Parris – Not So Secret Obsession

A friend reminded me of the Seattle Artist named Parris today.  If you lived in Seattle in the early 90s, you would see his work all over town.  There were murals and there were tons of business sandwich boards.  There are still a few around and when I see them, it’s like coming across an old friend.

I have read that Parris no longer paints and that saddens me greatly, but I would hope that he knows that still to this day, his art is appreciated, loved, and brings happiness to those of us that were in Seattle 20 years ago.  It reminds us of going to bars and cafes all over the city with our friend and being greeted by his work.  It reminds us of Thursday nights outside ReBar while we waited (of didn’t have to wait) to get inside to dance.  It reminds us of when independent businesses outnumbered homogenized chains.

I am on a mission to collect more photographs of his work that is still around they city.

S and R, Then and Now.

Today is Valentine’s Day.  I first met my valentine 20 years ago today.  We were both young guys kicking around the city.  I dug through the archives and found the first mention of our meeting and interaction.  So, here is the TRANSCRIPT from that portion of my life:

14 February 1993: Then on Friday evening, I went over to Scotty’s house to go to a party. Everyone was there. I had way too much to drink and then went to QFC to buy more beer.

Back at the party, we drank for a while and then I got talked into going dancing with a guy named Rick and a few others. I went and had a blast. Then we all piled into the car and went back to the party, by this time it must have been at least 4:00 am.

21 February 1993: Last night I went to the Vogue. Rick was there.

22 February 1993: Rick called yesterday. We are going to go out some time this week.

28 February 1993: On Thursday, I went to ReBar with Scotty. We sat out in the parking lot and split a 40. We felt very Bremerton. Then we had a few more once we got inside.
Rick was there, he looked very good as usual.

I went to Ashlee‘s apartment on Saturday and from there we went to the Frontier Room. Somewhere along our way to the Vogue, Ashlee picked up two boys. They’re in a band (who isn’t?). Rick was there.

20 March 1993: Thursday night I was a drunken mess. Rebar should be renamed “ReBlur.”

From then on, there is no more mention of Rick in the archives. Amazing to think that from that brief interaction 20 years ago, we reconnected and have made our relationship into what it is today. It says a lot about timing, I guess.

One of the first gifts I gave Rick was a book of Pablo Neruda‘s poems with this one bookmarked:

Sonnet XVII - Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Here are some of the photos taken over the last few years.

On Valentine’s Day, I quite often think about poems and letters and there are a few favorites that I have remembered over the years.  One being the above poem and another being the many many love letters between the Fitzgeralds.  Zelda Fitzgerald, née Sayre, was F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s great muse and more. He modeled many of his characters after her, and he even included lines in his books that were from letters that Zelda had written him.

The two went on their first date on her 18th birthday. Her family was wary of him, and she wouldn’t marry him until his first novel was actually published. Zelda was still 18 when she wrote this letter to Scott in the spring of 1919:

“Sweetheart,

Please, please don’t be so depressed — We’ll be married soon, and then these lonesome nights will be over forever — Maybe you won’t understand this, but sometimes when I miss you most, it’s hardest to write — and you always know when I make myself — Just the ache of it all — and I can’t tell you.

How can you think deliberately of life without me — If you should die — O Darling — darling Scott — It’d be like going blind. I know I would, too, — I’d have no purpose in life — just a pretty — decoration. Don’t you think I was made for you? I feel like you had me ordered — and I was delivered to you — to be worn — I want you to wear me, like a watch-charm or a buttonhole bouquet — to the world. And then, when we’re alone, I want to help — to know that you can’t do anything without me.

One week after This Side of Paradise appeared in print, Zelda and Scott got married at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. They became known as the quintessential Jazz Age couple: beautiful, flashy, with money, and often drunk in public. The year they married, Zelda wrote to Scott:

“I look down the tracks and see you coming — and out of every haze & mist your darling rumpled trouser are hurrying to me — Without you, dearest dearest, I couldn’t see or hear or feel or think — or live — I love you so and I’m never in all our lives going to let us be apart another night. It’s like begging for mercy of a storm or killing Beauty or growing old, without you.

