Archive for December, 2011

maggie and millie and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

millie befriended a stranded star
who’s rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”

As posted on Yelp: Several of my friends recommended this place, so I jumped at the chance to try it. And then I sat in a chair for 40 minutes waiting for a table on a Sunday night. That’s okay, since we didn’t have a reservation, but we watched them seat a table of six with no reservation before us.

To start, we ordered tea and prosciutto-wrapped scallops, both of which were pretty good. Then our sub-par sushi came. The creamy scallops were okay, but the rest of the rolls were pretty bland. Most notably, the 5th Element roll, which was on the list of spicy rolls, was delivered to us without any of its spicy sauces on it. When we told our waitress, instead of apologizing for the mistake and giving us the rolls as they were meant to be prepared, she brought out two soy dishes containing the sauces that were supposed to go on the rolls.

My date and I were pretty surprised, but we had already spent enough time there and just wanted to finish our meal and leave. Our waitress was slow with the check, so while we waited, the manager (?) had a chance to come around and ask how our meal was. My date mentioned the mix-up and at that point, we received an apology. However, he chose to right the mistake not by removing the roll from the check or giving us some kind of coupon/discount to use next time, he foisted upon us a dish of red bean ice cream that neither of us wanted. We said we didn’t want it before he brought it and he insisted on bringing it to us anyway.

So we spent our evening waiting to eat mediocre sushi and then were rewarded with a mediocre dessert. Hooray.

I’m not sure where to begin, but it ends with this:

I have that feeling you get when you’re sitting in traffic on the freeway for an hour and then finally pass that big annoying accident that’s holding everything up. First, you’re relieved that it’s over, then mostly you’re excited because you’re moving again. At long last, I feel like I’m actually going to reach my destination(s).

The weather was chilly, but still. The fog we had early this morning would have made driving difficult, but most of it rolled away by noon. As I took us out of Paine Field, over the Boeing plant, and north to Arlington, there was a shelf of very low hanging clouds to the east of us. Even though I’ve logged many dozens of hours at this point, flying above the clouds, seeing entire bodies of water at a time (islands and all), and approaching mountains head-on hasn’t gotten old.

Arlington is a non-towered airport, so I had more control of my runway (superficially, anyway, it mostly depends on weather) and how I wanted to execute my maneuvers, but it also involved more radio work because I had to tell other traffic what I was doing. Even though radio calls were one of my greatest weaknesses when I started flying, I prefer making extra ones at Arlington rather than taking direction from the tower at Paine. They do a great job, but they have to be there because there’s so much more traffic. There’s just too much happening there.


When I arrived at Arlington, the nearest traffic was at Pierce County, and I could just barely pick up the transmissions. For some reason, as I practiced touch-and-gos, other planes swarmed the airport like flies on shit. As I tried to juggle the whereabouts of every other plane in a 5-mile vicinity and corrections from my instructor, I kept getting further in the weeds and my landings got progressively worse.

Although it’s not abnormal for the stall horn to sound during a landing, it isn’t preferable either. That was the least of my worries. One of my landings was square on the nose wheel, and another involved my instructor pushing the yolk down and pretty much slamming us into the pavement so we wouldn’t keep floating over the runway and eventually stall for real.

I was really disappointed because I had meant for today to be the day. I wanted to solo on my birthday last week, but the weather was horrendous. It was no one’s fault, but I already felt I had waited too long in doing it then. That said, taking control of a airplane by yourself isn’t the kind of thing you want to rush into.

After two so-so landings, we pulled off the runway. My instructor signed off my logbook and offered a few simple reminders, including, “have fun”. Squawking mayday because I’m stuck in some trees… where does that fall on the fun scale?

My parting words with him were, “Are you sure?” And he hopped out of the plane. My fuel line was flooded so I couldn’t get it to start again, so he came back, got me going, and then hopped out and told me to have fun again.

Now I was more frustrated than scared and I had to pee. I also noticed a little green bug on my windscreen and was worried it would distract me. I named him Chopper and decided I wanted him there.

Because I was flying at a non-towered airport, I cleared myself for take-off like a boss and learned later I should have just said “Departing runway 3-4 for closed traffic.” Whoever could hear me probably smiled the way you do when I small child tries to use a big word and mispronounces it. In my defense, I usually depart Paine, get cleared for take-off there, and do touch-and-gos at Arlington so no clearance is needed there.

Anyway, I got in the air, executed my turns in the pattern, and came a little too close on final. I didn’t have enough time to get as close to the ground as I wanted, so I did a forward slip almost instinctively. When I realized that was what I was doing, I became aware of it, tried to ignore it, and I was on the flare before I could decide which thing I should be thinking about most.

I executed a perfect landing. No horn. No floating. Right down the center. I should solo more often.

