Archive | October, 2010

When you’re a kid, familial roles seems permanent and immutable. You are one of the children, though you don’t necessarily regard yourself as such. The definition you carry is far less important than the one you’ve designated to others. Parents and aunts and uncles – these make up the grown-ups. They are caregivers and disciplinarians, and seem incomprehensibly old – even at the age of 30. Grandparents are a subset of this, though slightly different. Fewer rules. More chocolates.

My Auntie P., my mom (holding me) and my grandmother. In this picture, my mother is younger than I am now.

My Auntie P., my mom (holding me) and my grandmother. In this picture, my mother is younger than I am now.

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The world is a small place. A teeny tiny, ridiculously small place. You will find, on this great big planet of ours, that you really can’t swing a dead cat without bumping into someone you know.

That’s big the big lesson of the week. A week full of chance meetings with friends and loved ones, a result of so many coincidences, that for a second, you almost begin to think there’s some higher power involved. Really, when you think about how much our life is spent surrounded by strangers, how much we leave up to chance – finding a friend or someone to love in this big crazy world … well, it’s nothing short of winning the lottery.

I’ve been trying to put all this into words – how life is mostly chance, and if by some magic your life is fantastic, well … you should feel very, very lucky. But I haven’t been able to articulate it all that well. Which is why I was absolutely amazed when I found that, by pure coincidence, my dear friend Philip (that’s right. I said it. We’re friends) over at A Lifetime of Worry, was feeling the same way. And he describes his feelings of gratitude and happiness over his charmed life beautifully. Read it. It’s how I feel. Coincidence and life being what it is, it’s probably how you feel, too.

And, now, as Philip would say, on to the week that was …

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My husband is a very safe driver. But sometimes, it is incredibly dangerous for him to be behind the wheel. He won’t cut people off. He won’t speed excessively. He’s considerate in most every way. But sometimes, the amount of control he has over where we will end up (bequeathed on him by his default status as driver) has led to some mildly disastrous detours.

And so, when we were driving back up to Portland from Ashland, Rand declared that he wanted pizza at precisely the same time that we were driving through nowhere. Rather than take heed of all of those otherwise ignored freeway signs, that list whether or not food, gas, or lodgings are available at a particular exit, Rand instead took the next off-ramp he saw.

There was no sign denoting food.

There were no restaurants in sight.

Hell, there wasn’t even a way to get back on the freeway.

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Folks, what I’m about to tell you may not apply to very many of you – it’s the sort of niche, uber-specific travel advice that only a few of you will benefit from, but I still think it’s worth sharing. For those of you who to whom it doesn’t apply, I hope you will at the very least find it entertaining. Sort of. Maybe.

The advice is this: If you go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I highly recommend taking the backstage tour.

Take it, because it’s only $12 a person, and you get to see parts of the theater that only cast and crew get to see.

Take it, because you’ll get the chance to see the stagehands tear apart a set and build a new one with such speed and ease, it feels like something out of Inception (even if you haven’t seen the movie. And I haven’t. Tell me nothing).

There were only three of them. They tore the place apart like a Fraggle destroying a Doozer-built creation.

There were only three of them. They tore the place apart like a Fraggle destroying a Doozer-built creation.

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Let me begin with an apology.

First, to all of you who came here looking for travel advice today, I am sincerely sorry. You will find little of it in this particular post (and probably in this blog in general).

And secondly, let me apologize to Todd, who’s never really given me any shit in his entire life, and is a dear friend. Todd, this post is likely going to embarrass the hell out of you. I’m doing it not out of spite or malice, but because it’s really, really funny.

On the other hand, the jokes we make about your mom are out of spite and malice. I’m not at all sorry about those, because they, too, are really, really funny.

Anyway, before apologizing becomes a habit, on to the post …

Rand and I were returning home from our anniversary trip in Oregon, when we stopped in the metropolis of Applegate, OR, about 30 miles outside of Ashland. Here’s Rand in the center of town, which consists of a coffee shop/tractor repair facility.

This is Rand's "WTF are we doing here?" face.

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I tried to find population info on Applegate, but no one lives there.

Why did I even post this? I think because I didn't want Todd to suffer alone.


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Seattle’s been inexplicably sunny this past week – so much so, that I actually started to forget what fall was like in this part of the country. For the record, it’s usually gray up here this time of year. But instead it’s been sunny and cool, and downright gorgeous. Hopefully all this fantastic weather is helping my dear hubby kick his cold faster than he would normally – a cold that I handed off to him sometime last week (I really am sorry, babe).

And besides sunny weather (and actually being home this week) there are other things to enjoy …

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This list of the 6 Most Insane Sex Lives in the Animal Kingdom is a little bit creepy, a good dose of gross, and entirely fascinating. Which may be the reason why a friend saw it and instantly thought of me.

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I like that his little eyes don’t converge at one point. (Via reddit)

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I never post about this sort of nonsense, but I just bought this coat from H&M in Boston, and I’m kind of stupid for it. (What? It can all be animal porn and cross-eyed badgers.)

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1. Cut-out decoration of a German man, Ashland Elks Lodge Oktoberfest.

Where in gods name do you even FIND something like this?

Where in god's name do you even FIND something like this?

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2. Contemplative statue, Lithia Park.

Shit. I think I left the curling iron on.

"Shit. I think I left the curling iron on."

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I have a lot of friends who make white van jokes. I mean, we all do, don’t we? Laugh about the nondescript white van that’s lurking around our neighborhood, though in the back of our minds we keep an eye on it, because if some kid disappears, it’s the first thing we’re telling the police.

But such paranoia is wrong, isn’t it? I remember my mother scribbling down license plate numbers and staring at people from a distance, trying to assess whether or not they were child molesters simply by looking at them (and while I have no definitive word on her success rate, I’m going with “no more than average”). I try intently to not be as worried or as hypochondrial as she – a white van, I tell myself, is a white van.

So when I saw this somewhat creepy vehicle parked on a residential street in Ashland, I fought against my mother’s ingrained impulses, and remembered that it was simply a someone’s rundown mode of transportation. Nothing more.

I mean, it has windows - you cant kidnap someone in a van with windows, right?

I mean, it has windows - you can't kidnap someone in a van with windows, right?

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