HoydenSeek’s Weblog

hoy·den: a boisterous, bold, and carefree girl; a tomboy + seek: to go in search or quest of

Southbound/Hellbent October 8, 2008

Filed under: Books & Mags,Rants (Politics),Religion & Spirituality,Travel — suzanne turner @ 1:06 am

Seattle today! Helena Tomorrow… maybe.

I had only been to Seattle briefly, passing through until now. But today, Joel and I ran around that city like nobody’s business. The forecast had called for lots of rain, but lo and behold, it was the most fantastic day imaginable. Everywhere we looked, it was a scene straight out of that computer game Myst. The sun was shining on the water as we took the ferry from Bainbridge Island to the city. On the Island, we are staying with Joel’s Uncle, who has an amazing house with his wife, who was unfortunately visiting family in Japan as she often does. So sadly, I didn’t get to meet her. Their house, which they designed themselves, is just a beautiful example of traditional Japanese design. And the Zen-like feeling is palpable. Simple wood, glass, and bamboo surrounded by acres of forest- needless to say, it was a more relaxing stay than anywhere else we could have imagined. I soaked in the deep Japanese hot bath for quite a while before retiring to bed in a casual kimono- I forget the word for it. It was wonderful. Today we walked from the ferry terminal over to the fish market, up to find a place where Joel remembered having great Russian Pieroshky, which we did find and enjoy very much. We found the Seattle Public Library, which I have been reading about since I had heard of its design, and it was amazing to see in real life. I get to cross another famous architect off my list of buildings to see- Rem Koolhaas! I don’t think I’ll ever beat meeting Daniel Liebskind though. 🙂 We then walked up to the retail core, where I saw this amazing restauraunt called Purple which had this ridiculously huge spiral staircase in the middle surrounding their open, cylindrical wine storage. They had big dark, gothic looking light fixtures hanging from the double height ceiling that looked like they held big candles, which I’m sure were really light fixtures, but the effect was stunning. It was very Sarah and Ted. 🙂 It would be so much fun travelling with friends, we decided. Running around there, a couple of couples, would be so much fun. Joel is really good though about shopping with me and looking with me at things I like. Which brings me to my next subject.

We need to shop a lot less. Saving money has never been a forte for either of us, but its time to stop making excuses. So many people want to live a lot richer than they are. Maybe our parents or grandparents generation are doing ok now, but we don’t see the half-lifetime worth of work that has gone into preparing that lifestyle. Some of the people our age have inherited some of their wealth, or a position to make wealth from that same source, but for most of us, we need to realize that hard, hard work is the way to come by wealth. And that wealth needs to build slowly but surely over a number of years. We need to learn to accept that the house we want and the housing we can afford are often two different things most often these days. Think of where your parents were living when they were in their twenties, versus where they are living now. We decided to be starving students, but refusing to acknowledge that decision is not getting us anywhere. We can only dig ourselves out of debt steadily, or rack it up and suffer forever. And for what? Stuff? One good thing about moving seasonally is that it keeps your pack-ratted shit in check. That card someone gave you years ago- did it change your life? Then go ahead and throw it away. People want to keep things with sentinental value, but they could really just keep the memory. Or take a picture and store it on the internet. The thought of how much money I have spent sickens me. Some in worthwhile endeavors, some on pure bullshit. I wish I could just have the money back for all the things I bought. But going forward, I just need to remember that. In fact, today I found a book of Buddhist essays on the urge to spend and consume, which would be cool to read, to bolster my resolve. But I decided to just go ahead and keep that $17.95 and walk away. I could look up the subject on the internet for free if I really care to read up. Joel and I both have a weakness for books and magazines, which is ok to a certain extent. Its somewhat justified, but we still need to keep it to a minimum, and only what applies to helping make more money. When we are bored and want to spend money- hey it sounds like we have free time to be working on learning more, and working out. We just agreed to not get cable when we get to Denver. People our age consider TV a near necessity. Silly and sad.    

