Seattle: 1

Back in the day, I mean, way back in the day, the days nobody cares to think about except while tipsy-insulting all the people who were mean to us for no reason then, I attended San Clemente High School and through the International Baccalaureate program I met Sanj, who was a big personality and well-known at school but a bit intimidating to soft-spoken, poetry-enamored, little me. It wasn’t until senior year we began to hang out because I became close with one of her best friends, but despite being extremely different in almost all aspects except academic motivation, we became close. We kept in touch after graduation and continued to meet up when we could despite her moving to Berkeley for school at Cal and my choosing to stay in Orange County to attend UC Irvine.

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I stayed with her in San Jose while she was a university recruiting intern at Qualcomm during summer 2013, and now I’ve come to stay with her for a week in Seattle, where she’s been working at Facebook for a while. I’ve been here a few days and am just making my coffee shop debut at Uptown Espresso in Belltown.

I flew in early Saturday morning. Sanj and her boyfriend John picked me up and took us back to her apartment, a cute one bed one bath in Lower Queen Anne’s. We mapped out a few coffee shops I’d be interested in visiting on the way to Pike Place sometime later after getting coffee at the cafe across the street, and then we walked to a little Vietnamese restaurant for Pho. I’d never tried vegetarian Pho before so I was a little more excited than the situation probably warranted.

We went back to the apartment to nap before going to get dinner and start out drinks at Big Mario’s Pizza, which is extremely close to her apartment and where I discovered the very addicting Jalapeño, Pineapple, and Feta pizza which I may or may not have drunk ate too much of. They had excellent cider, after which I switched to rum and coke and can’t admit to remembering everything that followed perfectly.

We ended up taking an uber to a dive bar with a big dance floor, where we…well, danced, with what I admit was some admirable abandon, and where I got way too excited when the DJ played half of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home,” sang very loudly to it, and then complained loudly enough to draw attention to myself when he didn’t play the whole thing…we moved to the karaoke room to root for a girl who sang Spice Girls and then went back to dance. Sober, I can’t be paid to dance in public, but drunk me likes it more than one would guess.

I actually can’t remember how we got home, but John showed up with pizza, which I couldn’t identify at the time. I woke up the next morning still drunk with a bindi on my right cheek and had to rely on Sanj’s snapchat story to fill in the regrettable gaps in my memory. I can’t even share all of the photos publicly…

Sunday morning we went to brunch with some of Sanj’s Seattle girlfriends. They were all disarmingly friendly and outgoing—and all white, and pretty…my hangover started to kick in while we were there so I was spacing out or trying not to get up to projectile vomit the whole time, which I feel bad about… I tried to socialize but would consistently forget what I was saying while I was saying it and found I had nothing in common with most of these girls anyway, so I sat back and observed this as a phenomenon rather than my own experience. But still what I remember most is the feeling of being disarmed by their friendliness to me and then feeling queasy. Also the weird waiter trying to catch my eye at inappropriate times just because I smiled at him when he took my coat to hang up on the coat rack, which I had tried to do by myself. Also I was only smiling anyway because of how awkward it had been to wrestle over my jacket with a waiter while trying not to barf on him or punch his ginger beard right off his pasty face.

After brunch we went back home and began a marathon of Season 22 of ANTM that did not end for me until about 4PM the next day.

By the time I finally managed to drag myself off the couch, get showered, and clean the kitchen on Monday evening, Sanj was already on her way home from work. We had dinner and some (eheh) wine together then headed to her old roomie’s apartment for “wine and the Bachelor.” These were mostly the same girls that were at brunch minus a few. Did I mention they were all white and pretty…? I admit to having a predisposition sort of…against this kind of girl, and yeah, I think it’s fair to say there’s a kind of girl; she comes from a sort of privileged background and, due to her succession of various environments, including university, has had barely any exposure to different cultures or challenging opinions; her “type” is a nice, successful business man who was a frat boy in his glory days; these are facts I gathered after grilling Sanj about them after seeing how they reacted—poorly, to say the least—to a statement about women of color not really being interested in watching The Batchelor and certainly not being too interested in (or allowed to) go on the show. There’s a lot I could say, but I’ll just sum it up: when we left, I was glad to leave.

Girls who are nice, pretty, and as a result of various circumstances generally privileged; well, to be honest, I wasn’t surprised at all to realize they have regular brunch dates and name their boyfriends by first and last name when asked who they’re dating. I’m not really for typecasting, but in Seattle, I’m finding there’s such an overall lack of diversity—which really, deeply surprises me, as I just assumed that all big cities would be notably diverse—that nobody really feels challenged to break stereotype or become interesting or individual. There’s a very laid back vibe here; it fits with the idea that people are comfortable how they are and might be satisfied with everything staying the same.

Todayimg_2499, Tuesday, I travelled to the Facebook offices to meet Sanj for lunch, and my hope in the city was restored somewhat; there was a very active, energetic community there with enough diversity to give me some warmth to carry with me throughout the rest of my experience here; I walked past conference rooms, peering in curiously as people mapped out things and were engaged with each other; it was clear to see that this was a place where new ideas are appreciated and probably implemented with some ease. In a way, it feels like its own world; it’s not hard to understand why engineers and coders who enter the tech world never really want to or need to leave, especially if they’re at Facebook. I’m thinking I might go back tomorrow to try to see a little more of the place.

After lunch at Facebook I walked down to Belltown, where I stopped at the first of Sanj’s recommended coffee shops, Uptown Espresso, which makes a delicious Sea-Salt Dark Chocolate and Cranberry Scone (all words capitalized on the sign). I’ve been img_2501here a couple hours, putting together a playlist and working on some long put-off story notes. In a little under an hour I plan to head out to the next on the list, and after that, to Pike Place. As I’ve got my laptop and notebooks and stuff on me, the hike around town is pleasantly strenuous, but with stops along the way everything seems within walking distance and I’m excited to venture out to see more of the city.

Tomorrow I plan to visit the square around the Space Needle, which has some museums and other little places to see. Rather than shopping, which is my regular routine when I sightsee in Seoul, I’m trying hard to focus on taking photos of the places I visit and writing consistently for once in my life.