Happy St. Lucia Day!

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From the time I was a small girl, I have always wanted to celebrate St. Lucia Day. December 13th, a day marked in Sweden, Norway, and other northern countries, is marked by St. Lucia Day. A day honoring a Christian martyr, celebrated by the oldest girls in a family dressing as Lucia girls, and bringing coffee and buns to their parents. To celebrate my Swedish/Norwegian heritage, this year I dressed up as St. Lucia.

Did I also mention that it was my birthday on December 13th?

St. Lucia Day. My birthday. In my wedding dress, with my red sash, and homemade wreath of candles, I set out with two of my college friends to Seattle’s Pike Place Market to pass out candy canes as a strong female holiday character. To my great joy, there were many kids who said “Santa Lucia!” when they saw me. Seattle has a strong Swedish and Norwegian heritage, so it was fun to meet little blonde kids who had just come from dancing at the Nordic heritage museum and then getting candy canes from me at the market. A fun experience for me, too, and a great way to get another use out of my wedding dress!!

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The Passing on of Sacred Experiences

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the elders initiate the youngest on the sacred path of Mt. Rainier

Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.”- John Muir

It has come time, to pass on the sacred experiences to my son. This place has been in my family for generations. My great grandma came here to ‘camp’ in the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs. There were cabins then, and now, a pristine meadow surrounding the burbling sulfur water next to the nature trail. My dad talks about trips as a kid, dipping a tin cup into the glacial river for a cool drink on a hot day. I tell stories of the giant stump we used as a tree fort every year, whether it was our campsite or not. I talk about the time in college I camped alone for 3 days, encountering a bear on my hike, and the 10 mile impromptu hike I did with a college chum on another occasion.

I am so tied to this mountain that soon I will get it’s beauty permanently marked on my body. When I die I want my ashes scattered here.

The sacred experience lives inside me. And so, this weekend, we had a meetup with my parents to pass along the wisdom to Potamus. The mountain was socked in. It’s so massive that it creates its own weather patterns. I knew it was there, majestic, behind the mystical fog. I only feel sad for the couple from Boston who was hiking for the day, that they wouldn’t get to see the glory. They seemed content with the view of the Tattoosh range, but they don’t know the glory up close. Like mistaking a statue for God.

We hiked to Myrtle falls with a bunch of other tourists. Potamus ran the .5 miles up the paved trail. We made friends with other ‘hikers.’ We saw a hoary marmot and the last remains of the wildflower season. Is winter coming early to the mountain this year after a glorious summer? When we were thoroughly tired, we explored the ‘new’ Jackson Visitor center. I marveled that I hadn’t been here since it opened in 2008. How could I go 6 years without visiting my spiritual center? Only getting small drinks in from a distance on clear days as I commute across the I-90 bridge.

When I was a child, almost through the end of high school, I wanted to be a park ranger in the Mt. Rainier National park. When I met my biological aunt, many years later, I learned she had. Perhaps this mountain is in my blood as well as in my experience. And now, maybe, it will live in my son’s blood and experience, as well.

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batman doesn’t need no trails

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stopping to educate himself on the various wildflowers present in this alpine meadow

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Myrtle Falls

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family portrait

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 “The mountain receives our expression and becomes part of us; we imprint our memories on it, and trust it with our dearest divisions of our lives. Mt. Rainier does not exist under our feet. Mt. Rainier lives in our minds.” Bruce Barcott

Embrace the Rain

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Okay, maybe I was a little hard on other moms in the whole bathing suit post I wrote earlier. Like maybe my point was lost, that it’s not so much about wearing a bathing suit (that was supposed to be my metaphor), it’s more about GETTING INVOLVED with your kid’s lives. It’s being in front of the camera so your kids will know that you weren’t just the photographer/bystander/witness of their life, that you were there both physically, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Yesterday it rained. I don’t mean a normal Seattle rain, where it drizzles and the ground is moist (ugh, I hate that word), but it was a DOWNPOUR. I had so much paperwork to do from my on-call day, that I kept Potamus home from daycare and we snuggled in bed until 9:45 and then he watched Wild Kratts and I did my mental health assessments for the crazy crisis counseling day I’d had the day before. It was a perfect day to stay inside, curled up on the couch watching cartoons and working from home. Even the dog was mellowed by the downpour outside.

