Seattle

Apr11

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Shauna started off our week with a tribute to Kurt Cobain on the 20th anniversary of his untimely death.  Therefore, I’d like to bookend our week with my own tribute to Cobain by referencing Nirvana’s hit song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Wednesday night, I was taking a shower to try and flush out my sinuses.  While I absolutely love Seattle in the spring, I do not like the many allergens that show up this time of year.  I’ve been coughing, wheezing and itching all over for about a week.  So, I thought taking a hot shower with some Eucalyptus oil would clear things up.  While the steam did help considerably, I have a flair for the dramatic and often go overboard.  So, I thought spraying perfume on at nine o’clock at night would also help to dilate my nasal blood vessels.  So, I grabbed a bottle of perfume from the top shelf of the medicine cabinet.  It is a fragrance that I never wear.  I only still have the bottle because perfume is so expensive, I can’t ever imagine throwing it away.

I spritzed liberally, and guess what?  It smelled like teen spirit…the teen spirit of one particular brown-haired girl who wore a burnt orange and olive green Abercrombie & Fitch sweater and was leaning against a tree.  Her arms were crossed, but her smile wasn’t.  Her green eyes were daring you to know her.

So, there I was, standing in the steamed bathroom with a towel on my head and a robe on my body thinking only of relief from seasonal allergies, and with one spritz, I was instantly catapulted back to my youth, remembering the portrait of Shauna in her senior picture.

photo

Scent is a remarkable thing.  It is commonly known as the sense with the most memory.  I couldn’t believe how one perfume spray could recall from my preconscious a picture I hadn’t thought of in years.  I decided then and there that any chance I get, I’m going to spray some perfume from the fragrance counter at Macy’s, or breathe deeply from a peony blossom, or inhale the citrus oils of an orange peel, or crack the lid off a coffee can, or peel the seal from a coriander tin, or sit in a car that is brand new, and drink in fragrance.  I will let scent organically transport me to a time long forgotten.  Then, I will sit for a moment and relish the thought of a life once lived remembering the shadows and highlights of that image and will be glad.

What scents do you love?  Is there a memory you have any time you catch a whiff of something in particular?  Tell us a story about it.  We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

Apr04

Do A Dollop of Daisy

Starbucks are to Seattle what mountains are to Denver-you can see them from just about anywhere.

When I moved here in 2009, I spent $350 at Starbucks in the first month. It was just too easy to swing by the green and white mermaid for a latte on my way to school, between classes, and during my late night study sessions. What wasn’t easy was trying to explain the credit card statement to Karl.

Since that first month, I have drastically curtailed my Starbucks visits. In the past, I have gone as far as to boycott the coffee monopoly in an effort to support local cafés and fair traded brews. Now, when I do patronize coffee houses, I usually stick to drip coffee justifying my purchase because it costs less than that of an espresso beverage.

Unfortunately, in a recent dash to the corner Starbucks in between counseling sessions, they were out of  drip coffee and offered to make me a single brewed cup from their Clover machine. Since they were offering it to me for the same price as the drip, I agreed to try it.

That beverage was the most exciting burst of coffee flavor my tongue had experienced since the first days of spending $350 a month. Piping hot, smooth, nutty and full bodied, I knew that soon, I would once again have the difficult task of explaining the credit card statement to Karl.

Before I digress into further free advertising for Pike’s Place Roast on the Clover, let me just say this post actually has nothing to do with coffee, really…

The “Seattle Freeze” is to Seattle what snow in May is to Denver, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, it’s predictably unpredictable, but pretty much guaranteed. The “Seattle Freeze” has nothing to do with the weather. It’s a phenomena that people in Seattle are “cold” or impersonal, slippery, you can’t pin them down or really get to know them. The Urban Dictionary says,

“It’s not that people here are unfriendly, they will hold the door for you and wave you into traffic and stuff like that, it’s that everything is maddeningly impersonal. The attitude is “have a nice day, somewhere else”. It’s easy to get along but making friends is almost impossible. People will say they want to hang out with you sometime and look at you like a freak when you actually suggest something. People enthusiastically say they are coming to a party then don’t show up. People are flaky and insincere. Norms of social interaction don’t apply here. Most people don’t like or dislike you, they’re totally indifferent. Every interaction will be maddeningly superficial.”

Here’s the thing: I’ve lived here for five years and have just recently heard about this. Why? Because I think maybe I actually fit in here. Let me explain.

I have recently become aware that I don’t look people in the eye when I’m out in public. When walking down the street, paying for food at a restaurant, being served by waitstaff or the bank teller, I am generally looking down, searching for something in my purse, or at least pretending to.  I arrived at this recent discovery through the process of contrasting my behavior with that of my friend, Hope, who is from Tennessee.

I have never been out with Hope in public when she did not greet everyone she met with gracious eye contact and a “thank you” in her strong southern drawl. And I was pleasantly perplexed to find out that when she greeted people in this way, they responded in kind. They looked back at her, smiled, and usually engaged her in friendly conversation. I wasn’t just surprised, I was shocked. And I wasn’t just shocked, either. I was jealous! I had been missing out on those kind of delightful exchanges that are like a daisy right smack in the middle of your day because I am too busy pretending to look in my purse or am checking my cell phone.

Just think, with the $350 a month I was spending at Starbucks, I could have had a whole bouquet of delightful exchanges with the local baristas had I just conscientiously looked them in the eye and greeted them warmly. It is true that Hope’s accent makes her a bit like a white unicorn in these parts-so rare and pleasant, you can’t help but be captivated. But nonetheless, I’ve been told I have a nice smile and that might just be my currency to buy warm interactions amidst the “Seattle Freeze.”

Having had these thoughts in mind, I went by Starbucks today on my way into the office. When ordering my drink, I conscientiously looked the barista in the eye and smiled. When he asked how my day was going, I told him honestly and we had a few fun words exchanged about the surprisingly unexpected late afternoon rain showers. I turned around grinning to myself as I walked out the door. My Pike’s Place Roast on the Clover cost me $2. But the daisy only cost me a smile.