Both Saturday and Sunday morning this weekend, I got out of bed slightly earlier than usual to get ready much earlier than I usually do on weekends, so I could meet friends for brunch. Yesterday, this turned into a bit of a morning misadventure for me.
It all would have been far simpler and easier if I had just taken Shobhit's car to meet Danielle for brunch in South Bellevue. Instead, I chose to take the bus, for two reasons: first, I wanted to take the time so I could finally finish Hillary Clinton's book, What Happened, which I had for a full month -- now a week overdue at the library (I returned it while biking to work this morning); second, I figured I might as well save the gas money. I also like to avoid driving whenever I can anyway. I sort of forget how easy it is for public transit to fuck you in the suburb -- even if it's Seattle's largest suburb. Buses don't go nearly as many places as you want, anywhere near as often as they should, and the least so in either case on Sundays.
My bus itinerary told me to take the #2 from 14th and Union to University Street Station, and from there the Sound Transit 550 Express to South Bellevue Park & Ride. From there I was to catch the #241 bus to the Factoria Mall area.
So this is what actually happened. I was riding along on the 550, nearing Bellevue, and the reader at the front of the bus actually said "South Bellevue Park & Ride," and someone had actually pulled the cord for the bus to stop. I was reading my book, and just went back to it, quite reasonably assuming I'd know to get off the bus once it stopped.
Several minutes went by, and I started to get suspicious. I looked at the One Bus Away app on my phone and the GPS locator showed us a little ways north of where the Park & Ride was supposed to be. What the hell? And now the reader at the front of the bus was just showing the next stop. At first I thought maybe I was just seeing wrong that someone had pulled for a stop at the Park & Ride, and because I had failed to pull for it, the bus just sailed past it without stopping. In retrospect, that makes no sense: any operating Park & Ride, even on a Sunday, would always be a necessary stop.
Not knowing what else to do, though, I pulled for the next stop, figuring I could just catch the next southbound bus back to the Park & Ride, where I was supposed to catch the 241 to Factoria Mall. The trouble there was that when I went to that southbound bus stop across the street, the next bus was not due to arrive for some forty minutes.
And then I started to figure it out: the bus had been detoured due to construction and road work on Lake Washington Blvd SE. I figured out even later that I might have understood this earlier had I actually paid any attention to rider alerts -- turns out, the South Bellevue Park & Ride is to be closed for five years, so I guess that's on me. The bastards at King County Metro could have updated their systems to remove that stop as a transfer point in their online planners, however.
This stretch of Lake Washington Blvd, which under normal circumstances I would have taken even walking, was closed even to pedestrians. I had to take a detour relatively far out of my way just to get to where I thought the Park & Ride was. I was nearly there when I finally figured out there was no southbound 241 coming even there any time soon. I had run one online planner itinerary, and it said to catch a bus north to the Belleuve Transit Center -- three miles in the wrong direction -- and transfer there to come back south again, and that would have gotten me to my destination sometime around 10:45, I think it was -- half an hour after I said I was going to meet Danielle.
I finally decided to run on my maps app how long it would take me if I just walked, and told Danielle to come pick me up wherever I was once she was finally in the area. It was slightly over an hour. Take a look at that map screenshot I just linked to. This is what annoyed me the most, by far: just because a freeway was in the way, and almost none of the nearby roads actually cross or go under it, what should have been a half-hour walk at most takes twice as long.
That's the fucking suburbs, for you. In Seattle, if you need to get on the other side of I-5, you only have to go a few blocks at most, in most areas. In Bellevue, you have to go a fucking mile and a half out of your way. The suburbs are not made for walkers, which is stupid. I'll never understand why people make the conscious choice to live in areas where they are entirely dependent on cars for their mobility.
But, this is the thing. It was just after 10:00 a.m. when Danielle called me, after I had texted her a couple of times about missing my stop and now walking out in the middle of Bumfuck, Bellevue. It was immediately clear there was no way she'd make it by 10:15 as we'd previously discussed. She said she was trying to decide whether to take a quick shower after getting some chores done, and she'd arrive by "10:20 . . . probably 10:25." I was like, fine. Take your shower.
She called me later at 10:30 to tell me she was just leaving her house in Renton. Jesus Christ. This is just what she does. "You should just accept that this is who I am," she said. I know that raising children is hectic, but if you're constantly late, maybe simply get started with what needs to get done beforehand earlier? This is not a complicated concept. To be fair, however, I keep getting annoyed by things like this and then in the end everything still works out perfectly fine, which is what happened yesterday morning.
