knowledgeable. In fact, she admitted that she really does not drink wine. Despite this, I must say that the Riesling was delicious, the right mix of citrus flavors and natural sweetness. The Phileo dessert wine was also a treat!

When we visited the second employee, who manned the red wines, she welcomed conversation and questions about the wines. She did not mind if we stayed by the bar, sipping and talking. Given that the winery’s winemaker and owner are Italian, I enjoyed the Barbera that she served and appreciated the Nebbiolo. Again, I walked out as the proud owner of three new wines for my collection. Barboursville helped end our day on a high note!

On Sunday, we visited Jefferson Vineyards, a nice winery nestled in the farmland near Jefferson’s home of Monticello. We had to wait for a spot at the bar, which took some time. Overall, the wines tasted nice, but nothing as distinct as our favorites at Keswick and Barboursville. We did not purchase any, but I would return and would happily purchase bottles at a wine store. A good end to the weekend…

To sum up:

1. My favorite – Keswick, for the overall experience and wine quality

2. Barboursville – great wines, but crowds and one inexperienced employee put this vineyard in second place

3. Jefferson – solid, overall pleasing wines

A very distant 4. Horton – if you like good wine, I advise you to skip this winery and spend more time at the other vineyards.

In the end, the weekend lived up to its promise… beautiful scenery, good friends and family, tasty food, and delicious wine! Cheers!

I have been decidedly absent from my blog. My vows of keeping my blog going were thrown out the window once I finished up the semester. Yes, I still like blogging, but life took over.

It’s almost as if my grad school classes kept my life at bay. I went out with friends and family during the semester, but I kept many of my week nights free for classwork. When the classes ended, the flood gates opened and I filled every night with something. It really didn’t matter what–dinner with friends, dinner with family, meetings or errands. I just had to get out and away from my laptop.

It has felt so good to have all this time on my hands and absolutely no homework. I feel as if I have finally caught up with friends. I even feel more productive at my day job because I am not stressing about homework assignments. These last few weeks have been–dare I say it–refreshing and fun!

But all good things come to an end. In my head, I have a countdown clock that is ticking its way toward Tuesday, May 20 – the start of summer classes. I’ve even gone so far as to tell my friends and family to get their quality time with me now. After May 20, I will go back to my couch, my laptop and my darkened house to do homework.

And when those days come, I will start two new countdown clocks… one that counts down to my vacation and another that counts down the end to my master’s degree program. Vacation = August 2008, Master’s degree = August 2009. I keep getting closer as each day passes.