The Rain City

Two weeks ago, we traveled to Seattle for Michael’s last interview of 2015. The night of our arrival was the dinner for the applicants to the University of Washington’s internal medicine residency program; they had combined it with the department’s holiday party to avoid conflicting schedules, making it quite different from other dinners Michael has attended. Probably through divine intervention, we (two introverts) managed to strike up a conversation with the two people ahead of us in line at the bar, discovering that they were also applicants doing a couple’s match. We spent the evening with them talking to residents, attendings, and their spouses– even the program director. Everyone was so kind, impressive, enthusiastic about the program, and happy to spare a few minutes out of their holiday party  to answer our questions. One older physician and his wife even drove me to the pharmacy and back on a Benadryl run when Michael had an allergic reaction to some hidden nuts in a mushroom appetizer. They happened to be leaving as I was and sensed my panic… Talk about a first impression. 🙂 (Michael was fine after about 15 minutes.)

The next day as Michael was interviewing, and our hosts, the Shaws, were at work, I got to explore the city by myself. It was the perfect way to experience Seattle. First stop: visiting the Fremont troll, an homage to the troll from “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” He lives under the Aurora Bridge, a landmark famous in its own right.

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They said he was a sculpture, but I didn’t picture this guy, who looks like he’s emerging from the wall under the bridge.

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Coley pointed out later that it’s a real VW bug under his left hand.

After visiting the troll, I took the bus downtown and then went up to the Starbucks on the 40th floor of the Columbia Center, on Nicole’s suggestion. The views were unreal.

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After that I went to see the library, because why not?

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Yes, this is the library. I was loving the architecture.

It was a huge 7-floor affair, with tons of small collections, reading rooms, and community areas. I went to see the children’s room and talked to the librarian there, who was delighted to show off her space.

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It was colorful but not cluttered, and their collection was huge. From a professional standpoint, it was interesting to see– also I am that much more proud of our libraries in northeast Ohio, especially my little four-branch system in Cleveland Heights. We have just as much to offer! But I liked the SPL too, and it was great to see the ways they engage their community.

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One last view of the city from inside the library.

From the library, I walked down to the famous Pike Place Market.

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I spent a LOT of time there, exploring every market stand, listening to the fishmongers, and people-watching.

The original Starbucks is down there-- Michael actually took this on our first afternoon; we met Luke at the market to get a key.

The original Starbucks is down there– Michael actually took this on our first afternoon; we briefly met Luke at the market to get a key.

I met this street-performing bird and talked to his owner for a bit.

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This sign caught my eye for obvious reasons (three sisters bugging each other! 🙂 ) and I decided to get lunch here. I took my food down to a park with a view of the harbor to eat.

I headed back into the heart of downtown after lunch to see it all decked out for Christmas. Shortly I was able to meet up with Michael and a few other applicants as they took a tour of the city. Our guide was a hilarious English man who has lived in Seattle for decades. He was a great resource, talking about the history of the city and the personality of all the different neighborhoods.

That night we got to see Ethan! I was so exhausted, though, that I fell asleep on the couch right after dinner. I wouldn’t call it jet lag, but the time difference combined with walking all day was killer. The next day, though, after resting up, we took the Coley-tour!

The University of Washington's main library

The University of Washington’s main library

We walked through the undergrad campus, had some great miso (there is good Asian food everywhere in Seattle), and then visited the unique Card Kingdom– where you can sample board games over a snack or a drink at the coffee bar next door. Perfect for a rainy day.

As soon as I heard about Hot Cakes, I knew we had to go. Molten chocolate cake with ice cream? Sign me up, please.

We picked up sushi for dinner and spent the evening back at the Shaws’ apartment, playing games and talking for hours with Luke, Coley, Ethan, and Ethan’s girlfriend Kim. It was pretty much perfect.

We really liked Seattle, and it was hard to pick out any downsides. It’s rainy, but we like the rain. It’s gray like Cleveland, but the vibe is so different and so much more lively– it’s hard to explain, but I can’t imagine the cloudiness ever getting me down. There is a lot of traffic and the cost of living is high, but that’s true of almost all the cities on our list– it’s just part of living in a major center. There is so much to do and see, and not just in the city– it’s surrounded by mountains, national parks, and ocean (!!!). We have close friends living there whom we love and miss: a pre-built support system. Michael absolutely loved the program, which is fantastic and would open up so many opportunities.

The next morning, we visited the Shaws’ church and then they drove us to the airport, where we had to say goodbye.

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I sure loved my time with this one.

Until next time, Seattle.

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