Seattle.

Here’s the second post of my mother, Joan’s, blog takeover!  My parents travel to Seattle en route to Alaska!

Seattle.

Rick and I have always wanted to visit Seattle. When we decided to go to Alaska, we developed an elaborate plan to extend our vacation to include this eclectic city.  With  a  3 am ride to the airport courtesy of Erica and Ricky, we arrived by noon.  I knew we were in trouble when our shuttle driver started driving back to the airport. “He was new to the neighborhood” he told me.  “Really? So am I!” I said under my breath.

What a blast we’ve had! 

Here are some of our highlights:

In Seattle!

In Seattle!

 

Pikes Market - we were lucky enough to visit this venue multiple times thanks to its proximity to the Marriott Waterfront.  Go right before it opens to watch the vendors setting up.  The sights, sounds, and smells are amazing.   Not to mention the fact that we ate our way through it (proshkuyprorusky, three sisters bakery, Lowells).

at the original starbucks

with a new friend

City Pass - we played tourist and bought this pass for $69 each.  We had sunset cocktails at the top of the Space Needle, cruised the Puget Sound, and enjoyed the Aquarium.. The aquarium is not just for kids, my big kid loved!  We had fish and chips on a pier and fed our fries to the seagulls in honor of our niece Samantha!  (She loves those little birdies!)

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Erica, my sister: “Watch out…he only has a 30 minute loading time.”

Marriott Waterfront is a classy boutique hotel right across from the cruise ship terminal ( we are not that smart….instead we are traveling several hundred more miles to catch our ship).  The hubby’s platinum status with Marriott gave us access to the concierge level and the indoor/outdoor Infiniti pool is a plus.  Classy joint.

Our last afternoon we visited Pioneer Square and did the Bill Spiedel’s underground city tour. The business district (and I mean every business district) burned to the ground in the late 1800s and the original city sidewalks and streets are literally underground. Decided not to do the paranormal version of the tour.

Mr. Restaurant dug it.  

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at the original starbucks, yes they are using a selfie stick

Which brings me to the normal of Seattle….its homeless population.   Everywhere we went, there were homeless. It was heartbreaking to see so many people suffering.   It has become an epidemic throughout our country and my heart aches for humanity.  What is wrong with our system?   What is wrong with us?. The most ironic scenario was the man set up across from our hotel carrying the sign “I swallowed my pride but I am still hungry”.  The homeless wander the streets with their pets…my fur babies have no idea how lucky they are.

I hope to always remember Seattle fondly. The reality is that I will always remember the homeless of Seattle more.

 

Presenting, Joan Tourist.

Just to recap, my mother and father are going to Alaska for their 30th Anniversary. My mom, Joan, has graciously volunteered to take over Driftyland for the majority of their trip. Without further adieu…

 

In less than 12 hours, my husband and I will head to the airport to begin what most people would call “the trip of a lifetime”.  To me, the last 30 years of marriage that we are going to be celebrating has been “my trip of a lifetime”.   Honestly it has been more of an adventure.

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In NYC

When I say the words “30 years”, I find it hard to fathom.  Most people react by and saying “WOW…..that’s really awesome”.   Our family and friends would probably use the word “unbelievable” rather than “awesome”.  Persistent is a word that infinitely describes both of our personalities.

The secret to our long tenure is definitely patience.  I have a memory like an elephant.  On our wedding night, we were dropped off at a hotel near the airport and Rick told me “to suck it up and carry my own bags!”  I could not help but wonder what I had gotten myself into.

In Florida

In Florida

Rick has told me “to suck it up” many times over the years by encouraging me with tough love. When I was a little girl, I wanted to live in a 4 bedroom Colonial house, have 5 children, and be married to the man of my dreams.   I had no idea what kind of person the man of my dreams would be.   Someone just like my father?  Doubtful.  Someone famous?  Not likely.  Someone perfect? Impossible. Instead I married a boy who turned into that man.  My husband continues to challenge me every day by asking me to look beyond my own self and “to be the bigger person Jones”.  I need more than my share of reminders.

Rick Randall is a kind and sensitive man, a hard worker, an excellent father, and true friend.  BTW…..he’s been in my face since I starting writing this blog annoying the hell out of me and finally admitting that “suck it up” was only the first of many comments he has since regretted.

Happy Anniversary Mr. Restaurant.  Joan Tourist is looking forward to our future adventures together especially at 3 am tomorrow morning……carrying my own bags of course.

