Dear Uptight Seattleite, Two years ago, my partner dragged my ass here across the country for what we thought was a great job. That having crapped out, he's been struggling to find the next permanent gig, and I still haven't found what I'm looking for careerwise. Now he's got an offer back East, which, if we take it, would make Seattle just an odd detour in our lives. And just when I feel like I was getting to know this kooky town. What to do?Analysis Paralysis in Eastlake
Dear Eastlake, Did you know that many deciduous trees aren't native to this region? I'm not comparing you to a tree to make the argument that you can thrive here like other non-natives. No, I'm saying that instead of being decisive about this, you should be deciduous. In other words, let the process happen to you. Ruminate over your decision as each passing season applies another layer of comfy passiveness on the surface of your mind. In time, you'll eventually find it more satisfying to smile wryly at people than to invite them in for a drink, and to discuss trains rather than build them. The polished grooming and stylish shoes that accompanied your career aspirations will also slowly dissolve into comfiness. That waterproof REI jacket you used to scorn—it actually works great, doesn't it? Eventually you'll find yourself lounging on a Sunday afternoon by the magazine rack at the Greenwood library in an outfit that back home would be considered appropriate for a doctor-assisted suicide. Or maybe you'll snap out of your Northwest reverie and JetBlue back to Brooklyn. A month later you can send an e-mail to your Seattle friends about the "amazing bagels" and the "live jazz every night of the week." And how you zip around on trains that actually exist, hear a different language every block, and have lively conversations with strangers on a regular basis. "There's just something about the energy here," you can say. Don't forget to toss a bone about how you miss the espresso and "laid-back vibe." Somehow I don't think you'll be writing that e-mail, though. I meet plenty of other East Coast folks who I can tell aren't long for this city. They have a sort-of fidgety irritation about them. But with you, I'm feeling hypothetical trains over amazing bagels. Because of "kooky." When you used that word, you betrayed your affection. It is kinda kooky here, isn't it? And you've become just a little too kooky yourself to go back now. As the bumper sticker says, "Deciduousness Happens." Dear Uptight Seattleite, I have a 10-year old daughter and am therefore immersed in tween culture, most of which I'm OK with. Like High School Musical (actually pretty good), Hannah Montana (bad, but not painful), and The Naked Brothers Band (brainless but harmless). What bothers me is how when the female stars of tween culture turn 18, their public image instantly becomes hypersexualized, going from smiling cutie in Tiger Beat to superslut in Maxim. Just look at Hilary Duff now! There is something horribly twisted at work here that I want to help my daughter negotiate.The Momster
Dear Momster, I totally agree and wish you the best. I'm sure you'll do great. Confidential to the guy I once ran into at a party who seemed to see me as some sort of hilarious caricature: After reading the above, do you still think my take on popular culture is prudish? Dear Uptight Seattleite, How should I spend Martin Luther King Day?Conscientious Guy
Dear Conscientious Guy, It's not that I hold myself up as an example in this regard, but I will briefly mention that I'm pretty much color-blind. This one time, when I met a new co-worker? Someone asked me later what he looked like, and I just couldn't recall. Suddenly surrounded by a menacing, mumbling crowd demanding to know even the smallest morsel I could squeeze from my subconscious, I did allow that I dimly recalled he was a 6-foot-5 Filipino squinting into the sunset, with a blood-red kerchief tied neatly about his throat. Whatever, though, right? Because what the heck difference did it make? This other time I met a sales rep who happened to be African American. When someone mentioned him later, I said, "Who?" I couldn't remember meeting anyone at all! My vision pierced all the way through his ostensible racial identity to the white board he was standing in front of. Almost as if he were invisible. I'm not saying that this kind of transcendent vision can be achieved overnight. But a day of contemplation wouldn't hurt. That's why I would recommend staying home on Jan. 21 and working on your post-racial nonchalance. Look in the mirror and casually repeat to your reflection, "I just didn't notice. I just didn't notice." After all, it's only the exquisite self-consciousness of Caucasians that can make Dr. King's dream come true. Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.