Friday, February 27, 2009

A little push

You never know who you'll meet on the Seattle Metro.

Last night, I was riding the bus home from work when we stopped for a substantially longer pause than the normal red light. I didn't think about it until the friendly, older-looking driver got out of his seat and walked down the aisle to announce that there was an accident ahead and we'd have to wait for a push truck.

I wondered what a push truck was but rationalized that maybe this man was just confused and meant to say 'tow' truck-referring to the cars involved in the accident. In a matter of minutes, however, his adjective was proven correct as a small white truck with flashing yellow lights pulled up behind our bus-not in front where the accident was located.

I always knew that there are Metro buses that run on electricity, but I never considered what might happen if one needed to be rerouted (like in the case of an accident blocking an intersection in Belltown). Sure enough, I heard two men unhooking the cables that connected us to the power lines above the street. I was curious, and the bus was nearly empty, so I moved to the back to watch the action.

For nearly three blocks, our push truck, bumped us along the street. Like a little kid I was bouncing around in the back of the bus watching the truck maneuver us around corners and up slight inclines. Once we were back on our normal route, the bus stopped and the men got out to hook us back up. They must have been entertained by my interest in their career because one wrote me an 'I love you' message on the back window (see photo).

The Metro just moved right along like nothing had happened and amazingly no one on that bus seemed to care that we'd just been pushed like a train car in the middle of downtown Seattle. Maybe it was late, but I was really interested in this process so I moved back to the front to inquire.

Laury Minard, 82, has been driving Seattle Metro buses for 24 years (I googled him after I found out his dedication to Seattle Metro). He just happened to be my driver and was willing to entertain my questions about Roy (our push truck technician), the push truck process, and his experience as a driver. Sure, it was a short conversation but here is my favorite part:

Laury- "They roll pretty easy."
Me (shocked)- "Yes, but it's a bus! We're so much heavier than that truck!"
Laury- "Well, you and I couldn't get out and push."

We chatted for another stop or two about his career with Seattle Metro and how neat it is to meet new people on the bus.

It sure is, Laury, thanks for the great commute!

Monday, February 16, 2009

House guest perspective

There’s something refreshing about spontaneous house guests. They consume your time, your home and your attention--but the distraction is so enjoyable.

I didn't know what to do with myself when I found out Thursday I had house guests coming on Friday. My apprehension stemmed from the fact that I don’t live a proper entertaining lifestyle. I don’t own any dishes, cookware or bath towels and my mattress is delicately placed on the floor due to lack of box springs. My theory is: just make do, this is fine for now.

I knew my situation wasn't much to show off, so I created a plan for helping our guests feel welcome. I washed sheets, grocery shopped and even made a draft itinerary for their stay. All this was unnecessary as Mark and Lina are so easygoing, pleasant and fun to be around that we probably could have hosted them in a reserved parking spot and they would have had a good time.

The weekend was terrific. Saturday we had a dinner party with friends, roommates and family members. I got to wedding dress shopping with my future sister-in-law and we even hiked little Mt. Si in Snoqualmie.

The entire weekend, I didn’t check Twitter, I didn’t read emails, I didn’t even scan Google headlines... and to be honest, it was refreshing. I think sometimes we get so caught up in focusing on what’s going on, what needs to be read, or what the breaking news is that we miss the real people who are right in front of us. I’m thankful for this weekend’s reminder that everything’s not virtual.

Hiking Mt. Si

What a lovely view

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nice Glass!

A Chihuly glass admirer since college, I was treated to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma for Valentine's Day.

Expecting a typical showcase of glass art, I was shocked to enter a beautiful amphitheater-the world’s largest hot shop amphitheater actually- and second row seats to watch a world-class artisan blow glass art.

We sat for hours watching the heating, shaping and smoothing process unfold as the piece grew from a small stone-sized project into a 3 ft bubble. All I could think was-- don’t drop that glass!

After the demonstration concluded, we walked through the gallery with a renewed appreciation for the time and attention that goes into glass art. We saw Dante Marioni’s Form, Color, Pattern exhibition full of colorful, opaque vases with crazy handles and intricate designs. I chatted with an artist as she worked on an intricate bead with a small torch. She even gave me a handmade bead for free.

The fun didn't end at the Museum of Glass. Tacoma goes one step above normal museum tours by offering a self-guided walking tour of Dale Chihuly's art in the entire museum district. The best part is that you can call in the guide on your cell phone! Even from your home right now you can learn about Chihuly's spectacular artwork by calling 888.411.4220. You'll learn about his pieces displayed in an outdoor bridge of glass, the Tacoma Art museum, and inside Union Station. There are interviews and commentary. I advocate for cell phone tours in all museums.

Visit Tacoma for a day of beautiful art-it's worth your time.

Chihuly glass. Gorgeous.

The man on the short seat in red is blowing, the man with gloves on in gray is buffing.

Chihuly Bridge of Glass

Friday, February 06, 2009

Timeless Hopper

Last night, in appreciation of the First Thursday Free program, we went to visit the Seattle Art Museum.

The museum has had an Edward Hopper exhibit since November, and we'd been looking for the perfect opportunity to visit the show. Although small, "Edward Hopper's Women" included some impressive pieces that we both enjoyed.

My favorite painting they had (below) was interesting to consider in today's context. The museum had posted this interpretation:

"War and economic necessity changed the place of women in American society, impelling them out of the home, into the workplace, and onto the road to seek a better life. Hopper's women are figures suspended in time, subjects that embody educing associations with girlhood, motherhood, and home and earth, but now-as occupants of offices, cheap restaurants, movie theaters, rooming houses, or motel rooms-they are women strangely out of place."

Automat, 1927

I couldn't help but think about how things have changed from 1927 to 2009, and particularly in the last few months. I find that there are more and more women (and men) spending time in coffee shops throughout the city, libraries and cheap restaurants. The difference between the audience I'm describing and the casual coffee drinker is that we're not sitting down to relax. Our gaze is directed at a laptop screen instead of the tabletop. We spend long afternoons searching-just like this woman portrays in her contemplative stare-but for employment.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Job hopping

In late December, I decided I would need another temporary position to help me sustain the job search lifestyle. I used my background in youth lacrosse coaching and healthy life skills teaching to obtain a position as a substitute teacher in Seattle's private schools.

I must admit, it's rather fascinating to sing Old McDonald in a Y-PreK (3-year-olds) classroom one day, interview business owners in a client meeting the next, and serve dinner at a fundraiser gala the following evening. Talk about wearing different hats.

I'm learning about myself and what grabs my attention.

Today, for example, I was having lunch at the French-American school on Mercer Island debating the idea of a four-day school week. I've always shied away from the educational system, but I found myself passionate about school scheduling.

The P-I published an article on January 27th that proposed this shorter week as a money-saving effort for districts in Washington State. I don't know much about the American system (I'm thankful for what it's given me) but my initial reaction was negative. I had no idea that there are nearly 100 small, rural school districts in 17 states that hold a shortened school week. Apparently New Mexico used the schedule to save money during the 1970s energy crisis.

"What about extracurricular activities?" I asked.

The teachers in the break room replied that students could meet on the 'fifth day' of the week.

That seems impossible to me. What athletic team practices one day a week? When would they compete? If there are schools that choose the schedule and others don't (it's an opt-in system) how would they have games, matches or performances against regualarly scheduled schools?

I would really like to hear your opinions. Parents, would you be worried about finding childcare? Teachers, would you be able to capture students attention? Students, what would you do with your day off?