Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Canlis Experience

It was supposed to be a simple night of bar food at the nicest restaurant in town: Canlis. It's made of stone and glass, and is perched high on a hill above Lake Union. I met up with my foodie friend and writer, Julien, and former coworker MaryBeth, in the bar. Sunlight sparkled through the glass, and I could see the snow-capped peaks of the Cascades. A young piano man's fingers danced across the keys as the foreign bartender shook fancy cocktails. We were going to order the lamb sliders and truffle fries off the bar menu, until the chef himself came out.

"Hey Julien, how are you?" He's only 31-years old, and shy. There is no ounce of ego in this man, who I later found out to be a genius. "What would you like today? How about my tasting menu? Small or large bites?"
We chose small, while the bartender brought out our drinks. For me, he recommended a fancy margarita crusted with black sea salt. He brought over a concoction that foamed and bubbled, and turned colors as a I stirred it.

He regaled us with a story about a woman in Greek mythology, who ate pomegranate seeds to keep herself young, or something like that. Every drink had a story. Not only was this man a libation artist, he was a storyteller with a beautiful accent. Long after I'd slurped this margarita down, I told him to make me something with bourbon, and he came up with a smoking ice castle.

The food came next. The incredible, heart-breakingly beautiful food. Every bite was like heaven, the service impeccable. We started with a droplet of rubarb soup, then watermelon ceviche.

Waiters bustled around us like worker bees to their hive. Smiles, soft voices, quick hands that whisked away napkins and wiped the table down. At one point four waiters surrounded us as they regaled us with the ingredients to these masterpieces. First, yellowfish tuna with a gelatin sauce.
Then, salmon with fingerling potatoes.
Black cod wrapped in squash blossom.

Lamb loin with fried squash, and pepperoni.
The flavors blended so beautifully I thought I was in heaven. Even the owner himself, Mark Canlis, came over to introduce himself to my famous food writing friend. He has a lot to be proud of. Just when I thought the tasting menu was over, the waiters put another delectible treat in front of us. Sumac meringue crumbles and fresh strawberries topped with strawberry sorbet. This was the precurser to dessert.
THE PRECURSOR! It was a slice of heaven, tangy, yet sweet, smooth and soft, crumbly and moist. The best summer dessert. Then came the big cajones. It looked like a little purple bunny rabbit with wings, frolicking in the Garden of Eden.

In reality, it was sweet corn panacotta with blueberry sorbet, corn kernels and blueberry slices. (Thanks Julien, for writing all this down.)

It was an amazing experience, albeit spendy. I think MaryBeth put it the best.

"It's a party in my mouth, for my tastebuds."

Yes, it was. Thank God for fine dining.

(Again, Julien is an incredible food photographer!)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Gravity of San Miguel: Excerpt Two

I hardly ever have time to write, but sometimes I manage to clear the clutter from my brain and attempt to write in fiction. Below is a little bit more from something I'm writing called, "The Gravity of San Miguel."

Twenty minutes later we boarded the bus to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. An attendant handed out ham sandwiches and a drink, and I found my seat. I was surprised at how nice it was; I’d never been on a bus in the United States this luxurious. There were only 24 seats on board the entire coach, each reclined almost fully. There was a drink holder for my Diet Coke, air conditioning, televisions, a large window with curtains, and the bathroom area was cordoned off with a glass wall to keep the smell out. A couple of white people also got on board, and a woman with gray streaks in her hair caught my eye and smiled. I could get used to this type of traveling, I thought as I turned on my I-pod.
It seemed to take forever to get out of Mexico City. We drove past ramshackle neighborhoods with tiny houses stretching up the rolling hills. I stared at Mexicans on street corners, operating fruit stands, selling churros. One lady washed laundry in her front yard in a big plastic tub, while kids with long, black hair frolicked nearby. I smiled when I saw a girl in bright pink shorts, and wondered what her life was like. Even though many areas looked poor, the homes were still brightly colored, like they were trying to infuse happiness into struggling people.
When we reached the open Mexican countryside, it was like we were in Texas. Cacti dotted the rolling brown hills, and I could imagine John Wayne racing toward us on horseback, whooping and hollering with his gun raised. I saw lonely houses with burros tied to sticks, sprawling farms, and Mexican families waiting at bus stops. When I saw the sign for “Querertaro”, I knew we were close. I’d see my new home in a little over an hour.
The bus wheezed to a stop at what looked like a toll booth. Guards wearing green fatigues and holding machine guns patrolled up and down the street. They looked stern, and frowned at our bus. Suddenly I felt very frightened. I imagined bullets riddling the side of the ETN coach, ducking for cover, getting kidnapped. My heart pounded in my chest, but the other white people on board didn’t seem the least bit nervous. It looked like they were comfortable in Mexico, like they’d done this before. Of course, my fears were unfounded, and we were soon on the road again.

