Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rachel K. Rachelmas

As is characteristic of my blogging habits, whenever I have a real life outside of video games, blogging, and reading blogs about video games, I stop writing.

So since my last few entries a few things have happened:
  • Landed myself a boyfriend
  • Thanksgiving
  • Festivus
  • Channukah and Failed Failed™ Latkes
  • Hosted Rachelmas 2K9
  • Had six guests stay at the ol' abode. 
  • Resigned myself to working at Starbucks for the rest of my nubile existence.
  • Wrote 45 Christmas cards
  • Knitted an awesome scarf of awesomeness. 

So yeah, I'm the kid who starts dating someone and gives up on writing about the inane details of their lives. Deal with it 'cause I'm not apologizing for that. He's pretty rad, he works from Microsoft so he's a PC user and I'm a Mac user and together we are the most boring Shakespearean tragedy ever not written. He's tall and we both enjoy octopuses and eating, but not octopus-eating. And that's that.

Around Thanksgiving, Natanya (my friend from Japan) came up from San Francisco for a visit in Seattle. We didn't do too much together (on account of work), but she spent a few nights and I got to meet her friends from college. It was really awesome hanging out with someone from Japan and feeling so nonchalant about the whole thing. Also she managed to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy while staying at my apartment, which is damned impressive.

Other than that, I spent Thanksgiving with the Family Sreebny up in Matthew's Beach. There, we dined on too much food, accidentally sugarless pumpkin pie, a headless turkey cake, and all the Irish Coffees we could remember. The feasting was mighty and lengthy, the children played a youthful game of RISK (ohhh why do the wee ones always try to take over Europe!?) and I eventually tryptophan'd myself out of conversation and looked at a big book of architectural sites until it was time to drive home the old people.

Natanya left shortly after Thanksgiving and her visit was directly followed by a visit by my sister, Laura and my parents. The parents stayed in the fancy schmancy "guest suite" in the apartment complex and Laura stayed with me. I had been feeling a cold coming on for a few days, but it managed not to hit me entirely until Friday night. Zaydeh, the patron Sreebny, threw a swanky soiree for the family Sreebny and we ate fancy cheese on his couch while looking out the window at the glorious space needle. Laura and I then dashed off to our other party that night (at my place) for board game excitement! It was the first time Kevin was meeting a lot of my friends as well as Laura, so it was a really fun night despite the fact that I was basically sick.

The next day we went out to Bainbridge Island to be tourists. We drove around the water front and had a nice lunch at a local pub. It couldn't have been nicer outside, weather wise. I was sick as a very sick dog and downing sudafed and tea by the metric ton. Still, the day was totally enjoyable and as I napped in the car on the way back from the ferry, I fever dreamed happy thoughts.

When all the guests were gone, it was time for more parties and holidays. Between the two, Laura and Megan and Megan's friend Kelly and I managed to see the most spectacular version of the Nutcracker EVER. The backgrounds had been designed by Maurice Sendak and they were as animated as the dancers. Being the sickest had no effect on how glad I was to have seen the ballet.

Thanksgiving was followed by my 25th birthday, which was more memorable than I had anticipated it to be. I originally would have spent it eating a burrito (thanking God every day for the Chipotle that has opened on 3rd and Pike) and watching reruns of Jeopardy from the DVR. Thanks to my wise roommate, Megan [pictured right], dinner plans were soon made. We had tried to make reservations at a classy Japanese place called Chiso in Fremont. However, they were changing management and wouldn't be open on that Saturday. Instead, I made a reservation at Anthony's, a really fun seafood restaurant nearby the condo. We figured that would be good food for everyone since it has seafood, steak, pasta and just about everything else. Plus, free rolls.

Megan, Sarah [pictured left] and I got dolled up and walked over to the restaurant with Ian (Sarah's roommate) and Kevin (the kid who is dating me of his own accord, HA). The hostess took us upstairs, which was new and exciting because I had only ever been on the first floor dining area. Unfortunately, the upstairs was three times as pricey and had half the menu. Why does less choice make something classy?
With the realization that our $14 dinners were now going to be $60 (everyone knows that 14 x 3 = 60, shut up), we ordered drinks. Sadly, my brand new Washington state license was at home in my other jacket. Instead of getting a cherry coke and calling it a night, Kevin and I walked back to the condo, grabbed my ID, and returned triumphantly to our alcoholic beverages. I wasn't going to spend the evening of my 25th year sober, no sir.