When we get back home, I want to go through all that storage in my bedroom- all that stuff I have no idea what it is- and sell it. Everything. Cutthroat. We dont need a TV. We don’t need anything. I want to get the stuff we BOTH own down to what we can fit in the 4 Runner. That’s a large enough vehicle. A few totes for household stuff, the rest for only the most useful clothes and things. No more. Its sickening how much I have, how should I be wanting more? I thought tonight of a mantra that encompasses my goal for the winter: Aim for being the person you want to be, and not having the things you want to have. I want to keep that at the front of my mind.

I just finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which talked a lot about the nature of quality. The book was rather long winded at getting to the point, but quality is a concept I have often contemplated myself, so it kept me (barely) intrigued enough to finish it. It did get better, but not until the very end. If you include the afterward. Though the concepts could have been summed up more quickly, it did give me a lot to think about. I want to pare down the things I have and trade them for quality things. I have thought about this topic mostly in terms of architectural appplications, but I think it applies regardless. I am always drawn to things that have quality and good intrinsically in them. I love architecture with the joinery and cladding naked, the methods of construction apparent. I love materials like wood, metal, and concrete that are themselves the material beauty. Paint is never necessary in my mind. When you think this way anyway, other things seem to fall into place- for instance with the absence of paint, you have no volitile organic compunds off-gassing in the baby’s bedroom. The simplest road is usually best. And its true that the best things in life are free. Luckily also, we are at a time when most of the things we could ever want or need are very accessible, and even for free. Books and music are very available at the library, and I intend to spend more time there again. I can easily spend hours there, and for free. We can work out, go for a walk, make a light dinner, hang out with friends, listen to music- shopping is not the answer. I wish I had never bought girl-mag subscriptions for my sister. I know my girlfriends and I were influenced by those at a young age, and not in a good way, but obviously, it is worse now. The only way I can teach her now is by my example that things are not where its at.

All the things I want I can either figure out how to get for free, cheap, or just decide to forego. I’m at the point where I’d rather have a bike or a kayak than a car. I guess quality is just finding the right combination of things that make you truly happy. Finding the right place to live that suits your needs is crucial. I think people don’t explore enough on their own. I have always wanted to visit Seattle, but whenever I mentioned it, people always say, probably some who have never even been there, “yeah, well it always rains there, who would live there?” Now that I have lived half a year in Juneau, with the worst weather they have had in easily over 15 years, I’m glad to know rain won’t stop me if I want to live somewhere. Juneau, no. But someplace like this, oh yeah. I would live here in Bainbridge Island, or over in the city in a heartbeat. People there are really cool, and the whole feel is so artsy, cultural, and yet laid back. I know we caught the weather in its prime today, but the shops I saw here and the culture is exactly what I’m looking for. Rain may not stop me, but we’ll see about snow as we make our way south, and then east to Denver for the winter. I want to give Joel his chance to be back near his friends and family, and since I’m feeling ready to explore anywhere new, now is the time. Joel is good to me, and if I am utterly miserable somewhere, I know he will help me do what it takes to fix things. Plus, we won’t be there forever.

 

Goodbye, Cloudtown! October 6, 2008

Filed under: Travel — suzanne turner @ 1:37 am
Tags: , , ,

Last Night in Juneau!

And we happened to hear thrashing see a big ol’ black bear tossing our big trash cans around under our front second story window tonight. Sweet. I’ve had good vantage points for both of my bear viewings.  🙂 That’s how I like it. That thing was loud and it wasn’t even tryin.

Also saw today a wild dog that wanders out by the shop in Skagway where we were this morning, which looked like a husky but I noticed right away had HUGE paws, longer legs, high skinny haunches and brown/gold eyes. I stayed in the shop and let it roam around outside. He came up to Joel and said hello, but Joel is a lot better at judging dog moods. I looked at him, and the look was cold, like that of a reptile- distant and analytic. I was scared to look too long as that can be taken as a challenge. Paul gave him a leftover hunk of meat, as is their deal for the dog keeping bears away. A while back the dog and a big ass bear had a standoff that woke the distant neighbors, shook the near ground, and went on for hours. Paul said the dog walked out of the hills a couple years ago and is just starting to let people pet him and probably has a good deal of wolf in him, as most huskies do but more distantly. 

