Archive | March, 2011

Rand and I spent a few days in Portland last week. As we always do, we talked about what it would be like it we lived there. It’s a silly little fantasy brought on by too much good food and time spent with friends who are just slightly too cool for us. I imagine the tattoos I’d get if we moved to PDX (something to do with old-timey astronomical navigation charts), and the flannel shirts I’d buy. For just a second, I imagine the person I’d be if I moved to Portland.

And I realize, she’s way too cool for me.

So while relocating there won’t happen anytime soon, I can hold my own for at least a few days. Want proof? Here’s 10 photos from our last trip down.

  1. Portland from afar.

    Not pictured: me, freezing my butt off.

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  2. The city in a nutshell. A pesticide-free, sustainably-farmed nutshell.

    We might have started laughing hysterically when we saw this.

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L.A. is not home to me. It never will be, never could be. It’s dry and sprawling, full of sun-bleached buildings and strip malls. It bears no resemblance to the damp and mildewy place in which I live. But there are a handful of people I love who’ve managed to make Los Angeles their home, and so a few times a year, I head down there.

The term fish out of water isn’t strong enough. Try fish out of planet. It’s like the story of The Ugly Duckling if the duckling were, say, this little guy (and also, he never turns into a swan).  Me and Los Angeles? We make no sense. I fumble through the city, a squishy mortal in possession of her original nose and a pair of barely-D-cups which have proven themselves not impervious to the ravages of time.

I am not comfortable in Los Angeles, save for one place: The Getty Center.

There, I am at home. Perched on a hill above L.A., surrounded by visiting college students from Asia, clusters of German tourists, families, and a sprinkling of white-haired, opinionated old ladies from Jersey who hate everything, I am completely in my element.

My peeps.

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I’ve been reading a lot about Italy lately, in anticipation of an upcoming trip. Blog posts from my fellow Americans, mostly, about their thoughts on the country, and specifically Rome.

They all tend to center around the same themes: the city is crazy, the people are crazy, the traffic is crazy, watch your purse/wallet/bag, and I can’t believe this building/hotel/pasta is older than my country. It’s a perspective that’s not entirely unfamiliar to me: I am an American, after all, born and bred. But on top of those sentiments, there’s something else. Something strange that hits me whenever I go to Italy.

I’m home.

Keep in mind, I’ve never lived in Italy. The most time I’ve ever spent there was about 3 non-consecutive weeks in the summer of 2001. It is not that Italy, as a country, has ever been home to me. Rather, that my home, growing up – it was Italy. People shouted and spoke with their hands. There were grand gestures and waving and yelling interspersed with laughing. It was all in Italian, occasionally punctuated with a word or two stolen from English.

Yes, that's pasta sauce on my face. And I may have cut my own hair. Shut up.

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Let’s talk about being healthy.

(Cue sound of people getting up from their computers and stampeding towards the nearly door.)

Well, goodness. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting a hugely positive reaction, but the gazelle-like sprint for the door was a little shocking. Anywho, yes, it’s kind of a mundane and boring topic, but I feel like it’s one that needs to be mentioned – being healthy while on the road is tough. If you travel only occasionally, and your vacation also happens to be your vacation from watching your diet, then it’s no problem. You can gorge yourself on margaritas and cupcakes and margarita cupcakes. And life will be good.

But for those of us who travel for more than a few weeks out of the year (I know, I know – rough life), eating with abandon isn’t really an option. It will catch up with you. As as you find yourself at home for a brief break between trips, you might have an exchange with your spouse that you’d never thought you’d have. Something along the lines of …

“God, I am so happy that we’re eating at home tonight.”

“Me, too!”

“Sweetie, what would you say if we went vegetarian for a while?”

“OMG – I was thinking the exact same thing!”

Yes, that exchange happened. And in my home. And no, those lines were not uttered by people who I promptly kicked out of my house. They came out of my mouth and that of my husband.

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I’ve been home for the last few weeks – okay, fine – just for the last week, but still – it’s been fantastic. I’ve been doing all those wonderful things that I never get a chance to do while on the road: cleaning out my closet, and my fridge, and dusting crevices between furniture that never see the light of day (and probably don’t need to be dusted, but whatever. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something). Time at home has also given me the opportunity to rot my brain while catching up on American Idol (as the kids would say, ZOMG. I am in love with this Paul McDonald fellow). So in the spirit of all things pop-culture, here are the links for The Week. May your brain not rot.

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40 pieces of wisdom from popular movies. Not surprisingly, most of it comes from Yoda and Obi-Wan.

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The 100 best first lines from novels. #50 might just be my favorite.

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“Put your pants back on.” I probably shouldn’t have laughed so maniacally at this video interview of Harry Potter. I mean Daniel Radcliffe. I mean Harry Potter.

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Yesterday, I visited my mother at her home 20 minutes south of Seattle. As I left, I noticed a few tiny snowflakes begin to fall. It was unexpected – it’s late in the year for snow, and the forecast had predicted the temperatures would be warming up, so I had on only a thin jacket. Before I got on the freeway, I had to stop for gas. I stood next to the pump in freezing temperatures for seemingly forever, while my tank filled up. For the rest of the ride home, I blasted the heat on, in hopes that it would warm me up.

That was over 24 hours ago, and I still have the chills. So in an effort to banish what lingers of this miserable winter, here are ten photos from our trip down to Los Angeles and San Diego from a few weeks back. May they keep you warm. I’m off to get some tea. And by tea, I mean “whiskey that’s been microwaved.”

  1. Organized birds, Los Flores Viewpoint on the Camino Real (near San Diego, CA).

    They stand in line better than most Italians.

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  2. I order wisely. Enormous lobster, San Diego.

    Pinchy would have wanted it this way.

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There are the travel stories you can tell everyone. The people at the bus stop, your dentist, your co-workers. You can safely tell them about how you went to Southern California and it poured every day, or how in Scotland they offer scotch as a topping for oatmeal. You can do this without fear of losing your job, or being ostracized or arrested or deported. Often times, they’re perfectly good stories. Just because something is safe for all audiences doesn’t mean it isn’t fantastic (hell, look at Pixar).

But … then there are the other travel stories. The ones you can’t tell anyone. The stories that you promised you would not share with another living soul, on pain of death from the other parties involved.

What? No. I did NOT get a baby drunk. Absolutely not. Probably.-

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These stories are almost always fantastic. They usually involve law-breaking, or some degree of public nudity or drunkeness. They are the stories that you rarely repeat, and on the rare occasion that you do, you preface it with, “Okay, fine, I’ll tell you, but if you mention this to another living soul …”

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And we never did stop talking
and you still light up the room/
I was made for sunny days.
I make due with gray/
I was made for sunny days
and I was made for you.

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There’s a song Rand has been playing a lot recently. It breaks my heart a little, each time I hear it. The artist sings about how he was made for sunny days. About how he weathers gray skies, and falls in love and …

Sigh. You see where this is going right? Of course.

This song – this optimistic and silly and bright little song – it reminds me of my husband. (I know, I know – ick, right?)

Sometimes he manages to lull me into a temporary state of "not anger."

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