The dinner was delicious and totally pleasant and we managed to pay for the bill (by which I mean that the girls in the group were completely unable to chip in and the boys paid for everything instead. I'm glad to be supporting 1940's gender stereotypes with my poverty and addiction to absinthe and cigarettes in no particular order.)

Thinking back on it, I can't think of a more memorable way to turn 25 than being carded and not having an ID, and failing to pay for my own dinner. I've come along way since the birth canal. Maybe by the time I'm 26 I'll have mastered the art of picking up after myself or flossing.

Festivus was the very next week! It was a party hosted by Kevin and his enigmatic roommate, Waseem (Canadian, works for Amazon, extraordinarily tall). It's based on the Festivus episode of Seinfeld and has traditions such as an unadorned aluminum pole (purchased at Home Depot), the airing of grievances and feats of strength. It was really fun getting to hang out with the few of Kevin's friends that I've already met and a lot of new ones. His pals are really friendly, fun types and I felt right at home with their excitement for video games, drinking at home, and celebration of things that come from TV. The airing of grievances was interesting to listen to... it started out as things like, "I hate my job" or "not getting laid" and eventually broke down into incoherent screams or multiple guys yelling out, "F*** Tom Brady!" and who can blame them? We can't all be professional athletes who marry Giselle. It's just not plausible for that to happen to more than one person. Meanwhile, the female of the friends, Madeleine and I just talked about clothing from Victoria's Secret because we have the same sweater from their catalogue. It's almost the same thing because Giselle worked for Victoria's Secret. Everything is connected. The feats of strength deviated from the hosts 'rassling' one another and turned into a very organized Street Fighter contest. I died and soon after lost interest, but the final battle was between Waseem and Kevin, which was fairly epic.

December as a month generally boiled down to the epic holiday preparations for Rachelmas 2K9, which involved Xmas cards, facebook invitations, 600 coloured lights, and a lot of baking. Not all of this happened at the same time, but every part of it was epic, as always.

A lot of people were able to show up to Rachelmas this year, though none of my coworkers from Starbücks (sad!) We had a lot of people visiting from out of town, including Natanya (again!), R2 and Ian. Ian's visit was plotted more than planned. We decided to surprise Megan with Ian's arrival by telling her that Ian couldn't come for Rachelmas. Despite some weak alibis and the fact that both Natanya and I accidentally spilled the beans about 4 times, the surprise appearance was a success. I took Ian and Natanya out to Chipotle (Thank you, Jesus) and we called for Megan to join us from work. We had Ian sit at a separate table and when Megan sat down, Ian came over and bumped into her. He apologized and walked off and Megan had the most ridiculous double take before turning purple and jumping up to hug the crap out of him. "I'm so happy you're heeeere". It was momentously joyous. Other than that I discovered that though I had bought Natanya some earrings for X-mas, she hadn't had any pierced ears. The clear next step was to go out and force her to put some holes in those lobes. And we did.

Surprise visits over and done with, R2 showed up a few hours later and so began Rachelmas 2K9. Sarah and Ian brought about 100 chocolate chip cookies, R2 baked some macaroons, Natanya baked me a magnificent cake, Megan made buffalo chicken dip, and Cheryl brought lasagna! It was an impressive feast to be sure. Natanya and I started off the party at the Marriott next door to the apartment and did some tequila shots before returning to the party and welcoming the guests with red cheeks and dizzying smiles. Huzzah!

We played celebrities and loaded questions and of course "Never have I ever" while dining on cakes, cookies, dips, pastas, and delicious drinks. Kevin's flight was delayed so he was even able to stay longer, which was great for me (drunk and obnoxious) and less wonderful for he (itching to leave, frustratingly sober). The evening came to a close with a "She Wolf" dance contest and watching inappropriate muppet-related videos on Youtube. My friends rolled me into bed and removed my socks, and another Rachelmas had come and gone.

