Falling in love in (and with) Seattle

I fell in love in the Autumn of 1993, with the woman I now share my life with, and with the city, I call home. I had just recently arrived in Seattle from Alaska, where I had lived and worked the last four years.

I was no stranger to Seattle, I grew up in Eastern Washington and went to college 90 miles north in Bellingham where I also helped as a volunteer in an education organization, but this was the first time I had ever lived in the city. Not knowing the area very well, I ended up choosing an apartment in Leschi, more or less at random. I liked the idea of living next to the water (Lake Washington), even though my apartment barely had a view of anything wet (I did have a grand parking-lot view though).
I had just blown into town from Alaska, where I had worked as a tour guide in Anchorage and Valdez. I was completely burned out, having gone straight into a long series of demanding jobs straight out of college, so I decided to move to Seattle and just live off my savings for nine or ten months. After previously debating long and hard about what to spend my savings on, I had come to the conclusion that I’d like to spend it on time. I bought months of leisure in my new home, Seattle.
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Yes, She Has Arrived

She sat down next to me and her story began to unfold over coffee like gentle, winter rain. I knew it had to be told and stopped typing. Her sincerity opened my heart and my eyes as soft, blue raindrops slid softly down the foggy glass. She moved to the Northwest from the South married with two little ones as a young woman and looking for a better life. Washington held the promise of a better life for her immediate family: husband and two small girls.

They moved to Aberdeen and found a way to exist between limited employment, government commodities, food banks, friends, family, a garden, and doing as much for themselves as they could. The way up was also the way out of Aberdeen. Timber was failing, businesses and mills were closing, and Nirvana was rising.
Their move landed them closer to Olympia, but the rejection she experienced in the small town led to isolation. She found that she was living in a redneck community and being Southern was socially akin to leprosy. This meant no employment opportunities as she had “the wrong number,” or so the anonymous telephone calls said, and even less social opportunities.
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A Spiritual Seattle Tourrette

As I sit sipping on my steamer soy with a shadow of hazelnut, still blurry eyed from crossing time zones and removing myself from the close relationship I encountered with the equator only days before. My mind and consciousness are in a constant state of disarray. I ponder as I stir my rye flakes while they become this coagulated mass of gray nothingness on the end of my spoon. I sigh knowing that my digestion needs to be moving forward rather than being in a moment of stagnation from the third world foods, which have poisoned my immunity year after year.

Damn. Why can’t I snap out of this? I look outside where a short time ago the sun greeted me like a long-lost companion and healed me with its light. Today, I put my sunglasses on in anger while tightening the belt around my leather jacket. It’s 7 am northern Pacific Time. Shit, just days ago it was 9 pm in Bangkok, and the moon was my sun. Angry at the light, I laugh knowing that in time my body will again beat in unity with the lunar and solar without anger and resentment.
Trying to center myself I close my eyes and remembered why I came home; this also displeases me. Irritated, which is a state I’m not accustomed to. I feel myself becoming sour like the ones sucking on their triple short Americanos, with a cell phone that I shoved up their ass as they flew through a red, nearly missing that elderly woman on the curb. Damn Bellevue chicks in their SUVs. God, I hate cell phones. Again realizing that I am suffering from a Spiritual Tourettes Syndrome, I retch. What have I become, this pagan-Buddhist in a land without a country?
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Spring, Finally?

The more cycles of the seasons I live through in Seattle, the more I realize how dramatically the city’s collective psyche is affected by the weather. It’s almost cliché to some that Seattle is a “bipolar city,” brooding and introspective in the winter, ebullient and extroverted at the first sign of real sun I know, I know we had our share of sun before, but actually sitting outside in the sun is different!

I saw another demonstration of this right after the first day of spring, eating my lunch in Victor Steinbrueck Park, just north of the Pike Market. It was a warm, sunny, and a Friday, and the market and park were mobbed with people. I sat down on one of the wood tables at the northwest corner of the park, overlooking the Viaduct and Elliott Bay.
I was enjoying the day but not paying too much attention, being absorbed in my newspaper, eating my burrito. Then a fellow sat down behind me, but just barely at the edge of my peripheral vision. He was singing an old Three Dog Night song, “Black and White.”
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Pioneer Square Saturday Night

It is a long way to walk, but yet a short way to talk. It is just one wonderful Saturday Night at the Pioneer Square. It’s an old neighborhood, still, it attracts people to visit. It fulls of history. It is not too crowded, yet not empty. It is full of lights and colors. Many cars and people cruise by; from American’s made by to European’s made by; from a classy to a trashy. It is amazing what can happen in a split second.

People laugh and people cry; Car speeding up and car stopping aside. First block full of entertainment. Next block full of dead silence. Still, I feel inspired and alive. What is it going to be? Could it be her? The wind breeze through her smooths untouchable face and blows her black long straight hair. The way she walks and moves so confidently noticed. Almost so confident makes her looks like a female lion aiming its next target suddenly and slowly. Or could it be the hotdog?
The wind brings me the smell of temptation. The long lines of people prove it that it’s worth of wait, or maybe it’s just the way people balancing out from the large amount of alcohol they consume. The night is still young. I don’t want to miss a thing. Importantly, I don’t want to miss a non-rainy night in Seattle.
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Seattle Mist is Gone. What you can see

Ah, what a wonderful day it is to be walking down this street on this day under the sun! And what a gorgeous day it is, indeed, to be walking under slick blue skies and meek white clouds moseying their way to another time, as I bide my own.

