Olympian wonders

Last weekend, I took the train north to Olympia, WA, to visit my friend Marcy. She put together an action-packed weekend with tons of new experiences and fun times. The list of “firsts” for me included:

  • Eating Voodoo Doughnuts that I picked up in Portland during the train’s stopover there, at Marcy’s suggestion. My favorite was the butterfinger one. Yum!
  • Attending a punk house show (that’s when a collection of bands show up at someone’s house, set up in the living room, and play for the benefit of a group of strangers who’ve also shown up). Imagine a house painted completely black (with some wood trim), decorated with things like a poster of Shirley Temple with “SHIRLEY’S FIRST BLACK EYE” written on it, a slouched crowd of smokers out on the stoop, and punk music booming from inside. A sign on the bathroom door urged you to pee outside. There were three bands that evening, the best one being TacocaT — aside from scoring points for their palindromic name, they write cute/edgy songs mainly from a girl perspective. Check them out!
  • Playing Urban Golf through the streets of Olympia. This involves dressing up in your best argyle, tweed, or houndstooth and hitting nerf balls with golf clubs on a predefined course. Marcy and I set up the course she’d scouted by duct taping squares of astroturf (to tee off from) and then marking “holes” to aim the balls into. It was an absolutely hilarious time. We got lots of strange looks but only a few comments, and no one called the police. Hooray!
  • Waving my hand through the water of Puget Sound to trigger bioluminescence. This is completely awesome. Too bad the water’s so cold. I can only imagine how phenomenal it would be to SWIM while glowing blue!
  • Attending a rock concert in hipster bar. I only recently learned what a hipster was! But this place apparently sold the right beer and attracted people with the right fashion sense. The highlight of the evening was a Japanese band called Mugen Hoso, which consisted of two too-cute Japanese guys in the middle of their “BIG BANG! BANG! BANG!” tour. They’d driven 40 hours from Austin, TX, to arrive 5 hours before this concert, but were buzzing with energy and played their hearts out. So charming, so rockin’, so cute!
  • Climbing up on a bench to escape a moshing crowd. At first I thought Mugen Hoso had inspired some massive brawl, but it turned out that the people were intentionally slamming into each other and apparently enjoying it. Beer quickly slicked the floor, and it got harder to pay attention to the band. Even though I had a great view from the bench, I had to be ready to catch and push back on random bodies that came flying at the bench. Headbanging I’d seen before, but this? Wow.
  • Picking blackberries and eating them with vanilla ice cream. Mundane for many, perhaps, but a marvelous treat for me :)
  • Attending a roller derby match. I didn’t know anything about roller derby, so was grateful to have an informed friend along! Basically, it’s two teams of super-athletic women racing to score points by passing the other team’s members around the rink. It’s quite a spectacle, with players decked out in fishnets and face paint, but what really steals the show is the amazing skating (on old-fashioned four-wheel skates, no less). Olympia has a world-class team, and they demolished their opponents from Cincinnati with a final score of 299 to 81! (Check out this picture from the match.)
  • Watching salmon prepare to head upstream, and seeing a “fish ladder” that helps them get past a dam. Wow, those salmon are huge! We also saw seals swimming around them ready to catch a meal, and blue herons winging all over — beautiful.
  • Cutting someone else’s hair. I got to use a comb and scissors, just like a pro! Marcy is a brave, brave woman.
  • Attending a party where I was the only one without a tattoo. Well, okay, I think Marcy is also tat-less, but we were definitely the only ones. Turns out that tattoos don’t keep people from wanting to play croquet, though!
  • Mutton Bustin’. Technically I didn’t actually get to see this, although we did call up some videos. Marcy and I met up with a high school friend of mine who talked about how her son had just won 3rd place in a Mutton Bustin’ competition at the fair. This is a sport in which small boys are put on sheep (yes, sheep), then the sheep is tickled and prodded into a frenzy, and then they are let out into a yard where the boy tries to cling to the sheep and not get bucked off. Wow!
  • Being in a comic strip. That’s right, one of Marcy’s friends who also golfed with us, Chelsea Baker, is an illustrator and comic artist. She created this summary of Urban Golf, and I ended up in it!

    That’s me with the hat and argyle sweater over my shoulders.

Now that’s an incredible, learning-filled weekend!