My job was fun this week

Listening to: Antillas & Blinders ft. Jenson Vaughan – Top of the World

This is one of those posts where not much happens that would be interesting to others but I think I have to blog now so that one day I will look back and think “I forgot how awesome my life was at one point but this post seems to claim that I had a lot of fun.”

As any employee of the world would agree, the best work weeks are when there’s barely any work to be done. God, I don’t even really remember what I did at this point.

Monday: I already went in detail over this but I just have to reiterate – I spent the night at Kathy’s, we barted together, spent the day in SF office which I have come to associate with “the office in which minimal work is done” because usually that’s where I go when I’m feeling bored with life and want to socialize with anyone who might be in the office that day. Random delicious lunch, Blue Bottle Coffee Co for the first, glorious time, left work almost right at 5pm, went swimming after work. I think I hit upon all the things I wish I could do every day if I could – but probably would only be able to if I worked in operations or human resources.

Tuesday: Worked from home. Mainly completed some trainings and surprisingly got some charge hours in. Went to Philz and the gym but this was after I decided to take a few swigs of lemoncello and promptly passed out at 2:30pm, my head on my work laptop. HAHA I only don’t feel guilty because I ended up just making up the hours later in the day. When they say auditing is flexible, it’s totally true, but only after a year of being the associate butt monkey, and only if you work up a good enough reputation that you know people aren’t going to question where you are and what you’re doing.

Wednesday: All hands meeting and Dave & Busters. I am not a fan of arcade games at all, but even I have to admit, getting handed a free play card with 100 points loaded up is pretty awesome. I couldn’t even use all of the points; I ended up giving it to another coworker. Who knew playing basketball was SO. EXHAUSTING. And several of my coworkers agreed with me too – I guess we are all similarly out of shape. We left at 3pm and I just love my company for purposely scheduling office-wide meetings on weekdays during work hours, knowing and accepting that most of the company will go home at like 2pm. I think I went to the cafe today too. Basically I consumed A LOT of sugar this week.

Thursday: I dragged my ass to the office, but I’ll admit 90% of the reason I went to the office and didn’t just work from home was because I didn’t have food in the fridge and knew I could eat a delicious, oily, unhealthy meal if I went to the office. So I went to the office, promptly dropped off my stuff and did as much as turn on my laptop so at least I was online, then dragged a coworker to Specialtys with me for my breakfast. Then we had lunch at Backayard. Then we left promptly at 5pm and I headed straight to Philz. Bay Area Traffic Love #1: is when I’m driving to Philz on the 101N, and exit off of Middlefield RIGHT before I hit the shitty Palo Alto traffic. Love love love that feeling of zooming past lanes of stopped cars.

While at Philz I FINALLY put together my list of expenditures for the past three months. It’s hard because I don’t always remember what I spent cash on. But between my credit card statements, my google calendar, and my outlook calendar for work events, I can generally piece together a decent amount of information. I am horrified to realize, as a I look back on my 2011  and 2010 expenditures documents, that there were months where I spent about $1,000 and now it looks like I keep hovering around $1,800 or up to $2,200. So I probably need to … limit … myself. (Obvi, this plan is to take effect after this weekend, which includes a Napa trip to various restaurants and wineries that Kathy tells me are “a bit pricey,” and this is someone who just went to Michael Mina HAHA). On the other hand, I also miscalculated how much tax would be taken out of my bonus and I had initially figured I’d use my bonus on my Seattle trip but now I think I have $650 to throw at Restoration Hardware and see what lands up in my room. I really want to completely redo my room before my birthday party. Speaking of which,

After returning from Philz I went to Pinkberry with my housemate Caryn. She dragged me there to try the new Nutella flavor. We both ended up getting original though HA. I was telling her how I want to redo my room and she was like “yeah do it!” and I was like “but ……. if I do it …… it’s like …… how much longer am I staying here?! It’s like I’m settling!” and she gave me this indescribable look (I think it’s best described as “you’re a fucking idiot”) and said “I’m pretty sure you can move a table out of a room. And if you want to build a shelf, go ahead. There’s this thing called spackel.” HA Love my living situation.

Friday: I went to the client but one of the best things about auditing is probably when I’m on working alone on a private client and the client fails to give me what I want even when they tell me they are going to get it to me. Because the deadline isn’t that strict, it’s not my fault I don’t have work and I feel no guilt about sitting around taking my time to look at the flux of a single account. I left at like 4:50 today and headed straight to Berkeley. Bay Area Traffic Love #2: Driving on the 24W and exiting on Claremont RIGHT before hitting Tunnel Rd traffic. Another thing I love about auditing is the fact that this was my Friday schedule: I went to work, took it very, very easy, decided I’d just go to Berkeley since I left early enough to miss 880 traffic, walked to Willard Park, read under a tree while watching dogs run around and play with one another. Then my coworker Eugene called and this was our convo:

Eugene: So … Chicago … what do you want to do? (we are coordinating our overlapping weekends in Chicago along with three other coworkers HAHA Today I realized that I’ll be in Chicago for a very long time but who knows if I’ll be working with these people come October 2013 so I’m just really happy we’ll be able to do this little vacay together)
Me: I don’t know – wait where are you coming from right now?
Eugene: My client is in Pleasanton and I’m driving back to SF. Why where are you?
Me: I’m just sitting in a park in Berkeley, reading
Eugene: Are you alone?
Me: Yeah, I’m just staying here and will eat dinner until I leave Berkeley and go to Kathy’s. Why did you want to come to Berkeley?
Eugene: Yeah sure
Me: Where are you now?
Eugene: I’m driving on the 580. How do I get to Berkeley?
Me: I think you just switch to the 24, take the Claremont exit, and I’ll meet you at College and Ashby
Eugene: Ok … I think it’ll be like 20 minutes
Me: OK BYE!

And just like that … one auditor who lives in Santa Clara and one auditor who lives in SF met up in the East Bay and had dinner and ice cream and walked around the streets of Berkeley together! HAHA Eugene is always a delight to talk to and I think he is my work husband. I told Kathy “I love seeing Eugene, but I think we may touch each other inappropriately in the office” and she went “uh. YEAH. You do.” I’ve told him this before, but at first I didn’t think we would be friends because he was too happy all the time. And it wasn’t until training last year, when he was super emo about something, that I thought to myself hm, I think we could be friends. HA The funny thing is that while this is one of my favorite workweeks of the year, Eugene was like “this is probably the worst workweek I’ve had at GT”

And now I’m at Kathy’s house. I missed being able to swim in her pool by about twenty minutes but I’m ok with it because I may have thrown up all the Indian curry I ate. Tomorrow is Napa with her, Amy and Julia. Sunday is SF day.

So yeah, remind me of this post when I’m having a “FUCK THIS I HATE MY JOB” week. Time to sleep. Maybe job tomorrow morning.

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The Day I Get Everything Done (or like … 60% of it)

Listening to: Ellie Goulding – I’ll Hold My Breath (I hate how her single Lights is being way overplayed now. Hello, America, this song was famous in 2010. US radio stations need to catch up. She already has a ton of new songs out and they are still playing Lights!!!)

Written at 9am: I’m going to work from home today. I decided this at 8:20am today while lying in bed. The things I want to accomplish today are:

1) Make and drink smoothie
Success. Unfortunately I didn’t have any kale so it was predominately fruit (apple, pineapple, banana) over veggie (spinach, celery). Tomorrow I will have only kale and celery and no spinach. Making these smoothies is like trying to make hot dogs: things just don’t come in proportional packages.