The trees in Skagway are turning yellow, orange and red. Some higher up are still dark green, above that the trees trail off into rock, and the rocks on top are dusted with snow. Unbelievably beautiful ferry rides this week. Good Alaskan day to end on. For now. I’m sure we’ll be back. We’ve only seen a fraction of Alaska. It’s incomprehendable just how big, dense, dark, dangerous and beautiful a place can be. I often get the feeling this place is not meant for visitors. But who can resist the allure?

That being said, Juneau is a place unlike any other I’ve seen. When it’s nice, oh man, it’s amazing. But those days come, I’d say, one in forty days. It’s just not enough. And that’s in the Summer! I don’t understand the appeal during the winter, but I guess I’d have to stay and see. Which will never happen. Darkness, cold, isolation and lack of food would drive me out of my mind. For most people here, it just drives them to drinking.

Well, in celebration, I have started to compile my silly list:

You Know You’ve Been in Juneau Too Long When…

  • You know what color Carhartts used to be even when covered in a season’s worth of grit and grease.
  • You call each other to report the daily soups and specials at the Breeze.
  • You’ll gladly pay $4.50 for a single red bell pepper. Literally.
  • You now know a lot of different words for drywall, though most often hear “sheetrock.”
  • You feel like you’re back in high school beacuse there is no escaping gossip and drama. It follows you from work, to the bar, back to work, and then home!
  • One or more of the people you met end up going a little crazy.
  • You project the current state and admit that this town has the capacity to drive you a little crazy.
  • You take a liking to plant-inspired names like Cedar, Jasmine, Willow and Aspen.
  • Party planning consists of buying Alaskan Amber, smoked salmon, flares, and parts for a potato gun and a trebuchet.
  • Tourists are your bread and butter, and the bane of your existence.
  • You have started considering buy Extra Tuffs just because they not only seem practical, but somewhat fashionable?!
  • You have started calling nearly every truck a “rig.”
  • You find yourself in a McDonald’s… because it’s open.
  • You and your significant other have together gained 100 lbs. in 6 months.
  • No matter how cheap the rate, you vow never to stay ever again at the Super 8.
  • You can’t think of anything that smells worse than work gear and vehicles: sled dog + fabric + moisture + time = blechh.
  • Rent in San Diego sounds pretty reasonable.
  • If someone tried to convince you the sun still exists in September, but is just fogged over, you might just argue otherwise.
 

This Alaska Green-horn is heading home in a few weeks! September 6, 2008

Filed under: All Things Green,Art & Design,Travel — suzanne turner @ 12:06 pm

I’m feeling a little peeved that I can’t avoid the crazy publicity stunt/train wreck that is the Republican ticket right now, I can’t even open Yahoo- I’m about to change my homepage. So many people seem to know and recognize that Palin is a bad choice, and yet she’s all the buzz across the country. What gives!? I was pretty excited to come to Alaska, because for some reason I thought people here would be very aware of the environment and be very into green things. There are a scattered few that are driving hybrids and forming a farmers market, but I was mostly disappointed. So many people have the attitude, (Palin included) “it’s Alaska- it’s so big, it can take it.” And it saddens me because people in general seem to think that about the earth, and it’s just not true.

Well, I am still hoping more people realize there are simple things that we can all do. I have come upon a few things that I have started doing, little things that make me feel like I’m doing my part. And I think a lot of them are easy things that everyone can do. That’s when it really starts making a big difference.

