Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zen and the Art of Arguing on the Road.

I recently went to a bridal shower. For those of you that may be of the "less fair" sex, allow me to explain that any sort of "shower" usually involves some sort of obligatory ice breaker type game. Not usually my cup of tea, but rules is rules, right? At this bridal shower all the guest were also supposed to provide the bride with a piece of advice to help her achieve everlasting wedded bliss. Thankfully, someone from the other corner of the room yelled, "These can be funny, right?"


So here was my piece of not-so-sage wisdom:

Your biggest fights can become you best stories.


Back in early summer of 2009 my husband and I relocated with our pets from Seattle to San Diego. This is roughly a 20 hour drive. We decided it would logistically be best to break the trip up into 3 days of driving. We would stay near the southern border of Oregon (Ashland) and then in San Francisco before making it to San Diego. Now San Diego was just a 3 month stint for my husband. We decided to live in our friend's spare room so we had packed 3 months worth of stuff while all our other worldly possessions went into storage. So to recap:

1 Me + 1 Husband + 1 Dog + 1 Pissed Cat + 3 Months worth of shit = Once packed Mini Cooper.

That's right friends, we drive a mini cooper. And a packed Mini Cooper it was. So packed, in fact that when we got to Oregon we discovered the trunk latch was no longer functional. That is when things got bad.

We were running late and trying to re-engineer our overnight bags into the truck of the car, but couldn't seem to get the trunk to latch. We kept shoving at boxes and shifting the smaller squishy items but to no avail. We are starting to run late. Then we realize that the trunk latch isn't catching. After about another 20 minutes my husband troubleshoots the situation and figures out that if he uses a screwdriver to manually close the latch and we don't use the key fob to open the trunk, but open the trunk by hand, then the latch will work properly.

Something you should know about me. I love rules. I love protocol. I love when things work properly. If they don't work properly I am 100% convinced it is only a matter of moments before they break in a catastrophic way.

Something you should know about my husband. The only time he is ever short tempered in an irrational way is when he gets hot and sweaty when he isn't supposed to be. For example, getting hot while working out, okay; getting hot while trying to repack a car mid morning in June on a beautiful sunny day in Oregon, definitely NOT okay.

I insist that we continue to repack the trunk to try and prevent any extra pressure again the hatch. I just kept imagining driving down the interstate and suddenly our trunk door just giving way while we are driving, leaving a trail of boxes and pets in our wake. I perhaps go a little overboard here. I climb in the trunk and essentially start trying to repack our tetris game of a car. Nick tries to reason with me. There is no reasoning. I am quickly approaching panic mode. Finally, looses his patience and rams the screwdriver he is still holding into a box. I instantly flip out. I accuse him of trying to stab me in the leg with the screwdriver. (The screwdriver was no where near my leg). He accuses me of overreacting (I totally was). And in what is truly my classiest moment I told him I would show him overreacting and proceeded to start throwing boxes out of the trunk and at my husband.

In retrospect, I kinda hope someone was watching otherwise I feel like that little bit of humanity would have gone to waste. I like to think that another hotel guest heard us and started watching what transpired from their window, then called their spouse into the room to watch. I know that is what I would have done.

I ended up storming off and going up to the hotel room and fuming for about 20 minutes and then realized what a jackass I was. The rest of our trip was really nice. There were no catastrophes. Our trunk didn't explode on the highway. We had a great time actually.

Years later now we still reference and joke about that fight frequently. It is one oh my favorite married stories. Few things show love more sincerely than being able to fly off the handle at each other in public and then be able to laugh about a few hours later, right?

Monday, August 22, 2011

I miss my sweaters.

Fall used to be my favorite season.

However, now I live in a part of the country where fall months are actually just an extension of summer, only with more rain.  And hurricanes.  A billboard told me today that hurricane season lasts until November 30.  What sort of crap is that?

So apparently I need to readjust my thinking and just say that winter is my favorite season.  Which just doesn't sound right, but whatever.

All I am really trying to get at is this; it is August 22.  It should NOT be 90 degrees and muggy.  The weather should be leaning towards this.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pork

I almost had a small conniption fit at work yesterday because of this.

Some of you may remember that in October of last year Nick and I randomly went to Prince Edward Island , Canada.  Apparently there is just something about the months of August, September, and October that just make me want to get the hell out of town.  I would blame the ungodly heat and humidity of South Carolina, but in all fairness, I think most of our vacations have taken place in the fall, no matter where we were living at the time.