Lover, Lover, Darling — Your Wife”

The Reason I QUIT

[i have backdated this post back to when i first started keeping notes and to 'hide' it in the blog when i finally post it.  today is that day]

I had an interview at a new store opening in Seattle on Tuesday with the guy that runs the stores worldwide and the woman that will be the Seattle Store Manager for the first three months.  I was offered a job on the spot and was told that I would be getting a call from the HR Director.  He called on on Thursday.  On Thursday, I was officially offered a new position with a new store opening in Seattle.  It was with the understanding that I needed to be in NYC at their Soho store training on Monday.  I have witnessed what happens when you put in your two weeks notice:  the Manager completely ignores you or treats you horribly for those two weeks.  I did not see the point.  So as soon as it was official, I submitted my resignation letter via email to my manager because she has been out sick for the last week and a half.

[manager's name]

Tomorrow, Friday December 13th will be my last day at [store name].

[my name]

Then on Friday when I showed up for work, the regional manager called and had the Store Assistant Manager walk me out.  I have still not received a response from the Store Manager to my resignation email, official or personal.  I am glad I didn’t stay two weeks.  This is the letter I wanted to send:

To Whom It May Concern,

After careful thought and consideration I have concluded that my position lacks any sort of career trajectory and my core values are not aligned with the dysfunctional organizational culture at the [store name]. If I want any sort of career future or growth, it is time to move on, if not only to maintain my health, sanity, and overall happiness.

This letter is to officially inform you that I resign from my position, my last day of work will be [date].

Over the past three years, I have witnessed favoritism, lies, incompetence, and immaturity that have gone ignored, unreported, and tolerated, all to the detriment of the health of the store comradery and the overall customer experience. Time and time again, my requests for help and assistance from a variety of individuals and departments have gone unanswered. This repeated lack of accountability and it’s acceptance have drastically hindered my ability to perform my duties efficiently. This unwillingness to supply any sort of guidance is blatantly incompetent and generally considered unacceptable at most companies.

I genuinely wish my experience at [store name] ended on a high note, but sadly, it ends in a general dismissive and belittling attitude from the store General Manager and my frustration as to why it is not being addressed by higher management.

Sincerely,

[my name]

Here are some of the details that have driven me to seek employment elsewhere (I have removed a lot of my notes, they seem pointless now.  I only kept the ones that I thought were interesting):

****

dec 22, 2012

I heard over the weekend that [the former assistant manager] has been writing negative things about his coworkers on Facebook. Not only is this the opposite if his team-building stance, it’s sabotaging the success of the store. When he says the employees are slow, people will tell other people and they will stop going or never go in the first place.

****

This is a screenshot of a text conversation the manager had with a sales associate after he quit to work at another store.  He still had customers texting him about things and he was attempting to loop her in so she could take over the contact.  She ignored his texts.

The times of these texts are important. She did not respond to his text until the next day or so, after I asked her directly about it.

*****

On the night of the large corporate visit, I was asked to come upstairs and make everyone espresso and then word was sent back that I was to change and go home.  I had spent 52 hours that week getting ready for the visit and the manager wanted me to clock out and leave through the alley entrance. I thought that since everyone worked so hard to make the place look spotless for the visit, it would have been nice to wait until the visitors had left and then celebrated as a team. She wanted me to use the back door so it would not disturb the visit. When I expressed my unhappiness at her instructions, the team was concerned and she told them not to text me after I had left.

****

This is a screenshot of a text message a sales associate received from the former assistant manager on accident.  He meant to send it to the store manager.  When the sales associate asked the assistant manager what the meaning was behind the text message, he and the manager had a talk and they told that sales associate that they told the regional manager about the text and it was taken care of.  No apologies, no noticeable HR contact.  Six months later, that assistant manager was promoted to the store manager in Aspen.

20121212-122839.jpg

****

15 Oct 2012

They told the sales associates today to not talk to me because it “distracts him from his job.” They told them that they watch the cameras and can see when they are talking to me. I spend most of the day working alone, not talking to anyone aside from work-related questions. From time to time, I will be upstairs and the security guard will ask me to cover him while he takes a bathroom break and I will talk with the sales associates. They look at me and then look at the cameras.  There is no way of knowing what we are talking about, it could be work questions and it happens so infrequently, I just think they don’t want us talking in general. Are they paranoid that we are comparing notes?

