14 February 2019

Do you love her?

"Do you love her?" he asks. The question is unexpected. This guy is total bro. The second time we train he asks me, out of the blue, and in these exact words, "Do you grow a beard because you like how it looks or to get pussy?" Now, the third time, he's asking about love. It catches me off guard.

How do I respond? There’s a smart answer; that answer is "no". You shouldn't love someone who rejects you. And even if the feeling is genuinely felt, to admit and verbalize it gives it too much power. It is a feeling that must be changed. To hold onto it is sad and counterproductive. You say "no" for your own protection.

Maybe there's no smart and there's no dumb; there is just a feeling that, left unchecked, will be felt. Allowing myself that, the question gets no easier. I can come up with this thesis statement. "There were times where I felt a contentedness and confidence about the rightness of the times we spent together." I can recall each moment supporting this thesis. I can also recall every instance of anxiety. I can recall instances of doubt, and every moment of panic not knowing what to say or do. But, to love someone, shit, that's a sustained feeling, not just a collection of miscellaneous and momentary ones. It's unclear to me that these moments are even the supporting arguments that, when weighed out—and how would I begin to weigh them, point to a conclusion that answers the simply-stated question.

I don't remember exactly how I respond. I think I make a wordless sound that is contemplative but noncommittal and resume the side crunches that I was doing before.

27 January 2019

Eight to Forty-Nine

Some memories persist because they are demarcations of big changes. This isn't one of them. I think it's persistent—and it has persisted some time now—because I realized that what I was doing was strange. I reflected on its strangeness as it was happening. That hit the record button, and from there the tape just rolled.

I was taking a two-bus ride to get home from a discount grocery store on a Friday evening. I like this grocery store. There are other Grocery Outlets that are far more convenient to get to, but I just like this one. I transfer buses as I go through Capitol Hill, a place full of restaurants and bars. I get on a northbound 49, having exited an 8 on Broadway. This is where I reflect. This is not what most people at this place and time are here for.

A young man and young woman are already aboard the bus, or they get on at the next stop. They're behind me. I have the strong sense they're on a date, probably a first or second one. And they're talking about public transportation. It's some fairly specific stuff. They're talking about the change in frequency on the 67 bus, as a result of an expansion of a rail line. They both seem very well-informed. It's quite fascinating to listen to.

Earlier in my life—like in my teen and early twenties—this would have frustrated me. I would have thought something like who is this knucklehead guy and why is he living the life that I should have? I deserve better than to be single; I deserve to be having a conversation with a woman who shares this deep interest of mine. But by this time, I've disabused myself of this unfortunate notion. The fact that I am single is largely a consequence of a lack of effort in seeking relationships. Plus, single or not single doesn't need to mean worse or better. To some extent being single offers the ultimate freedom; it offers an ability to do what I want without question or deliberation. This is resonant as I am spending my Friday night taking a pretty weird-ass approach to grocery shopping.

At some point, their conversation dies down. The woman brings up a new topic: a regret. All summer an addled man has been standing at the corner nearest this bus stop yelling horrible things about woman who have had abortions. She angry at herself; she regrets not yelling something back at him.

By the lack of an immediate response I assume her companion is dumbfounded by this shift in topic. After letting the silence dwell uncomfortably, he brings up another transit topic. She doesn't have a response. Their conversation stays dead the remainder of the ride.

"You fucking guy," I'm thinking for the rest of the ride, "why would you do that?" Here's what I was thinking—a sentiment that does not just respond to the new direction of the conversation, but one that I felt sincerely:

Maybe you did the right thing in ignoring him. Maybe by having no reaction to the utter shit he was saying, you're helping plant that seed of doubt in his mind. He's a fossil, espousing beliefs from a dead age.

Maybe the next time you see him you do this. You look at him and make sure he sees you. And you obviously roll your eyes. Let him know that all the terrible shit he's saying has no impact at this corner—it's tired, it's obsolete, and it's just fucking sad. 

Sitting on the bus, I'm proud of myself for coming up with this. This is so easy; how is that yutz in the seat behind me so bad at this? I'm fashioning myself as this Cyrano de Bergerac-like figure, effortlessly able to figure what to say in any conversation that would occur over the course of a relationship, but choosing to stay out of the fray.

When I made this memory, and when I recalled it in the immediately time thereafter, I found this reaction sincere. But when I go through it, sentiment by sentiment, it's so laughable now.

08 July 2018

Survive

A cover of I Will Survive is playing on Jesse's laptop. We are in the lounge on our floor of the dorm. I came here to do math homework away from the distractions in my room.

It's my freshman year of college. I'm distraught. I can't remember whether there's a precipitating incident on the day this story takes place—I can think of several possibilities, but don't feel sure about any particular one—or if my feelings on that day were just part of the general malaise. Let's just say I have a protracted and unproductive crush on Jesse's roommate, and have failed to act on it. This is further complicated by my own roommate having similar feelings, but acting on them. The greatest complication, however, is that outside of one month where we hung out often, the object of this crush does not appear to like me very much at all.