I had actually walked nearly that entire route shown in that screenshot before Danielle finally caught up with me. She wound up picking me up at the corner of 124th Ave SE and SE 41st Place, which was the second of the last two turns before I would have gotten to the restaurant on foot. We barely had any further to go once I got into her van -- and guess what? We still had nearly an hour to have brunch, and it was plenty of time.
In the meantime, when I was walking along a foot path / bike trail alongside Lake Washington Blvd SE, I went through some very pretty areas and got some very nice pictures. In the end, it was a really quite pleasant walk. The only annoying part was how often I had to refer to the maps app on my phone, which really sucked up my battery at an alarming pace.
Once with Danielle, though, we got to this place called Goldberg's Famous Delicatessen in no time, and we each had an Eggs Florentine dish for breakfast. It was a good portion and hearty and tasty, and the atmosphere was very old-school diner. Pretty reasonable prices, at least for the Seattle area, anyway. And once we sat down and ordered, we had enough time that we didn't even really need to rush. In the end I had no good reason to get annoyed, at least not at Danielle. I might have saved myself a lot of time and trouble had I driven -- but, if I'd done that, I would have wound up waiting for Danielle for 45 minutes in the parking lot. I didn't get as much reading done as I'd have liked because I was following directions on my phone while walking and didn't want to get lost, but I got some exercise and very pretty scenery out of the ordeal.
Then we went the block or so south to the AMC Loews Factoria movie theatre, where we saw the 11:50 a.m. showing of Suburbicon -- which disappointed us both. It kind of sucked, actually. I knew it wasn't going to be great, what with the mixed reviews, but I didn't expect I'd give it a grade as low as a C+.
Luckily, being before noon, the tickets were only $6.89 a piece -- cheaper even than the value of my discounted AMC tickets from Costco, so I didn't use one of those. I was a little struck, though, by the lobby area consiting almost exclusively of self-ticketing kiosks, with only one live person manning a ticket counter -- a recent change that also came to the Meridian 16 in downtown Seattle. These things keep me thinking about how automation is coming for all of us, and pretty much guaranteed within our lifetimes. Just last week I read this Mother Jones article about the inevitable rise of automation replacing jobs sooner than we think, and it was easy for me to take seriously: automation has drastically altered my own job over recent years already. And these movie ticket kiosks are pretty overt indicators of how it's happening already.
I talked to Danielle about this a little yesterday, and some more to Ivan last night -- they are both nurses, and automation will ultimately come for their jobs too. The point of that article was, really, it doesn't matter what you do (not even if it's creative and/or artistic): eventually, automation is coming for you -- and that includes nursing. Although probably not nearly as soon as it's coming for a job like mine. We even get occasiona complaints from customers at PCC about our installing self-checkouts in the stores. They say we're eliminating jobs by doing that. Our official response is that no one gets let go when we install those things, but something pretty important is missed from that response, I realized just yesterday: it may be true that we're not laying anyone off because of self-checkout, but it's hard to argue that we're not eliminating the need to hire people for new jobs that would otherwise exist without them.
I do think my job is slightly precarious in this position, but for now I am also well-positioned in that I still feel very secure and valued here. I've worked here long enough that, so far at least, PCC clearly feels it would cost more to lose me than to keep me hired, and my job will just adapt accordingly over time. How long that can last in the truly long-term, however, clearly remains to be seen.
Anyway! After the movie, I could not find any easy way to bus back home from near there, again because of the stupidness with the closed South Bellevue Park & Ride. So, I just took Danielle's suggestion that she take me back with her to Renton and drop me off at the Renton Transit Center.
This meant, however, that while my phone battery was down to 35% -- then up again to about 45% thanks to Danielle letting me use her car charger -- I had no time to go home first before getting to the next thing I had planned for the day: early dinner at 4 p.m. with Auntie Rose at Saffron Grill. The bus internary said it was a little over 90 minutes from the Renton Transit Center to Northgate, and at this point I had all of about two hours to spare.
There's a hotel right next to Saffron Grill -- really, it's kind of more like Saffron Grill sits in the middle of this hotel's parking lot. It's called the Hotel Nexus. I somehow spaced that this is actually the hotel Auntie Rose and Uncle Imre were staying at. They came down from Port Townsend to stay the night before Auntie Rose had a doctor's appointment in the morning.
I had nearly a mile to walk there from the Northgate Transit Center -- which we fine; I had at least half an hour to spare. The bus intinerary had said I would need to wait 20 minutes for the #41 once my express from the Renton Transit Center reached the downtown teansit tunnel, but once I got off the 101, there was the previous 41 pulling up right behind it. So, this gave me time to walk through Northgate Mall and take a brief pit stop in the men's room.
