Story, Goal, Song: part IV


I made a mistake last week. I started watching Aerial America again. And now, while everyone else has come down with a cold, I have come down with yet another bout of wanderlust.

So today my mom and I hopped in the car and drove toward the mountains. She probably just did this to shut me up, because whenever I’d caught sight of them earlier in the day it was all I could do to not thrust my hands in the air and yell “HOLY SHIT” (not an unwarranted exclamation – they were seriously majestic). But anyway, we drove toward the mountains, and then we turned around and headed toward the water, practically chasing the sun at this point, and one of the pictures I took during this leg of our journey is up yonder. I don’t know why my natural response to a beautiful day is to shout swear words, but HOLY. SHIT. What a breathtaking day.

Just had to get that out. Moving on! (if you missed them, part I can be found here, part II here, and part III here)

A story: Spring break trips are sort of a rite of passage for college students, as I’m sure everyone knows. Most, understandably, migrate toward the equator for that week – my friends and I decided to go north, to Vancouver BC. Vancouver is a beautiful land where the drinking age is only 19 and every building looks like this:


The four of us arrived in this gorgeous city and settled in (shout-out to my dad for hooking it up with the Marriott points), soon venturing out again to find sandwiches and, more importantly, explore the Granville Island market. Many photos were taken – the background/wallpaper for this very blog is actually a picture I took of the water around Granville – and we discovered the soap shop of all soap shops. Feeling pretty grand about our touristing skills, we went back to the hotel to do some crucial pub/bar research; we are four young women who do not settle for mediocre cocktails. And we kind of wanted an Irish pub atmosphere. Priorities.

On a sidenote, the restaurant where we ate dinner had the coolest bathroom ever (so cool, in fact, L-dawg sent me on a secret mission to take a picture of the sink, which could be turned on by stepping on a pedal):

Canada, you really have it  all worked out.

Canada, you really have it all worked out.

By 7:30pm on that Monday evening, we were sitting at Doolin’s Irish Pub, not even getting carded for the drinks we ordered because those who “go out on the town” before 10 are probably harmless. Worked for us. There was live music. We had fries. We left by 9:30, grabbed some fancy dessert from a local cafe, and fell asleep watching the Food Network around midnight. This is good because, first of all, it’s kind of my ideal night, and secondly, we definitely needed our energy for the next day. I mean…

TOPSHOP is paradise, and it basically doesn't exist in the US (for those of you who don't know)

TOPSHOP is paradise, and it basically doesn’t exist in the US (for those of you who don’t know)

After taking advantage of the continental breakfast (since that is the point of staying in a hotel, after all), we went on a shopping spree and then a walking spree. Overestimating our speed/endurance/patience and underestimating the amount of rainfall that would occur that day, we attempted to walk all the way to Stanley Park. I cannot even give a rough estimate of how many blocks we traversed on our way to this so-called gem of Vancouver, but I can tell you that by the time we actually reached the park we had all silently agreed that a picture of a few ducks in the first pond we encountered would suffice, and we turned around. If there was ever a day, in the whole year of living together, when there was a nearly-palpable feeling of annoyance bouncing between the four of us, this was it. But a hot cup of tea with a towering tray of pastries can pretty much solve anything, and luckily that was next on our agenda.

This was my spring break, and these are my friends (all of whom I get to see on SUNDAY! *shrieks with happiness*). Such good memories – even walking in our rained-on misery.

A goal: Today’s goal, believe it or not, is actually related to both my intro and my story. When does that ever happen? Soak it up, guys.

Maybe you’ve already picked up on it, but I have this desire to see cities and mountains and canyons and grassy hillsides and practically everything. You know, the spirit of a traveler. Regrettably, though, I do not make enough time to really get out there and do stuff. I want to get out there and do stuff. I see these pictures of people I know road tripping and going on hikes and whatnot, and I always have that what-am-I-doing-with-my-life moment, when suddenly you can see very clearly your priorities have somehow been thrown askew. I’d like to get them back where they should be. And one of my top priorities is seeing and experiencing places. (I’ll start off strong by watching the Aerial America marathon all day on New Year’s, Smithsonian Channel if you’d like to participate from your own couch)

A song: Now we come to yet another song that has stayed with me through all the seasons: “I Can See Your Tracks” by Laura Veirs. In February, I sat on various benches and listened to it on repeat. It was on our spring break mix CD. I listened to it on the bus over the summer, and it is (predictably) stuck in my head now, at the very end of December.

It is so relaxed and sweet and makes me feel like I’m wandering around a prairie at sundown. If that doesn’t make you want to listen to it, I don’t know what will.

As always, thank you very very much for taking the time to read, and stay tuned for the final part of this series (and final post of 2014)!

