Archive | February, 2011

As I noted last week, Tom Critchlow is currently in Seattle, and our home has never been happier, nor more reminiscent of a Justin Bieber concert (seriously, we’re screaming and running around like pre-pubescent girls. We’re a little crazy right now). After noting that there are a few common, innocent phrases that don’t translate well from English to American-English (and vice-versa), I feel like it might be time to give you all (and Tom, especially) a crash-course on Seattle.

After all, our town is a little quirky. Personally, I happen to find all our little idiosyncrasies adorable, and I can’t understand why anyone would live anywhere else (what’s that? You disagree? Then kindly move along … TO CALIFORNIA.) For those of you who like the Emerald City as much as I do, and have decided to stick around, here are 15 things that you should know about Seattle that will have you blending in like a patchouli-scented, REI-loving, CSA-supporting local.

  1. It’s called Pike Place Market, after the street. Meaning it was not named for some dude named Pike. It is NOT called Pike’s Place, or Pike Market (calling it that will instantly peg you as a newbie). Though you can call it “The Pike Place Market,” or if you want to be really bad-ass, simply “The Market.”
  2. Seattle is located in King County. As in Martin Luther King, Jr. County. This wasn’t originally the case, though – it was first named King County after William R. King, who was vice-president when the Washington Territory was created. He died from tuberculosis after only 45 days in office. In 1986 the King County Council passed a motion to rename King County after Martin Luther King, Jr., instead. 
  3. Nobody has an umbrella. My friend’s mother used to boast that she had lived in Seattle for 30 years and never so much as owned one. Truth be told, it rarely rains hard enough to justify needing an umbrella, so most people just have raincoats. If you want to fit in, tease your local friends the second they pull of these out. Though, if they truly are locals, few of them will. (more…)

Folks, I am tired.

How is that, you say? How is it a woman, with no steady job, no house, no kids, no pets, and only one half-dead houseplant be tired? And I will tell you, dear friends, it is because of SNOW-MAGGEDON.

It has exhausted me. For the last week, we here in the Pacific Northwest had been threatened with “possible accumulation of up to several inches” of snow. IT IS ABSOLUTELY HORRIFYING. And all the frantic salting and sanding of sidewalks and balconies and walkways and everything else (just to be on the safe side, I salted our living room. I regret nothing) has been exhausting. As has the buying of large quantities of food, since I am absolutely convinced the grocery stores will be out of everything. Oh, and I barricaded the house and have armed myself with kitchen knives. I am taking no chances. Those of you who’ve lived up here know: it becomes no-man’s-land even if there’s a slight dusting of snow.

What’s that you say? There’s virtually no chance of snow over the weekend? Well, I’m taking no chances. Enjoy The Week, while I try and figure out if I would can eat my houseplant in the event that I run out of food.

Sigh. It’s times like this I really did wish we had pets. Tasty, tasty pets.


Organizing a bookcase has never been more delightful. And yet, I still don’t have enough inspiration tackle and arrange my books (the guiding principle behind my home library’s arrangement is Chaos Theory.)


I think my brain just broke.


L.A. traffic. Ignore the dead bugs on the windshield.


I’d like to think that, as a Seattleite (Seattlite? Does it matter?) I know a thing or three about traffic. It’s taken me 25 minutes to move 25 feet before (east side, rush hour). I’ve nearly cried in frustration at our city’s gridlock, pressing my head against the steering wheel in the middle of a parking lot that was once a moving road.

And one time, I heard the traffic reporter on the radio describe our city’s congested areas as “epicenters of disaster.” When your traffic is so bad that it inspires that kind of poetry, you know your city has something singular going on. But, hometown pride aside (and yes, I can be prideful of my city’s traffic. Especially if Minnesotans can gloat about balls of twine) I have to say – the kids in L.A.? They beat us when it comes to traffic.

So, um … congratulations, I guess?

Rand and I drove up to L.A. from San Diego a few weeks ago – he had some work to do there, and I wanted to visit some folks (including my brother, who you may remember from such blog posts as “Shit My Brother Says” and “My Brothers Weigh in on the Full-Body Scanners”, as well as such traumatic events as MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD). We left fairly early in the day, and did a pretty good job of avoiding gridlock.

And then, to turn a phrase an acquaintance of mine used after ingesting too much of an illegal substance, shit got weird.


I make bad decisions.

