Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Snarky Introvert’s Guide to Seattle


A Snarky Introvert’s Guide to Seattle

A childhood classmate from Chicago will be visiting Seattle soon and she asked me for tourist recommendations other than the obvious Space Needle. I probably put more thought into this than I should’ve, seeing how socially-averse I am. Still, I felt compelled to highlight a few spots from my adopted city.

But before I get to my completely biased Seattle tour guide, I’d like to take a moment to explain how I happened to build a life here. Feel free to scroll down to the guide if you’re not interested or if you want to be a dick about this whole thing. I don’t mind.

Back in 1994-95, I was attending the Navy Training Center in San Diego. I was finishing an advanced electronics course for a radar/missile launching system that I was going to support once I reached my ship in the fleet. Because my GPA was ranked third out of the twelve sailors in the course, I basically had my choice of ships to serve on. (I know that this sounds like shameless humble-bragging, and it is, but hang with me. The payoff is coming up soon.) I had three options for sea duty: 1. one of many ships home-ported in San Diego, 2. a ship home-ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Hawaii!), or 3. a ship named the USS Ingraham, home-ported in Everett, WA, twenty-five miles north of Seattle.

I know. Shut-up. I know, OK?

Had I been single, I would’ve jumped all over those Pearl Harbor orders. But my first wife had family and a built-in support group already living in Washington State, so it just seemed like the most reasonable choice – reasonable in that any other choice would’ve probably resulted in an argument and/or inevitable divorce. So naturally, I gave her what she wanted, and naturally, six years later we divorced anyway. Initially, this was one of my biggest regrets of my adult life (Other than marrying my first wife, of course. Women, am I right, fellas? *adjusts tie*)

It’s pretty funny how a series of wrong choices for wrong reasons led me here, to a fairly liberal outpost where it’s almost always overcast and rainy, and the locals almost always say things they don’t mean like, “Let’s hang out sometime!” Most Seattleites hate hearing about the infamous “Seattle Freeze” but it does exist, and thank goodness for it. As an introverted nerd with personal space issues, I fit right in here. Despite being slow to trust, Seattleites are polite and remarkably laid-back. This has been an ideal place for me to develop a circle of comfortable acquaintances that don’t trip or pressure me to “come out of my shell” as if there is such a notion. (And to anyone who has ever uttered those words to an introvert, on behalf of all introverts everywhere, I say go eff yourself. I love my shell.)

Through work and play, I have forged acquaintances and friendships with wonderful people who I cherish greatly and continue to make excuses for not seeing on account of me being a social weirdo, and almost all of them know me well enough to not be offended if/when I freak-out and bail on them. More importantly, through online chatrooms, mutual friends, and the idiocy of fate, I met the woman who would become my second wife at The Showbox at the Market. I have no earthly idea how she puts up with me, but she’s still here! So blessed. So blessed.

I am fortune’s fool, fortunate enough to find myself surrounded by good people who accept me, warts and all. That is why I stayed here on the left-coast with the rest of my fellow weirdos. Now Seattleites, Kindly avert your eyes while I give my Chi-Town colleagues a brief tour while lightly roasting Seattle until the beans taste like someone tried to brew them with a Timberland boot. Or as you Seattleites call it, Breakfast Blend.

Also, fuck the Seahawks! (That was a test. Still here? Good.)


The Most Seattle Things to See While in Seattle

(Links to webpages provided in the headings and throughout the essay.)


Ride the Ducks


I am told that some humans enjoy being driven around in an antique motorized amphibious vehicle while an over-caffinated tour guide points out landmarks and occasionally demands that the tourists wave, hoot, holler, and sing corny songs. I’ve never experienced this phenomenon because I am a reasonably sane adult with shit to do, but to each their own.

Verdict: If you have young children or still giggle when you see your feet, do it. Otherwise, skip it.

Counterpoint from Wifey: She rode the Duck, and once that jalopy went into the water, she was certain that she would never live to see dry land again and that dive teams would have to cut the Duck open like a rusted-over sardine can to recover her lifeless body from the deep blue abyss. So there’s that.


Washington Park Arboretum


If you want a peaceful excursion that is off the beaten path, then this is the place for you. The landscape is beautiful, there is a pond full of colorful koi fish, and everything about this place screams chill-the-eff-out and slow down. Unfortunately, young children may quickly become restless with so little to do. You could probably buy yourself 30 minutes if you really upsell the koi fish.

