Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tour Diary: Part 5 SEATTLE!

Saving the best for last, Scott and I headed from San Francisco to Seattle for the last five days of tour. This was the part that really felt like vacation because I was only doing one thing that was book related and I spent the rest of the time showing Scott around my favorite city and hanging out with one of my best friends from high school, Polly, her partner, Chris, and their adorable daughter, Unity. I love Seattle so much I took like 400 photos and had to split them into two albums on photobucket. Part one and part two, but I'll post the highlights cause I doubt anyone will go through them all, but Eryn, *smiles and waves at my Seattle BFF.* In fact, Eryn might be the only one to make it through this blog because it is frickin' long. It took all night to write, though, and is probably the most personal blog of the tour diary, so you'll enjoy it if you do read it, I swear. But if you just wanna skim through and look at the pics, it's cool.

We flew out of Oakland, which is what I've done both times now because it seems to be cheaper. I really really liked Alaska Airlines or at least our pilot because he navigated everything we flew over. Like Mt. Shasta in Oregon:

And when I fly into Seattle from Chicago, we don't actually fly over the city. Or at least it has never been clear enough to take photos of it from the plane.

Oh more points for Alaska Airlines, only airline to leave and land on time. Oh wait, maybe they were late... It all blurs together now. Regardless, the most important and exciting thing was that Polly, Chris, and Unity were there waiting at the baggage claim for us. Now Polly is one of those people who I wouldn't have become who I am without, in fact I might not even be alive without her. We became friends right after my sophomore year of high school a.k.a. the hardest time period of my life. She was a year older and basically like the older sister I always wished I had. We grew apart and lost touch during college as can often happen, but reconnected via MySpace (oh MySpace why are you responsible for so many connections and then I have to blush and feel like a dork because of it). I was excited to hear about her daughter and her life and thrilled to be reuniting with her in my favorite city... Of course our reunion and my meeting Unity for the first time ended up happening under much unhappier circumstances when our friend Marcel passed away. It felt good to have them both at that time, but I wanted us to forge happier memories, which I think we did and honestly, I wasn't ready for them to leave when they did because we were still all grieving and it felt important to be together, so I'm glad we had more time to comfort each other as well. But anyway, less rambling, more pictures.

Unity and I immediately bonded over my shiny purse and nail polish, both of which, elicited "Wow"s from her and my cool Seattle bracelet, which she called "baby." (Her grandma has a necklace with her picture in it so any jewelry with pictures is "baby.") Here she is trying to charm me out of my purse:
We got settled in at Polly and Chris's house, which is amazing. They have this great back deck that overlooks their huge garden with so many veggies and berries and the cherry tree they planted when Unity was born. You probably know by now that I have a not so secret desire to move to Seattle and if I ever can, I want a house like theirs. I could just imagine myself out on that deck writing every morning. Swoon. Polly gave us a tour of their neighborhood as well and it was really nice to stay in an actual neighborhood where real people live in Seattle for once instead of downtown. I got a different sense of the city and I loved it even more. We ate at a great restaurant that had all this fake meat and some real meat for Scott, too. Then, Polly, Scott and I ventured to Capitol Hill for a drink.

Sadly, ever year that I go back to Seattle, Capitol Hill gets more, well not quite yuppified, but it has a lot more condos, so.... Basically when I first got there it reminded me of the Belmont and Clark area in Chicago when I was in junior high before everyone discovered that area was cool and before there was a Starbucks on the corner (I realize in Seattle, home of Starbucks, Starbucks on the corner doesn't = a neighborhood falling prey to total commercialization, but here it does). And now it's reminding me more and more of the current Belmont and Clark. Like Polly told us that they moved *an entire block* of businesses to build condos, which they claimed would be in the heart of Capitol Hill, but they killed the heart of Capitol Hill to do it. *Sigh.* We located the new location of one of her favorite bars, Bus Stop, but it wasn't open yet, so we walked to another one... umm Canterbury? Is that right? Isn't that a place in Madison that I liked... hmm, umm, but the bar was cool, it had every bar type game imaginable including shuffle board. We just sat and talked, so we didn't utilize the games, but I still appreciate them. And the jukebox. Fugazi was playing when we left to walk back to her house. Lots of walking in Seattle. There always is, but this year the weather was perfect for it.

Anyway, I'm sure you want less blabbering and more photos. Next day I took Scott to see Gas Works Park, which I think is the neatest park ever because it has the old gas works there like a sculpture and it is right on Lake Union and totally gorgeous.

