Twenty-six and counting


“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

Happy birthday to E. E. Cummings, Ben Whishaw, Mia Wasikowska, and Usher, among others.

It’s been a hell of a year. For my birthday this year I’d like everyone to be safe, and happy, and remember once today that you’re loved.

I will also take cake.

Tales from food trucking

My sister says I should be writing about food trucking, which sounds like the opening line to the weirdest diary-style YA novel ever written. Here’s some thoughts.


I work on three trucks right now: the pie truck, and two sandwich/burger trucks that sell at Boeing. On the sandwich trucks, I cook a little, but mostly I run the window, taking orders and money, delivering food.

At both sandwich trucks, I ask customers for their names so I can call out their orders when they’re ready. I make a somewhat concerted effort to learn the names of my regulars at the different trucks; it just seems like a nice thing to do, a welcoming, friendly, where-everybody-knows-your-name kind of thing. I’ve probably managed to learn thirty names and faces, but there’s another forty or so faces that I recognize but can’t put names too.

It’s easier to remember names that aren’t European, or are attached to non-white faces. Selam and Salim I learned quickly. Unusual names in general stick out, like Slim or Stokes or Ramses or Desi. People with custom orders stick out, too, like Susan or Patricia or May.

The real problem is the short, common men’s names. If your name is Joe or Scott or Steve, Jeff or Greg or Dan, I almost certainly can’t remember your name. There are multiples of all these names coming to the trucks every day, and generally speaking I’ve managed to associate one face with any given name, and that’s it. I know one Scott; the others are all “you’re that guy who was here yesterday.” Plus, weirdly, it’s hard for me to remember names if regulars from one truck come to one of the other trucks. It’s like how walking through a door resets your brain.

I guess the takeaway point here is, if you’re a regular somewhere and want the staff to remember your name, try giving something unusual: a nickname, or surname. And if we can’t remember your name, please don’t take it personally. We do remember you — and we’re just delighted you’ve come back again.

The other day I was describing my summer schedule to my friends Piper and Lasheena, and Lasheena asked “so you’re working six to seven days a week … how does that work with having a personal life?” And I kind of stared at her blankly for way too long and then said that I make it work, one way or another. Which is true!

But I also get a weird charge from interacting with people, especially my regulars. I’ve had conversations twice with regulars today about the horror convention I’m going to this weekend, extended ones about what horror movies we like and who I hope to meet. I don’t think these guys even know my name, they just know I serve them food four out of five days a week. But those interactions do a lot to recharge my extrovert batteries and satisfy the human need for interaction.

Although having some personal life is nice too.

This weekend, after more than a year in our current kitchen, we’re moving! Today was the last time I should ever be at that kitchen. Leaving tonight was like some odd rendition of Good Night Moon.

Good night to this kitchen
Where we did our baking
Good night to the alley
Where I spent so long waiting

Good night to the walk-in
I’m afraid this is it
Good night plastic flaps
That were covered in … gunk

Good night to the back lot
And your dumpsters and stenches
Good night to the crows —
Opportunistic mensches

Good night to the padlocks
Good night to the gate
That I loathe dealing with
When it’s cold and it’s late

Good night to the flag
That’s as big as the block
Be it red, white and blue
Or supporting the ‘Hawks

Good night to you, potholes
I hit in the dark
Good night, too, Safe Access
And so long, Skylark

Good night to you, bridge,
Where the cops lie in wait
For speeders or drunks
Or expired license plates

Good night to the shoe
Lying lost on the verge
Good night to the backup
Of cars waiting to merge

Good night to the route
Down to Fourth and Spokane
To avoid that damn merge lane
And its rush hour jam

And so long to Rainier’s R
Shining red in the night
I’ll see you again,
But to Delridge — good night.


Hello, babies. …

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

Kannon, Bodhisattva of Compassion.

So I was talking with my roommate E​ the other day about principles — about the idea that it’s better to figure out reasonably consistent guiding principles and apply them to situations, rather than make case-by-case judgments.

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Unencumbered by cool: an ECCC wrap-up

“Unencumbered by cool” is, according to Glenn Berger, Bono’s description of a geek, and for all that Bono and Berger seem to have some distinct misapprehensions about geeks and comic book fans, I do like that summation. A geek is someone unencumbered by cool, someone who is so excited and passionate about a topic or an activity that they throw themselves into it un-self-consciously.

This weekend was Emerald City Comic Con, the second one I’ve been to, and it was hugely successful. I’ll try to do a full write-up soon with pictures n’at, but a couple thoughts first:

  1. Image

    Elisa C. as Poison Ivy, giving her stamp of approval to ECCC’s anti-harassment policy.

    The volunteers and staff of the con were stellar. They were dealing with a lot of people — the con was enormous — and yet every minion and staff person I interacted with was polite, efficient, helpful, and usually friendly to boot.
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Guys Catcall Me On The Street: A regrettably regular series

Women do not owe you their time or conversation, by Tatyana FazlalizadehLeaving Elliott Bay Books tonight after writing, I barely glanced in the direction of a couple of guys sitting on the windowsill outside Nube Green and was greeted with “How you doing, angel?” I ignored them and moved on, still lip-syncing along to whatever was playing in my headphones.

Waiting for the crosswalk outside Julia’s, still listening to music, I was approached by an obviously drunk guy who got juuust inside my personal space bubble* and initiated the following exchange:

Him: [slurred] ‘Scuse me, miss.

