Saturday, June 28, 2008

Let it Go

I'm in Chicago in the early hours of an 8 hour layover, and, while I'm still sad about leaving my family for the next four months for Delhi, I just heard a great song that helped me put a few things in perspective:

You’re like everybody else
Gotta deal with what you’re dealt
You’ll choose the story that you tell
Blame the world or blame yourself
Sometimes life comes at you hard
And it’s easy to let it drag you down

Yeah, I get it, it’s a mess
It’s a struggle, it’s a test
But can you find a place to rest
In a house of bitterness?
Just ‘cause it ain’t what you planned
Don’t mean it ain’t what it oughta be

‘Cause it’s only what you make of it
Yeah, it’s only what you make of it
Yeah, it’s only what you make of it
And you make it so hard on yourself

What you do and what you won’t
What you will and what you don’t
What you take and you give up
What you’re risking when you love
Bet you where you’re looking from
if you walk or if you run
You take the long way there

‘Cause it’s only what you make of it
Yeah, it’s only what you make of it
Yeah, it’s only what you make of it
And you make it so hard on yourself

You go looking for the darker side of anything
You know you’re gonna find it
You can hold on to it till it takes you under
Or you can let it go
No it ain’t all your fault
No it isn’t right
It ain’t always fair

But it’s only what you make of it
Yeah, it’s only what you make of it
Yeah, it’s only what you make of it
And you make it so hard on yourself

"Only What You Make of It"
Little Big Town

So, I can keep moaning and feeling sorry for myself about going back, or I can decide to make it great. It won't be easy, but if I do my part and use the time to experience Delhi and all of the beautiful parts of Indian culture rather than the difficulties of being away from my family I can make the next 4 months a wonderful experience.

Here's hoping I still remember this upbeat attitude 24 hours from now when I arrive at the Delhi airport.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008


I've done a lot of leaving in the last 2 1/2 years, but no trip has been as hard to contemplate as the one I'm taking Saturday. I don't really know why it is so hard this time. I've been enjoying the work, the people and the experience of living in Delhi, so you'd think this was just the normal trip. I'll be gone longer than normal (4 months) but even that can't explain why I'm struggling so hard to leave. All I can really think about is all of the things I'm going to miss:

  • Diet Vanilla Pepsi and Fresca
  • Driving - and being able to go where I want when I want
  • Target
  • Looking out my back window early in the morning and catching a deer eating my trees
  • Watching Maggie take her first steps
  • Seeing what mischief Sadie gets into each day
  • Wii
  • Standing on the front porch at night and watching the twinkling lights of the city in the valley
  • Sleeping in my own bed
  • Having a clothes dryer, i.e. not needing to iron as many things
  • Mexican food
  • Egg Beaters, Fat Free Cheese, low cal bread, Yoplait yogurt
  • Being able to hop in the car and be in Aurora in 2 hours
  • Being able to see and not just talk to my family
  • Speedy wireless internet that works most of the time
  • Having a place to myself (i.e. not having roommates)
  • Grocery stores big enough to use a cart - and understanding the layout so you can find what you want
  • My mom's cooking
  • Maggie hugs (not so much the kisses - I think she learned to kiss from Pumpkin the dog - all tongue, no lips.)
  • Walking to church
  • Costco
  • Quality toilet paper
  • Central air
  • Clean water
  • Most of all, my family and friends
Maybe tomorrow I'll wake up in a more positive frame of mind and can convince myself to write a list about all the good things about going back to Delhi for 4 months. For now, since I still have Alison Krauss on my mind (see my last post) how about a brilliant remake of one of my favorite 80's songs, "Missing You" by John Waite and Alison Krauss:

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Last stop on my vacation, Oslo - it was cool, especially the Vigeland Sculpture Park (Vigeland replaced Rodin as my favorite sculptor after seeing this park.)

But I'm sick of writing about my vacation - it was great, now it's over, time to move on.

From a surprising, but amazing combination: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Gdansk, like Tallin had a charming Old Town, which was rebuilt following the war, and I have to say they did a fantastic job. We also got to see our first real castle of the trip. It, too, was completely rebuilt following the war. Unlike the Palaces in Russia, this castle was simple, not a lot of gilding - much more to my taste.

My great grandfather (who I never knew) emigrated from Poland, and since my short visit there I've been wishing I knew more about him, what city he lived in, why he chose to leave and how much of his family remained behind. You'd think with my church's emphasis on genealogy I'd know the answer to at least a few of those questions.

Thinking about my grandparents always brings a great Mary Chapin Carpenter song to mind, "My Heaven" I hope Heaven is as great as MCC's vision and that they are together in Heaven looking down on me and are proud of the person I've become.

