Friday, April 06, 2012

Seattle Candid Camera: New Baby, 40th Birthday, Grandkids, Crazy Weather, Work and Play in the Starbucks "Office."

It was summery spring with confused flowers in early blossom as we flew out of Boston. We arrived in Seattle to freezing, winter temperatures.

The weather got even crazier.

One morning in Seattle we woke up to snow, yes SNOW, while our neighbors back in Massachusetts were on their porches sunning themselves!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it supposed to be just the opposite, brutal cold on the East coast and civilized, though rainy, mildness on the West coast?

The weather needs to go for counseling.

A neighbor, Martha, e-mailed us:  "Yes, we're having THE best summer weather in March that I can remember. It reached a high of 82 here, and we had dinner on the deck..."

I e-mailed Martha my thanks for rubbing it in: "I'm so happy for your "best summer weather in March" while we are out here in Seattle freezing our U-NO-WHATS off. We even had a snowstorm. So, go ahead, sunbathe on the porch in your bikini -- but could you please not send us a photo of it?  Appreciate it."

Now that I got that out of my system, let me introduce you to the reason we came to Seattle, our new granddaughter, Talula, just five months old.  Here are the proud grandparents, Barbara and me, showing her off.

Actually, there's another reason we were in Seattle: for Talula's mom's birthday. Daughter Misha was celebrating her 40th -- though she looks at least 15 years younger, as you can see below with Talula.

Here's the whole gang, with the exception of Barbara, at Misha's 40th birthday party. Barbara got drafted to take the group picture.

Just so she won't feel left out, here is a photo of Barbara alone with Talula.

Now a  dose of reality. As you can imagine, with three kids already and a new baby, Misha and husband Ed have their hands full. Ed has a demanding managerial job at L.A. Fitness and works long hours, but still gets up at night to feed the baby.

Misha has her own interior design business, Misha Designs. Plus, while we were there, she studied for and passed the exam for her real estate license. We don't know how she does it all.

So we did our best to help out -- and Misha and Ed were able to get away for a weekend in Las Vegas for a much needed break.

During our two weeks in Seattle, to be honest, Barbara did most of the work. She watched Talula, fed her, changed her. She prepared meals for the other three kids, Mia (almost 10), Bella (8), and Max (almost 5).  She cleaned, washed clothes, and did everything else that needed to be done around the house.

In other words, she was the responsible adult. I was one of the kids. I walked with Mia and Bella to and from school, the three of us goofing the whole time. Most afternoons, I walked with the three to a playground about a mile away where we all just had fun.

There Bella found a little furry friend, shown with her in the photo. She couldn't stop hugging and kissing the sweet little puppy.

One afternoon I walked all three kids to a nearby McDonald's. We had yummy soft serve cones and the kids had a ball climbing and scrambling through the huge tubes of the mammoth play structure.

To play there,  kids are supposed to be no more than 4 feet tall.  I had each stand at the height checker. Only Max was under 4 feet tall. Mia and Bella were both illegal and I told them so. "Let's hope nobody finds out," I said,  "and the cops don't come and throw us out."

"They won't throw me out," Max said. "I'm legal."

"Yes, Max, you're legal." Max may be only four, but he knows how to watch out for number one.

A couple of times, Max and I went up the hill looking for a neighborhood monster. The second time, we came across an old, run-down, abandoned house.

"That's where the monster has been staying," I said in a hushed voice. Bent over, trying to be as quiet as possible, the two of us crept toward the house.

"How do you know?" the little guy whispered.

"I don't. But where else could he be if he is scaring the kids right here in the neighborhood?"

That made sense to Max. He nodded.

"Shhh. Stay here," I said. "I'll sneak up to the window and look in."

I got to the the window and looked in. I recoiled. Face a mask of sheer terror, I said, "He's there! He's there! He saw me! Run!"

Max took off like a little racehorse with me right behind him. We didn't stop running until we were back at the house.

"Well, we found him," I said, panting.

"Now we have to get him," Max said.

"Don't worry, we will."

Mornings I walked to my "office" at Starbucks where I had coffee, read my New York Times,  joked around with the staff, and even did some work. I am writing a paranormal novel, "Something Tells Her," about a 12-year-old girl who has been in foster homes and institutions all her young life.

Without family of any kind, she is entirely on her own -- except that something warns her of danger. Mia, pictured here, is my consultant. As we hang out, talk, play, and imagine together, I am learning about how a preteen girl thinks and acts -- and I'm writing.

Here I am at my Starbucks office in Edmonds at work on the novel. I tell everybody that the staff has reserved the VIP table, the largest in the place, for moi.

Actually, it is the handicapped table. The staff and all the regulars apparently think of me as an untreated psychiatric patient. Is Starbucks my away-from-home adult psych unit?  I guess I would be the last to know.

