One Year in Seattle

Today marks my one year anniversary of living in Seattle. Back then, I was a struggling writer with an unfinished novel, no job, and a hope that this move would stick, and that I would be able to craft my own life, apart from my parents, much as I had in Tokyo. Today, I am a struggling writer with an unfinished novel, no job, and a hope that this move will stick, dependent upon, as before, a well-paying job, or several semi-well paying jobs.


Today marks my one year anniversary of living in Seattle.  Back then, I was a struggling writer with an unfinished novel, no job, and a hope that this move would stick, and that I would be able to craft my own life, apart from my parents, much as I had in Tokyo.  Today, I am a struggling writer with an unfinished novel, no job, and a hope that this move will stick, dependent upon, as before, a well-paying job, or several semi-well paying jobs.

The situation today seems sadly similar to the situation a year ago, except that I now know more people here, and have more friends.  My motivation for job hunting, however, is at an all-time low.  I wonder what the point is.  I wonder what I am qualified to do, besides writing.  And even getting a job writing requires knowledge of subjects that I don’t have (like the live music scene here in Seattle): there are already writers for the subjects I know.

The novel, too, is closer to completion than it was a year ago, though not much more.  My motivation for writing that, at least, is beginning to pick up.  Every day now, though, I wake up with a familiar feeling in my chest: one of loneliness, and despair.

When I had these feelings in Japan, I would go on bike rides to my favorite park, or go exploring, or plan a vacation.  I don’t have a bike in Seattle, but I still can go on walks, and I know which places are bustling with the most people.  Just to be around people, to see them enjoying life, is enough–in the short term–to break me from my misery.  In the long term, however, I need to be constantly engaged in activities, and feel that there are people out there whom I can call anytime.

This is what lack of work does to me: I become a willing prisoner in my room.  Perhaps if I owned a laptop, I could at least move around from location to location, writing outside, or in the library.  Somewhere, at least, where people are.  But, as I said, it’s not enough to be around people.  I need to interact with them.  I need to stay actively engaged with the world, or I feel as if I am doing nothing.

Do I need a job in order to interact on a daily basis with people?  No, but I need some form of organized activity that gives me free time without freeing up my entire day.  I go to events at night, figuring that it doesn’t really matter if I spend twenty dollars more here or there: the amount of time I can stay unemployed and live here remains the same.  Unless, of course the next job I get doesn’t cover all expenses.  In that case, it may very well factor in, but that kind of job I wish not to have.

But I get away from the topic at hand.  One year living on my own, with no real permanent job, is quite an accomplishment.  To come out here at all is an accomplishment, sustained by luck, chance, and two people named Brian and Irene, who let me stay with them for that first critical month that I was in Seattle, knowing not a soul and trying to find employment of any kind.  And then my friend in Boston leading me to the Meetup site.  The friends I’ve met there.  My lucky breaks (the luckiest of which I wrote about here, though now that  job is gone, too).

And as I write this, I feel something I haven’t felt in a while: anticipation.  Anticipation for what tonight brings (the complete Metropolis with the Alloy Orchestra).  Anticipation for what tomorrow brings (a potluck dinner that I’m hosting).  And, finally, anticipation for the future.  And hope.  Today, for the first time in a while, I no longer feel despair, just nerves.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve almost finished writing my diary entries.  Perhaps it’s because of the poem I wrote yesterday, after hearing and becoming inspired by Ginsberg’s “Howl” (though my poem is quite different).

Perhaps it’s because I’m writing again, and learning again what I know, and able to leave bad memories behind, and relish in the good ones.

Author: Greg Salvatore

Writer. Voice Actor. Humanist. Feminist.

11 thoughts on “One Year in Seattle”

  1. How well you write!!

    Here is a quote from Dr Ikeda and a link to a few more:

    “Why doesn’t constant trampling defeat the dandelion? The key to its strength is its long and sturdy root, which extends deep into the earth. The same principle applies to people. The true victors in life are those who, enduring repeated challenges and setbacks, have sent the roots of their being to such a depth that nothing can shake them.”

    All the best! Keep it up!