There's pools and lakes and hills and mountains
Music, art, and lighted fountains
Who needs bucks here, no one's counting
In my heaven

No one works, we all just play
We pick the weather everyday
If you change your mind, that's ok
In my heaven

Grandma's up here, Grandpa too
In a condo with to-die-for views
There's presidents and movie stars
You just come as you

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Tallin was one of my favorite cities on the trip. The Old Town portion of the city retains it's medieval charm and was added to the UNESCO list in 1997. Walking through the arch into the city was like stepping back in time. We only had about 6 hours in port here, so V & I were off the ship promptly by 7:30. For the first hour or so we felt like we were on our own, nothing was opened and there were very few people in the area so we were able to explore completely on our own. It was a blast.

With few crowds the pictures were great and I was inspired by the beautiful doors at every turn in the city and started snapping shots of them. Below are some of the doors we discovered before the shops opened and the tour groups from the ship started filling the city.

By mid-morning, the town square was filled with booths and artists selling their wares, I found some great blown glass, a wooden toy for M and some great jewelry. All too soon we had to head back to the ship, Tallin is now high on my list of cities that deserves a second visit.

The doors of Tallin give me an excuse to use a song from one of my favorite bands, 3 Doors Down
, "The Road I'm On"

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St Petersburg

Of all the places we visited on this trip, I was probably most excited about St Petersburg, mostly because it is one of those places I never really thought I'd get to see. We stayed in St Petersburg for 2 days and even though we were exhausted by the end of the second day, there were still tons of things we'd like to have seen. We signed up for an excursion through the ship to avoid having to get a Russian visa (not a easy thing to do on your own.) It was the first time we were part of the cruise group and I had mixed feelings about it since I'd usually prefer to explore on my own. But the tour was great, and we quickly realized that it would have been an extremely difficult place to explore on our own.

We had a great tour guide, who was happy to answer any question and brought along receivers and headphones so we could easily here her throughout the two days. I feel like I didn't just see some cool old churches and palaces, but I learned a bit about Russian history and the current situation in the country. What a wonderful experience. We even had the chance to see Swan Lake the first evening we were in town, and since it during the "White Nights" period is was still light when we left the Ballet at 11 PM. Very surreal.

One of the highlights of the visit for me was the running boy. As we boarded a boat for a canal tour of the city, I noticed a group of 3 boys hanging around. As we passed under the first bridge I noticed him on the bridge waving at us, he then took off running, and was at the next bridge, and the next. He ran the entire time we were on the boat and met us at every bridge and it wasn't a short trip. We were of course charmed and every tipped him. A pretty ingenious way to make some money.
In running boy's honor, a great song I discovered through Veronica Mars, the show I still miss every week, "Run" by Air.

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Monday, June 23, 2008


If you look at the photos from Helsinki you'd think all we did was visit churches, but the truth is we spent most of the day shopping with just a side trip to the churches.

We were lucky in Helsinki, a friend of V's was from Finland and gave us a list of places to check out while we were there, so we followed her plan and enjoyed the city the way a local would. We spent a lot of the day at a market in the center of the city that reminded me a lot of Pike's Place Market in Seattle, with fish, flower and produce vendors along with some great craft booths. She told us the jewelry places to hit up and we both came away with some fantastic jewelry finds. And of course, we visited a couple of Merimekko shops.

We even had some extra time in Helsinki to sit in the park and watch the people - one of my favorite things to do.

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Stockholm deserves a second visit, I didn't get to see nearly enough. I had high hopes as we sailed into port and got our first view of the city, but I soon discovered it was COLD - and then the rain started. Genius that I am, I didn't have a jacket with me, so I bundled up the best I could thanks to a couple of Indian wraps and we set off.

The plan was to hit the Old Town then head up to the castle for the changing of the guard. We were using a Hop-On Hop-Off boat to see the city and missed the stop for the old town so we went straight to the castle and explored the state apartments, but when we realized we'd need to stand in the rain for another 45 minutes to catch the changing of the guard, we decided to skip it and do a little shopping instead.

I loved Old Town, it was full of great little shops and amazing architecture, if only it hadn't been so cold and we'd had more time, I could have spent the entire day exploring the shops.

Our last stop of the day was the Vasa Ship Museum, which contains a recovered 17th century war ship which was salvaged near Stockholm.

This is the only city where we didn't spend a bunch of time in an old church, but only because the one we tried to get in was closed.

Here are a few highlights of the city and some Miles Davis to set the scene:

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The cruise started in Copenhagen, where after more than 16 hours spent on airplanes and in airports we collected our luggage and sent it off to the ship so we could explore a bit of the city. We were sleep deprived and feeling a bit grimy, but didn't want to miss our opportunity to spend a few hours exploring Copenhagen. First on our list was Trivoli Gardens, which turned out to be a waste of time and money, but a good place to start our city tour.

Next we walked to a church (the first of MANY we saw on this trip.) This one was unique because it contained a statue of Christ which was used as the model for one in the Salt Lake Temple.

