My trip started out stupidly on Wednesday, as my flight was delayed an hour, which Southwest helpfully called me about at the exact moment I reached the airport. I bought a Kashi bar to keep from dying of hunger.
I got into Seattle around 8 instead of 7, and I met waitaminute17 (Beth) at baggage claim. It had been three years since we'd seen each other. I collected my luggage, and we headed to the parking garage, which required us to cross a bridge that startled us by talking to us out of the blue.
She pre-emptively apologized for both the state of her car and her apartment, but I assured her I was easy to please. Her car was not that bad! And neither was the weather, thankfully. A light drizzle, nothing more. The first order of business was food, but as we drove into and through the city, Beth pointed out Seattle things like the famous skyline (I don't really see what's so special about it) and Green Lake. She offered a couple choices for dinner: BBQ or Mexican. Either was fine with me, I supposed, but she'd had Mexican for lunch, so I was good with BBQ. But then she remembered a Puerto Rican place that she really liked, and since I'd never had Puerto Rican food, I picked that. I'd had Cuban food, but not Puerto Rican food. Beth commented that the place had, in fact, been a Cuban restaurant before it was a Puerto Rican restaurant, and it took people a long time to realize there'd been a change since the cuisine was so similar.
It was a small restaurant called La Isla. The weather was fine, so we chose to sit outside even though the hostess warned us the table was very small. Our waitress came to give us menus...and she looked just like JStew, whom I was meeting for lunch tomorrow. I swear she even looked at me like she recognized me; for a few seconds, I thought maybe it was her, even though I knew it wasn't. The resemblance was eerie.
We did decide that the table was pretty small, so we went inside to get a table that would hold all our food. Beth loved the fried plantains with a special garlic dipping sauce, and I wanted the chicken empanadillas. Or, well, the one chicken empanada I got, which was very tasty, as were the fried plantains. For dinner, I had salmon a la parrilla, which, if I recall my Spanish correctly, means "salmon at the parrilla." It was an award-winning dish, and it was very, very good. The rice and beans were good too, and I got more fried plantains with my meal, although by that time I'd had enough.
On the way back, Beth regaled me with tales of Metric, as she had hung out with the band since her cousin married the drummer. We discussed how great a song "Help I'm Alive" is despite the fact that it is goddamn repetitive.
Her apartment was indeed in a bit of disarray since she was in the process of moving; there was very little open floor space. She introduced me to her two cats. Unfortunately, she had to get up early the next day for training, so she had to go to bed. Her roommate, Diane, would come in the morning and escort me into the city the next morning so I could meet JStew.
And who should pay a quick visit that night but Diane herself! She burst in, and Beth introduced me, and she shook my hand and said that it was really nice to meet me, and I had no idea why because she didn't know me at all, but she could have said anything she wanted in that British accent of hers. She exuberantly related that she'd given a random bloke on the bus her number for whatever reason, and then she exuberantly said some other things. "I love buses," she said.
"I hate buses," I said. She clarified that she meant that in the most sarcastic way possible, as I had assumed. She exuberantly said some more things and turned to me and said that they were the sort of tales she'd be telling me on the bus the next morning when we'd go into town and get some "breakie" and then she'd direct me to Pike Place Market and she'd go to work. She didn't know anything about me and we were already going to be having "breakie" together! She was perhaps the friendliest person I'd ever met. Her accented boisterousness reminded me of Fay (pandarus), whom I'd be seeing soon enough.
Her phone rang. Was it the bloke from the bus? It was the bloke from the bus. She did not answer it. As I was sleeping in her bed, she told me to sleep well and that there really was something weird in the middle, it wasn't me. Then she shuffled off!
In five minutes, I had fallen in love with her.
"I like her," I said after she'd left, as if it were imperative that I make such a declaration.
"Everyone does," replied Beth. How does one remain so cheerful and likable at all hours and at all times? It is a mystery.
Beth had to sleep, so I gave her a goodbye hug as she lay on the ground with a cat atop her. I stayed up and finished reading The Bro Code, which was pretty amusing, as expected.
I suppose I'm spoiled by living in a quiet neighborhood; I found it a little difficult to get to sleep with all the sounds outside of cars and machinery and whatnot. And I inexplicably woke up at around 3:40 in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep, so I messed with the cat for twenty minutes, goading it to cuddle up with me, but it refused.
