Monday, June 14, 2021

good ol' liberal Seatown

Look at these lawn signs paired up in a wealthy part of my neighborhood. 

"In this house," declares the one, earnestly and declaratively anti-racist and pro-woman and pro-science. And the other endorses the well-funded, fairly racist and certainly classist recall effort against our socialist city council member, Kshama Sawant. I don't agree with everything she's done, but I appreciate her fire and the dedication. The fact that SPOG was asked to help out says pretty much all you need to know about the recallers.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

we need to talk about bikes on the sidewalk

This is a touchy subject, I know--I know!--but we need to talk about bikes on the sidewalk. 

As an intentionally car-free person, I spend a good amount of time each day walking around town. It's how I get where I'm going, mostly, other than the very occasional bus ride. And let me tell you, the sidewalks in Seattle are crowded, and not just with other walkers.

The recent panini offered an almost welcome respite from the growing numbers of scooters and bikes and unicycles also using the sidewalk, and now that people are out and about again, it's frustrating. The pedestrian is the unit with the least amount of power--no vehicle, no protection, just legs and shoes. And it gets old, dodging and flinching and having to jump out of the way.

I hear you winding up to remind me of the RCW making it legal to cycle on the sidewalk and let me just stop you right there. I know. I KNOW. It's legal. Trust me. Every cyclist I speak to, quotes it, chapter and verse.

It doesn't mean you need to be nasty about it, though.

I'm writing all this because yesterday I had a scary encounter with a cyclist. I was walking on a quiet, misty morning near a park, lost in thought, and passed guys and a piece of heavy equipment working in the street. Suddenly I heard a bicycle bell ring loudly and insistently, right behind me. I turned and a woman on a cargo bike wheeled past, still dinging the bell.

"You're on the fucking sidewalk," I said. Meaning, slow down. Give me some room. I didn't yell. I just said it. I'm tired of bikes almost running me over. 

She jerked to a halt directly in front of me and threw her bike down on the sidewalk and ran to confront me. She was wearing a mask but stood inches from my face, screaming about the RCW. "It's legal," she bleated. "Fuck you it's legal."

I moved to the right, and she moved to the right, coming even closer, still screaming. (Is RCW some kind of incantation?) I was scared, thinking she was about to hit me. I jumped into the street. "It might be legal but it doesn't mean you have to be a dick," I said. (No de-escalation points for me.)

She picked up her bike and I noticed then that she was wearing a badge and t-shirt bearing the name of a local food bank. As she got on and sped away, I stood in the street, watching her. "Food bank, nice," I called after her, and as she turned left at the corner, she looked back long enough to flip me off.

I walked on, heart pounding, hoping she wasn't waiting around the next corner. I thought a lot yesterday about calling the food bank. I don't mind the back and forth but I truly thought she was going to strike me. What good would it do to call? I don't know her name. I don't know why she exploded. Probably because other pedestrians have protested when she almost ran over them and then screamed at them. 

I don't have an answer. All I have is this story. And a request: cyclists, please be nice. Other than walking in the street (highly not recommended), we pedestrians have no other place to go.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

remembering chop

the door at Crybaby Studios
Crybaby Studios
A year ago the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) aka CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) emerged squirming into public consciousness. 

Now the city is denying permits for a Juneteenth celebration/CHOP remembrance and I can't say I'm sad about it. The way CHOP morphed into a souvenir-shilling block party still rankles. I still have nightmares about seeing my neighbor being beat in front of our building, hearing blasts of tear gas and grenades deep into the night, the burning of pepper spray in my sinuses, the wild frustration of watching squadrons of cops in riot gear parade around a neighborhood they so clearly scorn.

The cops fled. People died. The head cop and the mayor deleted their texts. It's still so messy and gross.

I walked by the park the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, when the George Floyd protests erupted. Omari Salisbury of Converge Media was setting up to broadcast a one year anniversary show. The park was otherwise quiet, just a few dog walkers, Dirty Dog not yet open for business.

I hope there is a way for us to remember the spirit of the protests, and rededicate ourselves to making positive change. I don't know that it will happen at Cal Anderson, or even on the hill. I just know it needs to continue to happen.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

thrillers and insight

snip from Sara Gran's "Infinite Blacktop"
I've been blown away by many of the books I've read this year. It's been a joy to read thrillers written by women, books that are fresh and weird and challenging and have something to say. 

Sara Gran has written three books about Claire DeWitt, "world's greatest detective." Gran lets her protagonist be an asshole, get beat up, do drugs, drink too much, and most of all, be curious and reckless and sarcastic and feel too much. The plots are convoluted and yet always satisfying, because a detail mentioned early on will come back and manifest and grow later in the story. I read all three books quickly and sadly, because they're short and I didn't want any of them to end. 

Here's a snippet from The Infinite Blacktop.

The other book I want to mention is Melanie Finn's The Hare. I won't even try to summarize the plot other than to say it's about how women do what women always do, which is cope. The protagonist starts out young and impressionable and the story follows her through a surprise pregnancy, abandonment, and pockets of love and violence. 

snip from Melanie Finns "The Hare"
Here's a passage I found remarkable. 

I enjoy these writers, I envy their insight and their skill. They urge me on, to do better, work harder, feel more.

Monday, May 31, 2021

stuff my shrink says

I've started seeing my shrink again. We took a break. I felt like I needed to stop talking and start doing. (Also I've found shrinks are never quite ready to let go, it's like the world's longest talkiest break-up.)

But this shrink is a good one and is doing tele-health (which is a victory in and of itself, as pre-pandemic the shrink wouldn't even e-mail me, citing HIPAA laws). Pre-session I always get this panic like there won't be enough to talk about, my shrink will probably just say All good and end the session early. Ha ha. 

At our very first session back, I was relaying a long-awaited conversation I'd had with a family member, getting answers to questions I've had for years. My shrink said, "Oh was this family member X?" And I just had this feeling of gratefulness. I'm sure my shrink had just freshly re-read all the notes from the years of previous sessions, but my shrink knows and remembers, and that is pretty dang valuable.

I guess I'm writing this to encourage anyone who might be considering talk therapy. It's 100% worth it. Yes, it is kind of like the world's worst dating trying to find a good shrink, there has to be chemistry and trust, but sometimes even the ones that don't work out can be worth it.

(The exception is the counselor my ex and I saw, pre-divorce. A 90 minute session with her felt like 90 hours. Even though we were face to face, it felt canned, and strangely distant, like talking to the speaker at a fast food drive-thru.)

A previous shrink that I saw maybe six times, all on video chat, didn't work out. We never could figure out the video chat software, and once she did a session in what looked like her bathrobe. But she was the person who told me about Tara Westover's book "Educated," a book that I've read twice and has changed my life, so I'm grateful. 

Another previous shrink that I saw four times--and stopped seeing the day I sat in his waiting room for half an hour and he remembered our appointment only as he was hurrying out of his office, on his way next door to the medical marijuana spot--he's the one who gave voice, legitimacy, to the violence of my childhood. I talked about the yelling and the gaslighting and the hitting, and he held up a hand. "That, in my business, is what we call child abuse," he said. "And so should you." And I felt grateful in yet another way.

bsp videos don't sleep on 'em