Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow


The sun rises over France

I thought doing a weekly photo challenge would spark me out of my blogging ennui. This week’s challenge is foreshadow. I felt like it was kind of a vague but  I went through my Flickr archive to see if anything jumped out at me. And this is what jumped out. This is a photo that I took from the plane as we were flying over France, before we were ready to land in Paris. I will never, ever forget this moment. I was in complete awe. The only other time I have felt this  way was when  my plane descended into New York City for the first time more than 20 years ago – this excitement of entering an unfamiliar place and not knowing what was there. It is a surreal experience. Especially so because it is a half a world away from home. I looked down and studied the landscape as the sun rose over France. I wondered what this place would be like. I wondered about the adventures I would have in the next few days. I hadn’t a clue what to expect.

I think a lot about this trip, the very act of flying across the world to another place. 16 hours before this photo was taken I was in the Portland airport and it was early in the morning. It was dark when we parked our car at the long term parking lot and took the shuttle to the terminal. 16 hours later I was in a place where it was now morning. How incredibly weird. We time traveled. And we ended up in a different world. A different space.


Me and Paris

Visiting Paris = The highlight of my life.

I had an amazing year. Finally. A year that was all good. I can’t think of anything to complain about regarding the past year, and for this I am grateful (’cause the past several years have been kinda painful. Thanks for the break, Universe!)

Travel. If someone had told me a year ago that I would visit France in the coming year I would have called them a liar. But I DID IT! I went to France! And I loved it! And now I want to go back. And I want to visit ALL THE PLACES.

Photography. I had a lot of fun this year with it. I always do but exploring film photography was super fun. I will be doing more of it in the coming year. First on the list of things to do: develop my own film already! (taking it in to be developed is breaking the bank. I need my money to visit ALL THE PLACES.)

Running. I have had an on again/off again relationship with running for most of my life. Regardless, It is my favorite form of exercise and it is important to me. My big running goal has been to run 5 miles. This goal, for whatever reason, had eluded me. Not anymore! This past summer I finally reached that milestone and even surpassed it! Yay me!

Blogging. I moved my blog to WordPress.com about a year ago and in the process have been plugged into an amazing blogging community, the likes of which I haven’t seen in years. I have seriously enjoyed “meeting” and getting to know all of you! And I continue to enjoy being introduced to many amazing and inspiring blogs. Also, I managed to blog everyday this year! Well except for that one day in August. But it’s JUST ONE. Hmm. It appears missed a day in June as well. so two days. I missed TWO DAYS out of an entire year. Do I get a medal? No? oh well. It was nice to check in everyday here. For the most part, it was a very positive experience. I might do it again next year. Or I might take a tiny break. We’ll see.

Favorites of 2012.

Two favorite books:

Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins

Christopher Moore’s Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art

Read them both. They are excellent.

Three favorite albums

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: The Heist

Caravan Palace: Panic

Grimes: Visions 

Happy new year!!!

On finding my roots


Me in Front of the Eiffel TowerThe day before yesterday  a young man approached  the Reference Desk asking for books that would teach him  Gaelic. I found him some books and  we chatted for a bit. He mentioned that he wanted to learn more about his Irish heritage. I asked  if he planned on visiting Ireland soon. “Someday,” he said. I totally understood his need to get in touch with his roots, because I have felt it too.

Later that evening I went to my friend’s  house for dinner.  She thought that we should do something to honor the changing of the season, so she did this ritual before dinner in which she lit a candle and we thanked our ancestors.  She was very eloquent in the way she spoke about this but I can’t really recall all that she said because in my head I was going, “WTF universe! I can’t believe she is talking about this!”

Ever since I went to Paris I’ve had this insatiable need to learn about my genetic roots.  When I was in France I, weirdly, felt like I belonged there.  In a way I have never felt anywhere before. I felt a deep connection. Rafael looked around at the people and said, “Monica, you totally look French.” And, indeed, when I looked around I could  see that also. Even the short time I was there I felt like I understood myself a bit better. My quirky way of being seemed to make sense in France.

It is possible for your genes, for your body, to feel a sense of connection to a place? I don’t know how else to describe it.

The thing is, I don’t have a strong connection to my cultural heritage at all.  My step-dad was Irish and that Irish pride runs super deep with Irish Americans. Crazy deep. But this isn’t really the case so much with people of French descent living in America. In fact, I almost feel weird telling myself  that I am of French descent. I want to also attach “Canadian” to it because my ancestors migrated to Canada from France in the 1600’s. It seems super far-removed to say that I am French in any way. I know very little about the history there, and I don’t know how to speak French at all (I’m learning though!).  Yet I still felt a connection to the place when I was there.

