Old Town

Old Town
Pioneer Square

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Block 2: How to See Seattle: Part 3

Your picture of paradise might look like this:

But my own image is different. I see:

Whoops. A young man in the back objects: Dude, you can't be serious! Seattle nirvana for you is...tai chi with geezers and geeks on the grass? I respond:

Tai chi, grasshopper, is one facet of nirvana: one of the many Can Do's that I see when  I envision Seattle. With the poundings my body has taken, I need to pass at this point on trying again to do these:

This city is all about Can Do, for me, and new configurations of things still in my power. So I'll take my place in the procession of tai chi devotees. Moreover, to my writing I bring the same spirit. Though I may never see my name on my former picture of heaven--

I can continue to publish the best books I'm able to write:


There's no end of things that I Can't Do these days:

But I'm over the moon at the Can Do's in store:

Rock on, you glorious city of hope, and be there for me when I arrive. Oh, baby, imagine the things we Can Do!

Action Log
04/23: We can picture till the cows come home--but if we don't act we'll end milkless. I needed to tackle one challenge--in fact, one of the bigger that face me: how to get out to Seattle to get the ball rolling for housing and work when I'm on a shoestring budget? My first thought was to go by bus and I polished my halo, preparing to spend 8-10 days, round trip, on a bus. Fare: $200-$300. But wait...What do I have that I never had 20-30 years ago when I made travel arrangements? That's right, computer access. Initial research wasn't encouraging: $500-$600 RT, plus taxes and services fees for bags, etc. Throw in a hotel for a couple of nights...and I'd need a thousand that I do not have. But wait again. What else do I have? That's right: FaceBook and Twitter, two solid online networks. I cast my net--and within an hour was referred to Travelocity...where I obtained a flight quote $300 less than I'd been offered. $200! 
    Inspired, I spent an hour keywording 'cheap Seattle hotels' and 'budget Seattle hotels'. Lightbulb: instead of spending $100-$150 a night, I can stay in a four-star hostel for $25 a night.
Things are looking up, folks. The Seattle Kid is happy.

04/29: Have spent hours the past few days comparing air fares to Seattle and back. Fares quoted differ wildly and the cheapest, it seems, can be gone in a day. Travelocity's beautiful quote is no morec. Decision: keep talking with veteran flyers who claim to fly coast to coast for $200 RT. 
    Also began the dreaded task of sorting out the chaos of personal papers in boxes. For now I sort them into stacks. Next step: reducing these. Last step: file folders. Getting   everything down to two tidy boxes will be one of my major achievements. Meanwhile, the stacks are all over the floor.

04/30: The stacks are taking up the floor. The most unruly pile contains rejection slips from agents, going back nearly fifteen years. At present, I've saved envelopes with rejections but the envelopes may have to go. Am about a third of the way through all papers, phase one.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Block 2: How to See Seattle: Part 2

One by one, the pictures start to crystallize in mind. Capitol Hill. My Seattle.

I see a city brimming with brio, spunk and attitude. As I struggle with my picture of a place I've never been, I'm drawn to seek visual echoes of parts of other towns. I think of San Francisco when I view the Puget Sound, the mountains and the steeply angled streets. Capitol Hill reminds me a bit of both North Beach in San Francisco and the Village in New York. I may go on to find echoes of NY's Upper East or West Side...SF's toney Union St. This is natural enough, I'd think: a defensive mechanism against a sense of total estrangement. But I'm keeping my mind straight about this as well. For I can't see Seattle truly if I'm focused on repeating some other place I've lived.

So even while I cozy up from 3000 miles away I need to seek out the strange heart of this town. I need to draw a better bead on what makes Seattle unique. At the same time I must search for ways to best enter the life of Seattle as it really is. Just so, I may seek qualities I loved in people from my past--but I mustn't force my memories on the histories of new people I meet. Revere the best while embracing the new and living in the present.

I see Elliott Bay Book Company:

Seattle's most famous independent bookstore was founded in 1976. It relocated from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill in May, 2010. Here it houses 150,000 titles on cedar shelves and sponsors a robust number of author readings and events. Imagine how this calls to a man living in a city without one major indie bookstore. Now imagine how this calls to a man who'd worked for ten years in the business.
    Though I've been away from the trade a long time, my two best job experiences were at world-class indie bookstores. But Atlanta's Oxford Books went bankrupt...Portland's Powell's City of Books just wasn't a good fit for me...and I drifted into dull, meaningless work, convinced that I'd run out of options. No, I'd run out of vision. Now I see a chance to rejoin the Holy War and fight on the side of the indies. I see myself surrounded not only by books but people who love reading them and people who love writing them.

--I see Vegan restaurants:

I reached peak physical condition as The San Francisco Kid in the 1980s. Moving there, I stopped drinking and began working out while I followed a mostly raw diet. Men and women whistled when I walked the streets. But a move to New York and a bad marriage sent me plummeting hard from the peak. And the South hasn't been conducive to a health nut diet. Oh, there's no going back in time--and I wouldn't if I could. But I can return to something close to S.F. Kid condition by working out and eating as I used to eat.

--I see a wealth of great cafes:

For a man who's lived and loved in two cities with wonderful indie cafes, Seattle sounds a clarion call. I dig cafe society and only now realize what I've been missing since Portland, Seattle's pretty but flat-chested sister. Go West, you laptop hobo--and be certain to always tip well. 

So, a theme's emerged in this second part: seeing in Seattle a chance to recover the best of the lost while I stay true to today.

Till part 3!

Action Log
4/17: Sometimes it helps to see Seattle by taking yourself by surprise. Today at dawn I bolted up, fearing my playbook's still not bold enough. I'm on schedule, yes, and proceeding apace. But where's the Caesar in my soul? What's with these niggling fears and doubts? Caesar crossed the Rubicon while I'm gingerly wading across a small ford. Get in gear! Act like a king to become one! I bounded up and tackled a task I'd set for May: condensing and fitting my DVDs and CDs into a single box...just as I did with my books for box one. Two boxes remain: for personal and professional papers, notebooks, manuscripts. I've been putting this task off because I know what a huge mess awaits me. But, with Caesar's help, I'll start next week. Hey, who knows, maybe Cleo will join us.