And then to see the Fremont Troll, which is basically a concrete sculpture of a troll holding a VW Bug. Yeah, weird, you just have to see it. And we also took my favorite picture of Scott from the whole trip there. He just looks like a rock star, like it's a band photo shoot or something:
We also visited the Fremont Market which occurs every Sunday in the summer and I bought this awesome black and white photo printed on canvas so it looks like a painting of the Space Needle reflected in a building. It was from a local artist and fortunately I got his website because he had several more pieces I wanted and Scott and I have a vision for this wall in our dining room. Currently the wall has a mirror (not all one piece of glass mind you, but basically mirrored tiles and then mirrors shaped like buildings) of the NYC skyline, which, A. I live in Chicago, why isn't it the Chicago skyline and B. it's the pre 9-11 skyline so it is kind of eerie. When I bought the house I thought it was kind of cool in a cheesy 80s way, then I got slightly creeped out when my realtor pointed out that it was the pre 9-11 NYC skyline. We'd all just glanced at it and assumed Chicago. But anyway, I'm totally sick of the mirrors now and it's going to be a huge pain in the ass *cough* for Scott *cough* to take them down, but eventually it will happen and now I'm going to put a bunch of B&W photo canvas painting thingys of Seattle there, I think.

Oh yeah, back to the tour. Next we met up with my friend Charley for lunch in the U-District at a vegan pizza place (thanks for indulging me, Scott and Charley), which was soooooooooo good. Then back to Polly's house where I wrote in my journal (the only writing I did on the trip quite unfortunately) on her beautiful deck until she, Chris, and Unity came home and we ate raspberries from their garden with them.
Polly & Unity:

Chris (yay raspberry tongue!) & Unity:

Then Polly and I dragged Scott to see a Shakespeare in the Parks production of Hamlet. It was a nice thing that again made me appreciate the city in a way that I don't really get when I am there a.k.a feeling like I live there and am doing something I would normally do as opposed to being a tourist. It was a long hike down what Polly and Chris referred to as the ugliest street in Seattle (Aurora Ave) to take the bus home, but once we got there Chris had seriously delicious food waiting.

The next day was me and Scott's big touristy day. We went to the Pike Place Market, the waterfront (I love the waterfront, just sitting and staring at the Bay, mostly, and also the Pirate Store!), the EMP & Science Fiction Museum, and the Space Needle. Here we are at the waterfront where I made him take pictures in the exact spot where Eryn and I take pictures every year. (In case you haven't noticed, I really like traditions):

Here's the guitar statue thing in the entrance to the EMP, the only thing we could really sneak pictures of.

We started in the Sci Fi museum and were in total dork heaven (so much Star Trek: The Next Generation stuff!) and then up to the EMP, which I really could have spent hours in there listening to this new exhibit they have with musicians doing video interviews about their music and the scenes and random other thoughts. And of course I had to walk through the Northwest Passage exhibit and ogle all the stuff from the grunge era (the soundboard from the studio where Bleach was recorded! A smashed Cobain guitar, Noveselic bass, and Grohl drum pieces! Handwritten Gits lyrics! Grunge pencils! I totally remember those, but no I did not have them. Too commercial for me even as an 8th grader, thank you.). But then there were other places to go, like the fountain, which I'd promised to call Eryn from. Sadly it was not turned on. Even sadder, somebody was letting their kid pee on it.

But they had all these benches from the various places in the Seattle Center around the fountain, so Scott and I took fun pictures with the Sci-Fi Museum bench:

And the EMP bench, which had a great quote on a plaque in front of it from Joan Jett that read: "My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself. It is who I am." I think that might be the motto for my character Emily from IWBYJR:

(click on to make words bigger)

I made Scott walk to Easy Street Records, my favorite record store in Seattle, where I proceeded to spend way too much money (but they had a great used CD so at least some was cheap and I bought The Gits Movie, which seemed appropriate to do in Seattle). Then we went back to the Space Needle. We stopped at the Fountain briefly again and Scott demonstrated how he felt about all the walking in Seattle:

So my it seems like the majority of my Seattle photos are of the Space Needle from different vantage points (what can I say, I love that thing. It's so much cooler than a plain ol' tall building. The Sears Tower may be way taller, but it's got nothin' on the Needle), but this is my favorite:

I let Scott be the photographer because A. he is way better than me and B. I have three years worth of my pictures of Seattle, I thought he would have new perspective, but I took the Space Needle shot above because it was my vision. However Scott took the from the top of the Space Needle pics and my favorite was this one, which has a great view of Mt. Rainer behind the city (it was a gorgeous day, a "three mountain day" or whatever it is they say when it is sunny and clear):
After that we stuffed ourselves on Mexican food and margaritas and headed back to Polly and Chris's.

