Couldn’t be happier with the previous week. Definitely feeling like time left in the states is a valuable commodity and making the most of it. Thursday was a going away part for a good amiga who is going to be an ESL teacher in Columbia. It was great sharing that “looking at oncoming precipice I’m about to take the plunge off!” feeling with a friend and wishing her luck. Location was up on Capitol Hill and an outstanding dive bar known as the Quarter Lounge, definitely got my fill of pool and foosball for the week. Also was delighted at the unexpected appearance of my good friend Chad, an old college roommate who has been teaching and working in youth centered non-profits in India for past 3 years and is back in states to start grad school at UCLA (well-played amigo). He had some great advice about living abroad, trials and tribulations inherent, and some interesting new Grad School opportunities for someone in my background.

Turns out University of Texas is starting a child bereavement MA program that I’m going to have to look into. While discussing this with him our friend Jamie (an uber-sweet white South African from Zimbabwe) overheard what my hoped for program of study was and pulled me aside. I mentioned how I’ve been active in the grief support community as a group facilitator for kids for past ten years and how I hoped to have this be the focus of my future studies. Mentioned the fact that in high school I had kicked around the idea of making a Master’s thesis based on differing forms of culturally expressed grief by living in Asia to gain an appreciation for the effects of a collectivist society and then travel to Africa to work with kids who have are effected by the AIDS epidemic. As a child who lost their parent at an early age I knew firsthand how much of a loss it is to lose that sense of naivety and sense of security. I’ve always wondered how living in a society where death was so prevalent due to one singular ominous and prevalent form would affect a child’s view of the world and death in general. Add on to this the fact that in many of these areas it is such a fight to live that you have no time to stop to deal with loss or even your own tragically limited predicted lifespan and it has always been a hope of mine to live in Africa before finishing my academic career.

I could tell that Jamie was very intrigued and excited to give her input. She asked me how it was that this conversation topic and goal of mine had never came up and I laughed and proclaimed that we were usually at social events and I try not to bring up topic of grief/death due to its sometimes mood-killing effect. It turns out that her father in Zimbabwe has worked with children who have AIDS as a counselor and this is a passion of his. I think I may have made a connection for my next travel destination after Korea (who knows how long that will be, haha). All in all a great evening and very glad I decided to Trek into Seattle for the occasion. From friends returning, about to depart and sharing the resources of their distant homelands, I felt blessed to be connected to such a wonderful group of people.

The next day I visited my little brother to chat and catch up on things before departing for Vashon Island. This jewel of the Puget Sound is one of many islands that make up the San Juan Islands just off of the coast of North Western Washington but sheltered by the peninsula on the far West end. I hopped on the ferry (Washington State has one of the largest ferry systems in the Pacific Northwest) and met with my mother’s sister Mardi, who lives out on the island with her family and my grandmother, in the cabin. She had been the only aunt on that side of the family not in attendance at Easter so it was wonderful to see her before I depart. My uncle Nate picked me up and we cruised back to their house/mini-farm.

To grandmother's house we go!

After picking some asparagus out of the gardens, letting the sheep back into the pen and feeding the dogs my cousin Julie (named after my Mom) and the three of us loaded back into the car and departed back down to a separate dock. It turns out that my one of my uncle’s copilots (she also flies 747s and 777s internationally) is married to a ferry captain and they own and live on a BFB (Big Fucking Boat). It was previously a fishing vessel equipped for the Bering Sea in AK that had been renovated into a spacious and amazingly outfitted houseboat. The interior was beautiful and the functionality of the ship was quite amazing. 72′ long, 9,000 mile capability and they were waiting for the water maker to come in from New Zealand. King and Queen of the sea and sky, they were gracious and charismatic hosts!