I love when it’s this shade of green

2) Wear something comfortable
Success. I have no idea why I put this on my list, but I wore exercise shorts the entire day.

3) Tie out cash flow statement
Success. First work task of the day!

4) Income Tax Training
Success!!! I thought I would fail it and have to retake it but I magically passed. Thank god. I took this training out of boredom and in a quest for self knowledge back in March when I had more downtime. Then it became a required training and I was like “shit … I have no idea where I left off and I certainly don’t remember anything I had learned.” I’m really glad I don’t have to retake this

5) Eat Thai leftovers for lunch
Success. Yesterday I went to Kathy’s house and we had intended to make huevo rancheros but ended up going to a Thai restaurant in the whitest city imaginable.

6) Finish 1/2 of Manufacturing Training
Success!!!!!!!!! I actually finished the whole thing, because it went by very quickly. I’m now done with all my pre-training trainings before we go to Chicago in September, yay!

7) Go to Philz if bored and in need of a mocha
Success. I went at 7pm, not because I was bored but because I knew if I didn’t, I would have spent the entire day in my room and I’d be really miserable and probably not have gone to the gym. So I read some of my for fun book while nursing a mocha. Which is probably why I AM AWAKE AT TWO AM with no sign of tiredness. Damn you mocha!

8) Rock Climb
Success – but only a moderate one because I didn’t complete any V2s. At least I was on the elliptical and the rowing machine, but I wish my fingers were more sore from climbing.

9) Read for fun book, Going Solo
Success. I kind of want to stay up the rest of the night to finish this but … it’s 2:15am … and … that seems unwise. I recently finished The End of Normal which was something you can just devour in half a day. I doubt it was really fully written by the wife of the son of Bernie Maddoff but it’s a very good, fast read. I picked it up when I was in the Queen Anne bookstore in Seattle and was immediately engrossed within the first five pages, which never happens. At the very least, you get an interesting insight into what people with unimaginable wealth do in their day to day. Going Solo is about how we are trending towards living alone. My main takeaway is that even if more people are deciding to live alone (and never marry), there will never be a definitive “yes you should marry someone” / “no you should live on your own” answer for everyone. It’s just that now we as individuals have more resources and it’s not as frowned upon to live alone if you choose to, so more people do it. The book is like 1/3 statistics and 2/3 interviewee perspectives. I like the book because a good portion of the interviewees are or were young professionals who live in the Bay Area, so it seems more relatable to me. There were a few paragraphs where someone talked about how they could never travel alone, which I thought was very strange because traveling alone is not as scary or lonely as some people make it out to be. I’ve noticed a lot of people were surprised when I tell them about vacations I’ve taken alone. While I don’t have a constant companion, I end up talking to and meeting way more people on my own, and depending on where I’m going, sometimes I’m more inclined to have that kind of a vacation than one with a friend.

10) Research October vacation
OMFG FAIL. This is exactly why I fail to plan any vacations and why I’ve requested and cancelled vacation about four separate times this year. Because I never find vacation planning pressing  until one day I realize that flight prices have increased and then I’m too cheap and bitter to plan so I cancel vacation. And then I max out on my accrual. And then I freak out. I would honestly say that the #1 stress in my life since I’ve started work has not been work/life balance or how I’m doing at work or whether I’m in the right career: it’s vacation planning.

11) Research Chicago vacation
Fail again. I have until Friday to book my flights. I just need to find enough restaurants and places to stay to justify leaving on a Saturday and coming back on a Sunday. Part of me, the lazy part, thinks that have already been to Chicago three times before and it’s no Seattle, and wants to just leave on a Sunday and come back on Friday. But another part (the cheap me, who knows I would never go to Chicago otherwise since I know my company holds its trainings here) thinks I need to maximize fun time in non-CA cities.

12) Call mom
Fail. Ugh sigh. I kind of want to call her every other day but it’s so hard when I’m at work most of the day, then I’m not in the mood to sit around and gab on the phone when I get home, and by the time I get back from the gym I think it’s too late to call her.

13) Start my “must try restaurants” list for SF, Oakland, Berkeley, South Bay, LA, Chicago, New York
Fail. When I wrote this list at 9am I must have thought I had like … 36 hours in a day

14) Write a couple of e-mails to friends
Fail. Sorry friends.

15) Start planning out how I would redecorate my room. Decide if I want to redecorate my room
Fail. Fail. The thing with this is that I’ve realized that one thing I really admire about people is when they decorate their place well, especially if they don’t intend to live there permanently. I think a room/apt that is well decorated really shows off individual personality and also indicates that someone is capable of committing to a place and takes the time to make their living situation comfortable and homey. Lately I realized that I would be way too embarrassed to ever bring a date back to my room because it looks bare and storage closet-like. And it seems hypocritical to not decorate my room when I find it an attractive quality in others.

On the other hand, adding more furniture that I have to one day move does not seem like an appealing idea.

16) Complete August list of expenditures
Fail. Rawrgh.

17) Drink Lindsay’s lemoncello
Success. LOL So my coworker made me a vial of lemoncello a while ago. I decided I would finish this and give her back the bottle for a refill. Lindsay told me her lemoncello is 40 proof. I basically took two shots of this after my pad thai lunch and ended up falling asleep from 2:30-3:30 and then spending the rest of the day wondering if I had a hangover. I definitely did not feel that great at the gym. While it somewhat torpedoed my afternoon work ethic, I figure I can cross “get drunk in the middle of the day while working from home” off my bucket list.

Every sip is like “mmm this is so tasty— OMFG THIS IS STRONG”

18) Do not play Minesweeper. Do not play Tetris. Do not check ThoughtCatalog until after the sun sets, which is when posts stop posting. Do not check LaineyGossip. Do not watch Buffy. Do not leave gmail open. Do not eat open box of girl scout cookies. Do not go to grocery store and buy ice cream or donuts. Do not make plans to eat out with friends for dinner.
Well. I did play Minesweeper … while watching Buffy. But it was for my lunch break! I can’t be faulted for that. I think in general I did pretty well at this.

19) Complete blog about success rate
I think the end result is that anything involving long-term future planning was a massive fail.

We’ll see how this day goes.

Well. Now it’s 2:40 and I have to wake up tomorrow for a 9am training. EXCEPT HAHAHA this training is about recruiting and will be held at Dave and Buster’s before our day-long company party. So … basically I’m waking up to go the mall.

This week has been and will be pretty awesome I think. Sunday night I had driven up to Kathy’s in Danville because I needed to do some things from the office and instead of going to the office 8 miles away from my house, I decided I’d drive 40 miles one direction, crash at Kathy’s, then bart with her to SF. Makes perfect sense.

Monday: bart to SF, minimal amount of work, lunch from Truck Stop which is an alley with rotating food trucks (I got a bacon, mac & cheese grilled cheese sandwich which was incredibly heavy), coffee break at Blue Bottle (decent, different, but I don’t know if it’s worth the extra $1.25 over Philz since with two cups of Blue Bottle mochas I could get three Philz; the affrogato though IS FUCKING DELICIOUS), Bart back to Kathy’s, SWAM after work (this is my fucking dream, to have an easy day of work and then go home for a nice long swim), then Thai, then I drove home. Why can’t every day be like Monday 😦

Tomorrow: this fake one-hour training, then D&B fun for the day

Thursday and Friday: I am assigned to a client who has yet to respond to my “did you get this done” e-mail. I don’t foresee it being too busy there …

I am unable to sleep

Listening to: Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen

I don’t know why.

