All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hello, Seattle!

I’m currently in Seattle for a "work thing." A conference, that is. I'm here with several coworkers who are twice my age and have been calling me "kiddo" all week. Still, it's not half bad.


Seattle's a fantastic city -- quite the jewel of the American Northwest. It has that young and fit West Coast vibe, not unlike much of California, but with a down-to-business edge. I always imagined Seattle as sort of a yuppie city, and I wasn't far off. The downtown is very clean and very green, cycling is wildly popular in spite of the roller-coaster hills, and you are literally in sight of at least one coffee shop on any block of any street. The directions our concierge gave us to the conference center were: "Go out this door. Take a right at Starbucks. Go 'til you see Seattle's Best. Take another right there. Go past the next Starbucks and you'll see the conference center straight in front of you."


Cool Things to Do in Seattle:

Cruise on Puget Sound: Specifically, we went on a Booze Cruise. Booze Cruises always frighten me a bit because I see them as little more than a floating club. That may sound hip and groovy but consider this -- no matter what happens, you have to stay in the club until closing time. If you do decide to brave it, the view of the city from the water is priceless.

People-Watch: Something I do everywhere (because it is free and I am nosy) but especially enjoyed in Seattle. The locals love the fresh air, so the downtown streets are hopping with activity. In my favorite Seattle moment, I spotted a fellow begging into a Starbucks cup. Only in Seattle are the bums scrounging pennies for lattes.

SubSeattle Tour: Seattle's Underground -- that is, the old district of the downtown that was buried when they raised the street level to avoid flooding and its associated unpleasantries. The old sidewalks and buildings have become the city's musty basement, and many are the secrets and scandals that lurk in its shadows. Extra bonus points for uniqueness and kick-ass tour guides.

Pike Place: Yes, yes, you've heard about how awesome this market is. The rumors are all true. Go check it out.


Monday, July 14, 2008

You Just Never Know...

Last week, in a rare moment of repose, I was sitting at home thinking "Yeesh, another Saturday night in Nowhereville," when I got an instant message from a friend inviting me to a wine tasting party. That's a little chic for this hick town, and for a second I expected him to say "No, just kidding. It's actually a barn-raisin'! Yehaw!" But no, he was serious about the wine.

So of course, I went.

Now I have known this guy for ages, but I know him because I used to babysit him. Yeah, he's a little younger than I am. And naturally, so are his friends. In fact, they're all three or four years younger than I am. I can't decide if hanging out with the college crowd makes me feel cutting edge or lame beyond redemption.

I gravitated towards the only other "grown-up" in the house, who happened to be a pretty smokin' hot guy. We got into a conversation about who he is and how he spends his time, and guess what? He races sled dogs.


Yeah, he's an Alaskan tundra conquering, fur-trimmed coat sporting, frostbitten appendage losing, Call-of-the-Wild answering sled dog racer.

You never really know who you're going to meet next, do you?

Rock on, sled dog guy. Rock on.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Writing Class & The Pipe Dream

I returned from England Sunday evening and actually fell asleep with my head still a couple inches above the pillow. Luckily, forward-thinker that I am, I had already set the alarm on my phone. Monday morning, it went off at 6 a.m. I rolled out of bed, stumbled blindly to the shower, and managed to drive across town for the first day of my summer writing class.

The class is aimed at teachers, and most of us have been involved with it for about two years now, but for some reason they change the location every six months. This phase was on the south side, and since I always get lost on the south side of town, I got to class about five minutes late. They’d already started going around the circle doing introductions and “This summer I’m...” stories. When my turn came, I apologized for coming in late and said that this summer, I’m doing a bit of traveling. Of course, they asked where, so I gave the brief overview – London, Dublin, work conference in Seattle, family week on Lake Huron, then off to Hawaii.


O Reader, if you could have seen the shock and indignation! You’d have thought I said I was flying to the moon in a diamond-studded space pod. While drinking champagne. And making out with Jude Law.

Then a woman on the other side of the room spoke up and articulated everybody’s sentiment in one huffy little retort: “Well, that’s because you don’t have kids.”

The rest of the week was great – I got lots of writing done, was very happy with the feedback I received, and just generally enjoyed bonding with the other students – but the whole time there was an undercurrent of tension. Half of the women there seemed bent on convincing me that I’d soon tire of gallivanting around the globe, realize how empty and meaningless my life is, and find some sensible boy with whom I could settle down and raise a little brood of ankle-biters. They kept writing pieces about how happy motherhood has made them and giving me significant looks. The other half was just blatantly bitter and jealous of my freedom. You know, like the terrorists.


I, frankly, can’t imagine any more rewarding way to spend a summer than traveling, nor can I figure why, at twenty-five, I should be worried about anything other than enjoying myself. As long as I’m happy and the bills get paid, I don’t think my priorities need reevaluating.

Eventually though, I may get a little lonely, but wouldn’t it be more fun to find a boy who isn’t very sensible? Then, instead of “settling down”, we could just pack our ankle-biters up and take them gallivanting with us.

This is my pipe dream.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

And On to Dublin!

Lovely Day for a Guinness

Sunday we made our way to Gatwick and waved goodbye to London. Then we waited in the airport for our RyanAir plane, which was almost two hours behind schedule. I normally don’t get fussed when flights run late. A million different things can delay a plane, and it’s all just part of the traveling experience. BUT in Gatwick, we were waiting for our flight next to a rather conspicuous sign that read: “RyanAir: The On-Time Airline.”

We entertained ourselves by inventing new slogans for RyanAir, since clearly their current one didn’t cut the proverbial mustard. Among our suggestions were some less presumptuous options such as: “RyanAir: An Airline”; “RyanAir: The Sometime Airline”; “RyanAir: Yep”; and my personal favorite – “RyanAir: If you want some planes... well, here they are.”


We chose to go to Dublin for two reasons: 1) David and 2) Jen. Though they've been together for about a thousand years, so they might only count as one reason. Okay, how about this: 1) David & Jen and 2) Guinness.

I know that living in Japan changed and challenged me in more ways than I can begin to take stock of, but I maintain that no part of that experience has benefited me as much as the friendships I made.

In Japan, Dave worked at my office and Jenny worked at S's, so both of us got to know them quite well. Since they moved back to Dublin in January of 2006, this reunion was two and half years in the making. You might think that after not seeing someone for that long, it'd be hard to reconnect. Not so! They were just as warm and wonderful as I remembered them, and in a matter of moments, the four of us were thick as thieves once again!

It's really a testament to how deep a mark living abroad leaves on your life. The people you meet become like a second family, and that bond doesn't really fade when you go your separate ways. Just like Ossie and Tato -- we ne'er forgot da tricks a'da travelers.


Unlike in London, where we kept ourselves busy with loads of site-seeing, we spent most of our time in Dublin relaxing with our friends. We did go to the Guinness Storehouse (strongly recommended!), and one day, just for laughs, Jen took us to an Irish petting zoo to play with the sheep. Other than that, we spent most of the rather rainy week nestled in pubs, drinking a bit of Guinness (and quite a bit of Jameson).

A perfect week, actually.