Of course they do not tell me I am not to distract the sales associates, so when I talk to them, they glance at the cameras and tell me they are not allowed to talk to me.

****

The former assistant manager (and part-time drag queen) got the manager position at a store in Aspen and continued his degrading facebook posts.  These are screenshots are his status updates and comments of my store manager and one coworker.

20130531-210029.jpg

The Assistant Manager (and drag queen) was promoted to Manager of a different store and this is one of the many negative facebook updates he posts about his staff.

20130531-210037.jpg

The manager commented on his post, reminding him she has been telling him that for years. How is this supposed to make the people that they manage feel?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today

This Weekly Photo Challenge was a bit more difficult than I had initially thought.  What makes a photo relate when it was taken?  It must be some sort of current event or headline.  Unfortunately, Seattle has had a string of awful current events this week.  This photo is of the parking spot where Gloria Leonidas was murdered two days ago.  I walk by this spot four times a day to and from work and have watched the bouquets multiply.  Below is an article I read today that identified the victim and the people (one of them a homeless vet) that were there at the end of her life.  I have seen the vet around the neighborhood, I hope to see him again and be able to thank him.

20120601-190546.jpg

Police credit homeless felon for helping at tragic shooting

SEATTLE — When Seattle police officers met Jason Yori years ago, circumstances weren’t ideal.

From the corner of Seventh and Pine where he regularly stands with a sign, the now-sober Yori shares stories of the drugs, alcohol and homelessness that made officers know his name. There were times they almost locked horns, he admits.

That’s why some officers who responded Wednesday morning to the shooting at Eighth Avenue and Seneca Street said Yori’s actions were so moving.

He had been in Freeway Park and was around the corner from the Town Hall parking lot when he heard a gunshot.

Gloria Leonidas, a married mother of two, had dropped off a friend and was planning to rejoin him after paying to park when Ian Stawicki – a man on a murderous spree – approached and began beating her.

Leonidas fought for her life, and Stawicki’s .45-caliber handgun jammed. At one point, police say, she knocked it to the ground. While another bystander was talking to a 911 dispatcher, the fatal shot rang out.

“I ran up to her right away and there was just a massive pool of blood there,” said Yori, 58, who helped along with other bystanders. “I didn’t know anything about her, so I spoke to her as a human being who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The Navy veteran said he gave her last rites.

“I felt really special to be able to do that – for us to be there when nobody else was there with her,” said Yori, 58.

He saw Leonidas’ black Mercedes-Benz SUV drive off, but didn’t get a good look at Stawicki driving it.

JoAnn Stremler, who was on her way to the freeway from Virginia Mason, said she made eye contact with the suspect, who gave her the finger. Stremier said she left her car running and attended to Leonidas, as did another woman and her husband.

“Her eyes were fixed and dilated,” Yori said, “and when your eyes are fixed and dilated there’s no sense in going further.”

But bystanders and medics did.

As Yori held Leonidas, a woman in scrubs gave CPR, he said. Stremler said she and that woman both tried to resuscitate the Bellevue mom. Medics rushed her to Harborview Medical Center, but police said it was clear to the first-arriving officers that she wouldn’t survive.

Detectives also recognized early similarities – the handgun caliber and parts of the shooter’s description – between the Town Hall scene and Cafe Racer, where five others were shot.

A police supervisor who recognized Yori told him to leave, not knowing he was trying to help. Another officer who also recognized Yori next to the victim asked him to keep onlookers away from the crime scene, which he did. He also stayed to give officers a statement.

“Once the gun went off, it echoed for what seemed like minutes,” Stremler said.

Yori, who grew up a self-described military brat in Europe, said he came here years after his wife died in 1986 and was drawn by the movie “Sleepless in Seattle.”

But he’s often slept on the streets or in Dumpsters for cover. His history includes three confirmed felonies, all drug cases, and a criminal trespass conviction.

Once, years ago, before Yori became sober, he was giving CPR to another man. A friend watching told him to leave because the cops were coming and things could end badly.

“I said, ‘No, man. You don’t do that to somebody.’”

Yori’s no longer on Department of Corrections supervision, and said he’s working to set up a tent city for homeless veterans. Still, he wasn’t sure how some police would respond to him at the Eighth and Seneca shooting scene.

