Snow Thank You

My view from the treadmill at the gym. I’m working out in a Norman Rockwell painting. #pacificnorthwest

A post shared by Erika Mitchell (@parsingnonsense) on

Pretty picture, right? I tell you, there’s very little that awes my little former-Californian heart more than a bloody great deluge of snow. There’s something magical about fluffy little pieces of frozen water that are FALLING from the SKY.

It’s even more magical when it’s sneak-attack snow, like the kind we had yesterday in western Washington. TWICE. Let me explain.

I woke up Monday morning and opened my curtains as soon as I was out of bed because 1) It makes me feel like Julie Andrews when I do that and 2) I like to know what kind of weather I’m going to be dealing with while I shepherd children out to the bus stop. I blinked a few times in surprise and looked again, then reached for my glasses and fumbled them onto my face in the hopes that they might explain what my blurry vision had been trying to tell me.

It had snowed. A lot. Enough to obscure our grass, our shrubs, and, on further inspection, the road outside our house. Now, that last one is an important distinction because in Washington, snow doesn’t really cause much trouble unless it sticks to the roads and it very rarely ever does. Here in western Washington, we’re protected from the worst of the Arctic air by a crapton of mountains, so mostly we just get rain and very occasional flurries.

The last time we got snow of any note was in 2010. And before that? 2006.

This winter, though, we’ve had two big snowstorms. Weird, right? Well, it gets weirder, because yesterday we woke up to snow, had it melt in sunshine, had crazy-intense hailstorms, and then had more snow. A lot more snow. I’m guessing two inches in two hours?

In the midwest, two inches is laughable. “Ha ha!” they say to us. “Two inches of snow is bikini weather! Even for the men!”

What they lack that we don’t, however, is hills. Hills aplenty. It does not matter how many wheel drive your car has or how good your driving is, your car will slide out of control on a snow-covered and icy hill. Where I live in particular is just chock-a-block full of hills, so there were a lot of people parking on the side of the road last night.

My poor husband tried to leave early-ish last night to beat the snow home and it ended up taking him three hours to drive ten miles. Not because of the snow, mind you. The plows and salt trucks were out and the roads were fine. It was the people driving on the snow that were the problem. Traffic for no reason! So much fun.

All that to say, I love the snow. It’s terribly pretty. I’d like it to stop now, though. Let’s keep the roads and schools open. Let’s keep commutes to reasonable lengths. And, for the love of cake, let’s get some freaking sunshine around here for awhile.

I wore shorts in California a couple weeks ago and my legs were so pale the sunlight reflecting off them nearly blinded some drivers. My paleness has become a safety issue, which is my annual indicator for when I’m ready for winter to be done. So ready? Set. SPRING.

Post-Vacation Opinion Dump

Raise your hand if you’re as confused about this whole December business as I am! How’d that happen? And why am I never prepared for December? No matter what I do, I always end up feeling like December was waiting around the corner to steal my lunch money. Given how expensive Christmas shopping can be, that’s actually not a half-bad analogy.

Ok, fine. We weren't on another planet, but there was a Space Needle there.

Ok, fine. We weren’t on another planet, but there was a Space Needle there.

As for Wes and myself, we opted to spend the first few days of December in hiding to celebrate our anniversary. Sort of. We were actually in Seattle, but as far as real world things went, we were off the map. Incommunicado. Unreachable. We went dark, in intelligence terms, and, while we weren’t far away from home in distance terms, we may as well have been on a different planet while we were gone.

You take two driven, somewhat intelligent people, turn their phones off, and tell them to go relax, and you know what’s going to happen? RELAXING. At one point, Wes shook his head and said, “I was just thinking that I feel kind of tipsy, but I haven’t had anything to drink yet today, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me until I realized I was actually relaxed for the first time in forever.”

Given the ease with which we slipped into a life of leisure (one day, we watched Game of Thrones in bed until 2:30 in the afternoon), we’ve decided we will be very good retirees someday.

dinnerSo what did we do? A little bit of everything. We started at the Salish Lodge, a very nice hotel on top of a huge waterfall. Once there, we turned our phones off and got some massages. After that, we lazed around until dinner, which we ate at the Dining Room on the main level of the hotel.

Now, you might be asking yourself why Wes is wearing a casual video game t-shirt and mussed hair in the restaurant of a very fancy hotel. The answer is that he’s doing those things because they honestly do not care what you wear there. It is so liberating. Wes wasn’t even wearing shoes in this picture. He called the restaurant and told them he was too mellow to put on shoes and they were like, “Lolz, that’s ok we don’t care.”

