Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Books aren't Dead, they're paperless.

I will never, ever forget the feel of a book in my hands. The way the pages are soft beneath my fingers, the scent of ink and old libraries. I love the thickness, a tribute to the author's hard work. I love seeing how far I've gotten, reading the inscriptions on the back, seeing the author's picture. My love of books will stay with me for a lifetime, but for now, the Kindle is one of the most amazing presents of my life. It came from Santa-David.

I probably read on book per week, since I spend so much time on the ferry and bus. Add that to my very heavy backpack stuffed with a laptop, power cord, and radio equipment, and it was a recipe for sore shoulders. The Kindle is small, lightweight, and versatile. If I finish a book, I can download another within seconds. I have a subscription to the New York Times, Time Magazine, and Dr. Weil's column. Each of these things refreshes every morning, so I have so much diversity in what I read. I love that when I lay in bed to read on my side, I don't have to worry about clunky pages getting in the way. I also have a bad habit of folding books and breaking their spine, and it makes me feel guilty. The Kindle lasts for hours on one battery charge, and you don't have to pay for the Internet to get a new book. You can get Internet almost everywhere, since it relies on the Sprint network. It's an amazing little piece of technology.

However, books will always have a place in my life. I love looking at my bookshelf, loaning copies to friends. I love the abundance of bookstores and libraries. At some point, I would like to collect hardcover editions of my favorite books, and put them in a library.

For now, The Kindle is one of my favorite electronic devices. It's easy to use. I just have to be very, very careful not to break it or drop it. You know how I am.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas in Portland

I've have had so much going on this past week it's felt overwhelming to try to blog it all. David and I decided to take a train to Portland for Christmas, which was just beautiful. I felt like I was riding the polar express as we chugged through thick falling snow, which turned the trees white. I saw a bald eagle perched on the top of one of these trees; regal, the ruler of the land.

In Portland we gathered on Mom's living room floor and opened presents. I like this picture because everyone is acting weird, except for Mom and her boyfriend, who are clearly into each other.
Below is my sister and brother. We always laugh a lot when we're together.

Family foto op. And no, my brother really isn't that tall. He was standing on his tip-toes.

I saw four families while I was in Portland. I saw my Mom, her boyfriend, my brother and sister. I saw my Dad and his girlfriend, and we hung out in the hotel lobby and went to Portland City Grill. I saw my stepmom, and we went to breakfast, hung out at the hotel, watched a movie. I saw my stepdad, his wife, and my sister, and had dinner at their house in Hillsboro. I saw my good friend Annabelle (who's pregnant) and her husband and sister, we went to coffee and Hubers. I saw David's sister and her husband, who stayed with us in the Benson downtown. It was a whirlwind trip, but so wonderful to see my family. No matter how disjointed everyone becomes, I feel so happy and thankful to have so many people to love in this world, and so many people who love me back. Every single one of them made me the person I am today.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I absolutely, positively can't wait.

It's cold outside, even my fingers are chilly sitting in this Bainbridge Island coffee shop. We came down to Winslow to spend the afternoon because power is out at our house. PSE's website says they're "working on it" so hopefully it comes back overnight. I'm not too worried about it because I'm going to head to bed at 730pm to get ready for the morning shift tomorrow. We have two propane heaters, so parts of our house are warm. We packed ice into our coolers and put our perishables in there, and I bought a can of propane to barbecue lunch on the deck tomorrow. Today I shopped in stores on Winslow Way, some of which had no power! I still bought stuff for Christmas, and feel good supporting these local retailers in this tough economy.

I've just about sealed the deal with a Vancouver, BC couple to rent their winter apartment in San Miguel de Allende for 6 nights in January. Lucky for me, that is the week they are spending on the Coast, so wanted to rent out their place. They spend every winter there escaping the dreary Pacific Northwest weather. They're charging us $350 for the 6 nights, which I think is a great deal. They are just several blocks from the main part of town.

This is the view from the condo's rooftop terrace:

The place is fully functional, with a kitchen and everything, so we can drink coffee at home, maybe cook and eat on the deck a couple nights. David and I are thinking of taking a cooking class.

Right now, the forecast in San Miguel is in the lower 70s and sunny, and drops to the mid-40's at night. It's a mountain climate, I believe at 6,000 feet. I'm just looking forward to the sun on my face and warm daytime temperatures. Enough of this snow, Seattle, ENOUGH!! This will actually be the first warm weather winter vacation I've ever taken, and I'm SO looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Wonderland 2008

I bundled up this morning to take a walk in our snowy neighborhood. I love how the air is still and silent, the only sound is my red rubber boots crunching through a thin layer of ice. I shuffle through thick, powdery mounds. The snow blankets my yard, glazing my gingerbread house with vanilla frosting.
The cars are snow-c0vered hills in the driveway.

First for local news, traffic and weather. If I can dig the car out of the driveway tomorrow morning at 4am.When I was young, I loved snow days. I'd look outside and smile to see my street covered with snow, then I'd turn on the radio, anxious to hear about school closures. My siblings and I would throw on our snow gear, drag the sled onto our quiet street, and make snow cream, a tasty dessert with milk and sugar.