  • bought a bike and ride it to work every day. And it’s much cheaper than paying for a car, insurance, gas and a gym payment!
  • grabbed quite a few cloth grocery bags and use them when I walk to the store. And I get in some bicep curls and tricep lifts on the way home. I can’t wait to get home to my favorite bags, from Fresh & Easy!
  • bought a Sigg bottle and a Pur filter. Sigg or Klean Kanteen metal containers and Pur or Britta filters can save you a lot of money on bottled water, get your water a great deal cleaner, and keep a lot of plastic bottles from the process of being made and recycled- or landfilled.
  • Joel got me an aweseome reusable, washable hard plastic mess kit- I use it every day at work instead of plastic forks and paper plates. I don’t care when people make fun of it, I know they’re just jealous of my super sweet sporknife. Mine is made by Light my Fire, and was purchased at an REI type outdoor shop where they have lots of fun things like that.
  • Okay, so this isn’t one that applies to everyone, but it does to my design friends. I started studying this week to become a LEED Accredited Professional. I heard a bit about LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) of course in school, but we didn’t talk much about the test, and I don’t know anyone who has taken it. I looked into it a little and downloaded a study guide (because I can’t afford the full $200 reference guide right now) and am starting to digest it all slowly. It’s taken me a week to read the study guide because the material, concepts, and equations involved are very complex. Then I found some forums where people are talking about failing after studying for a year- people who already have a Master’s, and significant project experience… So it’s a little more daunting than I could have imagined. But it’s something to work toward again, and I like that. I really care about the material, and enjoy learning about how we can make building more in sync with nature, and make life simpler and safer for everyone at the same time. It may take a while, but I’ll get there.
  • And one cool thing I want when I get to put down roots (no pun intended) is the Aero Garden! It’s a really awesome little indoor garden that comes with seed packets for lettuces, herbs, and spices. I love fresh herbs and have started using them more for flavoring meals than butter and condiments. I am jealous of my mom’s garden! She has bell peppers, jalepenos, serranos, and some other veggies- I can’t wait! One red bell pepper here is $4.50! And I could eat at least a pepper a day. Kim & Dave have a great little collection of herbs too, and a beautiful patio area. (I guess I’m just drooling over any little bit of space that doesn’t have 30 people crawling though it all the time.) I can’t wait to have our own little area to ourselves- its like living in a crowded hostel here. Oh well, many people in the world have no idea what its like to live with two people per household. Whenever I start to get soft, I just spend I night on the glacier, and then I’m happy to have a bathroom to wait in line for.
 

What I’m Eating…what I’m trying not to, and what’s eating me May 22, 2008

Filed under: Food,Health & Beauty,Travel — suzanne turner @ 1:33 am

So I have been trying new things lately because it perks up my day and broadens my horizons, culinary and otherwise. And in my search I have found a few staples that now I don’t know how I lived before without. I’m trying to add protein, fiber, and good fats while cutting sugar, bad fats and chemicals. I’m eating small meals frequently with tea or water in between each. Each time I shop, I try to pick up something I’ve never had or seldom buy. So far, I’ve grabbed a daikon radish, pasnips, red radishes, garbanzo beans, and bok choy. Next I’m going to try tomatillos, textured vegetable protein and tofu. I’ve also been doing plyometrics, pilates, dance aerobics and walking a few miles a day. Though the pounds aren’t falling off, I’m reminding myself they didn’t fly on overnight either. Both ways, they creep. I feel much better already; now I just want to really firm and tighten, and have lots of energy. (I already see a significant improvement both in my energy and my mood and attitude.) I would also like to define the muscles in my arms. Even when I was playing a lot of tennis, these muscles were fairly big and strong, but never as cut as I would have liked. Mind you back then, I was prone to get into eating contests at fast food joints and fell into many a pizza and red vine movie night. Then dating Joel is a foray into our shared love of food night after night. We tried to eat well, but boy was it hard when we love to sit, eat and talk- especially out. And especially late night Any-bertos drive thrus. He even got me eating dessert(s!) after an already over-the-top dinner. We love to share food, but right now were sharing a body-conscious guilt that doesn’t feel good. We love each other no matter what, of course. But loving ourselves is often not quite as easy. Ergo, vis a vis- time to put some extra effort into it.

