Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    Mandatory Vacation 

    "Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability".  ~Sam Keen


    Each year towards atend of July I’m forced into vacation. It’s mandatory and not ‘mandatory’ like I’ve chosen to do so for my health while the rest of my office slaves away.  But ‘mandatory’ in that one year I attempted to work one day during the scheduled vacation and that got shot down with a swiftness. So now I’m very serious about Mandatory Vacation. The entire office is shutdown save for one poor soul who is on duty each day. On my first day of Mandatory Vacation my cell phone rang and when I saw it was the office I thought that someone had died my second thought was that the person on the other end of the line was bleeding from the head and I was the only one who could stop it.


    It turned out to be my mother’s replacement so everyone wave hi!

    Back to Mandatory Vacation. If I didn’t spend it alone and I wasn’t a woman of a certain age it would be Lord of the Flies up in here. Oh, who am I kidding. It was totally Lord of the Flies and twice I had wine for breakfast. Here is where I should be ashamed but I’m not.

    So, the first rule but not really a rule of Mandatory Vacation is to drink all of the things.


    The second is to eat all of the things.


    Lobster Roll from Offshore Ale

    Breakfast at Linda Jean's

    Clam strips (w/bellies) at Linda Jeans


    Then sleep as much as humanly possible.

    And finally lay out all day because you are five steps from the beach. Though perhaps I went a little overkill on the beach time because I’m about to star in Fifty Shades of Blackness.

    Did you know that there are folks out there who find it odd when people vacation alone? It's true. And I want to be like, I'm single. It's not a disease. The earth won't spin off its access because I'm by myself. The beauty of traveling alone is that there's always a spot at the beach or a dockside bar. There's no wandering around the beach trying to make a place for three umbrellas, a tent and seven towels in perfect alignment with the sun. There's a seat at the counter of the best diner in town which means you can always get an order of pancakes with sausage between ass crack of dawn and 11. It means that your days can be spent first in running gear and then a bathing suit and does it matter if you haven't showered in a few (or four) days? No. Because the only person you're with is yourself. There were marathon viewings of the splendor that is Crazy Eyes and possible liver damage because Pinot does that to a woman.

    Anyway, enough with the show and tell of my summer vacation? How are you? Did you eat all of the things because you should eat all of the things and your hips won't mind. Not even a little bit.


    What Happens in Seattle

     "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." - Albert Schweitzer

     When your dearest friends tell you that they are moving across the country the first natural response is to weep. In my case it was simply being sullen every time Liz mentioned her plans for living on the opposite coast. Then she’d sigh. “YOU DON’T EVEN LIVE HERE!”, she’d say, exasperated. Which was true. I was no longer a resident of the District of Columbia. The city where we’d met and fell deep in friendship in a matter of minutes. The type of friends where you pick up where you left off. We lean into each other and link arms when walking. I’d stop by her office on the Hill and leave my card with a love note on the back. I don’t know if she knows how much I value our friendship and how it’s not simply love and adoration but respect. So, when she mentioned that she would be moving to Seattle, I was like, “Fine. But I’m coming to visit”. “Fine” she replied. “You’re always welcome”.


    Fast forward two years. I haven’t seen this woman in two whole years. There was a part of me that feared that we wouldn’t be able to jump back into the middle of our respective stories. We’d have to flip back a few pages for context. But it was perfection. I had the most perfect weekend. The kind where I realize that I am blessed beyond measure to have Liz (and her husband Michael) in my life. They have been and continue to be my family. I didn’t realize how much I had missed them until watching them banter in their backyard over...I don’t even remember at this point. I just remember thinking how much I’ve missed this.




    I love Seattle. I’ve been once before but it was for work and the most scenic thing I did was take a long walk around the convention center. I also went to a Mariner’s/Yankee’s game and set my timer for a 45 minute to Nordstrom. This trip? This trip I received an itinerary prior to my flight detailing what we’d be doing each day. It was Michael’s - Liz’s husband - special tour of Seattle but I got the upgraded version being that I’m like family and all and they love me. Or because I just really wanted to go to REI. I’ve already managed to begin to plan the tour of my next visit which includes kayaking and island time. So! Here’s what we did and saw and a million photos of gorgeous views because SPOILER ALERT! Seattle is effing gorgeous.


    I mean - LOOK!


    Right? Right.


    Nordstrom: I have no photos but it’s the flagship story and it was overwhelming because of the Half-Yearly Sale which is awesome and all but so many people and I don’t like people. I’m more of an ‘I’ll sit here alone while you go brave the crowd’ kind of woman. But normally, yes, I do like Nordstrom and shoes and the food at the grill was pretty tasty.

    Pike Place Market: We bought food for dinner. And I picked out flowers. That evening we had salmon grilled on cedar planks and cheese and rainier cherries. There’s a difference between buying rainier cherries at your local Price Chopper and getting them straight from the source. I’ll give you one guess as to which were better. Walk around, grab some fresh fish and there’s a place that sells tiny donuts so you won’t feel too bad when you have four.


    If you’re a runner: I had to do a four mile run while away and I was like, how wonderful! How pretty!


    And then I died.


    Seattle has a lot of hills and that’s why everyone’s ass looks great. The end.


    Ballard Locks: If you’re  a fan of water and watching boats, this is for you.


    Queen Anne: The Queen Anne neighborhood is where it’s at when it comes to beautiful panoramic views of the city. The photo below was taken from Kerry Park. Then you can walk down another hill (so many hills) to have coffee at Ladro. On the way home I kept sniffing the inside of my bag because that coffee? Amazing.