My footprints left gaping holes in the thick snow of my driveway as I trudged out to the street to check out the main road. It's the most effort I've undertaken in three days, and could feel my sick lungs wheezing a little bit.

Then back down to the house, where I don't think we'll be having an outdoor party anytime soon.

I see we did have a little company on our front porch. The only other footprints besides mine.

On these quiet snowy days, all I want to do is drink hot chocolate, or hot-buttered rum, and watch movies in my warm living room. I sometimes wish I had a job where I could call in a "snow day", and not worry about driving. However, this is David's 4th day straight inside, and I think he's getting a little cracked out with cabin fever. He's been upstairs whistling and singing strange harmonies to songs for hours. I guess I am glad I get to go out in the world on a snow day, and report the sights for all the drivers out there. I just wish it didn't have to be at the crack of dawn. Everybody stay safe out there!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I knew it...and.....YUCK

Covering the snow and ice in subzero temperatures at 5 in the morning took its toll on my body. My scratchy throat started on Monday, but I still felt reasonably good. Tuesday and Wednesday it started moving into my nose and lungs, and by Thursday afternoon, I felt I was ready to explode. No amount of DayQuil or NyQuil could ease my symptoms, hence the white mountain of tissue near the bed. I absolutely HATE calling in sick in the news business, but I know I'd be out in the ice again this afternoon, and I just can't do that to my body. Plus I don't want to expose all my coworkers to this junk. Poor David. He's stuck at home with me.

Seattle was a madhouse yesterday. The snow fell hard and steady for hours, turning downtown into a skating rink. I saw a little Mazda Miata struggling up a hill, fishtailing. I saw other cars slammed into fire hydrants and poles. I saw buses sliding at angles, almost breaking at the seams. People should just STAY HOME when it gets this bad. Some people were even driving the WRONG WAY on 520 so they could get off at the nearest ramp. The entire region is paralyzed in the snow, which is why everyone should work from home if they can.

I hope things get better soon, but we are expecting another snow storm this weekend, which could mean WIND. I really hope the power doens't go out. Snow is one thing, but shivering in subzero temperatures in my own home sounds like toruture. It will be another fun day of 5am reporting on Monday, so I hope I kick this cold by then.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Top Ten Words

These are the words I am very tired of writing, reading, and hearing at the moment.

1. Snow
2. Storm
3. Hazardous
3. Economy
4. Fail
5. Bailout
6. The Big Three
7. Corruption
8. Layoffs
9. Senate Seat
10. Colonoscopy

Are there any words you're sick of right now?


Another reason I love Barack Obama is that he's a real person, and he was cute at 20 years old. Below are some photographs taken out of a vault of one of his fellow college students, who wanted to practice her black and white photography.

I can't wait until he's Mr. President. Go Obama!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Life in the Dark Ages

I think I've traveled back 20 years in time, where computers were only good for playing The Oregon Trail. The screen started up in DOS mode, where I'd click the commands in yellow to start the game. Those were the days where I'd read and write for free time, and gobble up books as fast as Data reading text in Star Trek.

Those days are now back. I still don't have a laptop to take with me on the ferry, or to use at home. My work is ordering me a new one, and I still need to drive to a Dell store to get my personal laptop fixed. So, my ferry has been filled with books, my mind full of words. I started the Jodi Picoult book, "Salem Falls" a few days ago, and have already read half of the 400 page book. I read for an hour per day on the ferry, 20 minutes per day on the bus, and before bed. It's liberating; my web surfing addiction can't be fed without my computer.

I even took some time lately to write using a PEN and PAPER. I took my journal on the boat, and felt like I was living in the 18th century, writing with a quill by the light of an oil lamp. I felt people looking at me out of the corners of their eyes, thinking how very ODD it looks to see a person scribbling in ink.

I've also noticed myself thinking in "fiction." Whenever my mind is free, it roams to invented plotlines, to descriptions, to how my character would respond to certain situations. My favorite is to create lines of poetry about my daily life. This is why I constantly get distrcted, the typed words on my computer swimming in front of my eyes. They only come alive in my mind.

It's been an interesting experience living without a computer on my time off. I miss reading my daily blogs, and I miss writing blogs the most. Hopefully I'll be back from the blogging void soon enough. Until then, I'm going to sink into my latest book.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ferry Peace

There's a moment every day where the brain has time to breath, before the hectic day pushes all creative thoughts away. My time happened this morning on the ferry, when I turned my face to the sun. Seagulls punctuated the blue sky, and a lone orange kayak nestled within the rolling waves. The Olympic Mountains are still naked; just a glittering of snow on their highest peaks. Below is my version of "breathing space", which is regularly featured in "O" Magazine. I thank my lucky stars that I have the most beautiful morning commute, which is so soothing, it eases tension from my shoulders, and allows me to settle deep within myself, with my camera along for the ride.

I leave my island in my wake, until its only a distant shore, onto Seattle's hustling and bustling city streets. Where would you rather be?

I love my ferry, my daily dose of solace, relaxation, as I ride the waves.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Newsroom Smells Like Sushi Land

I feel a little embarrassed chowing down on sushi in the newsroom, chopsticks and all. I don't want people to get grossed out by raw fish, or fish eggs, or whatever else is stuffed into these neat pinwheel California rolls. But they are oh so good, with a little bit of ginger and wasabi. A perfect light lunch.

