Tag Archive | seattle

Man overboard


I’ve been reading biography/history The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans & Their  Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

So far my favorite bad sentence is:

The sport reeked of classiness.

Classiness. Wow.

The book is set in Depression Era Seattle and about UW’s mens’ rowing team. I chose it because it’s set in Seattle and about rowing, two things I like.  But even as true stories go,  it’s  not very original. It’s Seabiscuit meets Chariots of Fire.

I’m not sure why we’re reaching back 40-50- 60-70 years to find stories that fit the Dick Lit of America model.

It’s another poor, young, underdog, White male, who comes from an abusive / broken home, who works hard and triumphs over many obstacles to achieve success in sport while his patient adoring decorative young woman looks on.

It’s just all so dated. Oh and did I mention The Great Depression and the Nazis? Yep, the whole kitchen sink is in this one. No doubt this is why its option has been picked up by The Weinstein Company, which is working on a script adaptation as I write this. Sir Kenneth Branagh is set to direct.

While a story may be true and historical, for me that’s not enough to write it down (let alone film it). That story also needs to be really original or really interesting or both. The Boys in the Boat isn’t original, although it’s interesting to people interested in rowing or Seattle’s history.  For most people, this will be boilerplate Dick Lit. Men will like it way more than women, although I think women will feel sympathetic to the lives of those involved in the story.

I’m not trying to denigrate the incredible achievements or lives of the UW men who crewed by saying all this. Really, I’m simply asking why, in this modern age, publishers and movie studio execs choose to keep reaching ever further backwards in history to find this kind of dated “men accomplish, women adore” stories?

Because the truth is, women in those days could only adore because men forced them to stop participating in a sport they loved and excelled at. And nowhere is that more true that UW’s rowing program.

That's right, rowing in Gibson Girl hair do!

That’s right, it’s 1900 and female students at UW row!

For anyone that cares about rowing reality, women and men crewed at UW from 1900 – 1917. After that, the University of Washington was required to give their boathouses to the Navy (WWI). In 1920, UW revived men’s rowing but refused to bring back women’s rowing, despite it being the most popular women’s sport at the university.

The university’s “we can’t afford it” answer was ridiculous given it spent more money on men’s softball than ALL the women’s sports combined.

Women would not be allowed to row at UW again for 50 years (1969). UW Women’s rowing was not elevated to a varsity sport until 1975. And it wasn’t until 1977, after Title IX, that women were allowed to join the, till then all male,  Varsity Boat Club.

Find those men adorable? I didn’t think so.

Play the hand your dealt

love-300x240I ran into a former friend in the Emerald City, at Easter Mass — because I’m an Easter, Christmas sort of Christian. I didn’t know he was anywhere near my bailiwick and was rather surprised, but pleasantly so.

“Marcel” was just as handsome and charming as I’d remembered. He felt our chance meeting was Fate. He asked if he might meet me later that week over coffee.

I love a good Chai Latte, and it would be in a public place, so . . . I said yes. I regretted it immediately, but the die was cast.

We had a long chat about many things. It was all very much like old times, right up until he pulled the rip cord and asked

“Why didn’t it work out between us?”

I didn’t answer him. I simply lifted a skeptical brow. But apparently he had no clue even though his recollection of our final moments was fairly accurate. After dinner one night, we took a long stroll during during which I ‘suddenly and inexplicably’ released him back into the wild.

He didn’t recall that during that walk I’d told him I’d once considered becoming a nun. Or that he hadn’t understood I was deadly serious. Or that he laughed at me, and the very idea of me in cloisters.

But for me? His laugh was a dagger to the heart of our relationship and it a big part of why I chose to end it then and there.

And now he’d brought it all up again. It was vividly in my mind. The truth very much ready to leap off the tip of my angry tongue. But I was good. I gave a little shrug and said I couldn’t recall the why of it.

He said he supposed it was something to do with his going to Canada and my not wishing to follow him. I did agree or disagree.

We parted ways shortly after that. I wished him well, gave him my card (yes, I still carry calling cards), then I took a long walk around the lake.

It’s strange how life goes. For Marcel and I, love just wasn’t in the cards. But I think that somehow, because of me, because of that conversation he can’t quite remember, he found his love. And that makes me happy. Though, I’m sure at he never expected he’d end up a Capuchin friar!


Under the cherry blossoms

After an early morning coffee at Zoka’s in Greenlake, and a brisk walk around said lake, I’m off to the University of Washington to see the 30 or so 70-year-old Yoshino cherry trees in blossom on the UW Quad.

If you’ve never been out under an orchard of ancient cherry trees in full blossom, it’s an amazing experience. The video above is from last year, but if you want to see some spectacular shots from this year, check out JeiShi’s post for the total “you are there” feeling.

Of course UW’s beautiful architecture out on the quad only heightens the experience! I plan to peek in on the library as well too. It’s what writers do. Poke around in musty stacks, drawing inspiration. But the Library itself is inspiration enough for me. Just sitting there, breathing in the grandeur.

After this time of esoteric reflection, I’m off to Luly Yang‘s to do something more down to earth, ie, pick up a little something for Fling to unwrap when he gets back . . .


Fling at the Fairmont?


Fling texted me the other night to say he was giving up Paleo dieting. I though it was weird but since I was sitting there eating a cake I’d just baked, I didn’t ask questions. I should have.

The next day, I got an Instagram — of him lying in a hospital bed. He didn’t look as though he’d been in a bar fight, so I was worried. I called but I couldn’t get a hold of him. Eventually a Colleague of his called me, on Fling’s behalf. Fling had spent the weekend in hospital.

Too many long-haul flights had led Fling to deep vein thrombosis a while back, which he’d never told me before. He thought he was ok. But he woke up on Friday unable to breathe. He thought he had contracted pneumonia so Colleague drove him to the local ER.

Turned out Fling’s clot hadn’t vanished, it had just moved to his lung. And, if he’d waited a couple more days to go to the ER, he’d probably have died.

Fling’s out now, at Colleague’s house, recooperating for a couple days.

He sent me an email this morning saying he’s not sure if he’ll be flying back at the end of the month. He may  have to spend the next 6 weeks where he is, taking blood thinners, before he gets a doctor’s ok to fly.

Of course, me being me I immediately thought of our upcoming trip to the Emerald City (that would be Seattle not Oz). We are  supposed to be going to see the Treasures of Kenwood House exhibition at the SAM, along with many other Seattle favs.

If I wait for Fling,  the exhibition might be gone to its next stop — in Little Rock. I’m sure Arkansas is very nice, but . . . .

I certainly hope I can have Fling at the Fairmont, but if not, I’ll just take someone else who doesn’t mind a good lie in on sateen weave, 500 count, 100% Egyptian cotton sheets!