And then, when Potamus came up for air from his Wild Kratts binge, he noticed the rain. And we were off. Puddle jumping outside in his bare feet (I barely convinced him he at least needed a coat). This kid is so his mama’s boy it’s not funny. I remember the squishy feeling of puddle jumping in bare feet…in college (yes, I went a year without shoes ya’ll), that I risked the judgment from my neighbors and let him be a little barefoot hippie rainy Seattle baby.

I wasn’t wearing a bathing suit, though Potamus probably wanted his swim trunks on. Because it wasn’t about wearing a bathing suit, it was about getting involved. Being present. Puddle jumping with my toddler, whereas a week ago I was swimming in a pool with him, because these moments count. They are the things that we grow up to remember. Like the memory of jumping fearlessly into my daddy’s arms in the swimming pool as a kid, and how on the ride home we’d sing The Muffin Man.

Wear the goddamn bathing suit. Wear the rain jacket. Or take off your shoes and jump in puddles with your barefoot hippie kid. It’s that simple. Really. The dishes will wait. The pounds may never be shed. It’s okay.

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How I’ve Gone About Making Friends in Seattle

Mari and I bonded over wine, but it took 5 years to really become friends. Whoa!

Mari and I bonded over wine, but it took 5 years to really become friends. Whoa!

Growing up I had a tight band of friends, mostly thanks to Summer Swim League, Church youth group, and Girl Scouts. I am a Seattle native, raised in a suburb just fifteen minutes north of the city, in what was, then, unincorporated King County. This is my home, the fiercely independent people who escaped via wagon train, to homestead, and log, and settle the furthest west they could. At 25 I met my biological family and learned the amazing truth that I am related to some of the first pioneers here in WA, starting towns in the mountains of Central Washington, and out on the Peninsula. This is my home.

But at 14 I was uprooted, shuttled to the hot, dry, shrub steppe climate of Central Washington’s sagebrush dotted ‘wine country.’ It was a miserable few years, made good by college attendance, and the eventual migration HOME to Seattle after meeting Boof and deciding on the grad school route of postsecondary counseling.

I noticed something in both my moves, in how it relates to making friends. As a Seattle child, I was wary, but had friends because of the activities I was involved in. But when I lived in Central Washington, there was a distinct overwhelming difference in making friends. Because I walked into school the first day and…people said hi to me. I know, crazy, right? I had assumed it would take a good 6 months or so to even be acknowledged, because that was the vibe I got, and gave, to new kids at my schools in Seattle. There was something more open, friendly, embracing, in the smallish city that we had moved to.

In moving home to the evergreen side of the state, albeit to a suburb fifteen minutes south of Seattle, this time, I realized that in order to make friends I was going to have to put in the time and effort. It’s something I ask my students in class, about their impressions, and experiences, with the Seattle friendship vibe. And they all agree with me…it’s hard to make friends in Seattle.

I blame our pioneer spirit. I’ve joked with my students that the friendship vibe, you know, where people say “let’s get coffee!” and it means “i’m being polite and have zero intention of actually getting coffee with you,” …that doesn’t exist in other parts of the country, is due to the fur traders who lived in cabins around here, and would have moved even further west if there hadn’t been a big giant ocean (or, the Puget Sound) in their way. I feel like we are all descendants from those rugged individualists who moved here to get away from the fray, and one day woke up and there were high rises and stepford neighborhoods and they look around and think ‘wtf?’ and put their north face heads down and keep walking.

It’s not that people aren’t friendly, it’s just that they’re hard to get to know. And so, to this day, the people I call my friends have come from two distinct groups: A) people my husband or his family knew growing up here and/or B) transplants who’ve moved here and are dealing with the very same thing as me.

Starting with Boof’s circle, including his sisters, and my mother-in-law, seemed like a natural place, since I figured by dating the guy I might end up being a part of his family and wanted to get to know them and their family friends. Despite my introverted bookish ways, I summoned my energy for several years and got out of my comfort zone, doing things like…inviting them out to coffee, or going out of my way to do insane things like encouraging them to jump off rocks so we could take funny pictures. And not just family, but family friends, too. Despite being uncomfortable, feeling like an outsider, I went to social gatherings with a group of girls who had known each other in some fashion since childhood. I often felt nostalgic for that group of girls I saw on Facebook, who still palled around from my childhood Girl Scout Troop, and fantasized that if I hadn’t left I would be in this place of  unbroken friendship since the early days. But instead, I mustered my own pioneer tenacity and hung out with my new family and acquaintances on a semi-regular basis. Because, in Seattle, time forges friendships. Like moss growing on rocks, or water eroding canyons. It takes time.

