19 December 2006

Seattle: What's To Like?

A lupine meadow in Discovery Park, right in the midst of Seattle,
Washington. Living here does not blow - not on account of the
scenery, anyway.


Remember how I told you about that happiness experiment that I was going to do on my brain? The one where every night before I went to bed, I was going to write down three things that made me happy that day?I've been doing it for a couple of weeks now and so far it has been going gangbusters. If the point of the exercise was to make me sleep better, then it works like a well-swung cue ball upside the dome. I sleep like a bear. In addition to that, it has reduced my predilection to ruminate on anxiety-inducing topics - at least while I'm awake, anyway. I still wake up in a froth each morning trying to perform long division on the balance of my bank accounts. But I mean, hey, who doesn't do that at Christmastime?

One thing that might keep people from practicing happiness is that it seems doing so means letting one's guard down. Ergo, while you're busy being a blissed-out hippie, life will sneak up and stab you in the ass. Actually, that's not so. I know from studying this stuff obsessively that happiness and other positive states of mind are expansive, meaning that the aperture of consciousness widens to entertain more possibilities in every situation. So it's more likely that you will both perceive potential ass-stabbers and be mentally ready for them if you are in a positive state of mind. Anger, anxiety and other negative states of mind are more narrowly focused and reduce the number of perceived possibilities. Remember, the Hulk's only option was to "smash". I could go off on my usual didactic saw about emotions being a method of heuristic management. But Christ, how many times do I have to beat that goddamn topic before somebody comes up and grabs me by the heuristics and gives me a shake? You get my point.

So another effect of doing this exercise is that it has made me appreciate Seattle more. Even though I've lived here for twenty years, I've always felt like an immigrant, like I have nothing in common with the ultra-dour locals here, and that they in turn despise my penchant for Sunny Jim exuberance. It seems that ennui and smoldering spite are the only two acceptable modes here. If Thumper lived in Seattle, he would've hucked himself off the Aurora Bridge ages ago. "If you can't grumble something shitty, don't grumble nothing at all." I mean, c'mon, this is the place that invented grunge, which is basically punk rock without the gumption to take a swing at you.

BUT! All of that said, in the spirit of the "things that make me happy" list exercise that I'm doing right now, I thought I'd take a moment to enumerate all the things I like about Seattle. Perhaps it's just because this exercise has seeded my brain with sugar cubes. Or perhaps it's because I fear becoming one of THEM.

I like the way they make coffee here: thick as blood and potent enough to shock the tits off a sphinx. Seattleites feign hatred of Starbucks. It's a faceless, blood-sucking multinational conglomerate they say, and they're quick with a rebuke for anyone who says anything to the contrary. I like Starbucks because they're the only place that makes a decent cup of black drip, so fawkoff. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. (True Made-Up Fact: One in six people in the Puget Sound region is a Starbucks barista. -Ed.)

I like the Seattle Seahawks, even though they have a quarterback with the disposition of a thoroughbred and they've stumbled their way through the '06 season thus far. But you always root for the home team, right? I mean the New Orleans Saints sucked for like 100 years (and now thankfully they're getting their due), but that never stopped New Orleaneans from slathering their team with praise. Well that's not how we do things in Seattle, where schadenfreude is the major import. During the Hawks 13-win run last season, all I heard from the locals was "They got lucky. They'll start sucking again any day now." Then they made it all the way to the Super Bowl - no mean feat. And then they lost (Christ, somebody had to! -Ed.) causing the locals to reprise their glumful mantra: "See? Told ya they'd suck eventually." I say fawkoff, Eeyores of the Puget Sound! And Go Hawks! And I mean both of those things in the nicest way possible.

I like Seattle because it's really goddamn pretty. On the other hand, it's like having a really hot girlfriend who treats you like shit. Sure, it rains like hell and treats you like crap for nine months out of the year. But then the sky cracks open and the sunbeams pour forth, revealing the glory that surrounds us. The only downside is that light and warmth freak the locals right the hell out, and they express their freak-outedness by being even more grumpy and dysthymic. Sunshine, it seems, is the only thing that pisses them off more than rain. (True Made-Up Fact: 78% of the people in the Puget Sound region are pissed off about something right now; 22% are actively searching for something to be pissed off about - and I mean rightfuckingnow! -Ed.)

So yeah - good coffee, the glory of nature, and football. What else ya need in a town besides toilets and a decent newspaper? (Check and - well, we'll get back to ya on the second one. -Ed.)

Cheers, and be on the lookout for that potential ass-stabber in the red suit. If he comes to my neighborhood, his ass is gonna have to have a word with the yakuza. Only they control the toy and goodie market in Chinatown!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I came here looking for something to be pissed about. But, instead, I found references to the Hulk, Eeyore, and the Yakuza. So, I guess I will have to take my hunt elsewhere.

Oh, and Thumper didn't jump off the Aurora Bridge. Flower tossed him. G'damn, over-cheerful, hyper-active, ADD bunny.