And so I wrap up my epic blog entry and go to watch It's a Wonderful Life with the Family Sreebny.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good snowstorm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rachel K. Puzzled

It's the week before Halloween and while I've been cordially invited to three events during this weekend's trick-or-treatery, I've begun to feel that I am too many puzzle jammed together... resulting in something similar to this:
Not to be dramatic or anything.

The thing about starting my life over SO MANY TIMES is that everytime I do it, I have trouble with certain aspects of life... mainly social aspects. In school or on the JET Programme it was pretty easy to meet people like me, or at least like me enough to hang out with them a few times a week. In Los Angeles, however, I had a lot of trouble meeting people. Most of my social times were at work (since I worked 70 hour weeks more often than not), and home time was a time for complete solitude and a lot of computer game playing. I knew that I should go out and "meet new people", but I was never sure how exactly to go about doing that, other than trying unsuccessfully to meet boys on OKCupid.

Suddenly, in March, I found out that I would more or less be going to Japan in 4 months, and my concerns about making a life for myself in LA dissipated as I began to plan for my NEW life in Japan.

So 3 years later and I feel back in the same predicament -- I don't really know anybody except for my roommate and my couple of friends in Fremont who I see maybe once a week. Most of my social time, as is tradition, is met at work and when I go home I spend time watching Jeopardy, knitting, painting my room, or finding excuses not to blog. I'm completely at home and content to do these things, but I know that as a 24 year old single white female, I SHOULD be doing some of the following things:
  • Participating in youth culture.
  • Dating
  • Making friends
I'm having trouble with these, as I always do. I'm not much of a party-girl (never have been), and I feel a lot of social anxiety when I am in a group situtation without a lot of people I know. This brings me to my current dilemma -- the three parties in question that I have been invited to.

I've been invited to a pre-Halloween party at my co-worker's house in Lake City (far away, and preceding a very early morning Stårbucks shift), a Halloween party at Megan's boyfriend's house (Tarot themed -- not into the idea of it, plus the whole 3rd wheel thing), and some Halloween fun with my turned-out-to-be-platonic friend Daron and his friends. The main problem presenting itself to me is that I only know one person per event, and for fear of being awkward or clingy, the easy solution is to not attend any of the three events.

This will no doubt find me at home during the weekend, knitting, watching Jeopardy and painting my room.

Now, to further explain the Guernica Puzzle. The poorly matched puzzle that is Rachel K. Moves-all-the-damn-time seems always to be in a state of anxiety. Currently, I am feeling a lot of pressure to apply to the school of education at the University of Washington -- something that is prestigious and a decision that could indeed reshape my life. My family and friends are totally behind me and my decision to "possibly think about maybe going there at some point, I guess". So every once in awhile I pick up a GRE study book... or go online and fill out easy things on my online profile (name, address, ... GPA). Nothing further though -- every time I look at the personal statement page or the part where I have to write a "scholarly writing sample", I feel the monkeys of procrastination having a dance party in my stomach... and I feel the ghosts of Christmas past yelling words of discouragement at me "You're not SMART ENOUGH, you're a terrible standardized test taker! No school will ever accept you and you don't even really know what you're DOING."

In my heart of hearts, I know I just need to do the work and think about the fear of not being good enough after I get in, or don't get in. It's just a lot at once, and I am not the type of person to be 100% sure of any decision I make. I don't know if the indecision came from moving every 2-3 years, or if that was just a lifestyle that provided a solution for the innate indecisiveness in my personality. In either case, I'm running out of escape routes and it's time to make some big time, grown-up, career-altering decisions at some point.

It just all seems so odd to be worrying about graduate school when I don't even have a group of friends, a fully painted or set-up room, or permanent residence status in the state of Washington. Though, I suppose there's no one way to fit together a puzzle, and once it's finished, the paths we take become obsolete because of the big picture. So I'm hoping to accomplish something big, even though I am pretty sure I'm going about it in every wrong way.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rachel K. Flammable

I went to work at the Kümon Tutoring Center in Phinney Ridge on Monday only to see that my favourite pre-children coffee shop was no longer in business on the street. As a matter of fact, the surrounding Pho and Schezuan restaurants surrounding it were also gone -- all of this due to a three alarm fire that occurred over the weekend.