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28 Candles

When I was 21, I spent the summer in South Jersey. I’ve hidden this well, mainly because for that summer, I was a waitress at T.G.I.Fridays and was seriously rocking a hair-extensioned Hannah Montana look. I worked until 2 or 3 in the morning and dated jerks. I spent evenings playing cards with my family friends and got my first tattoo. For my 21st birthday, my friend Becky threw me a party where we all dressed in colored saran wrap.

Oh, Hannah.

Proof.

I know…right?

We’ve all done crazy things. I can say that every year, of the past 28 years, has been a complete surprise (especially that one). Each year has been challenging, and invigorating. I did things I never thought I’d do, some without saran wrap.

Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of wonderful things - hanging out with Catherine and Dan in Blondos, Iceland, chain smoking cigarettes with Tassy Pankow at 4 AM, and house-sitting a grumpy, grey cat named Raisins in Northern England for two weeks. Meeting Oprah Winfrey and The Avett Brothers, coaching junior high cheerleading in Topsail Beach, and driving up to Rochester on weekends in college with Lane, blasting Michael MacDonald and Britney Spears. Singing terrible karaoke on a cruise. Racing to City Hall with Jeff McReynolds after the Phillies won the World Series, and staying up all night watching Woody Allen movies.

On the Arctic Adventure school bus, heading to the glacier.

On the Arctic Adventure school bus, heading to the glacier.

Hopping on the train to D.C. for the weekend to meet up with Jasmin and William to work at Audienti, taking a last minute trip to Chelsea to attend a Jaguar event for Empire Covers. Exploring Paris with Marion, working for the Greater Philadelphia Student Film Festival, cruising around Mt. Hood with Sarah Charniak, and spending the weekend in Palm Springs with A.J. Friedman. Hanging out with Sophia Bush. Living off rotisserie chicken and olives in Nice for a week. Visiting my cousin Logan every summer, taking trips to North Carolina every weekend during my senior year of college and getting featured on the CW Philly for my blog.

With Sophia Bush

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The list goes on.

Then again, there were a lot of not so wonderful things. The night that my ex broke up with me, after two years of dating, before taking off for a weekend with his friends. When I decided to leave Philadelphia because I couldn’t afford to live there. On a bus in Reykjavik, when I realized I had to I give up Russell. The afternoon my parents picked me up at cheerleading practice, and told my that my Aunt – my best friend and idol, had taken her own life. The day that a doctor told me that I might not be able to have children, after two miscarriages.

But as is life.

Because the one thing I’ve learned from my 28 years on Earth is that life is inconsistent, thrilling, and occasionally unfair. I’ve also learned that there’s incredible value in both consistency and unpredictability. There’s value in surrounding yourself with people, and being your own best friend.

So in the past 28 years, I’ve made it a point not to leave any stone unturned. I’ve taken every chance I’ve felt a twinge of enthusiasm for and I’ve seen it through to the very end. Everything, everyone I’ve felt passionate about, I’ve pursued, until it didn’t make sense to pursue any longer.

When given the choice, I’ve chosen to act. That guy in college that I was just friends with, but was crazy about? Fuck yeah, I kissed him. That job that I really didn’t like, or see going anywhere? Fuck yeah, I quit it. That pull, that insatiable push to go to Iceland, to Durham, and to Philadelphia? Fuck yeah, I followed it. 

No regrets, bitch.

I hope to continue that go-and-get-it drive in the next year, the next 20 years. It’s something I want to follow through with for the rest of my life. I don’t want to ever forget the feeling of taking an incredible risk, even when it doesn’t work out.

I don’t ever want to forget what it feels like to try. 

I want to keep chasing “it”… whatever “it” is, forever.

 

 

Small Worlds

For the past few weeks, I’ve been settling into Durham.

So far, I love it. It feels really good to live somewhere that just clicks. I haven’t felt like this since I lived in Wilmington.

Boom.

But living in Durham has a price. I didn’t realize what that was until this morning.

For starters, I woke up at 4.

Not intentionally, I just couldn’t sleep. I had a kickball game the night before, which of course, was following by drinking. After playing in the heat, probably not being hydrated enough, and a particularly busy day at work, I was exhausted.

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It kind of feels like this.

But still,  I woke up at 4. 4 AM. I tried all of the usual getting back to sleep tricks – flipping the pillow over, sleeping on top of the covers, turning on Netflix for background noise. I prayed for awhile.

Nothing worked.

The exhaustion was mostly from the day before, but admittedly, I’ve been stressed. The kind of stress that’s manageable, but historically, makes me tense and abrupt. Somewhere between snapping at Grace that I didn’t have time to talk to her (when she just wanted to ask me if I wanted some pie, I’m an asshole), to nearly biting West’s head off for misspelling a word in a file name (to be fair, he did it twice)….I realized that something was off.