Verdict: If you’re really into Zen or believe you possess legendary parental skills, do it.

Counterpoint from Wifey: You could buy another 45 minutes by having the kids feed the koi their fish food supplied by park patrons. I don’t know if there’s a fee, but there’d damn-well better not be one. I can’t imagine paying someone for the privilege of doing what is clearly a public works job. That’s big-time hustle right there. I’d be like, “Bitch! Y’all better hand me a fistful of dried-up fish pellets for free and stop playin’ with me!” Well, not really; I’d just not buy any and walk away quietly, but you get the idea.


Seattle Art Museum


Pro: It’s easy to get to, I guess? Con: just two or three blocks west of here is the waterfront, so the SAM’s positioning is basically like placing a public library directly next to an amusement park. Full-disclosure: at my former job, I walked past the SAM twice a day, and each time I thought to myself, “I need to go in there and check out some of the exhibits.” I still haven’t set foot in that place, but I will. Someday.

Verdict: I haven’t a damned clue, so if you can resist the allure of the waterfront, roll the dice. Take a chance.

Counterpoint from Wifey: Erin has been to several exhibits here and at its less expensive, slightly less pretentious little brother on the eastside, the Bellevue Art Museum. I recently went to the BAM for an exhibit showcasing the artistry of Japanese American intern camp prisoners, and it really hit me on an emotional level. (I was less taken by the curator who kept following me around as if he feared I was hell-bent on nefarious acts like touching the art, stealing it, rubbing my big black wang-doodle on everything I saw, or whatever the “undesirables” do to earn themselves a constant silent escort, but maybe I’m just being oversensitive.)

(NOTE: After exposure to her college friends, Erin now passionately refers to both venues as “the SAM” and “the BAM” respectively, and she was incredulous to the fact that it took me a moment to figure out what the hell she was talking about because she’s totally not a snobby Seattle scenester at all. Nope. Not even a little bit.)


Seattle Underground Tour


A tour guide takes you down beneath Seattle to show you tunnels, tell you historical anecdotes, and try to spook you with ghost stories. For my Chicago friends, you’ve seen Lower Wacker Drive, right? Now imagine paying good money so someone could take you on a tour of it. Sounds stupid, right?

Verdict: Skip it.

Counterpoint from Wifey: I did not know this, but apparently in the 1800’s Seattle suffered a major fire similar to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. But instead of razing everything to the ground and starting over, Seattle paved over the whole thing and built on top of it. Therefore, the Seattle underground is an actual ghost town that exists beneath the contemporary city. Isn’t that interesting? No? I didn’t think so either. Is it true? Don’t care? OK… moving on…


Argosy Cruise


Remember that Ride the Duck thing I mentioned earlier? Well replace the rickety amphibious ride with a sleek boat that you stand a far greater chance of surviving on, replace the land/sea tour with just a water tour, and then lower the price a bit and you have yourself an Argosy Cruise. I enjoy seeing Seattle from this vantage point, and – call me crazy – but the lower price/higher survivability chance is probably worth it. Your mileage may vary.

Also, some boats have a full bar! Once, I went to a wedding event hosted on an Argosy boat that had an open bar! Free drinks, brah! You won’t get that, but I did! And… well… that’s pretty much all I remember about that day. Somebody got married, they later had a kid… totally on some circle-of-life shit. All thanks to Argosy.

Verdict: Do it if you can, if not, no worries.


Pike Place Public Market Tour


This is where you watch fish being thrown! This is where you go to throw the fish! This is where you catch the fish being thrown to you! What is the meaning and history behind all this? Glad you asked!

Here’s my answer, based on critical reasoning and extensive observation:


Verdict: Meh. Your call.


Ferry to Bainbridge Island


Wifey Recommended. Take the Ferry to Bainbridge Island for the day and enjoy a five hour day trip on the island with a nice ferry ride and plenty of wonderful sightlines for photo ops. It is difficult to snark-up this option, so I won’t. If you want the quintessential Seattle experience, this is a can’t-miss option. The fresh, salty sea-air permeates the lungs as the ferry gently rocks back and forth beneath your feet. I love the ferries. In fact, take a damn ferry. Any ferry. The destination doesn’t matter (unless you’re unlucky enough to end up in Tacoma. Avoid Tacoma. Just trust me on this.)

Verdict: Take a damn ferry. Any ferry. Avoid Tacoma.


