Texas girl in the middle of Kiwiana

Amy Boatman

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Clover Coffee

Yesterday, I had some time to kill so I went to the Starbucks at 7th and Pike. They are one of the stores with the new Clover coffee system. I was really excited because I had heard such great things about Clover coffee but hadn’t tried it yet. The woman behind the counter was awesome and really made me see again why I like working for Starbucks. We really have some of the best people around working with us. Anyway, I had a cup of the Kenya something-I-can’t-pronounce and it was WONDERFUL! A truly spectacular coffee experience. Yeah, I know, I’m a big geek. I don’t care. I love coffee and that was the best damn cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Of course, it was probably the most expensive too at $3.95 for a 16 ounce cup. Good thing I get the employee discount, lol. It was totally worth it though. I certainly won’t buy it everyday but for a treat sometimes, I’ll definitely be back.

Who Was Here Before?

ne of the things I love about learning history is finding out what people were doing in this spot 100 years, 500 years, 1000 years ago. It fascinates me to learn about these people, long dead now, who walked the very streets I’m walking now. Or maybe they weren’t streets but goat paths back then. Or maybe it was just a vast virgin forest that had never seen humans before. I think it’s cool to think about these things when I’m trecking along.

Today, though, a more immediate “who was here before me” thought came into my head. I was taking the bus downtown to see a movie when, at one stop, a very old man got on the bus. He used a cane and shuffled along like that Tim Conway character from the old Carol Burnett skits. There was a big wet spot on the front of his trousers that traced a path down his leg. I felt really bad for the old guy. Ya know, there’s something about old men that just seems helpless to me. Old men, if left alone, won’t bathe or change clothes or clean up a single thing. They don’t clean their teeth. They don’t eat well. They seem to have this sort of animal existence. You can usually tell if an old man has an old woman who looks after him. If he does, he’s better groomed, wearing clean clothes, and doesn’t usually smell as bad. Old men that don’t have women look much like this old man. His clothes, aside from the pee stain, were pretty grimy, his hair was dirty, and he had a scruffy several day growth of beard. And he stunk. Like only an old man can stink. Now, I know old women stink too. But old men have a smell that is something else entirely. I knew there was a grimy old man getting on the bus before I even looked up and saw him. Oddly enough, old men were my favorite patients back in the day. I just loved old men and they loved me for some reason. Go figure.

Anyway, this old man sat in the seat in front of me on the bus. My nose is pretty stopped up because I’ve been sick this week so his smell didn’t really bother that much. Plus he got off the bus just a few stops later. When he got up, I noticed the back of his pants had a wet stain as well. The next stop after the old man got off, this young woman gets on. She looked as if she was going to go on past me but at the last minute she swerved and sat in the same spot that old man had just deserted. It was too late at that point to say anything to her. Best she just go on oblivious to the fact that a man who had obviously wet his pants had just been sitting there. Sometimes we are better off not knowing.

This got me to thinking about the people who had sat in my bus seat before I did. Who were they? Where were they going? Had they wet their pants too. Ewwww, best not think on that one. I see some of the people on the bus and often wonder just what exactly I’m sitting in. If I were just slightly more neurotic, I would bring saniwipes with me on the bus. “Did someone who wet their pants sit in this seat before me” was not something I had to wonder when I had my own car. When you ride the bus, you are much closer to humanity than you could ever possibly be.

When I had an earlier shift at work, there was a guy who rode my bus that stunk to high heaven. He smelled like wet dirty dog and cat piss all mixed up together. He was this older guy with a ponytail. Looked kind of like a refugee from the 60s. I see him walking around the neighborhood sometimes walking his dog. He has this big black lab with no hair on its back half. I don’t know if it has mange or what but the dog is bald from mid chest down. Poor thing. If the guy smells that bad though I can only imagine what his house must smell like.

Later on, at the movie theater, I could have sworn there was blood spatter on the bathroom ceiling. Surely not, I hope, but that’s what it looked like. Too many Dexter episodes I think. Although it reminded me of my most embarrassing moment ever that was, luckily, not witnessed by anyone. I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say it was an airplane bathroom and I managed to get blood all over the place. And I do mean all over the place. If CSI went in there with their little squirt bottle and funky glasses, the whole place would have glowed. But I managed to clean it up and no one was the wiser. I think if we all knew what went on in the places we frequent, we’d probably never leave our houses.

