Archive | June, 2011

Last month, we spent a few days in New York before heading to Boston. The weather cooperated, the cupcakes were plentiful, and I remembered why one of my favorite cities in the world is precisely that. Here are ten photos from our adventures in Manhattan.

  1. The theater district, afternoon sun.
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    The weather was irritatingly perfect. Gave us Seattlites nothing to talk about.

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  2. Kissing in Times Square. Again.
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    Promise me this will always happen, okay, love?

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The sign behind my husband lies. Italy is not Eataly, nor vice versa. But it's still damn good.

My cousin’s village in Italy is a relic of the sort you rarely see outside of Indiana Jones movies or PBS-programs narrated by David McCullough. It winds up a hill, dotted with ancient stone houses, now conveniently equipped with electricity and spotty hot water. The local children, carrying heavy monikers of saints or artists, call to one another as they play amongst centuries-old ruins.

And yet, when my family came to visit America, leaving the homeland of Michaelango and Leonardo (and all the other great artists for which ninja turtles were named), they wished to do one thing: shop.

In comparison to the dusty history of their home, the expansive malls and grocery stores of the United States were a sight to behold. They were new and briskly air-conditioned, full of rows of glittering items with reasonable prices that ended in .99. My cousin would explain to me that so many groceries I took for granted – Crest toothpaste, Lucky Charms, Nestle Quik- cost a fortune in Italy. I’d run down the aisles of our neighborhood supermarket with a new appreciation for the sugar-laden products of my homeland, marveling that I could have Frosted Flakes without having to shell out $12.

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It is midnight right now on the east coast, and I am way too excited to even think about sleeping. And while there are plenty of other posts which I should, chronologically at least, get to first, I have to tell you about this evening. Because tonight, I did something that I had never done before.

Tonight, I drove in Manhattan.

Driving in the largest city in North America has never been on any of my to-do lists. Like using exact change or playing the piano, it is a skill I admire in others, but one that I have never endeavored to cultivate in myself (Note to my mom: sorry about all those piano lessons you had to pay for when I was in the fourth grade. My heart was never in it. Now you know).

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It is Monday morning, and do to some unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, I find myself in rural New Jersey (note: being in Jersey itself isn’t actually that unfortunate, but why we are here is. More on that at a later date). As this trip was unplanned, I was actually struggling to find something appropriate to blog about, when I recalled that my friend Philip (Yes, Philip, I admitted it: we are friends.) sent me a guest post. About toilets, no less. Japanese ones.

Naturally, this brightened my day exponentially. I hope it does yours as well. I will be back tomorrow with lots of crazy stories about … I don’t know. Something. In the meantime, enjoy the work of one of my former co-workers, and marvel at how someone would be crazy enough to hire both of us.

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Hi. My name is Philip. Geraldine and I used to work together once upon a time. On her second day in the office she baked brownies with peppermint patties in them. That was the day I knew I needed to be her friend. Fun fact you might not know about Geraldine: when we all got laid off, she was in Italy. Yes, the seeds of the Everywhereist were planted even then. The company actually had to lay her off a week later because she was on vacation. Well played. Anyway, in a move calculated to ensure that she never receives another accolade for blogging, Geraldine has allowed me to write a guest post.

My dear wife is from Tokyo and her whole family still lives there. We paid a visit recently and since I failed to write a guest-post the last time we were there (to my eternal shame) I was determined to get one in this time. It was our eighth trip there together in the 13 years we’ve been married, and the second with our now 4-year-old daughter. That being said, you’d think I’d have some unique insight or profound cultural observation to make. And you’d be wrong. For today, I present…

Bathrooms of Japan!

  1. My decision to blog about toilets (and their environs) started with this beauty:
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    This is a public men’s room. In a park. Did it smell like human waste? No. Was the floor upsettingly damp? No. Was there some sketchy dude camped out in the corner? No. Did it have an adorable vase of wildflowers between the sinks? Yes. Yes, it did.
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This week has been a bit of a whirlwind. Rand and I have found ourselves running around both coasts of the U.S., skipping from city to city, appointment to appointment, TSA groping to TSA groping. It’s enough to make anyone a little loopy.