At any rate, I was at work thinking about how great that trip was.  How nice it was to need a jacket.  Then, I remembered we ate at this restaurant, Lot 30.  It was pretty much one of the nicest restaurants in town.  And I kinda get the impression that isn't saying a whole ton.  I am pretty sure that PEI is not really known for it's food culture and during the off season there are whole towns that just don't exist because there aren't tourists to populate them.  But this place was really good.  So good, in fact, that we went there twice in the 5 days we were in town.  The dish that really got us was this pork belly they served.  It was a miracle in food.  The pork meat was moist while the outside was slightly crispy and slightly caramelized, while the entire thing was swimming in a flavorful au jus.  It was life-changing.  We talk about it often.

So while reminiscing at work I found their website and noticed they had listed a recipe on their website? Awesome.  I mean how many restaurants do that?  So I click on the link and it is the recipe for the MOTHER-LOVIN PORK BELLY!!!!!!!!!

Soooooo.......I have a hot date with my butchershop and my kitchen next weekend.  I can't wait!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fruit for thought

Some months ago I had taken some photos of fruit for a friend's kitchen.  Recently, she requested a few more which was great because it was the perfect excuse to try out my new macro lens for the first time.
Check out a couple of the images here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

While I was out.

A few people (primarily my mom) have wondered when I was going to post again.  So let me quickly catch you up on a few of the major things I have done since I have been away:

  • I went back home for my sister's college graduation.
  • I tried (and mostly failed) at learning functional Spanish.  The only things have really stuck are "Donde esta el banjo?" and various phrases and vocab one would use ordering food/drink.
  • I planned and took a two week trip to Peru with my husband complete with various delightful travel disasters of the best kind.
  • I did a little writing/design work for some friends that were changing their business structure.
  • I photographed a wedding in a semi-professional manner for the first time ever.
  • I took a weekend trip to Myrtle Beach.
  • I traveled to the Chicago area to spend the 4th of July with family.
  • I hosted some family coming into town.
  • I spent a weekend at a hotel downtown celebrating a friends birthday.
  • I took a trip up to Washington DC.

And these were just the major things.  Needless to say, I am SO EXCITED that (as of right now) I will be spending all of August in town.  I plan to spend this month happily getting back into a regular schedule, cleaning my house, and picking up my personal projects again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dodging a Bullet

It has been a few weeks.  Yes, I was busy, but more than that I just wasn't quite sure what to write.

The first half of March was abnormally heavy for me.  Nothing catastrophic for myself.  Nothing that really impacts my daily life.  Just a series of quite serious things developing for people around me.  It was the type of week that causes one to step back and take stock in where one is, where one is going, and from whence one came.  But above all, at the end of the day, it was the type of month where one just can't end up feel lucky.  My biggest realization, thus far at least, came last week.

When you move and travel frequently enough the world seems to become both bigger and smaller at the same time.  Bigger in the sense that you get to enjoy more of the world's variety.  Smaller in the sense that a broader spread network of friends and acquaintances makes the world a little more accessible and a little less intimidating.  The world felt particularly small when the earthquake and resulting tsunami hit Japan.  Within the past 6 months we had connections that had moved from Japan back to the states, we have connections in Guam, Hawaii and all up and down the West Coast.  Thankfully, no one we knew sustained any damage.  Although, amazingly enough, we found out a couple days later that a friend of ours had a layover in Tokyo a day before the disaster occurred.  Truly a lucky thing that he didn't delay his trip like he had initially planned.  It took me an extra few days to come to the realization that, had things gone my way, we would have been in Japan.

We had never wanted to move back to Charleston.  Our plan was always to go live abroad when Nick took his shore tour.  Japan was our first choice.  When Nick was assigned a position back South Carolina I was devastated.  Even though we have really settled back into the Charleston, made some great friends and love where we live, I still clung to some of the bitterness I had about moving back.  Until last week, when I saw the tsunami footage for what seemed like the 20 time (and somehow each time getting more devastating than the last) when it suddenly dawned on me that, for all intent and purpose, we were supposed to be living there.  I am not sure I could have dodged a bigger bullet.  I have rarely felt more fortunate.


SIDEBAR:  I will be away from posting for the next few weeks as I have a couple large projects that need some attention.  I hope to be back to posting shortly after Easter.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Metaphor

I do not loose things.

I am a very busy person and I get distracted a lot.  Our house is clean, but never really tidy because my husband and I are in a constant state of being in the middle of 3 projects each.  As a result I have learned to combat all these things by being habitual to the point of crazy.  Everything has a place and that place always has some logic behind it.  This is the only way I know how to function.  Ask me what I ate for breakfast this morning and it will probably take me 5 minutes to mentally back track my day.  Ask me where my husband stashed a few cigars that he totally forgot he had, I know immediately.  Ask me if I locked the house when I left and I won't remember actually doing it, I merely have to rely on the habit.  That being said, I have misplaced 3 things in the past week and a half.

