The Calm Before

I recently passed my one-year anniversary of moving to Seattle and I’m getting close to the one-year mark for my job at the Triple Door as well. So much has happened in a year – most importantly, I feel like I have made progress in my personal progression and faced down my boogie men, in some ways.

Wednesday we had a gathering in Volunteer Park in honor of Sarah’s impending departure from the city she has called home for three years now. A group of her friends gathered by the blooming dahlias and spread out wine and cheese and fruit and other yummy things on picnic tables. We drank rosé in the fading light and the waning heat of an August evening and released biodegradable balloons with messages of love and well-wishing. The leftover balloons were full of helium, which we sucked after dark, in a circle, singing snippets of songs with our high pitched voices and giggling.

The summer feels like it is winding down already, though we should have another month of sunny days, if we’re lucky.

The beginning of the month was hot and hazy, the skies over Seattle filled with smoke from the wildfires raging in Canada and Montana. On the positive side, the haze made the days less hot and kept things in the 80s instead of the 90s as predicted. It coincided with Seafair, which I recall from last year, when I was still staying with my aunt and uncle in Magnolia and Seattle felt brand new.

This year the Blue Angels roared over my tiny house in Beacon Hill and for three days in a row they made themselves known. After the Fourth of July this year, I’ve realized how much I dislike patriotic displays of war prowess.

Sarah and I have taken good advantage of our time together in Seattle. Since our outing to Victoria, we have gone to The Can Can – a cabaret in Pike Place Market – and returned a couple of times to Capitol Cider for our favorite jazz jam.We even went to Shakespeare in the Park and checked out Rumbar – a place she’d been longing to try.

Tonight we will go to the Triple Door for a cabaret singer I like called Lady Rizo and tomorrow night, Sarah will be on a flight to Columbia.

I sympathize with her feelings of inner conflict – it is hard to leave a job where you love your role and the security and the fact that you’re needed and appreciated. Even if that job isn’t what you ultimately want out of life, it is the end of a certain chapter. I’ve got a bit more time before I’ll similarly be saying goodby to things and this city, assuming all goes well with my visa. So far, so good.

Seattle has been an interesting place to live. I’ve grown to love my co-workers and the environment at the Triple Door, which is such a cool space and which has inspired me in many ways. The people I work with are – in the best possible way – freaks and misfits, in-between travelers, pierced, tattooed, rainbow-haired rebels and youths. Actors, musicians, writers, dancers. There are benefits to working in the service industry. The people are a big one.

But there’s been nothing to hold me here. Now that Sarah is leaving I feel my ties unbinding. I like being here now. But in my mind, I’m shifting. I do love my little cottage, still, and my patio is comfortable and calming, white spots of light dance reflected from the lazy motions of a string of mirrors. My tomatoes grow and peppers are sprouting, cucumbers fattening and basil in bloom.

I think increasingly of Erika, who had such a charming and effortless garden in California. I wish I had moved to the west coast when she was still alive – wouldn’t it be nice if I could simply drive somewhere to see her? Just a day’s drive away in Napa. But her garden is no longer hers, her condo still features the bathroom tiles mom helped Erika install – no doubt some other traces of her still abide, but fainter and fainter.

Her car sits unmoving on the side of my street as I wait for final confirmation of my studies in London. As I hold onto her Rav4, because it is still, every so slightly, part of her. She put most of those dents and scrapes there; she wrote about her little car in her journal. It will be the end of an era to say goodbye to it. Six years have passed so quickly I can scarcely believe it when I see the years the stretch back to our last trip together in Brazil. To fill out my visa application, I had to list all my travels for the last ten years, searching through old emails for dates, reliving the trip to France when I started this blog, glimpsing emails from lovers past, not read in years, but still surprisingly fresh. Did I come back to New York for him and was it a mistake? Am I going to London for the right reasons?

Erika once studied in London for a semester. My mom and I visited her there when I was 17 – another trip abroad I recalled in applying for my visa. For a city I am not overly fond of, many of my life’s turning point moments seem to center on it. Perhaps living there will be better than I previously thought. Meanwhile, I am looking for a houseboat to live on like Anais Nin. I love having a charming living space – it really improves my quality of life. Such a first-world thing to say. Lol!

I’m looking forward to the eclipse in a few days. I always adore the moon and her mysterious movements. I’ve never seen a solar eclipse before and though I’m not driving out of my way to the “path of totality,” I think it will be 90% visible from Seattle.