Olympic Sculpture Park


Wifey Recommended. Look, I’ll be frank; you’re arriving in October. It will probably be raining. Possibly windy too. You see all that wide-open, uncovered space? Don’t go to the sculpture park, OK? Trust me on this. Unless you like wet abstract art and soggy hippies, just don’t.

Verdict: Don’t go here, OK? Go take another ferry ride instead.


Seattle Center: A Multi-Venue Experience


This area bustles with activity from tourists, day-trippers, and locals, and it is almost inevitable that you will find yourself here at some point. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key attractions:

Space Needle – self-explanatory. I’ve been there once when my brother came to town. Haven’t been back since. You’ll go because you can’t help yourself.

Experience Music Project (EMP) – A music museum of some type. I haven’t been yet, though numerous Seattleites tell me that I just have to experience it for myself. Because I just have to, you know? Well no one has dragged me there with a gun to my head or taken my wife and kids hostage yet, so I think I’m still safe to continue skipping it for now. Again, your mileage may vary.


Seattle Monorail – This is the endpoint for one the greatest technological mass-transit marvels… of 1962! It will get you from Seattle Center to Westlake (all .96 miles!) in a matter of seconds for the low price of a fare on an actual modern mass-transit vehicle that has far greater range than this clanking fossil because, Seattle! Don’t pass up the chance to ride this polished-turd of a tourist trap that almost guarantees that it probably won’t blow out its brakes and crash, collide with the one other monorail it should’ve been designed to avoid, or just flat-out catch fire!

Seattle Children’s Museum – I’ve heard great things about this place. It is ideal for young children. I hear there’s a butterfly habitat inside. Wifey took our daughter there when she was younger, and the pretty bugs flying around and landing on her creeped her right the fuck out, which sounds awesome! Sadly, there are no photos of this.


IMAX theatre at Pacific Science Center – Self-explanatory. I’ve been here once to see a mediocre animated film about robots. Can’t recall the name of that film for the life of me. Anyway, I haven’t been back since.

(Note from Wifey: The butterfly habitat is actually at the Pacific Science Center, which is also a Seattle Center attraction. Why haven’t I been here yet? I’m a science nerd, and science is right in the flipping name! I show up for a meh IMAX film, but don’t stick around for the SCIENCE? I am ashamed.)

Key Arena – Former home of the Artists Formerly Known as the Seattle Sonics. Last time I was here, the Sonics squared-off against the Detroit Pistons. I saw Rasheed Wallace’s Baldspot up close for the first time and it changed my life. I haven’t the slightest idea of what they use this place for now. I think Jay-Z performs here when he needs gas money for his fleet of private jets or something. Also, I heard rumors about an all-female roller derby league or women’s professional basketball team renting the place for some reason.

Seattle Center Verdict: Inevitable. You’re going to the Space Needle. Don’t even lie and tell me you’re not. Everyone goes. You come to Seattle and you’re guaranteed of consenting to two things: 1. paying to have disgusting, over-roasted, bitter, burnt coffee crammed down your gullet, pausing only for you to nod and say, “Dat coffee was def!” and 2. throwing away good money to be hoisted up a glorified flagpole so you can “see Mt. Rainier gooder.”


Seattle Asian Art Museum and Volunteer Park


I haven’t been here yet, but it is on my to-do list. If you do find yourself in this area, just north of Volunteer Park is Lake View Cemetery. This is the final resting place of movie star, martial artist, and philosopher, Bruce Lee, and his son Brandon Lee. People ask me for key sights to check out while in Seattle and I direct them to the cemetery. I wonder why more folks don’t ask me for things like this?


The Performing Arts

Seattle’s outstanding theatre scene is wildly underrated and understated, which makes absolutely no sense to me. I suspect that this is because Seattleites are too busy yammering on about how long they’ve been Seahawks fans, why Starbucks founder and former Supersonics owner Howard Schulz is the Antichrist, why their particular favorite brand of craft beer or shitty coffee is superior to all others, and why Macklemore is the modern era’s Martin Luther Effing King Jr.

But I digress; if you can, check out some shows!


Act Theatre – Local talent shine in intimate productions (200-500 seat theatres). My first experience with this wonderful theatre was the play A Christmas Carol. We loved it so much that it became one of our annual holiday traditions. Last year, we branched out and saw numerous non-holiday productions and we haven’t seen a bad play yet.

I’m at about 2,300 words now, and I should probably wrap this up, so I’ll give you the abridged versions of the remaining options.

Seattle Theatre – A listing of live Broadway shows in Seattle.