Me: Yes?

Him: Do you know this bar?

Me: No, I’ve never been in.

Him: I wanna drink.

Me: Well, it’s worth a shot.

Him: Let’s go.

Crosswalk light: [changes at this instant]

Me: Oh no I have to go home have a good evening bye!

He didn’t get threatening or anything, except for being slightly closer to me than I was comfortable with, but I hope I don’t have to explain why an attempted pick-up line by a drunk on a Wednesday night made me side-eye him pretty hard.

I don’t know why I keep blogging about this crap, except that a) it feels personally useful to keep a record of such things, and b) I seem to know a sufficient number of guys who have had no idea that this goes on regularly to women they know that I hope I can shed some light on the subject.

Nothing gets better if you don’t talk about it, anyway.

If you have a story to tell, you are always welcome here in the comments, or on Hollaback!

*Being five-foot-none tall, my personal bubble is probably a few inches larger than most people’s because if you are very tall and you get close to me, I have to crane my neck to see your face and that is not comfortable. My personal bubble gets even bigger and more rigidly defined when it’s after 9PM in Capitol Hill and I am by myself and you are a visibly drunk guy approaching me. GO FIGURE.


25 Things I Learned On The Way to 25

In 2013, I turned 25, which means I am now old enough to rent a car, old enough to generally be considered an adult of some kind, and old enough to have made a lot of mistakes. I’ve tried to learn from them — tried to improve from them. And at the ripe old age of 25, I have just enough sense of self-importance to feel like I can make a post full of advice and most of it won’t suck. I mean, I don’t have a lot of things figured out, but there are at least a few things I feel pretty sure of.

So here, as we head into 2014, are some of the bits and bobs I’ve learned along my way. I hope at least one of them proves useful to you, whoever you are.

Open Bar sign

Not your friend.

1. Only get drunk on booze you buy yourself. I can’t think of a single situation I’ve been in where getting drunk on free alcohol was a good idea. If people are providing you with free liquor, it probably means you’re at a conference, where you need to behave professionally, or a wedding, where you need to behave in such a way that will get you invited to future weddings. Overindulge on your own dime.

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World AIDS Day

This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all, and the dead will be commemorated and will struggle on with the living, and we are not going away. We won’t die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now. You are fabulous creatures, each and every one. And I bless you: More Life. The Great Work Begins.
-Angels in America
, Tony Kushner

One thing that surprises me, over and over and over again, is how very compressed the timeline of AIDS is. It reached plague levels in the 1980s; growing up in the ’90s and ’00s, it loomed large as a huge, terrifying specter in all my health classes. We knew you couldn’t get it from hugging or kissing or from toilet seats, but the message received was that you could still get it shockingly easily via sex or drug use or maybe, just maybe, blood transfusions. And now it’s — almost like it’s just another disease. Treatable. Preventable. Survivable.

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Let us go then, you and I


I loved Seattle this summer. There’s something about these cities of mountains and sea — in clear weather in summer, they become jewel-like, faceted and glimmering.

But I find, more and more, that winter is what I associate with Seattle, in that part of the hindbrain where scent memories live. When I was young, we generally went to the Midwest in summer and to Seattle in fall or winter, to escape Alaska’s snow and dark.

Winter Seattle is more of a watercolor than an HD scene. I don’t know what it is about the green leaves under gray skies against muted gray walls that’s so heart-touching. The moisture in the air feels fresh in your lungs, and the fog that wraps the city like a blanket from dusk to dawn encourages thoughts of fireplaces and quilts.

And throughout, things grow. Bushes and trees keep their leaves and grass stays green, though everything seems to demur close attention in the gray chill. This is the off-season; come see us in summer. But any green at all is a miracle to an autumn child from the snow.

Doing things with words

Cotton candy at the bride and groom’s table.

Today my cousin Luke married his girlfriend Lauren.

Luke is about ten years older than me, which either makes him the oldest of my generation of cousins or one of the youngest of the previous generation. (My mom comes from a family of seven kids, and the kids of her and her siblings break down into roughly two groups, pre-1980 and post-1980, give or take a couple years. I have a metric ton of cousins on my mom’s side.) Growing up, we visited Mom’s side of the family every summer, and my primary playmates were Luke and his three younger siblings, plus the five kids of my mom’s two younger sisters. When I was really little, like five, I couldn’t say the letter L, so I called my cousin Yook; it was with great pride that I finally learned to say his name properly. One of my favorite songs of my childhood was one Luke wrote, a darkly comedic country-tinged ballad about the mutant one-eyed frog they found in their swimming hold one year.

Luke’s not the first of my cousins to get married, but this was the first time I got to attend one of my cousins’ weddings. It was a very different experience than the last wedding I attended last year, which was between a Catholic Shakespearean actress and a Jewish stand-up comedian, officiated by a rabbi and priest whose ceremonial speeches resembled comedy club patter. This was a far more reverent wedding, performed in the open air on a spectacularly cloudless day in the mountains around Lake Tahoe — “God’s cathedral,” as the minister said.

So I got to thinking about the strangeness — the mysticism — of a wedding. Not of a marriage, though I’m sure there are strange mystical elements of that too. What I’m qualified to talk about, though, is performance, the power of symbol and word.

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