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Doing the dive bar thing with my NPR brethren in LA. L to R: Kirk Siegler, Kelly McEvers, me, Nate Rott and David Greene

Home from 26 hours in DC, 36 hours in New York and 48 hours in LA. I needed to go home to the US for face-to-face work meetings about my “future,” since our time in Seoul is going to come to an end at one point or another. This trip did not include nearly enough sleep but it was rad because so many inspiring friends are in America! Our conversations over meals and drinks were the kind I like the most — the ones you need to make footnotes for so you can check back later. Here are some of the people from the week, and the links and culture they shared:

Friend Tim
Tim made five flight connections and took a sad bus in the snow — NEVER GIVING UP — in order to get to my Amsterdam nuptials, so, obviously, he’s a generous friend. Despite our close bond, we hadn’t seen each other in person since 2014, when I ran into him at Lambert St. Louis Airport after I almost got shot in Ferguson. Tim has moved to LA. He got there like, last week. So for my last night in America I went to Tim and his wife Rachel’s, where we sat amidst stacks of unopened boxes of their stuff to eat tacos and Salt and Straw ice cream. Tim and Rachel recommended the writer Mary Choi and her new YA novel, which is debuting this week. “She’s the voiciest writer I have ever known,” he said. When Tim was design director at WIRED he brought on Mary to do a column, which she rocked.

Friend Matt
Matt Thompson is a constant character in my life and on this blog because the man is a goddamned inspiration. We snuck in a meal together in DC before I had to go and he was most excited about this data viz on economic mobility from The New York Times, which so painfully and clearly illustrates what is happening to even wealthy black men in this country.

Girls Night: Kat/Pamela/Alex/Claire
Claire is the brain behind Elise Tries, my goofy East Asia-inspired video series. On the same day as we found out some great (embargoed) news about the series, I had plans for drinks and food with Claire and the other aforementioned girls, in New York. A Noreaster came in and lots of them didn’t have to go to work, so they came down to hang and catch up over takeout and wine. Among the recs: Alex recommends traveling with backpackers in Vietnam, which she just did after a grueling time at the Olympics. Kat can’t stop raving about Rachel Khong’s book Goodbye, Vitamin, which I ended up reading on the plane and love, love, loved.

Friend Alec
Alec is either a creative genius or a smug asshole, depending on whom you ask. The person who calls him a smug asshole is TJ Miller, who played “Erlich” on Friend Alec’s television show, Silicon Valley. It’s a long story. I met Alec before the show premiered in 2014, after HBO turned down my request to interview Mike Judge and offered Alec instead. True story – Friday was only the second time I’d ever hung out with Alec but he says he meets a lot of people who are dumb-dumbs on press tours so he was able to glean that I at least was not a dumb-dumb (low bar), and we’ve kept in touch ever since. I revealed I’ve been despairing about all the news and he recommended a twitter feed called @humanprogress, which is full of positive stats about how much more educated and well-fed and resourced the world is today than it was before. He also recommends his new show, Barry, which he created with Bill Hader. It came out this weekend on HBO. Obviously he’s biased, but non-Alec-affiliated people have given it positive reviews. Also, for the record, my take is that Alec is NOT an asshole!

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The Costa Rica Memory Vault

After 2010’s raucous four-day party in Amsterdam with 30 of our favorite people, I asked nagged some of the attendees to write up what they remembered the most so that we could save them for posterity, since booze and time tend to erase some of the best moments from our memories. I love reading over that post every once in awhile, so I rounded up some Costa Rica 2012 memories, below. (Y’all know I’m a hopeless nostalgic, so my poor friends end up subjected to this activity more than most.)

The pals in Costa Rica in our matching “Sucia Treinta” birthday shirts they surprised me with.

 

TERP: Oh gee, how bout being TERRIFIED OUT OF MY MIND when you and Matty gave me my assault wake-up call. Or when I nearly went to the Sandanista GITMO because I was wearing a flag defaced with “that Chinese girl.”*
[Terp pauses. Then…] I’ll never forget swinging from treetop to treetop with my newfound friends. We climbed questionable ladder-stairs to the canopy of Costa Rica where goofball Sandanistas flung us down ziplines while flirting with Mon-Pon and calling me FLACO! (skinny.) Then at the end I paid them far less than we owed since I was convinced they were ripping us off… even though they weren’t.

ERICA: I think one of my favorite memories from our week in Costa Rica was the lunch we had at Eat @ Joe’s. We grabbed lunch at this beach-side restaurant whose claim to fame was their “Nachos as Big as Your Ass.” Unfortunately, the nachos were the best thing Eat @ Joe’s had going for it. After we polished off the nacho appetizer and were still waiting for the rest of our order and chalking up the delay to “Tico Time,” one of the wait staff came up to us and apologized for the food taking so long. “I don’t know what happened to your server. I don’t know if he died, or what.” Best. Excuse. Ever. A little while later, our food was delivered; well, kinda. Terp and I had each ordered grilled Mahi that arrived as grilled chicken, and Justin’s food didn’t show up at all (that didn’t keep them from charging us for his absent meal later, though!). The stinky cherry on top of it all, though, was that while we were eating our tardy meal, sewage started spilling toward us from the bathroom right next to our table. Nothing reminds you that you’re in a foreign country like late table service, incorrect or completely forgotten meal orders and a sewage spill seeping toward your table. Pura Vida, for sure.

Continue reading →

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Home

Back from two weeks in what I’ll call an alternate reality – something like my real life, only way better. A four-day wedding extravaganza that was really more like being on vacation with thirty people we love the most, followed by basking in the sun and exploring the caves on Greece’s largest island. Aside from a rocky donkey ride and one of my bridesmaids accidentally getting her luggage sent home to Austin, NEVADA, everything went flawlessly. Travelogue is to come.

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Tim Laan Party Planner

Oh hey! We’re back from the trip to Amsterdam to visit Mom. While there we spent one action-packed day checking out the wedding venues. I scraped together random bits of free time to put together a chronicle of our day with Tim Laan party planner, the Dutch professional who’s taking care of nuptial preparation and making sure no one gets arrested during wedding weekend.

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Destination Confusion

We’re I’m beginning wedding planning for nuptials in Amsterdam next May, which is already proving to be a character test.

I’m only on the first task, which is finding a suitable wedding coordinator overseas and hiring him/her without meeting face-to-face. This means I must judge them by context clues, none of which has proven satisfying. There are the people called “Wedding Planners Amsterdam” (natch), only they commit the sin of having music on their website upon arrival.

Then, I spoke to a really nice lady via Skype who runs her wedding coordinating services out of Den Haag (The Hague). I thought things were moving along well until I received an email from her in Comic Sans typeface.*

Tried another place recommended by some people on a website, since I really have no guide but the internets. That place, called “WeddingIdeaz” (I don’t know why it’s one word), has yet to answer one of my phone calls.

At this rate, I know we’re going to wind up getting hitched at City Hall. Somewhere in America.

*I think I’m getting over this one. While this would be viewed as a huge infraction if committed by an American wedding planner,  I feel the cultural disdain for Comic Sans probably hasn’t reached across the Atlantic. Perhaps it hasn’t become a cliche in Europe yet?

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