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Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

Yes, I was in a car accident on the freeway a couple of weeks ago. A guy ran into the back of my car in stop-and-go traffic, and I ended up with a concussion. At first the doctors thought it was a mild concussion, but last week they upgraded it to a more severe concussion.

For those of you who have never had a concussion, I can tell you it is both painful and terrifying. Also frustrating. At least in my experience. Once I am well again, I am happy to answer questions for writers who want to portray more realistic head injuries because now I know a lot about it.

I am not supposed to be writing. Or be using screens very much. Or doing lots of other things. It is unclear when I will be able to do more, but hopefully it won’t be too many more weeks. It is hard to say. Right now I spend a lot of time sleeping and hanging out and petting Nala.

I am writing this to let you know I haven’t forgotten you. I still write blog posts in my head. This is not the best idea as it gives me a headache, but sometimes I do it by accident. I look forward to being able to write more. I especially look forward to being able to write an appreciation to all the people who have been incredibly kind and generous and have been helping me and keeping me company during a dark time. I love you all.

Please don’t forget me either.

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Nala looks disheveled and out of focus…kind of like how I feel.

 

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Well, I’ve been living in my new home for about a month now. Not long enough to be completely settled, but long enough that the flood of moving-related tasks has slowed down to a more manageable pace, and a definite end is in sight.

Overall, things feel calm. Amazingly calm. Beautifully calm. Calm calm calm. Probably the worst thing that’s happened to me this week is that I had to spend half an hour on the phone with Comcast sorting out yet another problem caused by incompetence. Which is a little irritating, but as problems go, it’s not so bad, and the customer service rep was really apologetic and nice and appreciative of me being nice, so it was really especially not so bad.

I keep talking about how nice everyone is here, and I hear the slightly unbelieving note in my voice as I say the words. It also feels like damning with faint praise, but what I really mean is people are treating me with respect. They are listening to my preferences and boundaries. They apologize when that’s appropriate. They aren’t pressuring me to do things I don’t really want to do or be someone I don’t really want to be. I don’t feel like they’re going to do things they don’t want to do either. In short, we appear to be taking care of ourselves.

I feel a Flinch sometimes. For example, my friend wanted to come visit at a time that wasn’t good for me. So I delivered the news, and then I flinched and waited for the hammer to come down. In the past, and with this particular friend even, there most definitely would have been a backlash. But this time, there was a bit of disappointment, and then we actually ended up finding a different time that did work for me. I could hardly believe it. I simultaneously felt gratitude and a more prosaic, “Well, you know, this is not actually noteworthy because this is how things should generally work.”

This should be how things are.

This is how things are.

I look forward to the time when the Flinch no longer happens.

Do I think this shift is unique to Seattle? Do I think the people in Seattle are just plain better? No, not at all. I think what we might be seeing here is the beauty of a fresh start.

While I know many people here, for the most part we don’t know each other well, and certainly not as local friends. This gives us a chance to get to know each other as we are right now. Not two years ago, not five years ago, not ten years ago. Now, in this moment. And Amy Now, I am thrilled to discover, really is a different person. Amy Now pushes back when she feels pressured. Amy Now communicates her preferences. Amy Now says no when she needs to. Amy Now gives the side eye to people who say egregiously sexist or unkind things, or who are very obviously lying. The kind of people who aren’t okay with this sort of thing are probably not the kind of people that are going to want to be friends with me as I am today.

Over time, we accumulate habits with one another. Things we do with one another, what we talk about, ways we communicate, ways we DON’T communicate, behavior we tolerate, things that are simply “the way things are.” This is simply human nature. Some of these habits are wonderful and positive and contribute to that sense of knowing and being known. And in any relationship there is going to be some compromise and give and take.

But some of these habits can be less helpful. Sometimes we cannot be the person we’ve become and have the relationship continue to function as it has been. At this point, there are three main choices: to continue the status quo in spite of problems; to go through an adjustment period until the relationship supports you as you are now; or to distance yourself from something that is no longer working. All three of these choices come with their own difficulties, and sometimes they blur one into another. As with anything related to change, there tends to be a lot of inherent pressure to maintain the status quo. And if you actively decide NOT to, things can get…interesting.

Moving, then, becomes an opportunity to work outside the accumulated habits and build new habits without having to work against that pressure. There is no status quo to maintain. There’s no weight of the past. There is, relatively speaking, little to risk and much to gain. There’s simply me and you deciding whether we’re going to be friends and how that friendship is going to work in a way that supports both of us right now. And even existing friendships are naturally in flux in a way that encourages the building of new habits.

So how does a fresh start feel? It feels calm. It is hard in some ways, but it also feels right.

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I am so glad to be here.

Which is not to say things are perfectly easy. The other day I had a moment, and I thought, “I wish I could just sit down with someone who really knows me.”

I have it so good with this move, and I’ve been really aware of this the entire time. I know a lot of people for someone who landed here four weeks ago. Many friends have gone out of their way to include me. I haven’t had any problem getting enough social contact to not go completely insane with isolation. If anything, my first month has been the opposite; I’ve gone to so many events. So very many.

