Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Missing Emerald City, sort of

Re new nephew, his name is Wesley Douglas Owens, and all is well. I know that me gloating over a new nephew is very unkonrathian given that I hate kids, but I’ve found that I’ve actually enjoyed having my first nephew Phillip. My younger sister managed to be a good mom and raise a kid that’s smart, funny, and well-behaved, and I’m more than certain that Monica will be a good mother too. And what’s weird is that I remember when I was Phillip’s age, and being around him is almost like a portal into my past, the days when I spent all of my time playing with Legos and the last Star Wars movie was bigger than Jesus. So that’s cool, and I’ll enjoy watching another one grow up.

There’s a new guy at work who came to us from Seattle, and when I first talked to him on Friday, it turns out his wife also worked at WRQ, my last employer in the Emerald city. I always have the same conversation when I meet another Seattleite, similar to the one I have when I meet a fellow Hoosier that is expatriated and living in New York. It’s the conversation that starts with where you lived, where you worked, where you hung out, and goes into how much you miss Safeway or the Upstairs Pub or Garcia’s, and how cool it was to hang out in the Pike Place fish market or the Irish Lion, and how you can’t get good salmon or parking or whatever else. But this conversation was even more detailed, because we talked about the offices on Lake Union and the benefits policies and the Fourth of Julys on the terraces with the fireworks on the lake and the company picnics at Mount Si. And then I thought more about it, and realized it has been FIVE YEARS since I left. FIVE YEARS.

That’s a real sack of bricks in the gut right there. I guess when I talk about Seattle, there are a lot of reasons I’m finally glad I did get out when I did, and try something new. I mean, it’s not hard to create a list of reasons why the place hit the shitter around 2000: the vanishing job market, the WTO riots, the vaporware monorail and the taxes that prop it up, the taxes for the two stadiums (a quarter billion dollars to a football team that was 6 and 10 in 2000, so they can play six home games a year in a non-multi-purpose stadium), the traffic, the Microsoft millionaires driving up the rents, etc. etc. etc.

But I still miss it. Seattle was a far more liveable city if you can overlook the flaws. I mean, New York has way more to offer to most people, but the quality of life issues are so horrible, and you’ve got to spend some cash to avoid them. I have a lot of good memories of Seattle though. I think the real problem is that the Seattle in my mind is Seattle 1997, and I can never go back to that, just like I can’t go back to Bloomington 1992.

Speaking of getting out of New York to improve the quality of life, I’m thinking about vacations in a vague sense. I might try to skip out of town for a week in August, to spend it in cooler climates or at least in air conditioned hotel rooms for the worst part of the heat. I bought some book called 1001 things to see before you die or something, it is a giant flip-through book that you read when you are bored rather than when you want to travel, but it has all sorts of crazy ideas in it. I’d like to do something cool and travel-oriented like drive a dune buggy around or go rally racing or even snowmobiles, but I have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. Maybe I’ll just go to Coney Island and ride the kiddie go-karts.

OK, gotta go write…