The song is comforting. The song is melancholy. I remember sitting in the setting sunlight thinking that this would be an end. Life would change. It would be sad to think about, but the only way was forward. Did Jesse know any of this?

But it turns out, it wasn't a turning point at all.

26 June 2018

To Show One's Hand

"I know this is going to sound weird, but I want it to be my fault. Well, not exactly, but I want there to be some sort of fault component. I guess not even fault exactly. But like some sort of arrived-upon mutual conclusion that there was some sort of interpersonal incompatibility and that meant it could never work. It wouldn't even have to be mutual! It could have been as simple as 'you do this, and I don't like that.'"

"It's like a job interview. They have some reason why they didn't hire you, but they'll never tell you what it is."

"But I do know why!" The tone of this interjection is one of surprise, mixed with a bit of frustration. The response touches on the wrong point. The initial explanation was a meandering one, sure, but it seemed awfully clear where it landed. Maybe it wasn't, or was that an insinuation? "I do have an explanation, and I respect and believe it. It just frustrates me. It's just an explanation that I myself, or some facet of who I am, play no role in. It makes me feel like the world around me behaves in random ways that I have nothing to do with. But that doesn't mean that truth is being withheld. I don't think that would happen; there's no reason for it. It's just a shitty situation. I mean, do you think there's more to this?"

"I don't think you can know."

01 August 2017

Man On the Street

Yesterday when I turned in my Seattle mayoral primary and special election ballot, I was interviewed about my mayoral choice by Ana Sofia Knauf of The Stranger. I'm typically reserved politically—it's something that I think about (surprisingly often) but don't necessarily like to communicate. But typically if I'm a asked a direct question, I'll respond. I think Ana Sofia did a great job taking some really rambling answers and turning them into real normal-people sentences. But I think I came across as a bit of a doofus thought no fault of the reporting, just not being practiced in expressing these things orally. Let's do some director's commentary.

Article Link

"I take a lot of the Seattle Transit Blog endorsements and a lot of The Stranger's endorsements. The Stranger's endorsements are a tad left of where I am and the Seattle Transit Blog ones tend to be a tiny bit too pro-developer for me."
I wish I had more mental wherewithal to elaborate about this on the spot. I think the best example of this is that my City Council Position 8 choice, Jon Grant, supports a 25% affordable requirement for housing built by developers. Seattle Transit Blog would say that this would deter growth. The thing is, I want a government that will push the issue to find out if 25% affordability, but also be willing to consider alternate strategies to building affordable housing in the near-term if the 25% affordable rule cuts overall development. I don't think candidates are adequately incentivized to discuss their policies this way (they have to establish that they are making the correct decisions). In the absence of individual candidates applying the scientific method, I want the overall government to be forced to operate is such a way. I want my overall voting choices to reflect I think hindering development would be bad, but my perception is that developers are plenty profitable at the moment, and how would anyone know where the optimal line is. I want my choices to create an environment where experimentation and deliberation flourish.

My entire answer to "As you vote for a new mayor, what's the most important issue on your mind?"
I can't do these questions. It's embarrassing. "What did you do today?" "What are your hobbies?" Buuuuuhhhh. Somehow they trigger to me actually forget who I am as a person. It's terrible.

I wish a said something along the lines of finding creative ways/riding the state super hard to institute progressive taxes. I wish I said something about how embarrassing I find the Seattle Police, both from the perspective of their clear and fatally tragic inability to deescalate as well as how poorly they handled situations when I actually needed them.

"transit things"
Sometimes you just forget the word "policies" at a really inopportune time.

"To some extent, I'm not super keen always on the idea that everyone in politics should be an outsider. I like the idea of there being some establishment people in there—look at how terrible things are federally. That's what liking an outsider got us, the country at large."

Of course this last sentence is the lead in the Facebook link to this article because it's the part that I like the least in retrospect. Way too close of an implicit Trump comparison to two mayoral candidates who I would be absolutely thrilled to vote for. What I was trying to express, in too few world was this: I find the Trump presidency to be disappointing/embarrassing in three different categories of ways. First is that the policies and proposed changes coming from it are antithetical to the political decisions I would like to see made.  Second is that it is disorganized and cannot impose its agenda, regardless of my feelings on agenda. Third is that it comes across as mean, flippant, and dismissive. I have no fear of Moon or Oliver from a way one perspective. And I don't think that either of them have given evidence of acting in ways two or three. I'm just not sold of the idea of "outsider cred" because I think there's a danger of any outsider candidate being less cautious and politic, and thus inadvertently creating type two or type three situations. I think what doesn't communicate, and I needed to communicate, was that I do there should be some outsiders in political systems. It's just useful to have a mix, and I try to ensure that my other choices create a mix.

