Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Now Filming in Seattle: Speed, the Prequel

Movie-Seattle

We have to keep this bus above 30 miles an hour! 

Yesterday was a bad bus day. You know, the kind that involves standing next to someone with B.O. or a full rotisserie chicken that’s rolling around, smearing grease everywhere (both have happened to me).

I hopped the wrong transfer on the way home because I drown out vital information with my headphones. Like where I was/the century we’re in/my name. In my post-work stupor, I got on the wrong route. When the driver called last stop I just sat there, failing to realize I was the only passenger. “This is the ‘E’ line, not the ‘C’ line,” he said, irritated. I got off the bus and called a cab.

Sigh.

While waiting for the cab, I stumbled onto a movie filming at Seattle’s Union Station. Not just any old movie, an OLD movie. With vintage buses, Vespas and motorcycles, men in fedoras caring boxy suitcases, women in pillbox hats, lips painted ruby red. I heard the director say, “That’s a wrap.”  Stumbling into a filming that involves an old bus after getting on the wrong bus was surreal. Is the universe trying to tell me not to complain about my commute by sending me a vision of the past?

Look at that bus. You could have to travel like that. They probably wish they had rotisserie chickens. 

Seattle Travel Movie Filming

Or maybe the universe is telling me to dress better.

I would have asked what the heck was going on, but I was agitated from my commute and didn’t want a high-powered Hollywood type to scream at me.

I think it’s safe to assume they’re filming  Speed, The Prequel.


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Just Another Manic Memoir

Just Pretty

There is beauty in the everyday.

Everyone’s doing it. Entire sections of the bookstore are dedicated to it. Blonde-woman-leaves-routine-life-for-abroad-or-the-wood memoirs. Think: Cheryl Strayed. Elizabeth Gilbert.* To stand out from other travel memoirs, you need to set sail all by yourself to Antarctica, Ernest Shackleton-style and survive something horrific like eating your own dogs or do some peyote in the desert and be able to clearly WRITE about that experience. Pen name: Huntess S. Thompson.

For the reasons above, I’m starting a new genre: the stay-put memoir. Lists of dull things we do everyday, written with a certain flair.

Consider the untold story in the soggy French fries curled on the bottom of my CRV, in the struggle of trying to get to my dry cleaner before it closes, in bagel dust between my keyboard letters. That’s real stuff. Bonus: I don’t have to do anything difficult to write it. I just keep on keepin on. It would be relatable, that’s for sure. Low-risk. Yes. Dull? No way.

Future memoir titles: 

  • Is It Weird To Smell Your Own Hair On The Bus? And Other Concerns
  • Skeptical Of Your Gluten Allergy, So Totally Sure Of Mine
  • Copywriter’s Dilemma: Having A Nervous Breakdown One Exclamation Point At A Time!!
  • Checking The Door Twice: Confessions Of A Public-Bathroom Phobic
  • Fear And Loathing On A Train. Mother + Daughter Ride The Rails Cross Country. (Read the sneak preview here).
  • Tears On My Mcdonald’s Cheeseburger. What Happens When You Get The Wrong Gender-Specific Toy.
  • Facebook Lies: That Time I Said I Had A Great Time Kayaking When It Was Actually Just Ok

Which one should I start on first?

*I like Elizabeth Gilbert.

**I’m actually headed to the desert next month (New Mexico + Texas). Where should I go? What should I do? Comment below.


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4 Funny Things That Happen When You Learn A Second Language

Language-learning-french

Am I fluent because I know all of these words 😉 Am I?

1. You start to have really bizarre dreams, half in your language, half in the language you’re picking up. My last one involved explaining the rules of baseball in French to Chris Farley (R.I.P.) I like baseball, go to games, but it’s definitely not something I’d discuss with Chris Farley. Unless he liked the White Sox.

2. You become a pseudo-etymologist. Word origins used to lull me to sleep. Not anymore. Does “hommie” comes from the French word for man (homme)? I think it does. I think I might be a genius because of this fascinating discovery. Coupons, definitely from the French word couper for cut. And probably the most exciting moment of my life was when I learned that prom comes from se promenade, which in French means taking someone for a walk. Sure, that’s what those teenagers are doing.

3. You stalk other speakers of the language you’re learning. In Quebec, everyone speaks French all the time, so I didn’t realize how hard it would be to keep it up here. Now if I hear someone speaking French, I follow them down the street and telepathically hope they’ll turn around, lost and ask for directions. Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Frank goes into the nail salon to spy on what they’re saying about Elaine? That’s kind-of happened to me on the train and it makes all of this time and dedication worth it.

4. You hang around people you have nothing in common with just to practice. I like most of the French speakers I’ve met through MeetUp.com. But it’s not like me to wake up early on a Sunday, drive twenty miles to sit with a group of strangers, most of whom are either fresh-out-of-college francophile singles, probably looking for their l’amour or just about to retire and “summering” in Paris. It appears that all the thirty-somethings are hibernating.

