Since Kevin and I both had to be in our offices today, Mom and Dad were on their own for the first part of the day. After traveling for the almost two weeks straight, I’m sure they enjoyed the opportunity to have a relaxed morning and catch up on laundry and postcard writing. After lunch, they hopped a bus downtown to get to the Seattle Art Museum to see the King Tut exhibit. I would be heading into a 4-hour meeting at work.
Interesting turn of events: King Tut is not at the Seattle Art Museum–it’s at the Pacific Science Center, a mistake that we were apparently not alone in making. So with the passes I had gotten them they looked around the museum for a while and then headed to a coffee shop to hang out until I was out of work. I sympathize. I’ve never really gotten art, and when someone tells me it’s not about “getting it”, I get annoyed. If the definition of art is really just anything that allows one to make his or her own interpretation of a piece, then why have museums at all–it’s called the outdoors. Art show=24/7. Basically, the Ford Tauruses with christmas lights hanging from the SAM ceiling just piss me off and make me feel like I’m not in on a joke.
After my meeting we’d had a corporate happy hour, and after a few scotches on the company dime I headed down to meet my parents and then walked them down Post Alley to our next destination: Nijo. Dad had never really tried sushi, and Mom, with no desire to try it but always with a desire to try a new restaurant, agreed to come along. Once seated we scoured the happy hour menu for entry-level sushi and a terrestrial option for Mom. The air was warm out on the deck, and it was nice to sit and watch all the cars trying to scramble home (or start on the tricky uphill from Alaskan Ave). I ordered a spicy tuna roll and some sashimi. Day opted for the Bainbridge wrap with salmon and shrimp, and Mom landed on some deep fried vegetables of some sort. After an entire lifetime of being taught by my parents it was nice to be able to show them something new.
The sushi, however, messed up dinner plans a bit, since we were supposed to be at The Yard for 8pm or so so Mom and Dad could meet some of my friends and Kevin’s girlfriend Jen. Time constraints and still relatively full stomachs dictated that we just head straight there and eat dinner. On the walk to the bar we passed the Sakya Monastary, a somewhat out-of-place building that might raise eyebrows anywhere other than Seattle. Colorfully painted, it is home to Buddhist monks (who I have bumped into at the local Chocolati coffee shop) and has a large stupa surrounded by prayer wheels on the edge of its property. An excerpt from the informational plaque:
Stupas signify the presence of the Buddha, and are monuments of peace and harmony in the world.Within they usually contain sacred scriptures, prayers (mantras) and miniature stupas. We invite you to participate in Buddhist tradition and with reverence prayerfully walks around the the Sakya Monastery stupa in a clockwise direction as many times as you like.
As you walk you may choose to spin the many prayer wheels that encircle the stupa. Enclosed within each prayer wheel is a scroll upon which is written 100,000 times the mantra of loving-kindness and compassion; Om Mani Padme Hum. . .The turning of the prayer wheel activates the prayers. It is the equivalent of reading all the prayers within. There are 32 prayer wheels, symbolizing the 32 major marks of the enlightened being. By turning all 32 prayer wheels that encircle the stupa, you are releasing 32 hundred thousand prayers for peace.
We took a few minutes to walk around the stupa and gently spin the prayer wheels on the silents grounds.
It was strange to have been stressing about wedging my car into a tight parallel parking space a few minutes prior and then to be present in this brief moment of calm. When the wheels stopped spinning we made our way back out toward the restaurant.
We opted for an inside table and ended up at the largest one in the place, a little room I like to call ‘the sauna’, half because of the wood slats it’s made out of, half because of the stifling head it you’re deep in the back end of the room with no escape.
The large table turned out to be the right call, as friends came and went in steady shifts, eager to meet the patient people who had tolerated me in my youth. And opposite the practices of emperor penguins in the winter months, we adopted a strategy that allowed people to rotate to the outside so no one died of heat stroke during the evening.