Once most people reach my age, their personalities are pretty well defined. They know what they like and don’t like, what they can and can’t handle, where they can and can’t go. And yet, at 31, I am still constantly putting myself in situations where the likelihood of being put on-edge is through the roof.

Take right now, for instance. I am sitting at the Five Point in Belltown (a mediocre restaurant in a neighborhood I hate), waiting for my car to be serviced. The car place said they wouldn’t even call me until 11am, despite the fact that I showed up right at 9:30 when my appointment was. We went for a spin to troubleshoot the problem (good), and they were very kind and professional. Still, having made the decision that I was going to put my Friday at the mercy of these people, I could have taken a cab back to my house for the price of my breakfast.

When I arrived here about an hour ago, I sat down in the front booth on the bar side, next to the jukebox, facing the window. This is a 24-hour establishment that caters mostly to the drinking crowd, so the place was half-empty. It’s a little early for bar hijinx to take place, I thought, it will be quiet enough. Of course, music started playing almost immediately after I got comfortable. I was doing some work, but I figured I could tune it out.

Still, I noticed everything happening around me. The tourists behind me were arguing over where Denny Street is located. Someone was dropping off a delivery of several large boxes on a dolly and couldn’t get through. A man who looked like he had three dollars to his name inserted that amount into the jukebox and entered a playlist of Snoop Dog songs.

Then the whistling started. I fucking hate whistling. I looked behind me to see if I could find the offending client and determine from his plate how much longer he’d be in here. After a few of these little investigations, I found it was my waitress. Fuck me, I’m in this for the long haul. As I type this, she is attempting to whistle to the Beastie Boys song, “Fight for Your Right to Party.”

As I worked on an assignment, A boisterous white-haired man blew through the front door (which brings in a cold gust of air every time it is opened, btw) and played a series of Sinatra songs. If he wasn’t trying to chat up my waitress and a few of the tables behind me, he was pacing around, snapping his fingers. When his phone rang, he bellowed, “Call me back in a few hours. I’m listening to SINATRA!” Yes, dear. We all are.

I was served my bacon, pancakes, and two eggs sunny side up, praying I would get a call about my car before I finished eating them. Right after I finished my first strip of thick, fatty pig butt, the song “New York New York” came on and I almost lost it.

Almost six years ago, I made the transition from Austin to Manhattan. Rather, I attempted to, and this was the song that kept me hopeful and excited about starting my new life there. We were going to start over (yes, “we”), have new experiences, get new jobs, try new things, and all of that crap. While we certainly did some of that, much of it wasn’t for the better. It was a Devil’s Advocate-esque story that ended with me turning into a giant, hot, wet bag of crazy.

So I couldn’t make it there, but the song didn’t hit me where it hurt for trying. I’m still happy I had the experience, miserable as it often was. I was just shaken, since I wasn’t expecting to have memories about things like this today, especially not while attempting survival under a self-imposed public microscope.

Two songs about Chicago (my hometown) followed, and I snapped out of it. Sinatra may love it, but it’s really not my kind of place. The blocks are too big, the architecture too cold, the culture too dry. It’s a bland metropolis that threw up suburbs populated by bland people. I wanted to feel something, for instance, how much I miss my grandfather and would like to spend time with him. He must feel almost completely isolated now that my grandmother is dead. However, I feel more choked up about it now than when I was listening to those stupid Chicago songs. Grandpa happens to live in Chicago, but he has nothing to do with Chicago.

When I was in New York, my experience had nothing to do with people. Sure, people were rushing in and out of my life faster than the six train, but there was very little depth to most of those acquaintanceships. As a NYC newbie, my goal was to develop a relationship with the city, and it was love-hate, erring mostly on the side of hate. I wanted to believe I’d get used to it, and that it was right for me, but every activity was a project. It was like listening to this goddamn whistling and stuffing this mediocre food down my craw every single day. It meant constantly battling sights, sounds, and weather (like I will soon be doing on my 1.5 mile walk home since I recently learned my car won’t be done until this evening).

Unlike Seattle, which is also full of minor inconveniences for prissy introverts like myself, New York will not love you back. Despite its rough exterior, Seattle is full of little pleasing nuances that can brighten your day, like humorous graffiti, free slices of pizza, a street performer playing the Tetris theme… New York had some of that, but it all seemed commissioned, not spontaneous. That said, sponteneity isn’t even that big of a deal. A cool thing is a cool thing. But if the coincidence is part of what makes the cool thing cool, someone else’s perceived foresight ruins the gift.

Anyway, it’s going to take these guys several hours to fix my shocks, so I’m going home. I have to admit, after been here a few hours, the music, the whistling, and the idle conversation have drifted further back into the corners of my consciousness, and I managed to write this whole thing with some semblance of concentration. (I said, some.) Maybe I just need to get out more.