But when I’m unable to sleep I’ve learned that a few minutes into writing a post, a wave of exhaustion (or am I mistaking that for laziness) comes over me and my eyes start to droop.

I feel it now actually.

Two people just gave their two weeks notice at my job two days ago. When I first started my job, obviously when people left it made no difference to me. Now, off the top of my head, I think six people have left that I really liked. The good thing is that they are still good friends and in some cases, even better friends after they had quit. At first when someone says they are leaving and tell me what their next plans are, I think, OMG. Why am I still here?! Why aren’t I making plans to leave?! There are so many opportunities in life! But this time I think I came to the should have been obvious conclusion that the two people leaving stayed in the company longer and that is why their next jobs are going to be so much more awesome. And by awesome I of course mean better hours and better pay.

I got my first paycheck with my new raise today. All that work last year for a measly extra $200. HAHA I have a sneaky suspicion that from a year ago, I’ve increased my monthly credit card spending by $400 or so. I guess that breaks even. How do I stop spending money when my hobbies are “hanging out with friends” and “eating”?

Why am I talking about work?

I really want a McGriddle right now and I’ve never even eaten a McGriddle. One of my coworkers loves them though, and I bought one for him once. He left it out on the table for about two hours and I said “you know, that is not getting any better with time.” I tried a waffle egg sandwich from JITB which I assume is a similar concept to the McGriddle. I felt pretty awful afterwards, but I think only because I had also tried to stuff a 5 piece chicken nuggets and a medium fries into my stomach. Man, I wish I had  those fries right now.

I would love to learn how to make the perfect palak paneer. The best recipe of all time is from House of Curries and it took me several misses to realize that House of Curries is the most flavorful of all. There is a place called Saffron Bistro near my Redwood City client that is really good too and I was able to spread that lunch over three meals. Amazing. The ingredients I do not have are tumeric, garem masala, green chilies and tomato puree.

I was right. I want to go to sleep now. The magic of blogging.

 

Going into my third year as an auditor

I suppose it’s time for another “Mel’s Thoughts on her Job” entry. Although in all fairness have I ever made an entire entry dedicated to discussing my job? I feel like I have not and have only done random snippets of my thoughts thrown into various posts. I thought going on vacation would allow me some space and time to rethink my priorities but … that did not happen. And I can’t freaking remember where I read this awesome quote … oh I found it. HA See Question 5.

Anyway. I started the vacation thinking “you know, having a job at all is pretty nice.” But as always, doubts begin to surface, like “is this the career I really want?” or “there must be better things out there.” I don’t know what it is about auditing that makes these sort of thoughts so prevalent. Auditing is not the only job where with long hours. Auditing is not the only job that can seem fairly trivial and worthless in the big scheme of things. Once I started work, I began to wonder how it is that grad students, particularly med students, seem to be so certain that they want to become doctors or whatnot. I assume few med students have ever had the real experience of being a doctor before they plop down the money for their first year of med school education. Maybe they intern or have some volunteer position in a hospital, but I’d say an auditing internship is about 0% representative of what it’s like to be an auditor. We give interns all the tasks where they can barely fuck up or where we know their fuck ups won’t matter much and won’t take too much time to rework. They pick up team lunches and are told to leave after an eight-hour day because we don’t want to pay overtime. Which makes me think, how are people so certain that they can go through so many years of education, for a job that they may not want in the long-term? Do people just stay in whatever job they later have because they’ve already invested so much time and money? If that’s the case, then why does it seem completely normal for most auditors to jump ship and go on a different track? Haven’t we invested just as much time? The only difference is that it wasn’t my money being spent, it was the company’s.

I wonder if a factor is that we are promoted year after year and it’s like running a marathon of indeterminate distance. I imagine in most jobs you stay at the same position until you aim for higher. But here you are expected to move forward and gain more responsibilities and oversee more jobs and clients, and not necessarily at the pace you feel most comfortable with. So I think having that constant flux in responsibilities makes us regularly reevaluate what we are doing with our lives. Maybe if I just stayed as a second-year associate, I would get bored, but I would also just grow complacent.

People’s general complaint is the hours. Which, I honestly don’t mind busy season because in the past, I’ve been on amazing teams and I genuinely feel like I’m just working with friends. The hours pass by really quickly when you’re trying to complete the onslaught of work that comes with busy season. So, those hours, I don’t mind. People say having so few free hours in the day keeps them from pursuing what they love. But does it? I think we keep ourselves from pursuing our passions and use our jobs as an easy excuse. As Darcy said to me while we were driving through Oregon, “there’s no such thing as free time. You have to make time.” Well, when I have time, I just waste it by going online and failing to do anything productive. On days when I get off earlier, it’s even worse because I just waste more time. So it’s not the job that’s in my way, it’s me.

I don’t even really know what the other complaints are. How trivial the work is in the big picture? Well I’m sure most people in America don’t have the most meaningful jobs but people seem to get on just fine. And as in most cases, the longer you stay, the more meaningful you become, so …

If it’s about having difficult clients, I mean, I’ve had some batshit crazy clients but they just become a joke and a way to bond amongst the team and every office has its crazies out there. If anything, working as an auditor makes me realize just how fucking horrible it might be to go into industry and potentially get stuck working with some loons.

Is it because people are like “I’m not passionate about auditing”? It bothers me that people, especially at our age, think they need to be passionate about their jobs. A job is a job. You’re supposed to be passionate about your hobbies. Sure there are some people who have been able to make good money out of their passions but this is the exception not the rule. And no job is perfect; negatives are going to come hand in hand with positives. So no – I don’t think I am passionate about auditing. But I care deeply about turning in a good work product that is not going to embarrass me or my company, and I feel like that is enough to keep me motivated.

Another great complaint is that we aren’t paid enough. But doesn’t every single person out there think they should be paid more? This is no different. The main reason I have these doubts about staying in auditing in the first place is because my second pay raise came below my expectations of a 20% increase. Everyone I’ve talked to in my level expressed some sense of disappointment so I felt justified in feeling a little miffed. But then I talked to some non-auditors and broke out of the bubble and realized … a 20% increase is really fucking high. And I don’t know why I ever made that my expectation but it was an unrealistic expectation. Apparently my actual % increase was still ridiculously high compared to typical raises. I think just living in the Bay Area, I am exposed to so many more people who are making a ton of money for relatively little experience. But someone out there is always going to make more than you, and more importantly but just as crucial to realize, there will always be someone out there who makes more than you and does less than you do.

Everyone you meet at an accounting recruiting event will say the thing they most love about their job or the thing that keeps them in audit is the people they work with. In my first year I thought, no fucking duh, that’s because there is NOTHING redeemable about this job. But now I realize, there’s plenty of benefits I enjoy. I can charge mileage and parking – it baffles me how some people pay for parking in SF on their own dime. (It’s $32 fucking dollars to park a day in my downtown SF office building! That is just CRAZY). Teams go out for lunch or dinner occasionally, and it’s paid for! I spend almost the entire work day with earbuds stuck deeply into my ears, and I can’t think of too many other jobs that will allow me to stream music as much as I please. The hours are long, yes, but occasionally I can set my own hours and I have worked several days from a cafe and those are some of my most productive and happiest days at work.

