West Coast Swing

In keeping with my tradition of leaving the muggy heat of a Boston  
summer, I am going on a West Coast trip later this week, which will  
surprisingly not feature me begging my father for money, sleeping  
quarters, and “walking around money” in the SoCal. No sir. This trip  
is to the Northern parts of the West Coast and will include two  
places I’ve only seen in episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and live from-the-
set color commentary from the movie Elektra; Seattle and Vancouver.

I will be up in Seattle for something called Sea Fair, which  
according to my friends, amounts to a huge party on boats in Lake  
Washington. Knowing nothing about lakes, Washington, or Fairs via the  
sea, I am cautiously optimistic that this won’t downgrade into large  
scale bumper boats. Assuming I survive said Sea Fair, I will also do  
other stuff in the city that may or may not involve the Space Needle,  
which I understand involves neither needles nor Space, but does have  
25 lightning rods on its roof. And I have  been excited to visit  
Vancouver ever since my junior year of college in which I ended up  
seated next to a friend’s date (who was from that city) at our frat’s  
Winter Formal dinner and we had this conversation:

Me: So…where are you from?
Her: Vancouver.
Me: Oh wow, Vancouver is beautiful.
Her, slightly more interested: You’ve been there?
Me: No.
Her, giving me a strange look: Oh.
Me, attempting to recover: But… I’ve seen tons of pictures.
Her, eyes down at the menu: Mmmm-hmmm.
Me, desperate: Um, yeah, tons…
(85 seconds of silence)
Me:…you guys have whales right?
Her: Yep.
Me, self-satisfied: Nice.

Anyway, this trip is not entirely about re-living semi-unpleasant  
college memories. There will be writing as well. I will still be  
working, although I’m trying to get at least a week ahead so I can do  
less work, but I am also trying to start/finish a magazine story for  
Boston Mag, and re-work this *&^$ part of my book that is frustrating  
me to no discernible end. I don’t want to get into it, but it  
involves most of Chapter 3 and the urge to delete nearly everything  
in it. What– I wonder now– was I doing when I wrote Chapter 3? Was  
I on hallucinogenics? Trying to write in couplets? Did I let my 15  
year old self ghost-write? Frankly, friends, I am embarrassed.  
Promise me–if you happen to accidentally stumble upon my computer  
after I’ve been knocked overboard during the Fair of Seas– that you  
won’t judge me.

Needless to say, I am hoping that a short story arises from the ashes  
of this trip. As I envision it now, it will probably be called “Don’t  
Grunge At the Ball,” and be loosely based upon the rise and fall and  
rise of Eddie Vedder’s baseball career. I smell a Pushcart nomination.

State of,
Love and Trust

Pearl Jam

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7 thoughts on “West Coast Swing

  1. Shelly

    You’re coming to Vancouver at a beautiful time of year. I moved here last October at the point in the year when the weather turns grey, cold and rains nearly every hour.

    Now I agree that Stanley park is wonderful but it really depends if you have the time to wander around it and enjoy the peacefulness of the trails or the bustling sea wall. If you’re looking for hip spots to hanging out, a coffe shop to write and people watch, or just a place to bum around… I would be happy to offer suggestions (you can check out my blog) or better yet, since I have free time (happy unemployment) I could just show you around.

    Well let me know, I’m happy to help and if your up here next Wednesday or Saturday night be sure to check out the fireworks. It’s the annual firework competition between Canada, USA and China with a extravaganza on the final night.

    Go Canucks! eh.

  2. Kristan C.

    You’re telling us that you’ve never seen Sleepless in Seattle or the X-Files, and you expect us to believe that? Come ON. ~GOB~

    Have a great time. Don’t fall off the Space Needle. And if Eddie’s not out surfing, give him a big smooch and ask when the next CD is coming out.

  3. Stu

    I’m pretty sure it was my date that was from Vancouver, and if my memory serves me correctly, the 2001 conversation was more like:

    Kev: So…where are you from? Pakistan?
    Her: Vancouver.
    Kev: Oh wow, Vancouver is BEAUUUTIFUL.
    Stu, eves dropping: I KNOW! Isn’t it!!!
    Her, slightly more interested: You’ve been there?
    Kev: No..
    Stu: ..No.
    Her, giving Kev a strange look: Oh. (stares at blackberry, which were still 2 years from invention)
    Kev, attempting to recover: But… I’ve seen two photographs, and I’m nearly positive Alanis Morriset summers there.
    Stu: I just love Jagged Little Pill.
    Her, eye(s) down at menu: Mmmm.hmmm..
    Kev, emotional: Dave Courier is a real whale’s tit…(throws napkin- it slowly wafts to floor.).
    (85 seconds of silence)
    Kev:…you guys have whales right?
    Her: Yep.
    Kev, self-satisfied: Nice. (high fives Stu)

    Ahh, the one that got away…

  4. Vicky

    Dude, I’m jealous as %^&*! — I *just* came back from Vancouver. I’m doing an optional residency MFA at the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver (which means we workshop online all year, then have the option of going to Vancouver for two weeks in the summer for a three-credit course. I’ve taken that option three years in a row now). I miss the stunning scenery. I miss the weather. I desperately miss my fellow writers/friends 🙁 I miss the 45-minute bus ride each way to UBC from where I was staying downtown, trips on which, listening obsessively to The National, I managed to sort out problems with my novel that have been plaguing me for two years. And now I’m back in a muggy East Coast cultural wasteland. Bah! *User bangs around a bit, bad-temperedly, then recovers*

    OK. I echo echo echo Chicklit’s Stanley Park suggestion. Walk around the sea wall. Go to Granville Island. Definitely go to Kitsilano and visit Zulu Records. Head out to UBC, if you’ve got time, and go to Wreck Beach (nekkid if you dare!) and the Museum of Anthropology. Uh, what else? Eat lots of sushi. Go to English Bay. Take the seabus to North Vancouver and look at the mountains one way and downtown on the way back. OK, that’s it, or you’ll never get any writing done. Have an amazing time!

    Canadianly yrs,

  5. Chicklit

    My husband and I were in Vancouver about a month ago. It *is* beautiful. Visit Stanley Park if at all possible, but if you go to the aquarium be prepared for the mesmerizing cuteness of the otters. No man can resist them.

  6. Genevieve

    That was such a sweet, awkward conversation. Good save with the whales. Also, I’ve been digging the Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam inclusions.

    About chapter three – dude, dude, dude. Have you not yet seen the new Batman movie? The "why do we fall?" question arises again, in atleast one scene I think. Keep up the writing momentum. It’s going to turn out all right, man.

    Tom-How is the writer’s group going? What kind of writers are representing Indiana these days? My writer’s group has got two essayists and a mystery writer, which I find an interesting mix. Mystery isn’t usually my genre, but I’ll cross genre lines if the writing is good and hers is so I think mystery people will love her. We’re all learning a lot from each other.

  7. Tom

    This post has a "getting back into story work" feel to it, which surely has 0% to do with the fact that I was realizing last night that I had not done any story work of my own for at least a week. Again – nothing to do with my interpretation of this blog post. Nothing.

    Thanks for the reminder. Now, if I can squeeze some free time out of my boringly hectic life and get some words on the page, all will be well. Besides, there’s this writers group I’ve joined, and I believe the idea is that we have to present our writing, so I need writing to present. Maybe if I just drive the Chevelle over to the meeting and go, "Look, dudes! I replaced the rear wheel studs! Can I beg off presenting this week???"

    Obviously, I need sleep.