Diane was supposed to show up between 9 and 10, so I got up and got ready at 9 and watched TV as I waited. Attack of the Show, X-Play, The Colbert Report. Hold on, you may say, isn't that a lot of television? It is! Because, uh, there was no sign of Diane. I didn't have her number, and she didn't have mine, and Beth was trapped in training and unable to answer her phone. I was supposed to be at Pike Place Market by noon, and it was nearing 11, so I hijacked a laptop in desperation and searched for the right bus. There was one that would get me there in time that was only a couple blocks away.
I checked to see whether the doorknob had one of those push-button locks so that I could leave the apartment locked when I left. Thankfully, it did. I locked the door, made sure the cats would not escape, and left.
At the exact moment the door closed shut, I heard the entry-buzzer inside. "Shit, shit, shit!" I said and went down as fast as I could, hoping that I would run into Diane. And, indeed, the exit I was heading toward was the entry she was buzzing from.
Her car wouldn't start, and she didn't have my number. She should have gotten my number, she said apologetically.
"Did you lock the door?" she asked.
"Yeah," I said.
That was the wrong answer. She needed to change for work, and she didn't have her key; in the plan where things worked as they should, she wouldn't have needed it since I would have let her in. So the new plan was that she would drop me off and then go back and get her key and change and all that, which was very nice of her. She was not as boisterous as she had been the night before, but she was still in generally good spirits despite the circumstances.
She drove a giant truck. As we drove into downtown, we talked about our jobs and our histories. She regretted not being able to spend more time with me (which, again, aw, since she didn't even know me), and the feeling was mutual. She dropped me off by Pike Place Market, where I jumped out as she stopped at a light.
I had about twenty minutes to kill. JStew had said to meet by "the pig," which I was told was a large brass piggy bank by the entrance. It was not hard to find, as there was a crowd of people around it. There was also a crowd around the fish store where they...threw fish. It's a thing! It's crazy!
Next to the fish store was a place with a headTARDIS-y sign:
I don't understand. It's really not that hard, people.
I explored the market a bit, looking for a place to each lunch. There were many choices! Ooh, grilled halibut sandwich? I like halibut! There was a lot of salmon, but I'd had salmon the night before.
I circled back to the pig, and there was JStew! Which was good because I was really hungry. Before we searched for food, however, I needed to take the Obligatory Tourist Picture:
We walked all through the market and down the street as JStew pointed out places she liked or that looked good. She seemed to want to go to Jack's Fish and Chips, but I didn't want a lot of fried food after all those fried plantains the night before. Some places were really busy and had long lines. She pointed out Piroshky Piroshky, a Polish [sic, actually Russian] bakery that served yummy stuffed pastries. They looked good but not that filling; I did want to come back and try the smoked salmon pate piroshky because it was shaped like a fish!
One fun thing about the Pike Place Market is all the samples! People would cut us off pieces of apples and peaches, let us try some handmade cheese, dip sticks into jars of pepper jelly and various other jellies, and dip bread into twenty-three billion kinds of balsamic vinegar.
Anyway, my heart was set on the grilled halibut sandwich, so we headed toward the Market Grill...but on the way, we spotted Lowell's, which had actual seating and looked a little classier. And their special of the day was...a grilled halibut sandwich! It was a few bucks more, but it came with clam chowder or fish soup as opposed to a side salad, so I figured it was worth it. I'd never really heard of fish soup—although I was correct in assuming it was soup...with fish—so I went with that. JStew entertained a couple other options before duplicating my order exactly.
We went upstairs to see if there was a table by a window with a nice view. All the tables were taken, so we were about to try the first floor, but then we saw some people leaving! So we started to claim it...until someone tapped me on the shoulder and ahemmed, as they had been waiting for the table to clear up. D'oh! They apologized, but I said I completely understood; we weren't trying to be dicks! It was an accident. But right as we were going downstairs, one of them called to us that another table was clearing out! Rock! So we got a table with a pretty sweet view.
As we waited for our food, I explained what I was doing in Seattle, i.e., meeting a bunch of online friends from a messageboard. These were the Buffistas, fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
"Isn't that kind of a trashy show?" she said.
OH NO SHE DI'N'T.
I explained that, no, it was a great show and pretty consistently appeared on Best Shows of All Time lists. Then she remembered that she actually had seen one episode randomly this one time, and she'd liked it. Who is spreading these insidious misconceptions about my show? Huh? HUH?! She said that it was good, but it didn't win awards, right? I said that, yeah, it was ignored because it was on a smaller network and a "teen" show. She didn't get why it would be ignored because it was on a smaller network. She was so not television- and fandom-savvy! But I liked her anyway.
