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once more with feeling

No, this isn't about Buffy the Vampire Slayer despite the title. Instead, rather than making further edits or comments to the previous entry, I figured I'd just make a new one. As I compared the latter part of that entry to one of my concert reviews, it's perhaps fitting that it's got a similar problem to the band I just reviewed, Emilia - it's trying to make the right moves but it lacks real passion.

Besides the fact that I happened to have limited time when I wrote that, the thing was that I'd just met in person this woman whom I'd admired for years and wanted to be able to call my friend, and so I didn't want to be a gushing fanboy. Also, I knew Alison had checked out my journal at least since our meeting as she left a comment on the latest concert review, so it seemed better to be restrained - blathering excitedly might seem weird (see also: gushing fanboy, scorn of). That of course was stupid, particularly as I was clearly ignoring the wise words of Sarah Vowell that I'd just quoted: "Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know." Duh! Jay (parkbenchzine) commented,
"lovely afternoon" Come on... lovely afternoons sounds like an afternoon spent with you grandmother, having a tea party. did it Kick ASS?! was it awesome..?!? the paragraph lacks things like, where you went for lunch, was it good. I agree weak ending. we want more hard core emotion.
and he's right too.

So! Alison does indeed kick much ass, and takes names as well, and the afternoon was pretty awesome. I'll go into some more detail and link to some specific photos she took. To start, we made basic plans to meet for lunch and see how things would go from there. I knew that she would find Fremont interesting; I also knew that she had her dog Maude with her, and that Norm's Eatery in Fremont is dog-friendly (not to mention pretty good), so I suggested we meet at my place and walk over to Norm's. As it happened, she left Maude to stay with Ariel (who hosted Alison and Maude during their Seattle visit) for the afternoon, so I did not get to meet Maude, but Alison and I still went to Norm's.

In some ways it really was like meeting an old friend for the first time. We slipped easily into conversation as soon as she arrived and kept it up all afternoon without any awkwardness, which was very reassuring, and cool. After all, having read her blog for years, I have the feeling of knowing her well, but I know it's not the same as knowing her in person. Plus, I don't believe she's been reading my journal (you know, I never did ask, but I'm not in her set of links so it seems a reasonable belief), so she only knows me from my participation in her blog comments and the odd email or two. So on my part at least things could've been awkward, but her immediate openness put me at ease. Also, we share conversational traits of jumping off on tangents and quick asides, so it was easy for me to keep up with her and also made me comfortable. And Alison explained later, when I brought it up, that she's long since become used to talking with strangers who know a lot about her from her blog.

In Fremont, I made sure we walked by most of the landmarks - Lenin, the rocket, the signpost at the center of the universe - and of course we went to see the troll, which she said was "the best thing ever". When I said we were going to see the troll, she cried, "the troll! yay!", making me think she'd heard of it already, but no, she simply understood the awesomeness of there being a troll to go see. Then we went over to Gasworks Park, which she commented was the kind of place where she used to trespass. We stopped at the sundial, but after I read the instructions we decided not to try it.

After that, we headed back to my place to get a car and go downtown - Alison knew of Pike Place Market and the Seattle Public Library and had intended to visit those that day. On the way back to my place, I posed in a frame outside Adobe; I meant to be gesturing in the direction of the businesses that were open, but I'm not sure that's clear (plus one of my gestures is out of the frame; I don't make a good portrait!). We decided I should drive because I knew how to get where we were going. Alison said she'd already seen some good views of Seattle, but Kerry Park was on the way downtown so I decided to stop there; as it happened another friend of hers brought her there later that evening, but it's a good view to see both day and night, so I think that's fortuitous.

Alison had the proper distaste for visiting the original Starbucks, but as it's right there outside Pike Place Market, we stopped for a moment anyhow. We also went by the fish-throwing fishmongers, but as it was a slow day with a small crowd they weren't throwing and we weren't waiting around for them to throw.

I took us by the Seattle Art Museum on the way to the library so she could see the Hammering Man sculpture. Its hammering arm had been removed, and Alison dubbed it "Buster," declaring "I'm a monster!", which she had to explain were Arrested Development references, sadly lost on me. But earlier when we were heading to Norm's I had some reason to quote Eddie Izzard's Dress to Kill (like I need a reason), and I know that better than her, so that's okay. (Eddie-style "is that right?" shifty eyes) (Hmm, it occurs to me now that I should've given her my copy. Maybe I should mail it to her...)

