30 July 2012

What it's like to travel with The Historian

...aka "Why we went to Sears during our weekend in Vancouver."


During the years The Historian and I have been together, he has learned to put up with my idiosyncrasies, from loathing beer (which he helped me learn to like) to the fact that I sang along to old country songs that were being played in a Nashville bar (so much for my sophisticated reputation!), to my girlish delight in a good toenail color.  He also backed me up when my BFF didn't believe me that Mauro Rosales (sigh) winked at me when we were at the game super early. 

I've learned to find endearing that being a historian means he has an emotional attachment to things that I will (mostly) never understand, that his love for me means he sometimes won't make a decision because he wants me to cue him in first about what makes me happy, and that he may not be an artist or write sappy poetry but he shows his love by cooking for me and making sure that I only rarely have to clean up cat vomit.  Win.

When we travel, I want tranquility, to be nudged out of my comfort zone, and to hang with the locals.  The Historian is less likely to chat with total strangers than I am, but I admire his willingness to climb up yet another Mayan ruin in sweltering heat of the jungle.  And then talk our guide into posing with Pooh at the top of said building.

Xuantunich, Belize. 

Another aspect of our travels is that we take a lot of photos of buildings.  After reviewing our album of our trek through Eastern Europe, for example, my sister pointed out that there were only a handful of photos with people in them.  And maybe three of us. I don't even want to think about what that says about our priorities!

The Historian takes photos of buildings in a way that he is accustomed to documenting them for work - they are beautiful, meaningful, odd, interesting.  I tend to focus on the details of the architecture, or photos of things that amuse me or tell a story. 

He probably won't believe me when I say this but his interpretations really make things interesting.  I envy him his ability to look at a building and tell you its life story.  He was able tell the owner of a historic farmhouse B&B how to renovate it without destroying its historic integrity. A friend just moved into a new apartment in the basement of a historic building and The Historian told him what the room had originally been used for.  And so on.

Which is a long build up to Sears.  We were wandering around Vancouver, BC and came to this, which was somehow super interesting.  Because its unusual. And before I knew it, we were inside going to the top floor to see if there were any original elements left intact.  There wasn't much that hadn't been genericized, but what else can be expected from a store where predictability is part of the brand?

Locals complain this is not "pedestrian friendly" and some want it torn down.


The main entrance - with lots of pedestrians.
I love the elevator navigation system! 
View from the sixth floor - which you have to contort yourself to see
because it is hidden behind shelves of toys.


This part of the main entrance has probably always been used as a cafe.

Sears will be closing this location by October, and debate is swirling about what should be done with the "ghastly eyesore" that is the building.  It is right across the street from the Art Museum, so some have suggested it would make good gallery space.  Other rumors suggest that Nordstrom will be moving there.  And here is another fun fact - Nordstrom doesn't have a presence in Canada - odd given the store's history, eh? 

Apparently not all travel adventures need to involve checking my shoes for tarantulas to be fun. At least The Historian never says "I told you so." 



19 July 2012

Grumpy (Not-Really-Old) Lady

I think I'm turning into a curmudgeon.  I look at a nineteen year-old who has giant plugs (is that what they're called?) in his ears and wonder how he'll feel about them when he's 30.  And I hope that he's good enough of an artist or musician or creative genius that he can make a good living despite his physical embellishments. Because that would be awesome.

Being aware that I sound like an old biddy gives me an opportunity to keep my opinions to myself, and last night was another opportunity for me to do so. And I did, because in the end it really is a small thing, but it does make me wonder.  I was at a sporting event and once again during the National Anthem there were people around me totally not paying attention.  

The man in his 60s four rows below me shouting and trying to get the attention of a friend of his somewhere behind me. The drunk college girl cramming a chili dog into her mouth and flirting with the guys around her. The bustle of people still finding their seats, kids tugging their parents sleeve for attention, others texting.  

I'm not old enough to hearken to some golden era of patriotism, although I would say that in the months after 9/11 such behavior would not have been tolerated.  And even if you aren't from a military / Foreign Service family, or a new immigrant (the Ethiopians behind me!) I just think we have enough shared history that you can take a few minutes to keep silent, even if you don't sing along.  Right?  And if not, why not? What has changed?



