Thursday, January 31, 2008

do people really pee their pants from laughing?

I don't even know where to start. Or even where it all started. I mean, I met some pretty sweet people when I worked for Publicis here in Seattle but, it all sort of felt temporary and part of the experience. Where was my life going? Since I purchased my condo nearly four months ago to the day, I've been increasingly grateful for my little Seattle world. ...And really, for all things Andrea. I just returned home from my friend Josh's birthday outing. Once again I felt myself laughing - out loud with my gigantic obnoxious laugh - countless times. The month of January has been one of continuous laughter. From Lisa's posts to our Whistler trip to our girls' night the other night to the mixture of all of my friends from different worlds getting to know each other and exchanging stories. I don't know how its even possible that I have so many amazing friends and family in my life. My CSB girlfriends who are spread from here to MN to NYC are planning a trip, sans some babies, that will bring us all together for the first time since gathering for Mitch's wedding in July. My friends Doreen and Ann are flying in from MN and NYC also to go skiing and spend a weekend here in Seattle. Just last weekend Beth came up from Portland for some quality wine and banter. I spoke to both Jora and Kes this week and laughed so hard I thought my body was going to burst. Even Art's sweet annual phone call on his way to the OC open last weekend made my eyes sparkle. I feel such a connection to so many people in so many different ways that sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am. I'm across the country from where I spent 26.5 years of my 29 so far and my heart just bursts with gracious love and genuine laughter.

How is it possible I've landed here. Not just here in the literal sense, but here in who I have become. I grew up with great friends and amazingly supportive parents. I attended college and lived the dream for four years cultivating relationships I'm certain will last my lifetime. I've worked and moved and met even more people who have enriched my life in ways I could never, ever have dreamed of. Basically, in my two IPA consumption state, I'm a very happy camper. I'm so happy I think I understand the term, "i could burst". And though I know we will all experience Ups and Downs, its the Downs that truly make us understand and appreciate the Ups.

I'm very Up. Its fantastic!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


This is Lisa. She's a native WA lady but has a fascination and love for all people MN. Skip past her religious rant, down to her second post. Its a tribute to all the MN people she's met and loves. Lisa is hilarious. And a pretty darn funny writer. Oh and her religious rant is great too.

Click here: Lisa's blog


Ms. B made the trip up from Portland to Seattle on Saturday. She rolled in and phoned me to say she was outside. I hadn't seen Beth since summer and my trip down to Portland. We have one of those friendships where I firmly believe we could not talk or see each other for an entire year, and the moment we saw each other we'd pick right up where we'd last left off. And when I went outside to greet her, we did just that. No hesitation. No awkwardness. Just great friends. Starting with a great lunch + cupcake at Volunteer Park Cafe; we had so much fun talking, laughing and catching up.

In total we: looked at pictures. made dinner. drank wine. walked her wiener dog, max. watched Paris. Je Taime. had coffee and crepes with my great friend, Lisa. shopped...bought the same coat. and finally, hugged.

Love ya, B! Thanks for the visit. You are quite the fantastic nugget of good stuff.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tyson and sunny

Seattle has been surprisingly wintery, MN-y sunny. Its a nice change from the mostly cloudy and rainy days of typical Seattleness. I don't usually mind the Seattle winter, but having the sun reminds me a lot of home and the crisp air and blue skies are fantastic.

With sunshine comes great sunsets. Despite the cold, Tyson and I ventured out for a walk through Volunteer park and watched the sun set over the city on MLK day. I've been experimenting with different settings on my camera hence the "photoshoot". No, the band is not getting back together. {Joey wink}

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Whistler round two.

Last year I tagged along with Haley and Josh for their trip to Whistler with Bess and Josh. I knew the weekend would be fun, but who could've predicted it would ignite a great Seattle friendship that would carry into 2008 and a whole new trip to Whistler.

Eleven people in three cars headed north for Canada on Friday. Not everyone knew each other. I knew them. Some coworkers. Some non-coworkers. Friends of friends. And a man from Aspen. I was nervous as the organizer, but once everyone arrived at the condo and the beers were cracked, laughter began. And didn't stop all weekend.

We road/skied all day Saturday. I was able to board with most everyone and was having a great day until I flew off a four foot drop and somersaulted. Luckily there was no pain or injury! -just a bit of fear until the sky cleared and visibility increased. The plan was to meet for Apre´Ski in the village = beers. There is nothing more satisfying than beers after skiing or snowboarding.