News Release/Statement
Re: Green Bean Coffee House burns down
For immediate release
We announce with great sadness that this morning, Friday October 23, 2009 a fire consumed the Eleanor Roosevelt Building on 85th Street in the Greenwood Neighborhood of Seattle. The fire destroyed four businesses, including The Green Bean Coffee House. Taproot Theatre was also damaged to a lesser degree.
We are grateful that no one was hurt in the fire. The damage is extensive and it appears that the Green Bean is a total loss.
The Green Bean is a non-profit organization owned and operated by Sanctuary Church. Sanctuary meets in the Greenwood area at Taproot Theatre on Sunday mornings at 10am. Much of the church’s equipment appears to have also been lost in the fire.
Dr. Randy Rowland, CEO of the Green Bean Coffee House and pastor of Sanctuary Church, responded to this morning’s catastrophe: “A church and a community development organization are about people, not about buildings. The people are unharmed and we remain resolute in our vision and mission in Greenwood.” Asked how they would function without the building, Rowland said, “We are here to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. None of that will change. We will carry on beginning today.”
Sanctuary Church will meet on Sunday mornings at 10am at The Upper Crust banquet facility located on the Southeast corner of 85th and Greenwood. Donations to rebuilding the Green Bean may be made to Sanctuary Green Bean Fund. In addition, a fund is being established at the Chase Bank Greenwood Branch to benefit the businesses affected by the fire.
- Taken from The Green Bean Coffee House Blog

The fire also came close to the local cat shelter, which was hastily evacuated. I'm thankful that all the cats were rounded up to safety -- as we know it's not an easy task to herd cats.

I've been thinking about the coffee shop (The Green Bean) a lot this week. I work at a coffee shop... and if mine burned down I'd be bummed since I'd be out of a job for awhile, but it's just a chain and there are a million other cafes JUST like it only blocks away. It wouldn't be a tragedy at all, just a nuisance. The poor Green Bean was the only Green Bean, and now it's gone! It just doesn't seem fair. Though, as my friend Ian (still in Japan) pointed out, it's better for an establishment to go out in flames than to go out of business. It's just so blasé in a time like this.

RIP Green Bean!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rachel K. Terrible at Blogging

So, it's been, what... a month since I've last written anything? Well, that's OK. The beauty of blogging is that I can pick it up whenever I feel like it (at least that is what I have decided.)
So, what's been going on? Well, I've managed to NOT blog about the following things, thus losing any ability to describe the important steps of my life in great detail.
  • Moving out of my aunt and uncles' house and into the condo by the waterfront.
  • Starting work at Stårbucks IN the Stårbucks HQ
  • Working at the Kumön tutoring center (these umlauts are to protect the innocent).
  • Adjustment and acclamation in general.
I should also mention that I drove from Virginia to Seattle with my sister... it was epic.

Currently my blogging has been brought to a standstill due to the fact that culture shock™ has thrown me into an on-and-off crippling depression. I go between thinking, "I can do anything. I just need to toughen up and do the work." and "WHAT'S THE POINT?! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE IN THE 2012 APOCALYPSE AND NOBODY WANTS TO DATE ME AND I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO DO IMPORTANT JOBS THAT REQUIRE ME TO WEAR A SUIT BECAUSE THERE'S A STAIN IN MY SUIT AND I DON'T WANT TO BIKE A SUIT TO THE DRY-CLEANERS BECAUSE IT IS TOO GHETTO."

So, things are finally settling down and I'm feeling better about my insecure, single, apocalypse-bound reality.

While Stårbucks is not my dream job, I have met a lot of really fantastic people working there. People who aren't former JET Programme JETs, which is a bit refreshing as I am feeling a love-hate relationship with those islands at the moment. [Japan killed my soul, but man oh man do I miss きゅうしょく]. So, anyway -- it could be worse. The real poor choice in this situation is that I volunteered myself for the opening shift beginning at 4:45am, which also means that I have to get on my crummy bicycle (rain or shine) at 4:20 and bike down 2 miles of quasi-sketchy waterfront road. Not a gold star decision, but I'm working on changing it.

