Archive for the ‘Seattle’ Category

Oh My Goats!

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Things got off on the wrong foot this morning when I attempted to take a bus to work instead of walk like I usually do. I had done my hair (like I usually don’t), and with humidity at 85%, I wanted to be outside as little as possible.

As I reached Jefferson Street, I saw a bus in the distance coming down the road. Perfect, I thought. One more block and I’ll get there right when he does.

Now, they’re tearing up a lot of Broadway to build streetcar tracks, and my neighborhood is no exception. I already hate the block between Jefferson and James more than anything in Seattle (even hippies!), but now I have a new reason to hate it. Part of the road was closed, the intersection was closed, and there was a cop standing there to oversee things, i.e., write people jaywalking citations because vehicular traffic on that street moves so slow, a driver would have to TRY to get into an accident.

So you can guess what happened next. The copper had a close eye on me as I anxiously tried to take the most direct route from Point A to Point B. The light changed and I tried to walk. He shouted, “You can’t go this way.” I pointed at the bus hoping he’d give me a break, but due to the fact that we were even conversing at all, an innocent woman trying to get to work is suddenly enemy number one. He shouted at me again. The bus pulled away and there wasn’t going to be another for about 15 minutes, which is the time it takes me to walk to work.

It’s not worth it, I’ll walk.

So much for being a First World Anarchist.

The dumbest part of all of this is I could have exited my neighborhood a block earlier, crossed LEGALLY at an unmanned intersection with no stoplight, and made it to the bus stop without issue. I walked the way I did because I wanted to see how far down the street the bus was, or if it had already passed. It was the false hope from seeing the bus that got me down.

My immediate thought was What an asshole. My crossing there would have hurt no one.

My second thought was It must suck to be him. I eventually crossed the street and was on my way. He has to spend his morning outside in traffic on the shittiest block in town.

Moments later, that anger I felt turned into pity and then thankfulness. I was going to an office that has air conditioning and is populated with people who aren’t trying to kill me (I think). My schedule is flexible, so I could even stop and get a bagel if I wanted (I didn’t). He may have won the battle, but I was winning the war—the life war that prevents me from having to wear a uniform and yell at people to make money.

Yes indeed, perception is everything… but my hair looks like shit.

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.

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.

We welcomed some new animals to the aquarium last week, but they’re not otters (I’ll get to that). We now have two juvenile wolf eels, which will grow to be big, ugly and scary-looking. Here’s one resting at the bottom of his tank:

Throughout my shift, the two little wolf eels were facing their own reflections in the side of the tank, swimming toward them, getting freaked out, sharply wincing back, and promptly forgetting why so they could do it all over again. It was so cute I took video of it with my new iphone, which I didn’t realize I was holding the wrong way (derp).

I also volunteered at Seattle Tilth with the Junior League. Since it was a chilly day, I offered to be a multch shoveller/transporter. I got a nice little workout and managed to take a few pictures as well:

View all the pictures of Seattle Tilth!

The auto show was in town, so I checked out the newest Cadillacs (among other cars). The photo below shows me in the latest CTS. I was disappointed to find there were no Ciels for me to drool on.

View all the pictures of the Seattle Auto Show!

And it’s always fun to play a tourist in your own town. After taking this picture, I went into the store and bought some Seattle-themed tchotchkes.

Cool insurance, bro.

Yesterday was a complete shitshow for just about everyone. Steve Jobs felt the cold hand of death. 25 people were arrested for exercising their right to assemble during the “Occupy Seattle” protest. An accident on 405 caused a giant pile-up and wedged a car under a semi. My coworker’s dad chopped his hand off. Just about everyone is in a funk.

No need to trivialize my silly problems, world. I read you loud and clear.

Thankfully, I got to hide out at the aquarium for a few hours. Despite my very brief appearance at the volunteer appreciation party last week, I won these little guys:

Speaking of having a bad day, things weren’t going well for these two:

But I guess the keyhole limpet snacking on the one on the left was happy. Here’s the smug cephalopod responsible, appropriately named Mayhem:

As posted on Yelp: Strap a toothbrush to the hoof of a mountain goat and let it kick you in the face repeatedly. You will get about the same experience and quality of care as you will at Willamette Dental, and it will be cheaper.

