Sunday, January 22, 2017

Feeling The Love

170,000 of my closest friends took a walk in downtown Seattle yesterday. I have an aversion to crowds, and a couple weeks ago when my friend Karla asked me to join her on the Womxn's March (the x is intentional, to signify it's not just for women,) my immediate thought was hell no. Yet I had made it sort of a resolution this year to do things out of my comfort zone. So there I am in the photo above, headed downtown to march.

Karla's cousin Pat was also going, and since she lived closer to downtown, we convened at her house to catch a 9 am bus into town for the 10 am rally at Judkins Park, SE of downtown. We boarded and luckily found three seats together. at every stop the bus grew more full with pink-hatted people carrying signs, and the last few stops before downtown it drove by crowded bus stops; there was no more room to take on more people.

Normally on crowded buses people get grumpy, but the atmosphere was fun, as if we were heading to a game or a concert. strangers were polite. The day before I had stopped at the dollar store to buy pink hats for Karla and Pat. I already owned a pink knit hat, and when I turned it inside out, the crown popped up like cat ears. I drew a cat face on it.

News networks in Seattle last week announced was out of pink all over the city, so I bought a few extras, and passed them out on the bus. I had also bought some pink scarves with hearts on them.

We got off at Seneca and Third and planned to transfer from University Station to a another bus close to the park. Two filled buses passed us by before we decided to get an uber or a cab. We walked a few blocks and found a hotel where the bellman flagged a cab for us. while the cab moved slowly through the mounting traffic, it was a relief to sit for bit as we had already walked quite a bit trying to find bus stops. and Seattle IS uphill both ways.

At 11 am, a half a mile from Judkins park, the three of us noticed marchers on the move already. "We'd better get out here," Pat said. we paid the cabbie ($12 plus a three dollar tip) and shuffled our way into the crowd.

It took an hour for the pack to move from Jackson Street and 23rd to 20th because of the thousands of marchers feeding in from side streets. The final stop was Seattle Center, near the famed Space Needle. We had a long way to go.

At one point the crowd let out a collective gasp as we noticed a pair of bald eagles swooping above us.

Several of my friends were marching, and the odds of running into any of them were 170,000:1, yet Karla's friend Dana spotted her in the crowd. But Karla is tall, and Pat and I used her as a beacon to help keep us together every time the crowd moved.

By 1:30, we made it to 3rd Avenue, and started to look for a place to eat and use the bathroom. Because it was Saturday, many places were closed, and the few that were open had lines out the door. Our bodies were tired and our bladders full, and Karla suggested we take the bus back to Pat's and find somewhere to eat at Northgate.

Buses weren't running on schedule due to congestion, so it after 2:00 when we boarded the bus north. This was, too, was overloaded with pink hat marchers. The woman seated next to pat said she couldn't march due to a health issue, but she showed her support by riding to and from the march to meet and greet marchers on the bus.

This sentiment was prevalent throughout the day. The crowds in the sidelines raised fists and signs to show their support, and motorists yelled greetings. Some stranded by traffic may have uttered profanities under their breath, but I didn't hear any negative shouts. At no time did I feel unsafe. Onlookers occasionally urged us to raise our signs and cheer, as if we were at a Seahawks rally, times 100.

Signs ran the gamut of Dump Trump, Love Trumps Hate, Keep your Tiny Hands off My Health Care, Make America Think Again,  a few were in foreign languages, and others reflected support for Clinton. One marcher held a giant photo of Bernie with "I voted for her" written on it. There are so many issues with the new regime I don't agree with that I didn't know what single issue I'd put on a sign. At the dollar store I bought a small plastic For Sale sign and added "My country is NOT" (for sale) on one side, and wrote 'Not My President" on the other.

Normally the trip from downtown to Pat's would take 30 minutes, but the driver had to alternate his route through roadblocks and marchers so we didn't make it back to Pat's house until 3:30. By the time we ate lunch it was after 4:30.

Ever since the election I've felt a sense of malaise. It's not a partisan thing; I was a Republican may years ago, but that party has transitioned into a narrow minded, anti-intellectual agenda. The new agenda wants to set the clock back to the 1950s where times were great for Christian, white America. Much has changed in the last 60 years. Our country's citizens comprise people of various ethnic and religious backgrounds, and we all share equal rights under the law.

Maybe all of us have rested on our laurels and comfortable lifestyles too long, and we dismissed George Orwell and Ray Bradbury's warnings in 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 because their books are fiction. Schools stopped teaching Civics, and Social Studies is not one of the critical subjects measured in standardized tests. The cost of this is apathy is we have a TV realty show blowhard as president. 

In a march on the UW campus on election day, someone was shot. This took place after an Alt-right speaker had spoken on campus, and perhaps crowds were riled on both sides. Few details are available, and the suspect has yet to be caught.

But Saturday's much larger march incited no violence. After this march, my faith in my country has energized. I am not alone. All across the country, and parts of the world, millions marched peacefully.  My grandmother marched in Washington to ensure my right to vote, so this is a tip of my pink hat to her. Good job, Seattle

Sunday, January 15, 2017

On Watching My Father Move Out of the Apartment Next Door in the Rain

It's been a dozen years since my father died, yet his belongings were strewn in the parking lot the other day. They weren't my actual father's possessions, but those of the old man next door who passed away three years ago.

