Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Being Bicoastal

New York City Skyline Sunset

Image by mikeleeorg via Flickr

Greetings from New Jersey! Last Thursday, I flew from Seattle to Newark in order to enjoy a nearly three week vacation in the beautiful Edison, NJ area. While I realize that this is not usually considered a highly desirable vacation destination, it serves as a fantastic home base while I hit five states in my 19 days out here.

I love Seattle, but I truly miss the East Coast. I lived in PA for 9 years, NJ for two, and NYC for two.  Seattle will always be my hometown, but there are a lot of things that I miss about the mid-Atlantic region:

Seasons:

Seattle has two seasons – cold rain (November to April) and warmer rain (May to October). While growing up, I was used to this, but when I moved to PA, I became accustomed to have four distinct seasons. I loved the warmth of the summer, the cool crispness and changing leaves of the fall, the snow in the winter, and the actual spring.  Seattle doesn’t get much snow and has a very mild climate due to its proximity to the ocean. We also have a lot of evergreen trees (thus the name the Evergreen State), so we don’t have the amazing color changing leaves. I truly miss the seasonal differences that I grew to love out East.

Food:

I think the reason that I have had success with my weight loss in the past several months is because there is nothing to eat out west. Maybe if you have a lot of money and can afford fancy or cutting edge restaurants, food in Seattle is great. However, especially living in New York, I loved being able to walk in some little hole in the wall and having a fantastic meal.  The pizza is fantastic (all we have in Seattle is chains), the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to is a little family owned place just north of Times Square, and even at your little corner deli, you knew you could get a great sandwich (Seattle loves its Subway!). If I still lived here, I don’t know that I would have lost the weight I did, but I think I would be much more gastronomically satisfied.

Getting Around:

I know I’ve discussed this before, but Seattle has horrid transportation. It’s only been in the last year or so that I have been able to get to the airport without utilizing the services of a airport shuttle company of a taxi. We finally have one light rail line that goes between downtown and the airport. Of course, this still means that I need to get downtown, which I do via commuter bus. Once I arrived in Newark, however, I got on the monorail at the airport which took me to the NJ Transit station. Four stops down the line I was at my sister’s place. Easy Peasy. Why can’t Seattle figure this out??

I do love Seattle – on a sunny day in July or August, there is no place like it. It’s great when I want to go running in the summer – none of this 90+ degree temps with 60%+ humidity. The access to the water and the mountains make it ideal for the outdoorsperson. I just wish there was a way we could take a few of the really great things about the East Coast and add them to what we’ve got in the West. Maybe I’ll just continue to be bicoastal – spend the school year in the west and the summers in the east.

Now to end the week with a little Muppet goodness…

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Next week, the Our View From Here bloggers will be taking a well-deserved break. We’ll be back Monday, July 25th with our usual posting schedule. We thank you for your continued readership!

 

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Ski for Free?

Skier carving a turn off piste

Image via Wikipedia

Back in December, I received an email on my work account about the Snow Sports program offered through the school. It turns out that an outside company sponsors six weekly trips to Snoqualmie Pass and provides skiing or snowboard lessons.  The email that I saw was inviting staff members to accompany the students on the bus and monitor their behavior in return for a free lift ticket.

So, take a step back a moment. I first learned to ski at Steven’s Pass when I was 15. That summer, I moved to Pennsylvania and was dismayed to discover that what the Central Pennsylvanians called mountains were little more than the hill I lived on in Washington. So, skiing didn’t happen for another 10 years.  Up to this point I had been skiing a total of four times – twice in WA, once in PA, and once in upstate NY. I wanted to go more often, but I didn’t have anyone to go with, plus the road up to Steven’s wigs me out (really steep cliffs, two lane windy road).

I debated about going with the Snow Sports trip. Would I make a total fool of myself? Probably. Wat it worth it? Also probably.  I agreed to chaperon the trips and could hardly wait.

Our first trip was three weeks ago.  I quickly learned that in the hands of a middle schooler, skis are dangerous weapons.  They have no concept of where their skis are. They throw them over their shoulder and turn left and right while all the people around them are ducking like some Three Stooges routine.  There was a teacher with us who had never been skiing before. She and I stuck together and became “ski buddies.”  The next week was canceled because of rain and avalanche danger. Last week, I skied solo because my buddy’s parents were in town and she couldn’t go. I actually enjoyed going on my own. I got to bypass the long lines and go in the single lines. I’m not shy, so I didn’t mind sharing a ski lift with a complete stranger.  I popped my iPod in my ear (just one – I hate not hearing what’s going on around me) and got a good six runs in.

So, today is week three.  The weather is iffy – warm during the day, dropping fast at night, possibility of rain.  It’ll still be fun, though.  My buddy can’t make it again, so I’ll be going alone.  I don’t mind though – I’m still getting a chance to go skiing for almost nothing!

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Go Vote!

In this blog, I think we all try to keep things somewhat apolitical. Obviously, we’re a diverse group of women from all over the country and we all have different viewpoints. That’s the point of the blog. It stands to reason that you, our lovely readers, also come from all over the country and have different viewpoints. I can’t speak to the rest of my blog-writing team, but I’ve tended to shy away from political topics so as not to ostracize readers. However, today is VOTING DAY and without advocating for any particular candidate or platform, I would encourage each of you to get out and vote today. Here’s why:

I would argue that these elections are more important than the last (and most) presidential election. EVERY SINGLE seat in the House of Representatives is up for election this year. That’s right – every one. These are the men and women that are supposed to be representing you in our federal government. They are the ones that you should call when something isn’t working right. And they’re the ones you should go to for the fix. That’s a lot of power. They’re also the ones that write laws. Despite what you may think about them, they’re a pretty important group of people. Same goes for the Senate. And a lot of those seats are up for election this year too.

There are also many governorships, mayors and local councils to be decided upon. These are the folks that determine what happens in your state and in your community. State income tax, sales tax, money for schools, garbage pickups, support for the fire and police departments – they’re all decided at this level. Lots of municipalities and states are also going to be voting on important questions that are going to change the way things work. A prime example of this is the State of Washington, which has 9 initiatives on the ballot this year on issues ranging from the sale of alcohol to worker’s comp to taxes.

And if all that doesn’t sway you, remember that not too long ago, many segments of our population couldn’t vote. Women haven’t even been voting for 100 years yet, and even though African-American men were granted the right in 1870 with the 15th Amendment, many were still effectively barred the right to vote until the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Then perhaps you could think of countries like Burma, which haven’t had elections since 1990, and the last time they did have elections, the military voided the results so they could stay in power (see this Newsweek article for more info).

Yup. All in all, voting is pretty important, and for many in the world, it’s still a luxury. Besides, I’ve always thought that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain with how things are going in this country. If you’re like me and like to complain and rant and rave, that’s a pretty powerful motivator.

Not sure where to vote? Google put together this handy-dandy poll finder. Just enter your home address and it will find your polling place for you. Now you have no excuse so get out there and vote!

(courtesy CIA World Factbook)

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