To Canada!

Well, I finally got out of here and went on an adventure. And this was a special adventure, to boot. My girlfriends from college and I got together for our four-year anniversary. I saw Catherine in 2014 and Rebekah in 2013, but we hadn’t all been together since Catherine graduated in December 2012.

Catherine and I found each other in the Seattle airport and stood in the cool air waiting for Bek to pick us up. It had been pretending to be summer in the Midwest when we left from Missouri and Illinois, respectively, so the change in temperature was a welcome shock.

The day after we arrived, we went into the city and watched the traveling Broadway production of Newsies. My lands, it was amazing. I haven’t watched the movie, so it was new and exciting for me. My favorite part was when a character exclaims that, not only is their story on the front page, it’s above the fold! I laughed so hard my friends glanced at me with embarrassment. Sorry ladies, you just have to work in a newspaper office to get why that’s such a hoot.

We got home around midnight and awoke about six hours later to take an Uber to the docks. We were going to Canada! The water was rough due to the weather, and the clipper we were in was on the smaller side of big for a boat, which meant seasickness. Although they took a detour to stay out of the worst water, it also meant a delay, so we almost didn’t make it to the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. for high tea.

Running into the elegant hotel, we asked for directions to the dining parlor and the bathroom. We hit the bathroom, changed into our nice clothes, and made it to the dining parlor with a few minutes to spare. The tea was lovely and the dainty sandwiches and desserts were more than enough for lunch. The high tea was part of a package deal which included the clipper, tea, and hotel room at another hotel. This made it affordable to do the tea; it is otherwise about $50 a person.

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The girls and I enjoy high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. 

After dropping off our bags at our hotel which we finally located, we found our way to a bookstore where I bought Frankenstein. The day grew short and our stomachs empty so we went to the Sticky Wicket Pub. Yum. Oh my lands, it was the best meal I’ve had in ages.

The following day we went to the Craigdarroch Castle. We had mistaken the castle for Hatley Park of X-Men repute, so needless to say I was disappointed. The castle was still gorgeous and my friends and I had a blast playing the piano in the grand room on the top floor. The best part was finding Smarties in the gift shop. Now, these aren’t American Smarties made from sugar. They’re beefed up M&Ms I’ve only been able to find in Europe. So good to know they’re almost in the States.

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Craigdarroch Castle

We went back to the Sticky Wicket for a late lunch because when you’ve found good food, there is no need to look any further. After sunbathing on the pier which was flooded with booths and tourists, we went back to the clipper dock and took a much smoother boat ride back to Seattle.

Sunday consisted of watching Bek being inducted into the Anglican Church, real Greek gyros, watching Anne of Green Gables, and board games. Clue is terribly boring and I stink at Scrabble. You know, I just realized that I don’t know who won. That’s a shame.

The next morning I was on a plane, but I had one more adventure in me before I went home…

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My lonely monolingual world

Hola. Como esta? There is the majority of my Spanish. Oh, and I can ask where the bathroom is. I confuse beer and napkin… and a lot of other words. In Icelandic I can say bread and egg and waterfall and… yeah, I’ve already forgotten the rest.

It’s a lonely, self-inflicted, culturally-accepted shame I have. It embarrasses me when my sister beautifully tells me something in Spanish, and it isolated me in Iceland as I sat at a table surrounded by wonderfully interesting people but unable to join the conversation.

In Iceland I was at a party and mindlessly wandering around (parties aren’t my jam) when I walked up to a lady I had been helping (who had a British accent due to marrying a Brit). She was chatting with this man about something or other and suddenly I blurted out, “You’re speaking English!” The man gaped at me and exclaimed, “You’re American!”

Why of course I am, dimwit, who else would be excited about such an ugly, confusing language like English? The man was not the type of person I would commonly associate with, but I found myself strangely drawn to him and he to me because of this common shame we shared.

The citizens of Patro were blissfully unaware that the two Midwestern Americans chatting together were actually tending to their self-inflicted wounds of monolingualism together.

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The beautiful, intelligent, fiery people of Iceland are taught English starting very early in their education. They then pick up another language, as well — is it Polish? They are incredibly multilingual. I had no problem communicating with them while there.

The fascinating thing I have found about speaking in another language, however, is there is a thin barrier in front of the person who is translating from their mother tongue into whatever other language. There seems to be an emotional disconnect while communicating. It’s as if it is lost in translation. Literally. It was fascinating to watch my co-worker from Romania speak in English to our Icelandic boss. Double whammy. Or when I was in a hot tub chatting in Spanish with an Italian in a Speedo. Double awkward. 

It’s hard enough to communicate in one’s mother tongue. Then add instantaneous translation? Phew.

But do you know what’s harder? Sitting on a couch at yet another party and only being able to understand the Taylor Swift music video on the television.