* * *

There are some instances in our lives when time seems to stand still. The moment washes over us and freezes, enveloping us in suspended animation. Every sense is optimized as we melt into our surroundings; even the tiny vellus hairs on our skin speak in rapid-fire code to our brains. It's the type of moment we'd live in forever, if we could choose. I had this experience the first time I ever laid eyes on San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
As the bus rose over the last hill to the city, it felt as though we were flying. It was slow-motion, the way my heart rose in my chest; then pounded hard against my ribcage. The stucco buildings came into view against the piercing blue sky, and tears that tasted like ocean crested in a tidal wave and streamed down my cheeks. The hills cocooned the homes that rolled in a red carpet to the magnificent pink parraoquia. Emotion was delicious inside me, scraping away the self-doubt and worry. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I was in the right place. Suddenly, inexplicably, I was home.
“Beautiful, isn’t it.” The American woman I'd seen before turned in her seat, her wide smile crinkling her eyes.
“Yes, I had no idea how much so,” I said, feeling sheepish as I brushed tears away.
“Are you visiting, going to live?” she asked.
“I’m moving here from Seattle. I had to get away from the rat race for a little while, figure out what I want to do with my life.”
“Congratulations,” she said, “I’ve lived here for 6 years now. I haven’t been able to leave. My husband lives in Chigaco, I live here, and we commute back and forth to see each other. It’s hard, but, I love San Miguel too much to leave.”
“Wow, I’m not sure if I want to stay that long, but I’m excited to take a break from ordinary life.”
“Nothing in San Miguel is ordinary,” she told me, “It’s like there’s a pull here, a magnet, a gravity. You may never escape.” She smiled again, but I could tell she wasn’t joking.
“I’m Isabelle,” I told her.
“Kathy,” she said, “So nice to meet you.”
I jotted down her number and settled back in my seat. Our bus bumped and swayed over the narrow roads and down to the bus station. I couldn’t wait to get to my apartment, put down my bags, and explore my new home.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The day the music (pop) died.

Reporters have the tendency to joke - either when they don't believe something is true, or when it just too momentous to grasp. I was walking to the kitchen when the editor called out,

"Michael Jackson's been arrested again."

I rolled my eyes.

"Cardiac," he said.

It took me awhile to get it, and then I chuckled a tiny bit, and walked away. I was sure it was some sort of fluke or sick joke, that my coworkers were just messing with me. The King of Pop was allright, and was pulling a stunt, if anything. He's done weirder things before. And who can trust TMZ?
Suddenly it was all over major websites - LA Times, ABC, CNN - Michael Jackson has been rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest.
TMZ was first to report his death. I sat at my desk, shellshocked, unbelieving. The other news organizations didn't catch up for a good 20 minutes, and I could picture journalists all rushing the phones, frantic, not wanting to print something they'd later have to retract. Newsrooms all over the country were buzzing in synchrinocity. Times like these are when I relish being a reporter, even through a sad event.
I was amazed at how Twitter exploded. I felt part of a grieving community as people from across the country mirrored my emotions, and posted links to their favorite Michael songs. The sadness I felt surprised me - I've felt for a long time that MJ is just a wack job, a strange man who had too many plastic surgeries. But I couldn't deny what his music did for our country, for our world. He was a musical genius, a stunning performer and dancer. Chidlren all over will be imitating "Thriller" and "Bad" for years and decades to come.
I don't think I've ever lived through such a momentous loss. I got chills when I read that the Associated Press sent out a Flash Bulletin, the highest possible, used for incidents like the John F. Kennedy death. This was one of those incidents that will change the identity of who we are as country. The King of Pop is gone, but his music will live on forever. I can't get "Rock with You" out of my head. RIP, MJ.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Teaching is not my forte

I almost fell over with an aneurysm when the editor came up to me yesterday afternoon with an intern in tow.