You Really Have to Tell People That?

Today, I was hanging out at my house when I heard a scrabbling noise at my door. I peeked out the little viewer and saw a woman putting notes in everybody’s doors. I opened mine and found a letter from the property management of my apartment complex. It’s a list of reminders of the property rules. Just when I think living here can offer me no further life lessons, I am handed these (directly quoted so all misspellings and grammatical errors are theirs):

Satellite dish’s can only be kept with in a residents rentable space and not attached to the building and or standing freely with no wiring coming out of windows or on a post in the property.

All garbage is to be in plastic bags and to be disposed of into the trash dumpsters and not let out side of the trash dumpster and or not out side a residents window and or hallway.

Grease: There is to be no dumping of grease out side the windows at any time. This is not only a Health violation it will damage the siding we just installed.

Storage: Please do not leave any bicycles, BBQ’s chained or un chained and or any shoes etc. in the hallways and or in front of your apartment home. Any thing that is left out will be tossed out.

And my absolute favorite of all:

Urination in Hallways: At no time is there to be pet and or human urination in the hallways. This is a serious Health violation. No compliance can result in the termination of your lease.

I live in a place where the residents need to be reminded not to pee in the hallway. Really?

Three more weeks and I’m moving out of this third world country and back into the land where you don’t have to remind people not to use the hallway as their own personal toilet or throw grease out the kitchen window.

Truth in Advertising

I had to look up the phone number for my apartment complex yesterday so I googled it. I found the listing and was amused to see this was the description on the property owner’s page:

“The Heights at Burien offers you an idyllic community, nestled within towering trees and lush, green lawns. Surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery and stunning views of Puget Sound, you are enticed inside by a tree-lined drive and welcomed into a charming neighborhood of spacious, colonial-style apartment homes.

Outside you will find a community garden and covered picnic areas while inside you will enjoy a state-of-the-art fitness center and resident business center. Once inside your newly renovated apartment home you will enjoy updated, European cabinetry, appliances, flooring and lighting and you will enjoy inviting friends or family over for an evening of entertainment.

The Heights at Burien offers an optimal location with Sea-Tac International Airport within minutes of your home as well as a perfect shopping experience at South Center Mall. For outdoor recreation, golfing, parks and Seahurst Beach are moments away, providing opportunities for a scenic stroll or picnic. Conveniently located for public transportation with easy access to downtown, The Heights at Burien is only minutes from work, major attractions and all that the Seattle area has to offer.

It is a community, it is a neighborhood, it is a lifestyle.

The Heights at Burien: It is home.”

If there were truth in advertising, the advert would read:

“The Heights at Burien offers you an eclectic community of drug dealers, multi-generational households, and single parent/latchkey kid households. It is nestled within towering trees and dirt covered lawns. Surrounded by broken down cars on blocks and stunning views of the overflowing dumpsters, you are enticed inside by a tree-lined drive and welcomed into a charming neighborhood of cramped, military-style apartment homes.

Outside you will find a community cigarette butt garden and graffiti-covered picnic areas while inside you will enjoy ancient washers and dryers located conveniently in the dank basement of each building. Once inside your apartment home you will enjoy quaint antique appliances, flooring and lighting. Enjoy open expanses of wall space without the clutter of excess electrical outlets. We believe in community so you’ll be able to hear everything your neighbors say and do on the other side of the paper thin walls. Let the mellow contact high from your neighbor’s marijuana parties and the soothing sounds of Tejano music mixed with domestic violence lull you to sleep. You will look forward to your friends and family inviting you over to their house for dinner.

The Heights at Burien offers an optimal location with Little Pat’s Diner within minutes of your home as well as a perfect shopping experience at the Burien community garage sale. For outdoor recreation, the Burien police department has cleaned out the crack park across Ambaum Way providing opportunities for a scenic stroll or picnic, before dark that is. Conveniently located for public transportation with easy access to downtown, The Heights at Burien is only minutes from work, major attractions and the county courthouse to take care of those pesky warrants.

It is a community, it is a neighborhood, it is a ghetto.

The Heights at Burien: Don’t forget your bullet proof vest.”

Yep, that’s more like the place I call home.

