Classes start in two days. I am neither fully prepared nor fully panicking. What I have been doing is thinking a lot about my last couple of weeks.
I drove up to Renton to have work done on my car earlier this month. Knowing that I had gotten little exercise recently, and knowing that I did not have many opportunities to eat Indian food, I planned to drop off my car at such an hour that I could walk two miles to an Indian restaurant to eat, and then walk back. The walk down consisted of hills. Hills always seem bigger when you have to walk up and down them. I knew that the walk would feel long when I was actually doing it, but goodness, I was ready to eat when I got there, and it was only 11:30. When I got there, it was completely empty. It felt strange to be the only one, and of course I wondered whether the place had a poor reputation. I thought, maybe the work crowd gets off at noon. Indian buffets are not bad lunches, though obviously the food is better if made to order. The man working seemed eager to have a customer and readily brought me water. He never came to see if I wanted anything else to drink though, which was a little annoying. I guess my expectations have been raised by eating at more ritzy places. The food was okay, but nothing special. All of the items were labeled, but few of the labels appeared to be over the dishes they described, which was annoying and lead me to take fish pakoras (seriously?). The chana masala was watery. The naan was okay. The whole time I was there, no one else arrived. It cast a depressing air over lunch, and also my view of Renton and the wider Seattle area.
There were Indian music videos (short films?). As an outsider, their style was incomprehensible to me, as was their intended audience. I mean, the intended audience does seem obvious, Indians, but what I should understand about that audience, their conventions, aspirations, and values, is less so. I paid in cash. I would have been embarrassed to hand over a credit card with my name on it. As I walked out, I noticed that, despite the decent amount of car traffic I saw, there didn’t seem to be a ton of shoppers. The lack of diners in the restaurant may have been more due to the place, not the restaurant. One of the first things that impressed me on my first trip to the Northwest was how scrappy the place and people seemed. Houses and land plots looked small. Businesses looked practical. No body seemed worried about things looking nice, so why worry about the broken sidewalk or trash by the road?
While I was at home over the holiday, it occurred to me that women are the only thing (and people) I see where it seems important to keep up appearances. That was a bit of a shock to me when I moved out here because I had assumed that West Coast women would be laid back and wouldn’t really care about having perfect make-up, clothes, or hair. How wrong I was! It’s pushed me to learn to apply make-up and be more conscious of how I dress. I think it’s women’s way of saying “fuck you” to the environment. You wanna be windy and rainy? Fine. I’m still wearing my shirt-dress, leggings, heels and MAC eyeshadow. I’m still carrying my Tori Burch bag. Of course, I’m trying to tamp down on my spending, so I don’t quite fall into that category, myself. I don’t need to. I don’t talk to strangers.