What You’ll Learn…
- Renowned writer and blogger, Geraldine DeRuiter’s thoughts on living in Seattle, including how different it is now than it used to be and her hope that the city won’t go the way of San Francisco.
- How DeRuiter got started on her blog, the Everywhereist, and how that evolved into her book, All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft.
- How DeRuiter dealt with her brain tumor diagnosis, including the affectionate name she gave her tumor and some Terminator-related humor.
- DeRuiter’s thoughts on our nation’s recent political issues.
- DeRuiter’s major hopes and concerns for Seattle in the future.
Born and raised in Seattle, Geraldine DeRuiter is far more acclaimed than she gives herself credit for. Despite being the owner of an award-winning travel blog called the Everywhereist, which has been featured in popular magazines, she still self-describes as a someone who shows you what not to do when going on a trip. DeRuiter has lived in Seattle almost her entire life and is no stranger to the extreme changes it has taken on in recent years. She especially notes the high influx of money that has come into the city, with houses that used to sell for about $63,000 now going for upwards of $1.2 million. As the daughter of an Italian immigrant who first came to Seattle in the 80s when the town was still sleepy, she cannot believe that she now finds a $700,000 house to be affordable.
It’s not just money that has changed in Seattle. DeRuiter also notes a shift in diversity in the city, with many residents being mostly rich and white. This high-income shift worries DeRuiter, for this is the same shift that turned San Francisco into the place it is today, very transactional and financiallyfocused. Why, even now there is talk of tearing down low-income housing just south of downtown Seattle because the real estate is so valuable. This would displace a lot of people who still live there and potentially push them out of the city altogether, further ostracizing Seattle’s diverse populations. While DeRuiter feels lucky to not have children to support and to have a husband who makes decent money (she is married to Rand Fishkin of Moz), she still recognizes these rising issues in the community. Listen to our interview with Rand here.
In 2008, DeRuiter was part of the nearly 3 million people who lost their jobs due in the recession. She found out while vacationing in Italy and when she returned home, realized she was unqualified for many of the jobs in the area. Luckily, Fishkin’s business was doing well at the time, so he was able to support them. Part of Fishkin’s work requires him to travel a lot, so he asked his wife if she’d like to join him on his journeys. She agreed and with this, the Everywhereist was born.
DeRuiter originally wanted to spin her blog as authoritative. She wanted to give readers the impression that she was an expert. However, she quickly realized that, in her opinion, she knew nothing about how to write a travel blog. This soon became her angle; writing about travel from the point of view of a person who does most of it the wrong way. In her book, All Over the Place, DeRuiter picks a lot on popular travel writer Rick Steves, mainly because, as she puts it, “he’s competent in his profession and I am not.” Despite her self-proclaimed lack of expertise, inner ear motion sickness issues, and frequent desire to give up traveling altogether (for she says she’s so bad at traveling and so good at staying home and watching TV.), she has still managed to create a blog worthy of national attention and a book deal.
When it comes to making the transition from blog to book, DeRuiter compares it to those episodes of television shows that consist of nothing but flashback clips to older episodes. She notes that many books she has read by bloggers function in this same way and she absolutely cannot stand it. Therefore, it was her goal to give her book all-new content; virtually every story in her book cannot be found on her blog.
This transition was a bit of a challenge for DeRuiter, as she was used to not needing an overarching narrative for her blog posts. However, the process of writing the book itself was not what DeRuiter claims is the most difficult part of getting a book out there. What she claims, instead, is the promotional part. She says that it goes against the soul of a writer to have to talk about your book in a positive light; it is so much easier to say that it is awful. This certainly shows a lot of change for a woman who, in the fourth grade, thought of herself as so amazing and disciplined that she wrote a letter to her sixth grade self hoping that she had at least written a rough draft of her novel!
DeRuiter tries to bring humor into many aspects of her life, including those moments that seem too serious for laughter. For example, in 2012, DeRuiter began having a daily headache problem that (it was discovered) was the result of a tumor on her brain. Despite this somber news, DeRuiter pushed forward, even going as far as to give her tumor the nickname of “Steve,” making it easier for others to talk to her about her problem. A particularly humorous moment came just after her brain surgery, when she attempted to recreate a scene from one of the Terminator movies. Unfortunately, the stunt didn’t land as she would’ve hoped, but stands as a testament to her strong character.
Relatively recently, DeRuiter wrote a blog post addressing those who say that she should “stay in her lane” when it comes to our nation’s political issues. Though she is a travel writer by trade, there are moments when her journeys and life intersect with politics and she is certainly not shy about standing up for her beliefs. She says that while her husband is more apt to speak calmly with others and open their eyes, she herself is more of the “pour gasoline and light a match” variety. While she considers herself patriotic and is not ashamed to tell those in other countries that she is American, she is certainly angry at the way our country is today because she knows that we could be better.
Speaking of being better, DeRuiter has high hopes and concerns for the city of Seattle going forward. She loves Seattle and wants it to be accessible to people from all walks of life, whether they are rich, poor, people of color, disabled, etc. She does not want to continue seeing a city made up entirely of only rich, white people. Most of all, she does not want Seattle turning into something that would cause her to leave. Seattle is her home and she would like it to feel like home for as long as humanly possible.
DeRuiter’s book, All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft, is available now and if you visit Rise Seattle’s Facebook page, share this podcast episode, and tag Rise Seattle, you will be entered for a chance to win one of three copies!
About the Interviewee
Geraldine DeRuiter is the owner of the award-winning blog, the Everywhereist. She is also the author of All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft. She currently resides in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle with her husband, Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of the SEO software startup, Moz. Her blog has been featured in Time, Forbes, and the Independent. To learn more about DeRuiter, you can visit her blog or follow her on Twitter at @everywhereist or on Instagram at @theeverywhereist.