Nobody really likes being a .5er. A “point fiver” at my job is what we call a person who takes up a seat & a half in the helicopter, hence they are 1.5 rather than 1 in the books. It’s also generally used to speak of a person who’s obviously overweight. Sad but true- every job has its ascenine ways of passing the time, and so often its gossiping about the customers. In the hospitality/tourism industry, its like shooting fish in a barrel, making fun of the tourists. Its usually not mean-spirited, but just silliness among coworkers stuck in an office while others are vacationing. It’s like Office Space, or Waiting, or sometimes…Clerks. And there are quite a few point fivers. Some are tall and muscular, some are just plain overweight, and some are stout, muscular, and with a little of the soft stuff. (Just goes to show that the body mass index is useful, but not a real tool when measuring health.) Men generally don’t mind and don’t give a second thought to writing or telling their weight. But women! Oh, the women. It’s rather curious: whether on the phone, in front of me thinking about how much they can lie without getting caught, or standing on the scale and writing while covering the card, they are always embarrassed and secretive. At any weight, at any age, they do NOT want anyone seeing that helicopter manifest. Like I give a flying eff- it’s a small aircraft that needs to be balanced- do you really want to lie about that? And we will make them get on the scale if its iffy- a point fiver is charged 1.5 fare, which adds up! They just LOVE that. They’ve lied up to 90 LBS to try to avoid the charge before! Anyway, its a funny thing I witness on a daily basis.

As my adorable friend Debbie Dow-Howard used to say, “Um, okay, back to me?!” It probably doesn’t help that I show extra love through cooking and baking lately. I made a carrot cake for Joel (which because of scheduling shenanagans turned into everyone else’s cake) for his birthday, but luckily had a key lime cheesecake recipe given to me by one beautiful newlywed, Brenda Turner! (Congratulations, Lovebirds!) And it came out rather nicely! (Though because of that crazy schedule, it got crumbled and stuffed into party cups, covered in foil and sent up to the glacier, some cups full of raspberry sauce, some just cheesecakey goodness.) Hopefully he enjoyed it nonetheless. For his birthday dinner during his 12 hours down with me, I splurged on BBQ ribs, and he on filet mignon at The Hangar, a nice but casual (as everything in Juneau is) steak & seafood joint overlooking the cruise ships docking and leaving, turning on their pretty little twinkle lights at dusk. 

I made Cecile’s amazing lasagna recipe, which was awesome. Not as good as hers, of course. He was happy, but not as much as if she’d made it. Which I’m ok with. ‘Cause she’s magical. I made hummus for the first time the other day, which is such a wonderful, easy protein-packed snack. And so much fresher, better and more economical than buying the little container at Vons.

Last night I invented a pizza-bake in which I threw all the veggies & stuff I love on pizza (I used red onions, green peppers, pineapple, olives, three italian cheeses, and my first homemade marinara) all in a Pyrex dish and baked it for a while. It really was pizza without the guilt! There’s a gooood pizza delivery place here which people grab for lunch and get you really wanting it. So this is a nice craving squelcher to have at the ready. And cutting the fresh pineaaple was pure delight. I was dancing and singing to oldies and savoring each little last bit I could get off the core. I was as happy as I could be, without my Prince Charming around. Today one of the girls at work laughed as I enjoyed my snap peas, and said “with you, everything’s ‘delicious!'” And I smiled and took it as a compliment. I do try to enjoy and appreciate little things. To share a favorite quote of Joel & mine from the quirky film Eagle vs. Shark, “some people in the world don’t have sleeping bags.” It’s what we say to each other to gently remind: We have everything we need. We are warm, and fed, and we our health, we have each other. And it makes us smile and puts things in perspective.

