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blossoms - The Literary Exhibitionist

I've been thinking a bit, so far this year, about how much less frequently I've had enough photos to fill up full photo sets than I have on average every year since 2010 -- because now, I don't have my monthly trips to Los Angeles. I'm getting an uptick this month, though, because I managed to get a new photo set out of this past weekend -- Saturday, specifically, when I went to VegFest, and went to see the cherry blossoms in the quad at UW, which I can't recall ever having done before, many years of hearing about them notwithstanding. And also there were a few photos taken at the anchor event for the day, seeing a movie with Danielle and her kids -- and also Danielle's friend Lisa and her kids -- in the Braeburn Condos theatre. In fact, this means four weekends in a row this month that shall yield photo sets: the one I just mentioned for this past weekend; the Tulip Festival next weekend; Easter the weekend after that; and the bookends of my Birth Week the two weekends following. I'm just going to be a photo-posting machine this month.

It occurred to me only just this morning, while writing this, to actually count and compare -- counting New Year's, my VegFest / Cherry Blossoms photo set marks my fifth of the year (the others being the Women's March; the beautiful snow day in February; and the "Oscar Party" photo set, although that one has only five photos in it). So how does that compare to the past seven years?

Number of photo sets between January 1 and April 1, by year:

2017: 5
2016: 13
2015: 15 [this includes a trip to Las Vegas separated into six different sets]
2014: 13 [this includes a trip to New Orleans separated into four sets, separated by day]
2013: 11
2012: 11
2011: 16
2010: 15
2009: 11

. . . Hmm. This is very strange indeed. Here I was thinking maybe I was remembering wrong and there weren't that many photo sets in the first three months of every year, and it turns out not only to be the opposite, but only 5 sets by April 1 is incredibly small a number even by pre-2010 standards!

Shobhit did not move to New York until mid-March, 2010, but the large number of sets prior to that in 2010 still makes sense because we went on our very first trip to New York prior to that, and that yielded a great many photos. We also took weekend trips to both San Francisco (currently our most recent trip there -- damn, we need to go back) and Portland in that time.

What surprised me most was that there were so many sets within the first three months even of 2009, which was well before my monthly out-of-state trips began. How about 2008, then? 11 sets again!

This fascinates me. Why the huge downturn in 2017? I think the answer is two-fold. First, it's likely just a reaction to the sudden drop of any kind of travel in the wake of Shobhit's permanent return from Los Angeles. There's also the fact that Easter occurred many of those years in March and this year it's not until mid-April. But I think the most significant factor, honestly, is Shobhit's being unemployed. That alone has severely restricted our typical extracurricular activities, or at least any of the especially photogenic ones. But, as I already indicated, April is poised to be a month that largely makes up for all that. I think 2017 is still likely to wind up having far fewer photos for an entire year than the average -- that is, unless by some miracle we do end up taking that trip to India in late December. That'll yield a shit ton of pictures right at the end of the year, but whether that happens at all is still very much up in the air.

I can also say that plenty is likely to be going on pretty much from here on out through the end of the year: beyond April, there's a trip to see Mom and Bill (and maybe Christopher too) in Idaho in May; Pride and Independence Day in June and July, not to mention hopefully having my brother's three boys visit one each month between June and August; September could be a bit of a downturn, but then after that we're already back into the holiday season. So, don't worry! My usual onslaught of photos should return shortly!

Anyway. I digress. I need to tell you about Friday night.

I had gone home for just enough time to make myself a quesadilla for dinner, and then I walked back down to Lower Queen Anne to meet with Evan and Elden to see T2 Trainspotting at the SIFF Uptown Theatre. We all enjoyed it, although I think we all also basically agreed that it relied a bit too heavily on nostalgia for its 20-year-old predecessor. Also that "T2" title is strange.

Shobhit, as it happens, volunteered for VegFest on both Friday and Saturday. He signed up weeks ago, thinking it could maybe be some kind of networking opportunity (an angle I don't think really panned out), but also -- and this was perhaps most important -- just to give him something to do since he has way too much free time without a job, and spends too much time just watching TV every day. I think having a few actual shifts to work in some way, whether he got paid or not, was really good for him.

VegFest was only open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, but he helped set up on Friday evening. He even tried to convince me to volunteer as well, and I just wasn't that into the idea. I felt better having the excuse, in the end, that Friday wound up being the only day Evan and Elden were free to meet and see Trainspotting together.

The movie was over at 9:00, and Shobhit's shift ended at 8:00, but he did say he might stick around so we could go home together. When the movie let out, he texted me that he was at Absinthe Brasserie on 1st and Battery, and did Evan and Elden want to join us? They decided they did, so the three of us walked the mile or so down there. It took much longer than it would have to walk on my own because they are slow pokes.

Shobhit was with two other people, a married trans couple named Katie-Lynn and Kimberly, whom he met while volunteering.