There aren’t many people like me at these meetups or in the classes. I’m a person who learned French in Canada and whose highest intellectual feat is recalling specific episodes of 90210 at a pub trivia. These people went to Yale and studied mathematics (gulp), work at Microsoft, and picked up French as their fifth language just for funsies.

Summer side note:

You may wonder why I am not updating as frequently. Don’t worry. I don’t plan to go anywhere, especially not after investing $30 in a customized design. However, the truth is… I don’t have as much to say right now. Summer sunshine compels me to go outside.  I’ve also been freelancing full-time, not traveling enough, and suffering from internet-exhaustion.

Excuses, excuses.

I promise my next post will be soon and it won’t be as Buzz Feed-like. Happy Fourth of July!


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Circus Cats, Cowbells, & Cluck Norris, the Bowling Chicken

Last week, I went to a cat circus. Let’s put that on the list of things I never thought I’d say. I also never thought I would write about a cat who plays cowbell.

How much is that kitty who plays cowbell? 

acrocats-caturday-cat-cirus

That’s Tuna

Full disclosure: Acro-Cats gave me a ticket to review the show. I only write about experiences that I believe are worth the money and I only do honest reviews.

Let’s start with the cost.

$24 per ticket. What could one get in Seattle for $24?

  •  A decent manicure, maybe a brow wax too if you go to the place with the questionable cleanliness and the fungus risk.
  • About five lattes. So let’s just say a whole business-week of coffee.
  • A one-way bus ticket from Seattle to Vancouver. But you’d have to sit next to the smelly guy.
  • Tickets to see your coworker’s friend’s bad doo-wop/rap (doo-rap) ensemble
  • About two watered-down cocktails.

You will remember Acro-Cats, even if you hated it, you’ll remember. And you will meet the “stars” and you will see all kinds of people in kitty ears trying to get selfies with these celebrity cats and begging for their feline attention.

It definitely draws out the strange, but one can’t help but love Samantha Martin, the lady running the show. She makes fun of herself, she’s approachable, and she rolls around the country in a big cat bus. She’s a person of stories, a person doing her own thing, and I deeply admire that. I fantasized about running away to join the cat circus until I remembered that I have a dog and a husband at home and I’m prone to horrific stage fright. Still, I briefly fantasized about being their on-bus reporter, like in Almost Famous, except with less groupies and more cat hair.

You’ll laugh and you might really cry. All of the cats in the show are orphans or fosters.

Throughout the show, you get their Behind-the-Music-esque backstories:

“Nugget* here was found on a box in the side of the road after his mother was killed. Look at him now. He’s the backup guitarist in an all-tom rock band.” 

UnFuRgettable Moments:

cat-playing-piano-acrocats

-A semi-famous feline named Tuna plays cowbell. He also bowled against a chicken named Cluck Norris.  I kid you not.  I was on team Tuna, but Cluck Norris was a competitor for sure. (Psst… follow Tuna on Twitter.)

-An adult cat push the.cutest kitten ever around in a baby carriage.

Rock Cats. They’re not the most musical felines, but they sure are cute. One cat did a stage dive and then they had to bring up the back-up guitar player. And yes, you can get a t-shirt.

-Multiple cats skittering around in the audience at all times. Watch your step!

-People way into nerdy cat culture. Not just in a wear-a-heavy-wool-sweater-with-a-cat on-it way, in a having-legit-conversations-with-the-kitties way. Nothing like a cat circus to bring out the strange.

-Cats walking tightropes and jumping through hoops.

 Final Thought 

One of the Rock Cats

If you’re going to see it in Seattle, it takes place in the Seattle Center in a tiny theater you have to hunt down. It’s really the perfect size for this event, so no complaints about the theater. But I’ve been living in this city on and off for seven years and couldn’t find it even using Google Maps. Leave early.

For $24, I laughed out loud more than seven times. I think that makes it worth it. They’re going to be in Seattle for about a week more. Tickets and more info can be found on their website at http://www.circuscats.com.


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Confession: I’m Strangely Attracted to the Roaming Gnome

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-Humor Blog

Hot. He’s not giving the finger, he only has three.

When I was about nine, I had a crush on Michelangelo. Not the artist, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Words like “rad” and “cowabunga” rolled off his tongue. He carried nunchucks, arguably the best weapon. And he could ollie on a skateboard even with that cumbersome turtle shell. Total bad boy.

But love is fickle. And judging by his lack of response to my frequent letters, ours remained unrequited. Faster than the time it takes to say, Cowabunga! I moved on to fellas who were more loquacious, less green. Rider Strong. Devon Sawa. Mr. T.

