Swing Politics

Ryan asks me to push him on the swing. He goes outside while I get my shoes. Masha sits down in the gravel in front of Ryan’s swing. He criticizes her, “She follows me around all the time because she loves me so much.” I ask him, “What’s wrong with that?” Ryan resists when I ask him to move over to the other swing, but switches soon enough. I push him a bit and Masha climbs onto the free one. I give Masha a couple of cautious pushes, she’s small and I don’t want her to fall. Nate comes over and says he wants to use one of the swings, so I ask Masha if she wants to get into the baby swing. I’m not sure how much she understands me, though her one year old English is definitely better than my Russian. She just sits contentedly. And she doesn’t complain when I lift her out of the big kid swing and set her into the more secure baby swing. But now Nate wants to sit in the baby swing – I point out that Masha is the smallest. I offer him the swing that Masha has just vacated. But he takes up a position a few yards away in the gravel, whining occasionally. I give Ryan a push and then give Masha a push on alternating swing-backs.

Meanwhile, Back in Seattle

Imagine you’re at The Comet on a Wednesday night. Someone comes in and starts setting up equipment in your vicinity. A band? The long table that you’re sitting at is moved and replaced with the big round industrial-spool table and an extension cord is threaded behind your legs. You take the hint and find a new seat at the end of a table where an old man is staring blankly at his Budweiser.

Two guys are across the table from you, one with frizzy curls and the other dressed a little conservatively. They keep telling you that they’re from California. “So, what are you doing up here?” “Oh, we work at Amazon.” Of course they do, where else would they work?

You don’t figure out what’s happening until the tables are seeded with song-directories, despite the fact that the equipment in the corner has started to resemble a karaoke machine.

Ingrid perks up. “Karaoke? It’s been awhile!” She pretends she’s not interested. But after the slightest encouragement, she starts making a list of all the songs in her repartoire. She says they’re all men’s songs. Songs with female singers tend to be kind of syrupy. (You don’t recognize most of the titles.)

She chooses Knock Three Times. She frets a bit before taking her selection to the karaoke-guy, and she worries a little while she waits for her turn and a singer pours her heart into an Alanis Morisette song.

Ingrid is introduced and she shuffles over. She takes the microphone, the music starts, and she closes her eyes. And she is into it! She sings with complete confidence, not looking at the lyrics scrolling by on the monitor, hitting every note. And she’s good! She punctuates every other note with a practiced hip swing or an arm motion – different knocking motions for “knock three times on the ceiling” and “knock two times on the pipe”.

That’s it.

Out of the office

I’ll be in Phoenix until Monday & may or may not post based on access and time. It’s my sister’s wedding. My entire family will be there, so I’ll no doubt be completely recharged with everyone’s favorite, childhood stories.


The lower-echelon of workers clamor for positions in Two Union Square. Once granted a position in the building, they wait anxiously every day for the chance to run an errand at an odd hour – when elevator traffic is relatively light. These are the fastest elevators in the city.

When someone scores a down elevator without the company of strangers or management, the lucky rider steps inside and waits until the doors have just closed. He makes a quick leap as the elevator floor begins rushing down away from him. And he’s in freefall . . . for the long moment that it takes gravity to catch up with the floor plunging away beneath him. He lands gently, finishes his ride, and goes on with his business. One worker has gone so far as to sabotage the coffee machine, so his boss will send him out for an espresso.

It takes only a month of elevator jumps to log the equivalent of a short skydiving jump.

Barbershop Quintet

Grandview was a land of Opportunity for those that wished to do the taking. And one guy who wanted to do the taking was a guy by the name of Chuck, who opened up a barbershop. He had the dream of eventually turning it into a barbershop/tatoo parlor/beauty salon. I never went there, because the haircuts are horrid, but my dad got his haircuts there.

He found his way into the distinctive cultural rut of the town. Decorated the place one Christmas. Won the newspaper’s Decoration prize. Next year, he decorated the shop again. He didn’t win the prize. He left the Santa Clause up on his roof, unlit. It clashed when he put up his halloween decorations. He never did take it down.

The story goes that Chuck rode into town with just $30 on him. He opened up a barber-shop, having mastered the 8 minute haircut wherever it was that he picked up his trade. He lived in his store. Eventually, the store was foreclosed, and it looked like his barbershop was dead. But, somehow, Chuck landed on his feet, found a new location to work and live, expanded his business operation to fit his dream of combination barbershop, tatoo-parlor, and beauty salon, and there the place sat… 10 years later and Chuck still has the $30 he came in with.

Next thing you knew the tatoo-artist left after the police nabbed him for selling tattoos to minors, and the beautician simply never bothered to move in. Chuck was disillusioned. Where does the store go from here? I always thought he could have eventually expanded to a barbershop/tatoo pallor/beauty salon/motorcycle club, but alas it was not going to happen and he was stuck back at square one.