My fear of being embarrassed over food began when I was a young child. My Dad packed me a sandwich I thought was absolutely divine, but other children used as a laughingstock. Peanut butter, pickle, and mayonnaise. Yes, I know you are probably grimacing as you read this, but trust me, it's delicous. Nowadays when I mention the concoction, adults wrinkle their nose and say "yuck". But children were brutal. Pointing. Laughing. Whispering. "Look what she's eating. She must be a freak." Eventually I couldn't take it and told my Dad not to make peanut butter, pickle, mayonnaise anymore.

I used to think sushi was disgusting. I'd go with my family to Sushi Land and feel nauseated watching those dishes of raw fish go around and around. I thought it smelled like I was in the middle of an aquarium that hadn't been washed in days. I refused to eat sushi for YEARS, and now, am finally aquiring a pretty big taste for it. At the moment, my mouth is so stuffed with California roll that I both feel and look like a chipmunk. I hope none of my coworkers come to talk to me while I have this wad in my cheek.

So tell me, is there a food you hated, and now like? Or is there a food you eat that embarrases you?

Monday, December 1, 2008


This is probably the ugliest picture I have ever taken. Which is beyond me why I'd post it on my blog. I do think it's pretty darn funny though, and is typically how I feel on the inside. It also reflects my thoughts about STILL not having Internet at home or on the ferry, which makes me feel incredibly far behind with both work and blogging.

Hopefully this image will appease "Ferry Diaries" fans for awhile.

I took it on my Mom's Mac computer, while celebrating her birthday at her home in Portland. I cooked butternut squash soup, my sister made green beans and tomato, Mom made twice baked potatoes, and her boyfriend made roasted chicken and cole slaw. It was a really fun birthday, and so wonderful as always seeing my family, and hanging out in my hometown. We always end up acting "weird" and taking a billion crazy photos, then laughing about them.

Too bad I don't have more decent photos of the trip. This is what you got. Be glad I didn't post more.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Head is a Sack of Potatoes

I absolutely, positively can't concentrate at work today.

Maybe it's because I got up at 445am yesterday and am still recovering

Maybe it's because I played the Nintendo Wii (Mario Galaxy if you must know) for hours on end on Thanksgiving Day, so much that my neck hurts, my eyes hurt.

Maybe it's because it's a holiday and I have an innate sense that "there's nothing going on" and "nobody's listening".

Maybe it's because I drank wine yesterday. Hmm, yeah, that's probably it. Nothing's better than drinking red wine with Mario, and jumping from world to world, flying through the Universe, defeating mushroom enemies. Nothing's better than gathering Power Stars, getting electrocuted, falling into Black Holes. And then living to tell about it.

I'm trying to concentrate, but forget what I'm concentrating on. I start writing a story, and forget to finish it. I even forget which blog I want to read next. For now, I'll call it "Aquarius Syndrome". Aquarians are supposed to live most of their lives with their heads in the clouds. I'm glad I have something to blame my spaciness on. Thank you, coworkers, for putting up with me today.

I want to go eat some potatoes now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We made our turkey and Thanksgiving meal last weekend, but first, we held the turkey under the faucet, gently rubbing its prickly skin, cleaning it.
"Thank you turkey," David said.
"Yup," I chimed in, "thanks for giving your life to nourish our bodies."
As an omnivore, it's important to recognize the sacrifice these animals give to provide us with sustenance. Oftentimes these creatures lead miserables lives, which can't even be called a life at all. Native Americans always thanked the animal when it died, in hopes this would release its spirit. I think of all the turkeys that are born in the United States to provide us with a Thanksgiving holiday. I wonder who these turkeys are, why their spirits chose to be born turkeys, why they had to live and die like this. I sure wouldn't want to be born a turkey, and would feel much better eating one if I knew that it got some time in the sun, to peck around the grass and really grow and enjoy life.
Every time I eat something that used to be alive, I tell it thanks. This may sound weird, but I also thank the sweet potatoes, the lettuce, the apples, the carrots. These are all gifts from the plant life that surrounds us, and even some of these plants died to nourish us. It's important to recognize how blessed we are to have all this food to enjoy and keep us healthy and strong.
I'm thankful for so many things on this holiday.
  • I'm Thankful for all the friends and family I love
  • I'm Thankful for shelter, the money to support myself
  • I'm Thankful to live somewhere that's nonviolent
  • I'm Thankful for the natural beauty that surrounds us
  • I'm Thankful I have my health
  • I'm Thankful I have the ability to acutely enjoy my life

That is just the beginning, I could write a thousand things here. One of the things we'd do when I was young was all hold hands around the table, and instead of saying a prayer, we'd say what we were thankful for.