Sarah will be gone by then. And about a week later my parents will come visit and then the final countdown begins.  Looking forward to seeing what the future holds and playing my piano as much as possible before I have to let it go.

One last note, as Burning Man approaches and mom and I have discussed what sort of shrine to burn for Erika this year: I recently ended up at a park watching a bunch of grown people doing a very fun and whimsical dance in a children’s wading pool at Volunteer Park. I didn’t know it then, but I recently learned that the performance was to honor the last wishes of a dying artist who lived on Vashon Island. She helped plan the music and choreography and costumes and then these people who loved her came together and performed a joyful, magical tribute.

I’m really glad I went. Joyful dancing is the best answer for just about anything, it seems.

Love and miss,

Kira

 

Independence

It is hard to believe we are already half way through 2017! Time does indeed move fast and each beautiful day lately is sunnier and warmer than the last.

The last weekend is worthy of writing about. Friday and Saturday evenings were spent, comme d’habitude, at the Triple Door. We had a fun campy burlesque show there (literally summer camp-themed acts).

On Sunday I had the day to do laundry and tidy up the house and my little garden patch before going to see one of my favorite bands from high school, Ween. They’re such consummate musicians and I’d hoped to see them last year – even had a ticket – but then my companion for the show ditched out and I wasn’t prepared to go it alone at a massive NYC venue. This time, I met up with my friend Peter and a group of his Ween-loving friends at his place in the International District (Seattle’s mishmash of China/Japan/Korea etc towns). Then we piled into his vintage Chevette and drove out across the great Lake Washington and to Marymoore Park, shrouded in trees of deep soft green. The sun sets late here in the summer and it glinted through the looming pines throughout the show. I sipped rosé and enjoyed the show immensely.

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It was over rather early and we all headed back to the International District for a little karaoke.

Or rather, a lot of it. I rolled out my greatest hits, as the place was empty and turns at the mic were frequent.

Unfortunately, by the time I got home, I was rather toasted, as dinner never happened. I say unfortunately, because as I climbed up into my loft, I lost my balance and fell from the ladder to my carpeted concrete floor. I knew instantly that I’d hurt myself, but I was so tired that I just crawled up to bed and hoped for the best. But the next morning, Sarah and I were going to Victoria, B.C. where much walking would be required.

The drive to Port Angeles was just a couple of hours, but I was hungover and carsick and once I looked down and my phone had butt dialed an ex-boyfriend to whom I’ve not spoken in 5 years! Christ, that took the blood from my face!

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Sarah got me an ACE bandage and I wrapped up my foot and hobbled as best I could onto the ferry where I was again wracked by nausea from the rocking of the ferry. Finally, we went to the upper deck, which was much more pleasant and I napped until I felt better and we disembarked in Victoria.

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Beautiful Legislative building – lights up at night like a carnival

It is a cute little port town, both European and American in feel. We visited the Natural History Museum and then went for drinks at the Empress Hotel (they serve a high tea there for $70 a person) – we got rosé and nachos! It was the first and last food I was able to eat for a while!

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Wooly Selfie with Sarah

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Rosé at the Empress

We took a cab to our Airbnb, a cute little apartment with a cat named Wednesday in residence. After a shower and a change of clothes, I was ready to hobble around some more!

We meandered south, sipping some wine Sarah had brought along, thoughtfully. It always makes me think of Erika when I drink wine al fresco from paper cup or water bottle. We crossed through the little Chinatown (one street, spangled with red lanterns) and looked for an open place, but many we tried were closed on Mondays.

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Finally we went to an Italian restaurant, very quaint, and they served very interesting food, but I lost my appetite again and wasn’t able to eat much. Frustrating!

After dinner, we tried briefly to find a bar to inhabit, but we decided to go home and cuddle the cat instead (not a euphemism).

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In the morning, we walked toward downtown for breakfast on Antique Row (and of course some book and antique shopping) before walking to a Victorian copy of a Scottish castle for the local coal and iron barons, the Craigdarroch family.

We spent the afternoon learning about the chateau and its long history as a music school and military hospital after it was no longer a private house.

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Then it was time to get back to the ferry. We caught a cab and made it just in time for boarding. I felt much better on this crossing and my foot wasn’t too bad. We got back to Port Angeles and then decided to check out Port Townsend for dinner.

