01/11/2015

Traveling Mercy: a letter from time, if time travels by airplane Travel

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I opened an old favorite book this evening. I ruffled through the pages with the well worn, and thus loved, tags and underlined passages. I flipped to the end and saw a note I’d written on my solo flight back from my first over-seas trip September, 2001.

I smile as I read the scribbled letters. I remember this flight very well. It was four days after the terror attacks of Nine Eleven. I flew from Heathrow to Seattle alone in the very back of the plane, scared, deathly afraid of everyone, just wanting to be home with my new fiancé.

How many miles have I flown since? How many trips have I taken to those same countries?

I read the page like an older soul, like I’m reading a letter from a previous version of myself.

I’m tired and worn. Sick of people leaning into my space. I’m on the back row of the plane and the line for the bathroom allows for bottoms, boobs, coats, and purses to bump me, hit me, pinch me. I’m too tired and weary to retaliate but I wish I could.
We are starting to land. I’m starting to pray again.
I admit to total paranoia. I suspect anyone. But as I look out the small, 10 inch window onto the gray/brown rolling mountains and the clouds that lay like glaciers, I know we’ll make it. At least I have to trust we will.  We are above the clouds. Aside from sparse tree-topped mountains, there is nothing to see but an ocean of clouds. This is my favorite part of flying:
  Being done.


I wonder what I will say and think when I read this page in fifteen years. With any luck, I will smile knowing how little I knew back then and forgive my previous self for her shortcomings and dramatic mannerisms and whisper a small prayer in the space of breath that transcends time to say everything will be ok.

11/02/2014

On birthdays Parenting

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My mom always made a big deal over our birthdays.  She would make a homemade cake and in very-detailed, time-consuming, 80’s perfectionist manner, decorate our cakes in secret under a banner of birthday wishes and streamer-lined dining room lights.

It was difficult for me to understand her when she told us all she wanted for her birthday was a cake. “A fancy cake?” we used to ask. “No, just a cake. That’s all I need.”

It wasn’t until last year that I believed her. Last year I sat at my brand new job, day two, in a corner struggling through onboarding. I didn’t realize how lonely it was to have nobody know it was your birthday. I realized, I don’t need a cake, or a party, or presents, or a big todo, but the value and warmth of someone saying, “Happy Birthday,” is highly under appreciated. I know people leave kind things on Facebook, but call me old fashioned, Facebook doesn’t seem as sincere as a person using their actual mouth to say, “Happy Birthday” with their eyes and a warm smile.

I’m clearly getting old. Authenticity is a hallmark for all that I value now. Well, authenticity and a clean laundry room. Before this I had a different take on aging.

12/04/2013

The Path to Grandma’s House Parenting

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I remember the roads to my Grandmother’s house. We called her “Bamma” to distinguish her from my maternal Grandmother, who would later be know simply as G’ma, and hold an even more important role in my life. As a young child, growing up in the suburbs of Houston, we would make the six hour trek to my Bamma’s house, just north of Austin. I remember the terrain changing to a hilly roll.. I remember the van’s AC unit working with an easier hum as we drew closer to my Bamma’s house. I remember my dad going over some of the rolls of the road and yelling with triumph, “WOAH! That will get you in your belly!” when the car hit zero gravity for a split second, gliding over each crest of ... to our minds.. mountains.

In reflection, after living in Washington state and visiting Germany and the Swiss Alps, those Texas mountains of my youth are Ant Hills to my present. But my childhood mind blows them up to disproportionate heights. Like every aspect of childhood, those trips take on a cartoon-like shape. I visit those memories like someone on a video game would now: Reaching back to that last saved game and running it through from start to finish. Each consecutive trip a level to discover.

I wonder if my children will think of their lives this way or if they will have better therapy to help organize their memories from Atari to Frontal Matter.

Either way, I stare now at the map of Texas, a flat representation of my youth. I smile at the familiar roads: 45, 518, NASA1. I lived there as a child, giving my most formative years to the southern-suburbs of Houston. And again, as a young career woman, giving my future to the college of Galveston, where I first taught computers and subsequently changed my career path forever. This map of Texas is not only familiar, it’s engrained in the very being that peers at it, from so far away, nearly 2,345 miles away, to be more exact.

I marvel at the flexibility of the human brain. That I have not one, or two, but three homes. That I find comfort in two countries and two very different states. That I can walk through the Nürnberg Market on a Saturday and feel as much my childhood as I can in Kroger in Houston on a Sunday. The fact that I live in a Wine Country in the north-east of Seattle seems to not matter; familiarity is bred deep within my brain and the roots dig to experiences I share with few. Inhaling the wet, humid, salty air of Houston is as much a welcome as the crisp, dry air of the Mountain here. And in the manner, so are the signs of German in a variety of villages and menus and friends as I wander the countryside of a country I was born in to by proxy.