It's important to recognize our gifts, and I'm glad I was taught to enjoy that as a young child. Whatever you are doing today, remember to just stop and think, breath deeply, and remember what you're thankful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Every Computer I Touch Turns to Stone

I wonder how people lived before computers. I'm beginning to get a notion of those prehistoric times, since my poor laptop has been in the electronics hospital for days now. I sit on the ferry, actually reading the pages of a book or magazine rather than flipping through the electronic pages of my favorite websites. It's been a bit of a relief, living an hour every day without technology staring me in the face, but it's also forced me to neglect my blog. I love spending time on the ferry reflecting about my life and my day, and writing a blog is the perfect way for me to do that. While "computer-less" on the ride home a couple days ago, I was tempted to scribble some thoughts down on the blank side of an old press-release, just to WRITE. I haven't written a story with a pen and paper for EONS, I don't know if I even remember how.
Today I decided to grab my personal laptop and bring it on the ferry. This laptop is a little bit decrepit because it doesn't work without the power cord. Bad battery, and I need a new one. Anyway, I took the computer out of my backpack, plugged it in, and tried to turn it on. It's black face just stared back at me, blank and vacant. I turned that thing over and over, making sure I had the power cord in the right h0le, but to no avail. The crazy laptop was working JUST FINE for me at home, and now when I REALLY want it, when I REALLY want to write a blog, it decides to laugh in my face and say, "See, reading a book made out of paper is good for you."
I must have some electrical field around me that scrambles any device I have in my possession. The IT guy at work just came over, and said he's been trying to reboot my poor work computer for 3 hours now. My personal computer is sitting lifeless in my backpack, in dire need of a battery-sized recuscitation. Why do I kill every computer I touch?
Anyway, I hope to get back on a blogging roll again soon, as soon as one of my TWO laptops decides to function.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Early Turkey Day!!!

I've been such a bad blogger lately. Part of the reason is that David's Dad stayed with us for about 4 nights, and we celebrated Thanksgiving over the weekend. Another reason for not blogging is that my work laptop has been on the fritz, and I haven't been able to open it on both ferry rides, when I typically post.

Thanksgiving was a blast. It was David and my first turkey, which came out just perfect. We first scrubbed it with olive oil and herbs, then put it in a pan with water, apple juice and white cooking wine. We also used a thermometer, and basted the turkey throughout.
I also made the stuffing and the gravy, and David's other family members made the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and butternut squash soup. All in all, it was an incredible meal, with very nice company. Never mind the foil on the table, I don't know why we didn't clear it earlier, haha.

After eating and drinking wine, we retreated to the living room to listen to music, dance and play percussion instruments. I don't have any pictures of that part of Thanksgiving, I was too busy banging on my conga drums. That is one of our favorite things to do when we entertain, is to get people to play instruments, since percussion tends to be easy. Everyone picked up a shacker, rattle, drum, or frog, and off we went! We ended up staying up until 1am, and then waking up early to eat turkey for breakfast. All and all, a very fun, and very BUSY weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's one of THOSE weeks

The flourescent light is like a wet, cold washcloth that's sticking against my neck. My entire body feels clammy, tired, and I have an extreme sensitivity to light right now. David tried to flick on our VERY bright bedroom light and I yelled "NO! not that one! The other one!" When I'm tired and feeling "blah" I like soft, yellow lights. Nothing bright, nothing overhead. David tried to appease this weird quirk of mine by putting a low-light, gray LED in the closet. It's worse. I turned it on this morning and I felt like the light was smacking me in the eyes. I ran downstairs to my favorite Tiffany-style lamp, which creates a yellow, ethereal glow like morning sun glinting through trees.

I have been tired every day this week, and unmotivated. I don't know why, either. I've been playing tennis every day, eating pretty healthily, but can't seem to sleep the night through. I'll have weird dreams and wake up suddenly, then have a hard time falling back asleep. Every morning I groan, feeling the urge to just stay home and make soup, and just linger in the perfect lighting for my state of mine. I don't like rushing out to the car, then walking down the flourescent-lit tunnel to the ferry, then getting onboard with the stench of perfume and even more ugly lights enveloping me.

I'm just in a strange state right now, and I think some other people are feeling that way to. What is it? Is it the darkness in the morning? Is it the approaching holidays? Is it the financial doom and gloom every day on the news? I just want to be in bed with a steaming hot cup of coffee, and a good book.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I admit it, I'm jumpy

Yesterday a "terrorist threat" shut down the Seattle-Bremerton ferry run for several hours. Police officers and the bomb squad searched the vessel from stern to bow, and didn't find anything, so dismissed the threat. But still, this type of thing lingers on my mind, and today my heart starting pounding onboard the Tacoma.

First of all, I saw sort of a sinister looking man walk by with a heavy bag, who moseyed down to the kitchen. He seemed to be casing the boat, looking left and right. Immediately, a woman in a ferry uniform ran past at full speed. I'm sitting near the Crew Day Room, which became a hub of activity. Ferry personnel ran in and out, the Captain called the Second Mate over the loudspeaker. For several heartwrenching seconds, I thought I'd hear an explosion come from the galley or I thought they'd tell all passengers to move to a certain part of the vessel, or that the vessel was sinking. Then I heard the captain say, "Are there any doctors onboard? Are there any doctors?" Then I knew it wasn't a threat and had nothing to do with the man who walked by, so I immediately breathed easier.

Apparently there is a man onboard who was having a seizure. I can't see him, but I can see all the crewmembers surrounding him, and a doctor who stepped forward with his bag. I think he is doing allright now because all the ferry personnel look much more relaxed.