Seattle Theatre Group – A Non-profit arts organization.


Dining Options


Ivar’s Pier 54 Fish Bar – Good, fresh seafood, great service, kid-friendly, scenic view of the Puget Sound. Feed the seagulls, sometimes even against your will! (They are crafty thieves, worthy of a warrior’s death French fry or two.)

Elephant and Castle – Good food, wonderfully friendly service, kid-friendly, incredibly chill vibe. If Jeff is your bartender, say hi and tell him you know me.


T.S. McHugh's Irish Pub & Restaurant – One block from Seattle Center, a cozy Irish pub, great food and atmosphere.

I’ll go ahead and stop there. What about you, Seattleites? Do you have any can’t-miss sites for my visiting Chicagoans to check out? Any tourists-traps that you recommend they avoid? Any bitches, gripes or complaints about my guide to Seattle and/or my glaring lack of Seattle knowledge? Feel free to add them in the comments.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

indigo stalemate

indigo stalemate

 I want to fill your avatar
while making love to the
deep recesses of your want as we
sit in summer stickiness with
little relief as you try
cooling us off, sitting
next to me on the patio,
legs sprawed, vainly trying to
capture midnight breezes in your
sundress ignited by moonbeams that
bind to the salt of your skin in
places that make me
envious of proximity where

we pass a bottle of brewed
fermented grapes and
bottled, agitated motives of
transitory infused intimacy
too hot to transmit in air
too damp to receive, its thickness,
like the light woven fabric draped
enviously over you, now
heavy with your frustration,
too dense to transmute beyond
smiles and frosty relief of a
bottle shared, its coolness contrasting
what builds between us with each
bottle-pass and passing glance,
each glancing pass made passively
indulgence implicitly given
audience as we audaciously
deny each other the flavor of
satisfaction by succumbing first
when I decide to win this
indigo stalemate by losing
the game and myself

and on the next bottle pass,
take your wrist instead,
setting aside drunken pretense,
drawing you into me as you
protest by pulling me closer,
deeper, where not even moonlight
can escape and sound falls upon us
together, rooting us in
percussion, earthy rhythms,
supporting your lead vocals and
guttural gloats and when the
wine bottle falls away, not
shattering on impact, but
careening with a cavernous,
hollow, disquiet, you
scarcely notice while
embracing my fermented kiss
with your own, melding,

melting into midnight.

Sunday, August 17, 2014



“There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” –John Ruskin 
in august
twenty-three years ago
I said “I do” to the wrong woman
for wrong reasons, charting course down a wrong pathway
where many other wrong things occurred
all of which lead me right
to august
skies, dropping tranquil rain
when the forecast called for sun, I am
grateful for bad guesses, wrong choices, leading me
inexplicably to someone I
never would’ve met if
I chose right.
** *

My first attempt at a Triquain Swirl form. Posted on Real Toads’ Sunday Mini-Challenge - Triquain

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Image Source: Google


Wonder where you went;
cursive current that curved
deep inside my bend,
and you would rest your head,
and you would rest your head upon my chest.

I would drink you with moonbeams
and chase with paisley galaxies
in constellations that light my
lips on your skin,
vaporizing our firmament.

Wonder what we meant
to you when our cosmos
only encompassed just us two;
you could feel my intent,
you could feel my intent in our embrace

And your face
reflected our place in the night above,
beyond the thin blue line,
beyond the moon and sun, beyond
what’s seen with our naked eyes.

What was felt at the merge,
our sonic reverb
echoed through our shell.
We combined in a treble cleft;
intertwined till there’s nothing left.

Wonder where you went,
in the light of day when
they wondered where you’d been?
Was I mentioned then?
Was your intention then to dim our light?

Wonder what we meant
to you when daylight denies
what we held true,
as you curved away,
as you curved away beyond my pull

and I am left full
of wandering wonders
in your wake
as your scent dissipates,
as your scent dissipates from what was ours.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

unfinished spaces


unfinished spaces

boxes of memories, incomplete thoughts, unfinished sentences
portals into past lives, untended flames, outdated fashion
things I cannot bear to part with and I dare not open
echoes muted by cardboard and plastic bindings, displacing air
ill-used portion of my personal space, and yet
if I stare, they turn ashen, silhouetted forest fading in fog
Posted in Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads for Flash 55 Words.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Requested Silence

(Image Source:

The Requested Silence


“you stupid bitch! I told you
to shut the fuck up!”
followed by the sound of
fists colliding with flesh
muffled cries, begging for mercy,
and then the silence he demanded.




saturday morning cartoons with
pancakes instead of dry cereal

last night’s “unfortunate incident”
white-washed with the sweet taste

of maple syrup and a savory salt-lick
of bacon, fluffy eggs and as little
eye-contact as possible, this was

her way of apologizing to hubby
and kiddo for provoking Sweet Daddy
into becoming something he isn’t.