    REI: I didn’t take any photos of the flagship REI (or the Amazon office we passed on the way there) but there’s an REI and it’s massive and then suddenly I wanted to go on a week long camping trip and sleep next to a moose.


    Olympic Sculpture Park: As I said, I’m a fan of views and pretty things and moving. So, if you like all three of those things and want a nice long walk. Go through the sculpture park and then stop for breakfast and mosey on back.

    Bainbridge Island: Right before we left for Bainbridge we all hit a wall of nap. We managed to rally because I needed oysters. Oh yes, after I got to Seattle I told my hosts that the two things I needed to do was have oysters and go on a ferry. We combined both on one trip to Bainbridge Island. Again with the spectacular views. And then there was the food. We went to a place called Hitchcock where we had cocktails and wine and oysters and marrow. Bone marrow. I was like, whoa, we’re going to eat the inside of an animal’s bone and Liz was all, “IT’S DELICIOUS!” and I was all, “THE INSIDE OF THE BONE” and well, you can see how that ended.

    P.S. Have I mentioned that once upon a time I was a vegetarian?


    That was Seattle. All of it’s deliciousness with its views and food and the nice people. While there I was convinced that travel is good for the soul. I am also in dire need of an adventure. And yes, you can go home or back to friends again.


    Tell Your Story

    This post is sponsored by Wells Fargo. As always, thank you for reading our blog and supporting our sponsors.

    "The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it." ~Jules Renard

    When I was little my grandparents kept a giant photo album in their Queens home. I’d take it out at every visit and thumb through the hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. Each one deserved a pause and a question to my grandfather of who was in the photo. The cousins and siblings, aunts and uncles. Some long gone others still alive to tell the tale at a later date. Though I’d been through that album dozens of times I’d always stop at a photo of my mother at the age of eight in wheelchair:

    It was summer that my now deceased aunt was born. On that particular summer day my mother was supposed to attend Sunday school. When she found out that her brothers and male cousins would be heading to the beach she opted out of a Christ-filled morning and headed for a swim. As the story goes, she swam out too far and got caught in a series of waves. She was saved by a presumably hot (tan, six-pack abs maybe?) lifeguard. When she got home that afternoon she decided to go out for a ride on her bike. During that bike ride she was hit by a car. A hit and run. She remembers nothing except for waking up with a broken right shoulder and left ankle. She spent that summer in a wheelchair. I’ve heard that story thousands of times. I’d beg for her to retell it just one more time, PLEASE.

    I love a good story especially family stories. They’re the threads in the great tapestry of anyone’s history. The stories I’ve heard from my parents would be faded if put into writing. But they retell them anyway and with each retelling I learn more about who they were before children and who they became thanks to their progeny. Whether it’s my mother’s stories of living in rural West Virginia (a tractor ran over her house! She had an outhouse!) or my father living in Birmingham, Alabama (bombings and hoses and jail time! Oh my!) I absorb these stories and keep them in the back of my mind to one day tell my children. And so on and so forth.

    It’s why I love to tell stories. The immense joy I get out of sharing my personal narrative. I cannot wait - well, perhaps I’ll think better of this in a decade or two - to share the stories of my youth and The Terrible 20’s that I have painstakingly documented on this blog, with my own children. So they’ll know that their mother wasn’t always strict and hovering over them and telling them the mall playground will give them scabies and the flu while I douse them in Purell. They’ll at least know that once upon a time I made mistakes, did fun things, met Oprah while at Rosa Parks’ funeral and called the President of the United States ‘dude’.

    When Wells Fargo asked me to participate in their campaign Untold Stories: Our Inspired History I jumped at the chance. Storytelling. Stories about my family! Stories that I have yet to share or read for one reason or another. The story behind that is even more fascinating and you’ll get to read how I found my untold story at a later date. The project is part of The Kinsey Collection:

    2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. With this in mind Wells Fargo worked closely with the Kinsey family to create a unique celebratory experience that honors the progress of African Americans, not just for a single month, but for the entire year. The Kinsey Collection includes treasured pieces of history and art that commemorate the artistic, historic and cultural contributions and progress of African Americans prior to and following the Emancipation Proclamation.

    The project is collaborative. It’s a storyteller’s dream. It’s the reason I wake up in the morning and spend so much time in my own head wondering how to weave my own experiences into the narrative of my life. Working on this project was a gift that I am proud to be a part of.

    Before we get to my story, I’m going to share a video by actress and American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks, who tells the story of Phillis Wheatley. Wheatley was born in Africa and sold to a family who discovered her aptitude for learning and gift for the written word, especially in verse form in her poetry. Wheatley would eventually become the first African American woman to be published. She’d become the subject of thousands of stories all because she was encouraged by the family who bought her to tell her own.

    It’s interesting the timing of this post and the sharing of African American history which was an integral part of the foundation of this country. The timing being at a moment in 2013 where all we can do is discuss race, racism, and privilege (who has it and who doesn’t). In a time where so many black Americans find themselves under the microscope and with their defenses up, this project reminds us of where we’ve been and living in this moment reminds so many of us how far we have to go. Telling our stories is the only way to move forward for if we don’t share our history either from the 1700’s or the 2000’s no one will ever know what we went through and we are doomed to repeat it. So, I’m excited for you to see my story and to read more about the other stories shared. Most importantly I hope this inspires you to share your own story. Because sometimes it’s all we have. Tracking Pixel
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