Serendipity and solitude, be my guides (Seattle edition)

Dawn from my window.

I arrived in Seattle yesterday. I've never been to this part of the country before. I'm going to AWP later this week, which if you don't know is a huge writing/teaching writing conference (The schedule alone is 500 pages long. I exaggerate. But, please, never ever use the word "praxis" in a panel title, even if you are in graduate school. More on AWP later.) 

This trip has been in the works for a couple months now, but like  most things in my life recently, if it isn't immediately in front of me I don't have time to consider its reality. It was about half way through the flight from Chicago that I realized I was actually going to end up in the Pacific Northwest. Then a little later as the plane started to descend, I opened my window shade and saw this:

Well, I didn't see this precisely, because this image is from
But I saw a view like this, only there was a cloud streaming off the top of the mountain. 

Some things I've noticed:

I am slightly obsessed with this
pillow. it is fuschia velvet lace
over beige tweed.
Mt. Ranier is really big. The airport here has a strangely provisional air to it, like they might tear it down and relocate at any time. There are a lot of pine trees. On the highway signs, the state route numbers are printed on a profile of George Washington. I have a tendency to wonder about what it would be like to live in places like the apartment complexes by the highway or the little tent villages one can spot in the woods south of the city or those bright townhouses I passed as we drove into downtown. Sometimes I think what-if thoughts about just picking up and relocating, like when I moved to Atlanta right out of high school with $300 in my pocket and a cat. Seattle feels more like Chicago than I would have expected it to. There are a lot of hills. The people here are very, almost weirdly, friendly. In my hotel room, I am pleased by the fuschia accent pieces. The sound looks lovely but I haven't seen much of it yet; maybe I'll take a ferry for fun.

I walked around the city a little yesterday, in sunny mid 50s weather, had a great lunch, and poked my head in some shops, almost met up for drinks with an old coworker, then spent the evening in solitude, which is a big part of what I have been looking forward to on this trip: being alone. I don't really have any alone time in my life right now and I need it. Of course, I am out of practice and feel very odd being alone and don't quite know what to do with myself. That's part of the point. There are lots of people I know who will be in town for this coference -- some of whom I made friends with at prior AWPs. I look forward to maybe seeing them, but also to just being by myself. I am just going to let what happens happen.

Reading: I discovered a cool little e-book called Seattle Before 8, as in 8 a.m., all about the hidden joys of early morning in the city. I am going to put my Ohio jet lag superpowers to use this week and do some dawntime exploring.

Writing: Yes, I should do that too, in the midst of all this talking about writing.

Dinner (and Lunch): I had the most amazing lunch yesterday at Il Corvo in Pioneer Square. It's a tiny order at the counter lunch place that serves amazing freshly made pasta. I had pickled celery and prosciutto to start (a freaking revelation, it was so good!) and tagliarini alla Siciliana (think garlic, anchovies, chili in tomato sauce, topped with a generous toss of breadcrumbs). THIS WAS SO GOOD.

And, serendipitously, corvo=crow, and I have a writing project looming (the book after the book that currently won't finish itseld) that prominently involves crows & ravens. I have actually encountered several corvid references already on this trip. This feels like good juju. I will try to keep track of them.

For dinner, I just went to the hotel restaurant, which was pleasantly good. I had a lemongrass gimlet and a very good grass-fed burger covered with yummy things. The fries were only OK.

Soundtrack: My room clock has nature sounds. They were playing when I walked in. Yet another thing to momentarily discombobulate me. Also, a Nirvana song came on the mix while I was having lunch yesterday. What is the ironic opposite of irony?

Random thing: As the carbound suburbanite that I must after all admit that I am, I managed to score blisters on the balls of my feet on my first day out. Not cool.

On the other hand, "Serendipity and Solitude" is the title for the new series of artsy solo travel guides I am going to write. Someone get me a publishing contract RIGHT NOW.


  1. I love you and wish I was there! Hurrah for Serendipity and Solitude!


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