Crows, etc. get up early these day, no?
Six weeks—that’s a pretty long visit. Where are you from?
I’m originally from New Hampshire, but I’ve been travelling around the country for about four years now. I spent this past winter in New Orleans, and now I’m on my way to the Bay Area. My boyfriend is from the West Coast, and he convinced me to come up to the Pacific Northwest.
How do you like this area?
It’s nice. It’s easier to make money as a street musician — that’s what I do for a living — in Seattle. In bigger cities, most of the time people just ignore you.
What instrument or instruments do you play?
I play the banjo and sing. I also play the cello — I’ve played since I was five, but it’s hard to travel with a cello. I tried it for a while. I even hopped a freight train with a cello, once.
Wait. You hopped a freight train with a cello? The Coen Brothers need to make a movie about you…
Yeah, it was a 150-year-old German cello, so I was constantly worrying about it. It made hitchhiking a lot harder; it’s like picking up an extra person. It’s too bad, though—I make a lot more money playing cello than playing the banjo. This winter, in New Orleans, I was able to borrow a cello, and played on the streets; I made enough money to pay my rent, buy food and smokes, and even save some money.
I didn’t know that people actually hopped freight trains, outside of movies and Warner Brothers cartoons.
It can be tricky. It’s not for everybody, but I like travelling that way.
Where are you off to next?
Tonight we’re catching a bus to Olympia, then to Portland. From there we’re gonna hop a train to Eugene, then hitchhike on to California.
Your dog is adorable. Tell me about him/her.
This is Xena. She’s a pit bull, about six months old — I got her about four months ago, when I was living in New Orleans.
Isn’t hitchhiking and/or travelling harder with a dog?
That depends. Some people won’t pick you up if you have a dog, but there are just as many people who are dog lovers who will pick you up because of the dog. With my previous boyfriend, we were traveling with a full-grown pit bull, and it wasn’t a problem.
Where have you been hanging out in Seattle?
Mostly on Capitol Hill; I like this area. There’s a lot of music, and nice parks. People are very friendly in this part of town.
Is there anything you especially like — or dislike — about this area?
On the East Coast, people are…I dunno, harder. Less welcoming. On the flipside, people seem more passive-aggressive here, which I don’t dig on. But I’ve stayed here a lot longer than I planned to, which says something. As for downsides, it seems like there are more people who’ve gone down the dark hole of hard-core drug use, compared to other places. I hear the winters can be depressing here, maybe that’s part of it.
Of all the places you’ve been to in the past few years, do you have any favorite cities or towns?
New Orleans, for one. I also like Richmond, Virginia a lot. I’m not sure why, just a lot of nice people there.
It’s July 5 — Seattle’s unofficial First Day of Summer. Any big plans for the day?
My friend is visiting from Connecticut, so she and I are heading out on an adventure. We don’t know what we’re doing yet, but probably something outdoors.
Lest your friend pack her bags and move to Seattle after this week, you should warn her that the weather isn’t always this idyllic…
I know! That happened to me about ten years ago. I visited here in July, and…
Yeah, me, too. Where are you from originally?
I’m from Portchester, New York.
What brought you to Seattle?
A boy. But, I also wanted to go to grad school — I went to Bastyr University to become a psychotherapist.
Is that what you do for a living?
One of the things! I have a psychotherapy practice, and I’m also the co-owner of Studio 52 dance studio on 15th Avenue East, and I’m a dance instructor there.
Do you specialize in any particular flavor of dance?
For one, we offer classes in “More Than Dance,” which is a style of dance I developed with my business partner, Barb. We also offer Zumba, Zumba Hip-Hop and Hula Hoop Sculpting classes.
How would you describe More Than Dance?
It’s similar to the Nia Technique, but with our own twist. Barb and I both have a Black Belt in Nia, but for years now, our style has been going in a direction that may be unfamiliar to people who are used to a more traditional Nia style. Our style is more urban, and we use more pop and hip-hop music, which influences our choreography.
Does being a dance instructor influence your style as a therapist, and vice versa?
Yes, very much so. My therapy practice is very body-centered. For instance, when people are trying to work through a particular issue, I urge them to pay attention to their bodies as they talk about it—where and how they hold their energy, what parts of the body tense up, or relax, that sort of thing. Similarly, dancing can be very therapeutic. People say they “dance out” their fears, or frustrations; it can help people build confidence, and trust their bodies.