After finishing dinner and getting dropped off at the dock via the small skiff (boat was too large to come into the marina) the four of us returned to the homestead. My aunt and I watched a movie (Shutter Island), uncle Nate had to fly to Japan (his primary run) the next day so he ended up dozing off after pouring me a couple shots of Patron. He is very insistent that I visit him in Tokyo on some of his layovers and said that he occasionally also flies to Incheon, bonus! After the movie my aunt and I stayed up for a bit and she shared some amazing stories about adventures with my mother when she was alive and the wonderful and mirth-filled times that had together way back when. I love hearing these stories as it makes me feel a connection to the woman who conceived me (she died at 30 when I was 2) and it was the perfect way to end an outstanding evening. Really can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and making me feel like an honored guest.

Captivating Read.

The next morning I woke up early and finished “Saturday” by Ian McEwan. This story is a modern rendition of “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf which was influenced by “Ulysses” by James Joyce. The theme of this book is consciousness and how our perspective of the world is based on so many things and is ever-changing even in the immediate moment. It takes place in the single day of the life of a prominent neurosurgeon in London who is consistently impressed at the enigma of self even though he has an in-depth knowledge of the function and structure of the human brain. Highly intriguing and a gloriously cerebral read!

I then loaded up the riding lawnmowers trailer and took a large load of fire wood over to my grandmother who lives next door on the property. It was great to spend some time with her and not only earn some brownie points with her for the firewood and helping to reinstall a cabinet on her wall but to exchange some stories, explain what drove me to go live on the other side of the world and her more stories. I even was gifted with some herbs and spices to take with me on the trip, thanks Grandma! After our time spent together my aunt kindly drove me back down to the ferry dock and I ventured back to the mainland feeling very grateful for the time spent with my extended family who show me so much warmth, I was really touched. Gotta say, can’t ask for a better weekend and am really going to miss these amazing friends and family I have here in Washington. Knowing they are all rooting for me is some strong Juju!

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Great week, scratched off many of the items on the things to do before I leave list:

  • Brilliant BBQ at the little bro’s house, his oyster shucking and prep skills are getting great. I myself absolutely disdain oysters but respect anyone performing their craft well. This was followed by a rather unsuccessful trivia night at the local watering hole but hey, can’t win ’em all.
  • Finished “Proust was a Neuroscientist” by Jonah Lehrer which was a very intriguing and well-wrote discourse that made a compelling case for many of the recently discovered theories of neuroscience being posited by artists in their work far before their verification in modern laboratories. A few of the more illuminating examples where the author Gertrude Stein, the chef Auguste Escoffier and the painter Paul Cezanne. Highly recommended by yours truly.

    Cortex Expansive Discourse

  • Had a mirth filled and exciting tour of South Seattle on some friends’ homemade bikes and trikes. I was part of the manpower pedaling The Fugitive which is a three-man trike (two people pedal one steers) which is unique in that the onboard propane tanks fuel both the barbecue in back and the flamethrower chimney on the top. One epic form of transport right there.
  • Enjoyed the company of some old college friends on one of the few sunny and warm days so far this April. Caught lunch on a deck at the Pike Place Market and then cruised to Zigzags for happy hour. Highlight of this establishment? Murr the Blurr who has been rated as the number one bartender in the States by Playboy and GQ on multiple occasions. Went there with my great friend and old college roommate who is a bartender at one of the more frequented spots in Seattle and even he didn’t know half the items in the libations served. Enigma ingredients only stoked the curiosity.
  • Said goodbye to all three sides of the family. Rolled up to Whidbey Island with 4 out of 5 of my Dad’s sisters (yeah I’ve got some Irish Catholic in me, haha) to the memorial service for one of my grandfather’s best friends. Yesterday I cruised out to my aunt on my birth-mom’s side house which was coincidentally one block away from the house I grew up in the mountains of Western Washington. Walked down the street with Padre and reminisced for a moment of childhood antics. Today we celebrated Easter with my Mom Patti’s side of the family and I soaked up the great support they wished me and we all laughed while watching the younger cousins do easter egg hunts in slickers and rain boots amidst the drizzle.

Viewpoint Vista of Youth

  • Tonight is another BBQ at my brother’s featuring his masterful working of quail and flame-broiled Peeps (exotic smore time).

Carmelized Nickelodeon

Three weeks left and the days are going by faster and faster. Glad I feel like I’m making the most of my time though. Buenos noches until next post from the predeparture front!