“get the fuck out then, slut! Don’t
nobody want your stupid ass, but me!”

purse goes from resting, to hurtling
across space-time at warp-speed, narrowly
missing her tear-stained face, colliding
with the wall, empting its contents
in a one-person ticker-tape
celebration of cruelty

as she drops to her knees, frantically
piecing her life together, Sweet Daddy
reloads, this time, chambering
a glass ashtray

“baby! Please! Don’t!” she sobs
he hesitates, her words hitting their mark
and he sets the ashtray down, knowing
that throwing objects at his object could
be objectively considered callous by his son
and that’s just something he wasn’t.




“it’s as much my fault as it is his,
just so you know. he’s just
stressed-out. I should’ve known
better than to press him about
the bills. He works so hard…”

“taxes are so damned high… The President’s
foreign policy is making our nation irrelevant and
I keep forgetting to make
Baby Boy pick up his toys”
“his boss won’t stop riding his ass, new guy
is fuckin everything up and then
he comes home to my
overcooked pot-roast, I just
should’ve watched it better”

“my eye doesn’t look that bad.
shit, you should’ve seen his knuckles!
you’re not getting the whole story;
he cried about it too! I promise you;
he has a kind soul and a gentle nature
this is not who he is all the time
that’s why we call him ‘Sweet Daddy’!”




words, phrases
clauses, causes,
sentences freefall,
cascading paragraphs
coalescing in essays of
black eye white lie excuses that
fail to tip the scales of reason and
accountability; she will suffer
the slings and arrows of his bruises
his knuckles will fashion her lies
his will, morphed into her fault
burdened by aggression
and violence she can’t
evade or stem
she will break
or else




and then the silence he demanded
suffocates with stagnant stench of sweat
and copper and iron, carpet soaked in
his crimson essence, seemingly lifeless body
remanded to ambulatory services or
wherever deadmen or mortally wounded
men who were already dead inside go

she had no plan; lacked even
the guile for hiding the kitchen knife,
dropping it where it performed its task
almost too well, running out the back door
into the elements, wearing only a nightgown
stained with both her, and now his blood

the cops collected her, eventually returning
her to her Baby Boy after hearing her story
and correlating it with the tale told by
the bruises on her face

when she returned, she cradled her son
on the couch in silence,
both in his requested silence, both
empty of tears, both wondering
where exactly did they screw up
in making Sweet Daddy into
something he wasn’t.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

this poem is a dream, a phantasm, and a note



this poem is a dream, a phantasm, and a note

this poem is a dream dreamt by a dreamer
this poem is a phantasm fantasy of fleeting
this poem is a wind-swept love note
she comes cloaked in grey, informal metaphor
responding to questions of why and how
with grins and shrugs of just because
darting from the grip of understanding
lingering only to flirt with possibility
this poem is a dream dreamt by a dreamer
she coalesces into familiar, coveted prize
her smile takes form, the red in her lips
incites me to steal her shade for myself, but
gripping her waist loosens our linked dominion
our embrace tightens, dissolving in morning sun
this poem is a phantasm fantasy of fleeting
leaving a wake of winding words
that form constellations and galaxies
I read and incalculably live lifetimes of lovers
smiling, I release her from our dance
she rises on our thermal current
this poem is a wind-swept love note

this poem is a flirty dream, darting from my grasp
this poem is a phantasm, evaporating on fingertips
this poem is a love note, rising to meet our lovers

This poem has been written for Sunday's Mini-Challenge: Boomerang Metaphors at imaginary garden with real toads.

This poem was also shared with my good friends at dVerse poets in honor of their weeklong celebration the site’s three year anniversary. As one of the first poetry communities I ever summoned the courage of contributing to, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for the encouragement, support, and most of all, our shared comradery and passion for poetry. Sorry I couldn’t participate in the festivities, but I’m honored to help clean-up the pub at the after-party.

Other dVerse poets have also participated in the after-party. Go here to read their well-crafted, inspiring poems.