dog Amanda and Shelby in Seattle February 2003

hotel pike place

Saturday, 22 February 2003.  6:10am  SFO gate 74.   Here I am at the gate, waiting to take off to Seattle.  
Amanda called me months ago and told me she had to interview at her first choice Ph.D. program school, Seattle Pacific University.  Since our meeting together in San Francisco yielded such great results between the two of us, I said I'd love to fly up to Seattle and meet her for the weekend.  

Amanda's funny.  She's been my sister all her life, and I've known her all my life, but I never really knew anything about Amanda.  Talking about my family to new friends, I'd always describe the siblings in such a way: "My next sister, Molly, is a sculptor and artist.  She's the nicest one of us, with the best personality characteristics of my Dad.  Amanda is the next after Molly, and she's definitely the prettiest, got the best genes in that department.  She's a shrink, and other than that, I don't know anything about Amanda.  She could win a Nobel Prize for peace, or she could be a serial killer.  I don't know her at all.  Gabriel..."
I was really nervous when Amanda came for a long weekend.  I've never ever even spent a day with Amanda before- I just don't know anything about her, other then we really never got along well as kids.  I was pretty anxious about having her in my house for a weekend...  As it turned out, it was wonderful.  We bonded, we talked, she was perfectly at ease when I was at work, navigating her way around town and showing herself the sights.  It was great.  I never really knew anything about Amanda, and learning was terrific.  
Over the past several months, I've been fighting with some serious personal baggage, and Amanda has been the sole means of emotional and mental support.  We've gotten so close, I feel deeply grateful for her support, her friendship and her love.  My life is so rich- after all of this bad stuff in the past, Amanda said last night on the phone "Shelby it's a miracle you don't have a personality disorder.  I think the only thing that has kept you functioning so highly and able to have a life is that you had a real solid family to come home to."  Yah.  Kinda like that...
We talk on the phone, she's so knowledgeable, so intelligent, so objective and smart.  I love talking to her.  She has such a logical perspective.  She knows enough about the psyche to actually be able to understand her motivation, along with everyone elses.  
So, here we are flying into Seattle.  Amanda has never been there.  So I tell her on the phone months ago, there is this great hotel in the middle of everything, the location is amazing- it's inexpensive, it's perfectly situated, and it's nice.  She wants to wait to book a hotel, though, because the school often can reccommend a place to stay or they might let you stay on campus.  So last week, she calls me and says she got the hotel, it looks really cute, and it's in the middle of town.  Pacific Plaza Hotel.  I laugh.  "That's the one I suggested initially!"  Great minds, as they say...

So.  I'll keep you posted about the trip and I hope to get at least a couple of pictures in here with the new binocu-cam mom got me for Christmas.  It's great that it just downloads right onto the computer without hassle.  I keep having this struggle with going digital- it feels like I'd be betraying the artistry of photography (after all, I'm a
photographer, not a picture-snapper) if I'm taking pictures digitally.  However, most of my picture taking is taking place because I intend to put it onto this website for the folks at home to see, so the convenience of digital is sorely tempting.  
Anyhow.  I'm sure at some point I'll get over it and buy a digital camera anyways.  For now, the binocu-cam is great.

pugs1 pugface

There are a few things on the list to do and see when I'm again in Seattle.  I'd love to check out the club scene here, but I don't think Amanda will be interested in gothing out and hitting a bar with me...  heh heh.  That aside, there is a great dog boutique I've been directed to go to from Jennifer and Wilbur, and I will need to find a replacement for Lead, that awesome wine bar I found down on 1st street years ago.  Adrien told me it closed a little while ago.  Crap.  It was such a great place, and that one guy bartender was so stinking cute...  hmm.  Gonna have to find a new "great little place" I can brag about finding...  Last time I was there, I believe it was the time with Gabe, or maybe the time with Bry, I finally discovered the miracle of Capitol Hill!  Who would think I missed Seattle's greatest neighborhood!?  Unfortunately, by the time I found it, it was time to leave, so it's still largely unexplored.  I did find Delitante, and boy- you'd be sorry to miss that one- it's this AMAZING dessert place.  Ooh, the chocolate!  (insert Homer Simpson drooling noise)  and of course, the adorable internet cafe on Paul St.  I froget the name of that guy...  The other cool thing, with Amanda interviewing, she's allowed to sit in on some classes if she'd like to, and one of the professors there is the author of one of her textbooks.  Apparently he's amazing.  He speaks a lot about relationships and things, so she invited me to come up to the school with her to sit in on this lecture.  I'm pretty excited about that.  I hope to learn something about my neurosis, particularly if it relates to my neurosis when I'm dealing with other people!  ha ha.  And all of you sniggering out there can just keep your two cents to yourselves...