Our identical food arrived, and we chowed down as she told me about her latest career plans. It seemed that my efforts to get her to be a medical writer had failed; she had decided the field really wasn't for her, but it was good that she'd decided that.
"But it's bad for me," I said.
"Wait, why is it bad for you?" she asked.
"Because then I won't see you at conferences!"
"Well," she said, "you'll see lots of other interesting people."
The fish soup was...soup with fish. The halibut was not as amazing as it had been in Boston; it tasted a little more like regular whitefish, but still good. The bread was very good, though, so the sandwich was still a winner.
When the waiter came by to ask if we were done, we said yes...and then JStew asked if, wait, could she have my lettuce? Haaaaa. Sure, I said, and she dabbed some salt and vinegar on the overflow lettuce that wouldn't fit in the sandwich. It reminded me of the time she asked for the rest of my pie. It was cute how shameless she was about eating other people's leftovers.
We navigated our way out of the market and to the nearby gelato place, Bottega Italiana. I wasn't sure about Seattle gelato; we have some pretty damn good gelato in the Bay Area. But I was willing to give it a try.
"How many samples do you give?" asked JStew.
"Two," said the girl behind the counter. Buh? Everywhere I went to let you try pretty much as many as you wanted. But, wait, it gets better: because the samples this girl gave were barely the size of my pinky fingernail. Seriously. How in the hell are you supposed to get an idea of the flavor from that?
I tried the chocolate hazelnut, which tasted like chocolate hazelnut, and the pistachio, which tasted like pistachio. I got the pistachio, and JStew got the coffee. Outside, we were able to actually taste our gelato. Mine was good, although it tasted more like an actual pistachio than I was used to. Hers tasted more like a coffee bean than coffee. She was not a fan. In fact, she was so not a fan that she went back in to get something else. I wasn't sure the girl would let her exchange it. I heard JStew ask for a larger sample so she could actually taste the damn thing, but the girl said that she was just giving her a little at first and if she liked it, then she could have a larger sample, which...what? In any case, JStew copied me once again and got pistachio, and we went happily on our way.
Next door was the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, where we marveled at the ridiculous varieties of caramel apples they had and also tried a sample.
We continued down 1st Avenue toward JStew's car...for a long time. We passed the point at which I could have turned to go to the hotel, but I was in no hurry. Eventually, though, she said it was almost time for her to start running lest she get a ticket when the meter ran out, so I left her and told her to keep in touch.
Destination: Hotel Monaco, 4th and Spring. So all I needed to do was to go back down 1st a couple blocks and then up Spring three blocks, right? Right. Up Spring. It was warm out and I was dragging my luggage with me and the incline was killer and who did Seattle think it was, San Francisco?? No one told me Seattle had hills!
I crashed in the hotel lobby and read Powers as I waited for mrbroom. Wait, you may say, Broomy lives in Kansas! Or you may not say that since you don't know Broomy, but he's a friend of mine from before LJ; he had visited Rice six or seven years ago, which was when we had first met in person. And by some freaky coincidence, he happened to be visiting Seattle the same weekend I was. He wouldn't even have known if he hadn't checked LJ before he left, and then we would have felt shitty this week. It was even a little appropriate, since he'd been a Buffista for five minutes. I don't remember how long he was an active poster, but I did get him on the board for a bit.
He was still tall. We hugged. He introduced me to his friend, Kim, whom he'd come to visit for her birthday. But today, June 18, was the birthday of one adnirem, so on our way down Spring St., I called her and we both wished her a happy birthday.
redsouffle had recommended I go up the Columbia Tower rather than the Space Needle because it was cheaper, less crowded, and taller than the Space Needle. It was also only a few blocks from the hotel, so it was a winner! To get to the viewing deck, we went up about forty floors very quickly, passed the Starbucks and switched elevators, and then went up to the 73rd floor very quickly. The top three floors were only for the elite crew, it seemed.
It was a mere five dollars to enter the viewing deck! That's my kind of admission price. The viewing deck is a no-frills floor with large windows and a couple benches that let you gaze down upon Seattle from the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest.
Eat it, Space Needle!
Eat it, other buildings!
Eat it, Smith Tower! (Which was the tallest building west of the Mississippi at the time it was built.)