The people: generally a younger crowd, decades younger than the average age of a private company (I suppose excluding Bay Area startups consisting of recent graduates). And because our interview process is just behavioral questions and the motive of all interviewers is determining: do I want to be stuck in a room with the person sitting in front of me at 11pm at night? I’d say that for my company at least, the office is filled with awesome people that I love spending time with outside of work. And all the benefits of working with people in the same age group is there: we’re experiencing similar life experiences, we’re generally happy to go out to happy hour or a random get together, we’re not hideous to look at …

So in the end, I think I am going to try to put these thoughts to the side and continue on with my usual method of dealing with things: stick to it until I realize that 51%+ of the time, I am unhappy. Then it’s time to go. But that just hasn’t happened yet, not even close.

People I met on vacation

Listening to: Coldplay – Fix You (Datsik remix)

Well, I regret not blogging while I was on the go because about a few hours into my Monday, the memories of vacation were already fading and by the end of Monday I had spent a solid few hours talking to my coworker about whether or not we should be pissed about our pay increases and I had somehow slipped a little back into my WORK IS LIFE mentality and lost a little of the relaxed vacation mode I had gained.

In any case, I went to Portage Bay Cafe as my last meal in Seattle, which is known for its toppings bar and ridiculously good french toast. I got an oatmeal cobbler french toast which is: homemade challah bread with an oatmeal crumb crust, topped with fruit glaze (peach for me) and vanilla creme angalaise. In short, it was pretty damn good and somehow tasted even better when I ate the leftovers on the Amtrak. Turned in my rental car (goodbye, beautiful Nissan) then hopped on a taxi to the Amtrak station and boarded. The ride through WA is nothing to write home about (I was on the Coast Starliner line, I’ve heard that the Cascades line is AMAZING if you go north in WA) but it was freaking insanely gorgeous after the Albany, OR station and until Klamath Falls, which is the last stop before CA and the last stop before nightfall.

Amtrak. Well, it is a once in a life time experience, I’d say. Although some people who had been riding the Amtrak from Wisconsin and all around America said that the Rockies are ridiculously gorgeous to see via Amtrak so … maybe there are other lines I am going to have to take. It’s more expensive than a well priced flight, and obviously a much longer ride (my total trip was 24 hrs), but it’s a good throwback to the days of the train and you’ll meet so many interesting people.

Observation car on the Amtrak. I’m stunned that there were empty seats in this car

I tried to read a book I’d bought at Elliott Bay called “Seven Pleasures” which is basically essays on what one guy considers the seven pleasures of life. I bought it because I thought the ones he had listed were completely spot on: reading, walking, looking, dancing, listening, swimming, writing. When I showed the book to Janice, someone I met on the Amtrak, she immediately said “what about eating?!” and I was like “OMG you’re right! How could I have forgotten about eating?!?!” Me of all people.

This is what I wrote in a notepad document while sitting on the Amtrak:

I’m not sure what I wanted to get out of this trip to Seattle. Maybe all I had wanted to do was to be able to say “I want vacation and I’m taking it damn it!” There’s something luxurious about being able to take off on vacation with little notice. Well, I guess it’s only luxurious if you know you’re not at risk of getting fired because of it. I didn’t have time to buy another lantern for myself at University Village so I sort of feel like this trip never happened. I do need to start cutting down on my lantern buying though, especially since it doesn’t look like I’ll be buying a house anytime soon. I recently went through my closet and was surprised to find that I had three lanterns I had stored away and forgotten about. If that’s not a clear sign of clutter, I don’t know what is.

In talking to Darcy on the way up, I had mentioned how I think I hate camping. My main evidence is the fact that I wasn’t in love with the “camping” aspect in Peru, and I consider that glamorous camping since I didn’t have to lift a finger. But when Darcy talked about all the things she loves about camping, I realized that I haven’t really done that kind of camping. So now I’m unsure again. Do I have to go deep into the woods, at least a day’s hike away from any sort of civilization, and have to carry a giant backpack of water, food and gear, in order to make my final determination of whether I enjoy camping? Now I feel like i need to explore all avenues of camping before I can definitively say I don’t like camping. On the other hand, what’s wrong with saying “I like to stay in inns, thank you.”

Amtrak passing through Oregon

My exploration into “nature” this week wasn’t much of one and at the end of it, I’ve only become more thankful for technology and modern society. Maybe that’s the sign that camping is not meant for me. Deception Pass was not the best park I’ve ever been to – it’s very much a family oriented park with short trails and I never felt like I was completely away from the park entrance. North Cascades with the shitshow of a flat tire, which in the end turned out well, only proved how much I depend on cell service, car repair shops, and a nice pub with good food to turn a day around.

The people I’ve met in this past week were amazing and when traveling alone, it’s the people that you meet that really make the trip. I don’t think that takes away from the location at all, but it’s a different way of exploring compared to traveling with a friend. I like talking to older people, anywhere from like 25 through retirement age, and generally people above 30 don’t attempt to engage a pair of strangers in conversation. On the other hand, when I’m sitting alone in a restaurant or the Amtrak car or walking up a trail, it’s so easy to strike up a conversation with someone and I love it. I remember a quote in Mad Men where Faye tells Don, “you only like the beginning of things” and I thought to myself, that is the only characteristic I share with Don Draper. I love when strangers talk to me and I have no idea where the conversation will go or what similarities we share. But I don’t think I intend to carry our conversation any further once I get up and leave. As I get older, I feel like the reason we drift from our friends is because our interests begin to diverge but we assume our past history is enough that we don’t have to bend our personalities to keep the relationship going. From what I’ve seen, it seems like there’s less flexibility offered to old friends than strangers, because we expect them to stick around whether or not we change. Friendships either stay because you’ve been able to keep some of the same similarities, or they go, because it becomes too much to try and connect on things that one person just doesn’t relate to and doesn’t want to try to relate to.

People I Met on this Trip:
Darcy on rideshare. She’s one of those people who just seems to be living a full life. She doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do careerwise, and to be honest I don’t think she even cares to have a career, but she has fun pursuing her other passions. She’s also a sharer, which is basically the #1 fastest way to my heart. For whatever reason she decided she could tell me personal things about her life and I love it. In talking to her, I realized that I’m lucky to at least be going somewhere in the career aspect of my life, which not everyone can say. I’m not 100% sure if it’s the path I want to continue on, but for now, it’s a pretty good place to be. And not everyone necessarily has that as a priority, but in a society where the first question of a conversation is generally “what do you do?” I’m glad I have a quick answer and the only thing I have to consider is whether I should say “auditor” “accountant” or “public accountant,” and not how to phrase “I’m in between jobs” or “nothing really.” She was a great listener; usually when I drive, I always stare straight out at the road, but I’d often catch her looking at me with such interest I sometimes found it unnerving, not because of her but because it made me realize how I tend to think nothing I have to say is of any importance, but here was someone listening with full interest.

Shelby was a 19 year old about to start her senior year in college. She skipped two years of high school which made me want to ask “don’t you feel like you missed out?” but I figured there’s no easy way to respond to that so I didn’t. I don’t think she’s anything like me yet in some ways she is – I think the way her stresses manifest are different from the way mine do, but at the root of it, I had the same concerns of “omg what am I going to do after college.” I think she made me realize that I prefer talking to older people and hearing their experiences rather than listening to younger people who haven’t figured it out yet. Even the older people who haven’t quite figured it out yet, they’ve already gone through some sort of path that is interesting to me, but a younger person who hasn’t experienced very much outside of college yet is just … too earnest and eager about everything in a way that exhausts me. As Andria once said “hahaha they don’t realize that nothing they do matters”

Carlos was the guy who stopped to help me change my flat tire. He was a rock climbing Asian guy from Colorado wearing hipster glasses but with a rock climber’s build. I was supposed to get drinks with him when he returned to Seattle on Friday night after climbing, but he got in around 11:30pm and I was like “where are you?” and he said “Bellevue” and I said “sorry I’m not going to Bellevue at 11:30 but let me know when you are in CA” HAHA I feel bad because it’s nice of him to continue contacting me afterwards and he was easy to talk to and super nice and hilariously drives a 22 year old car that was just packed full of everything and was practically coming apart. Maybe he will be my Denver friend that I can mooch off of when I eventually go to Colorado.

