Saturday, September 17, 2011

an LA girl's guide to seattle


The Drive-Thru Coffee Stand: These are everywhere here because no one wants to get out of their car and walk into a store to buy coffee in the rain. The coffee is cheap (I see $2 for any drink any size advertised often), but typically not terrific - you get what you pay for.

The Snobby Organic Fair-Trade Artsy Independent Coffee House: The cups are made out of compostable plant materials, there's probably not a menu, and the baristas may or may not shower weekly, but the coffee is awesome. And expensive.

S.tarbucks: I was not a big fan of the *$ before moving up here, but it is such an institution in these parts that one has to make a conscious choice to resist or else be sucked into its gravitational pull. I looked around the room at a meeting last week and there were 7 S.tarbucks cups at a table of 11 people. It's part of the culture. I'm OK with it (i.e brainwashed).


People in Seattle are nice. We are polite and we mind our own business. We will let you ahead of us in line at the grocery store if you only have 3 things in your cart. We smile and say hello to each other. However. We are fiercely independent and private and not very good at forming deep and meaningful relationships with each other. Consider yourself warned: it can be a hard place to make close friendships and build community. Not impossible, just hard.


The drivers here will make you bonkers. We are too nice (see above), to the point of actually being dangerous. We slow down to 40 mph to let you merge in front of us from an on-ramp when the surrounding traffic is going 70. When you put your blinker on, we will actually let you in. Don't freak out! This is normal here. You should also know that since we are a bunch of tree-huggers, lots of people choose to bike, bus, or carpool to work. For some reason the rush-hour traffic still sucks though.


Compared to LA, the overall 'feel' of Seattle culture is chill. There is still a lot going on and plenty of things to do, but everything is just dialed back a few notches. The music scene is fun - there are always plenty of live shows happening and tons of big artists make Seattle a regular stop on their nationwide tours. Even though our weather sucks, we are a city that likes to be outside. You can tell who the tourists are because they are using umbrellas -- locals just tuck their hair into their North Face jacket and tough it out. The little subcultures of the different neighborhoods here remind me of certain parts of LA (if a bit scaled down): West Seattle's packed real estate and beach-front shops are reminiscent of Hermosa, Wallingford's hipster yoga moms would fit in Silver Lake, and the combination of industrial areas, low-income housing, and beautiful waterfront neighborhoods makes Renton a sister city to Torrance.


I am not sure I'm very qualified to speak on this subject since I'm not exactly Ms. Fashionista and these days I barely ever interact with people who don't have spit-up on their clothes... but I'll give it a shot. I think Seattle 'fashion' (using that term loosely) varies a lot depending on the neighborhood and demographic. In some ways it is more casual than LA (i.e. you will not find very many Jimmy Choos walking down 5th Avenue carrying Bloomies bags), but in other ways it's not (we do
not wear daisy dukes, bikinis on top... ugh, I love to hate Katy Perry). Jeans with Ugg boots (or Costco knock-offs, in my case), a hoodie or cardigan, and maybe a cute scarf thrown in would be considered a decent outfit. Also, whatever you would call a "jacket" in LA can only be worn on the nicest of Spring days here, and you'll probably still be chilly. Don't bother buying a coat until you get here or you'll just end up buying another one by the end of October.

I'm sure there's plenty more to say, but that's all I can come up with for now... For what it's worth, I did love LA... but I adore Seattle and now I can't see myself living anywhere else. Welcome to Rain City, ladies!


R.S. said...

What took you to Seattle. *sigh* I love The Great NW. Love. It.

J-Lee said...

Oh my gosh, I'm SO happy to read this tutorial. I am excited about coffee, a little concerned about making friends and psyching myself up to be "natural" with my hair (aka LA hair likely won't survive without an umbrella). Great post!