Jury Duty in Seattle, March 2014

This marked my second summons in Seattle. The first one was as serendipitous as these things get: I was freshly unemployed and had no immediate prospects, meaning that being part of a jury (which I was, in the end) wasn’t a major disruption to my life. Having to tell unemployment to deduct the mighty $40 I was paid for my four days of service was a little galling, but the rest was fine. Well, except for being the alternate – that sucks, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Otherwise, though, I’d recommend it to anyone. If you’re a person possessed of even faint curiosity, it’s a fascinating lesson in civics.

However, this time? I have a job, I am forever short on vacation time and my company doesn’t pay for jury duty, I was in the middle of finals at school, and I had an impending trip to San Francisco. The night before jury duty, I fretted myself a little sick as I thought about everything that could go wrong. A three-week civil trial. Going without a paycheck. Getting no sleep as I rushed to finish work, do homework, and keep some semblance of a life during a modern-day version of the O.J. Simpson trial. Missing my SF trip. Ruining oh my god literally everything.

Maybe you found your way here by searching “municipal court seattle jury duty service.” And if you did, I have good news for you: being called to municipal court means you have only two days in the pool, and cases generally don’t run longer than three or four days. Cheers!

You also get to experience this:

view of smith tower and downtown seattle from the municipal courtAfter the extremely patriotic video explaining everything you forgot from eighth-grade civics class, a very proud woman will tell you about her predecessor, who fought very hard for a nice place for potential jurors to rest between selections. This – THIS – is the view from the little outlet-heavy desk area in the north of that space.

And, if you’re lucky enough not to have to work, THIS is the view from the main space, where I wish I could’ve sat and read for hours.

jury room at the seattle municipal courtRight?

But maybe you were like me and many others, and jury duty fell during a real pain-in-the-ass time. I am here to tell you that there are ways to make the most of this.

By “ways,” to be clear, I mean “food.”*

il corvo seattleI put out an all-call on Facebook asking for lunch recommendations in the vicinity of the courthouse. A friend, guided by angels and with all the goodness in the world behind her, suggested Il Corvo. Holy sweet goddamn: fresh pasta with a menu that changes daily, depending on what they can get at the market.

The highest compliment I can give food is when I close my eyes so that I have one less sense to distract me from tasting what I’m eating. I did that a couple different times as I chowed down on my tagliarini in celery root, sage, and brown butter cream. If I had it to do over, I’d get the kale salad too. If I hadn’t needed to be a sober citizen of service, I would’ve gotten a little carafe of wine to go with it all. They’re only open for lunch on weekdays. Take a day off and go, if you don’t work close to 2nd and James.

And yet, after that, I still went to Piroshki on 3rd. I mean, come on.

piroshki on 3rd seattleTo be precise, I came here to grab a couple of these for class later that night. They were mighty, mighty fine. I still miss Piroshki on Broadway. I will always love you, piroshki.

On the way back to the courthouse, I walked by my favorite building in Seattle, the Arctic Building.

Arctic Building in SeattleI don’t like organizations of white men who gather to exclusively toast their success, but I do like their architecture.

So yes, you can have a fine day of jury duty. Get some good food, ogle some buildings you don’t see too often. Oh, and, uh, check out some fine art paid for by your hard-earned tax dollars.

seattle municipal court artI didn’t get picked. Indeed, I was specifically rejected from the one jury pool I was a part of, something I found confusing but weirdly pleasing. Also a relief – during voir dire, there were a lot of questions about domestic violence, victims who won’t press charges, and the implications of a black defendant facing a jury made entirely of white people, something I’d noticed and felt uneasy about. I hope to complete this life without looking at pictures of injuries in a courtroom; I’ve made it this far successfully.

I would be ok with doing it again someday, but ideally at a time when I didn’t spend an hour in bed panicking about it upsetting the tenuous balance of my life. And I hope you get to too.

*This entry would be longer, but I got released after just a day of service. Hallelujah!**

**Total lie, I would’ve just gone to Il Corvo again!

Knuckles-Deep in Crab, Salty’s

If you have lived somewhere for a certain amount of time – enough time to feel like you “know” a place, that your little grooves are getting so smooth and deep that you think that’s what it means to live – I recommend befriending someone new to the area. You’ll get the chance to be some kind of magical city concierge by recommending a whirlwind of beer bars, veg restaurants, public art, and whatever else. And you’ll get a chance to back the hell up and experience the standards you’ve somehow skipped.