Snappy Comebacks and a Brilliant Spouse

You know how we all have those situations in which the witty, snappy comeback alludes us? Hours later, when we least expect it, the perfect line comes to us. It’s so damned annoying. Well today we went over to Barnes & Noble to spend a $25 gift card. I got two books and the total came to $24.98. The cashier asked me if I planned it that way but of course, I’m just not that good with numbers. She gave me my $.02 and said “I don’t know what you’re gonna do with it though.” I said, “I’ll give somebody my $.02 worth.” I could hear the drum and rim shot in the distance.

We attempted to do some geocaching today but struck out once again. We are now something like 0 for 12. I’m not sure what it is but we just can’t seem to find anything here. It was rainy and windy today so, honestly, we didn’t try that hard. We ended up on Alki Beach looking for this one cache. We didn’t look long due to the aforementioned rain and wind but over just about 50 feet from where we were standing, the water was washing up on the wall. There was this couple standing there and every time the water came up, they cheered. They looked like they were having so much fun. It was awesome!

Afterwards, we went over to Starbucks (go figure, huh) for some coffee. R was looking out the window at the water and I was looking at the sale circulars. I saw that Radio Shack had GPS units on sale. Now, a little background on this. Last weekend, we were going…somewhere and I was supposed to be navigating. I couldn’t tell how to get on the highway so I told R I usually just “feel” my way around in these situations. Well, she got a bit upset. Turns out she has a thing about being lost, not knowing exactly how to get somewhere. I hadn’t been aware of this before. I love it when I learn new things about her just when I think I know it all. So, anyway, knowing she has this fear, I saw these GPS units for sale. I told her we needed to go over to Radio Shack and look at them. So, off we went on a mission.

Do you know what a bad idea it is to go to one of the shopping centers two days before Christmas? Well it’s right up there with yelling fire in the theater and watching The Pirate Movie. We spoke with the young man in the store at length and asked him questions he had no answer to but at least he had Google. (What did we ever do before Google?) We ended up leaving with a brand new shiny Garmin Nuvi 200 complete with maps of the whole US, driving directions to every Starbucks and yarn store in town, and this bland female voice that tells us which way to turn. The funny thing though is it tells us to turn as we pass the turn, lol. We played with it all the way home and had a blast.

So, we get home and decide we want to figure out how to use our nifty little gadget for geocaching. I hooked it up to my computer and transferred over a gps coordinate file. We turned it on expecting to see all kinds of pretty geocaches light up on the screen. What we saw instead was…black screen. And then more black screen. It turned out I overrode the internal file or some such. We both dinked around with it for a bit but couldn’t figure out. I gave up and suggested we take it back to Radio Shack in the morning. Then I sat my ass on the couch and watched the Amazing Race. R continued to play with it. Periodically I would glance over at her seeing her wrinkle her forehead and stare intently at the computer screen. Occasionally, she would tap the GPS and it would beep. I would glance over at her hopefully but she’d shake her head and frown deeper.

Hours later, I hear a shout of triumph. She had gone from site to site, forum post to forum post, odd bit here and odd bit there. Somehow, against all the odds I had placed on it happening, she managed to restore the whole damn thing. I am incredibly impressed with her. She rocks!! Now she’s figured out how to do all kinds of impressive things with it. She is a rock star!


It took me a while to realize something I wasn’t seeing here in Seattle that I had been used to seeing in Texas: Bush/Cheney bumper stickers. Back home, they’re everywhere. It wasn’t until I saw one that I realized I hadn’t seen one in a while. I was driving…somewhere. I drive there but have no idea where I am half the time. Anyway, I saw this big bubba truck parked on the side of the road. It was a commercial street and they have these shoulder-type things here. The truck was a Ford 250 with one of those wimpy half-assed backseats. I mean really, if you’re gonna buy a truck with a backseat, get one with a REAL backseat. So, anyway, this truck was parked on the shoulder. As I got right up to it, the driver suddenly pulled out in front of me and gunned it. The truck was a diesel so it belched nasty black smoke all over my car. I thought it appropriate. A big, fuel guzzling, black smoke belching, ozone layer killer driven by a selfish bastard who thinks he owns the road. Yep, that’s a Bush/Cheney fan.