Other than that I find myself tutoring awesome children twice a week at a tutoring center in Phinney Ridge. I get to help them with math and do a lot of paperwork while wearing jeans and a t-shirt... it may or may not be my current dream job. I love paperwork so very very much.

I've also been falling more and more in love with the Pike Place market... which is FORTUNATE considering the only date I've been on since moving here turned out horrifically [internet dating -- it's like a website that sets up bad dates for you -- for FREE.]

So that's where I've landed. More blogging later about the crippling insecurities that come along with applying for graduate schools and how the weather changes are going to affect my alabaster complexion (hint: über alabaster).

Rachel K. Caprese

Megan's friend, Cheryl had a belated birthday party for herself. Whereas a party for myself would involve cake, wine and board games, Cheryl decided she wanted to cook for about twelve people. The results were first-rate. I'll let most of the photos speak for themselves, but Cheryl managed to cook Brussel sprouts with bacon, a roast, garlic mashed potatoes, a caprese, basil and tomato plate, and various side dishes involving cheese and general swankiness.

The ambiance was calm and affable -- I got to spend more time with Megan's friends from the Jet Program alumni association, to which they all belong and for which they all organize events. While I am still not sold on the idea of joining an alumni association (it goes against my James Dean "I aint a part of no organization, man" persona), it's always nice to hang out on someone's couch while eating cheese.

After a few hours, the conversation turned into Japan-talk, which I'm still not quite ready for. My experience in Japan will never be the crazy city-life, dancing-til-3am-with-my-teachers, fun-fest that it was for a few others. I do my best not to feel bitter or unapproachable about the subject, but I'm still not ready to have a conversation about my feelings on Japan or my two years spent there in general isolation. I also still have no idea who any Japanese pop singers or actors are, which made it a little difficult to follow along with most of the conversations going on.

This was all solved when the home-made pumpkin cheesecake was brought out and my insecurities were drowned in baked goodness.

Now that all my coworkers are female and all of Megan's friends are female... it's about time to start making some male friends. I'll put that in my wishlist to Santa this year.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rachel K. ראש השנה‎

The Jewish new year or ראש השנה‎ (Rosh H'Shanah) occurs at some point in the year that nobody can remember, due to the fact that the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle. Regardless, most proper Jews or Jew well-wishers take time out of their busy non-lunar schedules to celebrate the Jewish new year!
Traditionally, from what I understand, we eat challah bread, apples, and honey -- signifying a sweet and fruitful new year. That makes a lot more sense to me than drinking champagne and kissing strangers as a giant, glittering ball ascends a pole. Similarly, Rosh H'Shanah is a day of rest. I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly haven't worked more than 12 hours in two months, so you could say I've been pre-gaming for Rosh H'Shanah ever since I retired from the JET Programme. I'm just that good of a Jew. *Cough*.

So, apple slice in hand, I rang in the year 5770 (take that, 2009!) with my Zaydeh, Uncle Oren, Aunt Michele, and many many family friends. We rallied at the swanky retirement condo of Zaydeh's BFF, Mim. They've been especially close since Bubbeh died because Mim's husband died about four years ago on Christmas. She's an extremely quick-witted woman in her late 80's or early 90's with a tinge of a British accent and sparkly brown eyes. She had invited the Sreebny Clan™ along with her two sons, her granddaughter and her granddaughter's boyfriend. We had some wine up in her "crib", which is a lavish, well-decorated space that definitely has the feel of "Grandma Chic" to it. We dined in a dining room stuffed with well-to-do old folks and toasted to the new year with wine (Maneschevitz present, but not well-used).
Mim even baked us a delicious honey cake, which nobody could get enough of, but nobody could eat enough of either.

I've grown up "somewhat Jewish" in that my Zaydeh and Bubbeh have always celebrated Jewish traditions and utilized funny Yiddish words and fed me matzah and gefilte fish for as long as I can remember. At home we did the whole Channukah/hooray for dreidels/let's light a candle or eight sort of thing... but I never went to a synagogue as a kid or an adult. My mother brought me and my sister to her Methodist church for awhile growing up, but we moved so much that we never stuck with a church, much less a specific organized religion.