"This is ____. Can she sit with you for awhile while you show her what you do?"

Does. Not. Compute. My brain twitched like a malfunctioning android as I struggled to find my composure, finally managing a weak smile.

"Sure," I croaked, and I quickly clicked away from the website where I was reading about William Shatner...aka Captain Kirk...aka TJ Hooker...aka.....has-been-hottie. He'd just written an autobiography that I was reading on my Kindle, and I wanted to figure out if he was doing a book tour in Seattle, and if I could somehow interview him. That would be my ultimate interviewing dream.

It's a good thing he doesn't look like that anymore, or I might have dressed up like a green alien and gave him a big smacker.

Put that ray-gun away, Captain Kirk, that's innapropriate!! I digress. Back to my story.

The intern, who's incredibly sweet, sat next to me with unabounded curiosity written all over her face. She looked at my expectantly, like "Teach me! Teach me!"

I panicked, stuttered, and pointed at the screen.

"Here is what I did today. Ummmm....this story, that story, and that story." My finger tapped the wraps, debriefs, and writes. I had no idea how to explain what I'd done. Eventually, with her questions, I was better able to explain what I had done, why I used phone tape, how reporters operate, how I edited soundbites.

I've always been a terrible teacher, and have never particularly enjoyed teaching. I just want people to watch what I do and pick it up, without my having to explain anything.

"Kristin, how do I move my hips like that in salsa?"

"Like this!" I show them, thinking that should be enough.

"Well, do you twist a certain way? Just HOW do you DO it?"

This is when David swoops in, the natural teacher, and explains it perfectly. Timing, steps, movement, frame, spins, rhythm. I look at him in wonder, curious how he can compartmentalize these things into speech. He's a natural teacher, and he loves it. I wish to see him in that type of profession one day. I love to write, I know how to put images to words, but teaching? No way. Just give me Captain Kirk.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My stage life on the tennis court

My tennis instructor said something rather odd to me during my first lesson at the Bainbridge Athletic Club. He was lobbing balls across the net, as I struggled at the base line on my new technique: turn, circle with the racket, swing on through, rotate hips. I was breathing so hard I thought I'd have a coronary, as two men grunted on a court two down.

"Everyone who plays tennis has a little bit of lesbian in them!" His blond hair brushed over his forehead as he hit yet another deathtrap right at me. Set, swing, follow through. Try not to die. Breath.

"What did you say?" I said between panting breaths.

"I said, everyone who plays tennis has a little bit of thespian in them!" Oh! Thespian. That really cleared things up. This is tennis, not acting, Peter.

"What do you mean?"

"People behave on the court in ways they'd never dare to behave in their normal lives."

He grinned as he motioned to the men two courts down. One of them ran up to the net screaming like a caveman, his racket poised like a club. The other one growled as he hit his prey, shorts rippling against his bony legs.

It's true. People act as though the tennis court is a hunting ground, a breeding ground, or a bathroom. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I've heard some peculiar noises coming from the ladies in cute tennis skirts as they slug a fast one. We're all grown-ups, though, and pretend we didn't hear a thing. It's all just a bunch of fluff, or whatever you want to call it.

Some women make sounds on the court like they are in childbirth. Loud grunts, high pitched squeeks, breathy oohs and aahs. One teenaged boy sounded like he was caught in a mouse trap as he pummeled the yellow ball. EEk! EEEk! He squealed over and over again, not realizing that he was emasculating himself with every perfect swing.

Sometimes, when there is no one else playing, David and I will practice our gutteral grunts.