In the meantime, through grad school, and my first few jobs, I’ve picked up a rag tag group of friends, with only one not fitting into my family/family-friends-since-childhood or transplant theory, in a Seattle native, but he’s a dude, and I’ve worked with him at two different jobs for the last four years, so again, the whole time issue. This rag tag group of friends has their roots in many places, from the Pennsylvania Amish country, to native New Yawkers, and a few Floridians for good measure. East Coast. South. Maybe Eastern Washington, but all transplants.

I’ve been back for almost seven years, and I can confidently say I have friends. Mari grew up going to youth group with Boof, and was friends with his sister. And after five years of hanging about on the friendship periphery, somehow the time (or stars?) aligned and we became close. But it wasn’t instant like I had in college, or in Eastern Washington. It was slow, like moss growing on a rock. I think that was aided by proximity, and shared interests, and finding ourselves in the same boat with children (is the boat sinking?). I tell these stories to my students, who are struggling to fit in and find connections because it takes so long. They’re trying to not feel so lonely, and I’ll say things like, “you might feel awkward, but keep trying. keep going to things even if you feel like maybe you were only invited out of obligation. keep inviting people out to coffee. make an ass of yourself and make people laugh. just hang around, especially with people with common interests, and you’ll finally fit. I promise. But if you want friends, you’re going to have to do the work. And you’re going to have to not take six month gaps or lapse in hanging out personally, because somehow that’s just how it rolls here. ”

Any else have good advice on how to relate or be friends with people in Seattle?

 

Penguins have names like Fiona and Tyrone and Louis

Apparently the rest of the country is buried under snow, but here in Seattle we are having GORGOUS weather (complete with sunshine AND warmth!), so we had to get out of the house to do something more exciting than grocery shopping at Costco. So we headed on up to the Woodland Park Zoo to renew our yearly membership and see some animals! Potamus has been obsessed with making animal noises (his particular favorite is the chimpanzee, which I have NO idea where he learned that from…haha).

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I realized when we parked, that I had brought a 2 year old to the zoo without a stroller as tired-leg-backup. What’s fun about going places with kids is that it’s new every time. He squealed and pointed and even drew the attention of passerbys who even said “wow, he’s really excited.” I don’t like to stifle his excitement, because FUCK YEAH PENGUINS ARE COOL BABY! I guess I didn’t notice all the ‘well behaved’ (aka quiet) kids at the zoo who ooh and ahh with tiny exasperated adult voices…because my kid has enthusiasm just like his mom.

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On our way out we stopped back at the penguin exhibit and watched them get fed. I was struck by the zookeeper who was calling out their names as he threw them a fish. Hey Tyrone, here you go! Fiona, you need your vitamins too! Louis, eat the fish, don’t drop it that seagull will get it! I was fascinated, because of course penguins have personalities and you would know them, but I found the names funny. I think a children’s book called “A Penguin Named Tyrone” would be cute. Anyone want to write that?

How Winning the Superbowl Is Like Losing Your Virginity

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Hot damn, the Seahawks did it! We fucking KILLED THE BRONCOS yesterday in a total Rain City Redemption.

But can I be totally honest…

I was bored.

I love football. Not to the crazy chest-painting level, but definitely more of an appreciation than your average girl (whatever the hell that means). But yesterday’s game was exciting for maybe the first half, and then…snorefest. Even the commercials were over the top sappy and I spent my time texting some friends who were at least drinking on the East Coast at their Super Fan all-expenses-paid-party (did I mention the party I was at was dry? Yeah, maybe that contributed to my apathy).

When we left, Boof said “well, that was hyped up like Prom movies and I have that feeling of letdown like when you get to prom and realize that it’s really just not that cool.” I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved winning, I loved hearing the fireworks and knowing that we FINALLY have a Super Bowl championship under our belt, but it kinda felt like losing one’s virginity in the back seat of a Dodge Dart. Ya know? Like, sounds good in theory (does it? really?), but isn’t as exciting when you’re experiencing it as you first thought.

At any rate, I’m glad we won. I hope we win again. But I was hoping for a little more spice. My buddy Russ said it perfectly, when he tweeted out “So, the NFC championship was the Super Bowl,” because THAT game was balls out amazing.

Though, can we talk for a second about Percy Harvin? Talk about a ferrari of a player! Looking forward to his continued contribution next year…

What were YOUR thoughts on the Super Bowl yesterday?