How loopy, you might ask? I might have taken to laughing at all sorts of nonsense this week. That doesn’t exactly mean that everything I came across was funny, per se, but merely that I was laughing at all of it. Not unlike a madwoman.

So enjoy this week’s links. I, personally, found several of them to be hilarious. But I also find humor in defacing countless Alaska Airline magazine crossword puzzles by filling in “Dale Midkiff” for every answer. (A pastime which I will continue to engage in until they publish my article, Yakima: Wonderland of Dust.)

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I’m completely against torture. Unless it’s torturing Sims characters, which I find to be actually quite amusing and delightful (if very, very wrong).

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Leave it to the brilliant Carl Sagan to put all of human existence into perspective.

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I’ve decided that the world can be summed up thusly:

I have always fallen, since a tender young age, into the category of people who carry bags. I generally can’t leave the house without lugging an enormous purse with me, hanging awkwardly from my hip and lower back like a conjoined twin that my body had failed to reabsorb in the womb.
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Please ignore whatever the hell it is I'm wearing, and instead pay attention to my purse, which is the size of a third-grader.

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It’s time for WTF Wednesday, a semi-regular feature where I ramble on about downright crazy things I’ve encountered while traveling.

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I am going to make a statement which will date me far beyond my 30 years, and one for which I will ask my younger readers (should they not presently be napping or enjoying a juice box) to forgive me.

I do not understand young people.

While I remember little from my idyllic early-20s (owed, I’m am sure, to the fact that the sheer wholesomeness of my recreational activities rendered them boring and unmemorable, and not, because, say, THC destroys the hippocampus), I can’t recall ever faking the accent of another land. Except for a brief stint in 2003 when I accidentally caught a Newlyweds marathon on television and started speaking with a faint southern accent, which wasn’t so much intentional as a symptom of having overdosed on Jessica Simpson, I’ve always stuck with my rather-generic-sounding Seattle accent, and it’s served me well.

But apparently there’s an entire generation of young Americans who, discontent with their normal parlance, have started mimicking that of other lands, and badly. Rand and I became aware of the phenomenon this past week while visiting the Bay Area. We found ourselves in the middle of a parched fairground on a scorching hot day, enjoying the unintentional hilarity of the Marin Arts Festival, and in dire need of refreshment.

Crepes, sausages, AND gyros? It was so international, I felt like I was at EPCOT.

We worked our way through stilt-walkers and couples in matching Hawaiian shirts to a collection of food stands on the outskirts of the fair. Rand ordered a drink from a young 20-something who was at that particular moment pretending to be from the working-class part of Boston. The sheer emphasis that he placed on each and every syllable soon made it clear that the closest he’d ever come to Southie was watching The Town twice in a row while drunk on Samuel Adams.

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Kelsey, the blogatrix behind Drifting Focus, recently wrote about her struggles with OCD before she leaves on a trip. She often finds herself packing and re-packing her bags, double-checking to make sure everything is where it should be. It is an honest, candid account of what she has to deal with before traveling, and an inspiring one as well –  as uncomfortable as preparing for a trip is, she doesn’t let it stop her from seeing the world.

While I can’t say that my compulsions are as strong as Kelsey’s, I, too, find that in the days and hours before I’m about to leave for a trip I get, as I like to call it, “a little buggy.” As I say this, please note that I in no way intend to trivialized the difficulties of living with OCD. So please, save that hate email for a post in which I truly deserve it. There are many.

I’m merely saying that to a very small, small degree, I empathize.

My pre-trip compulsion is this: I obsessively clean my home from top to bottom. I dust. I polish. I organize. I place items at right angles, and indiscriminately shred documents, prompting my husband to ask, “Um, are you making sure the house is spotless for anyone who breaks in while we’re away?”

“Yes,” I respond, scrubbing behind the guest toilet that never gets used. I’ll proceed to wash every bit of laundry I can find, including pulling just-washed throw blankets off the couch and tossing them into the machine, thankfully stopping before I get to the pillows (which reminds me – I need to fluff those).

“Baby,” Rand will say, gently, “The house looks great. Please stop.”

“Whatever. Hand me the vacuum and that bottle of bleach. I need to go brush my teeth.”

Excuse me a moment while I clean parts of the stove no one will ever use or see.

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