Eat it, Qwest Field or Stadium or whatever!
Eat it, Amazon.com!
Eat it, clock—okay, no, you don't have to eat it, you're cute.
Eat it, Starbucks!
Seattle is an interesting city. It's very pretty, but every view seemed like it was a different city.
That's Bellevue. I love how the clouds are hovering above menacingly like they're about to destroy the whole town.
The floor was functional as well: there was a radio station! They did the traffic report! Brilliant! They could totally just look out the window and see what was going on. Who needs a traffic copter?
I saw a guy with a shirt of the Earth with a label slapped on it: MOSTLY HARMLESS.
"Nice shirt," I told the guy.
"Thanks," he said, "do you know what it means?"
"Yeah," I replied, "that's why it's a nice shirt." ...Sometimes I'm a dick.
But sometimes I am awesome? Because I am the kind of person who gets Broomy to help me take the following picture:
EAT IT, SPACE NEEDLE! I CRUSH YOU!
I remarked that it was kind of crazy that the clouds were essentially at eye level. Kim, the local, said that if you slouched down in the chairs, you could make it so all you saw was clouds, and...holy crap! It was like we were fucking flying in the house from Up!
We spent something like 45 minutes up there, maybe an hour, really getting our five dollars' worth. There were never more than a dozen people at a time, which made it a nice, relaxing experience. We watched planes land at Sea-Tac. Kim showed us where she lived; she could see her apartment from there. It was fun times.
By the time we left, I figured dcp might be checked in. I was rooming with dcp on Friday and Saturday, and I wanted to stash my luggage in our room so I didn't have to lug it around. I called, and it rang and rang and rang until I finally heard, "Hi, this is [dcp]. You have excellent timing." I waited for the voicemail greeting to continue ironically, but there was silence.
"Wait, you're actually there?" I said. He was. He was being serious, as he'd just gotten into the room when I'd called. He was just getting settled, so I was welcome to drop off my luggage. Sweet.
On the way down, Broomy and Kim stopped for drinks at Starbucks. There were a lot of Starbuckses—and coffee shops in general—in Seattle. There would be many jokes about this fact over the weekend.
They waited for me outside while I went in and dropped off my luggage. I found room 215 and knocked on the door. And there was dcp! I shook his hand, meeting him for the first time. I transferred essentials into my backpack—and shaved so I wouldn't have to bring those materials—and headed back outside, where Broomy and Kim had disappeared.
They appeared from inside; apparently they had called to me but I had kept on walking. Broomy had forgotten that I was a fast walker. Many people have commented on this fact (and more would this weekend).
That was our destination. What the fuck is it? Would you believe...A LIBRARY?
With NEON YELLOW ESCALATORS?
WHOSE UNDERSIDES ARE LABELED?
It was a very interesting design scheme, to be sure. I couldn't tell whether it was at all functional, but it looked neat?
There was a Library Spiral that was a slight incline so you could traverse the Dewey Decimal System all the way to the top.
Those funky-looking four-corner chairs looked hard but were surprisingly soft and comfy. We lounged at the top below a card catalog art piece on the wall.
Downstairs, we were fascinated by the children's department, with all their books in other languages, the greenest room we ever did see, and soft stone-shaped things on which to watch a puppet show.
Yes, we spent nearly an hour exploring a library. This is how I roll.
Outside, we killed time, and I took this picture.
But to prove that Broomy and I did indeed co-exist without destroying the universe (he's an Other Me), Kim took a picture of us.
We sat on a bench that looked like a girder and people-watched until Broomy and Kim had to leave.
I went back to the hotel lobby to wait for redsouffle (Katie), whom I had met at Jess and Colin's wedding. I had been calling her all day but gotten no answer. We had planned to eat in the University District, and she had said she would meet me at the hotel at 6, but I had suggested that maybe I could just brave the bus myself and meet her in the U-District at 6. I had received no response to that e-mail, however, so I stuck with what I assumed she assumed was the plan.
As I waited, who should show up but omnis_audis and Laga, whom I'd met in L.A.. I had seen Omnis this past Christmas; we had seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button together. They were on their way to dinner, but I was waiting to go to dinner, so basically I was too good for them.
Around 6, though, Katie did arrive, and she gave me a terrifyingly strong hug. I guess she was happy to see me? She had forgotten her phone at home, which is why she hadn't answered. She used her bus-fu to get us on a bus heading the right direction. On the way, she demanded my abridged life story, so I gave it to her.