There was another fabulous bookstore to be explored – full of treasures (and I was reading aloud to Sarah from a book of Joseph Campbell’s lectures about the Goddess as we drove, so we were quite inspired). Dinner was unfortunate again, as I ordered something far too rich and regretted it – it was drowned in a blue cheese sauce that overwhelmed me and killed my timid appetite again. Damn my car sickness!

Sarah and I made it back to Seattle just in time for darkness to set in and the fireworks to be set off! It sounded like bombs going off over my head and made me stressed and annoyed until it finally ceased. Ah, sweet silence.

I am still waiting to hear back about getting into school in London, but I am already looking forward to missing out entirely on the 4th of July celebrations. Not my bag atall. I’ve never been crazy about the English climate, but if I can handle Seattle, I guess I can try London!

Meanwhile, it was back to work for me yesterday, and luckily, my foot feels much better, thought it still definitely stings a bit and I might need to take it to a doctor. The best news is that Peter let me borrow his Chevette while my car is broken (if I don’t go to school, I might as well get Erika’s car fixed, especially as it isn’t likely to sell for much). So much up in the air at present.

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The Chevette

My garden is growing and I divided up my baby lettuces so now it is survival of the fittest. They are from a package of seed (from Walmart, no less) which once belonged to  Erika. I’ve had them for the last six years, though I never had anywhere to plant them before. Lo and behold, they’re growing!

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My sprouting garden

Strawberries were ripening more and more each day, enough to get a handful for breakfast each morning, but now they are slowing down.

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Despite my foot, I walked to my local farmers market on Wednesday and brought home fresh raspberries, blueberries, apricots, carrots and flowers to brighten up my little home.

My landlord is finally clearing out some of his art from the “groovy cottage” as he calls it – it was jam packed with objects and paintings and postcards when I moved in. Not that I minded – our tastes are pretty similar. But it is certainly more spacious- feeling in here, despite the piano!

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For last night’s full moon in Capricorn, I set all my crystals out for a sun and moon bath.

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Today, I met up with Sarah around noon and we got dolled up for a Steampunk Promenade around Green Lake with strangers! It was right up our alley, since we like playing dress-up! I’d say we both did a great job of finding Victorian-looking get-ups on short notice. We met people and drank tea and ate goodies in a lovely breezy afternoon, dressed like weirdos!

Mom and dad are planning to drive up to see me in early September, and I look forward to what adventures we might have!

By then, I will be without Sarah in Seattle 😦 What will I do?

Well, time will tell. All for now,

Love and miss,

Kira

Summer At Last!

Lately the days have been stacking up onto each other in layers of sunshine and blue skies at last, after a long and rainy winter in the Pacific Northwest – my first outside of the East Coast in nearly a decade. The flowers are still making their extended spring displays, popping up in turns like fireworks in a well choreographed display of purple, yellow, magenta, white, lavender, and pink. The gardens around my cottage are in bloom and I harvest flowers to decorate the house.

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I still sometimes get snatches of the city in my mind’s eye. Familiar corners pop up as if I might see them again soon. I miss the subway and the Beauty Bar and pizza by the slice. But I also think fondly of things and times and people from years past in the city – not so much great loves, but incidental friends – my time working in the design department at my catering company, my old roommate and apartment in Williamsburg. But both have moved on. My old room is gone and Josh moved to Paris. The gas station right outside my window will persist no doubt, its owner tromping about with badly dyed hair and matching red tank top and shorts, gold crucifix glowing from the forest of his chest hair. That corner bodega I used to visit, owned by Yemeni men – I wonder about them and how they are doing. I miss all of it in a way. That French cafe down the street with the open mic where I met my North Carolinian friends.

The years pass swiftly – it all seems so recent.

But here I sit on my little porch in Seattle, the sound of planes resonating above me – accelerating engines echo from elsewhere, but it is otherwise quiet except the sound of Teri Gross’ voice on the radio.

I cut my hair recently – in part to fix the layers which got screwed up by someone else. But I was also ready for something new. So I gave myself long bangs – or fringe, as the English have it.

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Things are really shaping up in my tiny house, which is such an absolute pleasure to live in, especially now that the rains have stopped and the sugar ants which invaded me over the winter have left me alone (encouraged by poison and some intense caulking sessions around the cottage). I just bought a little device called a HooToo NanoRouter which is tiny indeed and has solved my one persistent issue: weak wifi. Now I have a solution which allows me to use my little laptop on the porch or wherever without constantly refreshing the connection. It is also highly transportable and the sort of thing I might have dreamed of while traveling in years past.