We have been extraordinarily busy.  Three weekends ago we were in Kansas City.  The following weekend was the local craft beer festival and this past weekend was the Charleston Wine & Food festival, so the past two weeks have been excessive in every sense of the word.  It really shouldn't be surprising that I lost a few things.

First, the remote for our bedroom TV went missing.  I found that a day later.  It somehow got tossed all the way under the bed.  Second, I realized that my fleece pullover (which I LOVE) was not in any of the places it should be.  We have decided that it must have somehow been left in the hotel we stayed at the night of the beer festival.  So a phone call needs to be placed tomorrow and see if they might still have it (fingers crossed).  Finally, I had lost a ring.

Not an important one.  Just a ring.  I had bought it to go with my outfit for the Wine and Food fest opening night party; which is this big, swank, cocktail dress sort of affair.  So I had gotten this funky cocktail ring which I, naturally, forgot to put on when leaving the house and left on the kitchen counter.  The next day, after the haze of wine and rich food wore off and I had spent a full day at work, I went to retrieve said ring and put it away.  It wasn't there.  My first reaction was to blame the cats.  Something small and sparkly, of course they found it and started batting it across the house.  I gave it an extra day to show up, it didn't.  Then I grabbed a flashlight and started looking under the washer, dryer, stove, fridge, china hutch, couch, everywhere.  Nothing.  After being the third item to up and disappear this stupid ring became my last stand.  I was going to find the damn thing just on principle.  I didn't appear.  I was dejected.  I was angry.  I gave up.

While I was getting ready for bed that night I found my ring.  In my jewelry case.  With all my other cocktail rings.  Apparently when I got home on Thursday after the party, even in my exhausted and inebriated state, I put that ring in it's designated place.  The habit is just that deep-seeded.

While I was happy to find it, I couldn't help but feel a little like an idiot.  I mean really, who does shit like that?  I can't help but feel like there is a life metaphor in there somewhere, but it hasn't revealed itself to me yet.

Needless to say I am very much looking forward to a couple fairly low key weekends before we leave town again at the end of the month.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Airport Karma

A couple weeks ago we took a long weekend to visit my family back in the Kansas City area.  It was awesome.  I hadn't been home in a little over a year so it was a much needed visit.

Then, we showed up at the airport to make our way back to Charleston and our flight was delayed by 4 hours.  Now, this is the sort of thing that I don't get my panties in a wad about because:
1.  I would rather be late than dead.
2.  There is absolutely nothing I can do to change the situation.  
Regardless, it was annoying and I sort of have to take the grand, universal, karmic blame for it.

I like to think that on any given day I am a half way decent human being.  Generally speaking, I am content, have a sunny outlook and I play well with others, so to speak.  The one reigning exception to this disposition is the airport.

The airport is less about civility and more about survival.  I will push, I will shove, I will shamelessly throw dirty looks.  I am exceedingly polite to TSA (because you never bite the hand that feeds) but will unabashedly snake my around families, business folk and probably little old ladies to make it on the shuttle between terminals.  I am not proud of this.  But every time I swear under my breath at the family of five walking too slowly between gates or I shoot a dirty look at the old couple who doesn't understand the restrictions on liquids at security, because all of these people are standing in between me and the flight I am inevitably late for, I realize that they are probably thinking equally nasty things about me.  And I am okay with that.  In fact, I encourage it.

So when we flew out to Kansas City my husband and my seats were split up for the first leg of the trip.  I am a person that puts a high value on personal space.  So sitting next to a petite yoga instructor on a plane would make me slightly uneasy.  Sitting in one of those teeny, tiny airplane seats next to someone that is outside the realm of a healthy build makes me full on uncomfortable.  When I found my seat on this first leg it was between the window and an older woman who had one of those faces that just naturally looks cranky.  I sit down and thanks to my personal bubble neurosis proceed to plaster myself against the window and wall of the plane.  The woman I am next to, still looking cranky, proceeds to pull out some random Danielle Steel paperback.  Five minutes in and my back is already starting to hurt from the awkward way I am sitting.  I am super tired.  I am shooting my husband looks from across the aisle as he was fortunate enough to be in the row on the regional jet that has a single seat.  The whole nine yards.  So I do what "airport Erika" normally does.  I start projecting awful things on this poor woman sitting next to me.  Not wishing her ill will by any means but just imagining her life as awful, and meaningless. Why else would she look so cranky and read drug store fiction?  I brood, read my book, and try sleep for the next 2 hours or so.

