Celebration time, come on.

Well, tonight was the official end of my programming year for youth group, and I've decided to celebrate by sitting alone in my apartment and writing a blog. I'd considered sitting alone in my apartment and watching an episode or two of "The Office", but I needed to get online anyway so I could order a replacement rear-view mirror for my 1987 Toyota Corolla. (A week or so ago, inexplicably, I found that someone had apparently torn off my driver's side mirror. There was no broken glass on the ground, no mirror in sight, and no damage to the car elsewhere, so someone either had a miraculously clear brush with my driver's side, or thought it would be either funny or a worthy challenge to cleanly tear off the mirror from a 1987 Toyota Corolla. We live beside Seattle Mental Health, so it could be that someone thought the mirror was threatening them in some way as well, so they had to break it off for their own safety. In that case, I should probably feel guilty about still being angry.)

Along with finishing up youth programming, I also just got back from yet another weekend trip--this time to charming Bellingham, which is a college town about an hour and a half north of here. I drove up to drop Angel off for a flight back to Ohio for her Marine/soon-to-be-Iraq veteran brother's wedding. I stayed because I was planning on attending a mandatory Anti-racism training for work. It wasn't mandatory because I'd committed a hate crime or anything--just because it's the sort of training that liberal religious types think their employees should be required to go through. Maybe the type where you talk about how we're all really a little bit racist, and how we really need to aim for diversity in our churches, and how difficult it is to achieve because we don't know any diverse people and are uncomfortable starting conversations with them. I'm not sure though, because it got cancelled due to lack of interest. I was a bit surprised, because my interest level was at least middling. I would have thought that would be enough.

In any case, I ended up spending a few days in the area anyway, because I'd already paid for two nights lodging at the KOA in Lynden (a small town with a fake Dutch theme). It was pleasant enough, because I picked up "Naked", a book of essays by David Sedaris, and spent most of Friday reading it. If you haven't read him, you should, because he's a crazy genius--his life has been extremely bizarre, but he writes satire so it keeps you off balance. You're constantly questioning what is true and what isn't. One of my favorite essays was "Dinah the Christmas Whore". I don't know if it made me any less racist, but I did learn worthwhile lessons about the Christmas spirit as it relates to whores.

Visiting Bellingham, which is not dissimilar from Dunedin, I also got to thinking that the Pacific Northwestern United States really is about as similar a place to New Zealand as we could have found. They're found at similar latitudes--Us in the North and NZ in the South. They're both dominated by one big city (Seattle/Auckland) with several smaller ones taking up the rear (Portland, Tacoma, Spokane, Bellingham/Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin), and lots of surrounding extremely unpopulated areas. They both have a weird tension between strong conservative tendencies and strong liberal tendencies: the populations are a mix of hunters, loggers and farmers vs. Greenies, Hippies and Academics. They both take pride in being undiscovered, unspoiled, and clean and green (not true in either case, to some extent). Both are relatively non-Christian, with only about 10% in both places claiming any real church affiliations. Both are new, having been settled around the same time in the late 1800's. The thing that really stuck out this weekend for me though as that both are also incomparably beautiful, with mountains and ocean both extremely accessible, and often visible from the same view out the windshield. Once you get out of Seattle (or Auckland), you're really surrounded by stunning scenery. This weekend, I took my first trip to a town called Anacortes (a ferry launch similar to Picton in New Zealand) and the San Juan Islands (Marborough Sound), and it was fantastic, water and mountains all mixed up together. I've thought that the Olympic Peninsula is the most similar area I've seen in the US to Milford Sound in NZ, and Western Washington as a whole has the constant sort of striking beauty that you find in NZ.

Don't get me wrong, I still think that NZ is an unmatched paradise, corrupted only by a lack of a decent entertainment industry and a troubling tendency towards over-exposure of the male thigh in sporting costumes. For about a year and a half after moving here, I really couldn't look at Washington scenery without thinking "Yeah, it's nice, but it's no NZ". However, now I think I'm starting to grow out of it and appreciate what we've got here. It really is a beautiful place. The most underrated state in the US, if you ask me. But you didn't, so I'll stop blabbering. I think I will try to fit in an episode of "The Office" after all.


Anonymous said…
The way you talk about this PNW--I might have to visit sometime. It almost sounds as good as KY.
Unknown said…
Come visit. I prefer it to KY, but I do have to say that it seems like most Southerners hate Seattle--not initially, but after spending awhile. Most Seattle-ites are uptight and hurried, and Southerners who move here seem to frequently break down and leave for mellower pastures. Restaurant service comes off as extremely bad when you first come here--waitresses really just want to be left alone, and they tend to leave you alone as well, unless dropping a little hint that it's time for you to shuffle along because there are people waiting for your table.
Anonymous said…
To see me move in a kitchen during a rush is to forget that I would prefer to lay around all day in the shade whilst quaffing cold beer. I know the value of both paces. I find there is a time for being civilized and Southern, and a time to run people underfoot. Seattle is on my destination list, hopefully you two will still be there if I arrive. If I come out there it'll be within the next two years.