What do you call it when a person speaks three languages? Trilingual.
Two languages? Bilingual. One language? American.

Okay, you wonderful fellow travelers, how does monolingualism (whether it’s you or someone else) affect you during your adventures? Sound off in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Returning to Ground Zero

Eight years ago in New York City I walked by a construction site. It was surrounded by fencing and black plastic, but through gaps I could see a hole. A massive hole. In 2001 it was one of the Twin Towers. People hurried by on the street somberly and I blended back into the crowd.

On August 21st, I revisited the site. Walking through the small park, I stopped when I got to one of the memorial pools. Engraved with the names of those who died, the water rushed from under the border and cascaded over the edge into the deep, black basin like tears. Here in this park surrounded by trees and park benches, this spot still weeps for those lost to hatred and terror. The engraved border is wide and cold to the touch. Everyone places their hands on the stone and traces the names with their fingertips. Christopher, Mary Lou, Frank… A white rose is placed on a special engraving for Engine 65.

I look up to the One World Trade Center. When I stand beside it, I can’t even see the top. The tower is sleek, noble, and fierce. From the depths of the pool to the top of the Tower, the whole site seems to project this sense of bold resistance to terror. Standing here I feel the strength of this city and of our nation. As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I am glad to have visited the site where, though many lives were lost, terror did not win.

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Yup, I’m hopeless when it comes to traveling.

So I thought I would be okay staying here at home for awhile. I was away for quite some time in Iceland, and immediately went away to Iowa when I got back to America. Surely I would be okay and content for at least a few months, right?

My cousin got married today. As we were cleaning up the reception hall after everything, one of my uncles asked me when my next adventure was going to be. I said I am planning on getting a job, and getting ready for grad school. So I’ll be staying put for awhile. My dad laughed.

Fast forward to less than five minutes later when my cousin who lives in New York City says, “Yeah, come up sometime and we’ll go to any show you want.”

Firstly, she knows my weaknesses, specifically theatre and travel. Secondly, I’ve already found a flight.

I’m so sick and I don’t think there is a cure.

A Gap Between What?

AdamsWide

Last week I read a wonderful blog post about life, accepting and embracing the now, and the people you are sharing the experience with. I wish I could find it again and share it with you, but you are stuck with my thoughts it invoked instead.

We in this particular blogosphere use the word “gap-year” so much and yet I hadn’t really thought about the insinuations of it before. It’s a gap between what? School? Jobs? Life? For me, my gap was supposed to be between my office job and grad school. I wanted to take a gap year, have fun, and get some more experience in theatre before I committed to school. I didn’t know I would catch so much flack for it. There is a very negative attitude about quitting a good job around here and, though I was expecting it, I didn’t realize how personally I would take the negativity. It’s very jarring to have people who once thought I had my head on straight suddenly stick their nose up at me like I was an idiot. I can understand their emotion considering most people think quitting a steady job is moronic, but I didn’t know how deeply rooted that mindset was in me. It’s been a hard road, emotionally, as I struggle with my own expectations of where I want to be in life.

This isn’t my “gap-year,” this is my LIFE. Last year and now this year are not some pause from my life, career goals, and financial responsibilities as some may think. I’m not floating on some cloud goofing off. The world keeps turning, I am still bombarded with questions and choices which are constantly shaping my future, and this isn’t a vacation. I suppose, now that I look more closely, this gap-year thing hasn’t been a gap from a career like I had originally thought. Rather, it has been a step away from what everyone (including myself) expected of me. Only God knows where I will end up, but I really don’t think this flux I feel I am stuck in is going to end in some 9 to 5 job. This flux is LIFE, and although it doesn’t look at all like everyone else’s world around here, it’s my world, and it is a beautiful thing.

Thanks to my fellow bloggers who sucked me into their world and are daily showing me that the road less travelled isn’t so lonely after all.

I’ll see you in Iceland.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. -Douglas Adams

10 Things to Know Before Traveling

This post is way too good to keep for myself.

Where Am I?

 

1) It’s much cheaper than you may expect.

Couchsurfing and hitchhiking are generally easy and safer than you might expect, while there is always the option of organic farming or other volunteering in exchange for room and food. You don’t need to break the bank to see the world.

Travel hacks I’ve learned include: Signing up for the airline credit cards, which generally offer enough points for signing up to purchase one anywhere-in-the-world flight; taking overnight buses, which saves you the cost of a hotel and doesn’t take any time away from exploring; and eating two-day-old bread, which is often thrown behind the bakery in a sealed bag.

2) It’s NOT free.

I’ve seen plenty of smarmy articles about how someone traveled the world for six months, free. The author then tells us all that we can do the same thing if we just open our minds. I…

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