This should surprise no one, myself included. There was the time I attempted to make it to Greenwich (and subsequently learned that Greenwich and North Greenwich are two distinct places). Or the time I thought that this outfit was a good idea. The point is? I do dumb things. But at the time, they seem totally reasonable. In fact, I’m actually surprised that my decisions turn out to be bad ones.

I mean, hopping on a train going to god-kn0ws-where in foreign country? Great idea! Where can I purchase a ticket?

I’m sure it’s the same mental glitch that causes Nick Cage to choose movie roles. I mean, he must have thought that Season of the Witch was going to be good idea, right? Otherwise, why on earth would he have taken it? The money couldn’t have been that good.

Likewise, a few weeks back, I thought it would be perfectly reasonable to head to the San Francisco Botanical Garden. In the late afternoon. In the middle of December.



Recently, my home has come to resemble a slumber party full of middle school girls. There’s been lots of giggling, and excitement, and jumping around, and yes, it’s because of a boy.

Specifically, this one:

I don't know what they were doing here.

Adorable, ain’t he? Ignore the hair. It just … well, it just is.

The lovely gentleman pictured with my husband is Tom. I have, on occasion, ridiculed his brother on this site, as well as his colleagues, but there’s been sad little mention of Tom himself. Which I intend to rectify. Because this past weekend, Tom arrived in Seattle for the work-equivalent of a foreign exchange program. He’s going to be putting in some time stateside, and, as Rand put it, “making everything better.” Hence the giggling. And the running around. And the general behaving like 12-year-old girls who’ve inhaled a pack of pixie sticks and watched the entire Twilight canon. In short, we are excited.

This cultural exchange of sorts will also mark the longest time Tom has spent in the United States. And since he is a dear and well-behaved lad, I feel that there are a few terms which he, as a Brit, may want to avoid while he’s here. It’s not that they’ll get him into trouble. It’s that no one will understand what he’s talking about. And also, they might get him into trouble.


Um, wow.

So, I didn’t quite expect my post about Rand’s broken laptop to get quite the level of attention that it did. Thank you to everyone who read the post, who helped spread the word, and who shared their thoughts. Really, I just wanted to vent, and while I still intend to file a claim (yes, you all convinced me!) I already feel better about the whole issue.

So thanks. In return for brightening my day, here are some links to make your own day a little more fun (hopefully):


Short, brilliant, anonymous letters.


I’m going to start using this mantra from now on. Thanks, Barney.



Restaurant may be smaller than it appears.


A few years ago, we were having dinner with some of Rand’s colleagues. When we were trying to decide what to order, one of the gentleman suggested we share food.

“After all, I’m from New York, where life is a shared experience.”

I wanted to hug him.

I feel the same way: I love cities. I love wandering around alone, but not feeling lonely. Having brief moments with people who I will never see again. A conversation on the bus that we both know will last only until the next stop. An observation about a painting, whispered in a quiet gallery. These exchanges bring me back from the hours I spend roaming a city solo, tie me to the place where I currently find myself, make me feel like I’m a part of everything.

I’m not the only one who is a fan of this trend: so many of our every day actions are done alone, but serve to bind us to others (note: that I did not make a masturbation joke during that last sentence is a testament to my growth as an author. Be proud.) Facebook updates, tweets, text messages – these are things usually done when we sit alone at our desks or on public transit – we are by ourselves, but connected.

It’s extended to restaurants as well. I’ve seen countless restaurants opt for long, picnic style tables instead of small separate ones, full of people who are eating together, but who aren’t together.

And I like it, to a point.


The backspace key is now removable.


I’d like to take a few moments to remember, with extreme fondness, Rand’s dear departed laptop.

It traveled with us across the globe. It never made weird sounds, it was quick to start up, and had a battery life that was unusually long. It was lightweight and kept my lap warm on cold winter nights when I sat on the couch browsing the internet.

It was a good laptop, and it left us too soon.

It met its end last Friday, at the hands of a TSA agent in San Diego airport. They were sending everyone through the back-scatter machines, and Rand and I opted out, as we usually do. TSA kept us waiting longer than usual for our pat-downs. A line formed behind us of other opt-outs, but they soon decided to simply go through the back-scatter machines – a TSA tactic that I’m familiar with. Inconvenience anyone who expresses dissent to the point that they’ll fall back into line. It worked with basically everyone except Rand and me.