Archive | January, 2011

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“I need cupcakes. Cupcakes for science.” I announced to my husband the other evening.

“That sounds perfectly reasonable,” he replied.

“I need them,” I said.

“Mmm-hmm.”

“SCIENCE!” I screamed.

He nodded. Usually I don’t specify why I want cupcakes. It would be like asking why fish need water, or Berkeley needs drum circles. THEY JUST DO. My existence, he long ago learned, is about the acquisition and consumption of dessert-type foods. I’m eating candy even as I type this (I am not kidding. I would not joke about something like this).

My passion for desserts is not new-found. Behold me (far left) with my brother and cousins, circa 1983:

Every weekend was like Lord of the Flies.

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Notice how I can’t take my eyes off the cake. Even at that tender young age, my motivations were clear.

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It’s been a good week. I can’t quite call it great, because there’s serious crap going on (see: Egypt), and I think I’d be remiss to go on and on about my personal successes in the wake of it. But I had a good week.

And in that spirit, here are a bunch of links that pertain to nothing substantial (because sadly, the substantial stuff this week wasn’t fun. Again, see: Egypt), but they will, I suspect, make you smile. That’s worth something, right?

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Check out these clips of adorable little kids re-enacting the five Best Picture nominees. It might be because I have a sweet spot for James Franco (he is numbers 1, 3, 4, and 5 on my list of Top 5 Celebrities With Whom I May Ignore My Marriage Vows), but the one for 127 Hours is head and shoulders (and arms) above the rest.

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Be an optimist … prime.

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Don’t even think about clicking this next link unless you had a fast computer and an even faster connection. Once you’ve got those down, check out Jeffrey Martin’s 80 Gigapixel 360-degree shot of London. It’s dizzying.

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A few nights ago, my husband and I – both lifelong Seattlites, decided to watch the premiere of Portlandia. The sketch-comedy show, filmed in Portland, features characters based on the city’s archetypal residents, and stars SNL‘s Fred Armisen, and Carrie Brownstein, formerly of Sleater-Kinney.

We enjoyed it. A lot. Perhaps a little too much.

At one point, I may have clutched his arm, shrieking, “Oh, god, it’s so true!” before erupting in a fit of giggles. In return, he might have laughed so hard, that, at some point, it  became soundless. And after it was over, we just may have re-watched the opening vignette, “The Dream of the 90s is Alive in Portland.

“How … how did they do it?” he marveled, after the show was over.

“I … I don’t know,” I whispered. “But it’s spot-on.”

Very nearly auto-biographical, one might say.

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I initially learned about Portlandia while watching reruns of Judd Apatow’s Undeclared series on the International Film Channel (a statement which, even to me, sounds absurd). Almost immediately afterward, I found that nearly all of my friends (in the Pacific Northwest, at least) were talking about it.  My friend Katie declared it  “a documentary.” Chrissy posted a link to the first episode on my Facebook page, insisting that I watch it, immediately. Skye, a former PacNW girl now going to grad school in Baltimore, quoted it endlessly.

We were all hooked – in my opinion, it’s an inevitable consequence of us having been, at one time or another, Seattlites.

For us, Portland is like our town’s weird little sister. She shows up to family reunions with new piercings and tattoos, and a life-partner of unspecified gender named Nico. Compared to our stodgier siblings in Idaho, Montana, or even Northern California, Seattle is hip and cutting edge. But next to the counter-culture Bohemia of Portland? We’ve become mainstream. We’re the alternative music section in Target.

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I feel like, in my honest account of Sofia, I’ve been a bit hard on the town. This was not my intention. But whenever a tourist walks through a city, the town is laid bare: all of the good and bad it has to offer can be seen. The locals simply shrug off the negative (We Seattlites don’t even carry umbrellas anymore, so impervious are we of the rain.), but the tourists? The tourists are harsh critics.

And so, before I cause any more hurt feelings or misunderstandings, I will admit to two things before I get to the heart of this post.

  1. I ate a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast. This is irrelevant to my day in Sofia, but I feel guilty about it, so I’m owing up to it. It was awesome.
  2. I had a nice time in downtown Sofia on my own, despite having been seriously freaked out about it..

It helped that I was able to meet up with Rand and some locals for lunch – including one fellow in particular who was incredibly helpful. He needed to catch a bus downtown, so he walked me through the important parts of Sofia, putting things in context for me and telling me where to go. He also let me know that while there were a few places that he wouldn’t advise me to visit alone at night, during the day, within the downtown core, I’d pretty much be fine (the same can be said of most towns I visit.)

He was my savior that day, and gave direction to my wanderings. And, jerk that I am, I can’t remember his name.