Anyhow.  I can feel the plane beginning to descend into the area, so I imagine I'll have to say goodbye to the laptop momentarily.  As for the rest, I'll keep you all on the edge of your seats with the play-by-play of this wild vacation, hopefully as masterfully as John Madden commentates on a monday night football game (ha ha!  I'm so funny).  
Sunday, 23 February 1:58am.  Bath Tub. Room 205 Pacific Plaza Hotel, Seattle.  I've got a pretty nice little set up going on in here, it's actually a big enough tub so that it's pretty comfortable, actually.  I've got a towel lining the tub, I'm laying on it, and my two pillows from the bed behind my back and another towel over my lap.  It's 2am and I didn't want to keep amanda up with the clackety clacking of this keyboard.  I've got total insomnia.  Really bad insomnia.  I haven't slept a wink tonight.  Ridiculous, especially since I'm really stinking tired.  I'm totally going to pay for this tomorrow.  
I waited at the airport for Amanda for about 45 minutes.  She's BLONDE!  She walked down the ramp and I thought "Ah ha, here comes Britney Spears!"  And i knew that was her!  ha ha.  (This calling Amanda Brtney thing started over Thanksgiving).  We rented out little Plymouth Sunfire, and drove into Seattle proper.  Our room wasn't ready, so we parked in the parking garage next to the hotel, and walked down to the Piers.  We ate at a little place called the Crab Hut, where the local special is this plate of seafood:  they give you a bib, a cutting board, a wooden mallet, a seafood fork, and cover the table with paper.  Then the waitress comes out with a bowl of steamed seafood and dumps it out of this silver bowl onto the paper in a pile in front of you for you to eat.  Corn on the cob, boiled potatoes, Dungess crab, snow crab, oysters, clams, shrimp, salmon, and then you can get it with lobster, and other things as the price escalates.  It was great.  Amanda and I both aren't wild about shellfish, so we opted for burgers instead.  At least she had a bowl of clam chowder.  Then we wandered in some shops, I pretended to be a pirate, bought on of my favorite indestructable, waterproof, write-on-able laminated maps of Seattle and joked around like people who need sleep...  Down the piers to Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe where we marveled at those shrunken heads I can't rip myself away from.  They're unreal.  If you've never seen this shop, it's pretty wild- it's packed to the gills with nonsense and silly crap, some local indian artowrk and jewlry, and cases full of grotesque curiosities.  They have three human mummies- a man who died after being shot in the gut, a woman who was found in central america somewhere who died of tuberculosis, and a 42 inch woman whose "species" has been extinct for 500 years.  (I guess this woman is one of a certain breed of people who were full-height at this tiny height, but they haven't been around for the past 500 years).  They have this poor little pig fetus who has two heads, some other things in jars, tons of dead animals.  A mummififed dog, a ton of dead animals, the scalp of a caucasian woman who evidently got 'scalped' by some Indians, and a case of shrunken heads.  I'm totally engrossed by these rotten heads every time.  They're really creepy and it's almost unbelievable that they were actually real people at one point.  Gross.  In New Guinea (where this practice of tribal canibalism and head-shrinking is now strictly illegal, or so they say), these tribes would kill their enemies, eat them, and then shrink the heads.  There is a woman in there whose entire torso was shrunk, too.  They take the bones out, fill the heads with a mixture of salt and some other stuff every day for 7 weeks, and the tribal leader gets to form the skin to make sure it keeps the contour of the person every night.  It's sooooo strange and gross.  
Strange and gross aside, we left the piers and walked to the Pike Place Market.  We wandered through the lower levels before emerging on top, watched the men flinging the fish for a little while, bought me a new supply of Market Spice Tea, and meandered our way out through the labarynth of flowers and fresh produce.  We bought a little thing of huge red strawberries to munch on while wandering, getting knocked into every step.  

