I'm in the midst of a two-day trip to Seattle, which may or may not lay the groundwork for an eventual move up here in a few months. I know I haven't mentioned anything about this possible relocation on this here blog before, so there it is.
This is my first visit to Seattle, and my initial impressions are positive. It's a clean and more or less friendly city, at least the parts I've visited. It strikes me as an imperfect memory of San Francisco. The same basic idea in many ways, a familiar layout and general vibe, but smaller and with a slightly altered waterfront view. Looking out over Elliott Bay this morning, there were certain directions that looked just like the Oakland Hills, but there was no notorious prison, no landmark bridges, and there were snow-capped mountains poking incongruously through the clouds in the distance.
Here's what I've done so far. Last night I arrived in the city around eight o'clock, checked into my financial district hotel, and set off in search of food. Like the financial district of any large city, the area seemed to have more or less shut down in the evening hours, but I managed to find a trendy cafe-slash-tasting room a few blocks away, and ruined the bartender's evening by ordering a local beer (Scuttlebutt Blonde Ale, straight from Everett) with my chicken sandwich. I was one of the few solo diners and my attempts at engaging the bartender in conversation proved ineffective, even though I had a built-in conversation topic in that he had moved here from Southern California several years ago. There was a female solo diner to my left by I decided not to strike up a conversation wither her lest she think me a masher.
Today, I got up bright and early and had a cup of Seattle's Best(TM) coffee, which was actually really good. I had used the guidebook I found in my hotel room to work out a self-guided walking tour, so I strolled through the financial district toward Pike Marketplace. Along the way a local woman made a comment to me about the weather as I was waiting for a light to change (the weather is gorgeous today, which apparently is a big deal here in Seattle) and we had a brief talk. The woman was very nice but also very chatty, asking me several questions and then answering them immediately before I could respond ("Oh, you're a Giants fan? What do you think of Barry Bonds I think it's just a bunch of hype [forty-five second diatribe about Barry Bonds]").
I arrived at the marketplace too early for there to be anything going on, so I followed the sketchy path down to the waterfront and headed toward the Space Needle. The waterfront was also largely deserted, even though it was mid-morning. I found the waterfront to be nice in places but altogether poorly designed. There are very few spots with an unobstructed view of the bay, since everything is heavily built up down there. But the walk was nice. I strolled through Olympic Sculpture Park, which was very underwhelming, and then did a cursory exploration of the tourist maze surrounding the Space Needle before realizing that a single man with no children would be woefully out of place among these attractions. I also decided not to spend the sixteen dollars on the Space Needle elevator ride because I'm afraid of heights.
Instead, I went to the Science Fiction Museum, which was really cool. You'd think that a museum dedicated to science fiction memorabilia, a topic whose afficionados are notorious collectors and often willing to spend surprising sums of money on worthless crap, would have an extensive and impressive gift shop, but you'd be wrong. This is very much a look-but-don't-buy establishment.
After the Sci Fi Museum I hopped the monorail ("Were you sent here by the Devil? No, good sir, I'm on the level.") back to downtown. I had initially intended to get lunch back at the marketplace, but I decided that if I'm here to see what life as a Seattle lawyer would be like I may as well check out a downtown lunch spot. So I stopped at a brewery-slash-restaurant and sampled two more local beers with a very tasty cheeseburger. Again, I utterly failed to engage the bartender in conversation or to insinuate myself into the conversation taking place to my left. Throughout my time in the brewery I didn't hear a song released after 2000, and in fact heard a lot of music that could best be classified as either originating in or inspired by 90s grunge. Apparently they're really clinging to their musical legacy up here.
After lunch I went back to the marketplace and found it bustling, the city's tourists apparently having been roused during my time at the Space Needle and museum. I don't like shopping, so I didn't spend much time at the marketplace, but got the general idea. I didn't see anyone throwing fish. I did see what I believe to be the original Starbucks.
And so, at the moment I'm waiting for a high school friend to get off of work so we can hang out and I can get more of an insider's perspective on this here city. Tomorrow will be the big show, the meeting with the law firm folks, so we'll see how that goes.
Another thing I feel compelled to add is that last night while flipping through the channels in my hotel room I found a panel of lawyers and judges taped in the 1980s being shown on one of the local access stations, and one of the panelists was the judge I'm working for. I can only take that as a positive sign.