Sunday, June 1, 2014

Part 1: Operation survive the Portland winter

Durham Diaspora Book Club

At the end of February I flew off to Las Vegas for my first winter trip.  (Explanation back here.)  I could never write about it as beautifully and as truly from the heart about that weekend as Lindsay did here.  But I still wanted to write about the experience.

The whole idea started back in the fall.  Kim, who has lived in Vegas this year, had chatted a group of NC friends who are now living in the west, saying that her family was going to Utah for a weekend and could anyone else get there.  That conversation ended up with Katie suggesting that we should have a destination book club sometime during the winter.  I thought that would be a great idea (since I was already looking for fun plans for my long & dreary Oregon winter) and eventually 11 other women were on board.  Katie appropriately nicknamed it the Durham Diaspora.  [diaspora: a group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time.] 


In the end we had people from

  • North Carolina—1
  • Florida—1
  • Northern California—3 (one sadly wasn’t able to come)
  • Arizona—1
  • Oregon—1 (me!)
  • Utah—4
  • Nevada—1

In the winter sometime before Christmas I had the best idea—that having been a book club in North Carolina, we should actually do some reading and have some discussion while we were together.  So I bit my tongue and waited until the holidays were over (and people were less overwhelmed) to make my suggestion that we read 2 books, one fiction and one nonfiction.  We ended up reading “What Alice Forgot” and “Friendship Doesn’t Just Happen” and both provided us with great discussions. 

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I don’t know anyone who has read “Alice” and not enjoyed it.  My bookclub here in Oregon read it last year, in 2012 when we went to the beach in NC all of the women read it and loved it, we had a terrific discussion in Vegas and afterward Russ even read it (tore right through it!) and loved it. 

What took me a little bit by surprise was the stats when we started to talk about the Friendship book.  One woman was still living in Durham but her good friends were all moving this year.  Two of the women had been living in their new homes for 2.5 years.  One felt very much a part of the ward and community, but the other (who had had twins right after moving) didn’t.  Next to the 3 of them, I had lived the longest in my new home.  Two would be moving in the next few months.  This was seriously a group in transit and so the discussion about friendships was timely.

In addition to the seriously wonderful book discussions (and of course the conversations that followed) there were a couple of other great experiences.

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On Friday afternoon before the Utah group arrived several of us went to an “art installation” in a  Louis Vuitton store on the strip.  The whole experience had a touch of surreal to it—from the moment when they brought us all drinks before telling us about the artist, to the moment where they brought us each a wooden crate to hold our shoes and purses, and definitely including the moments where we walked around in what seemed like 2 enormous egg shaped spaces while different colors came and went.  The highlight was when, after realizing what great acoustics there were, several of our talented friends sang “Let it Go” before we left.

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From the Louis Vuitton store we went to a chocolate store for a snack before heading back to Kim’s house.  The hot chocolate there was a serious revelation!


The next day after we got our picture taken with a slightly creepy Elvis look-alike by the big Vegas sign.  When he told us we could come swimming at his apartment any time, (leer, leer) I said that we would love to, and that we would bring our 30+ kids along with us.  We were quickly uninvited!

The highlight of the experiences we had on the strip was definitely eating at the Wicked Spoon buffet.  It was not cheap, but I think that by the time we were done most of us felt it had been well worth it.  Most of the food was completely delicious and a lot of it was beautiful too.

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We ate, and ate, and ate, and ate.  And rested, and ate some more.

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Before I quit the subject of the buffet, I should mention that Martha is an excellent person to be sitting by at such a buffet because she is so bold about trying new things.  Here I am after we decided to try bone marrow.  (You can see Martha is wondering “why would someone eat this on purpose??)

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By the time we were done with the buffet we all felt like we looked more than a little pregnant…


We had hoped to go out to see the red rocks but it ended up getting too cold before we made it there so we just took a picture.


Later back at Kim’s house before our discussion about “Alice” we had lots of hilarity brought on by the purchase of several packages of mustache stickers—one of the true “you had to be there” moments of my life.

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Some people left late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, and the rest of us went to church together before leaving for our different locations.  I was last to leave and felt lucky to have extra time to visit with Kim before heading back to Oregon, totally refreshed in mind and spirit, though seriously tired in body!


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