Also, I would like to wish a very happy birthday to my dear Olivia Rose – can’t promise I won’t cry when I see you


Best 10: Netflix Edition



Netflix: a beautiful and dangerous thing. So many movies. So many TV shows. So many options, what is one to do? You can waste half of your life just browsing. Well fret not, dear readers, I am here to help you. Without further delay, I proudly present to you my second annual “Best of Netflix” list, now including TV shows and documentaries:

1. An Idiot Abroad

Starring Karl Pilkington, Stephen Merchant, and Ricky Gervais' laugh

Starring Karl Pilkington, Stephen Merchant, and Ricky Gervais’ laugh.

Quick Summary: Karl is cranky and hates adventure – so naturally his friends, Ricky and Stephen, send him to exotic locations around the world to film a documentary travel series. From visiting the “Alright Wall of China” to a village of flatulent snakes in Thailand, Karl remains unimpressed and full of reasons to whine.

Without a doubt, this is one of the funniest series I’ve ever watched. It’s basically two grown men thinking up ways to bully their friend from thousands of miles away, and it is BRILLIANT. No matter what they arrange for him, whether it be dogsledding or climbing Mount Fuji, Karl’s reaction is priceless and usually makes me double over in laughter. It’s inappropriate, ridiculous, occasionally offensive, and his attitude is rotten, but apparently this all makes for phenomenal television. Six million stars for An Idiot Abroad.

2. Helvetica

Starring people who are obsessed with fonts.


Quick Summary: Fascinating interviews with prominent typographers and graphic designers are punctuated by montages of Helvetica-ridden city streets; seriously though, it’s everywhere.

This documentary is proof that any subject can be intriguing if only handled in the right way. It’s not just about the history or ubiquity of the font known as Helvetica, it’s an exploration of the links between culture and design in the past sixty-odd years, and it is really interesting. Type is something so present in our lives everyday, and we hardly ever give it a second thought (with the exception of Comic Sans, because everyone vehemently hates Comic Sans). This documentary will make you think. And it will also make you try to recognize things written in Helvetica wherever you go, which is kind of annoying and kind of fun.

3. Love Actually

Starring every actor in Britain.

Starring every actor in Britain.

Quick Summary: Somehow Hugh Grant has become Prime Minister, and his sister is Emma Thompson, who is married to Alan Rickman, who works with Laura Linney, who falls in love with the real-life version of Aladdin…?

As the cover claims, this actually is the ultimate romantic comedy. Very romantic, very comedy. Who even cares that it’s set during Christmastime, love is not seasonal!

4. Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend

Starring, who else, Mike Birbiglia

Starring, who else, Mike Birbiglia

Quick Summary: Mike Birbiglia delivers a hilarious and sweet stand-up routine at Seattle’s Intiman Theater (woohoo Seattle).

I feel like usually stand-up comedy is just stand-up comedy. You know, a line of jokes delivered semi-obnoxiously, a comedian strutting around the stage, pulling faces and extracting raucous laughter. Maybe it’s just the subject matter of his performance, but Mike Birbiglia seems different to me. He’s not obnoxious at all, he’s endearing and honest, and his routine flows really well because it’s a story. Good writing, good delivery. GOOD MAN.

5. Say Anything…

Starring John Cusack and Ione Skye.

Starring John Cusack and Ione Skye.

Quick Summary: Classic (maybe the original?) underdog-falling-in-love-with-the-valedictorian story. So very 80’s. So very boombox.

First of all, John Cusack was precious in 1989. Second of all, Cameron Crowe directed this and Jerry Maguire, so two big points for Cameron Crowe. Also, up until this year, I thought “In Your Eyes” was sung by Phil Collins. Speaking of Phil Collins…

6. Tarzan

Starring cartoons.

Starring cartoons.

Quick Summary: A shipwrecked family builds a sweet treehouse (hm, Swiss Family Robinson?), but then a jaguar attacks the parents and the baby is kidnapped and raised by gorillas.

See, I thought every 90’s kid ever had seen this movie, but one of my best friends hadn’t watched it till I made her last summer – so despite it’s popularity, Tarzan still belongs on this list. If I had to pick my favorite Disney movie, this would probably be it. The music alone makes it worth watching. (but it’s also just really good and I love Minnie Driver’s voice)

7. Aerial America

Starring the United States of America.

Starring the United States of America.

Quick Summary: Sweeping aerial footage of the 50 states (although there are only 10 episodes on Netflix) is accompanied by educational commentary.

IT’S NOT AS BORING AS IT SOUNDS. In fact, this is the second time I’ve blogged about this show. If you’re interested in history, or geography, or even just roadtripping around the states, you should watch this. You can sit on your couch and eat a pint of ice cream and not feel bad about it because you’re technically “learning.” One downside to this show: it makes me want to go everywhere, and does not provide me with the means to do so. I guess you take the good with the bad?