This is a good mantra for me right now. When I got to Alaska, I realized I’d packed in organized chaos- I tried to bring the right stuff, but its hard to know exactly what that is before you go there a time to two. The lack of a lot of my favorite clothes mixed with a lack of favorite stores to pick up a girly pick-me-up drove me to an online shopping spree, the likes of which my bank account had never seen. My closet here is secretly filled with shipped boxes full of tissue paper and ripped off tags. (Now the cat’s out of the Sephora satchel.)  Every day for a while was like Christmas. Packages were literally arriving every day. Once my tax return was blown through and I still was finding things “I needed,” I started to wonder what I’m trying to compensate for. What void am I trying to fill, really? Well, I really like stuff is the easy answer. Which is true. I love Sephora, Express, Victoria’s Secret (clothes, not lingerie) and REI. I dreamed of being at Sephora the other night. A super-knowledgeable, fun & yet somewhat bitchy gay man was helping me pick out one of those new brushes with mineral powder inside. But when I got it home, the bristles all started falling out. When I woke up, I though nothing of it and reveled in the thought of shopping. But then I started to dissect it, as I do everything. And I started to wonder if its not a symbol, a lesson: I like buying new, quality things. I like the experience, opening it, smelling & feeling it, and folding the packaging. But soon, I often find something imperfect about it. Or I rarely end up using it, or I tire of the scent. I bought a shirt before we left at REI which I loved so much, I then bought a second in another color. And the other day, I was searching the net for a thrid. Why would I not go downstairs and get the ones I already own out of the dryer and be done with it? Its something I’m overcoming slowly through logic and self-inflicted guilt trips. Those two favorite shirts for instance- there are some people who only have one or two shirts and they appreciate them. These particular shirts are also NIKE, and so were probably made by overworked, underpaid people forced to take a factory job or risk starvation. Buying two was too many. Counseling myself in this way is keeping me in the middle road- somewhere between overindulgence and self-deprivation. I’m limiting myself to $50 a month at Sephora.com. 🙂 Hey, I’m working my butt off. A girl’s got to keep some fun in her life. They really get me with the samples- spend $50 and not only is shipping free, but you get to choose 3 samples! How I adore them! And every hundred bucks and you get a deluxe sample- a bigger version or a super spendy product they want to hook you on. Plus, I like putting on a little cologne before bed and pretending Joel’s head is on his pillow as I breathe. Current fave: Ralph Lauren Polo: Double Black. And for me: Kenzo: Amour. Creature comforts. Small luxuries.

I’ve made sweet potato fries twice, upon popular demand. They are deeelish. And good for you. I love sweet potatoes!!! And Joel hates them, so I get my fill while he’s up on the ice. 🙂 These veggies are packed with vitamin A, and way less starchy than the white ones. They need absolutely nothing added to make them wonderful, and toting one to work and popping it in the microwave at lunchtime (though it makes you look like kind of a weirdo) couldn’t be easier. I love having something warm and comforting, and boy does this hit the spot time after time!   

I tried a green smoothie as I found a recommendation for having one daily on a great raw website. Feeling adventurous, I blended blueberries, bok choy, and an apple. When you put an apple in, it doesn’t matter what elase is there, it tastes pretty good! It tasted very fresh and “green” – a little like very sweet wheatgrass. I love wheatgrass and miss it a lot. So discovering I could sort of make my own green was really nice. It’s not nearly as good the next day from the fridge, so next time I’ll make less. The produce here, like everything else is really expensive! The blueberries were $5.89 for a VERY small plastic container. The smallest container for berries you can picture. But I guess you’d probably pay that for a big mac & supersized fry here too. I’ll definitely experiment more with that. I like blending the smoothie a lot more than juicing- it leaves a little pulp & stuff, but that way you still get the fiber and all the nutrients in the skin. I’ve read that one of the drawbacks of an all-raw food diet is that people may have dental problems later (because of too much fruit I suppose.) But studies found that when more greens were added to the smoothies, there was hardly any trouble. I also try to brush right after- which you may as well do while you make sure there’s no bok choy bits in your chompers.

