To Coin a Phrase

click up (‘klik ‘up)
v. tr.

  1. To increase the volume of a personal music player incrementally each time a particularly good song is heard, often eventually resulting in a volume so high that it hurts one’s ears: I kept clicking up my iPod Shuffle ‘cuz these kick-ass songs were coming on. The Wrens came on, then Explosions in the Sky… man, I have a headache now.


Every spring, something amazing happens on the UW campus: cherry blossoms. These thirty Yoshino cherry trees have graced the Quad since the sixties after being transplanted from the Arboretum. (I myself have graced the Quad since only 2003.) I don’t believe such a display can be seen anywhere else in Seattle, and each year crowds gather with cameras. I decided to take some pictures too, as the cherries seem particularly spectacular right now.

This is Your Neighborhood

I moved from the island of West Seattle’s Admiral District, which is chock-full of parks, beaches, organic produce and million-dollar homes — and which is connected to the rest of the city by a mile-long bridge — right into the heart of the scummy University District. Nowadays instead of those green parks I walk by condoms on the asphalt and old ladies wearing bizarre gasmasks made of leather and metal. So why did I choose this neighborhood? For starters, it’s cheap and very close to work. But I also just wanted a taste of life in an eclectic, unpredictable urban area. And I haven’t been disappointed; in my first six weeks, I’ve seen some stuff, oh yes.

There was the enebriated punk kid on 47th who decided to mess with the wrong guy. I saw it happen. The punk had been yelling semi-coherent threats at an unassuming shopper carrying a couple of Safeway bags filled with groceries. He followed the shopper for half a block, asking for a fight in so many words. Apparently unloading some pent-up aggression, the shopper calmly set his groceries down at the edge of the sidewalk and without a word, turned around and punched the punk kid in the face, knocking him out cold. Punk fell down just like in a movie, while Shopper picked up his bags and went about his business. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone get knocked unconscious, and it happened just around the corner from my home.

Then one night a couple weeks ago as I sat on my couch I became aware of a conversation taking place in the alley outside my building. It was a quiet, murmuring sort of conversation punctuated by rather boisterous laughter. Curious, I looked down from my second-story window and spied a pair of homeless dudes in sleeping bags, passing a beer back and forth. They were camping out in a small fenced courtyard at the church next-door. This was somewhat worrisome to me, considering that we were at that time experiencing a cold spell in Seattle and overnight temperatures were dropping well below freezing. I kept tabs on the homeless campers for a few days, and each morning I looked out my window hoping that I wouldn’t see two frozen-solid bodies (with frost on their lips and icicles and all) but each morning they’d already cleared away their possessions and trudged off to whichever soup kitchen was open that day. As far as I know, they never died, but they did eventually move on, and after about four days I didn’t see them again.

Soon afterwards, though, I was eating a sandwich at lunchtime when I heard a small racket in the alley. A man with a stick had opened up the church’s dumpster, which was full to the brim with moldy green oranges and bagels. He was using his stick to retrieve the bagels by poking them through their holes and carefully fishing them out one by one.