Something else odd I noticed the other day. I was at my Tuesday night NA meeting at the local community center. In the women’s bathroom were two condom dispensers. State sponsored condom dispensers. Now, condom machines aren’t alien to me. I’ve seen them in truck stop bathrooms and rest stop toilets. They usually sit seductively next to lube and “enhancer” dispensers in bars. I’ve even seen them in lesbian bar bathrooms. Go figure. But I’ve never seen a condom machine in a bathroom frequented by kids. I mean, everybody knows teenagers in Texas don’t have sex. At least that’s what the evangelicals say. They’ve managed to convince the lawmakers of this fact so it’s almost illegal to give a condom to a teenager. “If we give them condoms, they’ll have sex,” is the mantra of the religious right. “If we don’t mention it, they won’t figure it out, and therefore they won’t do it.” Hmmm, maybe that’s why Texas is near the top of the list for teenage pregnancy. So, to see the state of Washington not only admit the kids will probably have sex, but also want to protect them from STDs and pregnancy just cements my belief that I have moved to the right place.

Pachelbel, We’re Not in Texas Anymore

I discovered a glaring deficiency in my wardrobe shortly after I moved to Seattle. My coat is a Texas coat. It was adequate for the occasional cold snap back home but I just don’t think it’s gonna cut it up here. So, I headed over to the local Goodwill to find me a coat.

Their coat selection was enormous. I probably spent an hour going through first the women’s coats and then the men’s coats searching for just the right one. Unfortunately, the perfect garment alluded me. Oh well. I wandered around the store for a bit seeing if anything jumped out at me. While strolling through the shoe aisle, a man brushed past me. I didn’t give him a second. Once he was past me a bit, though, I noticed something odd about the way he was dressed. He was probably in his late 50′s, about six feet tall, with a monk’s bald patch and hoop earrings in each ear. He had a weather wrinkled face, a big, bulbous nose, and bright red lipstick on his lips. Over his flanneled shoulder he carried a black purse, and at the end of his blue jeaned legs, he wore black high heel shoes.

I’ve been told that I can be a bit closed minded. I try not to be but sometimes I just can’t help it. While in theory I find nothing wrong with people dressing however they want, actually coming face to face with a middle aged man (who was obviously a man) dressed in women’s accessories took me by surprise. I might, and let me emphasize MIGHT, have seen a man dressed thusly in Austin, I would never have seen a man dressed like that in Marble Falls. I mean, you can get your ass kicked for looking like that. I went through a period where I didn’t want to shave my legs and you should’ve seen the looks I got. It’s just not done. The men look like men, the women look like women, and the queers live in Austin. And of course being queer, I hightailed it to Austin as soon as I could.

I have certainly seen my share of drag queens. I lived in San Angelo in the late 80s. In fact, that’s where I came out. I had a number of gay male friends who were drag queens. Some of them were quite good. I even got makeup and clothes tips from them. Well, they tried to give me makeup and clothes tips. By the time they got to me, that boat had sailed. I was doing my best to perfect the baby dyke look. The look consisted of a mullet with the hair on top of my head spiky. Button down Polo style shirts with the collars starched up tucked into Wranglers with a snuff can impression on the back pocket. I didn’t dip snuff but I spent hours rubbing the pocket with the can in it so it would look like I did. Why this was fashionable, I have no idea. Mine was not to question why. Mine was simply to look the part. On my feet were slightly scuffed (just slightly, mind you) Ropers boots. That was the dyke uniform of 1988. My drag queen friends didn’t stand a chance.

So anyway, I understand the difference between drag queens and transvestites. Drag queens are usually gay men while transvestites are usually straight men. My first reaction to this man was Wow, that is just weird. And in all honesty, my second, third, and fourth reactions were the same thing. Why in the world would he want to dress that way? I mean, if he was trying to look like a woman, he failed miserably. It would have been like my father-in-law dressed in drag. He could never have passed as a woman. And then I thought why in the world would he want to wear the most uncomfortable parts of women’s clothing?

All this got me to thinking of my own prejudices. I typically dress in what would once have been considered man’s clothes. I never, repeat never, wear dresses. I don’t wear makeup. I only wear boots or sneakers. When I can get away with it, I don’t wear a bra. In years past, I would have been ridiculed for dressing like that. So why shouldn’t this man be able to wear anything he damn well pleases without having to deal with people laughing at him or worse. Why was my first inclination upon seeing him to look around and see if anyone else had noticed? Had I met the eye of anyone thinking the same as me, we would have smiled and shaken our heads in that “Boy is that dude weird” kinda way. Had I been in Texas, I have no doubt that’s what would have happened. Living in Seattle, though, no one seemed to give him a second glance.