8. How to Grow a Band

Starring the band Punch Brothers

Starring the band Punch Brothers.

Quick Summary: Cameras follow Chris Thile and his bandmates around on their first tour together.

I was really excited to see this pop up in my suggestions the other night, because a) I have been listening to this band a lot lately, and b) after watching the Swell Season last week, I am digging the films that document both music and the dynamics between the people playing it. How to Grow a Band showcases some really fantastic musicians, and it explores how they learn to create things together without falling apart. And I don’t mean to trivialize Thile’s talent by choosing to talk about how adorable his crooked teeth are, but really, his crooked teeth are pretty adorable.

9. D2: The Mighty Ducks

Starring Emilio Estevez.

Starring Emilio Estevez.

Quick Summary: The Ducks add a few members and become Team USA, competing in the Goodwill Games in LA – but will they have to sell out in order to win?! Will the Icelandic team kill them in their sleep?!

One of the best parts of babysitting three young boys? Movies like this suddenly resurface. I don’t care what anyone says, D2 is a forgotten classic. I’ll admit I am not a huge Emilio Estevez fangirl, and I don’t really like hockey either, but the kids in these movies are so perfect (comedically and athletically) and who doesn’t love a good team bonding scene? I only watched this a few days ago, so maybe that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about it, but I’m pretty sure this movie is actually gold.

10. Amelie

Starring Audrey Tatou.

Starring Audrey Tatou.

Quick Summary: French people speak French and everything is quirky and magical.

I don’t know why this is #10 on my list – it’s actually one of my favorite movies, ever – but I’m too lazy to switch things around. On a gloomy day, this will totally turn you around. Life is beautiful, people are funny, love is real. It’s overly optimistic and a little fantastical, yes, but we need stuff like this every once in awhile. Especially stuff that’s scored by Yann Tiersen. Anyway. Amelie is timeless and everyone should see it at least once, come on, humor me.

How I know it’s spring.

I don’t really keep it a secret – spring is my favorite season, and it always has been. I love summer, I love fall, and I love winter, too, but there is something about spring that makes me want to sit in my window, read a good book, and have a cute little songbird come perch on my finger (this has actually happened before, no lie). I just love everything about it.

I have been particularly anticipatory of this spring. I remember days in February when we would catch the faintest glint of sun, and I would run outside in a t-shirt and sunglasses even though it was only in the 40’s. There were many times when I would find myself moving from campus bench to campus bench, following that tiny bit of bright warmth. If spring were a boy, I would want to marry him, but he would probably file a restraining order against me because I’m too pushy. That’s just how it is.

But now – finally – after months of imagining cherry blossoms and clear blue skies, my season has arrived. I’m generally a pretty happy person, but now I just have the urge to frolick everywhere, which is embarrassing and not an exaggeration at all. I am breathing in the smell of flowers and I can see the mountains so clearly and I am just so in love. I have quite a vivid imagination, but I can’t imagine a time or a place more lovely than the Northwest in the spring, and I can’t imagine better people with whom to spend it.

How do I know it’s spring? Well first of all, the spring equinox happened. I am also officially on spring break. So those are pretty clear cut. But there are a couple of other things that always seem to signify spring for me: wanderlust and happy music.

I told one of my roommates last week that I always feel some degree of wanderlust, but my levels see a steep, steep increase once spring comes along. This year, that spike is attributable to Aerial Americaaka one of the best shows to ever grace the pages of Netflix. For a long time, I thought everything I could ever want to see was somewhere across the ocean – Italy, Morocco, Japan. Even now, one of my most-sighed phrases is “I want to go everywhere,” but I feel like my previous attitude has changed a little. Of course I want to see Rome before I die, but I also feel like I’ll hate myself if I never drive the Pacific Coast Highway in its entirety. Thanks to some striking aerial footage and history-focused narration, I’m determined to embark on the ultimate road trip across America and see all the things and meet all the people and yeah. As I said earlier… I want to go everywhere.

And what is a road trip without great music? Answer: a shitty road trip. Luckily I have been able to compile a list of songs that are evocative of spring (for me, at least), most of which are featured in my two-disc “O Canada” collection – being the queen of thrusting mix CDs at people who don’t ask for mix CDs, I couldn’t not play DJ on a quickly-approaching two-day excursion to Canada with my roommates. A sample:

DSC_1158If there is one song that has prepped me for my favorite season this year, it is “I Can See Your Tracks” by Laura Veirs. I’ve probably listened to it too many times, but judging by how quickly I go through jars of peanut butter, I am not one for moderation.

So there we go. Yes, spring makes me a very sappy person. But trees are sappy too, and people love trees. (please love me) Okay bye!