One feature of life in Cambridge is the fact that many of the people swarming around do not move out of my way. Specifically those who could be described as sinister hooded youth.
Of course, I do not believe that anyone has the right to impede my forward progress. The boys who get in my way do so at their own risk. I've slammed three so far today.
Though perhaps they like it - I have a limited scope of understanding on the subject. I was innocently purchasing fruit this afternoon and dimly perceived that one of the clerks was gawking at me; when I made eye contact he whacked himself in the head with a towering trolley full of canned goods.
I'm back in the UK, which I have started to think of as home.
Details about the fun trip to follow soon!
The other day I was pleased as punch to finally introduce Byron #1 to Byron #2. We had an excellent dinner and chat before they indulged my newest passion: the egg circus vending machine at Uwajimaya!
It was, as always, simply lovely to hang out with a friend from that dreadful summer institute we attended at age seventeen. But it is never a good idea to be smug; I was feeling far too pleased with the fact that I never see any of the people connected to the darker excesses of my young life.
Because, you see, I met someone at a party who looks just like my cousins, and discovered that his brother used to work for my grandfather. We had a fascinating conversation about the gun range, unsolved murders, and other points of hometown trivia, but I was relieved that we were too far apart in age to actually have known each other.
Then later in the evening he introduced me to someone else, who proceeded to reel off a list of everyone I ever knew in the eighties. Oh, except those I dated; but that might be attributed to the fact that I swiftly redirected the conversation to roller rinks.
Wanna know what Byron does? I can't possibly explain, but this might clarify the whole thing.
Imagine my surprise to open The Stranger and find a photograph of myself. And no, it isn't the Drunk of the Week.
If you are local you can pick up a copy and see what I truly look like - as Jeffrey says, badass and pissed off. I quite like the shot - I'll have to track down that girl and ask for a copy.
East London Massive was supposed to show up here this week but each individual member has elected to cancel rather than face the chaos at Heathrow.
This is unfortunate as I was looking forward to showing the crew around Seattle; there isn't really anything to do when they visit us in Cambridge, the city with only one good restaurant. I think that they would quite enjoy the clubs and bars on the hill.
In the past week I have spent most of my time with two six foot six men in black suits, which makes me feel like I have bodyguards, even if I'm the only tough person in the trio. The adventures have been relentless, including parties and barbecues and late nights at the Bus Stop. We even went dancing at the Lo Fi for Emerald City Soul, an excursion that featured two completely novel and unexpected experiences: I danced, sort of, which was surprising and delightful. Then this fellow tried out a stereotypical pickup line on me - which was amusing not least because we'd previously had dinner together and he didn't recognize me (it might have helped if he had looked at my face instead of just my torso).
Between my complicated past and Byron's penchant for turmoil there is always a high likelihood of social drama, but so far neither of us has stumbled across any skeletons. The only confusing thing so far is the fact that strangers keep recognizing me -- aside from my misguided belief that I am invisible, it is a fact that the media in this city ignored the book. The best part of this phenomenon? I've now met a large number of people who have had major health problems, but continue to lead full lives with a wicked sense of humor. I've never really had a peer group before!
Jeff says that my life resembles a Hal Hartley film but I disagree; there are too many elements of farce.
Most of my memories of Seattle are from childhood - dreary trips to the doctor, harrowing surgeries, pain, fear. Or of adolescence, when my driving need to leave home took precedence over anything else. The two years that I lived here as an adult did not mitigate the past; instead, that short residence had the opposite effect. I could have settled for a pleasant middle class existence in my pretty house on the hill, but the view of the mountains just taunted me. When I left the country I didn't plan to even visit.
It is a surprise to find myself back here again without any regrets, having a brilliant time. I do not understand how any of this happened though I do find it all quite amusing.
At the Hideout.
Dinner and a new suit.
Wandering at night.
Rosyvelt at the Comet.
Greetings from a portion of Seattle that never existed; or rather, that has been built over from scratch by Paul Allen.
The Cascade neighborhood was once just a stretch of decrepit warehouses and some saggy if beloved apartment buildings like the Lillian. Now the place is overflowing with shiny empty condominium developments punctuating the fake waterfall and climbing wall of REI.
This creates an eerie sense of displacement, as though I've taken up residence in a diorama, but again - it would be ridiculous to complain. Although I abandoned Seattle on purpose I still love this city.