Once we were satisfactorily chill, we left Snoqualmie for Seattle. The Hotel Monaco in downtown Seattle, to be specific. Some friends of ours recommended this hotel to us last year and we loved it so much we simply had to come back.

One of the things we love about it is how it smells. The lobby smells freaking amazing. Plus, we always stay in December so everything in the lobby is all roaring fireplaces, sparkly Christmas decorations, and comfy places to sit.

We didn’t stay indoors the whole time. We went for walks, spent one afternoon walking around in search of the perfect martini (needless to say, that was a fun afternoon!), and even managed to catch a show at both Teatro Zinzanni and PNB’s The Nutcracker.

This may have been after our afternoon sampling martinis. We regret nothing.

This may have been after our afternoon sampling martinis. We regret nothing.

My two cents? Teatro Zinzanni is excellent, as always. I’ve seen their show three times in fourteen years, so I’m far from a regular, but we have so much fun every time we go. If you’re in town and want to spend a few hours being enthralled and entertained, it’s definitely worth the money.

Especially if you enjoyed The Birdcage. Then you should definitely definitely go see it.

As for PNB’s The Nutcracker? Eh, this is a tough one. I love ballet. LOVE it. Could watch it all day. I only saw the previous iteration of PNB’s Nutcracker twice (the Stowell/Sendak one) and I was absolutely enraptured by it. The way to tree grew, the grown-up Clara, the heart-breakingly beautiful pas de deux at the end. Absolute perfection.

The new one, with choreography by Balanchine and set design and costumes by Ian Falconer, was hit and miss for me. The sets and costumes are remarkable and amazing, but the growing tree effect was kind of underwhelming compared to what came before.

Likewise, there were some dances (The Waltz of the Flowers is almost worth the price of admission just by itself) that were breathtaking, while other parts of the show that left me yawning. The whole first act is almost entirely danced by children who are acting out a Christmas party which, while adorable, is kind of a snoozefest. If I’m paying to see a professional ballet production, I’d like to see professionals doing incredible things, you know?

So anyway, those are my two cents. Should any of you be planning a visit to Seattle in the near future, I hope you find my post-vacation ramblings somewhat helpful. As for me, I’m going to try to remember how to balance a writing career with the needs and wants of the young people in my care. I reckon if I get overwhelmed, I can just remember that, no matter what, Seattle is out there, with all its martinis and hotels and good coffee and nice people.

That ought to do it.

You Sad, Bro?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, don’t like football, think Americans are weird for calling their main sport the same name as what the rest of the world calls a different sport, or, y’know, maybe an alien, the Seahawks did not win the Super Bowl. It was a nail-bitingly close game, the final fate of which was only decided during the last painful twenty-some-odd seconds.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about what it was like to live in Seattle after the championship game. It was a rush.

Too sad even to caption properly.

Too sad even to caption properly.

What it’s been like to live in Seattle after a Super Bowl loss is not a rush. Not at all. I can’t remember ever feeling so frustrated and just plain ol’ sad as I did after I turned to Wes after the fateful last interception and asked him, “Is that it? It can’t be! That can’t be it!”

So many times during the season, the Seahawks were somehow able to turn things around when they were at their most dire and pull miraculous wins out of nowhere. It just simply would not sink in that that wouldn’t be happening this time. Surely this couldn’t be the end. Not after all this excitement?

Yet it was, and you know what? It was actually pretty cool in a way.

He's super in, like, every way.

He’s super in, like, every way.

Yes, there was definitely finger pointing, but you know what sticks out for me most? Marshawn Lynch telling reporters after the game that the reason he wasn’t mad he didn’t get to run that particular ball was that football is a team sport. Russell Wilson being back at Children’s Hospital two days after a crushing loss, all smiles and encouragement for the kids getting better there. The die-hard fans I know who, rather than turning away or renouncing the team, offered words of kindness and thanks to their team for a great season.

Monday was definitely a hard day. It was rainy and I’m pretty sure everyone in the Seattle area was just plain dejected. Wes has a friend who was so upset about the whole thing, he wouldn’t even talk about anything even tangentially related to the Super Bowl.

But it was a great season, and a lot of fun to watch. So for my part, even though I’m not terribly knowledgeable about football, I want to offer my thanks to the Seahawks for a really great season. You gave us lots to be proud of, and played the Super Bowl well start to finish. We’re all proud of you, and can’t wait to watch you do what you do so well next year.