We yell robustly as the ball flies over the net, never giving in to those impish squeals and shrieks. If tennis is turning me into a thespian, I may as well act like a cavewoman.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Masochism is an Ugly Trait

Today I decided to combine two of the things I hate most: Waking Up Early, and The Dentist. During a brainless moment several weeks ago, I scheduled the one hour appointment at 8am , when I don't have to be to work until 10am. I dragged my sorry butt out of bed at 6am this morning to the sound of rain, and feeling feverish. My head felt like it was stuffed with thousand cotton balls, my hands clammy, and my eyes were weighted down with regret. Why did you do this to yourself! It was the mantra that kept me going this morning, like a little man pounding and shouting inside the walls of my head. I'd gotten home late last night after picking David up at the airport and eating dinner in the lovely and romantic city of Tukwila, and didn't fall asleep until midnight or so. Let the torture (masochism) begin.

In about 40 minutes, I will be reclined in the dental hygienists chair, trying not to hyperventilate as the giant needle comes at my gums. They will be numbed for the Deep Cleaning, which is a good thing after my antics during the last visit. I jumped and squirmed as the Hygienist poked and prodded, and finally, she admitted what we all know is Truth:

"I'm sorry, I'm torturing you, aren't I."

Yes, you evil little woman with the perfect, straight, amazing teeth - YOU'RE KILLING ME. I just nodded and tried to grin around the scalpel and electrodes in my mouth. The results of my first dental appointment after 3 years were NOT GOOD.

"You will need to come back for four separate deep cleanings," she told me, "We'll numb you so you don't feel a thing." Yeah, except for the feeling of the needle deep in my gums. The pressure as you dig for treasure along the walls of my teeth. The aching jaw as you fit your entire hands inside my mouth.

I know this is all my fault, but I hate the dentist. I'm trying to get over that fear by getting my teeth deep cleaned, and then going in for subsequent cleanings every 3 months. I know when my gums are free of bacteria and plaque, they will not hurt as much during cleanings. David was in the same boat, and got his deep cleanings already. He thought it felt like a gum massage, and actually enjoyed it. I know it's only because he got to drink a beer afterwards as a "reward."

I will be going to the mobile meat processing unit in Puyallup for a news story, and won't be able to hold my barf in as it dribbles down the numbed side of my face. Seeing where cows will soon be killed isn't my idea of a great time, rather unnappetizing. I'd much rather have a beer, and soak the pain of sore gums away. Then I will become a vegetarian.

Wish me luck today, everyone, wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One of my favorite places on Earth

We went to Laguna Beach in Orange County, California to celebrate my sister's 21st birthday. Our favorite restaurant there is called Las Brisas, and it's high on a hill about the curvature of the white, sandy beach far below.Emily got a kick out of being carded, and ordered her very first drink. Ever. After starting off the afternoon with drinks and delicious food on the patio, we headed to look at Laguna Beach.
It was gorgeous, except for the huge clumps of smelly seaweed littering the beach. Kinda like Bainbridge Island looks when the tide is down, or there's a sewage spill.
But that didn't stop us from wandering down to the hot white sand, taking off our shoes, and sticking our Oregon toes into the warm California water. It was cold, but I'm used to my feet turning red and falling off when I touch the water in the Northwest.

I love being near the coast - the rumbling of the waves is a sedative. I could lie on the shore and listen all day long.

This is one of my most favorite beaches in Southern California. It's an artsy town full of boutiques, ice cream shops, and restaurants. It's away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.

We had a great time with the sand in our toes, and the sun in our hair, and burning the crap out of our shoulders.

Goodbye Laguna. I'll miss you until next time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The amazing Grandpa

It's been difficult posting on my vacation, becuase I usually have my trusty ferry ride to formulate thoughts and write things that make sense. This trip so far has been a whirlwind of family activities. I'd like to share a little bit about my soon to be 92-year old Grandpa, who has inspired and amazed me ever since I was a child. Earlier this year, he had a stroke, and had to stay in a nursing home for a few weeks. Some people leave not being able to talk, or walk even, but he's still chugging along on his daily routine. I've never seen a happier elderly man.Every morning, he goes outside and rakes his leaves into little piles, waters the plants, and trims the hedges.

Even though his memory isn't as good as it used to be, he still smiles, constantly.

After puttering around the yard, he goes to the park, and takes a one mile walk. Keep in mind, we are talking about a man who is almost 92. Below is him strolling near my brother.

This walk always includes push-ups.

I've learned from Grandpa that the key to longevity is to always stay moving. He taught me this when he was in his 70's and would still climb the Grand Canyon, or Mount Baldy. His pace used to be so fast I couldn't even catch up.

