My reasons for being sleepless in Seattle

Seattle’s famous gum alley, where you can try literally millions of different types of gum for FREE!

I honestly believe I was a resident of Seattle in a past life. And not just because of things like free gum, fish tossing and some of the coolest graffiti I’ve ever seen (although those are all good reasons). There’s just something about Seattle that strikes a chord in me more than any other place I’ve lived or visited — from Dallas to Atlanta, NYC to Anchorage. Without question, it’s the main reason I chose Seattle as the setting for my crime novel while I was still living in Atlanta back in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

I’ve been to Seattle four times over the years, the most recent being last week as part of a writing road trip that included stops in Cannon Beach, Ore., for a special three-day conference for writers to “Get Lit at the Beach,” (That’s “lit” as in “literary,” folks) and then on to Seattle for some final research as I finish my book AND to attend a Chemical Brothers concert with my oldest son. (Warning: If you click on that link and have ingested any type of Mary-ju-wanna, you’ll be sitting there a while.)

My oldest son, in his element at the front of the stage.

But we’ll get back to that and how my being way, Way, WAYYY out of my own element was a terrific thing (and demonstrated I could actually go for more than three hours without having to urinate despite my 57-year-old prostate. Yay for me!)

Aside from being a perfect venue for writers to gather, talk books and writing, and find many dangerous opportunities for wine and baked goods, Cannon Beach’s ‘Get Lit” event also happens to be part of the “Goonies” map of places to visit (recognize this rock formation?)

Movie magic “moved” this rock from Cannon Beach to Astoria, Ore., where much of “Goonies” was filmed. Everyone is glad Spielberg put the rock back when he was done.

While there, I had a cute little room within walking distance of the writers’ venue, with the added bonus of elk greeting me each morning outside my door AND one of my favorite breakfast options: Sour dough pancakes!

I think they moved to Cannon Beach for the pancakes…
My modest, healthy… who am I kidding: Gluttony!
My one-room pad called the Room4Two
Because what’s more inviting than a friendly liver?!?

In addition to meeting some really terrific writers — both well-established and those new to writing/publishing/hard drinking — I connected with a new client, Kristin Daemon, who’s working on what sounds like an exciting YA sci-fi book that includes teens, time travel and the unique setting of the small coastal community of Seaside, Ore. Like me, she’s a recovering journalist with a love of storytelling. I’m really looking forward to working with her on this project (The elk are still undecided.)

Next stop was Seattle (after a brief detour back to Florence to grab my son) for three days of researching, photographing and a concert with my son and the “Chem Base,” which are Chemical Brothers groupies who come from all over the world and meet up at every concert.

Took this after the concert before they kicked us out. (not pictured: Me)

But first, S-E-A-T-T-L-E! Part of my reason for going was to scope out places that are in my book, take lots of photos for references, breath the city in, smell it, touch it, taste it (while following appropriate health protocols) and walk my ass off up and down its hilly streets where the characters interact, drive and chase down clues. Fortunately, my son is a late sleeper, so I had mornings on my own from around 5:30 to 11 to re-explore, dodge traffic, sprain my ankle, chat with street people, drink way too much coffee, consider bringing home a stray dog — you know, the usual stuff a writer does when left without proper supervision.

Here are some snapshots…

I’m very happy living in a small town after spending my 20s and 30s living in large cities. However, if given the right opportunity (and my wife’s desire to do the same), I’d move to Seattle in a heartbeat. It’s the only large city I have ever felt that way about, including Portland (Ore.), where I lived for several years in the late 1990s. There’s just something about Seattle — and there always will be.

The final part of our Seattle visit was attending that Chemical Brothers concert. Keep in mind I’ve been to quite a few concerts: James Taylor, Phil Collins, Kenny Chesney, Styx, The Oregon Symphony, Fleetwood Mac, Stewart Copeland, Colin Hay — none of which, as I’m sure you’ve deduced, even remotely prepared me for 2 hours of non-stop techno music, lasers, flashing lights and smoke, giant robots, confetti guns…

You get the idea.

Me wearing a Stewart Copeland T-shirt tells you all you need to know about how prepared I was for this concert.

That being said, I didn’t realize how much my son had actually prepared me through all the years of his sharing their music, telling me about their history, the Chem Base and his knowledge of what to do and where to stand in the sea of people. He led us to the very front of the stage, where we remained for the next three hours. Before the lights went down, we visited with folks around us who had come from as far as Canada, Kansas and Denver just for this concert. Gradually, the crowd filled in around us. The lights lowered. The stage turned black.

Then it began.

Given that we were standing directly in front of a speaker roughly the size of a 1971 VW bus, I was very glad that my savvy son insisted we buy ear plugs before getting there. I could literally feel my pants vibrating. And not like they do when my wife is around. It was more like gusts of invisible wind blowing my pant legs backward.

Gotta say, the Chemical Brothers know how to make an entrance.

So yes, though I saw no sign of Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan, there still wasn’t a lot of sleeping going on in Seattle while we were there — which is probably just as well.

Meanwhile, in Cannon Beach, the elk are probably just waking up…

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

6 thoughts on “My reasons for being sleepless in Seattle”

  1. Sound like a great time in the Emerald City! And fun with your son. Being about seventy miles north, we’re far enough away to be out in the woods and corn fields, but close enough to be able to drive down when we feel the need to take in the Aquarium and Pike Street Market. Or when Little Man wants to see the Boeing Museum (again) and regale us with facts about his favorite aircraft.

    1. All sound like good reasons to leave the woods! I love Pike Street. My son had never been, so he was all over it. The vinyl records store was his jam. Next time we’re in town, we’ll need to have your son give us the museum tour!

  2. Nice to be able to share a very cool concert with your son. I attended a concert with my son a few weeks ago (Snarky Puppy) and MY bladder required emptying at intermission. No way can I go three hours. I bow to your prostate.

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