Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Back in Action!

We've been back in town for just shy of a couple of weeks now. It was difficult to board the plane and leave Europe, there were a handful of towns and cities I could have easily made my home in, but I will admit it was nice to come home to Seattle. The weather was beautiful and sunny when we arrived as well.
Coming home was really strange. Riding the bus, which I've done at least twice daily for the last year was different having navigated public transit systems all over the European continent. It made me miss the Paris metro and Prague trams especially. A couple of new annoyances about the US now that I'm stateside again: (this is actually an old annoyance made fervent by Europe), in the States, people just stand wherever they want on the escalators, and no one really asks them to move aside to move up, if two dorks are standing abreast in front of you up the slowly crawling and ascending escalator and you maybe don't necessarily *need* a robot to climb the stairs for you, you just simply appreciate the robot's help in getting you up the stairs faster, it's almost rude to excuse yourself to pass people on the escalator here. But in *most*, not all, places in Europe, there's an unspoken rule where you stand on the right side of the escalator, and the left remains open to allow people to walk past. People will even cram their huge pieces of luggage in front of them rather than occupy the small aisle on the left-hand side of the escalator. We first noticed this phenomenon in Vancouver, BC, where again the right side of the escalator was for standing, and the left for walking. This is an amazing, revolutionary model for etiquette and efficiency, and Grayson and I are single-handedly doing our part to bring it to the States. Even if we're not in a rush, we're going to excuse ourselves all up and down the elevator on the left-hand side until the nation catches on!!! :)

Annoyance number two: trains. Oh my goodness how I love trains. And there aren't hardly any around here. Nothing like Europe. There is Amtrak, but it doesn't go anywhere, and there are a couple of commuter trains in Seattle, but they, also are not everywhere. Nor do they hardly go anywhere. We could take a train from the airport to the city, or from Prague to Munich. Rome to Paris! They were everywhere, comfortable and super-punctual (except sometimes in Germany of all places!) I wish trains were as prevalent and amazing as they are in Europe.

Though most of all, I just kind of enjoyed the feel of Europe, the people, the general way in which they do things and believe things ought to be done. The smaller portion sizes, the huge prevalence of bicycles (and bicycle lanes on the sidewalk!), the huge parks everywhere (like Seattle!), Muji stores!!!, and mostly, just the amazing culture and buildings that is everywhere around modern day real life. It's just nuts to see businessmen in expensive suits riding their bicycles to the ultra modern and high tech buildings next door to centuries-old buildings.

I did, however, miss a couple of things: more than two pairs of clothes. Free laundry in the comfort of my own home. Paper towels. Coffee the way I'm used to it. Ice cubes in every drink and free refills (though this is something that would be best gotten used to live without). Nail clippers-I never dared buying them because we always had to get on a plane in a couple of days and it would have been a waste of money. Perhaps.

Coming home to our apartment was really weird. I couldn't begin to explain it but it just felt so strange, pleasant, but totally foreign. A place with all our stuff where we could stay...it was so *weird*, even the size of it seemed strange, not like it was super tiny compared to everywhere we stayed, or super large, just ... different. As soon as we dropped our bags, I drank a diet coke which was still in the fridge, laundry was started, I took a loooong shower and put on my NORMAL clothes. Since then we've been taking it as easy as possible and I've been super lazy and not fixing up any photos or doing much of anything Europe-related. I went right back to work and have been getting back in the routine, and now this weekend we'll be in Boise, and the following weekend my mommy is visiting, so we'll be kept on our toes.

Last weekend we went out and about. Friday night we went to an art opening at Roq La Rue, a hip local gallery that specializes in pop surrealism art. The show was called "Lush Life," and featured a lot of multimedia images that attempts to bring "together painters in both the alt-art world as well as contemporary art scene, who all work within a guideline of tight technical craftsmanship as well the use of opulent and decadent imagery to convey higher inner truths and emotions. This take on 'Neo-Symbolism' is different from it's predecessor in that while it still mines the unconscious for a sense of mythic gravitas, it incorporates American culture's pervasive pop culture-flavored and cartoony aesthetic." I like that the paintings were modern but so many reminded me of the tons of paintings I saw in Europe, with high technical skill and attention to realistic detail, yet imbued with modern, symbolic elements, technologies or techniques. I even found one I adored so much I'd consider paying $3200 for...if I ever had that to burn on a painting...Mia Araujo's 'Across the Nile.' Check out more images from the show here.

I spent Saturday slumming around the downtown library, and the rest of the weekend doing some errands and chores. The weather was favorable, especially after a work week of grey, windy rain. And now it's sort of been the same this week, mostly grey and windy and rainy, and then the sun pokes out for a bit.

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