Friday, November 19, 2010

Bumbershoot 2010

Corey and I had tickets to bumbershoot for months. If you haven't been to a bumbershoot, it is difficult to explain three days of jam packed music, arts, and let's face it, weirdness.   We have gone to several since we moved to the Pacific Northwest  and have always left more than satisfied.  It was here that Jeff Tweedy put his arm around Corey's shoulders, I discovered that combing my hair was an option,  and in 2002, was enlightened with a name for our 3rd child.  I was fully expecting another life-altering experience in 2010.  

The night before we were to leave, Corey had been overwhelmed with work and travels and the thought of being immersed in crowds and traffic sent him over the edge of irritation.  He was ready for a quiet weekend at home.  I had been overwhelmed with his work and his travels and was ready to be NOT home.  Since we already had the tickets and the hotel room, it seemed like a reasonable solution for me to have a weekend getaway.   It had been a long summer and I hadn't had much time to myself.  And I was fairly 100% positive that my family needed me to have some time to myself.  

  But then I thought about the music that I would be listening to alone.  I am fine with going to a movie by myself, prefer going on solo bike rides, and in general, love solitude.  Concerts, however, are an exception.  I want someone with me to rebound my excitement, to reverberate the experience.  

As I drove out of town, I almost jokingly sent  a mass e-mail  to my seven sisters with less than a spark of hope that any one of them would be able to come on almost no notice.   It took all of about 3 minutes before I got a positive response.    With epic amounts of coordination and juggling of schedules and childcare, within hours, three of my seven sisters began the 12 hour drive from Salt Lake to Seattle...all night long.   It was another Bumbershoot miracle.  

Meanwhile, I took advantage of my alone time.  I stopped at all the scenic outlooks that we tend to avoid when we have the kids.  I turned up the music and sang and talked to myself.

 Snoqualmie Falls is a 270 foot cascading waterfall located about 30 miles outside of Seattle   I am usually too busy keeping my children alive near cliffs such as these and therefore am unable to pause and read the historical details.  Today, I could stop and read.  Maybe it was the shock of time to myself, the overabundance of diet coke,  or the eager anticipation of having sister time, but I was emotionally struck by this photo taken in July of 1899.  To my concerned fellow tourists, I blamed my tears on the mist of the waterfall. I don't know the story behind this photo, but I love how the women who are on the edge of the cliff are being supported by the women behind.  I imagine it gave these women a bit more confidence to lean over and view the vast beauty before them, knowing that someone had their back.  I also imagine that these women took turns being the supporter and the supported.   
It has been a rough year for a few of my sisters.   And while they are on the edge of an abyss, some of us are behind, holding them firm just as they have been behind me when I have been the one on the edge. 
It is also those times when we are closest to the cliffs that we can recognize the most beauty, especially if we know that we are not alone.

I woke up to the knocks of my exhausted siblings at around dawn.  I let them sleep for a few hours, and then we were off.  We spent two days at Bumbershoot and one day just exploring Seattle.  We laughed a lot:  We heard great music:  We only got stopped by the cops once (for jaywalking);  We ate a million cliff bars and a little real food;  We pulled off a few good dares, such as attempting to enter the high-priced Bob Dylan concert with our Chucky Cheese I.D. cards;  We moshed in a sweaty mosh pit....for a minute.  It was life-changing.

69,000 Penny Arcade Exposition attendees were also crawling around the city, many of them dressed as their favorite arcade character.  We tried to enter the convention center, but were turned away on account of our lack of freakishness......or our lack of tickets.  I still haven't figured out why so many of them wore these cones on the top of their heads.

The Blarney Stone in Ireland is the only other tourist attraction that houses more germs than the gum wall in Seattle.  People have been adding their gum here since 1933.  It is an evolving work of art with the artists coming from all over the world and from all walks off life.  Is it strange that I think it quite beautiful?  Coming from a family of 12, we do not shy away from bacteria.  When I die, and people wonder what I contributed to the world, it can always be said, 'she added at least 3 pieces of gum to the gum wall.  It wouldn't be the same without her.'  At least I will have that.

Oh, how I love street performers, especially he who can hula hoop, strum the guitar behind his head, and play the harmonica at the same time.  

And nerdy boys who jam on washboards.