Then we headed back to the condo for chili, cornbread and tortellini. Some hot tub. And of course the always ALWAYS fun, Apples to Apples. And a few more beers. Josh and I reasoned in the hot tub as we looked up at the stars and out at the snow, that really, we had absolutely nothing to complain about. And it was true. What a great day.

Sunday some of us went back out to the slopes despite the 4 degree temperature. Then we headed back to Seattle and ended the trip with a great dinner at the Boundary Bay Brewery. I feel so lucky to have such a great group of people around me here in Seattle. If I'm going to be away from family and friends in MN, I couldn't ask for a better circle.

Monday, January 14, 2008

who needs a man!

Aside from grabbing some random old man on the street to come and remove my old car battery, -it was heavy! - I was able to put in a new battery and fire up the ole MINI all by myself! (And okay, a few calls to papa Franzen). It was so great! She fired right up and I cruised all over town. Here's me patting myself on the back.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Last days of Thai.

After the trekking trip I had two more days in Chiang Mai. With absolutely no plan, I asked the front desk of my guest house where to go. "Can we help you?" I turned around and a darling woman and who I thought was her daughter were having breakfast in the garden. Kirsten was from Germany and Vicki, not her mother, was from England. They had met the previous day and invited me to go to the market with them. "Sure." The best decision I could've made.

We had the best day. Both women were great but Vicki, at 61 years old, was a crazy, interesting gal. A retired attorney, Vicki was in Thailand starting her second year teaching English in the villages. She had so much energy and spirit and was a total inspiration for living life to its fullest. At one point she stopped at a street vendor and purchased 6 or 7 different kinds of bugs. Vicki and Kirsten tried them all except the cockroach and in the end they were able to convince me to eat some maggots and a small beetle of sorts! We walked for six hours and then split and agreed to meet for dinner. At 7pm we grabbed a Tuk Tuk and headed over to the night market. We had so much fun! Walking and talking and laughing. After returning to our guest house around 11pm we heard music from a neighboring bar. Vicki said, "Let's go where the noise is!" And we headed out for some beers on my last night in Thailand. A great finish!

I had breakfast with Vicki on my last day and she was off to the villages also. Then Kirsten and I walked to Wat Suan Dok in old Chiang Mai. As we were leaving I happened to see a sign that said "Monk Chat". The Monk Chat Program has been running for 6 years giving information about Thai Buddhist culture and exchanging inter-culture between foreign visitors and Thai monks by talking informally. Curious, we sheepishly sat down and started "chatting" with this young monk in his bright orange robes. It was great! We were served tea and could ask him absolutely anything. And we did, for nearly an hour.

I love Chiang Mai. I loved the last four days of the trip so much. I'm happy to be home too.

AND, ITS POSSIBLE I'VE LOST HALF OF MY PHOTOS! Having a minor meltdown about that. Someone I work with is going to try and recover them. In any case, I'd like to post some pictures in the upcoming days.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Chiang Mai and Hill Trekking

PICTURES TO COME. I forgot my USB in Bangkok.

We hopped into the back of a trekking truck early Saturday morning to start our adventure in the hills of the Bong Duet National park. Joined by a couple from Poland, a couple from Korea, our Thai guide, Dimitri from Greece and then there was little ole me from the states. Everyone spoke English and I was totally amazed by that. It was the language that bound all of us from different parts of the world. I can't believe I don't know another language (very well). Anyway, we rolled along until we were out of the city and into the jungle and mountains. There we began our trek. I have to say, I like hiking and have never really found it to be particularily difficult. This was difficult. The hills were so steep, both in going up and coming down. Our guide, Dat, was so great. He carried a giant knife and cut bamboo walking sticks for us. He also chopped down different fruits and explained things all while singing (in Thai) and whistling happy tunes. The first day we hiked 3.5 hours and visited two different Karen villages -the second was where we spent our night. Our bamboo house was complete with a sleeping room, cooking area and a table. The sleeping room had mats on the floor, mosquito nets from the ceiling and two blankets apiece. The difference in tempurature from Bangkok and Krabi was significant. It was freezing at night! After we unloaded our packs, some took baths in the river. I watched a couple of the villagers and our guide cook us a fantastic dinner. They sat on the floor and chopped vegetables and meat. We ate yellow curry with chicken and potatoes and a vegetable dish with beef. The resources in these villages are amazing. They plant so many things and have chickens, cows, pigs and fruits and vegetables from the jungle. After dinner we could hear people singing in the distance. We asked our guide if we could go to see what it was. Wrapped in blankets we walked through the village to another bamboo building. Inside, by candlelight, were about thirty children and young adults playing guitars and singing in a circle on the floor. They opened their cirlce and were happy to have us join them. I couldn't understand a word they were singing but those moments were some of the most incredible I've ever experienced. Sitting with these people in their simple existence. Knowing that soon I would be pulled back into the world of meetings, going to the gym and non-fat mochas, I sat there and smiled. I felt so lucky. So full of life. So grateful.