One thing I do know, is that I feel right at home here at Starbucks, both in Edmonds and Shoreline. In Edmonds, the staff makes fun of my Boston accent and I never saw people have more fun at work. Even with unending lines, they horse around, joke, and laugh almost nonstop.

They even sing and dance while on the job. I never saw that before, until I saw Gen and Amy do it in Edmonds. They are pictured here, Gen left and Amy right. I got up and applauded. "More, more."  But customers had to be served.

I asked Gen if she would come over to the handicapped table and sing and dance for me. She said she would be happy to, but never did. I asked Amy to come over and sing and dance for me. She said she would be happy to, but never got around to it.

Oh well, maybe when I come back in July, Gen and Amy will make it up to me. So ladies, rehearse. Get that song and dance routine down. In July, it's showtime for the old psycho. It could be a breakout performance!

I also went over to the Starbucks in Shoreline to see my old friends Kathi, Erin, and Brittani.  When Misha lived in Shoreline, that's where I went mornings to work and socialize. I miss the Starbucks gang there. When I walked in, they welcomed me not just as a customer, but as a friend.

They were busy and I could only stay a short time, but I did talk briefly with Brittani. "How are you doing these days?" I asked her during a short break in the steady line of customers.

Exuding warmth and caring, she spoke of her life, work, and dreams. She even followed up with an e-mail. The two of us are shown here.

Brittani was born and raised in Bellingham, Washington. She lived there until 2008 when she moved to Santa Barbara to attend Santa Barbara City College.

After a year, missing her family, she moved to Seattle. Over the 2008 Christmas break, she accompanied her parents to Haiti where they had been doing relief and missionary work. "Spending Christmas in Haiti changed who I am," she said. "I discovered a lot about myself."

She learned that life for her was "most joyful" when she helped others in serious need. She realized that she needed a career in which she could use "my compassion and love for others to help them." She chose nursing.

She said that a nurse develops relationships with patients that is unmatched. "To me, no value can be placed on being able to make someone smile, laugh, or ease any discomfort they might be in. To be paid to do this ... well, it's nothing short of a dream."

But how to make it happen? She said that her parents had paid for "previous educational flops," and she can't ask mom and dad for more financial help. "I need to do it on my own," she said.

She applied for an FAFSA grant and received a "pretty hefty" one. However, the grant comes with high personal and educational standards, which she says "keeps me working, and hard."

Brittani is now going to nursing school full time, working 20 hours a week at Starbucks, and supporting herself. She says that it is "insanely stressful." But, nearing the end of her first quarter, she says that she has "proved to myself that I am capable of something I never thought possible... I did well in school, which gave me a sense of self-confidence I have never before had."

Brittani says she still has a long way to go before she starts her nursing career, but happily adds  "I am well on my way."

Go, Brittani, go!

Next, in the Shoreline Starbucks, I hobnobbed with the Mayor, Keith McGlashan.  Yes, that's right, the Mayor of the city, not to mention that he also sits on the Shoreline City Council.

On top of that, ready for this? He also works at Starbucks. I  love being waited on by the Mayor of the city and saying "thank you, Mr. Mayor." Why he works at Starbucks, I explained in an earlier blog.

He wasn't working today, however, just stopping by to visit, chat, and glad-hand with constituents. In the photo, he chats with two of them.

"Hey, Mr. Mayor," I said. "Good to see you again. Remember we talked?"

"Sure. Back visiting again?"

"Yeah.  Listen, I know you're just running in and out but I wanted to ask you about that no-show, high-paying, government job we talked about."

"I'm working on it," he said.

"Great, living in Massachusetts, it would be hard for me to show up."

"I understand. Soon as I get back to the office, I'll make a phone call."

 "Great. Thank you, Mr. Mayor."

In the photo above of me with the Mayor, I look like a runt beside him. I'm not that short; he's a giant, like an unusually large number of Seattle men. I wrote about the "giants of Seattle" in that earlier blog. I thought the Mayor could have scrunched down for a future absentee co-worker on the city payroll.

Oh well, no big deal. My first check from the City of Shoreline should be arriving soon.

So long and keep moving.

 E-Books by George Pollock

"State Kid: Hero of Literacy" is fiction based on his  real-life experiences  growing up in foster homes; "Last Laughs," is the true story of how five foster kids (he and four younger siblings) found their way in life and each other. "Killers: Surprises in a Maximum Security Prison," is the story of his being locked up for 23 hours with killers in a maximum security prison;  "I, Cadaver" is about his postmortem adventures and mischief in the anatomy lab at UMass Medical School. “A Beautiful Story” demonstrates the art and process of creative writing as a 16-year-old boy goes all out to write a story that literally saves his life;  "A Long, Happy, Healthy Life," which is about how to live the title every day; and "Unlove Story," Writing anonymously as "Elvis," a husband, dumped after 38 years of marriage, lets it all out on love, marriage, life, everything. A guy doing this? Unheard of.

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