In my preteen years, all it took was a deep middle-part or a Mohawk to make my heart flutter.

After a few years putting myself out there only to be crushed by zero responses to my proclamations of deep, unfaltering love, I had given up on celebrity crushes. That is, until I fell for Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome.

And he travelled right into my heart

Roaming Gnome, Travel, Vegas

Son of a… Well, good for him I guess. | Photo from: VegasChatter.com

I loved the Travelocity Gnome before he started doing commercials, when he was just a small town garden gnome, hanging out with Amelie’s Dad. Of course he’s been around a lot longer than that. A little Wikipedia work tells me that the roaming gnome prank started in the 1980’s in Australia.

He’s adorable. Sure, he’s probably at least 100 years older than me. But there’s a worldly twinkle in his wide-set eyes. And then there’s the remarkable achievement, the staggering genius* of his beard.

He broods. He’s really quiet, which leads me to believe he’s pontificating on life, love, the pursuit of happiness. When he speaks, his voice has a charming, indistinguishable accent, a subtle lilt reminiscent of the English countryside. Where are you from, Gnome?! My guess is that his accent is a delightful melange of countries from years spent travelling. Continue reading


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When Networking Goes Hilariously Wrong

Remember when I said I wanted a stalker? Not the scary kind, the kind that would anonymously send me my favorite flowers or take a bunch of scary but really cool monochrome photos of me walking down the street.

Ok, I never said that. It was one of those things you think about but you never dare say.

I was massively hit on in the form of an email approximately 5 hours after my first networking event.

Networking, American Psycho, Humor Blog

What I thought networking would be like.

My vision of networking is slightly dated, slightly 80s, gleaned from movies like Wall Street, American Psycho, and Working Girl that came out when I was a kid.

I put on my black blazer with the Murphy Brown power shoulders, slipped on my She’s Got Legs pumps and threw a stack of business cards into my purse. I am from Chicago where business event means dress like a real estate agent. Not so in Seattle. I knew my serious suit was a mistake as soon as I walked into the revolving door to find hip chicks clad in Anthropologie sipping amber ale, their hair twisted into high buns. Continue reading


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Translation Thursday: What the Heck is This?

From Japan

My sister is in Japan, lucky duck. Her hotel has been leaving the above on her pillow every night.

Without being too egregious, please translate the text on the package and tell me what this thing is.

Some ideas:

a). A wasabi-scented item for use in the bedroom (wink). Now x5!

b). A magic robe that gives nerds chest hair.

c). They’re obviously chips. Musk-scented, of course.

d). A diet pill that gives people a hollowed-out chest cavity.

Add yours. I’ll reveal what the product actually is in the comments later.


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My Résumé, the Mad Skills Edition

Skill #105: Finding spring before it actually begins.

Skill #105: Wildlife spotting.

Let’s be honest. Resumes aren’t meant to show off our real skills. You know the unseen stuff, the stuff your boss never includes in a performance evaluation, but probably should.

I’ve listed mine below, just in case you want to hire a drum-miming-broom-dancing-popcorn-making writer.

And so you don’t think I am bragging, I’ve listed the stuff I am not so good at. Comment below with your own mad skills!

My mad skillz résumé: 

  • Balancing a 600-page-plus tome on the treadmill as I run

-Drum miming as I run
-Imagining myself in an action movie as I run

  • Interpretive broom dancing

-Car dancing
-Elliptical dancing

  • Creative theme party planning
    My latest: Turtleneck & Chains (Inspired by The Lonely Island’s hilarious hit single. It’s BYLB. That’s Bring Your Light Beer).
    Previous: Nautical Night. Or I Think I’m On a Boat.
  • Dawson’s Creek Trivia
  • Popcorn making
  • Recognizing relatively obscure Biggy Smalls songs
  • Doodling Venus flytraps in the margins of my notepad
  • Deconstructing every nuance of My So-Called Life
  • Moving cross-country/international (3 times and counting!)
  • Finding freakishly good new snacks at Trader Joe’s
  • Identifying a good doctor by their magazine collection. (I.E. You’re a Doctor & you want your patients reading Web MD Magazine? GTFO.)
  • Making fairly elaborate quesadillas.
  • Jump roping.
  • Sweeping
  • Occasionally dice games & poker. I don’t play often enough to find out if I am actually good. So we’ll list this as a maybe.
  • Sprinting through airports
  • Finding the best pizza in any neighborhood, city, or small town
  • Picking hotels

Things I need to work on:

  • Balancing my mug of coffee in the car
  • Parallel parking. Spent most of my life in or close to various metro areas. Still not happening.
  • Eating produce before it gets moldy
  • Remembering reusable grocery bags
  • Dressing for the weather
  • Holding those handles on the bus for long stretches of time
  • Walking in heels, uphill/downhill. I firmly believe Seattle’s massive hills were the impetus for grunge fashion.
  • French accents.
  • Trapezing. Because you actually have to move your body when you trapeze. Who knew?
  • Carrying lots of stuff and arranging it properly before trying to open the door
  • Driving small cars, like FIATS
  • Finding my keys
Copenhagen


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Before You Apply to the Amtrak Writer’s Residency, Let’s Talk

As a travel writer/literary scribe/nonsense poet, I know what happened when you read Amtrak’s description of their new writer’s residency. Oh you haven’t heard? Amtrak is offering writers the opportunity to ride the rails for a few days. Must have mad writing skills and a substantial social media following.