He's not as fast as he used to be, but he wouldn't miss a walk for the world. Every morning we go over for breakfast, I see little piles of leaves, and know he's on the right track.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Little Bro, Little Sis

Last night my little brother graduated from high school, and on Tuesday my little sister will turn 21. It's amazing how quickly time seems to fly, for I felt like I was just graduating from high school, turning 21, graduating from college. Those significant milestones from my past are still etched into my brain as though they were yesterday. Amazing how time seems to stand still, yet flies right by, once you start doing the same thing over and over again, day in and day out (job).

These little tykes are 7 and 10 years younger than me. I remember when they were born, and I seemed so much older. I changed their diapers, I fed them baby food, I taught my sister words like "fart" and "poop" in a fort in our living room. Yes, I corrupted them, that's for sure. I remember my brothers fascination with balls ever since he was a baby, and now he's a varsity baseball player. He always used to tell me, "someday when I'm rich I'll buy you a fancy sports car." I'm holding you to that, little bro.

Even though we have different Dads, I've never thought of these two as anything less than my full brother and full sister. Those half labels never made much difference to me, as we were raised under the same roof, and I saw them almost every day of our lives. I love that they are getting older now, that we are finally starting to be on the same playing field. 19, 21, and 28 are much closer in age than 2, 4, and 12. There's just a world of difference when you are children with such a big age difference.

Anyway, I'm so proud of both of them, and excited to see the family in California this week! You guys Rock!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The incremental chef.

One of my first forays (disasters) with cooking happened in Sunriver, Oregon, when I was babysitting my little brother and sister. They are 7 and 10 years younger, so I'd be responsible for cooking (destroying) dinner.

"Here's the Mac and Cheese," said my mother, planting a box of the processed food firmly on the kitchen counter.

It will be easy, I thought, all I have to do is mix the water and noodles, right? WRONG.

The oozy, goozy, creepy concoction that materialized in the pan reminded me of something you'd find in a hospital bedpan. It was slimy and yellow, chunky and chewy. I think the kids forced it down anyway, I was too scarred by my cooking gaffe to even notice.

I gave up on cooking after that for many, many years, until living in my very own apartment in college forced me to try. I remember calling my mother with a myriad of dumb questions:

"How do I microwave frozen vegetables?" (I first tried it without water, and the veggies came out wimpy and shriveled)

"What temperature do I cook chicken in a pan?" (Flashing back to memories of uncooked chicken strips a customer brought back when I worked in the zoo food court)

"How do I cook fish?"

Eventually, the onslaught of questions paid off, and now I love to cook. I love making soups, salmon, and spinach salads with cranberries and walnuts. I love making Shepherd's Pie, enchiladas, and casserole. I love browsing through recipes and creating new concoctions. Someday I'd love to cook on taste alone, and invent new recipes of my own.

I wish I had time to cook every day....maybe someday that time will come.

Monday, June 8, 2009

In which we are binars

There is one clue that will tell you whether you are a nerd, a dork, a Trekkie and everything in between: when you understand what Binars are, and take it as a compliment when used to describe your relationship.

Last Sunday David and I celebrated my stepmom's 50th birthday with a Sternwheeler cruise up the Columbia River Gorge, and afterward stopped to see some beautiful waterfalls. We both have a very quirky sense of humor, and were practicing karate moves to celebrate the force of the Horsetail waterfall. We often do the same odd things without saying anything out loud.

"They're like Binars," my stepmom said, chuckling to my Dad.

I completely agree. Binars were in an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation, and were two people (aliens) that communicated nonverbally, and mostly with binary numbers and computers. They spoke at a frequency nobody else understood. David and I definately march to the beat of a different drummer, but that drummer plays for both of us.

That is a normal picture of us on the Sternwheeler, and below is another normal picture of us at Multnomah Falls.

Then, David decided his head looked too big relative to mine (Cabezon!), so we took a picture to put it all in perspective.

And a great time was had by all.By the way, I think I should use this as the picture on my press pass, or license, or passport.