Auntie Rose, on the other hand, had to . . . walk across the parking lot. I had no idea she was in the hotel, and had I realized that, I would have texted her when I arrived about 15 minutes early. I just went to stand in the shade by the wall of the hotel to read my book. And then suddenly Auntie Rose was walking toward me.
This dinner was in lieu of our usual October lunch we have every year. It's been tradition for us for over a decade now: we spend one morning-to-early-afternoon during my Birth Week; and she meets me at work to go for lunch one day in late October. Thus, we see each other at minimum twice a year. I think the national political climate has spooked her a bit, and maybe that's combined with being intimidated by Seattle's rapid population growth: she no longer wants to bus alone deep into Seattle to meet me for lunches while I'm at work. So, she suggested an early weekend dinner instead. She had suggested Sunday, October 29, and I was down with that. This worked out kind of well for me since I had a late-morning brunch with Danielle, and I would have no need for any more than two meals yesterday. In fact, I wound up taking half my dinner yesterday home. I'll have the rest of it for dinner tonight.
Uncle Imre was with her, and sometimes eats with her at Saffron Grill when they stay at this hotel, but I guess he opted out this time -- they had just recently eaten at Red Robin. Red Robin feels like a throwback to yesteryear for me, although it's clearly a business still going strong. I mean, it's going, anyway. I walked through Northgate Mall kind of marveling that we even still live in a world where people go to malls. But that could be just because of the urban-core bubble I live in where the only "malls" are compact, multi-story buildings downtown.
So, Auntie Rose just had the Basil Tomato Soup with an order of the spinach naan -- she mentioned the naan several times, because Uncle Imre doesn't like it and when they eat there together she thus has to get garlic instead. She was happy to be able to get the spinach naan now. She kept offering to let me have some, as though I don't already know how great their naan is. I did take a bite, and even some to go with my leftovers, although neither was particularly necessary.
The pita bread that came with the falafel plate I ordered was plenty. And holy shit, was that plate good! This was the least strictly "Indian" dish I've ever ordered there. I wanted to get something I don’t usually get there, though, and I'm sure glad I did. It was among the best falafel I've ever had. I shouldn't have been surprised. Saffron Grill -- which Shobhit and I hired to cater our wedding, remember -- is one of the best restaurants in Seattle. Not just the best Indian restaurant.
Mohammed, the owner, was there as usual, and recognized me, shook my hand, asked how I was doing. Prospero, a guy who I suppose is maybe a manager (?) and helped a great deal with our wedding, did the same. In fact, he shook my hand again as Auntie Rose and I left at the end of dinner, even taking a close look at my wedding ring -- a ring I've actually been wearing since 2005, when it then served as an engagement ring; it officially became a wedding ring in 2013. Still, as I love telling this to people, I said, "It came from India." I love it when people notice this ring and are still impressed with it, even though I've been wearing it for twelve years.
Auntie Rose and I were only there for about an hour. I was going to tell her to say hi to Uncle Imre for me, but then she asked if I wanted to come up to their room to say hi, and I said okay. I only stayed for a minute; I wanted to catch the bus back home as I still had some things to get done in the evening. I was in there enough time for Uncle Imre to notice, mostly because when my hair is cut short it really brings out the gray in it, "You're getting old!" I was like, "Yeah, I'm 41." He ran his hand over his own head and joked, "I've been going gray for a while too." (Uncle Imre is somewhere in his eighties. I don't know more specifically than that. I do know that in August, Auntie Rose turned 81.)
Auntie Rose's age, in fact, is showing much more than it used to -- an inevitability for all of us, of course. I was kind of eager to make it back to the Northgate Park & Ride within the 20 minutes before my bus was to leave. Auntie Rose needed to get more steps in for her FitBit for the day, and decided she'd walk me out before turning the other way on Northgate Way for her walk. This meant that we kind of had to shuffle along from the hotel room to the street on the other side of the parking lot. It was fine, though. We hugged again, and then I booked it the other way on Northgate Way toward the mall and then the transit center.
Ivan was out for much of the evening, which actually made it easier for me to be productive while he was gone: I wrote the review to Suburbicon, then yesterday's journal entry about Saturday. (I had so much going on this weekend, I had to take the very rare tack of writing three separate entries about each of the three separate days between Friday, Saturday and Sunday.) Then I got on Skype with Shobhit for a bit, as it was already Sunday morning in India, which meant his 44th birthday had already started. And all this while I finally was able to get to doing laundry.
It didn't sound like Shobhit had anything particularly special planned for his birthday. We usually at least go out for dinner, when we're together. It sounded like his mom may have been planning on cooking something special for him. Tomorrow he leaves for his two-day visit with his sister and brother-in-law in Vadodara, which he's actually flying to. Two nights' stay there before coming back to Delhi, so that will essentially coincide with my Halloween visit in Olympia.
