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Seattle Story Project

My Parenting Advice: Don't Kill Them

Aug 14, 2015
Ijeoma Oluo
Courtesy of Ijeoma Oluo

Editor's note: This essay contains strong language.

Having had kids before most of my friends, I’ve now reached the stage in life when many in my circle are coming to me for parenting advice.

“Your boys are so fun, so precocious, so well-mannered. What’s your secret?” they ask.

“Don’t kill them.” I answer.

'Seattle Is A Creepy, Salty Town With Dirt Under Her Nails'

Jul 14, 2015
The cover of the Seattle DIY zine from the Zine Archive and Publishing Project collection. The collection of 30,000 or so zines is currently in cold storage at a Seattle Public Library warehouse.
Courtesy of ZAPP

Seattle has one of the largest collections of zines -- tiny underground art manifestos that have usually been photocopied. ZAPP, the Zine Archive and Publishing Project, has been collecting them since 1996 and has amassed more than 30,000.

This essay comes from the 2002 edition of "The Puget Front." (Warning: Explicit language.)

Seattle is a creepy, salty town with dirt under her nails.

What happened to the gay man from this 1967 Seattle magazine?

Jun 25, 2015
Peter Wichern was one of the first gay men to come out so publicly in Seattle when he posed for Seattle magazine.
Courtesy of Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project

In 1967, Peter Wichern made a bold move: He posed for the cover of a magazine in Seattle. 

It said:

This is Peter Wichern.

He is a local businessman.

He is a homosexual.

Waiting for Laverne Cox to enter the room.
Marlo Mack

As the mother of a young transgender child, my response to Caitlyn Jenner’s headline-grabbing announcement is a visceral one.

Yes, I’m kind of put off by the hype. No, I’m not a big fan of celebrity culture or reality television. But when I look at the cover of Vanity Fair, and read the news articles that respectfully use Jenner’s new name and female pronouns, I’m overwhelmed by this new state of affairs, and by a world that might just be ready to accept my daughter. And that knocks me off my feet with awe and gratitude.

Alcohol Stopped Ruining My Life 365 Days Ago

Jun 3, 2015
Marika Katti Garland celebrated her one year of sobriety last week.
Marika Katti Garland

Well, this is it.

I have been sober for one year. My dog woke me up just after 5 o’clock this morning, and although I was still tired, I just couldn't sleep any longer.

I have thought about this day every day for the past year. Every. Single. Day. The thought of it didn't consume my every waking moment, but I held it in my heart where it was a source of inspiration as I walked this unpredictable road of sobriety.

The writer with her mother and son.
Courtesy of Shin Yu Pai

My relationship with my Taiwanese immigrant mother, Noko, has always been mediated by my father.

We were separated by cultural and language differences, and my dad kept us apart by making us depend on him as our translator, cementing his importance in our lives by putting himself at the center. When my son, Tomo, was born last year, I asked Noko to stay with me to assist me in my transition to becoming a mom.

Meri Putnam, age 11. She was adopted from Ethiopia at age 5.
Courtesy of the Ryan-Putnam family

It was a long trip and many things were different. But I enjoyed it. I was young so I wasn’t that close to many people. But it was hard to let go of my grandma, who took care of me when my mom wasn’t there.   

Then I met my adoptive parents.  

I knew they were going to be my parents the second I saw them, the way they smiled at me. They were crying but trying to act calm.

Bernie Lau when he first became a Seattle Police officer in the early 1970s. Lau soon became a detective working undercover in Chinatown, as the International District was known then.
Courtesy of Bernie Lau

In late January of 1983, Seattle homicide detectives contacted me and asked if I knew the whereabouts of a young Chinese individual named Benjamin Ng.

A week earlier, two women  had been murdered in their home on Beacon Hill. Someone had tied them up and wrapped duct tape around their heads, covering their mouths and noses. 

Jason Schmidt, the writer, with his dad.
Courtesy of Jason Schmidt

When I was 16 years old I came home from school one day and found my dad crawling around on the kitchen floor in a big pool of blood.

He was down on all fours with a dishrag, trying to mop it up, but there was a lot of blood and it was a small dishrag so things weren’t going very well. When I walked in from the back hallway and saw what he was doing, it wasn’t immediately obvious where the blood had come from.

I stopped in the doorway and stood there for a minute, hoping he’d notice me and offer some kind of explanation. But he just kept scrubbing away.

The First Time My Mother Lied To Me

Jan 27, 2015
Storyteller Silas Lindenstein, center, with his parents at his high school graduation in Massachusetts.
Courtesy Silas Lindenstein

It was summer of 1992, and I had just graduated from high school in a small town, Millis, Massachusetts, where I had been living with my mother and stepfather for the previous seven years.