This was an interesting, new experience for me with trans people. I've experienced trans people in all sorts of ways, both pre- and post-transition, but this was the first time I was expected to use the pronouns and name of one sex while the person really still looked like the other.

Kimberly, thus, was clearly much earlier in the process. By any common standard, she looked like a middle-aged and slightly overweight guy with male pattern baldness. The most feminine thing about her was a nose ring, which obviously plenty of men also wear. Her hair was long-ish, shoulder length, but this was only what hair she had: growing from a ring around the sides of her head, almost totally bald on the very top except for a whisp of a strip in the very center, like a half-hearted mowhawk. To be fair, her mannerisms and voice did not come across as in any way gendered -- androgynous if nothing else. But the baldness pattern was not something anyone associates with femaleness, the pattern literally called "male pattern."

So, it was a little bit of a challenge from me to wrap my brain around it, this person with a physical appearance that looked so male that there wasn't even much effort apparent in presenting as female -- except that Katie-Lynn called her "Kimmy," and she introduced herself as Kimberly. But every trans person has to start somewhere, right? They pretty much all start at a point where their physical appearance does not match their gender identity, and it's probably at that point, more than ever, that they need people like use to respect their wish to be referred to with the pronouns of their identity rather than birth-certificate sex. I had to tell myself it wasn't necessarily fair to think, A wig alone would go a long way here. Which is true, but still.

Katie-Lynn, for her part, had clearly been openly trans for years. She was wearing a wig. It was an awful wig, I must say, but it still went a long way toward making it easier to think of her as the woman she truly is. She also had breasts under a white button-up top, and painted acrylic fingernails. She had a somewhat masculine voice but that was moderated by slightly breathy delivery in speech.

I'm not going to pretend I was never uncofortable sitting with with this couple. But continued exposure to such people is the only way to get comfortable. They did have a few slightly annoying elements to their personalities, which had truly nothing to do with their gender identities. They were still nice and more than friendly people. Katie-Lynn was a bit tipsy and slightly high-maintenance with our waitress, who had admirable paitence to spare. Katie-Lynn and Kimberly both talked at length about how comfortable they feel as themselves in Seattle -- more comfortable there in Belltown, even, than they feel on Capitol Hill, which was an interesting observation.

I realize there's a bit of irony in my feeling uncomfortable with a trans person at any stage of his or her transition, when my own gender identify has existed in the realm of androgyny for years and years. Indeed, I was the only person at that table wearing eyeliner and mascara. I sure as shit had the best looking hair. And I delighted, as always, in showing off my real, and not fake, fingernails. Katie-Lynn was dutifully jealous. The difference is that I'm not actually transgender, and being androgymous is one thing while trying to present as one gender while clearly appearing to be the other is another. But I do think this is an important point: if this scenario is a challenge -- however minor (and it really was minor) -- for me, then imagine how it is for your average cisgender person. The non-queer people whose attitudes are steadily changing deserve a lot of credit, I think. It's an act of pushing back against some very powerful societal conditioning.

Katie-Lynn and Kimberly were so nice, in fact, that they offered to give Shobhit and me a ride home. This was a better end than the beginning of my introduction to them, when the first thing Kimberly said to me was, "You're not so blond anymore. Your husband described you as a blond, blue-eyed dream." Oh, was my gray hair a disappointment then? That was new. I've gotten more compliments on my hair since it got to its current level of gray than I'd had in years, since before it started turning noticeably gray. Shobhit definitely would prefer I dye it blond again. Maybe I will one day, but it sure saves me a lot of money not having to worry about it.


I had originally planned on going to VegFest on my own on Sunday, but when Danielle heard about it, and especially when she found out kids 12 and under were free -- even her oldest, Morgan, is 12 until July -- she was kind of all about the idea. At first we just had the plan to meet to watch a movie with her and the kids in the Braeburn Condos theatre, but then we decided to go to VegFest beforehand. And she also invited her friend Lisa with her two little girls.

At my suggestion, I got in line an hour early at 9:00, so we could get in as soon as they opened at 10. I decided to walk down there, which meant leaving just after 8:00, which in turn meant getting bed only an hour later than I usually do for work. Shobhit got up even earlier than I did, because he was needed for the first of two volunteer shifts he worked that day at an earlier time. He and I both walked down there, just at different times.

Danielle had said she expected to arrive at 9:30 at the earliest, which was fine. I didn't worry about it. I got there right at 9:00, and there was only one person waiting at the ticket window, so I sat on a nearby bench for a few minutes. I got in line once there were four people there. So, I was fifth in line. And Danielle arrived with her entourage at about 9:50, kind of just under the wire.

And then, as is par for the course with VegFest, we spend the next couple of hours basically stuffing ourselves silly. A few gross things; a good number of all-right foods; a few really delicious things, many of the latter of which I went back for more of. It was crowded, as always. This was a big part of my suggesting we get there right when they opened, because it would be truly nuts in there by the afternoon. It was crowded enough even by 11:30 that Lisa was complaining about there being too many people and she was ready to go.

