Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Christmas Miracle

- Christmas cookies and the Christmas village my mom inherited from my great-grandma Maree
- baby cousins
- new scarf and Saints hoodie from early Christmas 
- Santa's damage (check out the poster-sized collage of Taso's Instagram photos!)
- Nonny enjoying her toy sushi
- Texas snow meant Taso got Christmas day off of work after all (this is where the miracle comes in). 
- I went ahead and picked my first two Meyer lemons to save them from the frost. They were delicious.
- B trying out the drum set Santa brought him + a shot of my holiday-wrecked office 
- some of my most beloved gifts -- I consider the laptop to be miracle #2.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Seattle

The farthest Northwest I'd been prior to my Seattle trip early last month was San Francisco, and I felt so balanced there, so I'm always itching to explore that part of the country more. I was especially excited to see Seattle, home of some of my favorite music and my favorite type of weather. Most of my time in Seattle was spent downtown, in and around the hotel where the AMIA conference was taking place, so not the best opportunity for exploring, but I did take a couple intentional breaks for dinner with colleagues, and got to explore on my own (my favorite way to experience a new city) on the last day. The city was buzzing with excitement from the legalization of gay marriage and marijuana, and was decked out for the holidays, so I couldn't have picked a better time to visit.

I arrived in Seattle and literally ran from one end of the airport to the other as fast as I could looking for ex-roomie/lifemate Swinny. Having her at AMIA this year was perfect. We have a similar outlook on our field, and neither of us takes ourselves too seriously, especially when we're together. Even when situations are stressful or annoying, having her around makes me feel removed from all of that. It helped that we got an airbnb apartment a few blocks away, so we could actually get away at night and just hang out like the old days in #apt2b.
 
Downtown Seattle reminded me of certain parts of New York. It was chilly and gloomy, full of yummy, too-expensive-for-my-budget restaurants and coffee shop after coffee shop. We had two really nice dinners with other former MIAP students downtown. It was so nice to see our friends Erik and Siobhan, and get to know some new cool people. If you find yourself in downtown Seattle, I highly recommend the Palace Kitchen and Assaggio Ristorante. They're both kind of pricey, but they made for the kinds of dinners where a large group can huddle, sharing rich courses and sipping wine until the air is warm and full of conversation. I'd been missing that.

Swinny and I visited the Pike Place Market. It was not overrated, in fact it exceeded my expectations. It was nice to see that in many ways it matched my grandma's descriptions of it from when she lived in Seattle as a kid. We visited the original Starbucks and ate too much cheese. I took a picture of a giant hot dog because I missed Taso.
 
 
^ Ex-roommate Sam, who could not be with us on this trip, made that sweet cup cozy.

The best decision we made was to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island with two girls who graduated from MIAP the year after us. I didn't know them very well before this little excursion, so it was nice to make new friends. Bainbridge was beautiful. It struck me that the best thing about Seattle must be the fact that you get this great city in such close proximity to nature. And not just flatland Texas country nature, but ocean and forests and real beauty (which, I guess, is relative). My mom went to Washington in the summer when I was a kid to climb mountains and fight forest fires, so I thought of her as we walked around the heavily wooded Bainbridge and saw the mountains in the distance. We had lunch at a pub that was recommended to us more than once on our walk through the town, and it was perfect. 

I guess I'm using a lot of superlatives to describe Seattle, but it really was such a nice city. The people were very friendly and everything was quite scenic. I enjoyed walking again and spending hours at dinner with friends. I wish I had seen more of the city, gone out in Capitol Hill or had more money left over to do more (the underground tours/music museums/other recommended restaurants...), so I guess I'll have to go back one of these days.
 
My flight home was the stuff of dreams: an empty row, a small, quiet number of passengers, a night sky and an Ann Rice novel (my first one, actually -- vampires aren't really my thing). Taso and B took me home from the airport to find a spotless house, a dinner of yellow curry from my favorite Thai place and the perfect Christmas wreath, which I'd been hunting since Thanksgiving. Nothing beats coming home.