But we don’t really know each other yet, my Seattle friends and I. We’ve never lived in close proximity. And while I have a few friends who aren’t local with whom I talk regularly, I don’t have that many, and none of them live in Seattle. Most of my long-distance friends I talk with once in a while and then get really excited when I see them in person. We’ve built our friendships in fits and starts, often at high levels of intensity and low levels of sleep, bridged by Facebook and Twitter and probably this blog. We’re friends in spite of the plainly felt fact that there is never enough time.

Now there is more time, and we will get to know each other in a different way. We will slowly fill in the gaps of our knowledge and build more memories together and fall into comfortable friend routines. When I think of a particular friend I’d like to see, I’ll have some idea of what that person would like to do, instead of now when I’m often at something of a loss, which means I hesitate to issue invitations. I will get more one-on-one (or one-on-two) time with people, which is what I like best. (There is nothing like a full calendar of large group events to remind me how much I need this.) And some months from now, the landscape of my life will have shifted.

I remind myself of this. There will come a time when I can sit down with someone who really knows me. Here, in my new home. But that shift can’t be forced. It will happen when it happens.

In the meantime, I continue to make a home. I’m mostly unpacked. A friend is going to fix the computer table I’ve had since I was ten in the next month or so (it got smashed in the move). I have a new monitor I need to hook up. I need to hang up art. I need to go buy a new writing chair. And I have a special new addition to the apartment coming soon that I can’t wait to share once it’s here.

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On the whole everyone here is treating me so well. I have my boundaries up and ready to go, but it’s such a sweet relief to not have them being constantly battered against. It actually shocks me what a relief it is because I didn’t expect the contrast to be quite this striking. There have been a few small boundary issues, but only a few, and each time I’ve been able to respond immediately and pro-actively, advocating for my own well-being. Having a prolonged onslaught against my boundaries last fall and winter burned me out really badly, but now, here, I finally feel like I can come up for air.

Yes, I am so very glad to be here. I am so glad to be starting something new.

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I had a particularly difficult night of insomnia last night, so I present to you: Amy’s Impressions of Seattle, as told through the filter of sleep deprivation.

  1. Everyone is really polite here. Especially drivers.
  2. The average road speed is much slower. I am often on roads that don’t have that many cars on them when it is not the middle of the night. I find this strange.
  3. Compared to the Bay Area, pretty much everything is cheaper here except for food. Maybe also movies and concerts? I don’t know, I haven’t been to any yet.
  4. When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, things seem harder and darker than they really are.
  5. I haven’t found my favorite sushi place yet, but I do not consider this to be a hardship.
  6. I gave away enough board games that my remaining games fit onto three shelves. I like to look at them.
  7. I now own seven throw blankets. Winter is coming.
  8. Nala is still not entirely convinced. But I like how many dogs seem to live here.
  9. My allergies are terrible here, and it is July. I think of springtime with a small shudder.
  10. There are so many writers here. SO MANY.
  11. They don’t charge for grocery bags here, so no one brings their reusable bags into stores. It feels strangely backwards to me, and it also takes me more trips to bring my groceries into the apartment. I think I might start using my reusable bags anyway.
  12. I can drive ten minutes to dinner and then walk down to the lake right afterwards. This blows my mind.
  13. Moving is expensive.
  14. My complex has an indoor hot tub. It is a great reason to live here.
  15. The lightrail is amazing. It is fast, efficient, cost-effective, temperature-controlled, and weirdly clean. Its only drawback is the limited number of stops.
  16. People smoke here. Where I can see them.
  17. If you spend a nice day indoors, people will act surprised. People here love being outside. They love being outside regardless of the weather.
  18. I learned what glamping is, and I am afraid kayaking will be hard but everyone does it here, and if I learn to kayak I can see otters.
  19. I know there must be bad traffic here because everyone tells me there is, but I keep not finding it. Meanwhile, people persist in believing that a 20-minute drive is far. It is baffling but not without its charms.
  20. I see something beautiful every day without trying.
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My new home.

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Well, my stuff came on Thursday, and it was…not good. Nala hurt herself in the morning, and she really freaked out, which it made it seem like she might be a lot more seriously injured than she actually was. (She seems totally fine now.) I hit a wall dealing with bureaucracy and customer service representatives, and there’s just been so much of that over the last few weeks, along with stuff I can’t fix and problems with no optimal solution.

And then the actual move was not what I’d call smooth. Not by a long shot. When the movers finally left, I ran after them to give them their tips, which I’d almost forgotten, and then I came back upstairs, sat on my couch, and cried for half an hour. After which I didn’t really feel any better. And then the news of the shooting in Dallas rolled in, and I couldn’t get my new microwave to work, and all the stress and strain of the last few months caught up with me in a big way.

I am so very tired.

On the plus side, at least I’m no longer sitting on the floor.

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And like the grandfather in The Princess Bride, I will now reassure you that in spite of the seemingly dark situation of our heroine, all is not lost. She does not get eaten by the eels at this time.

Instead I am trying to sleep a lot and take it easy and not push as hard on…pretty much everything.