Shobhit, as you can see by the photo at the top of this entry, worked the Indian Life table, which seemed apropos. He later came home with a bunch of samples at the end of the day, and that included a couple of bags of "Palak Spinach Chips". ("Palak spinach" is technically redundant, as palak is Hindi for spinach.) We carry their samosa chips and their masala chips, but not these spinach chips -- and neither does the distributor we get them from, UNFI. I wonder if it's new? I took a bag to the movie I took myself to yesterday so I wouldn't waste money on popcorn, and I was taken aback by how tasty they were.

Anyway, I saw Shobhit as soon as we got inside, so we went over to the Indian Life table first, against the wall on the far right. They had an unusually large number of different samples there, all of them tasty. I saw very little of Shobhit for most of the day after that, although I did ask him to keep my umbrella while I made the rounds (and then I forgot it; he brought it back home for me), and I saw him very briefly when he was leaving for a break and the rest of us were heading out.

We all then headed back up to Capitol Hill in Danielle's van, and at Danielle's suggestion, since Shobhit has a Zone 4 parking pass, I moved Shobhit's car to park on the street on 16th and Danielle parked in our spot in the garage. We were there about an hour earlier than I had the theatre reserved, but no one else was using it, so we started early. All three of us adults quite enjoyed watching Sleepless in Seattle, which we hadn't seen in ages; the kids had half-hearted interest at best. One of them declared the movie boring. (They ranged in age from 7 to 12; two of them Lisa's and two of them Danielle's.)

They were certainly thrilled by the popcorn machine, though.

After the movie, they had originally planned on going to a fortune cookie factory that apparently exists in the International District (I wonder if I should look into this for future nephew visits?), but they discovered it closed on Saturdays at 2:00, so that was out. We all kind of brainstormed ideas for something else to do rather than them just going home, and the idea of taking Light Rail up to the U District to see the cherry blossoms came up.

So, that's what we did. I had thought I'd have time much earlier in the day to get to writing my review for T2 Trainspotting, which I had no time for the previous night due to how late I got home and how early I'd need to be up the next morning, but it turned out it would be put off a bit longer. Which was fine.

And I got lots of lovely pictures out of it -- our time on the UW campus yielded 18 of the photos I took that day. (As you may have guessed, you can click any photo in today's entry to be taken to the full photo set on Flickr.) It was incredibly crowded, but still very much worth going. We had a good time, except maybe for Rylee, who got so upset about something that she sulked for about an hour and refused to smile or pose for photos. Whatever, kid!

They thought maybe we'd eat dinner in the U District, but without a car, walking the kids to the nearest restaurant was too daunting. So, we took Light Rail back to Capitol Hill. I was asked for recommendations for places to eat, and that was when the idea of Olympia Pizza on 15th came to me. Surely the kids would be into pizza. And indeed they were. Also, I had a black opal there once that I really liked and wanted to order that again.

Danielle and I split a persona Greek pizza that she thought was too cheesy (strange criticism for a pizza) and I thought was excellent. And although we were nearing the end of our dinner, Shobhit came and met us there and sat with us for a while after he got back up to the hill when his second volunteer shift was done. His backpack was packed with samples he got to take home. He ate some of Lisa's salad, which had been too big for her to finish.

And then, we still weren't done! After walking back home and taking a brief bathroom break, the decision was made to go out for ice cream. They wanted Molly Moon's. Shobhit and I split a scoop of their "Melted Chocolate," which is evidently their replacement for the one flavor they once had that was truly spectacular, "Theo Chocolate." What happened to Theo, damn it? I need to tweet them about this. We should have had a scoop of their seasonal Carrot Cake ice cream, which we did sample and was pretty tasty. So, maybe next time.

So what of Sunday, then? Not nearly as much to tell or discuss: Shobhit never went anywhere. He didn't even change out of his bathrobe until he made dinner, at which point he changed into a pair of shorts. He made magi -- a type of noodle -- with bunches of chopped vegetables and added fried tofu. It was very tasty and I packed five leftover containers of it to put in the refrigerator.

Before that, I took myself to see Land of Mine at the Varsity Theatre in the U District, which was very good. I walked there, and it was dry and partly sunny, so I got a lot of reading of my library book done. I'll likely finish it today, and then I can move on to this Prince biography I decided to read.

I didn't walk home, though, and bused instead. So I left at like 12:30, saw the showing at 1:50, which ended at 3:35, and I was home at roughly 4:00. That was my big event of the day yesterday. I wrote the movie review, helped Shobhit make dinner, and watched a few TV shows. He finished the crossword puzzle mostly without me.

LiveJournal is back to not downloading on my work computer when connected to work's wifi, by the way. I'm so gad the Xfinity wifi network actually works in this area. Strangely, it seems to be the single spot in this entire city where it works reliably, which is weird. But it's the most convenient place for it to be working best.


positive energy please