That is how I recently ended up at Salty’s in West Seattle. For the first time. “Oh, how long are you visiting?” the waiter said when I told him I’d never been before. “Nine-and-a-half years so far,” I replied.

I’ve had Salty’s on my list as a place for brunch the next time one of my parents visited, and it will surely end up on the itinerary when the time comes again. But fortunately, I ended up there before that came to pass. And fortunately, I got to consume… this:

bag o' crab at salty's in west seattleContents: two sides of crab legs, two perfect potatoes, one half-ear of corn, three shrimp, dream fodder for the next four years.

And your tools? These:

crab cracker and tiny fork at salty's in west seattleNot pictured, because I was too enraptured by crab: a WOODEN MALLET.

So part of the joy is that you’re in this semi-swanky restaurant with panoramic freaking views of Seattle’s most flattering angle. Ok? There’s that. (Also $3 wine that night, mmmm.)

The other part? Being in that semi-swank environment… and then going knuckles-deep into a crab leg. Look around, and you’ll see dozens of other people doing the same thing. Couples old and new, laughing as a piece of shell goes flying. Or in the case of our table, three women reveling in how we found any messiness going on to be purely and completely awesome. We egged each other on as we poked and smashed and cracked. We dipped crab in the garlic butter using only our fingers. We could have used extra hot towels at the end.

Seattle is a great place to be a pescetarian. That night at Salty’s is a prime example of why I am one, rather than purely vegetarian.*

So go, be messy with friends, whether it’s in Seattle’s number-one locale for brunch for visiting parents… or around a giant steamer pot in your own damn kitchen. Bonus points if you catch stuff yourself.

But that’s another entry, due in another week or so. Two words: clamming gun.**

*Vegan, of course, means no cheese. Vegan is right out.


Valentine’s Day in Two Pictures

Both from Pine, alongside the ballfield.

First, we have this lovely little bit of spontaneous art, created and displayed for us all to enjoy.

heartBaw. That’s lovely.

Further down the sidewalk, we have this masterpiece of forensic fodder.

tableauAt the top: that would be a deserted pair of women’s undies. Below: an empty bottle of Jack.

May whatever deities listen continue to bless Seattle. It is a magnificent, generous place full of wonder.

Maybe you celebrated Valentine’s Day with, as Dan Savage put it at his event at the Neptune that night, cynical jokes, box wine, and defiant masturbation. Or maybe you bought bullshit at CVS, or maybe you did something else entirely. My Valentine’s Day was unexpectedly lovely, and that was even before I went out to see this. With, I should mention, my splendid neighbor, who provided me with these pictures from his post-V-Day walk the next day. But whatever you did, I hope it was good. May your overly expensive dinners be tasty, may your masturbation be as defiant as you want it to be, and may you get what you want roughly when you want it.

[Insert Microhousing Joke Here]

Prime real estate a stone’s throw from the enviable Pine/Broadway intersection. Vibrant locals always nearby in this covetable neighborhood that’s just teeming with culture. Distinctive accommodations provide views of passersby. Convenient to multiple bus lines. Bonus: if you’re hungry, just eat your house.


microhousing capitol hillSeen on Monday morning. Tossed and broken in the SCCC courtyard by 5:30 pm the same day.

Art, Across from the Gum Wall

Pike Place Market's Post AlleyI’ve been scroogey this holiday season. The first Monday I walked downtown after Thanksgiving, I surprised myself by looking up at the glittering lights, the newly installed tinsel, and the freshly opened Santa’s Cottage and thinking:

“Oh. Oh god.”

It wasn’t a strong rejection – instead, worse, it was a flat sigh of observing something I was uninterested in but powerless to stop. Continue reading

Brown Ice: A Uniquely Seattle Scourge

I have lived in the Midwest and Boston, as has been established here. I am not a stranger to cold, to weeks of below-freezing temperatures, to cars careening off roads and sidewalks turning to slush and then ice beneath your feet, leaving you to discover just how catlike you really are.

In Boston, snow falls, and people shovel or stomp thin trails through the foot-plus banks of snow on the sidewalk. They walk their dogs along it too, of course. This results in yellow snow that can last for a month or more, little growing piddle patterns that you grow to know well as you walk to class or work, day after day.

Seattle has its own version.

Freaking frozen coffee in freaking SeattleFigure 1: fuck this.