Back to the hotel for a nap (I couldn't sleep then either), and then we left to go see the campus of Seattle Pacific.  It's a nice school, in the Queen Anne hill area.  After getting lost up there, we drove back down the side of Lake Union, into seattle center again, and back up the other side of lake union to visit capitol hill.  We parked on Broadway and wandered around for a little while.  We pulled into Delitante and had some evening snacks.  I got the minuet- a little plate with a tiny cup of soup, a little salad, and a half of sandwich while Amanda had dessert.  We split a pot of fresh chai tea.  The place is so great- the cakes and chocolates are all on display in a glass case in the middle of the place, with dangling twinkle lights blanketing the ceiling and tiny bistro tables all over the room.  It was pretty packed (Saturday night) but we were seated right away near the window. About half way through the meal this homeless guy obviously on something, follows two girls in and starts wandering to tables begging and making a big scene.  So they finally kick him out, and he is ticked off so he parks himself at the front window and is yelling at the people at the front tables through the glass.  What is it with the millitant homeless population in Seattle?!?  
Well, back to the bathtub for me.  I think I'll try and read for a while till breakfast is served at 6am.  guh...  this is going to be so painful tomorrow...
manda  Amanda on the wharf.
Sunday, 23 February 19:16pm.  Pacific Plaza Hotel, room 205.  Today was a nice day.  It was super brisk outside this morning, but bright and sunny and not a cloud in the sky.  I finally fell asleep last night about 5am and woke up at 8 or 8:30.  By 9:30, we were out the door.  I inquired at the Hotel Monaco about buying one of their doggie coats, but they were unfortunately out!  So we walked down to Pioneer Square, where we went to the Underground Tour at Doc Maynard's.  This is the fourth time I've been on this trip, but it was interesting to gauge all the progress they're making with clean up and restoration over the past 5 years since I first went on the tour.  It's a lot more made-up, less junk laying all over, more concrete walkways (actually, ANY concrete walkways is new) and less plank boards on the floors.  The tour was fun as always.  After, we were told to go and check out The Elliot Bay Book Company on First and Main streets, go to the underground cafe and have lunch.  I've been by the bookstore ten times, but i've never actually been inside it- it's HUGE.  And they converted their underground space into a cafe- very Cafe-in-the-Crypt style, with a little cafeteria, exposed brick and archways, with some shelving on the walls and books all over the place.  I had the veggie chili, and it was okay.  Actually, it was not great.  Amanda had a turkey sandwich and a spinach salad that she liked.  

After out meal and tour, it was 2pm and we walked back to the hotel.  Amanda wanted to take a drive around the area, and I remember from Convergence that the trip up to Bellvue and over one floating bridge, and then south over another floating bridge over Mercer Island and back to Seattle being recommended.  We took the drive, and tried to get to the Japanese Garden in the Arboretum, but it was closed since December, not to open till March 1st.  Amanda was very disappointed.  We decided to do an early dinner and then bed since shelby didn't have much sleep last night and i was hoping for sleep to come early tonight...

We ate at a place on the harbor since Amanda was set on having crab legs.  The place was cute- Duke's Chowder House.  I had this all-inclusive type meals with a cup of my choice of one of the six house chowders, a cesar salad, and garlic tortellini.  The food was good, but the Blackened Jerk Chicken and Corn Chowder was a MIRACLE.  Wow.  Really WOW.  It was AMAZING.  
We talked about my nerosis after dinner for a while and then drove back to Seattle, cracking up the whole way.  Now it's lower key, it's early still, and I hope to be asleep early tonight to make up for last night in the hope I dont' get sick.  I've got to finish my trashy mystery novel...  Amanda has her interview tomorrow all day at Seattle Pacific.  I think I'm going to wander around Capitol Hill again, maybe get to a coffee shop where I can sit and read the day away.  Or maybe Pike Place market...  good night for now.

Monday, 24 February 2003.  17:53 Pacific Plaza Hotel, Room 205.  Today was a nice day also.  Amanda woke up at 7 to get dressed for her interview at the campus all day.  I actually got to sleep at around 1am last night, so I went downstairs to get some breakfast while she left for her interview.  I had planned on being ambitious and maybe going back up to Capitol Hill to wander, but I ended up sleeping till 1pm.  That felt GOOD.  So at 1 I left, walked down to 1st and Spring and went to an internet cafe for a while to check on my flight, write some email and have some coffee.  That over, I headed north on 1st towards Pike Place.  I wandered in and out of some shops down on 1st, then headed up to Westlake Center area to roam around the shops.  I found a cute little doggie boutique- I bought a little sign that hangs on the door knob with the face of a little pug saying "A Spoiled Rotten Pug Lives Here," along with a "Warning: Area Patrolled by an Attack Pug" sign.  Very cute.   Amanda got out of her interview around 2:30 and she drove back to meet me at the hotel.  We spent an hour or two this evening wandering around the wharf and the downtown shopping areas before coming back to the hotel to chill out.  I can get on a 9:30 flight tomorrow morning according to United Airlines without much difficulty tomorrow morning, so I will be able to drive to the airport with Amanda and get back into San Fran by noon.  I miss the little Charmer more than I thought I would, actually.  My little schmoo.  Well, the photos scattered on this page were taken with the binocu-cam mom got me for Christmas.  