Or....maybe not. Next I will become a Klingon.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fast Food is the Death of Me

A hungry tummy often overrules thoughts of reason while working as a reporter out in the field. Today I ran around frantically until 3pm, when I decided I better do something about my growling stomach. My hands had started to shake, and my brain craved an injection of energy. The only glucose nearby? McDonalds. Big mistake. A big mac of a bad time. I'm still regretting going through that drive-through and ordering a Filet-o-Fish (gag me!), and a small fry (bending over the toilet retching!). Ugh, ick, disgusting. I feel like a giant vat of discarded vegetable oil, hours after the last fries were blasted into cancer sticks. Listless, useless, my body craves salmon and broccoli.

I remember and time and place when fast food was exciting. I never understood why my parents groaned as we drove through the drive-thru at McDonads or Taco Bell or Kentucky Fried Chicken. I loved the Filet-o-fish with no cheese, the chicken nuggets with honey, and we'll talk about Taco Bell in a moment. I loved munching on my goodies as we headed on our road trips, hours dragging on end. The monoteny was broken by those delicious juices oozing out of that gray fish. Delish!

Fast-forward to high school. The inside of my white Nissan Maxima often resembled a fast-food cemetary. White Taco Bell bags stood like tombstones in the back seat and on the floor, the rotting entrails of bean burritos inside. People wouldn't ride with me because of the stench. I had a terrible habit of eating something from that death hole every day after high school. Maybe it was my own way of rebelling. Forget drugs and alcohol! Kristin ate TACO BELL!

Fast-forward another 10 years. I can hardly stand the sight and smell of fast food. I usually take great care in packing lunch and eating a healthy dinner. I hate how fast-food is the norm for many people, who can't afford to cook their own meals. I wish they had other options, like cheap fresh veggies and fish. I feel like that processed Filet-o-Fish expanded inside my belly, creating an alien of a fast food pregnancy. I can't handle it. I'm full and hungry at the same time. I'm about to explode.

Monday, June 1, 2009

As if crossing the crime scene tape makes me a criminal

There are several things I'm afraid of as a news reporter: young men (we've already gone over that) , funerals and crime scenes. I had an experience in Portland that scarred me when I was a cub reporter, and now when I see crime tape, I want to wrap myself into a huge yellow bundle and hide, hoping cops won't see me as I peek between the lines.

I had to cover a standoff in Southeast Portland many years ago, since standoffs are typical fodder for a slow news day, or for a news station that only cares about crime. I circled the scene looking for the media staging area, which is a safe place to park our news trucks, and where we talk with the PIO (public information officer.) Reporters hover like puppy dogs in these designated lots, where we stand begging for tidbits. We'd eye cops in uniform huddling and whispering in hushed tones, and salivate for a variety of reasons.

Anyway, this time, I couldn't find the media staging area, so I kept driving, around and around and around. Apparently, a dude had barricaded himself inside an apartment with a gun, and police had several streets blocked off around the crime scene. I drove into a parking lot, and then found a small alley, and began driving slowly toward the commotion. I thought I'd spot the PIO, and could ask a few questions for my liveshot.

And I found the cops, all right. I knew something was wrong when I saw SWAT officers hiding behind cars right next to me, and on balconies in front of me. I suddently felt danger as a big burly man walked viciously to my car.

"What the hell do you think you're doing!!" He shouted, several feet away.

"I'm,,...uh....trying to find the PIO." I stuttered and my heart pounded. I just knew this guy was going to arrest me from impeding an investigation.

"Get out of here...NOW. And don't EVER come into a crime scene. Do you understand me?!!!"

He was seething, staring at this dumb blond reporter like I was the bubble gum he'd wipe off the bottom of his cop boot. Like I was a spit ball pounded deep into the crevices of sidewalks. Or a piece of corn that already passed. Yes, it was that bad.

I backed up as fast as I could without causing another reason for my arrest and sped out of there. I was scared beyond belief. I could have been shot! I could have been tackled! I could have gone to jail!

These are the thoughts that assault me every time I go to a crime scene. Today, I dangled around the edges of a crime scene in Everett until I got up the guts to walk past the orange cones, past two cop cars, and right up to the trooper on the offramp of Highway 2. I'd like to pretend its because I'm brave, it's because I've gotten over my crime scene fear. But it was really because I saw a guy from a television station, setting up his camera. It was the media staging area. I'd finally found it.