I'm mad at myself to overreacting to seeing this "suspicious" man on the boat, but immediately following a "threat" on one of the other ferries, I'm at a heightened awareness. It's weird that my mode of public transportation is considered a terrorist target. Yes, I do think about it every so often, but have faith in law enforcement and intelligence that it won't happen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It's amazing how one can love a little ball of fur so much. I remember when I first saw my cat, Lexi, lying behind bars at Petsmart. She purred like a furnace and walked back and forth, pressing her body as close as she could to me within the confines of her cage. She was a bag of bones, her fur in dire need of brushing. I knew immediately she was my kitty, and I was her person. My Mom bought her for me the next day for $60 for an early birthday present.

Now my little fluffball is a very overweight 3 year old. Above is a "before" picture, before she packed on the pounds. I like to say its all fur, but both her and I know that's not the truth.
My Lexi has so much personality, and I also think she's a little slow, but I love her anyway. Here are some reasons why I like my funny cat:
1) When she wants me to wake up, she sits near my face on the bed and gently pokes her paw at me
2) Then when I open my eyes, she is staring at me intently, then meows
3) When I get home from work she rolls onto her back, exposing that lolling stomach to the sky
4) She lets me cuddle with her like a stuffed animal, and hold her feet while she sleeps
5) She's okay with herself, even though she's fat
6) Sometimes she can't figure out how to open doors with a simple head bump
7) She meows constantly, and has all types of meows and I know what they all mean
8) She gets tired of playing with her toys after two seconds, then rolls onto her back and expects me to dangle it over her head so she doesn't have to move
9) One time she got doo-doo stuck on her fur and was so scared of it she couldn't stop running around the house
10) She lets me brush her and cut all her nails without a protest
As you can see, I love this Lexi!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Adventures with Culinary Stones

I never knew the little, classy Japanese restaurant Saito's at 2nd avenue would be one of the strangest dining experiences of my life. It looked benign on the outside; David and I love Japanese food, especially Miso soup and teriyaki. What could be so STRANGE about that? We scanned the menu, and I ordered salmon terikayi and David ordered the surf and turf. It said "table-side cooking" in the description, which we both thought to mean a chef would come out with gigantic chopsticks and whip something up with blue fire a la Beni Hana. Boy were we mistaken.

We stared as the waitress brought out David's meal, which consisted of thin slices of raw meat, and raw shrimp and scallops. Next to that plate she put a very hot, VERY SMALL, rock surrounded by salt. She grasped the chopsticks with dexterous fingers, and "showed" David how to cook his own food. I'm sorry, but go to a restaurant and COOK YOUR OWN FOOD? What the heck is that all about? If we wanted to cook our own food we would have hit up the Town and Country and brought home steak and shrimp for about 1/4 the price.

Cooking on this tiny rock was NOT easy. First of all, David (obviously) isn't Japanese, and can't twirl chopsticks like the best of them. He painstakingly put a shrimp and a piece of steak on the rock, which kept falling off into the salt. Each item got so heavily coated with salt it was almost unedible. David was also VERY hungry, and had to just sit there and salivate as he WATCHED his food cooking in front of him....very slowly. It wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for the salt. It's like punishment for not being able to use chopsticks.

"It's like if they brought you a whole pig and a spit, and put a bunch of poop in the hole beneath it," I told him, "This is completely ridiculous".

Eventually, they brought David another rock without the salt, and we sat there for another 15 minutes as he cooked the rest of his food. It didn't help that this was a fairly expensive restaurant. My salmon was "okay", but I could have cooked it better at home. Cooking on a rock was too caveman-like to make it a fine dining experience.

Maybe David and I aren't Japanese enough to enjoy a meal like this, and don't plan on EVER! going back. We got home last night after this "going out" experience, and whipped up some homemade bean burritos with jalapenos and cheese. Ahhh, now that's more like it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ok, I'm Obsessed

Yes, you guessed it, with Mexico. I've made my decision and it has to be Central Mexico in late January. I've asked for EIGHT DAYS off work, and including weekends, that's going to make us a long trip. We're going to fly into Mexico City, spend a day there, then catch the bus 3 hours to Queretaro (where I lived for 3 months) and stay for a day or so, then onto another bus for 1 hour to San Miguel for Allende, where we will spend the brunt of our vacation.

I have chosen to head to Mexico in the winter for a variety of reasons. It's sunny, around 70 degrees, as opposed to Europe in the winter, which is about 50 degrees and can be cloudy and rainy. I'd rather save Italy or Spain for a spring or fall vacation down the road. I'm also considering moving to San Miguel de Allende with David at some point, and want to check out the city to see if I love it as much as Queretaro. I also want to attend Spanish classes or conversation practice daily on our vacation, and take some cooking classes. San Miguel de Allende is an international city; expats from all over the world make up about 15 percent of the population, the other 85 percent is Mexican. I think it will be comfortable there for David, who doesn't speak any Spanish.