I imagine that both of your jobs take a lot of energy—emotionally, physically, or both. Is that ever a challenge?
It can be, but on the whole, my work gives me more energy than it takes away. A lot of people tell me that the hour they spend dancing the studio, for instance, is the best hour of their day. I love being able to give that to people. My work allows me to “mother” people a little bit. I’m single and I don’t have kids, but a lot of women who are moms come to my classes. So many women are so busy nurturing other people, they don’t get enough nurturing of their own. We need a space for women to feel nurtured and empowered, and I’m honored to be able to offer that, if only for an hour at a time.
Do you live in the neighborhood as well?
Yes, I live across from my office and the studio, which are both on the same block.
Wow—I bet you can’t leave the house without running into students, or people you know.
Pretty much, but I’m not complaining. I love the sense of community around here. I feel very safe in this neighborhood, very connected to the people who live and work here.
What are some of your favorite things to do on a sunny day on Capitol Hill?
I like to walk around, maybe take a hula hoop to the park and do some outdoor hooping. Maybe do some shopping at Take Two or Value Village, get ice cream at Molly Moon’s…
What do you think is the sexiest place on the Hill?
Studio A of Dance Underground, when the lights are turned down at the end of class. It’s the best.
Is there anything you would change about Capitol Hill?
It’s hard to say. Maybe the parking? For the most part, I’m pretty blissed-out here.
I’ve heard that the Frisbee™ folks are very litigious about the use of their Trademarked Name™ in the media. On The Simpsons, they always call them “Novelty Flying Discs.”
Yeah, you can say I play Ultimate Novelty Flying Disc if you need to.
Thanks. Do you live in the area?
Yes. I live near Dick’s, on Broadway.
So, I’m sure you’ve heard the long-running joke about “getting a hot bag of Dick’s” on the way home from the nearby bars…
Yeah, that joke never gets old.
Agreed. Are you a Seattle native?
No — I moved here from Olympia in January. I went to Evergreen, and I came Seattle to do an internship.
What was your major in college?
History, with an emphasis on the history of diplomacy.
History of diplomacy? Like, Prince Metternich and stuff?
I’m not a huge fan of Prince Metternicht, but, yeah.
Well, this is awkward… I’m the Vice President of the Prince Metternich Fan Club.
No, you’re not.
Okay, I’m not. But I happen to know that Prince Metternich is someone who once existed, and who did something diplomatic-ish. What exactly, I don’t recall.
That’s why the world needs historians.
A lot of liberal arts majors are having a hard time finding jobs. What do plan to do with your degree in history?
I’m going to go to grad school, maybe get a Ph.D. I’d like to teach or be a professor.
Is there anything about Seattle that stands out as very different from Olympia?
For one thing, Seattle — especially Capitol Hill — is very lively until pretty late every night. In Olympia, everything closes down at, like, eight o’clock. Also, it’s a lot more expensive here.
Do you have any favorite hangouts on the Hill?
I’m an avid bowler, so I like Garage. It’s a 21+ bowling alley, so you can bowl and have a few drinks.
Do you think the drinks make you a better bowler, or worse?
Probably better. Or, if nothing else, I think I’m better.
What do you think is the sexiest place on the Hill?
Hmmm. I’d have to say Babeland or Julia’s on Broadway.
On a gorgeous day, if you want to play Novelty Flying Disc, are there any places on the Hill other than Cal Anderson Park that you’d recommend?
Not really. Volunteer Park is no good because of the elevation issues. It’s not flat enough. You need a level playing field.
Both literally and metaphorically, I guess?
Yeah, but mostly literally. It’s pretty much impossible to play Ultimate on hilly terrain.
More CHS Crow:
- Chris, Bud, Jen & Clea — ‘If you want a calzone delivered…’
- Kim, Brian & Zulu — ‘I’m pretty much a Seattle lifer’
- Chris, Juliette & Joseph — ‘I only drink Budweiser’
Marguerite Kennedy is a freelance writer, semi-professional thumb wrestler, and recovering New Yorker who currently resides on Capitol Hill. She blogs at www.marguerite-aville.com, and does that other thing @tweetmarguerite.