Now, in my adulthood, I feel like I want to find some sort of community to be a part of. I've never been a believer in organized religion, but I've always had a strong sense of faith in people and in God or whoever might be watching over (terrifying Japanese ghosts anyone?) So, maybe I'll start looking around at Unitarian churches, which I hear are the vanilla of houses of God.

Religious affiliations and confusions aside, it's nice to be around people like Zaydeh and Mim who know how to properly celebrate Jewish holidays once in awhile. It's nice to get a sense of who I am and where I come from with extended family for a change, too!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rachel K. Linens 'n Things

I slept a proper night's sleep! Hooray for me!

Zaydeh and I had a 'proper breakfast' this morning of eggs, potatoes and mushrooms. We made too much and fed the leftovers to the trash can.

Then we decided to take down the mighty linen closet -- full of Bubbeh's stuff. So we divvied up napkins, napkin rings, napkins (thousands of them), place mats, tablecloths and odds and ends that we found. I can't believe how much she put in that closet that we never knew about! Pot holders and aprons GALORE.

So Zaydeh and I will wont for nothing. Hooray for Bubbeh! I also found a big box of embroidery kits, which I want to practice embroidery on of course, and a lot of spare yarn and knitting needles. A woman after my own heart! Meanwhile Zaydeh and I appear to have more and more in common every day... such as our fondness for milk and Hitchcock. Or our love of too-strongly-brewed coffee.

In the evening I met up with Sarah and Ian and their neighbour, Justin. Justin's a youngin' from Berkley who moved up here to work for Amazon doing clever computer things that earn him more money than I will ever dream of. Speaking of not dreaming of money, tomorrow I'm going to take a crack at applying for jobs. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, the four of us were driven (how nice!) to an izakaya in the International District called Kaname (which probably means something in Japanese but I sure didn't know what). The food was good. It was different than the stuff I've been eating for the past couple of years, but it was still full of tofu and there was beer so no complaints here! It's really nice having Sarah back as a friend in person again! No more of this internet friend nonsense.

Today Megan, my future roommate and platonic life partner, stopped seeing this nice kid she was dating for the past month or so. I guess when the sparks aren't there the sparks aren't there! But it's hard to explain that to someone who sees sparks despite the fact that you DON'T. Alas, such is life.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rachel K. Arabic Culture

I slept last night! In fact, I slept for about fifteen hours and woke up around 1 in the afternoon. Oops!

Soon after, Zaydeh and I set out for the Seattle Center to see the Arab Culture Festival. We hopped on the Mighty Monorail from Westlake Center and got off at its only stop, Seattle Center.

It was another hot, sunny day today and people were pretty hot and sweaty at the festival. A few kids and some teenagers jumped around in the big, outdoor fountain facing the Space Needle. There were th
ree stages at the festival, two indoors and one outside. We saw bits of belly dancing, 'hip hop' freestyling, and one blonde woman who did a seductive sort of dance with a lit candelabra on her head. Odd.

Still, we were doused in culture and it felt very good after being suffocated in "Japanese Culture" and other mayonnaise-soaked things for two years straight. There were some protesters, claiming that being at an Arab Festival would besmirch our names on Judgment Day. Such protesting evokes the name of Jesus Christ, who similarly used to preach the word of God while crashing someone else's party. Oh wait, he didn't. That was just those three jerk-hats.

Bigotry aside, we visited a Starbucks and sipped on some iced drinks and talked about what buses I should take to get to the apartment in winter when the sun sets at 4pm. The consensus is that Alaskan way is a great place to be, but it's better to be indoors after dark. The piers attract a lot of 'transients', so it can get a little sketchy. Fortunately there are a great many buses, and one such bus even dips down onto Alaskan Way (just for me!)

We came home with a bag full of pita, hummus and baba ghanoush -- a success in my book.