In the morning they cooked us eggs from their chickens and sent us on our way. We hiked another two hours to the elephant camp. I had mixed emotions about the elephants as I didn't want to be participating in the commercialization of them. But these elephants were ones used by the villagers to help them build their homes. Somehow I felt, or I justified to myself, that this was okay because these people have been using the elephants for years and its part of their culture. Haley, thoughts? We hopped on and road them down the river for a couple hours. Crazy. They are SO adorable. One of their babies followed us too and was so so so cute. Will post pictures and a great video when I'm back.

The last part of the trek was bamboo rafting. One of the villagers was literally putting the finishing touches on our bamboo raft as we approached. I had no idea what to expect and never could've predicted our rafting journey. The raft is probably 30 feet long and four feet wide. No rails. One coat hanger looking thing near the front for us to hang our packs on. The three guys were given long bamboo sticks to help navigate in the back. The entire two hour ride was spent standing -no life jackets. It was crazy! We stopped and picked up an older woman and child from a riverside village. They needed a ride down the river! The rafting was part fun and part scary...which is part of what makes it fun. During rapids the raft would sink so the water was reaching the middle of my calf. At one point during some rapids the guide was yelling 'Right Side!' to the guys with their sticks, and he meant LEFT. We ended up crashing into a rock where the raft stopped, stuck. He yelled at us to get off the boat and onto the rock. The little girl was screaming and one of the guys grabbed her. The Polish guy fell in and was grabbing onto another rock. Scary. Once most of us were off the raft, it was light enough to loosen from the rock and it started to move. 'Get back on the boat!!' the guide yelled. We all jumped at once onto the very back of the raft as it was passing by and it sunk into the water past my knees. I was totally freaking out. Parts of our raft were broken and cracked as a result of the crash so Dat stopped and found some pieces near the edge of the river and fixed it. So much fun.

I could probably write three times this about the trekking experience. Being with the people from Poland and Korea I learned so much. Our conversations about the world and where they come from were part of what made the experience so great. It was definitely the most incredible thing I've ever done.

In some ways this trip was a struggle for me. I spent a third of it alone (some of that amazing, some lonely) and there were times I felt it lacking in authenticity. That's something I learned about myself and traveling. I need authentic experiences. In the past, whether it was backpacking Europe or visiting both Beth in Japan and Dan in China, authentic experiences came naturally. Spending time in their classrooms and meeting their students, dinners and traditional tea with their friends and colleagues and just spending time with people who LIVE in these areas provided a window into a world a traveler simply cannot replicate. I didn't realize that going into this trip and wasn't prepared in my research to make it authentic. And that's okay! Trips are for learning about a place AND yourself. And in my last days here I can reflect back on great things. Prepared or not, this has been an amazing experience. I'm so grateful for the invitation, Tim!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ko Phi Phi Island.

Just a few pictures. It beautiful. Absolutely picturesque in every way. BUT way too many tourists. Many of which are in their early twenties and walk around wasted and crazy. Its like Cancun for Germans, Swedes, Aussies, South Africans and any origin other than America. Sort of strange really. But as I said, beautiful, and a great place to relax for a few days. The first day we took a longboat and visited the surrounding islands, including the island filmed in the movie The Beach, and checked out the other coasts of Ko Phi Phi Don. The boat was nothing short of fantastic. We also snorkeled and watched the sun set from the water. I felt like I was in a scene from the Goonies or something. The guys left early yesterday as they felt really old and out of place here. I was sad for a brief time, but today I went rock climbing and met some really cool people from Montreal and Germany. Think I made some friends for tonight! Rock climbing was crazy. I've never been before and here I was climbing in the most amazing place. I have to say I wasn't as brave as I'd wanted. I did two thirty foot routes and then nearly conquered a seventy foot climb..until I reached about 65 feet and then couldn't find a place for my foot and freaked out. The guide said I had reached the easy part and the most difficult was behind me. Still...I asked to be lowered. Crap! Too bad most of my photos are vertical or I'd post more climbing ones (can't rotate..or don't know how on this computer). Will post more when I return. Oh, and while we were climbing there were monkeys running around! One came within a foot of me! Crazy little creatures.

Off for now. Not sure if I'll post before returning next week. We'll see.