Just dropping in random pics of views on the Coast Starliner

Adam who directed me to the Cascade Pass trailhead (I was certain that i had driven to the wrong parking lot) and we ended up meeting up again at the end of the trail. He was backpacking alone and works as a self-employed freelance photographer. There was another older couple who could talk to him more about his poli sci background, since I know nothing about current or historical events, but he basically travels and does commercial photography and will typically do a one-month trip to a third world country and do non profit photography work. He just reminded me that I really should read the news every now and then because it’s awkward when I don’t know what to say to older people because they aren’t interested in television or celebrity gossip.

Mary who had sprained her ankle while hiking and was sitting in a picnic area at the parking lot of the Cascade Pass trailhead in North Cascades. I had gone over to take one last picture and saw that she was looking at me in a way that seemed like she wanted to start a conversation so I went over and instead of going home, ended up talking to her for about an hour and a half until her daughter and friend came down from the hike. She is hilariously probably the one person I met in WA that I have the most in common with. Right when I wasn’t sure where to go next in the conversation, we started talking about knitting. She told me about the ten essentials to outdoor adventure: food, water, clothing, fire, sunglasses/sunscreen, etc. and I told her that my essentials are: my shitty running shoes that I’ve had since early college, my leaky water bottle that carries about two big gulps of water, my ipod, my camera, and my ray bans. She was a little horrified.

Jared was my CS host for Thursday and Friday night and I also met his girlfriend Rose and his friends Elka?, Joshua and Sam. I only saw Elka and Joshua the one time when I arrived and their entire group was super awesome and easy to talk to and reminds me of the main reason why CS is so fun. When I meet my host’s friends, it’s the best because while one on one with the host can be fun, I think it’s even more interesting to see their friend group dynamic and it seems like a truer depiction of a person. Jared lives on Queen Anne Hill and is a licensed plumber and basically supplements his rent with plumbing services. I loved his apartment, it was very well color coordinated, he had made a lot of his own wall mountings like cabinets and a bar shelf and the bathroom fixtures. He had an awesome bathtub – I’m very much a shower person but after seeing his tub I was like “I want this.” Rose was a foodie so I was thankful to have her around because come Friday night we were about to go to a bar and after I said I was hungry she was like “then we shouldn’t go to this bar, let’s go somewhere else” and suggested La Isla in Ballard and it was UH FUCKING MAZING. Puerto Rican lasagna? It was like … beef, cheese, plantain, pasta. Basically one upped the traditional Italian lasagna. omg yum hahaha Jared Sam and I had also met up earlier at Gas Works Park and just shared two growlers of beer amongst us. I’ve only ever been to Gas Works Park alone and while it is one of my favorite parks, I’m glad I can associate the park with a more sociable memory.

Sarah who I met on the Amtrak because she was assigned the seat next to me. She is definitely an extrovert and is basically taking the Amtrak from WA to Yosemite, which I didn’t realize was possible. I realized while talking to her, I’m getting to a point where I tell people about things I’ve done and places I’ve gone and I always go “ok this makes me sound very adventurous but I’m not” and they give me a funny look hahaha I had told Mary “oh I’m not very outdoorsy” and she was like “you’re hiking alone in the North Cascades and you call yourself not outdoorsy?!” Sarah has two journals, one of which she bought at a thrift store and didn’t realize it had already been written in before, by several different people but most interestingly, by an old lady with dementia with entries dating back to 1864. I was like “holy fuck that’s amazing” and she was like “it’s so sad, she wrote this beautiful poem, let me read it to you” and started reading and I thought to myself that I don’t really know too many people who would unabashedly read a practical stranger a poem in an Amtrak car. We parted ways in Sacramento with a hug and hopefully she is happily hiking and backpacking around Yosemite

Peter and his wife from Marin who were taking their two daughters on a college tour around the US, going from DC to Boston to WA to Oregon then back to CA. They had both gone to Berkeley (at different times though and never knew each other until meeting at a friend’s party many years later) and Peter knew a bit about auditing, and even knew that my company goes to Illinois for training, so that in itself always makes it so much easier to talk to someone, when they actually know what a public auditor does. I had sort of shit talked Haas for a little bit before I found out both had gone to Berkeley HAHA (but for different majors).

Janice is a 65 year old woman who’s grown up in Bakersfield (I never knew what a horrible place Bakersfield was until she and Sarah talked about it) and has lived in SF, New Orleans, Madison, Austin, probably more I’ve forgotten, and now Portland. She’s birthed two kids and raised twenty six others. She is a hippie, eschewing cell phones, laptops, tv (but she likes to borrow tv series from the library – I told her it was wrong to not watch tv without putting up with commercials, without which her shows would not be funded). She said once one of her sons was like “what have hippies ever done for the world” and she responded with “UH SALAD BARS? ORGANIC FOOD?” which Sarah laughed at heartily. She was a teacher in ghetto schools but said she’s never seen a fight; in fact one was about to start and one of the boys was like “oh wait we’re in ms wilson’s class we can’t fight in here.” This in a school where apparently the worst thing that happened was a boy stabbing his girlfriend and her dying from the wound. So, that must be a testament to the respect she gets from her past students. As always I find older people fascinating, particularly those who have lived in many places. She is adamant that I should have children. While I was sleeping apparently a guy near us was on the phone going “what’s the opposite of the mile high club” and after he hung up she turned around and went “I think it’s the ground level club” HAHA she insists that 65 is an amazing age to be living. We ended with “good luck in life” and she got off at the Chico station at 4 in the morning.

Iman is someone I met in Berkeley after my Amtrak ride ended. She just asked if she could share my table, which I had been using to handwrite entries on, and I just started talking to her. She works at a meditation school and is very spiritual and has lived in a number of places, starting with Switzerland to London to New York to a lot more that I have forgotten. She is the second person I have known who once saw a stranger and approached him/her and said something along the lines of “I think I have known you in a previous life.” I am not spiritual at all regarding myself, but I 100% believe in it for other people, I don’t know why.

At first I thought going on the Amtrak was a mistake but after passing through the Albany stop, I was proven wrong. Sarah and I met a guy named David from Florida who was leaving Seattle after a Microsoft internship. He said he’s never seen trees growing at different height, like they do on tree covered mountains, which we thought was a sign of his deprivation.

Taken from the Amtrak car. I cannot believe I saw the views that I did

It’s very interesting to walk past rows of strangers all in different sleeping positions, especially those who are with families, and to see how they sit together in a cramped two seater. Like the ones where a mom was holding her daughter as they slept is just … freaking adorable. They sell wine on this train, at ridiculous prices. I wish I had known to bring my own bottle of alcohol (Janice had a thermos full of wine). I wish I were the type of person who knew to bring alcohol to random places – I never think of it, but I think those who do just have a totally different perspective on life.