The bus dropped us off across the street from a comic book store, so I asked if we could stop in for a bit. It was laid out differently from my comic book store, but I finally found the latest issue of Ex Machina. They were closing, so I didn't have time to read it all. I also checked to see whether they had the one Daredevil trade I needed, and they did not.
Because I had had a seventeen-dollar lunch (and an expensive dinner the night before), I was prioritizing cheapness in my dinner; Katie took me to Best of Bento on University. It was pretty cheap! They had frickin' salmon nigiri for three bucks! So I had to get some of that, but I needed a sushi roll to fill me up. The caterpillar roll—eel, cucumber, avocado—looked like a winner. Katie got what she always got, which was a pile of fish on rice.
During dinner, my mom called, and I had no desire to talk to her at the time, so I didn't answer. Then she called again. And again. And left a voicemail. That said she didn't like my new voicemail message—which I had swiped from Deena Pilgrim—and blah blah blah arranged marriage deadline and to call her back.
Dinner was good, and I helped Katie finish off some of her fish, as she couldn't eat the whole thing by herself. But then it was time for her to get to a D&D game, so we took a picture, which gave her the opportunity to be all kawaii.
She squeezed the life out of me with another hug before leaving.
My next destination was the apartment of one the_narration/TheNarrator, whom I had met on the SCC forum on TWoP. But on the way, I stopped in Twice Sold Books to see if they had that Daredevil trade I was looking for. I had liked the sign outside: "You can catch the next bus!" They didn't have the Daredevil trade I needed, but they did have Death: The High Cost of Living, which was the Death trade I needed. Rock.
I got to the general area where Brian was supposed to live but didn't have his exact address. I used this in-between time to call my mom, however, and we talked about movies and blah blah blah arranged marriage deadline and there went twenty minutes I could have been spending with Brian. I called him, and he came to get me. Huzzah!
On the way to his apartment, we passed Jack's Tapas Cafe, which had an awesome sign:
It's the "mainly" that makes it art.
I had done a lot of walking and Doing Stuff already, so the plan was to chill out and watch stuff in the apartment. I do enjoy watching stuff with friends! He put on Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, which I had not yet seen. It was fun to see the characters on an adventure again, although Ed didn't get much to do and the villain was too much like Vicious. And he doesn't look at explosions, so I had to show Brian "Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions" afterward.
Next up, I asked if we could watch Equilibrium, which I had seen years before but had fallen asleep during or something. People had been talking about it recently, and I wanted to refresh my memory as to what was so cool about it. For one, I didn't remember who all was in it! Obviously, Christian Bale, but also Dominic Purcell! Sean Bean! Taye Diggs! Emily Watson! Who even knew Emily Watson was in a goddamn sci-fi movie? Why didn't this movie do better? I mean, the story is kind of clichéd, but the gun-kata is pretty fucking badass. The movie was definitely better when I saw the whole thing.
I slept on the couch. I was very tired, even though it was barely midnight.
The next morning, I checked b.org to see if there was anything going on in the morning. There didn't seem to be. I asked if it were okay to bring Brian along and promised he was not disturbing. No one responded, so I took that as assent.
We had a little time to kill, so I checked to see whether there had been a new episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. And there had been!! Perfect. It downloaded quickly, and we enjoyed spending summer vacation with the S.O.S. Brigade. I did not enjoy raisins in my cereal, so I picked them all out.
We still had time to kill, and Brian showed me his collection of anime that we could watch, but I didn't want to watch the first episodes of anything since I would then be compelled to watch the rest. Instead, we watched an episode of Star Trek. Watching stuff with friends! It's the best!
We took the bus into the city. This bus had a crazy lazy Susan in the middle or something; the seats in the middle of the bus—between segments—were on a rotating platform that moved when the bus turned. It was nuts. Oh, inertia.
At the Hotel Monaco, I asked for a key to the Buffistas Hospitality Suite. Appropriately enough, it had a picture of a martini on it (my regular key had a woman blowing bubbles). It took us a while to figure out the elevator system and get to the 11th floor, but get there we did. I inserted the keycard into the door of room 1105 and opened it.
Inside, the Buffistas and the rest of the weekend awaited me.
Next time on Buffista F2F: Seattle Edition—Everyone dies! No, wait. Everyone lies! No, that's not it. Everyone has pies? Maybe no one has pies. The only way to find out is to tune in!