    LD: I really need to buy one of his books.

  2. I wish you the best of luck on your novel and in all else. It pains me to see one depressed/nervous like this, and I hope everything works itself out.

    On a side note, I’m pretty sure METROPOLIS will cheer you up. I was floored by it when it came hereabouts. The complete cut is the only way to see it; the shorter version is nowhere near it.

    1. I’m doing better today. I think getting all that crap out in writing helped a lot. Plus, I have a lot to look forward to this weekend.

      Also, it has been my experience that, whenever things are going terribly wrong, something terribly right is about to happen.

  3. I’ve been in similar straits, but I didn’t have a book I was working on (wish I did) didn’t have skills or experience as a writer (wish I did) all I had was a budding career as an advertising, marketing executive (didn’t know it). So I did whatever it took to keep a roof overhead and a not too empty stomach. Waited tables, worked for the Census, became a skilled pollster. then marketing researcher and looked up one day and I’d been launched. You strike me as an enormously talented person, stay strong, pay close attention and above all keep the faith. It’s going to happen for you I can feel it and I believe you know it! Meanwhile, enjoy your potluck dinner and meet tomorrow morning refreshed.

    LD: Thank you, Edgar. I will keep the faith!

  4. I think it’s cool you moved away from your hometown. I did that and lasted 6 months. So very impressive indeed.

    LD: My previous record was two weeks, unless you count Japan. Or college. 🙂

  5. Take a drawing class. Everyone can draw. Everyone. Then as you walk about the city, you can sketch. Sketch over a cup of something in a coffee shop, or on a park bench. This will imprint moments on your mind forever.

    Also, when people see someone sketching it is almost impossible for them to resist sneaking a peek. If you like the looks of someone you see peeking, play the role of generous person who doesn’t mind being bothered even in the midst of such serious art. Now you have made the first approach and the other person doesn’t realize it.

    LD: Thanks for the advice! Now excuse me while I pick my jaw up from off the floor.

  6. Congratulations on year one, LD! You’ve made it through the toughest patches, and you’ve done so with grace and humility, which is a rare gift.

    As Roger notes, the best way to meet people out there in the big blue room is to engage them with something that piques their interest – a sketch, a book of poetry, a tablet of scribblings. Try and set aside the shyness because I KNOW you’re an interesting fellow. You have a lot to offer the curious: stimulating, intellectual conversation, a sense of humour, and a gentle heart. Some people go their whole lives without finding any one of those three. Be proud of who you’ve become, and who you will continue to be. And get your ass out there! 😉

    The funny thing about writing is that, once you really start trying to apply yourself, it becomes a consummate force in your life, making everything else seem a little less lustrous. Jobs that may have once seemed satisfactory, now appear dull and unattractive. But you have a gift that can be applied to many areas. Look to your local newspapers – not the big city sheets, but the smaller Arts and Culture ‘zines you find at the record stores; see if there’s a publishing house close by that’s looking for a reader/editor; free-lance for some commercial blogs. Hell, work for a movie theatre – it’s not the best paying job in town, but it’s a load of fun, and you’ll have plenty of time to scribble out a few thoughts between shows. Whatever you do, don’t deny your gift.

    LD: Thank you for the advice. Reading through all of these comments, I feel like the luckiest man alive right now. 🙂

  7. Greg, you are a fascinating person, with talents abounding! The Meetup site is a fabulous resource for finding people with similar interests, or trying out something new. I envy you for being able to just pack up and go, and I admire you for being able to just pack up and go!

    Keep your chin up and your pencil sharpened and you will go far! And here’s to many more anniversaries, filled with great memories, great people, great accomplishment and everything else great!

    Best of luck in all you choose to do!


  8. Back to the position where I was a year ago, I keep asking myself what has changed. I am still trying to find the way to solve my situation. I am sometimes depressed and agitated because of lots of uncertainity. At least writing and reading keep me stable for a while. And, like you, I try to believe something terribly right will happen.

    Thanks for a good writing. It cheers me up.

    LD: You’re welcome. Thanks for commenting. These comments have done wonders for my mental health 🙂

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