I spent Friday trying to squeeze everything I love about Seattle into a day. I came close, the only missed opportunity was going to University Village and getting that lantern. I ran in greenlake in the morning and visited my old house – I only recently realized that all those “young moms” pushing two kids in a stroller may actually just be nannies. I told this to a friend and she was like “meh it’s Greenlake … it could easily just be the mom.” I went to a cafe, Cafe Lulu which came recommended but seemed like a normal Seattle cafe (which basically means it’s like my beloved Philz Coffee of the Bay Area) then there was a huge clusterfuck where I tried to plan meeting up with Antoinette and my CS host Jared but we kept trying to accomodate the other person and in the end I was like “ok just do whatever you want and call me when you’re done.” I think it worked out well the way it did – I got Paseo alone and ate it at Kerry Park while watching the Blue Angels practice over the downtown skyline. The first time I ever saw the Blue Angels was at Pier 49 and I didn’t give a shit. Then I saw them fly while sitting in a yacht with a few coworkers as a year-end celebration – that was beyond awesome (combining several great things in life: ocean, boat, alcohol, food, friends, awesome piloting overhead). And now Seattle. I turned several shades darker but I’m telling myself that it looks glowing.

Then I met up with Antoinette in Golden Gardens and I got awesome parking but she circled around until we decided to just go to Carkeek. I was sad – awesome parking at Golden Gardens on a summery Friday afternoon? That is rare. Her life has changed significantly since i stayed with her a year ago, to the point that I didn’t really know what to say to her because I feel like we have nothing to connect on anymore. Part of it was also that the people in her life do things I don’t understand – like cheating or marrying someone a month after proposing to her. Or maybe it was because she was exhausted and hadn’t slept for a while and I usually do well at responding to people, but I don’t know how to create conversation. So we did a trail then parted ways and I headed back to Golden Gardens to meet up with my host and his friends.

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And then I fell asleep on the train. The most memorable parts of the Amtrak trip, besides talking to Janice and Sarah, included me getting off in Portland and having thirty minutes to find a good restaurant. Kathy helped me yelp a place which I didn’t actually go to but used to guide me in a good direction. It was disgustingly hot when I got off, possibly like 95 degrees, which has turned me off to Portland for the moment. My final Amtrak stop was Berkeley, where Kathy would later pick me up for a Bay Area adventure to cap off my Washington weekend. I passed the time by going to the bookstore, which is another one of my favorites (I think I have one in every city I’ve lived in) and then sitting at Peets, initially to write, then I ended up talking to this woman named Iman for about an hour and a half. I’m getting to the point where I don’t even intend to maintain any sort of friendship after talking to someone – I realize that I’m just interested in their lives for the moment and it’s fun to share our experiences and thoughts and opinions, but there’s no need to exchange contact information or full names.

The rest of the day was a typical Bay Area weekend: we went to Gregoires, Philz, the local hipster butcher shop, Ici’s, then back to Kathy’s for a swim in her pool, then she drove me to Milpitas and we had dinner at my new favorite Chinese restaurant in the South Bay called Tasty Good.

And then it was Monday. Which I can blog about later … if I have the energy after folding my laundry.

God I always intend to sleep at like 12 but it’s 1am again and I’m going to hate waking up again tomorrow.

Final Days of Seattle 2012

Listening to: Sparkadia – Talk Like I’m Falling Down Stairs

View from a river in Winthrop, WA

Written on Friday night, the night before I boarded the Amtrak back home: Hm. I should definitely be going to sleep now. It’s 1:20 and I intend to wake up at 6:30 so I can get ready and be at Portage Bay Cafe right at 7:30 when it opens, stuff my face silly, then return my rental car and hop onto the Amtrak back to CA. Woot. My Seattle vacation is coming to an end and I have a sneaky suspicion that I may have spent close to $1,000 on this week alone which … was not in my budget. Had I had a budget, that is. Whoopsies.

This is why Cascades Highway (Hwy 20) is on “most scenic drives” lists

Where did my last post end … hmmm well the flat tire situation worked itself out as I knew it would. (Only after I had my tires changed did I call my mom to say “by the way, I got a flat tire…”) That morning I ended up swimming in the inn’s pool which was luxurious and the perfect stress reliever. Then I drove to Twisp, WA which is basically a middle of nowhere town which had the closest tire service. Surprisingly, the tire center seemed even better than the typical Firestone or Goodyear. And while waiting for them to change my tires, I went to a nearby pub, Twisp River Pub, and it was AMAZING. Awesome layout including a music stage, cool bar setup, one of THE BEST sweet potato fries ever (criss cut with a balsamic glaze and LOCAL goat cheese). I got bottles of some local Menthol Valley brewed beer, which the bartender let me sample. I freaking didn’t bring my camera to the restaurant, because I honestly wasn’t expecting anything from this town. But it was great and an awesome substitute for whatever hike I was planning on doing.

One of the many flower fields in Cascadia Farms

Then I drove back to Seattle … stopped in Winthrop mainly because I wanted to take pictures of how ridiculously old timesy it was. Seriously looked like Knotts Berry Farm. Also stopped at Cascadia Farms which is like a local community farm that grows fruit and flowers and I had a decent homemade shortcake while in the backdrop of the Cascade mountains. I’ve been eating meals in some pretty awesome places I have to say.

Me, sitting on a picnic table surrounded by mountains and flower fields

Got back into Seattle around 6:30. I was discussing this with my CS host, Jared, just now but freaking Washington … drivers here are way too courteous it pisses both of us off. When I first lived here, I had no idea whether I was supposed to stop at intersections with pedestrian crosswalks without any pedestrians in sight or stop signs (the answer is yes). I assumed it was a yield situation and just kept on going on and no one ever honked me. A lot of times I’ll do something and wonder if it was wrong but no one honks me so I think okay … but if someone just honked I would know for next time! Also, no one speeds on the interstates. Everyone is content going at the speed limit, even at rush hour. It makes no sense to me. It’s rush hour and there’s room to speed but everyone choose NOT to?!?! What is this insanity.

Coming straight from the North Cascades, I went to Honeyhole with Kim and Jessica for dinner – I have constantly seen this on yelp so was excited to finally go after three years. Paseo sandwiches are better and Honeyhole is more of a drunk food sort of place. I told my CS host we’d gone there for dinner and he laughed and was like “I never think of going there for dinner, I think of going there as a bar” which was funny because I have also always thought it was a bar that happened to have good sandwiches, from what I heard, not a sandwich place that also served drinks.

That was Thursday … after dinner with Kim and Jessica I went to my CS host’s place and it is AMAZING and I’m even more impressed now knowing that he painted and built a lot of the wall mountings (like a bar and I would assume all the bathroom cabinets). Everything is just so well coordinated together, especially the bathrooms where the color palette is like something out of a magazine, and yet functional and also comfortable. I just want to live here forever HAHA Also, I have always been a shower person, but after seeing his bathtub, I want one just like it.

I love kitchens with cookware hanging from the ceiling and with a little island

Friday: well I went running in Greenlake to kick off my day. That’s like, one of the absolute musts of any Seattle trip I take. The list is basically:

MT’s must dos for Seattle:

run in Greenlake, walk past old house (accomplished)
– eat a tofu sandwich from Paseo (accomplished)
– drink a mocha every day (accomplished)
– visit Queen Anne books (accomplished)
– drive on either the 5 or the 99 at night (sort of – I wish I had stopped to walk across the 99 again but there wasn’t time)
– walk around University District (SAD. FAIL. I didn’t get to buy myself a new lantern from Ravenna Gardens which has been my traditional souvenir)

Love that lake. I then went to Cafe Lulu and couldn’t stop myself from constantly checking my work e-mail, ugh HAHA It’s oddly comforting and to be honest maybe 20% is actual work the 80% is just me writing personal e-mails to coworkers. Went to Paseo for a sandwich and ate it at Kerry Park while watching the Blue Angels fly over, which is something I love more and more each time I see them. Somehow, every time I’ve ever been in Seattle, I always leave right before Sea Fair. I’ve never watched it but one of my few life dreams includes one day knowing someone who has a boat and will take me out to watch Sea Fair on Lake Union.