As for Alaska, it’s very different. We’re surrounded by water, mountains PACKED with trees, and the spirits of animals and natives of years past. The fog is dense and low, hanging heavy in the treetops, obscuring the mountains completely. And then it may lift, and it may not. When it does, it is so crystal clear and sparkling and green, its unbelievable. One day walking home from work, I almost cried at the beauty of it. I think I’d like to experience other parts of Alaska after this; one’s that have no cruise docks. Juneau is certainly small compared to San Diego, but it’s way too bustling for a lot of Alaskans to consider true Alaska. It’s so small for so many people. If you drive in any direction, you’ll reach the end of the road or a bridge to another island all too soon. But it’s very fun in a way. Whether you want to or not, you’ll probably see a few people you know on the way to anywhere, and then the rest of the people you know are there when you get where you’re going. There are only so many places to go here. There are a few motels, and one overpriced pretty B&B I’ll maybe try once. I definitely want to start kayaking. I can see that being our next big spend when we’ve got the dough. I’ve always wanted to live near a lake and go out on the water all the time. It’s been in my ultimate picture in my mind for a while. Now I want to start painting that picture. A house off the beaten path, but now too far from town. A nice yard we can till together, and eventually a baby or two. Staying happy, active, adventurous and continuing to travel some even after a baby comes; that will be the ultimate. Having a house would be the ulimate. A place to get away that we can fix up and really make our own.  That’s the dream. I’m going to be 27 in a few months! I’ve got to really start working toward it. But I already have a good deal of it figured out, which I’m super happy about. I’ve graduated college, and met the man of my dreams which is more than I had dreamed could really happen. The rest is icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned. Mmmm icing. 😛 …. No, no icing! Bad Suzy!

 

An Acute Case of Wanderlust: Gastrointestinal Symptoms and Hazards March 21, 2008

Filed under: Travel — suzanne turner @ 3:30 am

I don’t know about you, but when I travel I love coming home again- not because I like staying home- I usually miss where I traveled already. I love coming home to my own bed, my own kitchen, but most of all, my own bathroom. There is a certain shape of your own toilet seat, that familiar feel of the exact water pressure in your shower, and knowing exactly how much hot water time you have before you’re rinsing your hair in cold water.

Traveling this time is different. I have no home to go home to. Lease is up, we’re flying free, which feels great  99% of the time, but I’m having to develop the skills of a modern nomad- some of which, I’d never considered. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl. Maybe I just like the creature comforts of daily life. Whatever it is, it drives me to maintain a running, ranked list of bathrooms I use. Each and every friend’s place, bar and hotel has its pros and cons, and its good to know the ins & outs.

There’s quite the array of rest stops and powder rooms in these parts of Wyoming. There’s Mingles, the billiards spot of choice offering free help-youself nachos and buttered popcorn! Here the stall doors don’t latch or even close all the way- one last resort stall has no door at all. But there are a lot of funny comments written inside the stall, which is always entertaining. Perhaps I’ll attach a picture, but I’ll have to blur all the phone numbers!

Then there’s the one-room-only types, such as at Third Street Bar, where you have to anticipate needing to go in advance because girls are always lined up and sometimes just end up going in the men’s. You can hear them hopping around waiting outside the door, so you attempt to multitask- flush while activating the first motion-detected paper towel to advance; wash hands while checking hair & face conditions.

Then there’s the terrible ones- the kind that give you a heart murmur as they take forever to swirl around and make you feel like they may not ever flush at all. Even worse is when they don’t! Ah! You want to announce “I didn’t do it! It’s just pee, your toilet sucks!”

Just to exacerbate everything, you also have the wonderful traveler’s adventure/nightmare of navigating new food and drinks. Of course you have the random tiny bugs and bacteria in the water in the mountain streams, Central America, Asia or wherever, sure. But no one ever thinks of the silent stalkers- airline food, the excessive Tequila drinking, the competitive nature that compells you to play one more game of beer pong for the title, the greasy 24-hour diners that sound like a good idea at the time. 

