Monday, November 02, 2009

Gather Up Your Jackets, Move It To the Exits

There used to be a band called Semisonic--I say used to be because I'm reasonably sure all the members have long since started selling real estate or detachable gutters and doing things that don't require guitars. Their big, inescapable hit was called "Closing Time" and during my freshman year of college, it was the anthem that soundtracked countless second-semester drunkfests. (Confidential to My Mother: By "Drunkfests" I mean "Endless nights spent in the library studying, taking notes, and making good use of your tuition dollars." Obviously).

That song was always leaking out of the speakers at our favorite off-campus dinner joint, a Mexican place with cheap-ass enchiladas and a tacky hand-painted mural done by an artist that clearly didn't understand perspective drawing or homoeroticism. The ambiance was limited to a row of sombreros hanging over several of the tables--so you could park yourself in either the Stereotype or Non-Stereotype section--and overhead lights were dimmer than the waitstaff, who would accept any fresh-from-Kinko's fake ID even though you were clearly not thirty-seven, nor were you a black man.

At the end of the evening, the waiters would be lazily upending the wooden chairs onto the tables as we'd hold up our oversized margaritas and shout along with the chorus, "You don't have to go home/But you can't stay here." Then we'd shuffle off to the parking lot, hoping to make it back to campus before the floorboards of the DD's Ford Taurus were carpeted with thirty-six ounces of crushed ice and off-brand tequila.

It's a solid decade later and I'm still ordering Special #11--a quesadilla, an enchilada, and swift, unyielding diarrhea--at least once a month. The place is still popular with Wake Forest freshmen and I'll eye them jealously from my side of the vinyl booth, hating their popped collars and cell phone cameras and collagen.

A few weeks ago I was there for dinner, blotting the grease off a basket of tortilla chips and drinking for entirely different reasons when--as if David E. Kelley designed my life--that same Semisonic song trickled out of the speakers. And I decided they were right: I don't have to go home but I can't stay here.

So, readers who wonder where the hell all this cilantro-garnished exposition is going, I can't stay here. I'm planning a move across the country. It's not where you think--I won't be double-parking a UHaul in Los Angeles, nor burrowing into Hugh Laurie's laundry hamper--and it's sooner than you expect. I'd like to think I'll be unpacking my Elvis Costello t-shirts and reassembling my bookshelves before the end of the year, but realistically, it'll probably be January.

Where am I heading? Seattle. Yes, Seattle, with its indie rock and Starbucks oversaturation and perpetually wet socks. There are a number of reasons that it's [hopefully] the place for me, but none of them are entertaining and lots of them make me sound almost responsible, so we'll skip over that. Instead, let's talk about why I'm leaving. I've lived in North Carolina for a decade, counting college, and I have little to show for it other than a liberal arts degree and a few dents in my heart.

BUT my pair of years as a freelance writer have gone better than I could’ve ever expected, with the kinds of experiences that haven’t paid well but have definitely paid off--if that makes sense at all--and the highlights on my resume haven’t been from this region (or even this country) so I’m not losing anything but a ZIP code and a shitty neighbor fond of pre-dawn piano concerts by skipping out.

I've also grown increasingly tired of living in a town small enough that I'm constantly reminded of what I used to do or where I used to work or who I used to date until he decided it would be cool to leave me for a withered creature who looks like a Slim Jim with hair. I'm beyond ready to turn my attention to what I can do, what I will be, and what's waiting around the next turn, rather than continually adjusting my life's rearview mirror.

Or "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end" as Semisonic sang. If you hear that sentiment when you're stabbing an undercooked bite of Grade-Z beef, it could make you think it's a sign you should re-evaluate your life. Or it could make you think of one Beginning shitting out another, smaller Beginning.

Either way, I'm packing my Gore-Tex and Scotchguarding my shoes and flying into the Sea-Tac airport on Saturday, staying for a week to apartment shop and meet with a handful of insanely helpful contacts and also to shove my resume in the face of the unsuspecting. If you're a media outlet in the greater Seattle area, prepare to be cold-called. Also, if anyone's willing to give a hand with this job search, I'd dig it like no other. Any advice, tips and tricks are all appreciated and will be met with a sloppy kiss to each of your foreheads.

Enjoy that basket of nachos, Seattle. I'll be staring at you from the far side of the non-smoking section soon enough.

38 comments:

lacochran said...

Good for you! I hope Seattle is fantastic for you and vice versa!

Titanium said...

Congratulations! I'm (selfishly) glad you're moving closer. The great North-Wet better treat you well or I'm gonna throw a fit.

Matt said...

Semisonic is actually still semiactive...

The three band members have talked about a new Semisonic album releasing within the next two years. A new album is expected to be recorded by 2011.

Matt said...

but yes mostly they are probably selling cars, records or door to door meat.

Anonymous said...

An old friend:
www.seankirk.com
Check it out.
He's located in Seattle.
He does your kind of work.
He might know somebody who knows somebody.
Worth a shot.

Signal to Noise said...

as another transplant to the Pacific Northwest, I welcome you to the Land of Precipitation.

The only reason I don't drive the couple hours to visit Seattle more is the lousy traffic. Nice city.

Jan said...

Being a Southern Californian, I am a little disheartened that Seattle won. But I am glad for you and your new adventure. I am a little concerned about Pigpen - he will be there with you, won't he?

Sara said...

I moved to Seattle almost 10 years ago, and I love it here. I think you will too! Just remember, the rain WILL eventually stop (somewhere around mid-June) and then you're in for the best summer weather anyone could ask for! Just thought I'd add that little tidbit since you're moving here during one of the wettest months of the season. :)

zlionsfan said...