Zaydeh then told a long story about his 'rabid socialist' parents and their days spent owning a co-op in the Bronx. He even said, "I took the subway, which in those days cost a nickel." No onion on his belt, but maybe he left out some details. The story continued on to describe how he had gotten into genius school against his will by taking an examination with a 104º fever and writing about killing chickens. He misread the prompt, "killing time" as "KILLING-time" and the rest, as they say, is history.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rachel K. Jetlag

My jet-lag kicked in today and I ended up spending the entire night creating a new Seattle-themed blog. The name seemed funnier at 4am – I make no apologies.

Around 6am I decided it was time to wake up and get things done. I organized my suitcases in terms of “stuff I need in the condo”, “stuff I need for the east coast in two weeks”, and “stuff I hardly need until I’m moved in somewhere for permanent”. I threw the things I don’t need around into the storage locker down the hall and put the rest into nicely organized bags. Ahhh… order. Afterwards, I talked with my parents and then sister on the phone for a while. We’re all excited about meeting up in Virginia in just two weeks for a grand Sreebny reunion (following the massive Sreebny Migration of 2009).
I decided to try finding some shampoo and conditioner so I could grab a shower. Thank God for my Bubbeh – even in death she is providing bottles upon bottles of soapy, sudsy goodness. I also found five sticks of deodorant and a lot of Listerine. I’m never going to Walgreens again!

Around 7am, Zaydeh joined me and I gave him his Japan gift – a scroll I had painted as a hobby. It reads “Ine – abundant nature”, or 自然豊かな伊根町. He liked it a lot! In return, he pulled out some antediluvian poster containers to show me. One of them contained an award to Dr. Leo Sreebny (aka: Zaydeh) from the City of Paris for his cooperation in teaching at a University there. Another ancient document contained Bubbeh’s high school diploma. Underneath the diploma was an award for “excellence in attendance”. It’s g
ood to know that my punctual genes come from somewhere.
Zaydeh told me that he wanted to take me to the nearby Starbucks at the tiny “World Trade Center” near the ferry terminal to meet his favourite barista, Shannon. Sure enough, Shannon was there with a coffee mug tattoo on her wrist. Now that’s legendary service – BURNED INTO SKIN. She told Zaydeh to “hug it out” and gave him a big hug before turning to me and saying, “Ohh! You must be the niece I’ve heard so much about!” I don’t believe Zaydeh has any nieces, but if he did, they’d be lucky to be me. We then snuck Megan out of her office for a few minutes to say hi and give her some bites of scone and coffee cake before sending her back to work. The Starbucks seems busy enough to keep from boredom, but small enough to stay polite and high-energy. I think I’ll turn in an application on Monday. Zaydeh and I left for our errands contended by caffeine and sugar, only to realize that Zaydeh had left his bag in the shop. A brisk walk later, we had the bag back in tow and were on our way to the downtown area to get business done. I also found out that Zaydeh has a health condition I was unaware of until today. I’m a bit addled by the news, but if he’s OK with it I suppose I can fall in line, too.

Our first stop on the list of errands was to deposit the thousands of dollars I had in cash into my bank. Seattle never seems more full of homeless people than when you’re all your cash in a fanny pack on your waist. Yeesh. The halted construction s
ites and poverty around the downtown area made me see the truth of the American economic crisis a little more clearly. And still I ambled onto my bank to deposit my earnings. May they rest in a safe rather than in my pocket.

Other errands included trying and failing to switch over my New York driver’s license (apparently one needs proof of address – lame), registering to vote, and obtaining a library card. The Seattle Central Library (pictured left) is truly a marvel in itself. It’s 10 floors high and had hundreds of computer outlets with free internet access, a book conveyer belt where you can drop your returned books, and a 4th floor that is entirely painted red. I have never seen so many vivid colours in a library until now. Town Hall, where I registered to vote, was also especially beautiful on this bright and sunny day. The buildings in the surrounding area are tall, clean and gorgeous in any kind of weather. I could have taken pictures all day!