What did we ever do to Montezuma anyway? And why won’t he just stay in one place? How can he be everywhere at once? And how can he possess our bodies, doesn’t that somehow violate the law of impenetrability? Is he the devil’s answer to the Holy Spirit? For that matter, maybe that’s what Hell is! That’s why everyone’s always so hot and sweaty and miserable. It’s just a constant state of all the symptoms of the Pepto Bismol Song. (Nausea, heartburn indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea!) And maybe just for extra torture, Gilbert Godfried, Fran Drescher and Kelly Osbourne are all there acting out and singing the Pepto commercial, but you can never buy any. If God really wanted us to be good, he should show us hell. If we actually saw that Pepto spot… whew! Serious deterrent.

 

What’s New for this Honorary Cowgirl March 18, 2008

Filed under: Travel — suzanne turner @ 4:35 am

So here’s the first in a long line of promised updates. Packing & moving seemed like it would never end, and then in a blink we are outta there. The trip over was painless (though Joel drove the whole way, so asking him may be slightly different 🙂 and fun.

We stopped in Las Vegas, though one short night there isn’t really enough to do much. I was dead set on those buttery, crispy shrimp tacos and delicious salsas from the legendary Pink Taco, but as we walked down the street, I remembered they seemed to close early, so luckily we called and found they were indeed closing soon and turned around. It did work out fine, because I made a much needed pit stop at Sephora- all my makeup disappeared in the move! And we got to check out the Bellagio water show as we walked by. We were so famished and tired of walking by then, we were jonesing for something very near our hotel. We ended up just chillin with some good drinks and incredible nachos at Maragaritaville. It really hit the spot after that great road trip diet of pringles, gummy bears & jerky. That place is really cool because there are people of all ages, families, couples all having a really great time. They had a cover band so good, we were debating over whether they were lip synching or using parts of the real track. In the end, we decided they are just really damn good.

We even made it up in time to get back on the road by 7. Yikes! But Joel was more than ready to be home, and also to get there at a decent time, being Friday, in order to meet up with friends. We made great time, and watched the weather and the landscape change drastically as we drove. It snowed off & on through Utah and Wyoming- the first snowfall I’ve ever seen. When we got to Laramie and went out, I got to feel my first snow! It was so pretty, but gets you a little wet when you warm up. I see why people drink so much- you get warm and don’t care so much if you end up having to walk home. That’s another thing- drinking, hanging out, walking around- its all really fun to me in a small town. Where I’m from, you can’t really all drink, someone’s gotta drive. Its also hard to see your friends as much as you want to. It just doesn’t work out with schedules and distances. Here, you meet up pretty much every day and every night. We’ve been meeting Badi for his lunch break, and then have dinner with friends or Joel’s family, and then lots of friends for drinks. It was a great weekend, but then we also had St. Patricks Day to just extend the weekend even more.

I really am lucky to get have a boyfriend whose friends & family I love so much. They are as much my friends & family as my own are. They are amazing people, and so hospitable. Last night we all drank so much, Joel passed out after half of Casino Royale, and Badi came laughing and stumbling in a little later and we all crashed in various parts of Brian’s living room. Brian, also drunk, insisted on giving us pillows, blankets, water, movies, and had also made us this fantastic pot of chili for dinner that evening. I’m glad that Joel is home and getting to see everyone. I can see why they were so missed.

Joel & his dad gave me a huge tour of the University, which is absolutely beautiful, and he points out sights all through every drive. He had been telling me, its so trashy; its so dirty, you’ll hate it… I think so that when I saw it, it wouldn’t really be too bad. And it worked. I like the small-town thing, it’s got its benefits. I can see how if you grew up here, you’d be going stir crazy. But once  you’re in a stage where you want to own a house, raise kids, have a hobby or two, see your friends all the time, and not sit in traffic for hours, it starts to regain some appeal. Laramie specifcally isn’t it for us, as Joel has seen & done all it has to offer, but there has to be a happy medium for us between the little town and the big city. 

I’m always tired here, and they told me it is the alititude. I figured I’d get used to it by now, and they said it takes weeks! By then, we’ll be gone. So now, I need a nap before I can continue. I’ll tell you a bit more later.