May 022015
 
Travel Toilet Faux Pas

Toilet customs can be mysterious. I never thought so growing up. You did what was necessary, dropped the toilet paper in the toilet, and flush. Simple. Even the occasional outhouse encountered during family vacations was just a variation—toilet paper, drop, and then (no) flush. But then I began to travel. The first variation of toilet […Read more]

Apr 192015
 
Hiking Pants Save My Travel Mojo

I had a moment of travel discomfort last night. I met a colleague for dinner at our hotel in Dakar, and when I mentioned my plans for today included looking for a museum and roaming about a bit, he looked at me intensely and asked, “Did you have your security briefing?” I had. Our internal […Read more]

Apr 192015
 
A Walk in Dakar

My alter ego, Anastasia, went for a walk in Dakar this afternoon. Anastasia made her first appearance several years ago in Istanbul as I tried to avoid the annoyingly persistent Turkish rug salesmen. Their usual approach was, “Hello, what is your name? Where are you from? Ah, Seattle? I have an uncle there.” But they […Read more]

Apr 132015
 
Happy Birthday, Mom

I love how family stories just pop up sometimes. Like last night. I’d called my aunt to talk about a death in the family. Suddenly we veered off into reminiscing about how she’d first come to Seattle. She and my mom were both doing clerical work at an industrial laundry company. As two young women […Read more]

Apr 062015
 
Nyet to Russian Vodka

My decision to boycott Russian goods was an easy one. Russia is invading Ukraine. My travels to Ukraine have made the country and its people dear to my heart. So it was natural to do anything I could to support Ukraine and thwart Russia. I discovered that my boycott was easier than I’d thought it […Read more]

Apr 012015
 
A Letter to the Governor

Some family stories can be proven. Some can’t. But sometimes those stories leave a trail of clues. My dad was the first of his siblings to go to high school, although he was the sixth born of 10 children. In a farming family during the Depression, high school was unnecessary and a poor substitute for […Read more]

Mar 292015
 
Berlin: Then and Now

Even before I first saw the Berlin Wall in 1983, my Cold-War-era childhood filled with black-and-white movies of Soviet spies made it an ominous symbol of repression. Along with a bus full of fellow recently graduated college students who were my travel companions in July 1983, I’d spent the morning seeing West Berlin with a […Read more]

Feb 042015
 
Cast Adrift Into the Sea of War

I feel like I’m in a WWII novel. One friend mentioned posters going up in public places like schools, directing people to the nearest bomb shelters. Another friend spent a recent vacation with her family discussing evacuation possibilities and the necessary emergency supplies to stock in case their city gets bombed. The WWII Blitzkrieg of […Read more]