I love that you can see Mt Rainier in the background

Then went to Queen Anne books and was disappointed that the two books I wanted to buy from here were not in stock (The Lost Cyclist and The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost). I should have bought them at Elliott Bay but sometimes I like to save book buying for the smaller bookstores I love to give them more profit. Buying books is one of the few things where I really do try to flex my power as a consumer, in the sense that I’ll purposely buy from a certain place because I like it and want it to stay in business. I didn’t realize this until I was showing a lady on the Amtrak what books I was reading, but I ended up buying “The Price of Everything” from Queen Anne, which is about consumerism, and I totally only bought it because I wanted to support my favorite Seattle bookstore.

Then went to Gas Works Park to meet up with Jared, my host, and his friend Sam who I had met the night before. Lake Union was a crazy awesome blue. They had bought two growlers of beer so we just sat on the hill and drank and talked while so many boats were out on the water. Loveeee itttt it’s a great memory of Gas Works Park now 🙂 Then I met up with my friend Antoinette in Golden Gardens and then drove to Carkeek Park to catch up on each other’s lives. She has the most insane love life of anyone I have ever met, multiplied by about eight. I don’t even know how so much drama happens in her life honestly. HAHA

It astounds me how beautiful Gas Works is every time

After that, back to Golden Gardens to meet up with my host again and his gf Rose and Sam. Once again, right after I got there, we decided to leave. I am not a huge fan of Golden Gardens anyway – as a beach it doesn’t compare to CA beaches, but as a beach in WA, I love it only because the atmosphere seems so different from CA beaches. I think whenever I come here, people are just so obviously appreciative of the sun, the energy is much more positive and ramped up.

Golden Gardens

We then went to La Isla in Ballard for dinner and it was UH MA ZING omg.

I’m going to end it here because I’m exhausted.
Edit: Anddddddd this is why I should always just finish blogs while I’m on vacation rather than waiting until I get home. I had debated whether it made sense to waste vacation time blogging when I should be spending vacation time doing. I’ve realized now though that if I don’t blog in the moment, the emotions just get washed away when I return home and it’s not the same. Meh. I wrote on random scraps of paper and sometimes on random word documents so hopefully I can piece together a few in the moment thoughts before I have to rely on my fading memory.

How much would it cost for someone to helicopter me back to Seattle?

Listening to: Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj – Beauty and a Beat

Worth the view? Well keep reading then decide

Well. I’m not quite sure how to start off this post. I am exhausted but want to stay up, terrified yet calm … a whole bag of emotions.

Today I wish: I had come to Seattle two weeks later because this year has apparently the latest ice melt in a long time, which means I saw very few wildflowers on today’s hike, because everything was still iced over. I forget that other places have these things called “seasons”
But I should be thankful: That I was able to hike Cascade Pass at all, because even without the wildflowers, it’s quite a nice hike, especially at the end. After I came back down from my hike, I ended up talking to a woman named Mary for about an hour and a half. She had sprained her ankle the day before and basically sits out on all the hikes while her daughter and friend continue on their 6 day backpacking trip. So yay, I am fully able to hike and don’t have to trudge around a mountain range with a sprained ankle. Today was the first time I thought “I think my ankle is at 100% back to normal” since I sprained it last October, which is fantastic

It’s weird to get your bearings at first but basically it’s the trail along a very steep mountain (you can see someone at the opposite end). The brown isn’t a stable dirt trail; more like packed in snow with dirt tracked on top. Meaning I could slide down to my death with any misstep

Today I wish: I had just driven back to Seattle after hiking Cascade Pass because I now realize I ended up driving much further into the mountains and Seattle is really not that far from the North Cascades entrance but now I am pretttttyyyyy far from Seattle. Also, I don’t think I would have run over a giant rock and gotten a flat if I had just headed back to Seattle
But in reality: The whole point of coming up to North Cascades was spend more time in nature so …

Today I wish: I had not booked an inn in Manzana, thereby leading me further into 20E. That I had been able to avoid the giant rock on the road and thus avoid getting a flat tire while driving in the middle of a rather isolated mountain range. That I had some sort of tire patch on hand when I got the flat. That I wasn’t in the mountains when it happened. Apparently back in the day, Indian tribes would walk through these mountain passes to do trades and as I was driving, I felt a sense of nowhereness, like if I looked over I would see a small tribe trekking along.
But I should be incredibly thankful that: the flat happened before the sun went down. That it was like a gradual tearing apart of the tire and it didn’t just explode and cause me to careen off the mountain side. That I was able to get a guy to help me change my tire relatively soon after I pulled over. That the  guy was super nice and easy to talk to and we could bond over rock climbing and the Bay Area and how his car is only a year younger than I am. That I was within driving distance to the inn. That I had booked a room at the inn already because there is apparently no one on staff here at night and I have no idea what I would have done if I didn’t already have a room. That this room is actually super nice and while I have no idea what this place looks like under the light of day, I feel very comfortable and clean in this room and the money was well worth it. The internet works really well and hopefully after I tell them my sob story they will let me hang around the premises a little longer tomorrow after check-out

Tomorrow I wish: I had an extra ten hours to the day. I need to drive this car to the tire center. I need to feel like I enjoyed this inn to the extent that I paid $100 for one night. I really would like to hike Rainy Pass because if I don’t it makes my driving all the way here even more meaningless. But I can only do two of three things and one is a must and the second is far more appealing to me right now as someone who just wants to sit in a fucking jacuzzi or maybe do some laps in their pool.

I will be thankful that: It looks like the tire center is a chain which gives me more comfort than going to a mom and pop store. I’m glad I will be seeing one, hopefully two friendly faces tomorrow because I desperately need it now. In the end, I have car insurance on this rental car, I am within a 30 minute drive to the nearest tire center, I have enough gas … I think … I have a decent amount of food left in the car. All in all, horrible shit happens all the time when people travel and right now, I’m in a developed country with internet and a warm place to sleep and I’m safe and healthy and one day this will be something that I use as a story about why I have never set foot in a mountain range since August 2012.

Cascade Pass Trail. I always forget that there’s snow on WA mountains
This lady was with her husband and her oldest daughter works for human rights organizations while studying at Columbia in NY. I also met Adam, a freelance photographer
It’s weird to realize that I’m basically hiking on a big block of melting glacier ice

The wildlife of today:

Apparently an unusually aggressive mountain goat STALKED and KILLED a hiker last year.
No zoom

Well. Good night.

Vacation 2012: Seattle

Listening to: The Temper Trap – Love Lost (Keljet remix)

If you follow my twitter you already know – I am in Seattle HAHA well technically I’m in … Burlington right now and tomorrow I’ll be heading to the North Cascades for two days then back to Seattle.

Let’s just start throwing in pictures now

Basically one of my clients ended a full week earlier than I had been scheduled for and after getting my pay raise information and after a manager said “great! Now you can help on this 6/30 year-end client instead” I said “well … instead of doing that, I was thinking I could go on vacation.” I wrote to the scheduler: “Can you please also release my time but could you put me on PTO instead? I need to go on a spiritual quest.” She has yet to respond but I take her silence as approval.