So let’s just call him the Batman.

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Since Batman was from Bulgaria, and had lived in Sofia a while, he knew the city well. Also, I’m pretty sure the phrase “Batman was from Bulgaria” has never been used before (I checked. It hasn’t been).

My first stop was The Church of St. George, to which the Batman kindly walked me. It’s believed to be the oldest building in Sofia, dating back to the 4th century CE. It’s smack-dab in the middle of a courtyard, surrounded by other buildings (including the Sheraton, which I was told was not as nice as the hotel in which we stayed, but very tourist-friendly). Seeing the ancient building amidst all the newer ones is a bit confusing. It’s the architectural equivalent of seeing Phyllis Diller at a Justin Bieber concert – thoroughly entertaining, and you’ll be glad you saw it, but still … weirdly out-of-place.

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In the wake of last week’s treatise about honestly, I feel I should be truthful about a few more things:

The other day, I was eating what I thought were toffee peanuts (as the bag suggested). Instead, I found myself noshing on a few toffee peanuts, but mostly clumps of weirdly un-homogenous toffee-like particles that had collected in the bag.  They tasted terrible. I went back for thirds. (Update: make that sixths. Second Update: I ate the whole bag. I am weak.)

I just saw The King’s Speech, and subsequently spent way too much time looking up photos of a young Colin Firth. (Insert swoon here.)

I haven’t worked out in like, six months.

And – perhaps most importantly since it’s the only thing that actually pertains to travel – I was absolutely petrified on the first day that I spent in Bulgaria on my own.

There. I said it. Judge me on it if you will, but really, the toffee peanut debacle will probably give you more material.

Keep in mind, the day I spent on my own in Sofia took place on only our second day in town. We had yet to have Paris walk us through town, and hadn’t yet met the lovely and rambunctious group of Bulgarian web entrepreneurs who would entertain us into the early hours of the morning with their antics. At this point, the only thing we had experienced in Bulgaria was getting ripped off by our cab driver.

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Today’s guest post is by the lovely and talented Nicole, a freelance writer and photographer currently living in Spain. Her geographic distance is a bummer: if she lived closer, I’m sure we’d instantly be BFFs, necessitating that we buy t-shirts with both our faces screen-printed on them, and wear them EVERYWHERE. Sadly, her being in Madrid substantially decreases our chances of running around the mall in matching tees.

But, Nik, if I’m ever in your neck of the woods, we are hanging out. And getting ham. (Matching tees optional.)

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Living in Madrid for 5 years has taught me many things, but only 4 of them are vital to my survival here:

  • Words mean nothing, it’s all in the hand signals
  • Driving inside the lanes is for wussies
  • Spanish beer is the second best thing in the world
  • Spanish ham is the number 1 best thing in the world

I’m sure you’re thinking, “What? After 5 years here and all you have learned are to flap your hands around, drive like a dizzy monkey, drink beer, and eat ham?

To those people, I reply, “Yes, it’s sad. But do you know how important ham is to these people?”

So important in fact, an actual Ham Museum exists for those who can’t get enough “Pata Negra” at home, or in the bars, or at the movies, etc. Yes, it is “el Museo de Jamón.”

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I am still in my pajamas. This isn’t that heinous a sin, considering that I “work” from home, but the truth is, I’ve spent far, FAR too much of this week in my pajamas (also, is it still “work” if you make no money? Ponder that). When tossing on a pair of yoga pants counts as “getting dressed”, it might be time for an intervention. Or just time to set the alarm. Either way, I’m determined to wake up earlier, get dressed sooner, and accomplish more with my day. Really. I’m starting tomorrow.

No, scratch that – tomorrow’s Saturday. But I’m starting … eventually. In the meantime, enjoy The Week, in whatever state of undress or sloth you happen to find yourself presently in.

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Oh, no! I run the risk of actually getting stuff done today. Who will save me?

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Have too much time on your hands? Me neither. But in case you do, here’s a list of incredibly stupid/funny/interesting internet phenomena that you should have already seen. Warning: Kitten Surprise made me pee a little. I’m a terrible person.

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Recently, I posted something to Facebook. Despite appearances to the contrary, I really was thinking in general terms, and not a specific person. Here was my status:

Don't ask me why I insist on blacking out my name, when you all know everything about me.

Okay, fine, maybe, just maybe, I was referring to someone I know. Still, I regret nothing. I am resentful and vindictive. This should not come as a surprise. Anyhoodle, my friend Skye, who is talented and wise, quickly chimed in:

My logic seems to imply that a state of shared douchebaggery lowers the rate of divorce.

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