I think think the Central region of Mexico is FAR different than the beach resorts. I may be wrong, since I've never been to the beaches, but people who have tell me they are very touristy, with constant activity every day, and everyone speaks English. The culture is largely lost. Central Mexico feels more like Europe. Streets are clean and safe, the architecture is magnificent; reminiscent of Spain, and in San Miguel de Allende, of France. People smile and are very kind, and know how to party at night. Dancers fill the "Center" often referred to as the "Zocolo," or "El Jardin". Random musicians pop up on street corners. You can buy food from neighborhood vegetable stands. I just love it there, and can't wait to return to my second home.

I also can't wait to take a billion pictures and update all my blogger friends daily.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Adventures of a Reporter

All I can think to write about is work lately, because it's been consuming my life. Yesterday I worked 11 hours covering imminent flooding in small towns along the Cascade Mountains. Yes, four hours of driving to watch a river that was about to explode, when other rivers were already bursting at the seams, sending water into roads and homes.

When I first got to Concrete, Washington, I was bummed that "nothing was going on." The city felt dead and lifeless, wispy tendrils of mist hugged the foothills. The air was damp, the river about a mile away raging and swollen, churning bits of wood and debris. As I wandered through the desolate the streets with burned out buildings just a few blocks away, I found a few people standing outside a bar smoking cigarettes. Their teeth were yellow and crooked, hair long, beards unkempt. But these were the FRIENDLIEST people I've interviewed in a long time. They smiled and told me all about their flood preparations, how they were moving things to higher ground, and worried about the Skagit River. I walked into the bar to try to find some more interviews, and was immediately tempted to sit down and drink beer and just talk all day. Luckily I avoided the impulse, it wouldn't be very "cool" to be doing live reports drunk.
I love how the people in this small town all know each other, and help each other. It really felt like a real community. When there was imminent danger, these people stuck together. I heard those words over and over again in my conversations. "People helping people." "We're there for each other." I couldn't help but feel a little bit of sadness, in a big city like Seattle you probably wouldn't hear that. And Dick at one bar wouldn't know Jane a few doors down. I feel a little more of this community on Bainbridge Island, where people say hello on the ferry, and the neighborhood barber gossips about the owner of the restaurant down the street.
I had a great time exploring the outlying communties a few hours away from Seattle. I was also surprised by the sheer number of McCain/Palin and Rossi signs. I felt like I was in a different state, it was definately a different mindset.
One thing I love about being a reporter is meeting new people. There are definately some characters in the world, and I feel blessed to have an excuse to meet them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


(photo courtesy Seattle PI) Today I had to stand along the Green River, and watch crews pull a car from the raging current with the body of a 2-year old old boy still strapped into his car seat. Reporters had been standing along the bank for hours, even sitting on muddy grass, as the muddy current curled and sneered by the still cameras. This river that has given up so many bodies. It was these eddies that filled a car as this little boy screamed and cried, frightened, locked away in a seat that was supposed to keep him safe as water choked his lungs.

I had to go live on the radio immediately after I heard the King County Sheriff spokesman deliver the news about this toddler. I heard my voice quiver as I fought back tears, but tried to stay the professional reporter. Images of this boy and the fight of his 13-year old cousin to save him flashed like movie clips in my mind. The cousin frantically rolling down windows. The cousin getting out, then taking a deep breath to plunge back into the currents to try to get to the baby, but getting swept away and drowning. No one knows where his body is. The horror of the 16-year old driver who got away safe.

I've never been at a story that affected me so much, that affected everyone there. Reporters talked in low voices with ashen faces. Sad, shiny eyes. I had to bite my lip to keep from crying and knew everyone was doing the same. We had a job to do, a story to tell. I think the overwhelming sadness of the friends and family of these two children created a blanket of anguish that settled around everyone nearby. It's hard not to cry when you see a family member sobbing her heart out only a few feet away.

When it was all said and done, I sat in my newscar to write my stories. I heard a tap on the window and looked up, seeing a family member.

"I just wanted to tell you thanks," she said quietly, her eyes bloodshot with tears and stress. I looked at her and smiled faintly, nodded.

"I wanted to thank the news media, for covering this and being so respectful of the family."

"I hope you find the 13-year old boy," I told her.

"We will, we will." Her eyes were sad but she smiled again, maybe thinking of his face.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Something to look forward to

It's about time I planned another vacation. I've taken a couple days off work here and there to go to cities within the United States, mostly to visit people. I want to be selfish now and take a vacation just for me and David. A LONG vacation, I'm thinking 10 days. And hopefully the boss-man will let me take the time off near the end of January, early February, for both of our birthdays.

One itinerary we're throwing around is to head to central Mexico where I spent 3 months in 2001. I can't believe its been so long, and I'm having this deep craving to go back to the place I call my second home. We would land in Mexico City, spend a day there, then take the bus to Queretaro, and spend a day or two, then a bus to San Miguel de Allende, and spend a week. I lived in Queretaro, but want to check out San Miguel since that might be a place David and I might like to live someday. I hear its magical place in the mountains, with lots of art and beauty.

Another place we are thinking of is Florence, Italy, but tickets there are twice as much as Mexico, so I'm not sure if we'll do that one or not. David says its the most beautiful city in the world, so that is tempting. Round trip airfare is $742 in late January, which really isn't bad for Italy. Choices, choices! I know I'll be happy anywhere I get to go.