So why was my reaction to him negative? What do I care what he wears? What finally dawned on me is that I was jealous of his blatant disregard of anybody else’s opinion. To leave your house wearing clothes you know might get you laughed at or beaten up is the ultimate “fuck you” to society. To boldly be yourself no matter what anyone else thinks is a most courageous act. I was jealous that I don’t have enough strength to be totally who I am without caring what other people think. I have a really hard time breathing through my nose. I wear those nasal strips at night when I sleep and boy has it made a big difference. I will even keep it on after I wake up until it falls off or until I leave the house. Once I leave the house, though, it comes off. I’ve commented several times that I wish I could wear them all the time because it really does help my breathing but I won’t because I’m afraid of people’s reactions. I care what total strangers think of me. It matters to me that Mary Sue at the Albertson’s doesn’t think I’m a nut job. I’ve never seen her before and odds are I never will again so why should I care what she thinks? Why are we taught practically from birth that other people’s opinions matter? That total stranger’s opinions count for so much?

I have stopped caring what others think about me in several areas of my life. I am an out and proud lesbian. I dress comfortably even if it’s not anywhere near close to being stylish. I talk loud and laugh louder. I’m a huge Xena nut and I’m a sucker for good sci fi. I like video games and I don’t even try to hide my inner 14 year old boy. But I will not leave my house wearing a nasal strip. I also won’t wear high waters or anything with lace.

One of the things I’ve learned along the way is that nothing is really about anybody else. It’s all about me. My reaction to that man in the Goodwill had nothing to do with him. More power to him if that’s how he wants to dress. My reaction had everything to do with me and my own feelings of envy. Maybe someday I’ll have the strength to leave my house wearing a nasal strip on my nose, my skanky holy old t-shirt with no bra, my shorts with big bleach stains on them that are so comfortable and my ratty flip flops. But then again, there’s a big difference between strength and just plain stupid. I think I’ll just stick to wishing I could leave the house like that because, really, who wants to see something like that?

What to Do When the Starbucks Closes

While I was sitting at the Starbucks last night waiting for Rhonda to finish her meditation class, the shop closed. I had arrived at about 7:20 and the shop closed at 8pm. I had just assumed it closed at 9pm since that’s when they close in Texas. So, here I was with at least 30 minutes before Rhonda was done. She had the keys to the car and there wasn’t another coffee shop in sight. What to do, what to do? Most of the other businesses had closed up already and the street was semi-deserted. There were still cars whizzing by but not much foot traffic.

I decided to go lurk near the building where Rhonda’s class was being held. It’s one of those tiny little doors that leads upstairs to other rooms so the only place to sit was on the front stoop. One of the few places still open was the fitness center next door. I used to have a gym membership and I really enjoyed going. It was just too hot in Texas most of the time to do much of any exercise outside. So, it was nice to have somewhere air conditioned to get all sweaty. Now that I live in Seattle, though, I can’t imagine being cooped up in a small room, running on a small strip of rubber, constantly moving but going nowhere. It’s just so beautiful here and the weather! Oh, it’s heaven!

Anyway, while I sat in the little doorway, people would occasionally come out of the gym and head to their cars. There weren’t many but enough so I felt safe sitting there. I figured if anyone messed with me, surely someone in there had lifted a few weights and could help me out. After about ten minutes, I saw this man heading towards me. He was looking right at me which is unusual when someone is walking on the sidewalk. Usually, people don’t make eye contact. It seems too threatening. Well, this guy was looking at me and making a bee line for my stoop. The night air was cool but not enough for a coat. There was no breeze on the street and the temperature was around 60 degrees. This guy was wearing a quilted coat and a cap and he had a backpack slung over one shoulder. So, not only was he headed toward me, he looked suspicious doing it. I was going through the rudimentary karate moves I’ve learned when he stopped a respectful distance away and asked if I could spare any change. His dark hair was greasy and came to a point on the top of his head. The coat he wore had probably once been blue but now was covered with mysterious dark brown spots. His jeans were nice enough and he had on really nice shoes. They were black, possibly leather, and polished to a high sheen. I couldn’t have done better when I was still polishing my boots for my EMS dress uniform. His voice was very soft and I could barely hear him when he spoke. My immediate response to him was, “No, I don’t have anything.” I didn’t think I had any money on me although it turned out I had $2 in my wallet. After I told him no, he put down his backpack and rummaged through it. I felt my heart quicken as I was about to enter the flight or fight state. But then he pulled out two cans of Chunky soup and asked me if I wanted some.