And barefooted strummers in colorful garb.  Love, love, love.

My sisters were convinced that someone was knocking from inside this trunk.   I was convinced they had been inhaling some second hand Ganja.  

I introduced my sisters to the culinary artist,  Thai Tom.  We were so close to his cooking that we had oil and/or his sweat flying in our faces.

Trampled by Turtles....bluegrass band from Duluth

This band was pure fun.  I had never heard of them before was quickly taken in by the energy.  The Dead-Head like fans were more fun to watch than the band itself.

Lay Low:  Her real name is Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir and she hails from Iceland.  A combination of folk, blues, and country, her music was sweet and honest.  We took a seat and Lay Low for Lay Low. 
Bob Schneider 
Julia developed a musician crush on Bob Schneider and I developed a "you are an interesting person" crush on his accordian player.
Jenny Lewis and Johnny.  I love her work with Rilo Kiley.  Then she got married to this guy Johnny and     I am not such a big fan of her post-nuptial melodies.

Laura Veirs.  I have enjoyed her music in the past, but for some reason it didn't do anything for me today.  

We were making fun of this guy with his fur vest and man purse until a few people came up and asked for his autograph.  Anyone know who this is? 

The Constellations.  You just can't look away and the tambourine girls were hypnotic.  If I had to  describe this band, I would say,  Hip Hop, Blues, 80's rock, and a little bit of what the hell all rolled into one.

#1 Favorite performance;  Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  Some have said that he is a cult leader.  I must admit that if he was passing out Kool-Aid, I probably would have imbibed.  Of course, so many people were smooshing me that I would have certainly spilled the drink before I could get it to my mouth.  

#2 Favorite Performance;  The Thermals.  
I am becoming a believer in Sigmund Freuds crowd behavioral theory.  I  almost allowed my weight to be supported and passed around by complete strangers.   
My cousin was able to meet us for a few hours.  She lasted the longest in the Thermals Mosh Pit.  And for those of you who are wondering, she is only drunk on life.  

I walked into this exhibition and my throat started pulsating with emotion.  I despise waxing cheesy, but sometimes there is no way to adequately describe something without dripping in fromage(it sounds better in french).  I found this too be a frighteningly stunning piece of art that I would never put in my living room.  

Who wants to come next year?

Friday, November 12, 2010

putting things to rest

Ansel came down to our room before dawn one morning, obviously traumatized.

"I had the worst dream of my life," he exclaimed as he pounced under the covers beside me.

"Do you want to tell me about it?" I asked as I readjusted my sleeping position to accommodate him and his sprouting limbs.


His body felt unusually stiff.  His clutch on my arm especially tight.  I knew this paralysis well, having suffered from multiple nightmares, always starring a kidnapper crouching under my bed, politely waiting for me to fall asleep before he snatched me.   I would be safe if I never fell asleep or didn't let my feet dangle in front of his face.  As the memories enveloped my mind, I enveloped my arms around Ansel.

In a few minutes, his muscles slackened and softened into slumber.  I soon followed.

I assumed this dream had safely found it's own resting place, far from the reaches of the 6 year old psyche. Turns out it was one of those dreams that refuses to hibernate until it has devoured every last morsel of bravery and rationality in the possession of it's prey.   My own childhood nightmares led me to believe that  the evil intention of every person that crossed my path or the path of my siblings was to steal us, eat us, and nail our inedible hair to their wall in remembrance of their conquest.  This led to some rather unpleasant trips to the grocery store or park.  I knew that Ansel was suffering in a similar way when his countenance changed as darkness fell.

"Mom, I want to move to the city. I want to go to summer school.  What do bears like to eat?  Are bears hibernating yet?  Can bears turn doorknobs?  I like the day time better than the night.   I am NOT going outside to play ever again. What if the bears in the mountains get hungry and smell our dinner? Can we eat away from the window?  What if it is a nerd bear?  [After some questioning, I found that he meant a bear with rabies].  Can bears pick up cars? Could a bear find our house if it had a compass?"

"Ansel, did your bad dream have a bear in it?" I took a wild guess.

"Yes, and it was wearing a pumpkin on it's head and reached into our house and grabbed me and I think it ate me, but I woke up before he swallowed."  Ansel's  dream confession was accompanied by tears and an open armed invitation for me to swallow him with a hug.  I don't get many of these invitations anymore.