It's so important to have something to plan and look forward to. Our last big trip was to Europe in 2006, so it will soon be almost two years since I've taken a week or more off work. I really need it. I love being a reporter, meeting new people, writing, thinking of creative ways to tell a story. But my poor brain is saying WHEN....WHEN can I just take some time to heal and refresh. I really can't wait. I'm jumping up and down inside. I'll keep you posted as to what location we choose!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On Being a News Person

Sometimes its tough being in the media. We have a habit of trivializing people's lives, turning a violent death into a "good story" or "radio magic." I recently heard the latter term after two people were killed in a wrong-way crash on I-5. I imagine police officers showing up at doorsteps, people falling to their knees, screaming in anguish as their lives are turned upside down. I picture the raw grief of family members, and wonder what the last moments of the lives of their loved ones was like. Did they know they were about to die? Did they see the ferocious headlights zooming closer in the rain? Then here we are, in the safety of the newsroom, excited by the prospect of "something happening" we can report on. Recently when a man was hit by a van and left in critical condition in West Seattle, we joked that "too bad it wasn't a bus." It would have made a better story.

I wonder what these families would think if they saw us talk about the death of their loved ones like this. I think its important to always remember the humanity, the sacredness of each human life as we tell a story. When we take the time to think, "this was a human being", the compassion shows in our voices.

But its hard to always feel sadness for every person who dies. We are confronted with so much death and destruction as journalists that sometimes its easier to joke than to recognize the loss of life.

David witnessed the loss of life one rainy evening in downtown Seattle. He was in the middle of a crosswalk when a pedestrian feet away from him was struck by a car. He saw this person go flying. He saw the paramedics try to pump the life back into this man. He saw the lone tennis shoe flung a block and a half from the scene. He saw the cops gather up this man's belongings and put them in a pink plastic bag. David always gets tremendously sad when he hears of loss of life in a car accident, or pedestrian accident. He helps me find my humanity when remembering these lives, these people just going about their business, who never knew they'd become a news story.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Beam me up

I must be on a distant land in outer space, because for the life of me, I cannot get my head out of the clouds. I desperately need to be beamed back to reality, so I can actually finish my work and go home to drink red wine and lie on the couch and ponder the future of our country.

This morning I woke up in complete confusion. Two alarms were doing off, David was shaking me and I had no idea why.

"What day is it?" I asked him drowsily, still having no clue why I had set two alarms on a Saturday morning.

"Thursday, you have to get up and go to work."

"It's only Thursday? My God." This is officially the slowest week in all of humanity.

A similar "head in the clouds" moment just happened to me at work. I came out of the bathroom and just stood there in the hall, not understanding what part of the building I was standing in. It was like I teleported from bathroom to bathroom. It was very disconcerting because I didn't remember walking all the way across the building.

This week has been an emotional roller coaster. I worked 13 hours Tuesday, and I feel like I'm recovering from a huge election day hangover, even though I never took a celebratory sip of champagne. It's like a major sugar rush, then a crash that lasts 5 days. Ohhh brain, get back down to EARTH.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God Bless America

I woke up exhausted this morning, but with a smile on my face. President Barack Obama. I turned the words around in my mouth, getting used to how they feel, knowing that this is for REAL. President Barack Obama. The man who broke all boundaries, who has the innate ability to inspire and bring people together as Americans. The man people will listen to, who can set an example to the world. I am in awe of this country, of its ability to change and overcome. I am so proud to live here, and call myself American.

I will always remember where I was when history "happened." I was in the throngs of hundreds of jubilant people in downtown Seattle, as they chanted "yes we can", running through the streets carrying Obama signs. Strangers gave each other hungs and high fives. People's voices shook as they yelled, their eyes shiny with tears. I forgot my camera this historic night, but luckily, the Seattle Times was there.

I heard the chanting from three blocks away, and when I drove my car toward the sound, 3rd avenue was flooded with people, running to Pike Place Market. I sat there through several light cycles, watching this yelling mass converge in the heart of Seattle. Police officers stood on the periphery, smiling, protecting these happy people from traffic. It felt amazing to be in the middle of this rally, to see and feel what its like when Americans come together, all races and types, all ages, celebrating one cause.

On Capitol Hill, an entire intersection was blocked. House music blasted and people sang and danced, showering each other with champagne and shooting off fireworks. People drank booze in the street, men with no shirts chest-bumped and yelled. What other election of event has made people celebrate like this? The energy was contagious, vibrant, enthusiastic, people everywhere smiling. I will remember that day forever. Yes, it's finally real. President Barack Obama, I love you!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Belly Dancing as Woman Power

Today I witnessed what would happen if women loved each other, instead of competed with one another. I learned that smiles among pre-teen girls can be genuine, and that women can be sources of great power and beauty, even at the young age of 9.

I saw twisting hands and shaking hips. I saw shoulders sway and feet pound the ground as bells shimmered and twirled. I saw tall girls, overweight girls, skinny girls, short girls. I saw girls smile and cheer each other on, no pretense, no judgement. The room was brightly lit with persian rugs on the floor, mirrors everywhere, the ceiling painted sky blue with cotton candy clouds. Throughout this room, Middle Eastern music jumped and weaved its intoxicating, foreign beats. The instructor told me belly dancing is a dance made for women, by women. It's a way for these young girls to get confidence and empower themselves, no matter their shape and size.