Friends! It is something to behold!


I smile, proudly look up, and make step after step in light, giddy waves…and then a dense, whitish glob of bird shit falls right in front of me. I look up, the pigeon looks back with a grin. “I’ll get you next time,” I yell, thrusting my fist in the air.

A crow caws, a seagull yells. I continue to walk, smiling.

Later, as I make my way through the maze of Seattle Center and safely (after nearly being hit by a car) walk down Fourth Avenue.

I hear faint cries, distantly, and let them blow by. Then I hear a scream, a loud, aggressive caw, quickly followed by another and then another and I look up, squinching my eyes, and see a crow, angrier than a decapitated hen, cawing at me, telling me to get lost, I don’t belong there and I realized that it thought I was trying to get at its babies, the ones faintly crying up in the tree. Ain’t it great in the park?

And I thought, “That bird is going to attack me.” And then I thought, “No it won’t. It just wants me to leave. Besides, they don’t attack. Unless you consider that one movie.” But that doesn’t really count, does it? Read More

Sleepless in Seattle is a Fact

Cheesy title, but it’s probably the one I would choose even if it wasn’t already out there in popular culture.
Around 11:00 last night, I figured I was as done playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past as I was going to get. I turned off the Super Nintendo, flipped on my DSL unit, waited for it to connect, and then checked my mail. After replying to a few messages, I logged off. I folded my laundry, made sure I had my cell phone and palm pilot in a place I wouldn’t forget them tomorrow morning, and then turned out all the lights and went to sleep.

I woke up at 1:30 to a noise that sounded almost exactly like someone trying to open my front door. My unit in my apartment complex opens directly onto the street. It’s convenient, cozy, and probably not so secure. Alarmed, but knowing that I had set the deadbolt, I tossed on some clothes and then crept over to the door.
I peeked through my blinds to discover that a homeless man had curled up in front of my door. I sat on my carpet, on the other side of the door, watching him settle in. He, no doubt, had no idea that I was there. Read More

Seattle the Beautiful

Tension, an ill-fitting suit, and an ugly tie. I’d been out of work for over a year — laid off by the same software company in which I now stood — and here I was, back again, utterly desperate for work and praying that I could get hired back.

So as I waited for my interviewer stood in the fourth-floor reception area, which was always one of my favorite parts of the building. It has a high vaulted ceiling molded with a sloping silver sidewall, and a series of four vast, slanted windows that look out on Elliott Bay. I stared out at the view, drinking it in as I always do in that place, forgetting my nervousness for a moment.
The tall, professional-looking older woman sitting a few feet away closed a prospectus, rose, and turned to look out the windows for a moment as well. Soon, she turned. “It’s so beautiful…” I smiled, surprised, and turned to her, cocking my head. “I’m from out of town,” she explained. “I… didn’t realize people lived like this. I didn’t realize there were places like this.”
I nodded my head and smiled back: she understands! The beauty and soul of this city, its emerald and sapphire heart. “I understand. I love it here. There are few other places I would be willing to live.” The woman bowed ever so slightly, for an instant looking less than my mother’s age. “You are fortunate.”
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A few friends in Seattle

When you tell people that you go to school in Seattle they seem to automatically assume that you go to the University of Washington. Although I do have season tickets to the U.W. football games and I spend a lot of my Saturday afternoons sitting outside in the cold cheering them on that is not the school that I go to.

I go to the Art Institute of Seattle. It is located on Elliot Avenue. About one block up from the waterfront and a short five-minute walk to Pike Place Market. The view of the waterfront is breathtaking from our classrooms. The only problem is that normally the instructor is the only one that gets to see it. We, the students, either seem to have our backs to the view or our noses in the books.
I have made a lot of great friends in the 2 years that I have been going to school. Monica and Yael are my closest friends. They are both around my age, which is a few years older than the majority of students, but we have a good time together and I think that makes us do better in class. We venture around the city together a lot. Like most people in Seattle, we enjoy having coffee. We walk up to the market a lot and stop at the Starbucks that’s there. We always seem to get a different drink but rarely do we get all the same thing on the same day.
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Snow in Seattle

Leo was just waking up. He could hear the horribly familiar sound of rain tapping on his windowsill. He stumbled out of bed and turned on his computer to check his mail. There was none, and he was disappointed until he remembered that it was Saturday, and most people only seemed to message him during the week. His stomach felt like a Captain Beefheart album, and he slowly remembered the half-pizza he had consumed the night before.

 
Bored, and in doubt that anyone would be calling, he stayed online and checked some Philadelphia websites. He reminded himself how much he disliked the City Paper, then, checking another page, wondered how the Flyers would embarrass themselves against the slumping Chicago Blackhawks.
Eventually, he was bored enough to check the weather, partially hoping that the East Coast was entrenched in the eternal rain he had come to expect every day. Instead, he saw that there was a chance of snow. Instantly, he started to think about winter in Philadelphia, and how much he hated it. But he also remembered some beautiful things. He saw himself Christmas shopping four years ago, trudging faithfully through the slush, arms full of shopping bags.
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