The Day All of Seattle Suffered a Simultaneous Heart Attack

I gotta tell you, living in Seattle yesterday when the Seahawks surprised the crap out of everyone by winning an improbable victory against the Green Bay Packers during what looked to be a no-scoring shut-out loss was…singular. The kind of thing I doubt many of us will live to see again.

While not every single person in Washington state was tuned in to the game, when I looked at my Facebook feed it seemed like that was the case. And for the first half, everyone I knew was livid. Where were the Seahawks? they asked. How could this be happening?

I'm sure this guy, who Google has told me is named Clay Mathews, is a super nice guy.

I’m sure this guy, who Google has told me is named Clay Mathews, is a super nice guy.

I was fairly busy chasing my children around Wes’s parents house, and even I (normally not prone to getting swept up emotionally by sporting events) was getting pretty irked by how good of a time those Packers seemed to be having while they stomped all over CenturyLink Field. There was one guy in particular who kept grinning and tossing his long blond hair behind his shoulders and I just couldn’t help but wish he’d stop smiling so dang much and also that he’d cut his hair already, my GOSH.

Half time began on a dejected note. Wes came upstairs to where I was playing with the kids and started tossing our daughter into the air because he needed her giggles to allay the stress he was feeling. When I asked how he was doing, he replied, “We’ve come back from worse.”

I will say this for my husband and his father: They never once considered turning the game off, even when the third quarter passed and a victory was looking more and more impossible.

I put the kids down for naps and joined them, resolved to experience whatever came with my husband so at the very least he wouldn’t have to re-live it later when I asked him what happened. We watched, rapt, as the impossible began to happen.

The Seahawks scored! And then they scored again! And all kinds of other football-y stuff happened and we all cringed and growled simultaneously in frustration when the Packers used the last few seconds to even the score. Over time?! How could we have to go into over time? We just scored oodles of points in, like, five minutes!

And so we all gripped blankets, arm rests, or, in Wes’s case, his own head, and held our breath until the Seahawks scored that last touch down and we knew, but couldn’t believe, the game was over. And WE HAD WON.

The game that seemed doomed to end poorly was turned on its head and all of Seattle (or, at least, the grand majority of us who were watching) had a collective heart attack. All of us who were watching at my in law’s house just looked around, dazed, as we struggled to comprehend the incredible truth that, despite a terribly disappointing first half, we were going to the Super Bowl.

Amazing. And now I have to bring a blood pressure cuff to watch the Super Bowl with Wes because I’m fairly certain if I don’t he might end up suffering a stroke or something. I’ve never seen him get so red in the face about something before.

If, on the very slim chance that one of you readers happens to be a Seahawk, will you please think of my poor husband and crush the Patriots outright in a couple weeks? The game yesterday was a hoot in retrospect, but I’m worried about what will happen to my husband if that kid of thing happens again. Also? Good luck!

My goodness, you guys. My goodness.

Go Hawks!

Living in Seattle with the Seahawks in the playoffs is interesting. It’s like the team’s colors are this state’s unofficially official dress code, and it’s perfectly acceptable to assume everyone you might meet while out in public is a fellow fan. I’m not saying you’ll definitely get your car keyed if you have a 49’ers license plate holder but…I wouldn’t count it out.

Even children and dogs are not immune from Seahawks fever. Did you know they make teeny tiny little football jerseys? They do. And you can pay a small fortune for one so your whole family can stand united in NFL team-loyal fervor.

I know what this guy's name is!

I know what this guy’s name is!

As for me? Yes, I have a Seahawks t-shirt, but I rarely wear it. I bought it on sale at Costco but it almost never makes it out of my closet. Why? Because I feel like a fraud every time I put it on. I can barely name three members of the Seahawks, the only football term I’m super solid on is a touchdown, and my first thought when I hear the term, “Turnover” is still, “Mmmmmmmmm, pastry.”

But Wes loves the Seahawks. I’m pretty sure he loves me more then he loves the Seahawks, but during playoff season it’s a close call. (Ha ha, Wes, just kidding! A little.)

Kick-off for the playoffs game against the Panthers is in a little less than four hours, so I’m legally required, as a citizen of Washington state, to conclude this post with, “Go Hawks!”

If they win this game, they could go to the Super Bowl, and wouldn’t that be great?