I must make a confession of my own.  Part of me wanted him to remain vulnerably need let me hold him.   I almost wanted to say, "Yes, it is very likely that a bear could come here and reach in the window to get you; but as long as you are staying close to your mother and letting her hug you all she wants, he won't dare bother you."

Oh, how tempting it was.

But a quote by Marie Curie came into my mind with radioactive force.  "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."

I felt impressed that we  conquer this fear by learning all that we could about bears.  For the next several days, we looked up the hibernation patterns of different kinds of bears, what they eat, what to do if you are confronted by one, how many people have been killed by bears, the microscopic chances of being killed by a bear, etc. (I probably didn't need to tell him that he was more likely to be killed by his father).

This went on for almost a week and darkness came earlier and earlier each night.  Ansel faced his fears and asked, "Can we do some more research on bears?"  And we did.

There were still some lingering irrational thoughts and desires to bring pepper spray in his lunch box.

We all have irrational fears.

Yesterday, we were window shopping in Coeur d'lane and saw a bronze stature of a bear, standing erect and looking rather menacing.

"Can I buy that, mom?"  Ansel asked.

I think we've put that fear to rest.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

costa rica....our amazing race...first leg

Vanessa (married to Corey for 14 years, who she claims, doesn't usually look so disgusted when kissed)
Corey (married to Vanessa for 14 years and doesn't feel comfortable taking kissing photos)
Savanna (currently surviving Jr. High and a trip with her family)

Emmy (concerned about what she is missing at school)

Ansel  (6 yr old wildlife expert)

To begin the first leg of the race, team rose before dawn and made their way to the Spokane airport, where they endure irritating layovers and plane changes in Denver and Houston before landing in San Jose, Costa Rica at 9 pm Central American Time.   Teams were split during their travel.   Ansel quickly makes an enibriated friend who insists on oversharing his PEOPLE magazine, Smore's poptarts (Judd team doesn't know if it is more disturbing that the grown man is drunk, or that a grown man is eating smores poptarts), spilled drinks, and spit.  Vanessa sits by a young man who naps in jerking spurts touching down on her shoulder now and then and who apologizes for his mustache that he claims is grown solely for his one-way ticketed trip/new life to Costa Rica.

As soon as the plane touches the ground in San Jose, the family sees their travel weary reflections from the cleanest airport floor they have ever seen.  "Welcome to Costa Rica!"  an airport employee exclaims.  "Isn't it beautiful?"  Since we hadn't stepped outside yet, I still had to admit that the floors were beautiful, but perhaps we should see the rest of the country.   What the Judd's hoped would be a quick rental car retrieval is, in reality,  a purposely confusing labryinth of paperwork in which, in the inevitable event of  damage the unforgiving Costa Rican roads will inflict on the borrowed vehicle,  the Judds may have contracted to hand over their next born child, a trillion colones, or more likely, their blonde 12 year old, who is getting far too much attention.  Team Judd must quickly learn the exchange rate which varies from  500 -620 colones per  U.S. Dollar, depending on who you are speaking with.  And when the Rental Car Official asks the Judds to point out the damage on the vehicle before they leave, they take one walk around and say, "Um...maybe you should ask us where there isn't damage."

(Ansel thinks this currency is way more hip than ours.  Sharks on money is the coolest. "Does it cost one shark or more than one shark?" he asks) 

Team Judd soon discovers that the suspension and alignment have a pact with the devil and Corey must apply brute unyielding force to the steering wheel just to prevent us from careening into oncoming traffic, cattle, or deep canyons;  furthermore, he keeps forgetting to put in the clutch, as it as been years since he's driven a stick shift.   These factors, combined with the hellacious road conditions and the realization that none of the imbrogliated roads actually connect and perpetually lead them to a dead end on a railroad track or into the lair of "perros bravos," morphs the responsibly planned,  mapped, and printed directions to the nearby Hotel La Rosa into a clownishly nightmaric journey in which they alternately laugh and swear, tempting them to make their own pact with the devil,  who is so obviously in charge of this place, hoping to reach the hotel alive.

Team is Tired
Team goes to sleep
Rooster Crows
Dogs Bark
Corey does not sleep