This is one of the worst health care experiences I’ve had in the Seattle area. I started going to the office on Dexter because it was one of the few providers covered by my insurance that I could get to on foot. When I changed jobs, I decided to start using their Northgate office, mistakenly thinking it would be a smooth transition.

Not so. I might as well have just gone with an entirely new provider since they started from scratch as if I were a new patient (which means extra fees for exams I didn’t need yet). In Willa World, having multiple locations does not mean added convenience.

This location in particular is awful. It is situated near I-5, which you’d think would be convenient. However, you have to make a left and then a U-turn on two perpetually congested streets just to reach the building. And when you do, their narrow, small, second-floor parking lot is almost always full. Because it’s so small, cars often park over the line, occupying every other space, so you have to park at the other building’s parking garage, which is across and down the street. And heaven help you if you’re late because of this–the receptionist will remind you!

The last time I was there, a transient had taken up residence in one of the seating areas in the lobby. He smelled horrendous and laid across a row of seats as if he were wasted.

Even if you dismiss the labyrinth-like hellpit for your average car-trip in Seattle, the care is atrocious. I went to have a tooth filled, and after the dentist had put the anesthetic in my mouth, he started asking me questions about what composite he was supposed to use and what color. I had gotten a letter of predetermination from my insurance company for this procedure because I didn’t want there to be any surprises. I had been improperly billed before and I wanted to make sure everyone knew what we were doing and what it would cost beforehand. Apparently, this pre-emptive legwork was for nothing.

Then I went back because I had cracked a filling. I chose a different dentist, hoping he would be more on top of things than the last one. Although he was able to perform the repairs needed, he gave me too many shots of anesthetic, which left a GIANT BRUISE on my face for weeks. When I called their office to tell them what happened, they didn’t care at all. I offered to send them a picture (it was a big bruise!) but they wouldn’t look at it. They wanted me to waste another afternoon driving to their roiling cesspool so the dentist could look at it and tell me to wait a few weeks for it to go away.

What’s worse, they don’t know how to file an insurance claim, so I’m paying through the nose for this terrible treatment. I tried to discuss it with their office manager to no avail, and she said she didn’t have the authority to do anything (or even talk to anyone about it) and that I had to call her superiors myself. Not wanting to leak her incompetence, it was a non-working number. I’ve gotten better customer service from call centers in India.

Unless you are a glutton for punishment, do not use this provider. Stick with the mountain goat and thank your stars when you narrowly miss being mauled to death.

It looks like Seattle is getting the once-over from yarn bombers, which I think is pretty cute and funny. On my morning walk with Zoey, I saw a collection of crocheted lamp posts and bench armrests on the north end of Cal Anderson Park. Apparently, this has already been done in several parks around the city, including Occidental.

I wouldn’t mind one bit if these new knitted knickknacks took the place of the traditional spray paint graffiti. Also during my walk, I saw a black leather couch with white illegible tags on it. And to think for so long it was taboo to remove tags from furniture…

Posted on Yelp: Ever since I moved to Seattle in 2007, I’ve had bad luck with hair stylists. I don’t know if the weather makes all the good stylists head south so their work can be appreciated or what, but it seemed impossible to find a good one up here.

I decided to buy a groupon for Chemistry Salon because they are conveniently located. I went in virtually blind, but figured it had to be better than the kinds of cuts I’d been getting. My hair is curly, but I wear it straight, so the type of cut I need is pretty straightforward.

I am very pleased to have met Ashley. She was easy to get along with from the start. We had a good conversation before she began working and I felt secure that she was going to do everything she could to make sure the cut looked right. It may seem a little silly to be so concerned out having everything “just so,” but your hair is like an outfit you have to wear every day, so it should look good on you.

Throughout the cut, Ashley asked me relevant questions and listened well. She is an excellent communicator, which is what separates a truly professional stylist from a self-proclaimed artist carrying a pair of scissors.

I’m happy with the results and can’t wait to go back!