November 27, 2019

The dining room at Aljoya looking toward’s my father’s usual breakfast table

Dateline: Seattle, Washington

It’s been a rather uneventful day. Life in an upscale senior living community has its own rhythms that revolve around mealtimes more than anything else. My father is one of the few that shows routinely for breakfast and, as breakfasts are hearty, there is no need for lunch, especially with the time change as my biological clock is treating it more as a ten o’clock brunch than an eight o’clock early morning meal.

Dad and I went over to see mom for a while. She is in a new group home since the last time I was here. Issues with the old group home forced a move a few months ago. i shan’t go into the details here but the move was a good idea for all sorts of reasons. Mom was having a sleepy day. She didn’t really want to open her eyes or respond much but w a little music was helpful. She responded best to ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ from Brigadoon. (Loch Lomond is a usual song she reacts to and that made me think of the other.) When I am old and no longer in my right mind, someone remember to come and play Lerner and Loewe or Rodgers and Hart or Sondheim for me. I have a feeling they will remain long after most other things have faded away.

Did some tooling around town in the afternoon. It’s still Seattle. It’s not the Seattle I grew up in or of my young adulthood. Too many people. Too much traffic. Too many new and uninspired boxy buildings going up everywhere. There seems to be some sort of Seattle Bauhaus architectural school that’s taken hold in the last decade or so and the results, while likely functional, and possibly luxurious on the inside, are definitely unsightly to the passerby.

I gave eighty minutes or so of standup to the assembled residents of Aljoya Northgate this evening. I used to prepare lectures for them. In recent years, I ask them to collect up topics and questions related to aging and then I assemble them into a rough outline and just riff on them and get all tangential and take questions from the floor. The residents seem to appreciate it as they keep asking my father when I’m coming back and it gives me a chance to try out new material that I can incorporate into other lectures. All of my Spolin improv classes really help me think on my feet and I now feel really comfortable just going wtih the flow as we covered everyting from ADL function to immobility to thyroid disease, to fall risks to benign senesence changes of the brain to various geropharmacy questions in rapid succession. There may be a TED talk or something in all of that one of these days.

Afterwards, I went out for drinks with Steve Peha, a friend from childhood whom I had not actually seen face to face for more years than I care to count. We’re both Seattleites who have been displaced to the South (he’s in the research triangle of North Carolina these days) and have discovered an affinity for each other in the way we approach the world through various experiences. He is a writer and editor and is trying to figure out a way to turn some of my musings on aging and culture into the book I’ve been promising to write for years. It was nice to catch up.

REI as I like to remember it

I was up on Capitol Hill earlier today and went past the block that used to house REI (the coop to all true Seatllites) back when it was this funky place where you could get all your mountaineering and backpacking equipment. It was, in its day, this strange amalgamation of buildings that were semiattached to each other through an odd series of ramps and such. My father, being an outdoorsman, often took childhood me there when we went shopping for supplies for our many camping/backpacking vacations in childhood. My parents, being academics, didn’t have a lot of money so we didn’t take a lot of exotic trips. Instead, we took full advantage of the Pacific Northwest’s hiking tails, campgrounds, and wilderness. I didn’t really keep it up in adulthood, mainly due to moving away from the PNW, but my brother, who stayed, teaches a wilderness course wtih practicums at his school, University Prep so that the next generation, who generally don’t come from outdoorsy parents, will be able to hike safely and enjoy everything out there without accidentally killing themselves. (For my Lakeside readers, he’s become U Preps Bill Vanderbilt). The Coop is no longer in that location. It has a much snazzier new building elsewhere in town. I’ve been in the new one and, despite all the chrome and the gleam and the shine, there’s something missing that that old space was able to provide. Birmingham has just opened its first REI at the Summit shopping center in the old Toys R Us space. I need to go in and have them look me up on the computer and reactivate my old member number. (I think my dad’s number is five digits, he’s been around so long – the ultimate Seattle status symbol is a four digit REI member number).

Across the street from the old REI building was the home of Evergreen Theater Conservatory (long since defunct and only in that space 1985-86). It was the first Seattle theater I worked for after I came back from college and my year of purgatory at WSU in Pullman. The first show I did there as ASM/Propsmaster – Brigadoon, the source of ‘Almost Like Being in Love’, It was the first theater job I actually got paid for and was the show on which I met Jan Zabel who became my best friend during my medical school years. It was a five week run, relatively long for community/semi-pro and I had to spend most of the second act up in the office above the stage operating the fog machine. It would have been dull, but Stephen Locklear, the larger than life personality who ran the company, had a full run of After Dark magazine that someone had given him on shelves up there so I spent the hours between cues immersed in the history of Broadway of the 70s, which I had heard about but had been too young to actually experience. I had, of course, at that time at age 23 figured out I was gay but I wasn’t yet willing to come out or otherwise acknowledge it and those magazines with all of their coded gay subtext helped keep me feeling connected to the gay community that I wasn’t quite yet ready to seek out more overtly.

And now it’s late and time to head off to bed…

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