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It is hard to believe, however, that nearly a year has passed since I got to Seattle. I guess the fact that I didn’t settle down in one spot till January made it seem like I had recently arrived. But from three months here to 10 months here has gone by in a blur!

I have been playing music – my piano and of course the guitars in my life. Trying to get back to writing songs, which seem to have been hard for me after working on my memoir for so long. It’s been nice to start writing in my journal again and learning songs on the piano after not having one for years is such a pleasure! I am so glad I bought the darn thing, or rather, paid to have it brought to me! I learned Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe When I Fall In Love” and Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” – therapy songs of power and joy.

I guess I have realized – or perhaps admitted – that I have been depressed. I haven’t put that word on it till recently, perhaps because I am finally starting to come out the other side of it. I hope. I don’t think I’ve been truly, deeply depressed since I was a teenager, though I did experience a time in college when I was very anxious. And my anxiety does always seem to be centered on the topic of love. I get squirmy and rather nervous around relationship. Very fight or flighty. I seem to search out psychologically troubled people, or they respond to me – probably both. I have to at least ask how that is reflected in me.

One aspect of my low spirits has been increased anxiety around my creativity – song-writing specifically. It’s funny how something can flow so effortlessly at times and suddenly be stanched. But I think I know what happened: I put my heart in a song – all of my love and talent and spontaneity. But it did not win me what I wanted. I’ve written songs since, of course. But the problem with writing from your heart is that it sometimes feels like wallowing. So when things didn’t work out with someone I’d thought longingly of for years, I didn’t feel like writing about it. I couldn’t. I was exhausted by grief. For my sister, my lovers, myself. I couldn’t face writing my sadness into songs and then having them in my brain as evidence of how wretched I felt.

Anyway, the point is not to go on about depression, but to say that I think perhaps I am starting to feel better. Though I loved New York and miss it in some ways, I am happy to be out of there and living a different life. Happy to be considering my next steps. I’m applying to a program in London and perhaps I’ll also go to Mexico at some point – especially if I don’t get into my London thing. I hate to think of leaving my little casita so soon – and I also enjoy the Triple Door and the friends I have been making there. But I am not sure I have found anything – or anyone – to stay here for. Once my dear Sarah has vamoosed, will I feel at sea in Seattle? Who’s to say, but I recall how strange New York seemed without my dear Nora. I do so appreciate having close friends nearby. In the absence of a reliable male partner, my girlfriends have been my closest friends and partners. Companions of heart and intellect. My sisters.

For now, we are still together and Seattle is at its most beautiful and verdant, the gardens all over the city are full of flowers and plants strange to me, mixed in, of course, with recognizable things. Strawberries are ripening in the patch of earth I weeded out and I planted two types of basil last week and today, a third, plus two kinds of tomatoes, some pickling cucumbers, Thai chilies, and lettuce. Hooray for growing things!

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Last week I went for a hike up to Rattlesnake Mountain in one of the first truly glorious days of the year. We puffed and sweated all the way to the top for the big payoff: views of the valley below, Rattlesnake Lake and tree-covered foothills stretching out for miles in the distance.

On the weekend, I had a rare Saturday off and went to the Folklife Festival in Seattle’s City Center.  We had a fun evening, drinking beer and listening to music before the festival ended and we went to a park for more beer and then walked up to Kerry Park for a view from the hillside of Queen Anne, giving a gorgeous tableau of skyline and Space Needle and the Sound.

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The cherry blossoms are done blooming, but other flowers and plants still take their turn to blossom in yards and at roadside parks. I do like all the green things growing in this Emerald City.

I’ve put this blog off for so long, I think I’ll wrap it up!

Love and miss,

K

Sisters in Seattle

I was sad upon leaving Sarasota in January: sad to say goodbye to my family and sad because I hadn’t gotten to spend much time with Skye over my two weeks there. With a continent between us and only a once-a-year reunion, it was enough to make me tear up when it was time to fly out.

So Skye booked a trip to come out to Seattle for a visit. Unfortunately, Florida in March is much nicer weatherwise than Seattle, but at least it didn’t snow!

I picked her up on Friday night and we had plans to go out to a fancy club (her former favorite past time) but she was tired and after we came home and drank some pink bubbles, we instead went to Pioneer Square and met up with the fella I’ve been seeing at the bar where Nirvana apparently played their first show: the Central Saloon. It’s got a kind of seedy old school feel and I introduced my sister to my favorite cheap local beer in a can (the equivalent of PBR or Gansett on the East Coast), Rainier, usually served in tallboys. We had a couple and headed home at a decent hour, her day having been very long.

