Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Portrait of Seattle By a Young Man

Puget Sound

The past few days have been a mixture of rain, then clouds, then sun, then more rain. At times, the rain has been heavy, matching the strength of the sun's rays which come after. So it is that the city is balanced evenly between hope and despair.

I have not explored all of the city yet. I'm staying in West Seattle, a suburb of Seattle, at the bottom of a road that looks like a steep staircase with few steps. In Downtown Seattle, in the heart of the city proper, the road often drops in waves to the water, some sections of road dropping steeper than others. On clear days, Puget Sound sparkles. On cloudy days, the Sound sits there like a large black beast.

Downtown Streets, Sloping Toward the Sound

Most of the streets in downtown run straight and parallel to each other, jointing at the next neighborhood over (Pioneer Square or Seattle Center). Each section has its own personality, and sometimes certain blocks do, too. Near the water is Pike's Place Market, where Farmer's Market is located.

Farmer's Market in Pike's Place Market

Pioneer Square is south of there, past Columbia Street, and includes the oldest structures in the city--most of them underground. The International District is east of Pioneer Square, and is near Qwest and Safeco Fields.

Chinatown/International District

Qwest and Safeco Fields

Then, on the other side of downtown, heading north, one encounters Seattle Center. I took a monorail to there, from which one can see a great view of downtown as it slides past. The Space Needle is in Seattle Center, as is the Pacific Science Center and--most importantly--The Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum.

The Monorail and Part of the Experience Music Project

The Space Needle

I have seen people wearing suits downtown, but not many. When I wore a suit on a mid-morning bus, I got stares. Most people dress casual to semi-casual. Most are Caucasian, with the rest being black, Southeast Asian, or (a few) American Indian. Lots of people smoke at bus stops, but no one smokes inside buildings.

And then there's the food.

A Home Cooked Meal, Courtesy of My Hosts

I haven't eaten out much, but what I've eaten has been delicious--even the food I ate at a buffet. I don't drink beer much, but I've been told that that will change while I'm living out here, since they have so many varieties. While that was being said to me, however, I couldn't help but be reminded of an English major telling me that I would start smoking before I graduated college, due to my major. I still don't smoke (and never will), and while my reasons for rarely drinking have more to do with personal preference than my health, I don't want to develop a beer belly, like the one I saw someone sporting on Halloween, clashing with his Harry Potter costume.

Like most cities, Seattle can be a lonely place, especially when you know few people and not so well, and when your best friends are flung here and there across the globe. I am looking into volunteering at theaters around here, in order to meet more people and return to my theatrical roots, though the big theaters in Seattle tend to draft members of the geriatric society into their volunteer army. Most people who volunteer are in their sixties, probably retired. If that is the case, it means that the youngest of them are older than my parents by at least several years (I take back the geriatric comment and replace it with this one: the volunteers tend to be old). But I shall not meet them for another two weeks. At least the theater people I've met seem friendly. And Seattle Center, where the Seattle Repertory Theater sits, reminded me a little of the Big E, with its open spaces and roller coasters. In essence, it's an asphalt prairie with slabs of grass that seems many miles removed from the shopping district downtown.  And it has a musical fountain.

A View from the Monorail Platform

The International Fountain

Until next time...


  1. That was an informative conducted tour! Seems to be a lovely environment. Hope you will continue off-smoking for always--I had a hard time quitting. I would be interested to have an item wise description of the Home Cooked Meal--as to an alien!

  2. I Greg, I really enjoyed your post. I hope to head out west this summer so maybe I can meet up with you! This reminded me a little of when I first moved to Boston in 2005. I was excited but got very lonely. Luckily I started school again and that helped but the first year was a little rough. Volunteering sounds great and I would even look out for writing groups if you are up to it (brave enough or are interested)

    I also started reading books that took place in the area I was living in and Seattle has a great literary history. (I would avoid “Snow falling on Cedars,” though…I have tried so many times to get through that book!! I found it really slow. Have you read it?)

    I also met a lot of people through common interest social networking sites, being a dork I was curious to see if they had the same groups in Seattle and they do:

    Meet in Seattle:

    Or Meet Up Seattle:

    When I first came to Boston I joined Meet up and Meet in. I joined a very animated Film group and we went to see movies together every Sunday and ate at a local tavern to discuss the films (and these guys were EXPERT movie junkies and KNEW films…it was great discussion.) I stopped going because they are always on Sundays and I tend to want to veg Sunday night before the long week ahead

    The nice things about these groups are that the people who are in them are also looking to meet new people. Some are new to the city (and there are even “new to city groups”) and some just like meeting different people. Sometimes it’s only guys looking to pick up chicks but when that happens and someone gets creeped out the moderator steps in ha-ha.

    I also met one of my close friends here and some of her friends who are all Russian History and Culture buffs like me.
    I joined a really cool and fun group called “Nerd fun,” which goes to museums together and to the Harvard Observatory to see the stars every other month. There is usually always something interesting going on.

    Good luck and Congratulations on your new adventure!!!

  3. @SM:
    The meal was stuffed pepper (VERY spicy), mixed rice, and refried beans. How to describe the taste? I guess "delicious" will have to do; you could taste the time, effort, and love put into the meal (the woman who prepared it took several hours to make it).

    @ Elara:
    Thanks so much for the information! I will be sure and check out those groups when I have some free time this week (I'm a little busy with job hunting on Monday and Tuesday). And please, if you're up this way in summer...:-)

  4. The aromas coming through on the net are salivational!

  5. I require more sunshine than that city can provide.


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