This was my news story today, how lucky could I be? At first, I felt so uncomfortable with all those eyes staring at me, asking these girls penetrating questions:

"What do you think of your body?"

"How do magazines influence you?"

"What's it like at school and are you pressured to diet?"

I got honest answers from these girls, their ages spread between 9 and 13. One girl's voice shook as she told me how brutal people are at school over her weight and height, but that there, at the belly dance studio, she belonged. One 9-year old who's very short for her age tells me people make fun of her all the time, and she feels bad for awhile, but decides she likes her height.

Here girls whoop and holler as they show each other belly dancing "moves". I never would have thought of belly dancing as an exercise for young girls. I thought it was meant to be "sexy", to be done "for men" but I see how empowering it is to shake that rear without thinking anyone is looking at you funny.

I felt elated after interacting with these beautiful girls. Two of them came up to me and gave me big hugs afterwards and said, "thanks." The instructor also gave me a hug. It feels so good to be included, to not worry if someone is thinking, "why is she wearing THOSE shoes," or "her hips are too big" or "her teeth are crooked." After leaving this class I felt empowered, just being in their positive energy. I hope girls like this are the future. TAKE THAT Glamour and Cosmopolitan and MTV.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

When I just love the rain

I'm standing in a warm kitchen right now, smelling this amazingly intense Minestrone soup simmering on the stove, as rain slashes angrily against the window. The colors outside are muted and dark, blending together with the rain. Inside, it's bright and happy, comforting. Now the hail breaks through, the wind pounding it against the ground and walls of my house.

My favorite activity to do on a rainy day is to make soup. I'm making an Italian Minestrone, one of Giada's recipes, she is on Food Network. This minestrone is special. There is diced pancetta, tomatoes, swiss chard, a parmesan cheese rind and a fresh sprig of parmesan. I love those extra ingredients I wouldn't normally think to add to Minestrone. The smell is intoxicating, filling my small kitchen with simmering onions and garlic. I'm going to serve this soup with grated parmesan cheese, crusty bread, and a little bit of red wine on the side.

I've never seen a storm this ferocious in the Northwest. I'm so glad I love my house, it's the perfect place to be.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why women's clothing is like a torture device

Today I decided to wear tights since I am going out to a show tonight after work, and wanted to wear a skirt for a change. I now feel like a chorizo sausage, trying to bust out of an second skin. How do black tights make a person who is not overweight feel like she needs to lose 10 pounds? I think the equates a torture device, but I'm going to have to grin and bear it. It means I can't eat too much for lunch, or my stomach might break a hole through this outer sheath. So ladies, what do you do? Do you pull the thing up to your armpits in hopes it flattens your stomach, or push them down to make a gigantic bulge in the hips? Choices, choices.

I'm just glad I don't live a couple hundred years ago, where it was common for women to wear corsets. Sometimes these corsets were so tight they'd rupture internal organs, or women would pass out due to their compressed lungs. Or I'm glad I don't live in Asia where women had to wear tiny shoes to stunt the growth of their feet. Or where women go through painful bone-lengthening procedures that involve breaking the thigh, inserting screws, and slowly pulling the bone apart. Yes, this happens TODAY in some countries, because some women think being tall equates beauty.

High heels are also an interesting phenomenon. I wear heels for a couple reasons - sometimes its for looks, sometimes it's because all my pants are too long, and require high heels if I don't want to ruin the cuffs. High heels are another torture device, completely unnatural, but I've gotten so used to walking in them I don't even notice. And they are perfect for dancing, since Latin dance requires women to move on the balls of their feet.

The good thing about all these torture devices is that we live in a country where we can CHOOSE to be uncomfortable, its not a way of life, or forced upon us. If we want to wear sweats and tennis shoes, no problem. If we want to look like Gothic creeps, no problem. Or if we want to wear high heels and tights and torture ourselves all day long, no problem. At least I'll be dressed for the show!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What are you going to be for Halloween?

I haven't dressed up for Halloween for years, nor carved pumkins. I haven't even had any trick or treaters.....EVER. I think I'll get more into the Halloween spirit someday when I have kids, and can see their delight when they become someone or something new for the night.

This year, though, I'm contemplating celebrating this strange holiday, where people become unrecognizable. How do we decide who to "be?" What drives us to want to change for one night? Do we feel like we can be more risky if we're not ourselves? I notice a lot of women use Halloween to suddenly become sexy vixens. I tried on one costume that was so short, I embarrassed myself even though I was alone in the dressing room. At the costume store yesterday, many of the costumes for women look more like they belong in a strip club than out on the cold, wet streets.

Maybe David and I could dress up as partners in something. He could be Captain Picard and I could be Counselor Troy. Hmmm. No. Or he could be a doctor and I could be a nurse. Too cliche. My favorite is him being the Phantom of the Opera and me being Christine, but he doesn't want to do that one. I'll probably just put on some of my own vintage clothes, my own vintage hat, some long gloves, and a brooch, and then buy a platinum blond wig and be Marilyn Monroe. I've always loved that old Hollywood glamour.

So tell me, how do you choose what to be for Halloween? Why do you like to dress up?