Again, I am not proud.  In addition to just being the type of person that would totally unwittingly show up with a side of beef to a vegan picnic, I am at the airport.  Where I look out for number one.  Where self preservation is my priority.  This is far from a shining moment for me.

As the plane landed one of the women in the row in front of us turns around and addresses the woman next to me,
"Sister Agnes."
"Yes, Sister Catherine."
"I would like you to meet Danielle (indicates woman next to her), she works for the Diocese."
Well, of course.  I had just spent 2 hours being cranky about sitting next to a nun.  Of course our flight home was going to be delayed.  I totally deserved that.



PS - This week's photo is here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yikes.

I kinda over scheduled my life this week.  Go here to check out a photo for this week and I will be back with a written post next week.  I wish everyone a relaxing weekend, I know I will need one.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Little Out of Place

We went hiking this weekend.  At least according to the book we got it was hiking.  Turns out Nick was right.  Putting on shoes and walking out into something that is 92% wilderness constitutes hiking so I have had to readjust my definition of the term.  We went out to Cypress Gardens.  There was about a roughly 3 mile loop hike, the ability to borrow flat bottom boats to take out on the swamp, and there we several little educational facilities around the visitors center.  I loved it.  I had so much fun.  It was a great little hike to cut our teeth on and I am ready for more.  If you haven't been over to my photo blog this week you can see some pics of the swamp there.

But really, I have a better story than that.  Last Wednesday, thanks to Groupon, I was able to score a one-night stay at the Woodlands Inn.  It is the only 5 star hotel in South Carolina.  It is fancy to the point of absurdity.  We choose to use our stay this past Friday.  Allow me paint you a picture of Nick and I arriving at this converted, old, southern, previously owned by a rail road tycoon, mansion. We pass the keys to the Mini off to the valet then shove aside all our self reliance and hand the bellman our back packs.  Not luggage, back packs.  The giant kind that are designed for shoving several weeks t-shirts and underwear in so you can traipse all around Europe, or Australia, or Asia and have no qualms about then using it as a pillow on a train car or tossing it on the inevitably once urine/vomit soaked floor of a hostel.  It was these back packs that we handed to the bellman.  We don't know how to travel any other way.  Oh yes, friends, we were so out of place.

I had also made reservations for their dining room that evening and within 5 minutes I immediately regretted the conversation Nick and I had that lead us to the decision that dressing up for dinner surely isn't an issue.  We needed to be comfortable because we planned on eating a grotesque amount of food.  So we show up in jeans, nice shoes, nice tops.  I mean hell, if we could hypothetically meet the dress code for the bars in down town San Diego then we had to be okay, right?  Oh no.  No we weren't.  While we weren't turned away from the dining room, we were the most underdressed people there.

Whatever.  We were there to eat.

Then shortly before our 3rd course arrived Nick kicked me under the table and very urgently gave me this awesome married-person telepathy message of, "Holy shit, you need to turn around and take this in RIGHT NOW."

Nick had a direct view of the little hall that lead to the restrooms and there, in the door frame, braced for dear life, is one very drunk girl in a Pepto Bismol pink chiffon gown.  Her poor date, whose evening just clearly wasn't turning out as he planned, retrieved her and brought her back to the table.

When we approached course number 4 I am pretty sure this girl had spilled something.  Then, when we reached course number 6 it was time for them to leave.  At this point this girl is still very drunk and now truly belligerent to boot.  Her date tries to discreetly help her out of her chair and escort her out of the dining room.  She is having none of that.  Which turned out to be a poor decision.

While trying to tackle the two steps leading out of the dining rooms, she fell.  And not the way a person falls while sober; quick and loud. This was the drunk person 20 point fall.  The one where they look like a pinball bouncing around in a machine filled with jello.  I soon get to embarrassed to watch and look back at my husband who I expect to be red faced and staring at his food because he is very prone to embarrassment by proxy.  Instead, he is staring wide eyed and unabashedly.  Without averting his gaze he says, "Erika, you need to watch this.  This is something you will never see again."  I understood what he meant.  It was a moment that belonged in a movie where, perhaps Steve Carrell plays the well meaning date and Anna Faris plays the unfortunate drunk girl.  I mean, the setting, the costumes, the dialogue that was going back and forth between these two; it was almost artful.

I think it goes without saying, after that, we suddenly didn't feel so bad for wearing denim into the dining room.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

You put on shoes and walk.