Ok. So.

You get up in the morning. It’s a cold-ass day. You pass many fine coffee-serving establishments, as is the way of most stretches of sidewalk in our fair city. On your way to work, you stop and get your Americano or your latte or whatever other syrup-filled business you feel starts your day in the right way. You clutch it for a few blocks, waiting for it to get just below boiling lava hot so you can drink it.

And then, for a few blocks: BLISS.

The temperature is genuine, Goldilocks-grade just right. Quiet, EMP – this is nirvana, this perfectly hot-enough caffeinated bliss in a cup, yes, here we go, we may survive another day yet.

And then, too soon: lukewarm.

So what’s a Seattlelite to do? Chuck it. Pop that lid off, splash your coffee dregs in the bushes or, well, near enough. On the sidewalk’s fine. It’ll go away, right?

Wrong. WRONG.

There’s a certain kind of weather in Seattle that combines uncommonly cold with uncommonly dry. And then your goddamn coffee puddles last for-freaking-ever. For days on end, your fellow man has to make your rejected coffee another landmark to remember, because it’s too cold to melt and too solid to be scraped away by their sad, shuffling feet.

Don’t do this. You can carry the extra few ounces all the way to the next trash can with a bag, FFS.

I walk up and down hills to get to work, man. I can’t be dodging this stuff all the time. It’s early out, and like 20 degrees. Come on.

We can get it together to stop this. We separate our trash into no fewer then seven bins at this point, and we can master this too. Do it for you. Do it for me.

But let’s be real. It’s mainly for me.

Thank you.

Forbidden Photos of Ancient Peru

Staring up at the lobby cars at the Seattle Art MuseumI can hear you from here. “My darling Standard Deviation, those cars are not Peruvian, ancient, or forbidden. What fresh hell is this?”

“Well,” my natural reply comes. “As those are Ford Tauruses, you are correct on all accounts. But I was able to take so few pictures of the main exhibit itself that I chose to use this as the title card instead.”

“Oh,” I hear you say. “Ok?”

Good enough.

Here are some things I don’t do as often as I’d like:

I could go on at length. But really, the list would just be a selection of likely upcoming blog posts for the next year, so I’ll spare you for now. What I’m saying is that there are basic cultural things I miss in the way of everyday life, same as most people. This past Sunday, I was reminded of how rad SAM is. Continue reading

Cancel Your Plans for Tonight.

Go on. Get your phone. Tell your mom you can’t come over for dinner, cancel your Bible study group, and tell your sweetheart they’ll have to have a ménage à moi tonight. You have new plans for Saturday night, and here they are:

You are going to see shadow puppets tonight.*

“What?” you just said. I heard you. I’ll play along with you, even.

You are going to see shadow puppets tonight.

You see, the newest installment of the seriously-I-cannot-overstate-how-delightful-it-is Sgt. Rigsby series at the Theatre Off Jackson is closing tonight. Ignore what it says on the site and go with Brown Paper Tickets – tonight is the last night it is playing and you need to go see this.

Look, I even took a surreptitious picture of the set for you. Just look.

The set of Sgt. Rigsby at the Theatre Off JacksonOk, that doesn’t tell you much except that it’s neat. But you’ve got four voice actors on your right, voicing a cast of dozens and providing sound effects. You’ve got a pair of musicians on the left, providing mood music and the musical numbers liberally studded through this thing, and you have the salacious, wonderful story of Chicken Jenny, scrappy chanteuse and gal who simply cannot escape her own bad luck. And happens to be a chicken. There’s a rentboy lamb, multiple poisonings, topless mermaids, double- and triple-crossing, dreams come true, fallen priests, and more noir-style similes than I can even begin to recount here at this late hour.

Just go. Get a friend you like and trust, grab yourself a banana beer or lime rickey at the bar, and just go. And then wait eagerly with the rest of us for the next installment.

If you must, there are some snippets on YouTube. It’s late, so I haven’t vetted them, but the first several are relevant.

Make it a full night and take your friend to Harbor City around the corner first. You can order baskets of dim sum dumplings before waddling, full to the top, over to take in culture.

Go. Go! What else were you going to do, hand-wash your dainties and catch up on your Tivo? Get out of the house! Go see this thing! Laugh your ass off and thank me later.

*Assuming you are within reasonable distance of Seattle. Which, in this case, is up to a three-hour drive.