I worked with and around homeless people and street people for a long time. One of my EMS stations was in downtown Austin a block from the homeless shelter and two blocks from the Salvation Army. I have seen them at their worst and at their best. But I have never been offered food by any of them. Now, I’m assuming he was a homeless guy. He may not have been but he had the look and his mannerisms while asking for money spoke volumes about the way he had probably been treated in the past. To say I was touched would be an understatement. He took my saying I didn’t have anything to heart and offered to share what I’m guessing was his breakfast, lunch, and dinner with me.

I have had some interesting street experiences. I lived in Baltimore for one excruciatingly long year back at the beginning of the 90s. I didn’t have a car so I took the bus most places. One of my haunts was the gay and lesbian center in downtown Baltimore. This part of town was actually considered to be a “good” part of town. Not much crime, clean streets, plenty of police cruising by. Well, one night as I was leaving some gather or other, I was waiting on the street corner for the bus. This guy comes up behind me, grabs my arm, and swings me around to face him. He gathered up the collar of my shirt in his meaty fist and asked for my money. I didn’t even think. I was carrying a backpack full of books. I swung the bag at his head and knocked him over. I then ran like a bat out of hell towards the bus across the street that wasn’t going anywhere near where I wanted to be. I couldn’t have cared less where that bus was headed. It was going away from him and that’s all that mattered.

I have had some interesting street experiences. I lived in Baltimore for one excruciatingly long year back at the beginning of the 90s. I didn’t have a car so I took the bus most places. One of my haunts was the gay and lesbian center in downtown Baltimore. This part of town was actually considered to be a “good” part of town. Not much crime, clean streets, plenty of police cruising by. Well, one night as I was leaving some gather or other, I was waiting on the street corner for the bus. This guy comes up behind me, grabs my arm, and swings me around to face him. He gathered up the collar of my shirt in his meaty fist and asked for my money. I didn’t even think. I was carrying a backpack full of books. I swung the bag at his head and knocked him over. I then ran like a bat out of hell towards the bus across the street that wasn’t going anywhere near where I wanted to be. I couldn’t have cared less where that bus was headed. It was going away from him and that’s all that mattered.

As I stood there trying to decided what to do, I saw a figure turn the corner and head down my street. I reached into my bag in search of something sharp. The only thing I could come up with was a Star Trek lapel pin someone had recently given me. That wouldn’t cause anymore damage than a paper cut. My feet were glued to the pavement as he made his way ever closer. At about ten feet, he stopped and stared at me. He was in his early 20s with short black hair and cocoa skin. He was nicely dressed and had a kind face. He looked at me like one would look at a lost dog. He put his hands up to show they were empty and spoke softly as if not to scare me away. He was treating me like the skittish animal I seemed to be. He asked if I was okay and if he could help. Something told me I could trust him so I told him what had happened. Halfway through my tale, I burst into tears and had to pause several times to regain enough composure to continue speaking. He listened patiently as I blubbered my way through my story and then asked if he could help. He asked where I was going then proceeded to walk me to the proper bus stop so I could catch the right bus. He stayed with me, telling me about his life in Baltimore, until my bus arrived. He made sure I got on the bus and then watched me pull away. I made it back to my house about 30 minutes later. I have never forgotten that kind man. His name was Calvin. Where ever you are Calvin, thank you so much for helping a terrified girl find her way home.

I seem to always find danger in the “good” part of town, literally and figuratively, and then find help in the “bad” areas. The most generous people I’ve ever met didn’t have much at all to share but they gladly shared it. By contrast, I have known some extremely wealthy people who wouldn’t give a dime to a blind old nun begging on the street. Some man stops to help me more than fifteen years ago and I remember everything about him to this day. A homeless man begging for change on the street offers to share his food with me because he thinks I don’t have any. There’s a bible verse that I’ve always liked but never can fully remember. It’s something to the effect of a miserly man having as much success getting to heaven as pulling a camel through the eye of a needle. I’m sure I’m mangling it but that’s the gist. We’re all in this thing called life together. None of us can make it alone. I don’t remember hardly any of the strangers I’ve come across in my life but I will forever remember Calvin. And I suspect I’ll always remember the homeless man who offered to share his food. Who will remember you today?