A few years ago my husband, Nick, and I starting occasionally looking at each other and saying things like, "We should really be more outdoorsy" or "Dude, we should totally go camping some time."  But we always said it the way many people say like, "Wow, we should totally join a gym" or "We really should get to the theater more."  You know, just a very vague passing statement that has about as much commitment behind it as Lindsey Lohan has at an NA meeting.  That's not to say we, or I, was being disingenuous.  I really did want to do those things but just felt like that was something that should be filed under the category of "for other people."  People who have the knowledge to deal with nature and not get hurt.  People with longer attention spans than mine.  People who are in top physical condition.  People that have the money to travel sporadically, buy gear, hire a sherpa, that sort of thing.  Not me.

Then this past month I both watched and read, "Into the Wild", which you'd think a story about a kid dying (not a spoiler, I swear) in a failed attempt to "live off the land" would cause me to swear off all kinds of nature.  But no, despite the fact that the film was so emotionally jilting it actually gave me nightmares and kinda pushed me off center for a couple days, I kept imagining pretty pictures of Alaska.  Then, at one point I realized that if this kid can live like a vagabond for like 2 years and spend about 100 days in Alaska with a gun, some rice and not much more, surely, SURELY Nick and I could go hiking. 

So one day I turn to Nick and say, "We should learn to hike."

"What do you mean learn to hike?  You put on shoes and walk.  You've been hiking before."

"No, I haven't.  I have just been on like nature walks and stuff.  I mean real hiking."

"What is 'real' hiking?"

"Like where we have to take backpacks.  And we are gone all day.  And we run into a bear, but thankfully we have read up and know what to do and we barely make it out alive...no pun intended."

"You're dumb."

"I know, can we go buy a book?"

So we did.  Now I have about 5 or 6 suggested hikes bookmarked.  They are all short, just a few miles or so.  I am a baby steps sorta girl.  They are pretty local so the plan is; (if the weather holds) get up Saturday, work out, then have an outdoor adventure.  

If I am not back sometime next week just assume I had a run in with an alligator.  Or, more likely, tripped over a log and busted my arm.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seattle & Me: A Love Story

Here's a little fact about me.  I really like it when things that don't necessarily go together, go together.  It is one of my greatest delights in life.  Quirky little indie band covering Beyonce's Single Ladies?  Love it!  The odd mish-mash of colors, styles and time periods in Baz Luhrmann movies?  All over it.  If you take me to a restaurant where there is something on the menu like a pepper infused fruity martini, or blue cheese chocolate, or hot dogs with mango chutney; I will order it.

I think this might be one of the reasons I love Seattle so much.  The honest to god, true, variety of everything and the way it blends together.  I could sit here and wax philosophical about the arts and diversity and blah blah blah.  But I won't.  Because naval gazing is not really my forte and it's besides the point.  I just really like the unexpected.  The new ideas and odd combinations of old ideas that make the world go forward.  Seattle is a pretty good place to find that sort of thing.

A couple weeks ago Nick and I took a long weekend and made our way back to Washington to get our Pacific Northwest fix.  We saw some friends.  We drank enough coffee to keep a small nation wired for a week.  We stopped by several of our old haunts.  While walking down the main drag in our old neighborhood we noticed that a few new businesses had moved in.  Naturally, I was offended that life could go on and things could change in my absence.  How dare they?  One these new spots was a Tea Room.  I immediately decided we had to go.  

Now when I say Tea Room, I do mean TEA ROOM.  Nick and I had been walking around downtown all day.  A friend that went with us was a wee bit hungover for the previous evening.  Collectively, without even realizing what is happening, we walk into this:

  
  That's right.  Baby blue interior, toile everything, crystal and chandeliers out the yang and we are loud, windswept and in jeans.  Believe me when I say where I live now, we would have gotten at least one disapproving look.  However, in Seattle, amidst the crowd of bridal showers, baby showers, and middle aged women playing tea party, no one noticed us as out of place.  Then, our waitress walks up.  All in black, clearly as per management, but wearing a leopard print apron and donning some visible piercings and tattoos.  The contrast between her appearance and the explosion of Victorian bric-a-brac was overwhelming and perfect.  All three of us instantly fell at ease.  We were still in Seattle, where you can come as you are and frequently strange bedfellows make the best couples.  Love. That. City.

P.S. - See a few photos from around my old 'hood here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Once upon a time....

Once upon a time I had a blog that I was really dedicated to writing.  And I loved it.

Then life got in the way.  I starting working full time.  I started working out more.  I had people come into town.  I left town.  At that point this blog, amongst lots of other things that brought joy into my life, were pushed to the back burner.

What can I say?  I have never had really good time management skills.

So here we go...it is a new year....I am going to make a go at reviving this thing.