Seaview, 2003

We lived in a 800 square-foot, two bedroom shack in West Seattle built in 1919. You had to go outside to do the laundry, to get to the basement. That was the one drawback because the basement flooded, you had to duck down to get into it, and it had rats.

We didn’t discover the rats until they started getting into the nursery through the kitchen, behind the refrigerator. It’s a real breach to realize you’ve got rats, to discover where they’ve gotten in, where they’ve been nesting, where they’ve been shitting.

Prior owners used newspapers in the basement walls as insulation, and opening a small ball of it, I was transported back to the mid 50s with the car ads and stiff writing style…I even thought about keeping some of it as memorabilia, but stuffed it back into the wall instead.

The neighbors all around us were nuts, which tells you how many brands of nuts there are, that so many fucking people can go nuts in so many different ways.

To the south, there were Eastern Europeans with a small bakery and what seemed a hundred people living there, not one of them taking care of anything outside the house.

The mom got rid of the dad who was Vietnamese and hung out the window smoking, talking all night, smattering his cousin in vitriolic drunken Vietnamese commands like ping-pong serves, back and forth. The mom said he slapped her around and the dad said she was a manipulative bitch, and I think they were both right.

To the north, a hodge-podge of ex-grungers from the Olympic peninsula, real Kurt Cobain country, loggers and musicians, missing teeth and all. Curry was their leader, had a rooster tattoo on his shoulder and a mouthful of chew, went out with Bev, who shaved her eyebrows off then tattooed them back on. She sold life insurance.

IMG_0204Curry always got a deer when they were in season, and hung it out to dry by their back door, so that a swarm of flies would collect around it and stop you dead in your tracks like a horror movie, to see a carcass just hanging there in the middle of the city. The deer, and every bit of junk antique shit you could imagine crowded around the back door, every bit of space occupied. Anytime Curry had to go looking for something he’d put a fresh chew in and start swearing and shaking his head.

Just up the road was a transitional home for people not well enough to be out in the open, but not so bad they needed to be institutionalized.

Behind us was an alley with a broken down fence and the backdoor to a shady looking Chinese restaurant: I caught a woman squatting against the fence pissing down the side of it during daylight hours, and got to thinking it was time to move out, with two small kids and the medics having to come for the one neighbor guy, who kept passing out on heroin.

The neighborhood was called Seaview, aptly named because it faced the Olympic mountains west, and the Puget Sound. Seaview is a way of marketing the neighborhood; bungalow is a nice word for shack.


Categories: humor

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13 replies

  1. Photos! Is this in experimental response to your musings the other day on the subject?
    This morning, I was thinking about the house I lived in for two years at university (speaking of rats; not joking). It was well off-campus, quite a hike to get to and from school, particularly in winter. But I couldn’t remember the name of the road, and Google Maps wasn’t helping. I looked and looked but couldn’t reconcile my memory of that walk with the layout of the streets on the map. None of the street names sounded or looked right. I later consulted another map and found the road — Queens Road, duh! — which is also a numbered highway and how Google had it listed. Still, could have used a few photographs to jog the memory this morning.


    • I can’t remember those routes myself…weird. I love your comments because it’s a kind of mini-post I get from you! Thanks…sorry state of affairs that I’m 24 hours to respond. Always nice to hear from you…looking forward to reading your post too. I think I’m spending too much time sleeping, now. But man it feels good.


  2. i can picture your neighbors perfectly from your description.i like the little house by the way and it was time to move on, that was clear.


  3. That’s roughing it. Wow. A bit too much culture for me – I don’t think I’d have tolerated it for long. The rats would have convinced me, though I have put up with mice for far longer than I thought I could. Great descriptions and wonderful writing. I was there – and not enjoying it!


    • Hey thank you! I love the watercolors on your blog. Thank you for looking at my rats and weird neighbors. They were actually all pretty good (not including the rats). They were all pretty much killed, I think.


  4. Was it safe to walk around your neighborhood at night? And as far as the rats go, please keep them hidden.


    • Yeah it was safe — just gritty. I used to like gritty but I think less so, once I had to see the grit alongside my kids growing up there. The grit can become threatening. Thank you for commenting Glynis, and for the blog nomination. I appreciate it. – Bill


  5. Interesting post. I was over that way this summer helping a friend looking for housing. She decided against living over there. Hum . And that was before reading your post too! Lol


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