The next day was Polly and Unity day, so we took a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island together (after a brief stop at Elliott Bay Bookstore which was awesome!). It was Scott and Unity's first ferry ride. And it was a stereotypical Seattle day, gray and a little chilly, though no rain. But yeah, Scott was cold:

Unity was being particularly adorable so there are lots of pictures of her.

She really wanted Scott's ginger ale:

And low and behold we accidentally a picture that's a pretty good shot of my promise ring:

And finally after many attempts, Scott gets a picture of Unity pointing at the camera:

On the way back, she showed us her talent for sleeping on public transportation (the ferry is technically that, not just a fabulous tourist attraction):

But she woke up and refused to take a nap after that, so she tried on my shoes:

And read books with us instead:

Okay enough about how freakin' cute my friend's kid is (but feel free to leave comments about how absolutely adorable she is). I did do a reading that night at Bailey/Coy Books with Corrina Wycoff. I knew Bailey/Coy was going to be awesome because Polly used to work there and she raved about the store and the owner, Michael. Michael was incredibly nice. I intend to go back there everytime I'm in Seattle because it is just an amazing store and Michael is so passionate about books and yeah...

And Corrina. Holy cow, Corrina and her book O Street are awesome. It's such beautiful prose and clearly a haunting set of connected short stories (which is originally how I envisioned IWBYJR btw), I can't wait to read them all. And of course you can win a signed copy if you enter my latest contest... Trust me, you want this book!

Here's a shot of me reading courtesy of Polly:
Then I got to meet my fans. Ashley made my whole tour worth it. Seriously. She ran to my reading because she missed the bus. She told me my book was her life and just made me feel so unbelievably good about it that whenever I'm feeling less than confident about the book (which is often. I'm pretty insecure), I think about her. Here we are together. She said it would have been cooler if she'd had her mohawk up, but it was still pretty damn cool:

There was also a person I was soooooooooooooo excited to meet in the audience: Breanna from my Street Team!!!! Breanna is one of the street team people I talk to the most via MySpace and I just think she is an incredible young woman and was hoping she'd be able to make it to the reading even though she lives kinda far outside Seattle. Here we are together:

My friend Ralph came with his wife and three week old baby, Cate! Ralph's formerly of the Betty Ford Falcons, a band that we literally bumped into our first night of our first trip in Seattle (Ralph was outside and said, "You should check out this band, they are one of the best in Seattle" and we shrugged and said, "Okay" and he said sheepishly "I was just kidding, it's my band" and we said "we still wanna come" and we've either hung out or seen BFF or both every time we are in Seattle):

And then my friend Geoff was in town from Kansas City visiting his boyfriend, so he showed up and we had Bubble Tea and wandered Capitol Hill together before the reading:

Last but not least, here is is me and the amazing Corrina Wycoff:

Unfortunately this was our last night with Polly, Chris, and Unity because we'd decided to have a final vacation-y night and stay in a hotel the last night in Seattle. We also rented a car that day and went hiking in Discovery Park, all the way to the beach with the lighthouse that was in the Temple of the Dog music video (you know, "I'm going hunnnnnnnnnnngry!" Okay, you probably only know if you're a big grunge fan because it was a Soundgarden/Pearl Jam supergroup, which honestly I didn't hugely like because I'm not a Pearl Jam fan, but I liked that video). Taking pictures with driftwood on the beach was fun:

Then we drove to North Bend and Snoqualmie aka the place where Twin Peaks was shot. I freakin' love Twin Peaks. It was one of my favorite shows ever. My mom let me watch it with her, which I now question a little bit because I was like 11 and the storyline, umm, a bit twisted, especially considering who did kill Laura Palmer (won't give it away in case you haven't seen it, which if you haven't, you should get it from Netflix immediately). I got Scott into it a while back, so that he was adequately psyched up to have a "damn fine cup of coffee" and a piece of cherry pie at the diner featured in the show:

We drove around looking for locations from the show and I took a lot of gorgeous shots, but easiest to identify was the Great Northern Hotel aka the Salish Lodge which is on top of Snoqualmie Falls, which you may also remember from the show:

