Monday, December 22, 2008

5 Year Anniversary

Natasha and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary on Sunday. Technically we were married on the 22nd of December, but we deliberately chose that date as it was the winter solstice that year. Since we are both iconoclasts, we celebrate our anniversary on the solstice, whatever date it happens to be, rather than the 22nd.

This year it was Sunday the 21st. This, magically, happened to be one of the greatest snow days that Seattle has seen in years. Since it rarely if ever snows here, the entire city shuts down when the first flake hits the ground. Entire bus routes are canceled, businesses (even lucrative chain retailers) shut down as early as 6pm, and taxi cabs become impossibly rare.

Almost since we got here, Natasha and I were planning for a dinner at the Sky City restaurant, the one in the Space Needle. Kitschy, and touristy, I know, but we thought the view was going to be worth it. Plus, they sell Kobe beef, which I wouldn't mind trying.

We managed to find a bus downtown, where we mulled around bookstores, the mall, anywhere and everywhere. We had a snowball fight outside the mall (everyone cheered when Natasha hit me, why am I the bad guy?) and slid around in the snow. The streets were almost completely empty, so you could jaywalk at will.

Because the buses were mostly out of operation, we had planned on taking the monorail, also a kitschy tourist attraction, which runs from the Westlake Mall to the Seattle Center (where the Needle is). With our 7:30 dinner reservations approaching, we went up to the monorail to find that it had shut off at 6 due to the weather. Why a monorail is dependent on the weather is beyond me.

Our reservations were in 30 minutes, we were a mile and a half from the Needle, and buses were running maybe 25% of the time. With time running out, we barely managed to squeeze into a shared cab with a family of tourists - they filled the back seat, and Natasha sat in my lap in shotgun as we cruised through the icy streets of Seattle.

We arrived at the Space Needle at 7:22, just in time. We marched through the snow up toward the Needle, feeling relieved.


We took advantage of our situation to get some nice pictures:

Now we were in an awkward position. Nothing around was open, we called and called taxi dispatches, and got busy signals and outright refusals - no cabs downtown, they said. We found a sports bar that overcharged for drinks, warmed back up, and began the long trek back downtown to a place where buses were still operating.

After marching in the snow for 30 minutes, we arrived at a bus stop only to find that people had been waiting there for a bus for over an hour. We decided to try a few more stops, and luckily hit on a bus that was supposed to be canceled but was still running. We hopped it and made it home.

We perused the Ave looking for a restaurant at which to have an anniversary dinner, but everything was closed. Undaunted, Natasha and I went to Safeway and bought a bottle of champagne (luckily, the same brand we had at our wedding party) and a truly modern miracle, a cake batter that becomes cake in the microwave.

So take that, elements! And the King County Metro! And the Monorail people! And the people of Sky City who didn't bother to call us! And the lazy cab drivers! We had a fine time devouring chocolate cake and a whole bottle of champagne. It was a well deserved happy ending.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The frostbitten slopes of doom mountain (or Seattle in winter)

On Monday, I was hired officially, thereby dissolving my "temp" status. This coincided with more money and benefits!, In which I have enrolled promptly and am soon to be able to utilize them. Yay dental cleaning! It will be almost a whole year when I finally get an appointment. Also this week was my final French class. I will not be going next semester, as Grayson has elected to utilize the budget in order to take Ancient Greek, to prepare for graduate school. I enjoyed the class, and made friends, and have a good start on French for travel, and for eventually learning it better if I want to use it academically. Yay French! It was fun, but hard to balance with 40 hours of work. It's amazing how little energy I have after sitting on my butt for 8 hours.

Saturday we went to Bellevue for our final three Christmas presents. Bellevue is crazy: in one block, nay on one STREET on the length of one block there is a McCormick's, Cheesecake Factory, P. F. Chang's and the mall, which has Nordstrom's, Crate and Barrell, Thomasville and The Container Store just in view on this street. I am also told that the mall "snows" every night during the season before Christmas. We missed that lil chestnut. The movie theater there is pretty swank, too. They have like twenty screens that are all huge, and the seats are these huge, cushy, faux leathery things that rock and feel like thrones. We went to see "Milk." Tickets were TEN DOLLARS. I remember when ten dollars could buy... ah, whatever. The movie was good, though.

It snowed most of Saturday, and actually managed to stick to the ground. This is the first time it's ever snowed in Seattle while we've been here. A view from our apartment window:

The snow was still around Sunday as we trekked through Wallingford. We needed to get a few last xmas gifts, and to check out this place called Kidd Valley, a burger chain confined to western Washington. Mostly standard fare, except for...sweet potato fries!

Hard to tell from the picture, but they are much darker in color than regular fries. They don't taste too different, but you can certainly detect that extra sweetness in them. Highly recommended, if you ever come here.

Finally, it is imperative that you see our glorious monument to xmas tradition, the fiber optic spectral colored celebration tower (i.e. xmas tree):

Again, hard to see from the picture, but it has acquired the standard ornament-per-year. The star on the top is supposed to glow or something, but its energy source has failed over the years. This year's ornament is a Hello Kitty Lucky Cat from our good friends at SANRIO CO., LTD.