Fog

We’ve been in Seattle for 2 full days. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to pack up all of our groceries and clothes and stuff them into the Prius tomorrow morning. It’s nice to stay somewhere for more than 2 days.

While I do enjoy traveling–particularly avoiding tourist attractions, favoring bookstores and small vegan cafes–a significant chunk of my favorite kind of life occurs in the security of some kind of private space. A room where I can wear slippers and sit by the window, cell phone on silent; a booth in a coffee shop by an outlet; my bed, toes warming. It’s harder to create these spaces while traveling.  You always have to be hooked into something: maps or weather, traffic forecasts or which one-way street had free parking before 6pm.

Seattle is wet-cold: the kind of cold that I know well growing up tucked between ocean and river. Winters in Wilmington are wet, cool, and breezy. Magnolias and pine trees persist through whatever semblance of a winter actually occurs (a solitary frost, a half-inch coating of powder canceling school for a week).

When the fog breaks, you can see the Space Needle from different parts of the city. Today Chett and I learned that it was unveiled for the 1962 World’s Fair. Typical post-Sputnik American phallus worship. Yet it’s charming. It looks out of place, alight and still sporting its Christmas tree zenith (at least until Wednesday). Like it’s from a future we haven’t reached. (Still waiting on my jet pack.)

Can’t wait for my monthly bus pass to activate in 2014. Time to do some real exploring.

SLC Punk?

But where were all the punks? I saw lots of Mormons and their hundreds of children. There was a yummy Chinese restaurant with lots of vegetarian food that stayed open all day on Xmas (thanks!), and a movie theatre with an espresso machine.

But no punks.

Chett and I stayed in our teeny tiny AirBnb all day and watched movies. We gave each other some presents (Octavia Butler for me, a book on Native American mythology for him) and I tried to ignore the Mormons.

The views made that a lot easier.  The mountains ringing SLC are stunning. We drove in at night like we did in Denver, and again awoke to glorious snow capped vistas. I called them vistas; it might be the only accurate thing to say of the Utah Mountains.

Other than that, it’s a total wasteland out there. Thus further defending my theory that cultural centers must be founded and maintained by water (trade routes, long-term survival).

In Boise now. Already been to the two places in town that know what vegan food is. Looking forward to Seattle. I’ll leave it at that.

Denver

It has snowed both nights we’ve been in Denver, and each morning, the sun comes up and melts all the snow, no matter what the temperature. I think this is a pretty ideal way to experience winter, as every morning is a frosted, cheery event, and the day that follows is bright and unbelievably blue. It could be worse.

Denver has a homelessness problem. There is a stark contrast between the glittering glass facades of the shopper-friendly downtown and the rows of bearded men wrapped in threadbare winter coats. Being vegan seems incredibly bourgeois at times like this; all of the vegan-friendly places (here and everywhere) are just as shiny and into recycling as the strips of chain restaurants downtown, and they cater to the rich white people who “diet” as a verb. 

I like to think that my veganism is much more than a diet: a part of my feminism, my activism, the way I try to live my life participating in as few horribly harmful things as I can manage. When veganism becomes a tourist attraction (which it has in Asheville), a commodity for neoliberal REI-wearers to buy and feel good about, then I start to get annoyed. What else can be commodified?

The things that we place value on are the things that can be purchased; those who cannot purchase (people in poverty and/or experiencing homelessness) are excluded from the ideological basis of so much of American culture. The folks without places to sleep here in Denver mar the natural beauty that I can capture on my iPhone and post to the internet.

Sometimes things become so contradictory that I just want to take a nap.

Truth: Denver is gorgeous. It sparkles like an ice cream cake. The mountains behind the city loom and shadow. I am drinking tea and ate a vegan croissant and I am working on my grad school writing sample. Chett is the best travel buddy (but don’t ask him to carry your leftover pizza). 

Yesterday we were cold and wanted a drink. We went into the nearest bar and lots of TVs were showing sporting events. Chett and I watched some football and drank beer. Go Broncos!

Colorado

Now in a part of the country that I have never seen. Looking forward to awakening to massive snow-capped ridges tomorrow, not to mention the all-vegan bakery and cafe that I intend to camp out at to finish my grad school application.

Snowing charmingly.

Nebraska

Nebraska gets a lot of shit. It is pretty weird. Everyone has guns and eats a lot of feedlot beef. Not to mention the incredible volume of corn. Oh my lord the corn. (Nebraska’s college football team mascot is literally a white guy in a flannel shirt and cowboy hat: a Cornhusker).

Omaha is pretty cute as far as Anytown, U.S.A. cities go. At least the part where the strip malls end and the old houses begin.  Plus Malcolm X was born here (and the KKK subsequently burned his house down. Cool.).

I start to get a little freaked out when every man that Chett and I interact with completely ignores me and only speaks to him (despite his nose ring). Plus the fact that literally every one of my cousins has gotten married/knocked up/a nice house in the suburbs in the last year. Good for them, but jeepers give me a break.

My family is also obsessed with World War II. Still. As if the lauded Allied Powers didn’t slaughter millions of colonized/brown people whenever they got the chance. Sometimes I don’t know how to have conversations with people.

I guess I’m missing my friends who know about things like cultural imperialism and heteronormativity. Can you tell that I miss the liberal arts writing center?

Chett and I discovered a kick-ass little natural foods store where, instead of just throwing near-expired product in the garbage (*cough*wholefoods*cough*), they sell items at discounted prices. Got some green juices for $3, plus some hella cheap kombucha. We’re both feeling a little on the sickly side, so probiotics are key.

Pilsen

My dear friend Brook has lived in Chicago for 5 years and I have never visited. Until now. She lives in an area called Pilsen, which just reminds me of pilsner, the light beer which was so prevalent in Prague that I will forever associate the two.

Anyway, it’s incredibly cold here. I like cold but I am running low on long-sleeved shirts kind of cold. Like 12 degrees wind chill at 1 degree kind of cold. It’s invigorating, excuses excessive wine consumption, and encourages all-day (and indoor) scarf wearing. In short, fabulous. 

Adventured in the Art Institute today. Chett wrote a thorough blog post about that. Took a bunch of photos of abstract expressionist paintings for future poem composition. Ate some delicious vegan food and recalibrated with some awesome comics courtesy of Chett’s best friend.  

Now making curry and sporting some adorable slippers that used to belong to my dad. Because I’m secretly a 60 year old man.