Snoqualmie Falls is actually taller than Niagara Falls, but not as wide. I learned this fact from the clerk at the rental car place when she was trying to make nice with me after our bad rental car returning experience. I've used this place every time I'm in Seattle, and they are supposed to drive you to your hotel when you drop off your car, but were understaffed. In the past when they were understaffed, they paid our cab fare. They refused to do this, so we had to drive to our hotel, find parking, check in and take our stuff up, then drive back, which may have been simple, but we missed one turn, went a few blocks out of our way and it ended up taking 45 minutes--I shit you not, 45 minutes--because we got stuck in Mariners traffic. The only plus to the whole thing was that the car had satellite radio and a Distillers song came on which I played at top volume to try to calm my rage. They gave us five bucks off the car rental, which made me feel slightly better, but I figured it would make me even more better if I got drunk.

Yeah, we kind of got really drunk. We started at the Central in Pioneer Square, one of Seattle's oldest saloons where all the Sub Pop bands got their start playing back in the day and where I saw Betty Ford Falcons last. Had a couple drinks there, then moved on to have dinner-- and martinis-- at Typhoon!, one of my fave thai places. Then we went to the Comet, which is my favorite bar in Seattle, though I went there for depressing reasons the first time: it's the place Mia Zapata was last seen. Eryn and I left graffiti on the bathroom wall for Mia when we were there in 2005 and I was excited that it was still there. I drunkenly texted Eryn pictures of it.

Next since we'd gone to one depressing rock star death place, I decided we should go to another, Linda's, the place where Kurt Cobain was last seen. Scott did not use the bathroom before we left and had to pee as soon as we got off the bus. In the middle of downtown Seattle... I tried to take pictures to get him back for my peeing picture, but was so drunk by this point I couldn't hold the camera straight and they all turned out psychedelic.

However, we decided to keep drinking at the bar below our hotel, the NiteLite. It has a jukebox full of oldies including Johnny Cash and Queen. We were drinking the well drinks at this point. And I went outside to call my best friend Katie at one point and was out there for quite a while so there are about 10 pictures of my drink full and his empty because I was taking too long.

I'd also read the article where I became self-conscious of how many times I said like and totally, so we drunkenly did this, which in case you can't read it, says "Like totally Queen rules!"

Eventually we crawled up to bed and passed out watching South Park.

But wait, there is more. Seriously. A trip to Seattle would not be right without a trip to Viretta Park, the park next to the house Kurt Cobain killed himself in where his fans go to pay their respects by writing and leaving offerings on a bench.
The bench is kind of a sacred place for me because I had some major epiphanies about my life the first time I was there. Usually I like to sit there and write for awhile and I'm always moved by the new messages to Kurt. My favorite this year: "Kurt, we have all become u... Just as much as you were us. I'll never forget." I thought that was really cool. I've always tried to write from the place where Nirvana's music touched me, so Kurt would live on a little bit in that way, so I related that that. I brought flowers from the Pike Place Market as always, pulling out one for Eryn as I promised her, but I also left a copy of IWBYJR. Yeah, it's cheesy, whatever. I don't even really believe we go anywhere we die, though I do believe our energy disperses and his had a lot of places and people to disperse into. I know he's not gonna "see" the book. I know that he's just a rock star, someone I never knew, so maybe I shouldn't feel so attached to him and to this place. But I wouldn't be who I am without Kurt. The book wouldn't exist if I hadn't heard Nirvana at 13 and decided not to be scared about being who I am and expressing my creativity. I hope a Nirvana fan took it as I left a note instructing them to do so.

Also cool, someone left their Converse sneakers with Misfits shoelaces.

Then we hung out by the waterfront until it was time to go to the airport. I was not happy to be at the airport, but there was a Borders in there. It wasn't huge so I was pretty sure it wouldn't have my book. Scott insisted we check and surprise! There it was! And it was even already faced out! I didn't have to do it myself. I think the lady nearby thought we were crazy taking pictures of it though:

We took Southwest home. My favorite airline of all because they give you lots of free snacks, don't charge you for baggage and the crew is usually hilarious. They cheered me up slightly, but I cried on the plane. Yeah, I know. I also begged Scott to move to Seattle even though it's not at all financially feasible. Here we are on the plane, making sad faces. Or trying because Scott kept laughing.

I leave you with that image because seriously this is the longest blog ever. Really. So I'll write a summary sort of thing and tell you a bit about my homecoming event(s) tomorrow or Saturday.