One interesting side effect of this exhaustion is that I can’t make as much social effort as I’m used to making. As in, I am literally incapable of it right now. I have trouble reaching out, I can’t really initiate plans, I can’t ask people to dance, I’m not tracking my friends as well as I normally do, I can’t be bothered with any situation that smacks of pressure or complicated scheduling. I am just too tired and using too many of my resources to recover from moving overwhelm.

What I can try to do is receive, respond, and show up. And it is very touching how much I am being offered right now. To be honest, I really need it, and for people to be so generously offering what I need, well, it is both humbling and inspiring.

A friend of mine texted me on Saturday to ask how everything was going, and I answered with the truth, that I had been having a rough few days. And he said, well, this was a big move, and big moves are difficult and extremely tiring. And I thought to myself, “Oh yeah. They are difficult, aren’t they?” And then we talked about some of the problems I had been having, and by the end of our conversation, I felt so much better. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference. Validation–oh yes, this is actually challenging–is golden.

Several friends have been checking in semi-regularly to see if I’m doing okay. And then they tell me what they’re up to, which I love hearing about. One friend lent me her toolbox. Some other friends offered to lend me some furniture before the truck came. Some new dance friends have been letting me know about other dances in the area. I’m being invited to parties and events, and then friends are watching out for me at those events. People invite me to dinner, and then they are the ones to figure out where we’re going. (By the by, that advice about making specific offers and invitations to people who need support? THAT IS SUCH GOOD ADVICE. It is so much easier to just say yes or no.)

One of the best things is when someone looks me in the eye and tells me how glad they are I moved here. It makes me feel like I’ll be able to find a place for myself here.

And slowly I continue the process of turning a place into a home.

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My moving truck is supposed to arrive sometime today, so by this evening I will theoretically have a REAL BED. And also a couch! And also places to put things! And more sweaters! And trash cans!

This is very exciting for me. I can’t wait to start nesting properly. I can’t wait to have a sock drawer again! I can’t wait to turn this into a real home.

Here, have a photo of Nala sunbathing:

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Yes, it turns out there is sun in Seattle. Once in a while, at least. 😉

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I am in Washington! As I write this, I have been at my new home for about sixty hours, and so far, it has been quite a whirlwind.

Less than four hours after I picked up my apartment keys, I hopped into my car and drove across to my first Seattle party. So far I have been to two parties and am about to go to my third. I have gone to Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Safeway, and Pet Smart. I have enjoyed the view from Lake Union. I have gone dancing. I have explored a bit of the downtown of my little city, and I have played a bunch of air hockey. I have seen several friends and met a bunch of new people, almost none of whose names I can remember. I have, most important of chores, set up the internet. I have done a load of laundry to clean up the end-of-road-trip doggie vomit mess.

Nala and I have established our new daily walking route, and it is so exciting! There are some old abandoned railway tracks right behind our building, and if you follow them a little ways, they join with a lovely gravel walking path. The area is surrounded by trees, and it is the best daily walking spot we’ve ever had. We’ve been taking longer walks than usual because it’s so pleasant.

My apartment is not quiet. The downstairs neighbors play music all the time. The neighbors who share my bedroom wall had a lovers’ quarrel at 1:30am on Saturday night. Ear plugs are my friends. My allergies are acting up because of all the pollen-producing plant life around here. I woke up in the middle of the night when my air mattress deflated and ended up breaking my fingernail below the quick while fixing it, resulting in a throbbing and bleeding finger at 3:30 in the morning. Nala is nervous. One of my dance partners threw me around in an unexpectedly rough manner, and I hurt my shoulder before I could compensate for his use of force.

I am either too hot or too cold, but very rarely completely comfortable. Everyone in Seattle hangs out outdoors at night, even though it’s cold. I sleep with my electric blanket turned on, even though it’s July. I wish I had packed more sweaters. But then sometimes the sun comes out and because of all the layers from the time it was cold, it becomes suddenly sweltering.

Everywhere I look there is beauty.

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I feel like I am living in a picture book my mom used to read me every year the night before the first day of school. “Will you be my friend?” I don’t know who I’m going to see once in a while, and who I’m going to see all the time, and who I’m mostly going to see at parties, and who I’m going to see one-on-one. I don’t know who to ask to watch Babylon 5 with me, and I don’t know who would want to go to the theater with me, and I don’t know if I know any live music fans. I do know that I will be able to play board games to my heart’s content and then some.

I know a lot of people here, and everyone so far has been so thoughtful and helpful and wonderful. And I see my friends, and I think, with a small jolt of surprise, oh my goodness, I really like you! This shouldn’t be a surprise, since this is one of the reasons I moved here, but nevertheless, it feels like an unexpected gift. I’ve spent the last few months managing my expectations like a pro.

I take comfort in the things that are the same. Nala is my touchstone. I listen to familiar albums in the car. I have a friend I message almost every day, and we still message almost every day. I still love pie, and otters, and Disneyland. The “i” key on my laptop still pops off all the time in a really annoying way.

Last night I dreamed it was Valentine’s Day, and I was feeling sad, and then my friends threw a spectacular surprise party for me, and I was so happy to see everyone. And then I woke up, and I thought to myself, yes, of course. It feels like you are all right here with me.

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