Monday, 24 February 2003; Things according to Amanda: 18:09 Pacific Plaza Hotel. Interview was today, went just fine. No real idea what will happen but was reassured, sorry mom and dad, that I should go for this particular degree. Shelby and I have had alot of fun romping through the city, getting lost because this city is not map-user-friendly, finding spy gear to fulfill Shelby's childhood dream of having flip binocular head gear, taking a city underground tour, and eating at an obscenely priced restaurant. So, I have spent more than I ever intended and listened to a little too much Britney Spears. But after all, as Shelby says I am a little Britney, she even bought me my very own Britney Super Star card. Also, I seem to be the center of her farting conspiracy. With the tiniest move I am accused of farting... is that really fair? You be the judge. For instance, just now, I shifted in the bed and the pleather head board made a squeak and she looks at me with accusatory eyes! Will I ever be vindicated? Moving on... Seattle, all together, has been lots of fun! I have spent most of the time being really cold, not too sure why- it's really not that cold here and I feel that I am eating all the time. I guess I just am not used to eating out for every meal. If Shelby wasn't here I would skip meals to save money- not really a good thing. Just wanted to comment, lastly, after living in Springfield, Mo for, going on, six years it feels really wierd to be in a "big city" again. The first day I was pretty nervous and alittle agoraphobic thinking "someone is going to jump me, I just know it." The second day I was just fine again. So it took a day to readjust to city life.  