I started on my new library book, Waiting for the Punch: Words to Live by from the WTF Podcast by Marc Maron, yesterday. I'm immediately loving it. Ivan had said he expected to be home between 9:00 and 9:30 and then we could watch at least one episode of Stranger Things. I killed time for the hour or so before that by reading in the living room. By 9:20, I was taking the laundry out of the dryer and putting it away.
Ivan got home just a few minutes before I was finished with that, and was surprisingly eager to get to watching the show. He called out "Hello!" as soon as he came in the door. I came out, one of my pairs of jeans still in hand, to say hello, then went back to my closet. No more than five minutes later, Ivan was calling again: "Matthew? Matthew!" I said, "Yeah?" and he said, "Are we going to watch Stranger Things?" I said I just needed to finish up my laundry and he just said, "Okay."
And, soon enough, I had the episode started by maybe 9:40 or so. This was the third episode of the season, and it was far better than the previous two episodes -- no longer spinning its wheels, some stuff really happening for once. I was even a bit unsettled by how it ended. But, I'll wait for Ivan to watch further, which means no more until next weekend. I sure hope next weekend is not as crazy-busy as this last one was. As Auntie Rose said, "It's like your Birth Week!" and that's exactly how it felt -- just for three days instead of eight (or nine, or ten, depending on the year).
Then, when the episode was done, something somewhat unusual and surprising happened: Ivan and I wound up in conversation for the better part of another hour, about all sorts of things. Not the least of them was when, somehow, the topic of Satanism came up -- because he made the shape of a pentagram with the wand he showed me he has, which he fetched from his room. I asked if I could see it and he was like, "No one else is supposed to touch your wand, don't you know that, Matthew?" Um, okay. Anyway, the pentagram thing made me think of one of the animated shorts in the "HUMP!" amateur porn festival I'd gone to Saturday evening. When I brought that up, Ivan said, "That's where I was this evening!" Ha!
I guess I went to it by myself on Saturday and then he went by himself yesterday. It sounds like at some point he even considered seeing if I'd want to go with him, "But I wasn't sure if you'd be interested," he said. I still think this was for the best. As I told Laney, the only person I can imagine going to that with is Shobhit -- going with a friend, regardless of which friend, would be weird and potentially awkward for me. I don't want to be watching porn with any friends, no matter what the context is.
It now gave us plenty to talk about, though. Apparently this is the third year he's gone, and he said this year's was the weakest of them. Interesting -- that makes me consider giving it another chance, if other years it's notably better, typically. He also said he didn't find any single one of the videos at all arousing, and when I said I did with some of them, he wanted to know which ones. "I'm not sure I'm comfortable telling you," I said, and then he prodded: "Oh, you can tell me!" I shared a little, but not a lot, as far as that goes. We did agree on which one we found the most repulsive -- a video in which a person gets their throad slit at the end, after what was basically an assault scene. I know plenty of people have those sorts of things as fantasies, and maybe that's why it was chosen for inclusion (??), but we both just found that one disturbing.
The conversation evolved from there to, again, automation. He asked about how certain friends of mine are doing, which he often likes to do. It was somewhat curious, how interested in conversation he was at that moment -- we've lived together a while now, and more often than not, just by virtue of kind of running out of things to talk about, we spend some time together not talking a lot. We sure found plenty to discuss last night, though. Maybe he was eager simply for some company since I had been out doing stuff most of the weekend. We even talked a little bit about how his asperger's affects his behavior and how people perceive him. It became a somewhat more intimate conversation than usual -- and I always like it when things go that direction in conversation with friends.
When I finally said, "Well, I'm up way past my bedtime," he said, "Okay!" and bounded up off the love seat to go put his wand back in his room. Then he said, "Thanks for watching Stranger Things with me, and chatting." I did not quite get to sleep until just before midnight.
And so ended quite the weekend -- yielding Social Review points for six different people over the course of three days. That really doesn't tend to happen in so short a time unless it's my Birth Week. And I remain pretty busy for much of this week: taking myself to another movie this evening; tomorrow will be costumes at work before I drive down to Olympia to stay the night. I'm taking the day off on Wednesday so I can drive back home that day. I'll probably see another movie that day. If so, then Thursday will be the next day in which I've got nothing planned. I do already have definitive plans for Friday, but not on Saturday or Sunday, although I do have movies tenatively on my calendar both days.
That will be the final weekend before Shobhit returns the following Friday. I'd really like to get together with Gabriel at least once while Shobhit's out of town, and hopefully that weekend. Otherwise perhaps Ivan and I can do a bit of binge watching of Stranger Things on those days.
[posted 12:21 pm]