Saturday was spent exploring Pike Place Market and the shops on Post Alley, shopping for souvenirs and checking out the funky stalls and shops. Then we moved on to Pioneer Square, where we found some South Indian food (miracle of miracles!) for lunch and then did an underground tour.

In the olden days of Seattle, the downtown sloped off toward the Sound in a way that meant the streets were often inundated by the tide shifts and roads had massive potholes, large enough to lose a horse in! Logs cut from the steep hills above were skidded down to the water on what was colloquially called Skid Road. After a fire destroyed the city, they decided to build up the low lying areas and diminish the slope of the hill, but in the meantime, they built new buildings with two first floors: one for the interim before the ground was raised, and the second floor also equipped with a front door and storefront windows in preparation for the day when the new streets would be constructed.

We had hoped to dine at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, but it was all booked up, so we satisfied ourselves with a visit to the gift shop and then went to the bar at the Edgewater Hotel, which I didn’t realize was made famous by The Beatles and Zappa.

We met up with Sarah and went out dancing at Havana till we were done, then we followed Sarah to her salsa dancing club and watched her cut a rug in her element there.

We didn’t have much left on our list by Sunday, but we visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory and met up with Sarah for dinner and drinks. Somehow, I neglected to take Skye to the place where I work, The Triple Door, and instead we went to a place called Vito’s with live music and a swanky vibe.

Skye left the next afternoon and we made a few last stops before I took her to the airport to return to Florida and her family there.

I went back to work and back to trying to earn some moolah to make up for all we spent on our adventures.

I’m finally starting to feel ready to play music out again, after a few years of being rather retreated from the limelight. And I am trying to put my heart out on the market again, though it is hard to trust total strangers! Spring has started to unfurl her tentative shoots and sprouts and I again celebrated the Persian New Year, Nowruz. I had the day off, so I went shopping for the essentials: hyacinths, apples, dried fruit, an orange to float in a bowl of water. I found some fake pastel eggs at Target (perfect because I’m not that into real eggs lately) and Sarah and I each painted one for the hast seen table, which we set on my piano.

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The Nowruz spread on my piano!

Skye’s ex-husband brought back this amazing collapsing basket from Afghanistan and we used that to display several of the traditional items on the table: walnuts, garlic and figs. Sarah found us some sumac and I had some sprouting lentils ready.

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Sarah found a perfect recipe for a soup of lentils with pasta and spinach, combined with a yogurt and mint sauce – a traditional dish for the New Year in Iran. It came out really yummy, if I do say so myself!

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It was nice to have someone to celebrate the festival with instead of doing it alone. Funny to think what I was doing last year at this time: in Brooklyn, in the snow on the first day of Spring. And now here I await the awakening in the Pacific Northwest.

I love my tiny house, though it has recently been inundated with sugar ants from all sides. They seem to have decided to nest in the walls and crawl in to bug the shit out of me. Literally. God, they’re on me now. Die ants. Die. Sigh. What have they driven me to?

The sun shines weakly through the crack in my door, but it’s welcome – the end of winter at long last. Hopefully with the end of the rains my ant problem will also dissipate like the grey skies and the shadows of the past. I don’t want to let bitterness creep into my heart. I have always been something of a nostalgic, but I don’t want to be so backward looking that I neglect the present or the future. I sometimes feel that danger. So I must keep creating and moving and loving. Lately I keep thinking of the Chinese proverb: “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” This spring, I am garlanding my heart with green. I want to release the old flames that’ve burnt up and burned out. Those people I loved, those shining lights were sparks, not the sun itself.

I realized recently that my trip to the netherworld of myself and my psyche has scraped away so many layers of my external being that I must rebuild. It is a marvelous chance and a massive undertaking to recreate oneself. I have done it before, but it’s been a while. I recall how it feels. The pain and tenderness of new eyes, new skin. We Scorpions shed our shells to stay alive – to grow. Perhaps that’s partly why I’ve stayed single so long. It has been a decade of transformation for me. And it is hard to keep anyone close at such times.

But of course I don’t really ever plan to stop transforming. So here’s hoping I learn how to be with someone while I change!

All for now –

Love and miss,

Kira