Sound like you? Great. But there were also some questions about the rights of submitted writing samples that might have you rethinking jumping aboard. Last I heard, Amtrak is working out the legalese.

I’ll let you decide whether it’s a good idea to apply or not. I am here to talk truth about train travel.

The Truth About Train Travel

Me on a train. Don't laugh. No one looks good on a train.

Me on a train in NYC. Don’t laugh. No one looks good on a train.

You visualized yourself sitting in a plush, reclined seat, scenery zipping by your window, glass of wine in hand as you type the next great American novel. You picture telling the other oh-so interesting passengers you’re there to write a novel, a play, a…blog post.

Don’t lie. Some of the fun of being a writer on a residency is saying you’re a writer on a residency. “I wrote it all…on a train!” Cue applause at the well-attended reading of your new train mystery series, Snakes On A Train.

The passengers you picture come straight out of the golden age of train travel. Everyone carries a boxy suitcase and has a charming old-timey accent. The gals wear mink shrugs and derby hats; the gents don fedoras and skinny ties. Except for the ting of silver spoons and platters, it’s quiet as the train chugs along, breathtaking scenery zipping by out the window.

You have more than enough space for your laptop or even (guh) your typewriter. You put your feet up and type away to a special playlist you created for the occasion.

Runaway train, never goin’ back
Wrong way on a one-way track…

That is what I envisioned before I took a four-day train cross country from Chicago to San Francisco. That’s not quite what happened. I am not saying train travel is awful, not at all. I am simply saying it may not be what you think it is.

No stranger on a train.

Strangers-on-a-Train-still-good

What I envisioned.

At age 21, I rode the rails from Chicago to San Francisco and back, paying for it using my paltry tax return.  It was a family trip; my mom, younger sister, uncle and I headed out to California to watch my oldest sister graduate from law school.

My mom refuses to fly and so she takes Amtrak everywhere. None of the following experiences have anything to do with Amtrak or Amtrak service. From what I remember, the service is pretty darn good, the people are nice, and it is a unique experience that everyone should do once.

This is about my romanticized view of train travel, what I thought it was (the Orient Express) and what it actually is (not the Orient Express).

The Deluxe “Sleeper” Car.

Train-Travel-Amtrak-Writer's-Residency

THIS is exactly what happened to us.

When my mom said she booked a deluxe car (for the three of us), I envisioned a hotel-sized room with a big window. I pictured plush beds and chocolates on pillows, gourmet food on silver platters, a little table set up next to the window with a vase and a single rose. Along with little luxuries like a ceiling high enough so that I could stand completely upright. Continue reading


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That Time I Sent a Fax & Other Adventures

Boston Terrier, In Blankets

The boston terrier in his natural habitat.

I hesitate to call anything a series because it’s such a big commitment, but yes, periodically, I will be rounding up all the little everyday adventures in my everyday life.

What lucky duck won my blog giveaway?

First of all, I’d like to announce the winner of my first giveaway. Congrats Caitlin of Caitlinstern writes. She writes about writing, shares a lot of great short stories and journals her thoughts about writing. She’s also one of my first commenters from way back when this blog started.

She will be getting a copy of I Thought We Agreed To Pee In The Ocean by Alena Dillon. Even though you didn’t win, pick up a copy of the book, it’s a fun read.

Here is my three-part everyday adventure round up:

I. 

I sent a fax.

I know what you’re thinking: why, the f*ck would anybody send a fax? To weed out most of America certain types, a prospective employer asked applicants to fax, mail, or drop-off applications.

“This position requires some travel. Like back to 1993.”

Not knowing anyone with a fax, I went to our local mailing center. Mailing center dude hovered over the machine as it jerked the pages through then spit out a confirmation letter typed in a font I am sure no longer exists:

Your fax didn’t make it. We cannot tell you why. Please shove all 12 pages back into the machine. And make yourself comfortable. You’ll be here for awhile.

Mailing center dude threw up his hands in frustration as I scrolled through in-real-time status updates on my new iPhone. After three attempts, four apologies to him, and $5, I ended up mailing the darn thing.

That’s right. I used a second antiquated technology because the first didn’t work. Continue reading