06/04/2013

Living The Punchline 1: You have to look the way you’re born Parenting

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Day 1 of my new plan: “Living For The Story,” which, in reality, is more like “Living the Punchline” because y’all - Seriously. 

You know the phenomenon where woman want curly hair who have wavy/straight and curly hair women are always trying to straighten theirs? I’m no exception. My sister and her daughter have the envious curls while my daughter and I are stuck with straight, stringy, flat, lifeless hair. It’s the kind of hair nobody talks about. “Hey, can I look like her? The lady with the non-noticable hair? It’s so ... nothing.”

As an experiment, my daughter and I decided to go old school with rollers.

LB Curlers

Since it’s been roughly 181 years since I’ve done this, I forgot how long it takes hair to dry when it’s twisted up tighter than Sarah Palin’s knickers. So, when after several hours I needed to run to the grocery store, I put a scarf around them and went anyway.

06/03/2013

No Regrets. Or. Why we need version control for life.

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They always say not to have any regrets in life. Thing is? It’s hard to avoid.

There’s that time you thought the tattoo of Winnie the poo was going to be a good idea wen you were 16. There’s the night you got so drunk you told off the barmaid who happened to be your boyfriend’s sister’s ex-lover and a former heavy weight boxer. (Consolation: your black eye looked a bit like an Eeyore so you claimed a “pooh” theme.)

There’s the time you majored in Exercise and Sports Science when you MEANT to major in Computer Science. (This one I actually have done. I’ll tell you about it some day.)

And then there are the three days you spent watching Felicity in sequence that you’d gladly take back.

I have the perfect solution for this: Git: Version Control For Life.

08/09/2012

50 Shades of Seattle Travel

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“Oh, you’re from Seattle? You’re so lucky!”

This is coming from the Delta ticketing agent in Detroit. It’s been raining for weeks and it’s the end of June.

“Yes, I suppose, why?”

“Have you ever read fifty shades of Gray? Christian is from Seattle!”

I roll my eyes and try to be patient when I explain, in very slow words, “He.  Is.  Not.  Real.”

03/09/2012

The stars at night are big and bright Travel

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I’m a native Texan. That is to say, my mother went through 48 hellish hours of labor (thanks, Mom!) so that I could be born in to this world, and the place she endured said pain is Texas City, Texas. She told me, when I was little, she choose that particular place for me to be born because it was easy to remember. Also because she had flown from a town very difficult to say correctly (Bayrouth, Germany) and it made a lot more sense, what with my dad loving Texas and all.  I’m sure the truth lies somewhere in between those tall tales and the one where my Grandmother happened to live near a hospital in Texas City, Texas, at the time and my mother and father needed a place to stay after returning to the states from many years over seas. I come from a long line of story tellers

I am sitting now under the starry night looking directly at Orion’s belt. I am drinking German beer, not because I found it at the local World Market, but because it came from the (supermarket) two blocks from where I sit. There is a church tower around the corner that dates from 1591. I am in Nuremberg. Or Nürnberg, if you’re a local. I hear the Germans on the street below and I am surrounded by the fresh smell of my laundry, the only hint of home that wafts in the dark in the breeze.

water

I am oddly home.

I have a sense of nostalgia here. It’s as if I’ve lived this life here, or one very similar, in other times. I am lost, in present day, unable to fully communicate except with broken pieces of German. It’s comical, really, when someone walks up to me and I say, “Hallo!” and they say, “Hallo,” and I exchange light talk, “Gruße Grote!” They begin to ask a question and I shake my head, “um.. uh.. er… uh, do you know English?” They laugh kindly, either nodding yes or no, and we smile awkwardly as I admit I am not really from here however much I sometimes forget that fact.

09/03/2011

Like a bird Travel

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“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

prayers

There is so much for me to tell you. There’s the conference I spoke at in Manchester with some pretty fantastic people last week. There is the amazing opportunity for work that I have right now pushing my own boundaries to places a sherpa is necessary. There are the stories from Japan, where I am now, working with a team of people who are brilliant and outspoken, winning clients and conducting business in which I am proud to be part of.

I’ve been on 8 planes in less than two weeks. I’ve touched three continents, four time zones. If I was to write down my perfect life, it would include these two weeks of chaos, exhaustion, work, people, sleeplessness. I am happier than I have been in a long time, finally actualizing dreams.

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)