By the time we returned to the apartment, I was ready to crash from jet lag and all of our walking and errands. We had taken a bus back to the Market, but we had walked quite a few miles before doing so. So, I took a four hour nap in a spot of sunshine on the couch while Zaydeh went about his business of shredding documents, piddling around on his Blackberry, and reading the newspaper. I awoke feeling like a human being again, and joined in the shredding and organizing of documents. Now I am in the middle of becoming a resident of Seattle and Washington State… I’d say I’m halfway there (livin’ on a prayer). Zaydeh then told me a story about how he obtained a kindle starting with, “I had just started up an account with HBSC in Guam in 1947…” and ended with, “and that’s how I ended up with not one, but TWO kindles.”

The evening was spent in lovely Fremont, the Center of the Universe. Megan and I met Sarah and Ian – champions of platonic love, for a Thai dinner. I was chided for my preference of American coca cola to Japanese coca cola (unfairly). After dinner, we ate some of Megan’s epic red velvet cheesecake on the pristine terrace of Sarah and Ian’s new building. It’s the perfect place to stuff one’s mouth with sugar and butter. Speaking of, Megan wants Paula Deen to have a butter named, “Butter, Y’all”. I’d buy that. She and Sarah bonded over their delight of kitchens decorated with chickens. Fowl play may soon conquer the Raegan Institute of Poultry (or whatever we end up naming our apartment). Megan and I then decided to go home as it was getting dark and we needed to catch our buses.

Coming from an area where I had a car and it was particularly safe at night, I felt fairly frightened walking the dusky Seattle streets of downtown. To get down to the quiet waterfront area, one must cross 1st-3rd avenues and head towards Eliot Bay. However, these avenues have some shady characters after dark, so walking is a little intimidating on one’s own (especially when one is Rachel and a giant fraidy cat). Regardless of my paranoia, I made it home without a scratch and promptly wrote this blog and went to sleep. Hopefully this night will end some of the leftover jet lag and I will be able to enjoy the weekend like a normal person. Tomorrow’s plan : monorail and Arab Festival at the Seattle Center!

Rachel K. Reacclamating

The first monorail (the word itself a magnificent combination of Latin and ... Rail) was built in 1820. They were gyroscopically balanced. This predates the discovery of penicillin by over 100 years. At least the human race has its priorities in order.

It's the hottest weather in Seattle since THE DAWN OF TIME. That's not true at all, I just can't remember the last year during which Seattle reached 102ºF. That's hot, man! Seattle, as I understand it, is meant to be a lovely, cloudy metropolis filled not with heat, but with coffee. Or possibly flannel. Maybe even a little street music -- but not blinding, inescapable sunshine that brings with it immense waves of warmth (or warmthwaves, as some call them).

What do I think about all this? I just moved here. From Japan, where it is also hot and terrible. The forgivable things about Seattle are that:

  • This heat will go away. Soon the clouds and the chill and the drizzle will return.
  • Seattle isn't humid like Japan. In fact, a sauna isn't as humid as Japan in July.

So I'm settling in just fine. I'm messily and partially unpacked on the floor of my grandfather's study. He has recently agreed to let me and my fine, ginger-haired friend Megan move into his lovely condominium across from the Seattle Aquarium. For this we are thankful, but the move in will not be until September or October. So, until then, I will remain spread out, partially unpacked on the floors of helpful strangers and family members.

Oh, and I'm unemployed.

First impressions:
  • In Japan, there were monkeys in my backyard. They screamed and squawked in the mornings to each other. I woke up this morning listening to these same sounds... except that they were apparently seagulls. Someone should have called them Monkeygulls, or perhaps Gullkeys but I'm no etymologist.
  • I am not accustomed to hearing motors from my house. This morning I woke up to the sound of a jet flying past my window and was convinced that North Korea had just shot a missile toward the pentagon, miscalculated, and I was about to explode in a cloud of communist fury and kimchi. Instead, the airplane simply reached cruising altitude and enjoyed an in-flight meal of various foods heated at various temperatures.

So I sit here, in the midst of my space bags stuffed with clothing and ridiculous Japanese souvenirs, typing my virgin blog entry at 4:30am, wishing for sleep or dawn-- whichever comes first.

Today I become a resident of Seattle! Today I pay $45 to a DMV for a card that will validate this fact. Today, I will be exhausted.