Life continues at warp speed here in the bustling Northwest. Well, I guess this city isn’t known for it’s “bustling”; however, Ryan and I have had a very busy January. We enjoyed a whirlwind trip home for 5 days where we managed to cram Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday into one compact-easy-to-enjoy-but-more-difficult-to-digest (that’s A LOT of food) visit. The real kicker was that we did this three times in 5 days! ha,ha. We are back to missing everyone but very thankful we were able to make the trip. Ryan was only home for 3 days before he left for Salt Lake City for a part-play, part-work adventure. He left early Saturday morning and hit the slopes today. He will again tomorrow at a different mountain before going to a trade show for work Tuesday-next Monday.

We all know that while the husband is away, the wife must play; so in lieu of this knowledge, I have been trying to find some things to do. To start the 10 day aloneness off right, I worked some overtime yesterday. ha,ha. How boring could I be? In order to redeem my Saturday, I attempted to make my Sunday as lavish as possible. I enjoyed the morning service at church and then ventured to the International District in Downtown where I met my cubicle-mate. 
Apparently, there is a legendary grocery store named Uwajimaya. People speak of the place as if it’s Disney Land, and as my cubicle-mate put it, we enjoyed an All-American experience while there. I found it a little peculiar that while at a grocery store named Uwajimaya in the International District in a city with a very large Asian population, I managed to have an experience that could be deemed “all-american” and remind me of Disney Land, so let me explain.
Thanks to handy, dandy google, I found my way to this grocery store just fine; however, I really wish there was some sort of alert function on google that set off a flashing red light and warping sound when a place I am searching for will charge me over $5 an hour to park there! I mean really, I hope this is part of Obama’s grand plan to rejuvenate America, and I am considering walking over to Microsoft and pitching a plan for this kind of computer program. Needless to say, but totally worth reiterating, the parking lot was outrageously expensive. I pulled onto 6th Ave S with the sun blaring in my eyes, and I followed all the other vehicles blindly into the parking lot. I imagine this happens at Disney Land a lot. People just follow each other into a line. They don’t even know what the line is for or if they want to be part of it, but who can resist the pull of the crowd?
While the Jeep jerked over the small bump into the parking lot, I got sight of the first atrocity of my trip. The gate that was stopping each vehicle to take a ticket while they drove in also served as the source for parking cost information. The sign stated: 0-1 hours $7.50, 1-2 hours $15, any additional hours $7.50/hour. There are several issues with this sign. First, no one parks for 0 hours. It’s a little ridiculous. Perhaps, though, this was precisely written for people like me who immediately were going into a panic and franticly looking for an escape route as if I was in a burning building. It’s too late. I’ve already been in the parking lot for 0 hours. Secondly, I think I could have saved the place some paint (and maybe they could have given me a one hour parking voucher in exchange for my intelligence and time). It seems as though they could have simply stated that parking was $7.50 an hour. However, I appreciated the horror that they induced in me every time I read the next line.
Thankfully, there was a catch. If I spent at least $7 at the store and got out within an hour and got my parking ticket validated (the last fact, being one that was not posted ANYWHERE), I could park for free. Furthermore, if I spent at least $15 at the store and got out within 2 hours and got my parking  ticket validated (again, where is that last bit of info?), I could park for free. Being that I’ve never been to a place called Uwajimaya, I did not know if this was a viable option or not; however, it did not really matter. That 0 hours had got me.
I found a parking space, and made a mayday call to my cubicle-mate telling her about the biggest rip-off I had just received (hense, the “all-american” experience). She arrived shortly and I hopped into her car as we drove around looking for more affordable parking for her car. We decided that the traffic was worse than Disney Land, but eventually, at least 6 blocks away, we found a parking space. By the time we got back to the market, I only had 40 minutes to spend my $7 minimum. 
The store itself was incredible. Busy, very busy, with the same sort of atmosphere as I experienced at grocery stores in China. Lots of people. I couldn’t understand what anything was, and I wondered how in the world they made sure people didn’t just walk out with their groceries without paying. I quickly remembered that they would get the same amount of money out of them in the parking lot, so it didn’t really matter. There were tons of fruits and vegetables I had never heard of. And isles and isles of candy with Chinese writing and American cartoons. Again, can I say Disney Land?! My cubicle mate, a woman with far more experience with exotic food then myself, began finding some of the most lavish and wonderful items possible. I was thrilled that she was filling my cart for me. She could certainly get my parking validated! I picked up a pomegranate. That’s about the extent of my exoticness. Up and down the isles we went, and then I realized, we needed to spend more. I now needed $15 to get my parking validated. In the juice isle, I found Lycee juice, and suddenly, I felt as though I may belong in this strange and foreign “All-American”, Disney Landesque place. 5 years ago, while spending 9 hours trapped in the airport in Bangkok, Thailand I fell in love with Lycee. I put the juice in the basket and also found some lycee jelly to add to the running total. 
Eventually, we found our way to the crowded register (only after checking out the $150 rice cookers?!?!). I waited quietly in line, and because the woman in front of me seemed so intense (in Seattle?), I didn’t ask in advance if I actually needed my parking ticket on me. My turn was up, and indeed, I needed the parking pass on me. Thankfully, I could go get it and then visit customer service with my receipt to validate it. The total was $30. Somehow, that still only earned me two hours of parking. Craziness. Though, I must say they, the eclectic word for whoever is ripping me off in this case, are very good business people. We felt like we had to buy something, and we ended up buying twice as much as we needed! Oh, well. After searching for something to call customer service, we found an unlabeled counter where a woman validated my pass. 
We had intended to eat at the food court on the backside of the grocery store, so we made a plan to drive around the block and re-park in order to get our parking pass validated again. As I drove up to the parking lot validation checking man, he told me I still owed $7.50. I told him I did not, and produced a receipt. He told me I was supposed to have two random hole punching patterns on my ticket. And I had one. But my east-coast-don’t-mess-with-me attitude won. I stuck it to the man. I got my free parking. To further stick it to the man, we made our trip around the block and parked again before heading to the food court.
It was a food court filled with Asian food–the thai restaurant, the chinese food, the Korean food, etc. We each found some food, and I got my parking pass validated again. I only needed one random hole punching this time. Eventually we made it out of Disney Land, and I even managed to find my way back to I-5 North, phew. What a trip.

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