13 July 2012

A Will with The Historian

The Historian and I are soon to meet with our attorney to hammer out our wills and various other documents that grant us virtual ownership of each other (ability to make medical decisions, cash his checks, and so on...)


I was reminded then of this fictional last will from 1898.  It is a beautiful document, and would that we could adapt it for us (I would spend a little more time on girls and women than did the author, but that is a small criticism!)


Full text of "A last will" by Williston Fish is pasted below the jump. You can also download a scanned Ebook version, (free!) from Google.

08 July 2012

Teachers are Everywhere

One of the (many) things I'm trying to learn to be better at is forgiveness.  I don't mean heavy-handed drama, rather at its most basic, letting things go.  It is easy for me to choose which battles to fight, which are not worth the effort or are best left to other champions.  But I'd like to learn how to let go of the anger I still sometimes feel even if I'm not acting on an "injustice."

I look to examples set by others.  A gracious word, genuinely laughing off a slight, or not letting an irritation under my skin in the first place are things I am better at than I used to be, but let's be honest, we all have our buttons!

Last night offered a rare, public, shining moment in forgiveness.  One of our local soccer players, Steve Zakuani, suffered a devastating injury over fourteen months ago when Brian Mullen from the Colorado Rapids carried out a sloppily-executed tackle that left Zakuani with a badly broken leg and resulting complications.  You can read the full story here

Mullen was punished by the MLS with a 10-game suspension - the longest in MLS history.  When Mullen was headed for his first game back post-suspension, Zakuani reached out and wished him well.  They spoke, and Zakuani forgave him.

Fans in Seattle were not so soon to forgive.  On Seattle's home turf, boos rain out every time Mullen has possession of the ball.  A twitter hash tag #ClassyMullenHate was started with fans tweeting wishes of calamities to happen to Mullen and Colorado which, while often humorous, were still barbs born of resentment for Mullen's having taken Seattle's #1 draft pick out of play.

But after more than fourteen months of mental and physical preparation, Zakuani was listed as being on the reserve bench for last night's Sounders home game - against the Colorado Rapids, and Brian Mullen.

With five minutes of regular play left to go, Seattle used their final substitution to put Steve Zakuani in play.

Photo credit to Seattle Sounders @ soundersfc.com.

Photo credit to Seattle Sounders @ soundersfc.com.

In what is being called one of the best moments of MLS soccer history, Zakuani took the field to thunderous applause and helped keep the score to a 2-1 Sounders victory over the Colorado team.



I think though, Zakuani's greatest achievement happened post-game, where Zakuani continued to show grace and class in his treatment of Brian Mullen.  Zakuani embraced the man whose actions had caused his devastating injuries...
Photo credit to Seattle Sounders @ soundersfc.com.

Photo credit to Seattle Sounders @ soundersfc.com.

Zakuani bookends the gesture by saying: "I have said from day one that I do not have any issues with [Mullan]. I forgave him a long time ago, but I think it is a good thing for the public to see, for closure.  Now I think that he can go on with his career and I can start to do the same...He took my shirt home and I am taking his shirt home and I think that chapter is closed now."

Closed, but with a lot of misty-eyed fans in his wake.  And lessons about forgiveness well-taught.



01 July 2012

On being "temporarily retired"

I am one week post-layoff from ye olde giant telecom company. I'm freaking out a tiny bit about the loss of income, and I loathe job hunting, but my biggest concern is keeping busy so that my skills don't rot and my idleness lead to discontent where there is none.


This being said, I've devised a wee list of things with which to keep myself busy.  
  • Job hunting (can't keep traveling if I'm not working!)
  • Preparing for my FSOA
  • Certificate in public relations this fall (yay!)
  • Working on my Arabic
  • Possibly learn to cook (hahaha, no.)
  • Organize my house.  I am happiest with no clutter and a minimum of "stuff." 
  • Volunteering for boards and favorite politicians, the work goes on. I know part of this will be needing to remind people that just because I am unemployed doesn't mean that I owe them 40+ hours a week, but I'll stay strong!
  • Joining friends once or twice a week swimming in a saltwater pool and...well the rest is covered under a dome of silence.
Items not under consideration are: getting pregnant, eating bonbons, or working on my tan.  

I may also start planning our next adventure - maybe Istanbul?

Tranquility Bay, Belize