Next up we headed to the main shopping area of town. We walked into a ton of stores selling items for the home (who can resist Scandinavian design?) But sadly, must not have been in the mood to buy, because not a single purchase was made in Copenhagen (at least on this first visit.)

We eventually stopped for lunch, and it seemed as if my vision of relaxing at little cafes in the capitals of Scandinavia and people watching was off to a good start, too bad it was the last time we'd take the time for a relaxing lunch.

With a bit more energy we set off to see Rosenburg Castle and the surrounding park. This was my favorite part of the city. I enjoyed chilling in the park and watching the locals sun bath and touring the beautiful old castle.Soon we headed off for the ship, where we checked in and settled in for the trip. My time in Copenhagen was no where near this cool, but it's a great song.

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My long vacation started with a family reunion in Moab. My mom's brothers and sisters (and families) get together every other year for a long weekend. I've missed the first two reunions, but since Mom was in charge this year, she let me know early that I needed to get it on my calendar, and I'm very glad I did.

It was great to see my aunts, uncles and cousins (some, I'm embarrassed to admit I hadn't seen in many, many years.) I loved watching my cousins as parents and my aunts/uncles as grandparents, and I loved seeing that family resemblance that runs through the generations.

As I neared Moab on Thursday I felt an amazing sense of peace settle over me as I realized that for the next two weeks I wouldn't have to worry about work, that for that period I could just enjoy the time with my family and with myself as I explored new parts of the world and recharged my batteries.

Here are a few pictures from the trip, as usual little Maggie, the original "Beautiful Girl" was the centerpiece of our trip.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Best. Vacation. Ever.

I'm finally back after what must be the best vacation ever. It started with a long weekend in Moab with my extended family, followed by a 10 day cruise to Scandinavia and Russia topped off by a long weekend in Aurora. Best of all, I managed to leave work and the stresses that come with it behind for a full two weeks. Tomorrow I'll do my best to dig my way out of a ton of email and hopefully post a few pictures and stories from my fantastic holiday. For tonight, I'm just going to chill, and enjoy the last few hours of my holiday.

As I drove down to Moab two weeks ago I put a Dido CD in and when I heard "Sand in My Shoes" I was determined that I would enjoy my vacation, I would take the time to enjoy the sunsets, and that when I got home I'd be able to pull the song back out and feel like it was my reality.

Two weeks away it feels like the whole world should've changed
But I'm home now
And things still look the same
I think I'll leave it till tomorrow to unpack
Try to forget for one more night

That I'm back in my flat on the road
Where the cars never stop going through the night
To a life where I can't watch sunset
I don't have time
I don't have time

Tomorrow's back to work and down to sanity
should run a bath and then clear up the mess I made before I left here
Try to remind myself that I was happy here
Before I knew that I could get on the plane and fly away

Two weeks away, all it takes to change and turn me around

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Sunday, June 8, 2008


On my way to Copenhagen to kick off my two week cruise of Scandinavia and Russia. I'll post as I go if I can get on the internet, if not, wait for some incredible pictures and stories in two weeks. Pin It

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Road Trip

I'm hitting the open road today - the last time I drove for more than the 2 1/2 hours it takes to get to my parent's house was probably 3-4 years ago (of course that doesn't include all my 10+ hour flights - it's not like I never leave home.) I've been putting together a music mix to keep me entertained since I'll be on my own until we hit Moab.

Song number one, The Ataris "The Boys of Summer" I know it's a song more about the end of summer, but it still made me happy this morning.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008


A few years ago I went to a Mariners game with some friends from work. One of the advantages of working just blocks from Safeco Field was taking in the occasional afternoon game. Now, I'm not a big baseball fan, but I am a fan of fieldtrips that take you away from the regular work grind, so anyway, I spent most of my time at the game watching the people and the back of house operations. One of the things that hit me about half way through the game is that the club or the DJ had assigned a theme song to many of the players - something they played when the guy came up to bat or did something great.

I spent the rest of the game thinking about theme songs and what they said about a person. Back at work a couple of days later I was trying to come up with an idea of how to bring a new team together - how to help us get to know each other a bit better and a way to let off a little steam. Somehow the theme song idea popped up, so next thing I knew I was asking everyone to pickith their own theme song. We then put together a mixed tape with the entire team's theme songs. The CD stayed in my car for a very long time, and even now years later when I hear a particular song I think back to that person and what I learned about him or her based on the song they chose.

In a way, I think that experience let to my decisions to add the music concept to this blog - it made me realize the way I always seem to associate a song to a time or experience in my life, or the way that no matter what I'm doing there always seems to be a song hiding out in the back of my mind.

The song I selected for my theme song back in the day was The Dixie Chick's "Wide Open Spaces" which is still one of my favorite songs. If I had to pick today it would be a toss up between that and a new song by the Chicks, "The Long Way Around"

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