I never met my deceased neighbor, since I've only lived here a year and a half, yet from the clothing spewing from the top of a box I know he was slim and not particularly tall. He liked to stay in shape as evidenced from his bicycle, golf shoes, and golf clubs. He owned the same model canister vacuum cleaner as my father, and much of his scratched up furniture he'd been using since the late 60's like my dad, the kind of furnishings for a man who lived many years alone. The crew clearing out his condo split the man's favorite chair in two- a mustard yellow, crushed velvet recliner with headrest-  and dumped it in the back of a pickup. They also snapped the legs off the man's desk and hurled that in back.

The house cleaners may have pinched the portable TV set and VCR.

Dad had a dot matrix printer like the old man's, along with a brown Samsonite from the days before suitcase companies added collapsible handles and wheels to their luggage. One of my neighbors culled the set of 1955 encyclopedias lying on the ground. My dad still owned his 1958 World Book set when he died.

I almost ran down the steps to ask if I could have the aluminum lawn chair. It was one of those with nylon straps woven in a cross-hatch pattern. After my mother died and we moved across the country, my brother, father and I used a couple of those as living room furniture until our storage arrived. Years later, dad used those lawn chairs as additional seating when he held parties.

Was there no family left to take any of these things? Or had they already grabbed the good stuff? The property manager told me the old man had a daughter, but she was either unable or unwilling to pay her late father's HOA. The property is now owned by someone who flips houses.

I'm going to miss my dead neighbor. He was quiet. And I miss my father every day.

I hope you'll turn in to my next podcast.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

On having My Name Replaced with a Tracking Number


Who doesn’t love getting a package in the mail? Especially a few weeks after Christmas when all the hoo haa is over and the drear of winter has planted its feet for the next few months. So yesterday when I opened my mail box my heart gave a little silent cheer when I found a key to one of the package lock boxes. Books, perhaps? I was expecting books from a couple of the authors I’ll be interviewing in upcoming broadcasts.

I opened the box and pulled out the square package that rattled when I shook it and clearly wasn’t a book. It also didn’t have my name on it. I checked the address; it was somewhere on 208th street. About 60 blocks from where I live. I scanned the return address. Not familiar. Clearly, this package was not mine. I often get other people’s mail, and my neighbors get mine. How in the hell did I get some else’s package, someone who doesn't live in my condo complex? Someone on 208th is probably waiting for this box. It may important. A set of puzzle pieces missing from a gift, a replacement charger for a phone, or a collection of rare coins.

I circled the address on the package with a note saying “nowhere near here,” and slid the box back inside its portal. I tried to pull out the key and lock it back inside my own mail slot but it wouldn’t budge. I hoped one of the notorious Seattle area package thieves wouldn't steal this person’s shipment, and walked away, dejected, as I got no other mail.

It’s well known among my friends I over think everything and this whole incident wouldn't let go of me. The address on the package was on the same street as the post office. I had been expecting a package from Express Scripts, something I needed. I checked my email, and it said the package was delivered. Well holy crap. That was my package. Why was the post office address on it but not mine?

It’s cold outside again today, and the last thing I wanted to do was venture outdoors, but the post office wasn’t answering the phone. I had no choice but to drive to the PO, stand in line and explain my faux pas to a human.

The woman behind the counter patiently listened to my tale, and took down the tracking number. There was no trace of the box’s location. It hadn’t been sent back, nor was it inside the PO. She surmised the package was probably still locked inside the box until the postal carrier figured out what to do with it. She admitted they had problems keeping regular carriers on our route when I mentioned continuous screw ups on mail deliveries.

“But why wasn’t my name or address on the package?” I asked. She replied the carriers use tracking numbers. “But how am I supposed to know the package is for me? I don't know myself by my tracking number.” She laughed, and said there should have been something on the box reflecting it was mine.

So now I’ll need to wait until Monday to find out the fate of my medical supplies in the mysterious package. Meanwhile, you can start calling me 1Yx2z56678888xxb….

Happy Writing.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Authors on the Air

I've begun a new enhancement to my writing career. I'm still writing, but I'm now also talking to other writers on the Young Adult Cafe through Blog Talk Radio

While there is a learning curve to understand the studio, research a the writer, match up time zones between the author being interviewed and me, and advertise the LIVE broadcast on social media, it's also been great fun. Writers tend to be solitary people, yet put two writers together and have them talk about writing the dialogue flows freely.

The focus of my show is authors of Young Adult, yet I also have plans for upcoming episodes where high school students discuss what they like to see in YA, the view from an editor in YA, and a panel of writers on their process.

The link above is for my show upcoming LIVE this Monday with Patty Blount at noon EST. Here are links to a few recent shows. Enjoy!

January 2, 2017 C C Hunter

December 26, 2016 Beth Fehlbaum

December 19,2016 Rebekah Dodson

Happy Listening