Weather-wise, you could have done much worse. Indianapolis actually gets more rain per year than Seattle (although we prefer ordering rain in bulk; fewer rainy days but more flash floods), plus we get a reasonable amount of snow as well.

Maybe in Seattle you can find an apartment building that isn't full of jerks?

Scribe said...

I'm insanely excited for you. Seattle will welcome you with open arms!

Nanodance said...

I am so jealous. I so want to move away. And for the same reasons you are going. Too much time here and too little to show for it. And as you said so well, too many dents in my heart. What I wouldn't do to start over. My city of choice in NY, but until I find a way to finance it, I will stay here. Good luck to you and I will look forward to reading about your new adventure.

Non Sequitur Chica said...

Sounds like it's time for a move across the country- congrats! I have done it a few times myself and hope to do it once more before finally settling down.

Felicia said...

I'm going to sound incredibly lame here, but Dan Wilson (frontman of Semisonic) is huge on the Minneapolis music scene. He produces and writes a lot of music for other bands, and he writes a column for our paper. I'm not a huge fan of his or anything, I just am pretty big into our music scene and his name pops up quite frequently.

Michael said...

The only way this would be better would be if it were near me, but congrats anyway-you deserve some good fortune.

starpower said...

Good for you. This will be good. Looking forward to reading about it!

Beck said...

This might already be on your list, but consider applying to The Stranger. You're just as funny as any of the writers on staff.

ktothet said...

Definitely for sure apply for The Stranger. If you can stand the inherent funk of hipster that hangs over their offices, that is.

Miss B said...

Well, I unfortunately have no job prospects and/or advice for you -- well, I do have a friend who has an arts criticism website, so if you are in the market for that sort of writing, let me know and I can put you in touch with him -- and (as I told you via Twitter) I fucking hate a lot about this city. However, if you ever need someone to buy you a drink and make fun of hipsters, I'm your girl. Send me an email and I'll happily take you somewhere uncool.

Summer said...

all the sections in Seattle are non-smoking, enjoy

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

How exciting! It's funny, I live in San Francisco (always have) but have a ton of friends (work and blogging) in Seattle. It's one of the places I'd live if I could stand the rain.

Phil said...

I've never been up to Seattle, but it sounds nice. Plus you can never go wrong with a good music scene.

Kitty said...

I love Seattle! Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..." — Dr. Seuss

Anonymous said...

I did the same thing last year and picked up to move to Colorado. It was the BEST thing I ever did. You will have so much fun and so many new adventures. Congrats!!

Mackenzies Momma said...

Well I do wish you good luck up here in the Great Northwest. Hopefully you and Pigpen enjoy it here!

Arnetta Green said...

Congrats! Your decision is an inspiration to me (I'm planning to do the same thing soon). And yeah, they used to play that "Closing Time" song to death back in the day. But it was a good song.

SJB said...

I've been to Seattle and it is wonderful, you get the sun rise, which we can fortune cookie into a metaphor for new beginnings as well. Semisonic also made one of my favorite songs FNT.

NY Wolve said...

That will be a change! Good luck with the move, and I loved your reasons. I wish you good luck in finding who you will be.

Anonymous said...

I visited Seattle in August for the first time. (I live in Virginia.) LOVED IT! Seattle is a beautiful city with lots to offer. Hope you will find success, happiness, whatever it is you're looking for, and have fun while doing it. Can't wait to read all about your adventures here.

Boxcar said...

I lived in Seattle for a hair under three years. It's great. The people are just nice enough without it being irritating. The weather is fantastic. It rains most mornings and it's pleasant by afternoon. While I lived there through three winters it snowed all of twice. Once, when it had finished, I could still see the grass through the snow, and yet all school had been called off for the afternoon, colleges included. I don't know how much snow you get it NC, but you'll find that if you get any at all, you drive better in snow than everybody in Seattle does...

I'm rambling.

Seattle's pretty nice, but the traffic sucks.

Britt Sparks said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Here's the deal. I've lived in Seattle my whole life. Yes, there's a lot here that will suit you just fine (the music scene, the dog lovers, the continued and astounding lack of direction or progress on the part of city planners.... But, we need to talk. You, and all the other commenters.

If you move here, and you like it, you. can. never. tell. anyone. else.

Every conversation you have needs to consist of how awful the following things are: traffic, weather, regional food, Microsofties, costs of living, job opportunities that don't consist of retail or food service, and any and all other topics that you're sure will convinvce your listener that Seattle is the third circle of hell.

Because over 50% of the people who live here came here from somewhere else. And it was because someone told them how great it is. Shut it down. Keep the secret and we'll get along fine.

basilexposition said...

Viva Seattle Tacoma, viva, viva SEA-TAC! Have a great one, J-Money, and all the best with the move.

Dinzer said...

J-Money, you are pure awesomeness, and you are going to kick Seattle's ass.

Dinzer said...

One more thing you should know about Seattle is that the Seahawks are not relationship material. They're like that good looking guy that's great for a romp on a Sunday afternoon, but you don't dare fall in love because he will break your heart. Sure, go enjoy the Seahawks games, but understand that it's a "friends with benefits" type of relationship. You'll have a good time, but that's as far as your relationship with the Seahawks should go.

Calamity Jill said...

I got a feeling Seattle's fabulous. I'm dying to go there and hope your tales of your new life will only encourage this. Oodles of luck to ya.

Mini said...

Good luck, J-Money. Now Seattle is the place that you will be from. That's a good song, but that line always grates like nails on a chalk board.

Sandi said...

Check out Duff McKagan's columns in Seattle' Reverb. That's a good place to try to sell your writing.

orange sugar said...

Congratulations on the move. I envy people who have the guts to just pack it up and move far away.

Pigpen is going with you, right?