Lisa Jervis found it quite amusing that I am stuck at the W once again. Years ago we found ourselves wandering in a daze in the Seattle version of the hotel, when an internet start-up threw a peculiar party for young feminists in an effort to woo us into a dodgy scheme they had (partially) formulated. That weekend was jammed full of parties and food and treats that we potential clients did not appreciate; my estimate is that it cost over one hundred thousand dollars, though I am probably being conservative with the figure. And, of course, none of us signed with the firm.
That was certainly the oddest experience I had during the dot.com years, and most of us were completely mystified by the ordeal. Though the encounter was hilarious and definitely worthwhile; I met Inga for the first time, along with scores of other fantastically smart editors and publishers.
At one point Ariel flicked the ash off her cigarette and murmured Watch out. The W is like a portal into another world.
I'm not sure about the others, but this has certainly been the case in my life. The W chain seems to enjoy some kind of special relationship with high tech firms. It is the facility we are routinely billeted to, even if we request an alternate address.
It would be churlish to complain about free accommodation anywhere, let alone in luxury hotel rooms. Staying in these places has certainly taught me a great deal about how to communicate with people who are not remotely my sort. Hotel visits have also forced me to exude the confidence of the entitled clases. For example: I am no longer stopped by security on suspicion of being a prostitute, no matter what I wear.
But that does not mean that I enjoy these idylls. My mother cleaned hotel rooms when I was a kid, and my father is still a janitor. There is something deeply wrong about letting other people make my bed and tidy my room. I can't even cope with such ministrations when I am bedridden in a hospital.
Though I do admit that hanging out in the lobby and the bar is useful for my sociological research projects on the mating rituals of the human species. Last night I was deeply amused to sit for an hour watching people in white trousers act silly and spend money.
We were scheduled to spend the rest of the summer at the W Seattle, but I used up vast quantities of my own work time to identify an alternative that would not be so painful. It took a great deal of strategic effort but I finally found an apartment to rent. I am very excited to have a fridge that is not crammed full of tiny liquor bottles.
Yesterday I was standing on the sidewalk in front of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art wrangling paper bags bursting with dirty laundry and trying to control my hair and skirt, sailing skyward in the wind, when a black stretch limo pulled up in front of me. The driver was eating a sandwich and he rolled down the window and shouted Are you waiting for a taxi?
This reminded me to catch up with a few misplaced journal entries.
I flew to the states in time to throw a party for my daughter, who has spent the summer meandering about the states going to conferences, completing internships, and visiting friends. The fact that so many years have passed since her birth is completely baffling; the fact that she is an autonomous adult who can travel on her own is beyond my understanding. That tiny little baby has grown up into a person I admire and enjoy, with a quick and scorching wit and blazing intellect. She is funny, smart, and strong. I feel privileged to be her friend.
The party was at our old house, currently home to Gabriel and Danielle and their brood of children. It was also Gabriel's birthday so a parade of friends new and old sauntered through the house on what was the most punishingly hot day I have ever experienced in Portland. Trish showed up from Ohio, and Gordon from SF, along with the usual crew of beloved local characters. A neighbor provided a gift that allowed everyone to survive: a structure dubbed The Mistery.
The visit was short, only three days, and packed to bursting with visits to the zoo and OMSI and the other childhood haunts of my son, who reverted to his standard Portland uniform of a shirt and tie (though I vetoed the blazer given the record heat wave). We hung out with Sara, and visited Michelle, where I felt a pang of longing over Skanky (even though the car has not been operational in years). I bought that car with the advance from my first book:
Later we found ourselves in the yard at 19th Street, talking and laughing with Marisa, Jody, EB, AR, Stevie, Hope, and sts. To say that the visit was bittersweet would be an understatement; I miss my friends quite thoroughly even as my desire to travel grows. After we said goodbye and walked away Stevie shouted I love you and we chorused our love back at her.
On the way out of town we drove around looking at the houses and schools that once had importance in our lives. The endlessly entertaining Anna Ruby joined us for lunch:
Back in Seattle the kids took my mother to the zoo, where we fed budgies and visited with an excitable kookaburra who kept trying to fly through the glass to say hello:
While Portland represents everything most valuable about growing up and learning to live in a community, Seattle is the city nearest the place I was born. The Puget Sound offers the most gorgeous landscape I have encountered anywhere in the world. We said goodbye to my mother at the ferry terminal and the sunset made me cry:
There was only time for sushi and then I was off adventuring with Jeffrey:
I watched the Infernal Noise Brigade play in front of the Comet at two in the morning, letting the crowd shove me back and forth in time with the music. I hung out with Mark at the Bus Stop, officially my favorite new person. I wandered through a club in a state of existential crisis until I was stopped by a librarian who recognized me and smothered me with compliments -- and I remembered to smile.