So Saturday I went to a coworker’s wedding and Sunday morning headed up to SF to do rideshare with someone from Craigslist. There was supposed to be two other people but they both flaked but I liked that more because had there been more people in the car, I think I would have just fallen asleep. But me and the car owner (name = Darcy) got along really well. She lives in SF and is 27 and I thought she was hilarious and fascinating and we were saying how by the time we hit Portland, it felt like the ride had been even shorter than going to SoCal. I think in the last hour of the drive she turned to me and said “I cannot believe this turned out so well, this is the most fun I’ve ever had with rideshare. You have definitely raised the bar” and I thought that was SO NICE of her to say. Validation, score! From this one experience, I will say rideshare is the strangest, riskiest, yet potentially best pay off in terms of making friends. We had absolutely no connection except for our start and end points and we have almost no similarities and would never have met in the real world but we did and just got along really well. Yay! Rideshare!

Commence the flower photos

We got into Seattle at 2am and I got dropped off in International District. Thankfully a guy (name = Khepur) had let me stay with him and was super nice and even napped earlier so that he would be awake to wait up for me. His apartment was very minimalist and he had just gone to Asia and I felt like almost everything in his apartment was just SO ASIAN. Even his soap and soap dish and cutting boards … super Asian. He was awesome but unfortunately had to work the next day so I basically talked to him for 40 minutes where I struggled to stay awake because I was so exhausted, but then left the next day.

Monday: … and began the day carrying my duffel around International District which is basically Seattle’s Chinatown. Super shady at night, completely dead at 9am in the morning. I made it to a little Chinese bakery a few blocks away and was able to get onto the internet, send out a new barrage of CS requests and rent a car. Then, being a cheapass, I nixed getting a cab to the rental car place (at Hilton) and decided to walk it. MISTAKE. First of all, downtown is super hilly. Second of all, I was carrying a fat duffel.

Leaves

But in the end I got it, no problem. It’s a beautiful black Nissan Altima which I have always thought was a fun looking car. I always get such a kick out of driving rental cars. Especially because I drive a Corolla, I’m always stunned when the car actually moves when I gun it. Getting out of downtown was ridiculous, as was trying to find the floor that my rental car was parked on. HAHA

What did I do? omg It’s already a blur this is why I must blog!!! I spent the day in Capitol Hill and went to Elliott Bay Book Company and Everyday Music (bought Julia Stone’s cd for my drives on freeway 20 tomorrow and Thursday), Cafe Presse per Darcy’s recommendation and it was ridiculously delicious. I got a Croque Madame, baked ham gruyere cheese, sunny side egg on a bechemel sandwich. Freaking. Good. The cafe itself was super cute too.

First mocha of the trip from Caffe Presse (I guess they use Caffe Vita’s cups which is down the street)

Then I went to University Village, and after finally getting there, texted Kathy to say “ok I just got to my favorite mall but it’s 5pm and my absolute favorite thing to do in Seattle is to drive around at 5pm in traffic while listening to 89.5. What should I do?” So that is what I did. Rather than just roaming around the mall like any sane person, I decided to jump onto the 5 at the worst possible time you could ever be on it and just drove around for an hour (let’s be serious, by the time I actually got onto the freeway, it was only about 20 minutes on the freeway). Then I met up with my second CS host for dinner in the U District. It was supposed to be Thai Tom but she looked like she didn’t want to wait for it so I said we could eat elsewhere. The whole time we were walking towards the second location (an Indian restaurant) I kept wanting to go “NO. I CHANGED MY MIND. I HAVE WAITED MONTHS TO EAT THAI TOM you can’t take this away from me!” and make things awkward. But I held my tongue and OMG. This Indian place had the best naan ever and I had some sort of mango chicken curry which was insanely good. Fine. Damn you Seattle. Always surprising me with your delicious food.

Ha I love these shots

We then walked around Greenlake, my old home HAHA This CS host is only 19 years old and skipped two years of high school and is graduating for college next year. As much as Darcy taught me by giving me advice and just imparting her experience and wisdom on me during the ride up, I feel like this CS host taught me just as much by reminding me what it was like to be a pre-senior in college, thinking that whatever job I took was going to define the rest of my life, wondering whether I was taking the right job, blah blah blah. I had fantasized that this trip would give me some sort of epiphany that would cause me to return to CA and quit my job – I even ominously told my coach “I just want to go to Seattle and ………… rethink my priorities.” But this trip has basically reopened my eyes to the fact that I. LIKE. MY. JOB. And sometimes I don’t want to say it because it sounds ridiculous, “I like being an auditor.” BUT I DO. People think I’m good at it (tricked ya!), per Soo Jin and Janie, my pay increases are ridiculously high, and I like the people and I don’t mind the hours. So in a surprising way, this trip really did open my eyes up, just not the way I had expected  but this is far lovelier.

Tuesday: … omg that’s … just today. I feel like it’s already Friday to be honest. Tuesday I woke up, went to Volunteer Cafe & Marketplace which is a super cute neighborhood cafe in an even cuter part of town. And so began … the day of NEVER ENDING MISTAKES.

1) I ordered a caramelized banana french toast  brioche. Halfway through, I had to text Eric to say “remember that disgusting cake we had at Serendipitys? I’ve found something equally decadent.” I love the cafe – I just wish I had ordered eggs or something – but listen up America. YOU CAN STOP. ADDING. CUPS. of sugar to dishes just because they are a “sweet dish.” I can’t honestly believe anyone thinks every bite of a dessert from Serendipitys or Extraordinary Desserts or those sort of places are good. Because I cringe after the first bite – things are so sweet they are cloying and not fun. Who is the freaking crazy person who thought, yes – this is an inappropriate amount of sweetness to consume.

I walked around the neighborhood and decided I want this house. Or at least, this color scheme.

2) I got kept passing the stops I needed to make while going around Deception Pass State Park. Mainly because the park is deceivingly small so I kept blowing the entrances and having to double back. Oh well. Oddly I also missed almost every trail that I wanted to hit. Something is wrong with the park map. Or me.

Ok that’s actually it. But #2 is the summary of about ten different mistakes. I even hitchhiked today because I somehow wandered off the trail and decided I did not want to walk another three miles on paved road, or another four miles through old growth forest. After a while, old growth forest is plain fucking boring, if there aren’t any water views. Thankfully the person I asked to give me a ride was a normal citizen of society and super nice and here I am, alive and well. What is it about WA that leads me to hitchhike over and over again?

One thing I did that I had set out to do was read on a trail. I brought the book I bought from Elliott Bay and just sat on the edge of a cliff and read as the sun set. At first I thought the edge of the island was going to be beach, and then when I walked over I was really surprised and slightly frightened when I saw that I was inches from a very, very steep 100ft cliff.

Quite the shock

Went to dinner at a bar I had yelped before leaving (my other lesson of this trip is that if I intend to go on vacation alone ever again, I NEED A FUCKING SMARTPHONE) and it was delicious and the servers were all super nice and I got to watch the Olympics while attempting to finish a ridiculously large Caribbean Chicken sandwich.

Now I’m exhausted and … need to sleep and wake up early enough for North Cascades tomorrow. Two more days in the wilderness!

My basic itinerary: Seattle (A), Deception Pass (B), North Cascades (C), Seattle (D)

Can’t wait for tomorrow – I think I’m going to sit in the jacuzzi of my inn tomorrow and read. It’s going to be a toss up between whether that’s the better reading location or today’s

My $6 book from Elliott Bay (on sale!)