Officers with the Department of Corrections’ Northwest Community Response Unit, which handled Yori’s case in rougher times, said his actions were commendable. Yori gives them credit, too, for helping him stay sober and conviction-free for years.

After giving Leonidas last rites, Yori went to his church, Seattle First Presbyterian on Eighth Avenue, and prayed for her. Later that night, he went to sleep as he usually does in the church’s doorway.

Told Thursday she had two young children, Yori’s striking blue eyes welled with tears.

“I got to thinking, what would it be like to come home expecting your wife to be there, expecting your mom to be there and all of a sudden, she’d been shot.

“That reaction, you feel so helpless. Absolutely helpless.”

via Police credit homeless felon for helping at tragic shooting | Local & Regional | Seattle News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | KOMO News.

S and R, Then and Now.

Two years ago, Rick and I ran into each other again after meeting 19 years earlier. I dug through the archives and found the first mention of our meeting and interaction. It is cute, by no means long lost lovers separated by time, distance, a world war, or anything of that magnitude. I was 23, kicking around the big city, crossing paths with people at various bars, clubs, and cafes. So, here is the TRANSCRIPT from that portion of my life:

14 February 1993: Then on Friday evening, I went over to Scotty’s house to go to a party. Everyone was there. I had way too much to drink and then went to QFC to buy more beer.

Back at the party, we drank for a while and then I got talked into going dancing with a guy named Rick and a few others. I went and had a blast. Then we all piled into the car and went back to the party, by this time it must have been at least 4:00 am.

21 February 1993: Last night I went to the Vogue. Rick was there.

22 February 1993: Rick called yesterday. We are going to go out some time this week.

28 February 1993: On Thursday, I went to ReBar with Scotty. We sat out in the parking lot and split a 40. We felt very Bremerton. Then we had a few more once we got inside.
Rick was there, he looked very good as usual.

I went to Ashlee‘s apartment on Saturday and from there we went to the Frontier Room. Somewhere along our way to the Vogue, Ashlee picked up two boys. They’re in a band (who isn’t?). Rick was there.

20 March 1993: Thursday night I was a drunken mess. Rebar should be renamed “ReBlur.”

From then on, there is no more mention of Rick in the archives. Amazing to think that from that brief interaction 17 years ago, we reconnected and have made our relationship into what it is today. It says a lot about timing, I guess.

Here are some of the photos taken over the last two years.

Without You I’m Nothing

Quite often by Thursday afternoon, I am pretty well beat down by life, by work, by whatever.  I am feeling sorry for myself and wishing everything was different and easier.  I go round and round wishing things in the past were different.  If I could have not had to work so hard at not hating myself for so many years, maybe I would have been a better student and been able to get a better job.  Better means easier.  Maybe if I didn’t have to spend so many years on personal development, I could have spent them on career development?  It really does not work that way and I know it, but come Thursday afternoon, my mind just wanders off to the what ifs’.

I know that if my past was different in any way, I would most likely not be the person I am today, I would be someone else, I might not be even recognizable.  I like who I am now, so there is no point in thinking about such things.  But Thursday afternoons…

I walk home from work, a long day, a hard day, working as hard and as smart as I can, doing the best I can do.  Then I remember tweet I got earlier from Sandra Bernhard.  She is quoting her one-woman show from 20+ years ago, we were going back and forth about parts of it and how much I enjoyed it when I first heard it back when I was 19 years old.  The show is called “Without You I’m Nothing,” I listened to it on CASSETTE the first summer I worked at Interlochen.  It changed my life, it made me aware that there is more out there than I had ever known.  I began to understand how important words were to me and how formulating them into the perfect order to convey emotion is a way I can change my life.  I can get rid of all the negative voices in my head by writing them all down, chronicling them, and processing them.  I started a journal that summer, one that I still keep to this day.

Here is the tweet that put Thursday evening back into perspective:

It works on a lot of levels, I know.

This mattress is in our alley.  Dino and Paco both peed on it.  I took a picture of it because I felt sad for it.  It gave someone quite a few years of comfort, clearly a lot longer than it was capable of.  Thrown away.  Oh, and totally gross, I was worried about the boys catching bed bugs from it.  Still, I like how the textures show up in the late day sun.