Sitting in a Seattle Starbucks

It seems really cliche these days to hang out in a coffee shop in Seattle. I mean, everyone does it right? After all, Seattle was the birthplace of a $4 cup of coffee. Seattle is famous for its coffee. Well, coffee and rain. The interesting thing, though, is that while there really is a coffee shop on every corner, it doesn’t rain that much here. I read somewhere, or heard from the proverbial “they,” that it rains more per year in Arizona than in Seattle. Now I’ve not lived here for a whole four seasons yet. I’ve been here for three seasons though and it doesn’t rain nearly as much as everyone thinks. Take today for example. It was sunny and 65 degrees. It’s supposed to be sunny and 60ish for the next seven days. In fact, it’s not supposed to rain until the first part of November. The best thing I can say is that it’s NOT HOT!! I can’t even tell you how happy I am about that.

Yesterday was my first full day here. I slept until I woke up and then didn’t have to load up the critters. Rhonda and I went to Lincoln Park so she could show me the ferry. Luckily, we had gone to Target the night before to get me a hoodie because the wind coming off the sound was chilly. The park was beautiful. All the trees are aflame with reds, golds, and yellows. In Texas, the leaves don’t change colors. They just fall off the tree and then you have trees with no leaves. Here the colors are just amazing. We walked down this little footpath lined with leaves and slick from the light drizzle that had been falling. Looking out over the sound with the smell of fall blowing in my face, I had this sudden sense of belonging. For years now, I knew that Texas wasn’t where I was supposed to be but I didn’t know where I should be. The feeling that I had at long last found it, THE place, was indescribable. I’m not sure why I’m here but I’m supposed to be here.

After walking around the park a while, we decided to go to this little fish place on Alki Beach. It’s called Spuds and it’s the oldest fast food place in Seattle. Its been there since 1935. They don’t serve any tofu there so I had french fries and cole slaw. Mmm, nutritious, lol. But Rhonda had been wanting to go there for a while so I was happy to oblige.

I wanted to go to Pike Place Market to buy some new t-shirts. There is a woman named Sara with a booth down there. She makes these beautiful mandala designs. I’ve been buying shirts from her for at least six years. Now that I live somewhere that will actually get cold, I bought a couple of long sleeve shirts. I just love the market. The energy of the crowds, the smell of flowers and fruit, the guys at the fish stand throwing seafood at each other. It’s exhilarating. There are lots more shops in the lower levels that sometimes people miss. One of my favorites is this dark little shop that just reeks of nag champa. It sells lots of “new age” type stuff. There’s also lots of stuff from India. What really intrigues me, however, are the jars along one wall full of mysterious herbs and who knows what else. Names like Chrysalis and Hempjaw adorn the jars. Some of the substances are obviously powders but some look like dried cartilage or bone fragments. I’m sure it’s all perfectly harmless but to me it just feels forbidden, like the voodoo shops in New Orleans. It seems as if there’s a whole other world of potions and mixtures of which I have no knowledge. Such mysteries to unravel!

Another favorite store is not actually in Pike Market but on Western Avenue right across the street. It’s called World Spice Merchants. As I round the corner, the smell draws me in. There are so many types of spice in here, it’s impossible to tell which one your smelling at any given time. Right inside the front door are shelves containing little one ounce samples of everything they offer. If it’s a spice, they probably have it. What we were in search of this day, however, was something specific. Rhonda had discovered this little gem and was eager to share it with me. It’s called Mayan Cocoa. It’s a mix of cocoa, chile, allspice, cinnamon, and who knows what else. Rhonda has been putting some in with her coffee and said it was divine. I was looking forward to having some but it wasn’t to be this day. They were out! I sniffed at the little sample bottle though and it does smell heavenly. They told us they would have some more made it in a day or two. So, bummer of bummers, we have to go back down to the market area so we can get some. What a hardship for me to have to go there twice. :P

Oh, one other thing I noticed down there. They have installed one of those self-contained tubular shaped public toilets. I’m not exactly sure how it works but apparently, you enter and the door slides shut behind you. There’s a shower and a toilet in there which you can then use. The door automatically opens after ten minutes and spits you out whether you’re ready to leave or not. It then goes through this cleaning cycle and, voila, is ready for the next person. I’m not sure how it cleans itself. And what happens to the toilet paper during this process. Seems to me, it would get wet. But, hey, I guess you’d have to go look for yourself and I wasn’t willing to wait in the long line to find out.

I just love living in the city. There’s so much to see and I am easily amused.