Tuesday, 25 February, 2003.  08:47am.  SeaTac Gate N9.  Here I am back at the gate, waiting for my flight.  It's nice at this gate, it's right at the end of the terminal, so I've got a nice view of all the runways and for the past 10 minutes I got to sit here and watch the flights take off and land right here.  Kind of cool.
Ah, nifty.  I got on another standby flight at SFO.  Amanda is taking the car back right now, the car is under my name, and her flight is at 10:30am.  I have some paranoia that if she misses her flight it willbe all my fault, since my ticket was standby and i rented the rotten car anyways...  actually, i just really rented it FOR her, still...  i wish I could be assured she will get to her flight and everything will go smoothly...
As far as Amanda's Britney Super Star Card, i hope she uses it, she ought to.  And for the farting conspiracy, well.  I have nothing to say about that.  She's paranoid.  Totally paranoid.  I think that was all in her mind.  Probably after hearing this 20 minute lecture about the sewer system in Seattle when the city was founded, and the backup pressure twice a day that sent spouts of sewage at the unwitting toilet-goers at high tides.  I think that just made her paranoid.  That, coupled with the toilet in the hotel room which wasn't a toilet- it was a sucking vortex of vaccum power ready to pull you down the drain with your business, probably to sell your kidneys on the black market or something...  maybe they did it to our room specifically
because they're involved in the illegal slave trade and they wanted to suck Britney- I, i mean Amanda- down so they could sell her as a mail-order bride on the internet to some guy in Asia.  I bet blonde haried, blue-eyed women are in serious world-wide demand.  
Maybe she needs to look at her motivation.  ha ha.  She came home from her interview, and she was telling me about the jokes that were being told in the room at the interview and I was cracking UP at the jokes going on between shrinks- really funny stuff.  I wish I could remember some of them...
A bunch of shrinks in a room together...  sounds like the start of a  good joke in itself!
Well, I didn't sleep last night again etiher.  Although I finished my trashy mysery novel.  It pretty much sucked.  I've never read this author before- Nora Roberts, and now I know why I will never read her again.  This is trashy mystery at its worst.  It's piled so high will crap that I could barely stand reading it myself.  As it turns out, the ruggedly handsome, muscley independently wealthy architect who is a superior human being falls in mad love with the protagonist, Jo Ellen, who is a gorgeous, thin, fiercely independent, wildly famous photographer (all this at age 27- what am I doing wrong!?!?) the twists come fast, though, so try to keep up- someone is trying to kill Jo, the same person who killed her innocent mother 20 years ago and is sending her these pictures of herself, and one of her dead mother.  She goes back to this pristine, picturesque island she's from to face her severely traumatized and dysfunctional family who doesn't know mom is actually DEAD, they think she just took off and left them all 20 years ago to get away from this maniac.  The two siblings are all screwed up, as is her father.  On the island, mysetious murders start to occur, and Jo still gets another package of photographs of herself, the stalker followed her to the ISLAND!!  She is, during this, falling madly in love with Nathan (handsome architect guy who now has beautiful sun-bleached hair and bronze kissed skin) and Nora Roberts lovingly, graphically details their wild lovemaking in the midst of all this trauma and danger as are Jo's siblings- falling in love, that is-  all falling madly in love despite their personal totally neurotic problems.  The storm gets worse as it is revealed that Nathan, muscular gorgeous falling in love with Jo's FATHER killed Jo's mother, Annabelle, for no reason.  Now, Nathan has come back to tell them it was his father who actually killed Annabelle, she didn't leave them one day with nothing like they all thought!  But it gets WORSE:  Nathan only found out about his father's killing since both of his parents died recently, and in a safe deposit box he found his father's journal which meticulously details the killing, along with his photographs of Annabelle once she's dead.  Nathan brought these things to his brother, Kyle, to talk about what they should do.  Kyle dies in a bad accident shortly after this, and Nathan takes off to confront hismurderous father's family after 20 years alone.  Now the killings start again, mysteriously similar to Annabelle's story, women just disappearing without a trace- until one of thebodies is found, of course, by nathan and jo themselves.  Nathan is of course torn apart as he realizes the similarities to the murder 20 years ago, and learns someone has been stalking Jo.  One more ridiculous twist revelas that Nathan's brother Kyle, who we thought was dead, didn't die after all, he's ALIVE, and he's come back to finish his father's greatest work by killing Anabelles' daughter, who looks jus tlike her- Jo Ellen herself!  Gasp!  After the night of final confrontation when psycho brother Kyle decides to finish his work, a hurricaine hits the island, no power, cut off from all communication, Kyle is shooting people on his way to kill Jo-he shoots jos' brother, luckily the brother's girlfriend is a doctor who saves his life from a gun shot wound to the chest with no supplies of any kind, and Kyle shoots Nathan, who somehow survives to come just in a nick of time as Kyle is about to shoot Jo in the hurricaine, and is somehow strong enough to fight Kyle, get the gun, and shoot his own brother dead.
Bad guy dies, two good guys live miraculously after getting shot at extremely close range, everyone s madly in love, and three siblings end up getting married, and after 20 years so is dad.  Sigh.
What a crock.  I'm ashamed that I read it!  ha ha.
This flight is awesome- there are so few passengers, I not only got on standby, but I've got a whole row to myself!  And the weather is so clear we will arrive 15 minutes early in SFO!  I hope Amanda is boarding her flight by now.  I wish I knew the car business went okay.  

Well.  Any serious reflection about the trip?  I'm not sure I can pick out any real philosophical points and manipulate them into some metaphysical truth to apply to my life, sorry.  I realize that I really like San Francisco better than Seattle (shock!)  despite the latter's proximity to water on all sides, and greener landscape.  I think i might opt to stay in SF while Amanda's in grad school and just visit seattle.  After all, it's only a 1.5 hour direct flight up the coast.  I'm surprised to hear this from myself.  For so many years i've been planning on moving to Seattle.  Strange how things work out sometimes.  I like my job, but still the lingering discontent with regard to hours and maintaining my standard of living out here...  I lived like a princess on the East coast- great apartments, plenty of money to get out of debt, even buy a great house, take trips to Europe once of twice a year...  now I'm only getting by, not travelling much (which I suppose is still very relative), accumulating more debt, etc.  And I still miss the fam.  With all my crap lately, I find myself fantasizing about sitting next to mom and dad on the big white couch in the great room, fire place ablaze, hockey game on, and me with a head on a comfy, sympathetic shoulder.  Nobody's arms are as therapeutic as mom and dad's, after all.

Ah, well.  I will sign off at this point.  We have reached our cruising altitude of 42,000 feet, and I've got Journey's Greatest Hits crooning on the laptop.  I think I'll be quite content for the next hour.
Good night, internet.