I just didn’t know what it was.

So after tossing and turning for nearly two hours, I just got up and went to grab breakfast at Whole Foods.

As I scanned the High Brews (a particularly addictive line of cold brew coffees), I thought about everything I had ahead of me that day. Same lineup as always: what projects I had going on at work, how much time I would have for my blog (if any), whether or not I should go to Wilmington that weekend.

That’s the moment when it hit me: my world is very small.

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at motorco

I live less than 10 minutes away from my office. I’m close friends with half of our office, and I spent a ton of time with them outside of the office. A few weeks ago, Tassy and I went to her house on a Friday night and spent three hours drinking wine and talking about one of our clients.

I spend at least three or four nights a week at the same bars. I go to lunch with the same people. But oh, I just joined a kickball team…

…and all of my roommates joined.

None of these things are bad. In fact, everything I’m suggesting is “small” is actually something I love doing. It’s provided me with a sense of stability I always lacked before.

But the consequence of a small world is being stuck in patterns. Having the same conversations. Facing the same problems.

And if your world is small enough, those problems and patterns are feel so much bigger than they actually are. So much, that it can kind of feel like the walls are closing in. It’s only right before I feel like Han in the trash compactor, that I remember these patterns and problems aren’t walls, they’re a set of circumstances I’m stuck in.

The only reason I feel like they’re so monumental is because I can’t see beyond them.

My world is too small.

I feel like a lot of people experience this kind of thing. I’ve been talking to Tassy about a super awesome but still being figured out project I’m going to start on the blog…so I don’t think it’ll last.

But the realization – “hey, your world is kind of small,” kind of blows off the walls. It makes you realize how miniscule even your worst problems are. It wipes away anything lackluster, anything forced, and leaves room for bigger and better things.

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This blog requires at least one Iceland photo per post.

A bigger world.

Hello, Durham.

“Dada?”

A chubby finger is pointed at me.

I raise my eyebrows at the toddler staring at me, and give her a look that clearly says: Nope.

I end up talking to her for a few minutes, through baby babble, gestures, and some help from her actual father. Her name is Julia, she’s two, and she loves jazz. The jazz part I inferred from her breaking into dance when Sinatra starts playing.

I’m at Beyu, a coffee shop/jazz club in downtown Durham

Beyu.

Beyu.

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Adventurous Love & War

After close to seven months of singleness, after six years of very un-singleness, I have determined one thing about dating.

I don’t like it.

After spending most of my twenties trying to stress the importance of having a relationship with my parents, clinging to someone’s arm after one too many drinks, and really really wanting him (whoever he was) to buy me flowers for no reason, I quit.

I buy my own flowers now.

here are some

here are some

I know that sounds cynical. I don’t intend it to.

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Erica Denise Randall: A Bad Ass B!tch 22 Years in the Making

A few months ago, I interviewed my sister Erica for Conversations. What she said moved me so much, I couldn’t write about it. I needed time to process.

I was talking to her about who inspires her. She talked about our family; parents, brother, and other sister, Sharon, as well as her high school mentor, Mike Myers. She spoke of how their passion and encouragement inspired her.

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Art That Matters, Damien Rice & Everything

A few weeks ago, I left YouTube on auto-play. My sound was off. I was working on something or another, and absentmindedly, I switched the audio back on.

“We could get a house and some boxes on the lawn, we could make babies and accidental songs.”

That’s all I heard. A haunting, heartsick voice. I immediately started the song back to the beginning, and then binge-listened to Damien Rice’s 9 for the rest of the afternoon.

I was at work, so it had to be in-between meetings and conversations.

“I’m sorry…I’m listening to an amazing song…” I’d explain, so hesitant to pull off my headphones.

Don’t get me wrong, I love music. But I don’t remember the last time an artist made me feel so much. The songs were enchanting, beautiful… and sad.

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I fucking love this movie.

This movie never ceases to remind me how right, and how wrong, I can be.

I saw 500 Days of Summer six years ago.

I was sitting in my apartment at The Piazza at Schmidts, one of many residences over the past decade. I had never seen 500 Days before, but had heard good things. The various messages of the film resonated with me so deeply, I cried.

Like, sobbed.

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Goodbye, Raleigh.

“Are you laughing at me?” I asked, running up from the shoreline.

Elizabeth, dusted in sand and laying on her beach towel, giggles.

“Yes, you’re so cute,” she says in her slightly southern drawl, before going back to reading her art magazine.

A few moments before, I had been standing on the shoreline. I was literally hopping in and out of the surf – a humorous little “will she or won’t she” jig as I contemplated getting in the water.

Finally, I just ran in.

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Basic beach.

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