"I moved here about six years ago. I came here for a software job, so I feel culpable in that sort of space...Even though in some ways, I'm sort of the face of the problem, I don't want to be contributing to that."
Is this weird and gross? I can't decide whether this is weird and gross. On one hand I don't want it to come across as "look at me I'm a hero because I care about people who aren't me", and I'm not sure it doesn't. On the other hand, I think it's terribly important that the city does not become a monoculture of highly compensated people in the tech industry. I think it would be a terrible circumstance, not because people in the tech industry part is terrible, the monoculture part is. I consider myself very fortunate to have friends with life experiences both like and unlike mine. Why would I want this to no longer be the case? If I'm unwilling to cease to exist, then my voting choices are my lever.

23 October 2016

Layover 2

I'm in O'Hare on a layover and I'm in motion. I'm unrushed, having made my way through passport control with plenty of time to spare. I'm making my way to a flight to Seattle. The day seems bleak, the sky is grey, and the air is cold. I'm overtired. Walking through an airport can be an overstimulating experience: the people rushing around, the din of announcements. I feel disconnected from it all, moving steadily, the rush surrounding me.

I'm changing terminals. Boarding attendants are yelling and pointing down the crowded platform trying to maximize the number of bodies they can get onto the train that connects international arrivals and domestic departures. Standing on the train, I stop for the first time since I handed my paperwork to the border patrol agent.

As the doors are closing, a man runs through. The trains run every four minutes. There's really no need to do this, but that's the way this shit is done. If four minutes is really going to make a difference, the flight has, effectively, already been missed. There's no buffer for a slow person on a moving sidewalk, an unforeseen gate change, or a broken escalator.  It's the sort of thing that I sigh inwardly at, but move on from, because it's a pattern I see again and again. I'm still in my overtired fog, standing, facing the door, feeling little, saying nothing.

Now the doors are really really on the verge of closing. There's a clatter as a woman comes barreling through. The doors close on her arm and spring back open. It's loud, jarring, and unexpected. Words cannot express the momentary shock that I feel. The fog has vanished. With the doors reopened, she gets on the train

"That door closed on me," she says to her companion, the man who just made it through the door earlier. Her voice begins to take on more of an aggrieved tone, "You didn't have to get on this train!". The man brushes it off wordlessly, and fortunately an argument does not erupt.

But I wonder what it's like to be so determined, like the man, or feel so tethered, like the woman. Each of them had an opportunity to not get on that train and if they operated in a world where the most valued elements were order and safety, they wouldn't have. They both did though, and they did it together, though not without strife.

10 October 2016

Layover 1

I'm in Heathrow, sitting at the bar at a place called Huxley's. The place makes a big fuss about being British; celebrating modern British food. When the alternative is half a lobster and champagne for some princely sum, and I'm facing three more hours before a flight to Menorca, that seems just fine. When I approached the one remaining bar stool, the young man sitting adjacent gave a friendly look as he shifted his stool over to make room, but left his headphones in. He was not the only one with headphones in. Even the people without headphones are looking at their phones. I'm not.

I order a beer. A fast-talking guy, a speaker of Lithuanian as can be gleaned from the small badge of the Lithuanian flag on his nametag, assisted by two other guys, a colleague and trainee, both from India, provide efficient service, but are too busy to chat. The bar is L-shaped, and I'm sitting on the small side looking across towards the long end. Halfway down the long end, a young woman is passively rubbing her significant other's back with one hand, while in the other hand she holds her phone up to her face, giving it far more attention. At some point, the Lithuanian unsuccessfully tries to bum a smoke from his coworkers behind the bar. Unsuccessful, he heads to the kitchen and emerges with a cigarette behind his ear and leaves. I order another beer. The stool beside me opens up.

"Which of the beers has the most alcohol?" asks the 40-something American man who's sat down next to me of the trainee. The American, he's delayed, he's been at the airport awhile and will be for some longer, he announces, perhaps to bartender, perhaps to me.  The trainee doesn't know much about the beers and calls over his remaining colleague who runs through the list of lagers and ales on tap: unadventurous selections with a alcohol contents that, no lie, range only from 5.4% to 5.6%. The bartender suggests a slightly stronger Belgian beer in bottles, but the man, while he could imagine drinking said beer in a cafĂ© in Paris, decides he wants the strongest tap beer.

Something about the American makes me uneasy. There's a boisterous affability to his interactions with the staff, but it seems to be a mask over something: an angry volatility, a short fuse. Something feels like it's not going to end well. For awhile we're both silently drinking our beers.

"Is there a room or a dungeon or some place where I can smoke?" he asks the trainee.

"No..." the trainee softly intones, trailing off. I think the specification of a dungeon has thrown him. It's thrown me too. Dungeon? What the fuck? He riffs a little on the idea of a dungeon, talking a little about chains, taking things in a vaguely sexual direction. The trainee is still listening, but seems at a loss of words. The American seems almost apologetic on behalf of the trainee. His voice has conciliatory tone, as though he's fighting something back. "Can't do anything in an airport anymore. Fucking Muslims right?" The trainee gives an anxious grimace in response. Not ending well is starting. My second beer is soon finished, much faster than the first one. I eagerly pay and spend the rest of the layover sitting by the gate.

TO BE CONTINUED