At the library, we paused outside while she called another friend to make evening plans. When she finished, I pointed out two things: one, it was spring, as evidenced by the buds on the tree; and two, we were visible overhead, reflected in the building's windows. Alison thought the library was wicked cool and remarked, as she captioned this photo of the main lobby, "If I lived in Seattle, I'd come here every day." I do live in Seattle, and I now do freelance work on a laptop, yet I still haven't gone there to spend some time working; how lame am I? We took the elevator up to the top (public) floor, and cautiously looked down to the lobby far below, letting Alison's camera do the serious looking. I remarked, "It's not so much that I'm afraid of heights as I'm leery of drops," which she thought was funny and apt.

Oddly, although we're both music fans, we didn't really talk about music until the ride back to my place - there were just so many other things. It did come up a bit when she first arrived, because her iPod had mysteriously stopped working and she'd been listening to some commercial pop station. I mentioned that she should tune in KEXP; she repeated "KEXP" thoughtfully, and then exclaimed, "KEXP!!! That's here?!?" with great delight. So that was an early sign that we were on the same wavelength. (I didn't think of that pun at the time, but I'm not afraid to use it now. Hah!)

Anyhow, on the ride back she talked about not seeing bands in Austin as often as she'd like, because they mainly come for South by Southwest (which I noted she, an old hand at that conference, simply calls "South by") and Austin City Limits, neither of which are ideal opportunities due to crowds and expense (and summertime heat in the case of ACL). I mentioned a few of the national acts I've seen, such as Annuals, B.R.M.C., and Goldfrapp, and a few of my favorite local acts like Kinski and Beehive. I also talked about how I've made a point of seeing at least one show a month, and how I learned to enjoy going to shows on my own back in Boston, when I was attending every Mistle Thrush show not just because I loved them but also because it was the only opportunity to hear their new, unreleased music. It's too bad I didn't have the chance to take her to see one of my local favorite bands, or even just check out some of the cool clubs - although she did visit Chop Suey with Ariel, and I mentioned the High Dive was a good club when we walked by.

Okay, that is quite a long account of our afternoon, now. It's still heavier on what we did rather than how the afternoon was, but I hope the fact that the account's so lengthy for just a few hours will convey how much I enjoyed it. Before meeting her in person, I already believed she was awesome and very cool, but hanging out with her really let me understand her wonderfulness. Like myself, she's prone to writing in her blog more about her troubles and unhappiness than about her good times, but then I firmly believe that's a major point of keeping an online journal in the first place. I wasn't expecting her to be dour and sullen, but still I was surprised by how full of smiles she was, how she was quick to laugh and full of infectious enthusiasm for new sights and experiences. That was one of the best afternoons I've had in a while; I'm really happy I had the chance to meet Alison and glad she was willing to meet and spend time with me.



( 6 have written — Write )
Apr. 9th, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)

much better... shes less like to post 'on Phil', "he's just this guy, you know."

he's the tourguide of fremont. beware the troll.
Apr. 9th, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
did you tell her your cool sister met the cool guy who designed the cool troll? (important stuff!)
Apr. 9th, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, I did!
Apr. 9th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
oh, I hope he stayed 'hardcore' and said sister. not cool sister. I'd say my cool friend andy... but never call my sister cool, thats sooo not cool : ) makes you dorkie mcdorkenstein
Apr. 12th, 2007 01:07 am (UTC)
but see, if you had more than one sister, one would clearly be cooler than the other. then you'd have to say cool sister.
Apr. 12th, 2007 03:53 am (UTC)
First of all, I actually said "younger sister," not "cool sister." Second of all, I think both my sisters are cool in different ways; while one may be cooler than the other, I wouldn't distinguish them from each other that way. Last of all, while it may be dorky to say my sister's cool, (a) it's still true, she is cool; (b) I think it shows that I have a good relationship with my family; and (c) I'm a dork, what can I do.
( 6 have written — Write )

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