So there she was,  my friend at dinner, talking about connecting with our ancestors. And it was awesome. And so, in my head, I thanked Pierre Boucher, my ancestor who migrated from France to Quebec with his father in 1635, for being my ancestor, for providing me with these genes.

Vacation From Hell


Plinky asks me to recall a memorable family vacation. Oh boy. There were lots of them. I am looking outside now and watching the flash-flood rain fall from the sky and I remember all the times we went camping and it would, inevitably rain on us. However, I think the most memorable, and horrible, of our family vacations was the time I came down with chickenpox while we were on our trip to the Oregon Coast.

I was in first grade and it was Spring Break. Our family rented a cabin near Lincoln City for a week. It was right on the beach and absolutely fabulous. I remember arriving there in the evening when it was dark out and being so excited to explore the next day. When my mom was drying my  hair that evening she found the first evidence of  it. The whole trip went downhill from there. At least for me. Everyone else had a great time. I got so sick. I barely left the bed. And when I did I had to use driftwood as a cane that someone found for me on the beach. I had them on the bottom of my feet and it hurt to walk.

I remember going to the Sea Lion Caves and having to sleep in the car while the entire family went, in shifts, to the caves. My mom made me a little bed in the very back of the station wagon so I would have a comfortable place to sleep, away from everyone else.

I was miserable. I finally felt better when we arrived home. Terrible timing.

I still have scars from them! And to this day I have never been to the Sea Lion Caves and I want to go.

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Travel horror story

Seattle Tacoma (SeaTac) International Airport,...

Image via Wikipedia

Lolly asked if we had our own nightmare travel story after an especially awful flight out of San Francisco. Oooh boy. Do I ever have a doosy.

It was a Christmas trip. I was traveling home to Spokane from San Jose. And it was several years ago. This happened when I was still a Nanny, living in Menlo Park, CA.

I think I am going to remember this correctly. I may be smushing a couple of bad experiences together. But I really don’t think so. I think all of the following happened in the same trip.

It all started in the San Jose Airport. My flight to Seattle was late. The plane coming from L.A. had some problems, or there were weather issues. I can’t remember what was wrong. Regardless, it was very late. I was going to miss my connection to Spokane by the time I got to Seattle. And since this was an evening flight, there would be no more flights from Seattle to Spokane until the morning. After some complaining I got a free overnight stay at a hotel in Seattle, and a free meal. I believe the airlines was not even going to do that for me, but I complained loud enough and they put me up for the night. I’m sorry, a young, single girl sleeping alone in the Seattle Airport all night? I don’t think so.

Okay, so I got to Seattle, got to my hotel and crashed until 5:00AM or so. I was on the first flight to Spokane. I got to the airport and learned that, for some reason, I could not take the first flight. So I waited for the next flight. I got on the plane and we actually took off on our way to Spokane. Finally. It’s about a 30-40 minute flight from Spokane to Seattle. We had flown all the way to Spokane. I could see the city below me. I could make out all of the familiar buildings from the Airplane. I was so excited to finally be home so I could begin my Christmas vacation with my family. Unfortunately, the captain’s voice on the loudspeaker said, “it’s too foggy to land. We are going to have to turn around and go back to Seattle.” What? WTF was I going to do? How was I going to tell my Mom, who was already at the airport, what what was going on? I was alone and, at this point, kind of stressed. And I was tired. I didn’t get much sleep the night before in the hotel. So, I will admit it, I silently wept when I heard the news.

We got back to Seattle. The airline arranged to bus all of the Spokane Travelers to the Spokane Airport. So we all ended up at a central place and waited for what seemed like hours before we were all herded onto buses. I remember having a conversation with an older man while I waited about how horrible the winters in Fairbanks are, with no light all winter.

The flight to Spokane from Seattle is a short 30 or so minutes. The drive? In winter on a bus? I think it was about 7 or 8 hours. Now at the time of this experience I didn’t have knitting to turn to to keep me sane. And Ipods were not invented yet. I seriously don’t know what I did on the trip. I probably read a bit. I have a difficult time reading when I am traveling by plane or car. So I probably didn’t spend very much time reading. I probably spent most of my time staring out the window, pissed.

I finally made it to Spokane and my Mom was waiting for me. I had never been so happy to be in Spokane in my life. It was a horrible experience.

But the experience wasn’t over. There was the trip home.

I feel like I should stop there. I think I will continue this tomorrow. So stay tuned!