I was flying out to California to go to college. When I got to California, I called my mother to let her know that I was there safe. And she commented that when I went down the airport terminal I never looked back once. And I didn’t.

Two teenagers in Kivalina, Alaska, play near a skinned polar bear. Scientists predict Kivalina, an Alaskan village, will be the first casualty of climate change and sea rising in the U.S.
Suzanne Tennant

I first heard of Kivalina, a sliver of an island in far northwest Alaska, when I was looking for a photo project.

It appealed in part because of this one startling fact: Scientists believe that Kivalina, population 457, will be the first casualty of climate change in the U.S., and that it will be inundated by sea water by 2025. That’s in just a decade.

Gyasi Ross, writer and lawyer.
Courtesy Gyasi Ross

Last year, I had a big business meeting in New York and a reading for my new book, "How to Say I Love You in Indian," at the American Indian Community House in Midtown Manhattan. 

For some inexplicable reason, some television folks were interested in me doing television work. Look, I’m from the rez – we’re hunter-gatherers. If someone is willing to give me free food and an opportunity to provide for my family and me, I’m definitely going to be there. The lunch meeting was at noon. I usually fly red-eyes so I can tuck my son into bed and spend as much time with him before I leave. This time, however, I wanted to be well-prepared and rested, so I flew the night before.  

First half of the flight was cool. I wore my comfortable flying clothes – camouflage sweats, camouflage sweatshirt, braids and a skullcap. 

When my friend tells me she’s thinking about having a baby on her own, my mind flashes immediately to that January morning in 2011 when, as I just settled my eighth graders into a rare calm, my son’s father burst into my classroom with a video camera, sloppy drunk, slurring demands about my son’s whereabouts.

Thornton Wilder, the novelist. Storyteller Gary Heyde wrote him letters before his death.
Wikimedia Commons

In 1975, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Someone handed me a copy of Thornton Wilder’s “The Eighth Day.” When I finished that novel, someone else handed me “Theopolis North.”

I decided I had to get in touch with Thornton Wilder. I remembered from the play “Our Town,” by Wilder, that little Rebecca tells the story of Jane Crofut getting the most amazing letter.

My Dad's Descent Into Terrifying Madness

Dec 19, 2014
Lisa Southworth and her dad
Courtesy of Lisa Southworth

Nando Ferahaha was a real man.

Nando was 48 and newly slim, with a shaved head and a septum pierced with a ring, like a bull. He said he was an amateur body builder.

Nando said he was an active member in our metropolitan area’s search and rescue team. He had $10,000 of new REI gear to prove it.

Becoming A Man (Finally) At 48

Dec 18, 2014
Over the last two years, Kim has transitioned into a male body. He chronicled his transition in YouTube vlogs. This screen grab is from Aug. 4, 2014.
Kim Dogluv on YouTube

Nov. 8, 2012: Female To Male

I’m Kim, and I’m beginning my transition. Right now I’m pre-everything.

I’m 48 years old. I have been wanting to do this for 27 years. I put it off because I didn’t want to tell my family and parents. And also, not to name any names, but various girls I’ve known, some lesbians close to me, kind of put it out there that it’s not necessary. And I went with that instead of my gut feeling.

Courtesy Tony Trinh

Dr. Tony Trinh was doing research in Kenya as an infectious diseases fellow from the University of Washington when he applied for a driver’s license. First though, he had to take a driver's education course. He chronicled that experience on his Facebook page, republished here.

Aug. 17, 2013: Signing Up

Courtesy Paul Currington

The thing about depression is that it magnifies the bad and diminishes the good. And the worst part is the loneliness you feel when you're caught up in it.

Carol was the only one who could take that loneliness away, which is why it was so hard when we broke up after seven years. But what kept me from going over the edge was that we actually kept sleeping together.

We were about a year and a half into this new cutting edge therapy when I went to a coffee shop to see a friend of mine play guitar. I was standing in line before the show to get coffee and I felt someone touch my elbow behind me. It was Carol, and she smiled at me and went to sit over with some mutual friends of ours.

One of the halls at juvenile detention in Seattle. There are 212 beds but less than a quarter of those beds are used.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

It’s April now, and I’m wondering how it came down to this, and how I stooped this low, and how I am in here because of these so-called friends.

We just got back from school, and soon it will be lunchtime. We walk over to G-unit, and I walk straight up the stairs to my room while others stand around wasting time talking to Officer Rob, annoying him.

Rob is the guard assigned to our unit. He’s younger than the others and kinder too. He sings R&B songs to himself throughout the day and he doesn’t send us to our rooms for little things.

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