Friday, April 11, 2014

a tale of two cities...

...or Seattle vs Portland. It's just such a thing right now. There's always been a bit of a beatles vs stones, blur vs oasis rivalry going on, but lately it's gettin kookoo! I giggled a little when I read my sweet friend Milla's Portland post this morning. Then it got me to thinking about this Northwestern city battle... and plus, I needed a break from my intensive feng shui attack/space clearing thing (more on this soon!).

  I love Portland but was stunned on my last visit there at how much Hating On Seattle, seems for some, a big time regional sport. Last time I went to Portland I had to listen to 3 different friends give me their anti-Seattle monologues. One pal talked about it soooo much I finally said "Cool, I get it! Love it or leave it, you left , now can you stop talking about how much you hated it? I still live there and you're bummin me out.". Then while out looking around, when I mentioned I was from Seattle, I encountered plenty of sweet Portland folks but was also was scoffed at and told by 3 shopkeepers,  2 baristas and one snooty bartender some negative views of Seattle. I've never felt such widespread regional disdain before (except when I went to London and certain Brits realized I was American...). It's weird how worked up some Portlanders (and non-Seattle people) get and how easily they engage in trash talk. You wanna know what people in Seattle say about Portland? I'll tell you, nothing. We like to go shopping there (tax free!) or take mini-vacations. Portland is cool, Seattle is cool. If you don't like it, guess what, you don't have to live here or even visit.

  I envision Seattle as the eldest child of the Pacific Northwest family of cities. Swanky Seattle is all growed up and off to an ivy league school (even though she once used to have green hair and play in a punk bank) while Portland is the sassy kid sister still in middle school, so totally annoyed at her older sis... Does that make sense at all?
*this lovely lady above is my friend Olive, the sweetest barista/dog bestie (at the cutest tiny coffee shop) in all the land. Washington native and all around nicest gal in town!

  I am daily annoyed by so many things in my city. The lack of diversity-racial and economic, The crowded streets, so full of cars and people, the condos, condos, condos, grossly going up EVERYWHERE (buying out seattle dives and landmarks for ridiculous prices to get a slice of the real estate pie), the uber yuppies/ drones that flock to new fancy cafes & bars (they live in all the condos, drive audis), the jocks and bros and weird dudes that fill up every sidewalk in every neighborhood on every weekend night once the sun goes down, the fact that rents are going up and up... No city is perfect. I get over it here, then I leave for a week or even a few days and when I get home, it feels so right (now).

  I've never been bothered by the legendary coldness of Seattlites. I think people are friendly enough. Some days it suits me just fine if no one talks to me. People usually do though, especially cuz I have a super cute dog and I frequent hoods where I know so many people, I bump into friends often. Yesterday I was talking to a 75 yr old Norwegian pal of mine that I saw at the coffee shop, about the supposed coldness of Seattle people. He laughed and said, "I like it, reminds me of Norway. Always standing in the rain or snow in the dark waiting for the train, it's fine, no one saying 'How are you?' or some nonsense when we're cold and all feel the same way, no need to put on some fake friendliness." hahaha.

  There are so many wonderful things going on in Seattle. It's interesting (as well as frustrating) how my city has grown up with me. When I moved here I was only 20, Seattle was gritty, felt small (compared to so-cal-where I came from), still pretty dirty. I thought it was neat to see Layne Staley on the bus, Krist Novoselic was in a yoga class I frequented, Kurt had passed on but I had several odd interactions with Courtney Love. I ended up meeting and making friends with many of my teenage grunge idols. The music scene here was and still is pretty magical. We have the best radio station in probably the world. That dark foresty Twin Peaks vibe is afoot big time. The forests, islands, mountains, beaches are crazy beautiful. Oh, don't forget the coffee thing, Vivace is here and it's the best. Our city spends a lot of time and money on parks and green spaces. There are chickens and bees happily in every hood. Art galleries and community gardens (plus guerilla art and gardens). And then there's my family and the friends that have become family to me here in Seattle, I love my community-which is made up of a few different communities (some overlapping) but just so many wonderful people here!
 *Here's my teen and his bud when I took them on a super uplifting (sarcasm guys) pilgrimage, in the dismal rain, on the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death day to see Kurt's house and the park/memorial next to it... bummersville bonding experience extraordinaire, Seattle style. It felt heavy out there...

  I don't really care what folks think about where I live but sometimes it's a little like having people talk mean about your mama or sister. I mean I can talk about Seattle I've lived here since 1996 and damnit I've earned it, but hearing other people make jabs at my city does make me feel a bit protective (yeah, I'm talkin to you, bearded bartender at that Portland vegan cafe/bar, named something I can't remember). For now Seattle is my home. I lived in Portland in 1993-94. It never felt like home to me (It felt like "My own Private Idaho" and I went to "the city" nightclub and xray cafe.). When I visit now,  I have fun, eat amazing gluten free vegan treats, dip fondue at the pied cow, marvel at the surplus of cute boys (the grass is always greener!) but right now,  I can't see myself there. I'm not so sure Seattle feels like my forever home, but it feels close. I need to spend more time exploring the surrounding country and islands and hopefully migrate out of this blossoming city scape as soon as my oldest is done with high school. But for now we are in Seattle, and it's a little like my baby, and nobody talks bad about my baby (but me!).


  1. hahaha! awesome post! take that portland! I've never had much luck with Seattle, because I don't' drive it seems unapproachable and hard to navigate, whereas Portland, you know bikes. Still grass is always greener…I'm glad you're lovin' where you're livin' right now. That's kind of how I feel about my hometown, love, or hate, it's home. Of course, I don't live there anymore, but still, no one else better trash talk it ;)

  2. I didn't have a car for so long and got around well, but it seemed really daunting at first, I guess it took me a couple years to get all the bus routes down. Bikes are harder here w all the hills. Portland is pretty flat which is sooo nice for bike. A few weeks ago I was really bummin and feeling a little trapped but I promised G we would stay until school is done and so... you know, lemons into lemonade... Plus I am doing this feng shui clutter clearing that is making me feel so good, and the nettles are happening everywhere!!! xo m


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